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xraven13

Contract Problems

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One company contacted us few days ago and they are offering us contract.They would make all graphic and sound for our game,also give us site with graphic,distribute our game (first on internet and then if game would be popular in dvd boxes),give us commercials and interviews with magazines.So only thing we need to do is to program and to finish design of game. But there is a catch.They must be sure of course that we will finish that game so they will not lose time and money on us for nothing.That is why they offering us contract(i didnt seen it yet,it is not made yet) which says that we need to make that game in 6 months or all that we programm and design will belong to them.If they break deal and dont make graphic on time then all what they made till now in this game will belong to us. I was talking on IRC #gamedev about this and people there think they could trick us and in end they will take all rights of game and we will got nothing.What should we do protect our selfs? Do you have some suggestion what should be in contract written for protecting us?? I also wonder what is percentage of money (that will come from selling of game) we should ask?? I know they will invest money and risk,they will give all graphic and sound,commercials and distribute our game.And obviously they wanna get some profit from it. I am hoping you will answer because we really need some professional help. Thank in advance! Cheers :)

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Hm, sounds a bit dodgy to me. I can understand they want to be sure you will deliver a complete game on time. But the fact that failure to do so will result in the transfer of all the rights? I've never heard of such a construction.

Anyway, you will need to get hold of the contract, even if it's still a draft. You also need to establish what constitutes a 'finished game'. And most importantly, ask advice from a legal professional, such as a lawyer.

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Quote:
Original post by WanMaster
Hm, sounds a bit dodgy to me. I can understand they want to be sure you will deliver a complete game on time. But the fact that failure to do so will result in the transfer of all the rights? I've never heard of such a construction.

Anyway, you will need to get hold of the contract, even if it's still a draft. You also need to establish what constitutes a 'finished game'. And most importantly, ask advice from a legal professional, such as a lawyer.



That's a really important point. It will be too easy for them to found a bug in your game and then say it's not finish in time and get your game for free !

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For the legal aspects of this, consult a lawyer, to determine how the contract should be written in order to protect you. No amount of legal advice from a web forum is going to help you there (actually, it's more likely to have a negative impact by misleading you).

For the strategic aspects, be careful about two things:
  1. A game is never finished. However, it is sometimes deliverable (then it can be sold) but development, patches, updates and extensions can still go on years after the game was shipped. Make sure you understand what happens if you want to extend the game later on, and how much support you are expected to provide.
  2. I would ask the publisher for sales estimates (how much units they expect to sell within the first year, on average at at worst) and compute how much the entire project costs me.


For instance, if I had to work for six months, I would charge along the lines of $30k, without tax. If the publisher tells me they expect $100k within the first year on average, and $30k worst-case, then I would ask for 30% profits (because I want the investment to pay off in one year on average) with a minimum of $9k (that's 30% of the worst-case $30k).

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Let me understand this correctly. You are responsible for the overall project's deadline, but have little control over the art pipeline schedule as you are dependent on a look & feel document that doesn't exist yet and have no formal mechanism that states what's acceptable and what's not to both parties in terms of final art? Ouch...

-cb

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We need to discuss more about this with that company.They already have contract like this with one other team,but i dont know nothing about them.I guess it will be in contract written deadline for their graphic , because without their graphic we cannot finish game.That is why if they dont do their job in deadline they lose all.But i guess that is not gonna happen,they are not stupid.
I think that in case we dont make game in time, losing all rights is too much...
What other companys do when teams that work for them doesnt finish game in time?
I think we should ask that in that case we lose some percentage of money and that they still allow us to make game.

Game is btw really similar to Legend of Zelda games.Thing is that i dont think they can tell how much pieces they will publish because game is not finished.And because contract will be made on start i dont know how much percentage we could ask from selling.I already told what they are doing.We are programming and designing and thats it.
What is more expensive and important - programming and design or graphic,sound and producing?

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Quote:
Original post by xraven13
What is more expensive and important - programming and design or graphic,sound and producing?

All of them are important. If any piece is bad, then the whole game is bad. The cost of each one varies by the game.




As for your contract, you absolutely need to talk with a lawyer about it.

There are countless ways for a company to take advantage of you with a contract. Little words like "material", "only", "all" and seemingly simple phrases like "time is of the essence" or "best effort", can turn a friendly contract into a horrible one.

Just as important in a contract is what is NOT said. Silence in a contract does not equate to ambiguity. If you didn't include a detail (such as payment, or assignments, or protections) then it does not exist.

There are many people who naively enter a contract thinking they will get a lot of money or value from the contract, but they end up with nothing or even owing a fortune to the people they thought were trying to help them.

Negotiating a contract without a lawyer is a really stupid idea.

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> I think that in case we dont make game in time,

It's way too risky to have this sort of all-or-nothing business arrangements. Can't you cut down the contract into milestones with deliverables, an acceptance process, and payment for each? It's not uncommon to assign a milestone at the first playable level, or when the engine can accomplish all the required game features & effects, for example.

> We are programming and designing and thats it.

You should have some minimal say in the art pipeline. The publisher may not like it, but it's much easier and less time-consuming to tune the artwork around the engine's limitation and performance enveloppe than the other way around.

-cb

[Edited by - cbenoi1 on October 14, 2008 2:52:05 PM]

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I am gonna make plan for each thing that needs to be done,so we will see how much we need to work per day.Btw how come that Legend of Zelda games are made per 2 years , is there so much work around it?
It is sure we will ask that we dont lose all if something happens and we dont finish game,probably that milestone system..too bad i think we dont have money to have a lawyer :(
We will try to avoid those words in contract that are not clear and have many meanings + each detail about all need to written in contract us well.
I guess they will ask us that everything in design document needs to be done.Could it be in contract that for example 90% of stuff in design document is ok? What is usually written in contracts like that? Can anyone give me example? What need to be written in contract that it clearly tells what is project suceed and what is project fail...
p.s. sorry for bad english :)

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>> WanMaster: ask advice from a legal professional, such as a lawyer.
>> ToohrVyk: For the legal aspects of this, consult a lawyer
>> frob: As for your contract, you absolutely need to talk with a lawyer about it.
>> frob: Negotiating a contract without a lawyer is a really stupid idea


> too bad i think we dont have money to have a lawyer :(

Well, I don't know what else to add then. Sorry.

-cb

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