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Matsy

I want to get my idea out there...

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I have a decent idea for a game. I''ve told my friends about it and all of them say. "Yeah I would love to play a game like that." Now I know ideas are a dime a dozen. But I really do have a story, and concepts that I think would make for some exciting gameplay. However I am unaware of what I should do with this knowledge other than just writing it down. Once I have it all mapped out then what? To be more specific: 1.) Is there something I can do to protect my stuff? (Like copywriting... etc) 2.) If I wanted to go to someone with an idea what should I have with me to persuade them that this is the best game ever, and I''ve put lots of thought into it? (Like Business Design docs... etc) 3.) What skills should I develop to be taken seriously among peers in the same fields? My background as of yet. I''ve gone to school for creative writing and math. I was an application programmer for 4 yrs. And love games. The whole reason I got into programming was to gain experience if I wanted to get into the game industry. I''ve done cheesy chess clones in 3D. (No AI yet unfortunately.) And other tools.... I made a Final Fantasy Tactics Map builder cause I couldnt get enough of that game. And I just wanted to see if I could create something that build the maps. I have experience with DirectX and OpenGL. Now that I feel confident with with my programming know how. I want to try something else. Any help pointing me in the right direction would be appreciated.

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Well, do you want to try your hand a coordinating a volunteer game design team, do you want someone else to be the lead designer and you to work for them, or do you want to try to sell your idea to a game publishing company? Three totally different paths. Making a design document for your idea is a good first step though.

Drawing and webpage design are very handy skills for a designer to have.

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I''m not trying to steal your thread, I''d just like to inquire about the info too.

When I still played Half-Life mods 24/7, I got some great ideas for mods, but I didn''t want to ask people to join a team with me because I had no programming "skillz" and I thought they might think I just wanted to get my name in the credits.. So I was kinda wondering, is designing a job all it''s own, or should someone program too if they design?

Again, not trying to steal the thread... the topics just seem so close.

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Yes very cool... these are the kind of things I''m iquiring about. And to be honest either of the 3 paths are desirable. I just want to know if what I''m asking is too big. And I do know how to do webpage design. I just havn''t taken much time to lay it all out. Ok so a business design document is a good place to start it looks like. Now what I would include in here I''m assuming is overal concept, story, and level break down for gameflow. Maybe a character page.... Again the sooner I know about what I need the sooner I can get started. I have writen a basic story which is not yet completed. However I do have a good begining and a good ending. I just need some finishing touches to make the middle a little more exciting. Thanks for replying to my post!

Maybe you have a link... lets say I want to sell it to a company and work backwards. I figure if i go through all the trouble to generate those documents. Then it would be easier at that point to get a voulenteer team together.

Any help you could send to get me started down my path is appreciated!

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Design is certainly a job all its own, or at least corporate america thinks so. They''ll hire you, call you a designer, and pay you to have ideas and record them properly for the people who are actually making stuff. Not that it''s easy to get hired for this, but it happens to some people ^^;;. I don''t know a whole lot about commercial design jobs or selling ideas to companies. I''m more of an open source kind of guy, so I just sort of understand the dynamics of trying to incite a group of volunteers to work on your idea.

I would say that if you want to be the creative force / designer behind a game project, but can''t or won''t be actually working on the finished product, you essentially need to be able to do some of what everyone else is doing. You should be able to outline the features and components of the code, and know what is and isn''t reasonable. You should be able to sketch out or effectively describe the visuals and music you want. You should be able to write out rough drafts of scripts, storylines, etc..

Sort of the trick is... as a designer you''ll tell everyone what to do, but you have to know a little bit of their job to tell it effectively. You''ll come off as a stupid jerk if you try to boss a coder around when you don''t know a variable from a function. If you have a little bit of background in all the parts of the project you can communicate well with everyone helping you, and do so without causing any alienation or offense.

A good way to get to this point is to make that Design Document sunandshadow mentioned. If you come up with a name and a description that can make people want to see your game, then set up a detailed outline of what needs to be done (including program outlines, sketches, rough scripts, etc), you might be able to convince them to work on it. If you put alot of effort into setting it up, and be reasonable and supportive when guiding the efforts, the people with the ''leet skills'' probably won''t take offense to listing you as the ''Lead Designer'' for the project when it''s done.

Or if you''re just a very effective leader, you might be able to pull it off with just a silver tongue ^^;;;.

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I see... OK... I''m going to get started on documentation for this game. Is there anything I should consider ahead of time to avoid an idea being stolen. There must be some sort of normal approch to avoid this. I don''t want to put my heart, blood, and sole into this thing just to have some jerk try to take it away from me. Not that I have a big problem trusting people out there. But experience shows me that this can and will happen.

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This I don't know, I'm sorry. As I said, I'm mostly open source. I gave up protecting alot of these ideas some time ago; being robbed is essentially part of the deal as soon as you stamp GPL on it.

I guess your best bet is to keep it under wraps until it becomes more coherent, and look into how to pursue copyrights on some or all of it. Someone else here can probably give more specific information on that.

One thing to remember though, is that this is -your- idea. No matter what, even if someone else tries to use it, you are the source. Just keep on working on it. The only true realization of the idea will be your own. If you go the volunteer/open source route, just accept that people might try. Chances are, though, that they can't complete the game right without you. Their effort will be a cheap ripoff, and yours will be the shining reality you originally envisioned. .... or something....

But still look into the copyright stuff if it worries you or you intend to sell the idea/game.

[edited by - J37IB on April 20, 2004 7:01:51 PM]

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1. What you create is automatically protected by copyright however that doesn''t mean much in reality unless you have enough money to hire an expensive IP lawyer to sue anyone who steals your idea.

2. The only way to really protect it is to not tell people unless they REALLY need to know - those people should sign an NDA before you tell them anything.

3. Developers and publishers don''t buy game ideas (unless you have years of industry experience and they already know you). A full explanation of why can be found at http://www.obscure.co.uk/faq_idea.shtml

So, what to do. Basically the game biz is just like the film biz. no one will fund you to make your game or look at your idea if you don''t have experience. That means you have two options:
i. Get an entry-level position in the industry. Work your way up doing other peoples games for a few years and then break out to form your own studio funded by some publisher you made contact with during that time.
ii. Do the game as a hobby. Create a design doc and then recruit a team of enthusiastic amatuers to create the game. The Help Wanted forum is the best place to post for such people.

Good luck and have fun.

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions (www.obscure.co.uk)
Game Development & Design consultant

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