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Red Rush-In

Creating a demo on a non licensed engine

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Red Rush-In    122
I am wondering how a demo would be distributed to potential publishers for a game based on an engine that has not yet been licensed. You can have the demo fully developed but not be able to actually distribute the engine’s exe because you don’t have the money to buy a license yet. Catch 22: You can’t send out the demo for the publisher to see because you don’t have a license to distribute the engine. But you can’t buy the license without the funding from the publisher. How do developers that produce titles on big name engines get around this problem? How feasible is it for a start-up to develop their first title on a big name engine?

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Fruny    1658
Quote:
Original post by Red Rush-In
I am wondering how a demo would be distributed to potential publishers for a game based on an engine that has not yet been licensed.


Unless you negociated permission with the engine's licensor (how did you get the engine in the first place?), you don't.

Quote:
How do developers that produce titles on big name engines get around this problem? How feasible is it for a start-up to develop their first title on a big name engine?


They either take bank loans or commit their life savings. Getting the loan will require negociation, a business plan, etc...

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Red Rush-In    122
I’m just trying to figure out a way to produce a demo and get it to a publisher without having to license the engine up front. If this isn’t possible, so be it.

Is the following scenario feasible?
Instead of licensing engine X for the demo you buy 100 copies of game X (which is based on the X engine). Game X costs $50 and you want to send a demo to 100 potential publishers. $50 x 100 = $5,000 This is much cheaper than having to license the engine which may cost at the absolute least $100,000. This all depends on if the $50 license would allow you to roll up the engine into your own install.

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Palidine    1315
essentially you're talking about MODing. you can't write a game using an engine unless you have an API for that engine (i.e. something to program with). You can't get the API for a big name engine unless you pay hundreds of thousands of dollars. MODing is an open and relatively free community thing so check out the MOD friendly engines like Unreal and Half-Life. If you're talking about writing a game using something like the stolen Half-Life 2 code, not only will a publisher not publish your game but they will, in all likely-hood, black-list you for using pirated software code.

-me

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Fruny    1658
Quote:
Original post by Red Rush-In
I’m just trying to figure out a way to produce a demo and get it to a publisher without having to license the engine up front. If this isn’t possible, so be it.

Contact and negociate with the company that licenses the engine. It is entirely up to them.

Quote:
Is the following scenario feasible?

No.

Quote:
This all depends on if the $50 license would allow you to roll up the engine into your own install.

Buying game X does not give you a license to engine X.

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Palidine    1315
Quote:
Original post by Fruny
Quote:
This all depends on if the $50 license would allow you to roll up the engine into your own install.

Buying game X does not give you a license to engine X.


not only that, but buying game X doesn't necessarily give you the engine in a format that you'd even be able to do anything with. you can't buy Doom3 and then create a game with the DOOM3 engine. you'd need to get libraries and header files to program towards which you wouldn't get unless you specifically negotiated a deal with them. as i mentioned earlier, some game are released in a MOD friendly format so you can just script your own game into existence. if the game is friendly that way, and if the license/docs that come with the game allow it, then by all means, MOD away. :)

-me

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Kwizatz    1392
The Torque Game Engine costs $100 per license, $250 if you want the latest shader engine they're still working on, no need to get a loan for that kind of money I think, or at least not if you were planing to buy $5000 worth of "game x".

With Torque you get the FULL source code, so you're only limited by your coding skills.

Isn't the Quake 3 source GPL too already? use it, show demo to investor, get money, write ID a check for the comercial license.

[Edited by - Kwizatz on August 3, 2004 11:23:21 PM]

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Definitely agree with Kwizatz here, he actually took the words right out of my mouth.

Torque is a great engine and at a wallet relaxing $250 a liscense for the latest shader engine is definitely a low risk investment wether you suceed or not as it would be more resume material either way.

Would definitely recommend Torque.

You could try negotiating a deal with developers. I have had some talks with some pretty big companies (ATI, Alienware Computers, Nvidia etc.) and have found that most are willing to negotiate. HOWEVER, you are going to need a great business plan, preferably someone with lots of experience in the industry to head up the project and/or legal advisor who knows the industry well and is well known in return, who can represent you if you you lack experience. (i.e. lack previous titles, years of experience, proven leadership skills, previous and sucessful business endeavors etc.)

So negotiating isnt easy, but I think people would be surprised to see how open developers are for the right situation if the party starting the talks really knows what they are doing.



We are currently planning on using the "Dawn of Fantasy" engine as a future liscensed engine. Very developer friendl, extremely moddable, more than any other game in the genre and it can easily be used as a RTS, RPG or even FPS without much difficulty. (Or all 3.)

Check out some screens here:
http://reverieentertainment.net/dof/

Best Regards,
Micah Hymer
Reverie Entertainment, LLC
www.reverieentertainment.com

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Obscure    175
Quote:
Original post by Red Rush-In
I guess the only options are to acquire a bank loan or negotiate a preliminary deal with the engines licensor. Both are hard to do as a start up.
I don't know what your level of industry experience is so this may or may not apply.

1. If you are taking out a loan you need to be damn sure you can pay it back. In fact many banks wont loan you money if they know that it wont get you to a position where you can start earning money. Buying a license for an engine wont get you to that position. It will allow you to make a demo but once you have done that you then have to go through the additional process of pitching publishers (which costs more) and living for months while you do it. Many banks know how slim the chances are that a demo will get signed up so they know there is a big possibility you wont be able to pay back the loan.
The chance of getting funded by a publisher reduces to zero if you/your team have no proven industry experience.

2. You can get deals from Middleware companies but again it depends on your level of experience. I have negotiated several free "eval" licenses for clients, which were used to create prototypes. The middleware companies do this because they want people to be using their software. However they only do it for people they see as "real" developers. That means a properly set up company staffed by people with a proven games industry track record.

If you/your team don't have proven experience then go the Torque route. Start small and build up from there.

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Red Rush-In    122
I know a bank loan isn't really an option for my position. My partner and I have extensive software development experience but none in the gaming industry. From what I have seen, the Torque engine does offer the best scenario of developing a demo prior to any type of funding.

Quote:
Original post by Obscure
The chance of getting funded by a publisher reduces to zero if you/your team have no proven industry experience.


Ouch! Is that as a rule? That is the first time I have heard it put so bleakly. Is the only option to fund your first release?



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Obscure    175
Quote:
Original post by Red Rush-In
Ouch! Is that as a rule? That is the first time I have heard it put so bleakly. Is the only option to fund your first release?
The short answer is "yes".

Back when I joined the industry it wasn't even an industry and all the developers were noobs. (Of course games were a lot smaller then). For the first five years almost all the developers starting up had zero previous experience and still managed to get funding.

During years six-ten it tightened up. Games became larger and more complex and failures became a lot more expensive. Publishers began to think more carefully about who they paid money too but there were still a few new (inexperienced) companies starting up - at the same time publishers started buying each other out. The number of publishers started to reduce.

Years 10-16 (since I joined the industry) and the number of publishers has reduced dramatically, the number of developers is still high and it's a buyers market. The publishers now how risky it is to invest in inexperienced developers so they don't do it. I spend a lot of my time keeping track of publishers & developers and I have not seen a single (inexperienced) start-up get publisher funding in the last five years. All the new studios fall into one of the following categories:

i. Non-publisher funded (VC money or already rich) -
Examples
Valve Software (Gabe was a Microsoft Millionaire from his stocks),
Emogence, LLC gamasutra.com article.
ii. Unfunded - Did first game in spare time then when that is successful turned pro -
Examples:
Splash Damage,
The Counterstrike team,
any other successful MOD team.
iii. Publisher funded - The founders have years of proven industry experience and good publisher contacts. -
Examples
Flagship studios gamasutra.com article,
Wideload games gamasutra.com article,
Ready At Dawn Studios gamasutra.com article,
Team Bondi gamasutra.com article.

I have not seen a new start up without experience get a publisher funded deal for at least five years.

Game development is an art but it becomes a business as soon as you decide you want to be paid for it. The two most common causes of business failure are lack of experience and lack of initial funding. Publishers know this which is why they wont touch people who don't have experience and don't have the funding to get their own company started.

Currently the two best ways of getting started as a studio (if you don't have industry experience) is to create a mod or try to create a good budget game (not a downloadable puzzle game).

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Hey Dan, what are your thoughts on http://www.fund4games.com/ ?

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Obscure    175
Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
Hey Dan, what are your thoughts on http://www.fund4games.com/ ?
I think it is great, provided you don't need it. ;)

As with much of the investment that is out there it is restricted to those who don't need it. Specifically you need to already have a publishing deal signed up before F4G will consider you. In other words they aren't looking to fund start-ups or risky teams.

This "publisher required" thing is ok if the publisher in question is poor but if a publisher has the money to fund your game and they like your game enough to sign it, then many of them won't want F4Gs money. - Publishers only sign games they believe in. Why would they share the profits of such a game with F4G?

Scott Miller mentiond this investment Catch 22 in one of his articles (http://dukenukem.typepad.com/game_matters/). An investor called offering to put money into 3DR (who certainly don't need it). Scott declined and said he could put her in touch with teams that needed the money. She wasn't interested :(

[Edited by - Obscure on August 5, 2004 5:30:09 PM]

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