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The Next Step in Online Gaming (applying a proven business model to a hot medium)

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(Ok I am asking for it - first post, new forums...the newbie forums. Well, fire away, I need the feedback.) I have a "big idea" - which also leaves me with a big problem. What do you do when you have a big idea that you've been contimplating and developing for the past couple years, but clearly do not have the connections or capital to move on it? Nevermind the technical skills. What this is, as the title alludes to, is a new formula....a new online gaming model from a business perspective. It's taking a proven method to gain (and retain) an audience, and applying it to today's hottest entertainment medium (gaming!). The product, is pure fun, and big $$$. I wish I could be more specific, but I honestly feel like this piece of 'intelectual property' is big enough to refrain from screaming to everyone at the top of the internet mountain. For emphasis, I should repreat that this is not purely a game idea, or game plot. It's not, "hey I have a sweet idea for an RPG/FPS hybrid!" It's the next step - it's a logical and innovative improvement based on the foundation that other games and other mediums have laid out recently. I call it a COG. That's the concept, and I have a game to go with it, but that's somewhat irrelevant. My goal here is this: I hope to find advice/direction - maybe people who can help me with this - sincere and trustworthy people - maybe even someone established in the industry that would give me open ears. If people could respond here with some general info/input (skills, experience too), I'd be thankful. =) You can also reach me at c_v_o@earthlink.net - you can PM me for my cell # too.

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What do you do when you have a big idea that you've been contimplating and developing for the past couple years, but clearly do not have the connections or capital to move on it?


You:

1. Work a real job. In your hobby time, work on your pet project. Quite a bit can get done with time, persistance, and working for "free". "Free" being either by yourself or as part of an open source project.

2. Get some loans/credit cards, max 'em out and go for broke.

3. Talk up some Investors. Especially out in Silicon Valley, there's still plenty of investors looking to throw money at ideas of various quality. If your idea really is a proven model elsewhere, then investors are more likely to have some confidence in it.


This of course ignores the standard advice regarding ideas, which apply just as well in the business world as the game design world.

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"cevo" wrote:

>I have a "big idea" -

Read FAQ 31 on my site.

>which also leaves me with a big problem. What do you do when you have a big idea that you've been contimplating and developing for the past couple years, but clearly do not have the connections or capital to move on it? Nevermind the technical skills.

Get connections. Get capital. Get experience in the game industry. You don't need technical skills yourself. How old are you? Gotten an MBA yet? Worked in games yet? You live in Brooklyn - not exactly a hotbed of video game business. Move. To look at it another way: What would you do if your big idea was for a technology that would raise the Titanic, instead of for a new way to market games? You'd have to be an engineer, and/or a millionaire. Am I right?

>What this is, as the title alludes to, is a new formula....a new online gaming model from a business perspective.

OK, fine.

>It's taking a proven method to gain (and retain) an audience, and applying it to today's hottest entertainment medium (gaming!). The product, is pure fun, and big $$$.

[Yawn!]

>My goal here is this: I hope to find advice/direction - maybe people who can help me with this - sincere and trustworthy people - maybe even someone established in the industry that would give me open ears.

You already got the open ears of sincere/trustworthy/experienced people, and you also got their fingertips moving like quicksilver over their computer keyboards. Show us you're not some Street Corner Joe. What degrees do you have, what business experience, what game industry experience? How much capital of your own to invest in your "Ultimate Idea"? If you're just Street Corner Joe, get an MBA. Get industry connections. Get industry experience. Build up your bankbook. Read FAQs 29 and 43 on my site.

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Original post by Cevo70
I have a "big idea" - which also leaves me with a big problem. What do you do when you have a big idea that you've been contimplating and developing for the past couple years, but clearly do not have the connections or capital to move on it? Nevermind the technical skills.
Game Dev is just like any other business. To get it started you either do it yourself, you pay someone else to do it or you use someone else's money to pay them.

In your case you don't have the technical skills so if you want to make it you will have to go and learn them.

If you can't or won't learn them you will have to pay someone who has the skills. If you don't have the money to pay someone you will have to go and earn the money somewhere else and come back to your idea when you have the money.

If you don't want to wait then you will have to convince someone else to invest in your idea and doing that requires a whole other set of skills. You will almost certainly have to pay to fund a prototype and produce a business plan, track down market research data and identify the people who have the skills you will need. Again, if you don't already have the necessary skills you will have to go and learn them (that MBA that Tom mentioned plus some real world experience working successfully in other companies).

You have your work cut out for you but if your idea is as good as you say it will obviously be worth making the effort. Good luck.

[Edited by - Obscure on March 30, 2006 1:18:30 AM]

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COG
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..it's a logical and innovative improvement based on the foundation that other games and other mediums have laid out recently.
I'll take a guess at cell-phone online game or even Cevo's online game but probably waaay off mark :)

I've been on this boat when there was much talk about grid computing but, the more we looked into it, the more we realised it was going to be a long time coming and would be very big, expensive and time-consuming to develop for.

Quote:
What do you do when you have a big idea that you've been contimplating and developing for the past couple years, but clearly do not have the connections or capital to move on it?

As others have said, make connections, work up a prototype, get some business skills behind you and, ultimately, convince people to give you the money. It will take time but, if you're determined enough and have the relevant research et al to convince people it'll make a load of dosh, you may get lucky so, fingers crossed it's the Holy Grail you think you're sitting on and can do something with it. [smile]

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I like this place already.

Good advice from everyone, much appreciated.

Just to address a couple things - I am 26 with a BA, working in media - yes in many ways, just the average joe. My next [sensible] step is my MBA, which will hopefully give me a better sense of how to proceed. My only worry is that by that time, someone else will have put this together - like EA, or Bungie. See the thing is, the concept is almost obvious - the only reason I think it hasn't been done is because most people have forgotten to take a step back for a better perspective. The current industy is "head down" and formulaic.

I do however have game design experience - I was on a team of four that got a CCG to the shelves from the ground up. Probably the most fun I've had in a long time.

What about forming a team in NYC? Bouncing the concept off programmers and developers?




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Guest Anonymous Poster
I thought Collectable Online Games have been done already.

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My only worry is that by that time, someone else will have put this together - like EA, or Bungie

In all likelyhood, someone has already looked into/or is already working on something similar anyway. The amount of times I've had an idea (not just game related), thinking I'm just about the only one to think of it and, Hey Presto!!...something very similar comes onto the market within the year. It's uncanny at times, but it happens....I reckon it's something to do with the swirling ether in our midst :)

If you can't do anything about it at present anyway, why worry about it?, just keep going and, if someone does come out with a similar product, then you will have to make sure that yours will be super-better.

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Original post by Anonymous Poster
I thought Collectable Online Games have been done already.


You mean like Chron X? Alot of people took the CCG model and put it online if that's what you mean. I think they are called Online CCGs though.

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If you have an idea and you want to make it work, and you can't make it work on your own, you have to form a group. You have to find a programmer or two who you can trust, and who also believe in your idea (which means you have to tell them). You have to find an artist or two who you can trust, and who believe in your idea (which means you have to tell them). Together, the group can vet the idea, do whatever research is necessary, and produce some kind of prototype.

Once you have a prototype, you can decide to go startup, get angel or venture money, or mortgage your houses, or whatever. Or you can decide to go for a publisher, and submit to them, trying to get them to sign a trade secret protection agreement (although you're unlikely to actually get them to do that).

In reality, though, "having" the idea is not what makes money. "realizing" the idea is what does. If you can tell people about your idea, and get them to work with you, that's how you can make it work. You can't do it on your own.

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Original post by hplus0603
If you have an idea and you want to make it work, and you can't make it work on your own, you have to form a group. You have to find a programmer or two who you can trust, and who also believe in your idea (which means you have to tell them). You have to find an artist or two who you can trust, and who believe in your idea (which means you have to tell them). Together, the group can vet the idea, do whatever research is necessary, and produce some kind of prototype.

Once you have a prototype, you can decide to go startup, get angel or venture money, or mortgage your houses, or whatever. Or you can decide to go for a publisher, and submit to them, trying to get them to sign a trade secret protection agreement (although you're unlikely to actually get them to do that).

In reality, though, "having" the idea is not what makes money. "realizing" the idea is what does. If you can tell people about your idea, and get them to work with you, that's how you can make it work. You can't do it on your own.


Thank you. Where would you suggest going to try to form a team? I mean, you're right, I have to tell people at some point, and get people to understand and believe in it. Are there programmers/artists floating around out there looking for direction/projects?

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Your choices are, given that you're not a millionaire:

1) Post in help wanted. Be prepared to give information to applicants. Be prepared to take a lot of stick if you can't put on a 'serious' spin to your presentation.

2) Locate a group and see if they're interested in your business model. Most existing groups have formed around their own idea, so you've got your work cut out if you want to affect their plans.

3) Use personal contacts. Get your friends to run through your idea, hopefully you know people with the right skills.


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"Cevo" wrote:
>Where would you suggest going to try to form a team?

Where? What does it matter where? You can form it in Brooklyn or Iceland or Timbuktu - or you can have one person in each of these places. When it comes time to pitch your demo, though, you need to have that MBA and you need to go around to the game companies where they are. And you probably need to have an agent when it comes to that step. Have you sketched out a business plan yet?

>Are there programmers/artists floating around out there looking for direction/projects?

Have you read FAQ 29 yet? Actually, I think FAQ 16 is closer to where you are. (http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson16.htm - How to form an independent game team) But read FAQ 29 too. (http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson29.htm - How to form a startup game company)

But to rephrase and then answer your question from two different angles:

"Are there experienced professional programmers and artists who'd be willing to work for me on spec because this is such a great Ultimate Idea?" - No.

"Are there inexperienced aspiring programmers and artists I might be able to convince to work for me on spec because I can convince them this is such a great Ultimate Idea?" - Yes, if you're a really good salesman.

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Original post by tsloper"Are there experienced professional programmers and artists who'd be willing to work for me on spec because this is such a great Ultimate Idea?" - No.


Qualified:

If you pay them competitive salaries ( ~50-90k / year depending on geographical region) - Yes
If you aren't going to pay them or you want them to work for promised %ages of royalties - Absolutely No

-me

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"Palidine" wrote:
>If you aren't going to pay them or you want them to work for promised %ages of royalties

In other words, "on spec." ("Spec" being short for "speculation.")

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"cevo" wrote:

>My only worry is that by that time, someone else will have put this together - like EA, or Bungie. See the thing is, the concept is almost obvious...

If it happens, it happens. You're currently not in a position to capitalize on your idea. You can work towards capitalizing on your idea, but if somebody else does it first and that puts a total stopper on your effort, at least you learned a lot through the work you did - and you'll be able to get another idea to capitalize on.

May you have the strength to change the things you can change, the serenity to accept the things you can't, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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**Removed my post from the cross post and brought it here**

So you do have a game, then, that demonstrates your new idea (as you have said in the linked thread)? If so, I would think that that would be your best bet, to showcase the game and point out its effectiveness as it corresponds with your new idea, because an idea may be good and all, but an example is better. And, if you're worried about your idea being taken, simply get a patent for the concept (if it hasn't already been taken) and then discussing the idea won't be so taboo.

Also, I would be interested to know what COG stands for, if you want to post that here or just PM it to me. If the idea's interesting enough, I'm sure you could find help, but not many people will jump aboard your wagon with just positive words; they need to see some proof that you have something good.

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Original post by Omega147
**Removed my post from the cross post and brought it here**

So you do have a game, then, that demonstrates your new idea (as you have said in the linked thread)? If so, I would think that that would be your best bet, to showcase the game and point out its effectiveness as it corresponds with your new idea, because an idea may be good and all, but an example is better. And, if you're worried about your idea being taken, simply get a patent for the concept (if it hasn't already been taken) and then discussing the idea won't be so taboo.

Also, I would be interested to know what COG stands for, if you want to post that here or just PM it to me. If the idea's interesting enough, I'm sure you could find help, but not many people will jump aboard your wagon with just positive words; they need to see some proof that you have something good.


Or if you prefer the trite idiom: "Put up or shut up." [grin]

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Original post by Omega147
**Removed my post from the cross post and brought it here**

So you do have a game, then, that demonstrates your new idea (as you have said in the linked thread)? If so, I would think that that would be your best bet, to showcase the game and point out its effectiveness as it corresponds with your new idea, because an idea may be good and all, but an example is better. And, if you're worried about your idea being taken, simply get a patent for the concept (if it hasn't already been taken) and then discussing the idea won't be so taboo.

Also, I would be interested to know what COG stands for, if you want to post that here or just PM it to me. If the idea's interesting enough, I'm sure you could find help, but not many people will jump aboard your wagon with just positive words; they need to see some proof that you have something good.


My other post was refering to a CCG I helped developed - Fleer Sports Cards was our [not so wonderful] financial/marketing backing. (collectible card game) It is related though, in terms of backstory. (www.ophidiangames.com) I know that universe inside and out - so alot of the backstory is taken from that.

As discussed in another thread I was reading about a guy on a start up dev team, once the concept is revealed, I become pretty useless as anything but a creative and managerial force. So I admit I am a bit scared for the big reveal. As noted though, an MBA would probably give me more worth.

Again, I really appreciate the feedback.

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Original post by Cevo70
As discussed in another thread I was reading about a guy on a start up dev team, once the concept is revealed, I become pretty useless as anything but a creative and managerial force. So I admit I am a bit scared for the big reveal.
The solution is not to hide your idea. The solution is to start developing the skills that will make you worthwhile. Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. If all you have is the idea then your worth to the project (and thus your share from it) is 1%. If you want to increase your worth then increase your skills.

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All of this said, don't think that 'creative and managerial' tasks are not vital - especially in larger teams. Personally I desparately need a managerial position (art director / lead art) filled - this revolves around specifying what artists should work on, and isn't exactly a 10 minutes, twice a week job.

If your managerial skills are your strength, make a big deal of them. If you know business (company procedures some legalities) make this known. It's all about selling yourself. Don't say 'I can't code' or 'I can't draw'. What people are interested in is what you *can* do.

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Original post by _winterdyne_
It's all about selling yourself. Don't say 'I can't code' or 'I can't draw'. What people are interested in is what you *can* do.


Except, of course, that very often "I can't code, and I can't draw" translates into "but I've got this amazing idea... now move, slaves!". For most management jobs in this industry, you're expected to 'pay your dues' in some way, usually by working your way up from junior positions.

Anyways; this is all beside the point for what the poor guy asked (and it's one of the most commonly asked questions in this industry, so I'm tempted to just refere him to Tom's FAQ :) - "I've got this amazing 'secret/revolutionary/brilliant' idea, but I'm scared people will steal it". Reality is that this just doesn't happen very often; this industry is too small for that sort of thing to have any real milage. And unless you can personally fill each niche in your company, you're going to have to disclose it at some point.

As my biz partner said in another forum to the same question "Now.. if your idea turns out to be SUCCESSFULL, then expect to be cloned to death". But you can't really guard against that (dodgy method-patents aside).

So; if you have the money, or the connections, get a team together using F^3 resources (Friends, Family and Fools). Otherwise, go look in the "Help Wanted" forum, but be prepared to answer questions (including "so why is this so brilliant?" and"What's YOUR contribution to this, apart from telling everyone what to do?"). If you expect pure 'future revenue share', expect that any programmers and artists will want to influence where the product goes.

Have fun,

Allan

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I'm going to make some generalizations here. As a rule, I don't like generalizations that aren't backed up with either very careful qualifications, or lots of empirical evidence. But I'm gonna do it anyways, because I think the point is important [smile]

There are, essentially, two ways to practically accomplish an idea. You can either do it yourself, or you can inspire others to do it on your behalf.

The first approach requires you to develop the relevant skills, acquire the relevant resources, take the risks, and do all the work. This approach is suitable for things that are genuinely only going to work for the first person to realize them; this approach is vital if competition will destroy the entire point of the idea in the first place. These sorts of ideas are actually very, very rare. In fact, I can't think of any examples (but please don't take that to mean that there are no examples).

The second approach is to inspire others. This means finding people who already have or can easily acquire the relevant skills, and getting them interested in working on your idea. This means selling others on your idea so you can distribute the risk and give everyone an overall less risky venture. This means you distribute the work of implementing the idea so that everyone involved can do it without having to be a superhuman.


This second approach, obviously, does not blend well with secrecy. You'll never reach all of the people you really need if you don't talk about the idea. In fact, entire industries have arisen (and sometimes flopped) because people are so good at selling the idea that people jump on board without even making sure the idea is a good one (typically known as "hype"). The way to inspire is to communicate clearly, passionately, persuasively, and - most important of all - to a wide group of people.

There is an interesting trait of business models that many people seem to ignore. It is very common for people to accept something based on its popularity, or the reputation of those who endorse it. Huge volumes of advertising theory is based on this principle. People, in general, are likely to accept something if A) enough other people accept it and/or B) someone they respect accepts it. The designer clothes industry exists solely because this principle works.

In business models, this is important too. When pioneering a business model, it is typical for people to think that they have to be the first (or only) person using that model, or someone else will somehow get all of the pie. This is rarely true, if ever. The fact is, in business models, people are more likely to accept the model if they see it becoming widespread and popular. This is true both of investors and customers, both of whom will be critical to the success of any business model.

The upshot of this is that, paradoxically, it may be healthiest for a business model to try and get a lot of people on board. Once the model becomes sufficiently popular, and accepted, it is more likely to perpetuate itself and be considered a successful model by both investors and consumers.

Look at pay-for-each-song music services. Such services existed as far back as the late 90s, to the best of my knowledge. Yet it took until 2005 for iTunes to really explode, and make the notion seem natural in the minds of the general public. Arguably there are some market forces at work here (like the whole state of the music industry in general), but it is important not to underestimate popularity. I personally think iTunes succeeded almost entirely because of Apple's involvement, and its ties to the iPod phenomenon. The pay-per-song music sales model is now considered viable, and even vital, in the music industry, to a degree that it simply never was before.

Business is littered with similar examples. Sometimes, the power of simultaneous adoption is so huge it actually creates historial landmark manias that have profound consequences on the economies of entire countries, and even the entire world.


One happened a few years ago. You may have heard of the "dot-com bubble."

Secrecy isn't necessarily the most effective road to success.

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The solution is not to hide your idea.

So true. An idea for a game is no different than an idea for a business. You need people to take turn at poking holes into your idea. Either you plug all the holes and your idea soars, or it's so riddled with problems that it sinks faster than the Titanic. Either way, you need to know this *now* before you invest into it. It's just basic risk management.


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