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Selling your idea

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You guys probably hear this alot, but... I have what I think is a very good idea for a game. This is the first idea that ive had where I went, wow, that would be an awesome game. My only problem is that I don''t know where to start. Do I pitch the idea to someone? Do I make a small game as a base to sell my idea/get funding? Should I just wait until I graduate and get a job in the games industry?

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An idea wont cut it. You would have to write a complete design note of it. Which practically means write down a complete story, characters, enviroment maps and so on.

Then start with the technical part; how the GUI should work, what controls to use and so on.

When you got a 100+ page design note with diagrams, pictures etc, you find some programmers/artists to make you a demo. When the demo is good enough you neatly pack it with your design and send it to a game company that decides if its a good enough project to continue. If so, they will fund you.

But an idea is never enough. You cant base a descision on an idea, you have to have something to decide upon.

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Thanks for the reply,

I''ve made design documents for school(flow charts, uml, use cases, gui, etc) and I hadn''t considered that someone would want something extremely detailed like a movie script.It makes sense that I would want a 100 page script if I was going to shell out the money for a game to be made. Guess I know what I''ll be doodling in class this semister.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
To be brutally honest, no one wants a detailed design either. This is a good site for advice:

http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html

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Quite simply: An idea is worthless.

Anyone can have them, and there''s lots of good ones to be had. You can''t convince anyone as to the brilliance of your idea (compared to all the other, free ones) without telling them the idea, and by that time, you''re screwed.

The best option is, as already mentioned, to make - at least part - of the game yourself. You''ll need a good design document if you want to ensnare any other hobbyist developers (because no doubt you''ll need help with your game); you''d need a demo if you wanted to go pro. For example, the first chapter of a three-chapter game, a bit like the original shareware model (only rather than the public buying your game, it''d be a publisher).

If you get a publisher, you can get money to employ seasoned pros - or, sign a contract to hand the development over to their in-house teams. I''d stay away from the second choice though.

Superpig
- saving pigs from untimely fates, and when he''s not doing that, runs The Binary Refinery.

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most has been said - a the moment it´s very hard to secure a contract without a playable demo, you´ll also have trouble attracting a team if you have little or nothing to show.

[edited by - Hase on December 24, 2002 7:30:18 PM]

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hey, its like they say "if u build it, they will come"

sense i have no clue of what the hell i am talking about, the following should not be taken to seriously...


like that other guy said, write up a good script for the game (20-100 pages Summarizing the story-line and all aspects of gameplay), if u want u can also submit it in english class as one of ur creative writing projects... also, i would recommend getting some money, for a professional artist, or finding a friend that can "really" draw.. cause nothing will catch people''s eye like some awesome artwork... then what u should consider doing is copyrighting ur work... and submitting it (in the mail) to gaming companies that u think would be interested... i think thats how they do it in the movie industry... might work for games... who knowsss


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Oh, and never use friends because they are friends. Select your partners because of their skills. A good artist that is a pain in the neck is better than a friend that do half a job.



What does God want?
Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness?
Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?

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quote:
Original post by Zorak
Oh, and never use friends because they are friends.
Very true. It may sound like fun working with your friends, but it makes everything harder when it comes down to actually handling the team and managing the project.

Write a design doc and try to make part of the game. I don''t think it''d have to be good enough to be called a "demo", but at least some kind of prototype. From there you should be able to pull together a team and go further if you so desire.

And of course, money would help too if you have it.

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I''m going to disagree slightly in the opinion that ideas are worthless. Let''s modify that to say bad ideas are worthless, and everyone does have a bad idea. Great ideas or even good ideas are hard to come by, and yes, people do pay a lot of money for great ideas. Is an idea all you need to secure a contract? I don''t know. I''ve never tried (nor have I had that great idea), but I''ll assume if your idea is great, you won''t have problems selling it. That seems to be how the rest of the business world works, so the gaming industry can''t be far off.

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quote:
Original post by JDBrown
Great ideas or even good ideas are hard to come by, and yes, people do pay a lot of money for great ideas. Is an idea all you need to secure a contract? I don''t know. I''ve never tried (nor have I had that great idea), but I''ll assume if your idea is great, you won''t have problems selling it. That seems to be how the rest of the business world works, so the gaming industry can''t be far off.


Nope, you´re wrong there, people in the gaming biz don´t pay for ideas (not even great ideas). And without at least a demo there´s no chance for a contract.

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Again, I don''t have any experience selling a game idea, so I don''t know. Hase, since you seem to be knowledgable in this matter, perhaps you can fill us in on your first hand experience in trying to sell an idea with only a treatment.

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Most people who write treatments want to make games. That means that your goals are to get funding, as well as a reliable publisher who will get your game to the largest audience possible. Since the development costs are steadily increasing you´ll definitely need some financial backing (take two years development time and twenty people, you´re above a million $/€ in personnell costs already). Since these are considerable sums, even for large companies, your investors will want as much assurance as possible that they´ll get their money back.

So the two things they´re going to examine closely are the game you want to make and your team or company. If you submit only a treatment they´ll have the basic idea of the game, but no marketing information, no idea how much it will cost, no idea about what other products may be in conflict with it.. that means that a treatment alone is more or less worthless to a publisher - this is gross oversimplification, but think of them not as game people but bank people. They don´t necessarily care or know much about games, their business is money (and rightfully so). That means that they´re interested in everything relating to the financial situation of the project (they´re the ones putting the cash on the table, as well as carrying most of the rist). What you´ll need on that side are all kinds of marketing documentation, project planning and market analyses. And since you can´t do most of that on the basis of a treatment you´ll need a more detailed concept, or better yet a complete game design document. That doesn´t mean that the potential publisher will ask for a complete gd, but you can´t do an effort estimation without one.

The second big thing they´re usually interested in is if you can actually pull off the project you´re advertising (just look in the help wanted section for a taste of this problem). To proove that you can actually do it a finished game is perfect - if you´re a startup then you´ll need something else, usually a demo... self running at the minimum, look and feel preferred.. playable at best. Actually, in the publishers ideal scenario you have already finished the game befor they shell out any money, but that´s obviously not an option for most developers.



As for selling ideas "as is" to someone who might want to develop them, that´s also not going to happen. Every developer in every studio on this planet is going to have several game ideas lying around on his desk, just waiting for the chance to actually work on one of them. In a nutshell: Ideas are worthless.
What counts is implementation, that does not necessarily mean something playable. If you really think that your idea is good then you might invest the time and work out a game design document (and don´t bother calling it that if it´s under a hundred pages). That doesn´t mean that you can sell a design document (although the chances are marginally better than selling an idea).

The reasons for this are simple: you´ll have to find a developer for your idea, which means that they have to like your already completed game design more than what they have lying around, as well as having to work with your style of design doc.
What it might be good for however is attracting freelance design work, which (contrary to some opinions here) does happen occasionally. It doesn´t work along the lines of "hey, could you write a game design for us", but more like "we need a game design for platform X, license Y and budget Z until next month". That means that (if you can convince the prospective employer that you´re able to do it) you´re a troubleshooter at best, because all the developers who are able to do big games have their own design people, which means that they use their own design docs, their own templates, etc.
If you´re troubleshooting that means that somewhere the proverbial shit has almost hit the fan - a publisher will come by soon, investors are getting edgy, or in the best case - a sudden shower of money hit the company. Otherwise the task would be done in-house.


As for the original posters question: I´d write a design doc (which takes practise too), mabye put together your own team (if it´s doable in a smaller frame - most ideas are pretty scaleable if you do it early on in the design process), or use it as a portfolio piece later on.

hope this helps.

edit: formatting

[edited by - Hase on December 29, 2002 8:57:50 PM]

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I'm not clear on if your idea is a large game or not. If it is a large game, then do this:

1) Set your scope small. Find one or two like-minded people and hash out a game to create to prove to yourselves that you can create a game from concept to implementation to delivery. Then create it.

2) If you get to this step - that is more than what 99.9% of people who want to make games actually accomplish. It's a big milestone - relish it. Now repeat it. And don't neglect your first title. If you choose your first title correctly, it will sell for years, generating some income. Check out articles here and at GarageGames and Dexterity for advice on how to do this.

3) If you can repeat it, that's phenomenal. None of your games need to be a "hit". This is a learning experience, don't expect to make a lot of money. Now you might know enough and have enough contacts and enough skills in your team to tackle something larger. This would be the time to tackle a larger game (if your idea is a larger game).

If your idea is a small game - then possibly make that one of your first couple of smaller-scoped games.

Dave Myers
Vice President
21-6 Productions, Inc.

[edited by - Dave_21-6 on December 29, 2002 9:56:31 PM]

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I''m stuck in the same boat here bud.

I have exactly the same problem, an excellent idea but no way to show it. I have a friend who knows someone who works in game development, I spoke to him on the phone and what he said made things a little easier for me to cope with.

All you really need to do is find a clear way to show your game in all it''s glory, so that every angle looks clear when you look at it. (artwork, story, even sound tracks if you want)

They don''t want to have to read through loads of notes, or flick through loads of sketches, they want it as simple as you can provide it, explaining all the basics of the game.

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