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hawk2k3

'Merging'

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Hello all, I'm sorry if my question is in the wrong section, but I was wondering if some might have some advice. I was recently approached by a member from a game development studio for me to join them. Except the problem lies with what they have and they don't have. I had mentioned that I was currently working on a concept for a FPS game(yeah I know...bad starting game) and the guy I was talking to suddenly got 'hyper'(this was in an IRC network channel) at what I was doing and he wanted to know more...which I told him without giving too much info on the concept itself. I do not seem to trust them and feel that the group could possibly either steal the game from me or it'll never see any developement. I have found their history a bit unsettling. The group was formed 3 years ago and have since done nothing but modding projects since. What I find disturbing is that their goal is to start their own studio, but they have yet to actually come up with an idea themselves. Am I right to worry about making a deal with them? I can't offer anything else to them except giving them game worlds to build and create what I've written for the game.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
If they "steal" your game that probably increases by a factor of 10 the probability that the game will every get completed.

So, you win.

My only advice is to insist that before they talk to you further they either sign an NDA (you don't want them to, but present this as the alternative) or you will give them all the info on your game and allow them to develop it so long as they agree to:
- you have authoritative control over the game design
- you personally have 20% of all revenue that ever comes from the game

Not that it's got more than a 1 in a 100 chance of generating revenue, but with those in place the worse case scenario is that you're not going to get screwed over.

PS: no, I wouldn't trust them an inch, by the sound of things. But...the wise man knows to how to extort from the person he cannot trust ;).

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A tricky situation....I would get an NDA signed before you discuss anything further - it shouldn't be a problem for them to sign it anyway as it protects them as well as you (well, slight protection anyway) - if they don't then alarm bells should ring.

Quote:
I do not seem to trust them and feel that the group could possibly either steal the game from me or it'll never see any developement.

Do you have a full design doc ready yet?..if not, they will not be able to steal it, sure they can take the idea but an idea means nothing without the full design document in place, particularly if they have no notion on how to take it further without one. If it gets to the stage whereby you decide to join them, then a legal contract should be drawn up indicating IP, revenue split etc.

Also, it really all depends in how they want to use you and your design - would they be employing you as one of their staff or as a contractor or as a consultant sort of thing?. Either way, get it in writing and then decide how you want to proceed. Good luck!

ps...try asking Obscure by pm, if you haven't already done so, for his advice...he knows more than me!.

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Full design document??? I'm not exactly sure what that is, but I have a file that helps me plan how I want the game to start(it's basically a backstory) but I plan to add more such as dominate characters and certain missions{I figure it won't hurt to have some just plain shoot and run levels lol}). NDA's...the group doesn't seem to be interested in signing anything and are pretty demanding about getting the project by asking everyday 'HAVE U MADE A DECISON YET?' even though they gave me a few weeks to think about it.

Instinct is telling me to run...is it right?

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I'm still unclear on what they want you to do. All I understand is that they want your idea, which you admit isn't a fleshed out design - just a story concept. Are they purchasing it from you, or just expecting you to give it to them? Are you willing to give it away, with no guarantees of continued involvement in the development or of payment?

I think you need to discuss with them and outline what, exactly, your role would be in this project and what IP rights you retain, if any, and what rights you'd own to any further development that happens as part of the project.

As another poster asked: are you a partner, a consultant, or an employee?

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I'm nothing with them at the moment. What they want is basically a game design ready for them to work on and the topic about IP rights and rights....they insist that they have it all and all I'll get in 25% of whatever it brings in and any other future projects(even though I insisted on 100% rights and IP rights and 50% profit from it). They also seem eager to screw over the guy that had given me the basic idea(by basic he suggested what kind of game it was and gave a barebone template) even though he had quit a couple weeks after talking about it.

Just so nobody asks...it was a joint project which the original guy has given me full ownership of provided I give him credit for the idea(which the 'merging' group has said no to the deal I made with him{ie their game and thier game only}

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Quote:
evelyn - would they be employing you as one of their staff or as a contractor or as a consultant sort of thing?.

Quote:
hawk2k3 - I'm nothing with them at the moment

You don't make this easy, d'ya?.

Personally, I wouldn't sell a design on these kinda terms. If your instinct tells you to run away, then run away. There'll be perhaps better opportunities later on if you hold off and finish the design...then you would be in a better position for a more favourable deal.

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Well, to give you a quick and easy answer to your question: you're in the catbird seat. They want your idea, you didn't approach them. Unless you're desperate to get it made NOW, they have to agree to terms that make YOU comfortable, not the other way around.

I would, at the very LEAST, want to retain full IP rights to the specifics of the game I designed. I would offer them a non-exclusive right to use those IPs in marketing the current game, with the option to later lease the rights to the IPs in any future projects related to the game.

50% of the profits may be a lot, considering you don't have a design doc done up and presumably they'd be doing all the programming and graphic artwork - you're selling them an idea, which frankly they could very easily take for their own (changing the names and any specifics you may have given them) right now without asking you for permission. Remember, you can't copyright or trademark an idea. You're fortunate in that they sound like a very lazy, disorganized group looking for inspiration - which you can provide.

Even if you don't go with this group, document all your communications and save them somewhere. If it turns out that they do come out with a game based on what they took from you, you MIGHT be able to get some relief if you can prove they didn't have an idea for the game until they saw what you created, and that they attempted to buy your design initially. I'm not saying this scenario will ever come about, but I'm sure you'd rather protect yourself in any eventuality.

If you do decide not to go with them, I'd suggest you send them a "formal" letter stating as much, being sure to mention a summary of what specifics you divulged to them in your rejection letter. Then save that letter. I might even go so far as to get a mailing address so you can notarize two copies of the letter and mail them one. Maybe overkill, but hey - I work for a law firm as my day job, I'm paranoid ;)

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There are several points to consider here.....

1. You should never place your financial well-being in the hands of people you don't trust.

2. You should never do business with people who wont sign and NDA or formalise a relationship with a contract.

3. Unless you have a written assignment of IP rights from "the other guy" then you don't actually own the IP. He co-owns it and can come after it at any time in the future.

4. Even if you have the IP you still don't have what they want. They don't just want an idea, they want a proper design that they can reference to develop a game - you have admitted you don't know how to make a design and I assume from this that you have no actual game development experience. If that is the case then you wont be able to produce what they want and the relationship is going to go bad.

Basically everything you have said about this whole deal smells bad. The only way to protect yourself would be to hire a lawyer and draft contracts and frankly that is going to cost you more money than this deal will ever make. These guys sound like unprofessional cowboys and the fact that they can't come up with their own idea (as you mentioned before) simply confirms that.

Conclusion
If it look like a duck, quacks like a duck and is served cold and roasted in your local Chinese restaurant then it is a duck. You know it doesn't feel right so walk away.

If you really really want to do it don't show them anything until you have a contract (not just an NDA).

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EricTrickster-I'm not worried about them stealing something they've never seen or know about.

As for the design document, I hope that what I'm doing right now will turn into that...except I currently do not know where to find an example of one. As for the other guy that was working on this with me, we've agreed that I get the 'game' provided that in the end that he gets his name in the credits for the game(and a little cash too if I decide to make money off it, but don't tell him lol).

I am in no hurry to 'get it out the door' it doesn't matter if it take 2 years of 6 years to do it(even if ever done). Right now I'm just having fun creating the world events that lead up to and in the game.

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