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Cyrus Dragonas

Assembling a Team

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(This is my first post, so please excuse me if I make something in error.) I've been contemplating gathering a team to build a game or two. I realize the best place for me to do that would be in the thread in these forums designed for that purpose, but my question pertains more to the management side of it, specifically, property and things of that nature. For example, if I explain my ideas for a game to someone, is there absolutely no way for me to make sure they don't abscond with my idea and use it themselves? I'm not really worried for the money they might make, but I guess that comes with it. I've had art and other things stolen from me in the past, to be seen later being shown by someone else, claiming it as their own, and I can't protest (I learned to watermark my art after that). I cannot watermark my ideas, though, or the ideas of others. Suffice to say I'm paranoid someone will take my ideas if I share them with them. Should I be that guy no one likes that documents everything? I don't think I like that idea, but I guess if it must be done so be it. Is there an easier way to make trusting people online a non-issue? Or at the very least, easier? Thanks, Cyrus

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There's no way to stop idea theft. But it's standard practice to get potential collaborators to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement before sharing your idea.

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Would that need to be in person? Seeing as how I don't fully know anyone here, I can't really travel to, say, Florida from here for a signature. By the way, thank you for the suggestion. That sounds like a plan. Do I need to have one written up, should I write one, etc? I'm sorry for asking so much.

Cyrus

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Quote:
Original post by Cyrus Dragonas
For example, if I explain my ideas for a game to someone, is there absolutely no way for me to make sure they don't abscond with my idea and use it themselves?
An NDA is the legal tool to use.

Have a lawyer draft it for you. (If you can't afford one, you can't afford to be in business.) The only way an NDA has value is if it can be enforced in the courts.


Nearly all software ideas are valueless by themselves. Game ideas are practically free, and there is no shortage of them.

Implementing ideas is expensive in terms of money or other resources. If you know your idea is valuable and you want to protect it, you need to get involved with a competent IP lawyer to discuss the details.

Quote:
I've had art and other things stolen from me in the past, to be seen later being shown by someone else, claiming it as their own, and I can't protest (I learned to watermark my art after that).
Adding watermarks and other features is a useful deterrent, but it does not solve the problem.

You CAN protest, and you can do it for quite a long time after the incident.

You need to use the legal system.

It isn't free, but if your item has more than a trivial value, it is worth it.

If tangible property was stolen your first stop should have been the police station. You could get a lawyer to try to collect damages at that point.

For intangibles, it can be a little more complicated. First you ask them to stop. Then you get a lawyer involved. Then have the lawyer issue a C&D order. Later enforcement is done through mediation and in the courts. Because of the costs involved, it is often not worth pursuing beyond the C&D order.

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Well thank you for all of your competent responses. I greatly appreciate it. I might not be able to afford a lawyer, but, and I know you said it was flimsy, but I'll have to do my best at writing one myself. Again, I know that sounds childish and is flimsy in court, but when I can't simply afford a real lawyer, I'll have to stand with the flimsy defense a written one by the parties involved will grant, as opposed to toughing it out with none. I know you'll say that's a bad decision, but oh well. I'd rather make a less than great one then let the opportunity pass entirely.

Again, I greatly appreciate every response that was given, and I thank you for your time.

Cyrus

(PS: Everything that was stolen consisted of digital artwork, some 3d and some hand-drawn. The watermark helped, but I do realize that it doesn't necessarily mean it is mine. They CAN be faked. The other stolen things were music I had composed. Longer story than necessary. Anyway, again, thank you.)

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Try to find copies of NDA's online or put yourself in a position to sign several NDA's, that way you will have examples to follow. With that said, when I met with a lawyer to discuss the need for a NDA at start-up/pitching stage he said it was a formality and you didn't have anything worth protecting, but an NDA just says that your serious and you might know what your doing.

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It might be best to have an NDA, but also be reasonable and realize that ideas, especially game ideas are a dime a dozen. Especially the "from 30,000 feet" overview, which is all you're likely to initially share in your recruiting efforts.

If its an idea in development, and the 10,000, 1,000 and 100-foot views aren't yet matured in any real way, then you don't rightly own the property lock-stock-and-barrel anyways.

For example, if I had been alive in 1962 and came up with, even published, a story about a friendly alien who becomes stranded on earth and then is befriended by a boy and his family, it doesn't necessarily mean I have grounds to sue Spielberg over the movie E.T.

John Carmack says that he believes that artists are those people who's imaginations have higher fidelity than your average person. We can all imagine, in our mind's eye, what a broken, destitute city on a post-appocolyptic earth might look like, roughly speaking, but it takes real artistic vision to fill in the fine details that also fit within a consistant concept or narrative. It's these very fine details and 'the fit' that make something really unique and worth protecting (and consequently, also tend to be the sum of which is legally defensible). The accademics tell us that there are only seven stories that have ever been told, and that every story ever written is just a permution on those themes.

I guess I'm saying to take a reasonable stance, be cautious but not paranoid. Even if you do have a great, detailed idea, it doesn't mean anything without making it a reality. Don't get caught up in the delusion that an underdeveloped idea, or one which you don't have the means to produce, has great monetary value -- a bird in the pot is worth two in the hand and all that [smile]

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Just throwing in my 2 cents because I am considering the same issues. None of my comments are to be taken as "legal advice."


I believe your ideas are never 100% safe even with an NDA. There can be all kinds of issues pertaining to enforcement. I think having who ever I would be contracting with and asking to sign a NDA, require them to have it notarized and witnessed. Have it sent via the mail including a copy of their drivers lic and I would make them sign it in blue ink as to be able to tell it is not a copy.

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