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I  have an idea for a game- I have a ton of concept art for it and I know the overall direction I want it to go.. but I really think I could use community feedback on some aspects of it. the only thing is I'm a bit worried about someone swooping in and taking my idea before I can even begin to work on the actual game.... do any more seasoned Devs have experience with this? Does anyone know some way I could protect my work and still get the feedback I need? How common is theft in the indie community?? 

 

 

EDIT;

thank you for your responses! Im very new to game development and am obviously not breaking any barriers anytime soon but I come from the art community which tends to be riddled with theft- I'm glad to hear that the Dev community doesn't seem to have that same issue! 9it probably helps that most people with this interest are a bit older) again, thank you and I'm excited to get some honest feedback on what I'm working on!

Edited by Boxrib

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Everyone has their own ideas. Everyone thinks their ideas are good, so they're too busy working on their own ones to steal yours.

Game design is hard -- experienced designers are better at it than beginners and have no need for your ideas.

Game development is a very slow and/or expensive endevour, so there's always going to be way more game-ideas than finished games.

You can't protect a game idea anyway -- copyright protects implementations of ideas, not the ideas themselves.

Everyone is standing on the shoulders of giants and remixing existing culture. Your own ideas that you're keeping a secret almost certainly build upon existing ideas. Is that "theft"?

 

That's true, that's part of why I'm concerned though because there are very few instances when something IS completely fresh and to lose that would suck- but at the same time ya it would take a lot of extra time and effort for someone to replicate something well- or minimal effort to do it poorly,, and since there's nothing that can be done it's not really worth worrying about. Thank you for the quick response! 

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the only thing is I'm a bit worried about someone swooping in and taking my idea before I can even begin to work on the actual game

 

That's true, that's part of why I'm concerned though because there are very few instances when something IS completely fresh and to lose that would suck- but at the same time ya it would take a lot of extra time and effort for someone to replicate something well- or minimal effort to do it poorly,, and since there's nothing that can be done it's not really worth worrying about.

I had the exact same problem as you with my MMORPG last year. The best place to start is here.

Edited by bogosaur5000

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Game ideas in the game development industry have inherently little value... which is why no one will bother to plagiarize them.  And the reasons why they have little value are because 1) there's an almost unlimited number of them, and 2) implementing an idea in the form of making a game that ships is very expensive and time consuming.

 

Now, if you make a really good finished game that's making lots of money... then yeah odds are that a hundred shitty Chinese companies will clone it within a year.  But you dont have that, you have an idea.  Not a single company on the planet will stop everything they're doing and scrap their existing games in development just to copy your idea.  Maybe, just maybe you have some really awesome and novel idea... and some company or indie dev will copy some aspect of that idea that happens to mesh with something they're already doing.  But the odds of that happening are lower than the odds of winning the lottery.

 

In the art community plagiarism is easy... just Copy+Paste and you have a copy of someone else's hard work and talent.  Not so much in the games industry.

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Another way to look at it is - ideas are only a starting point for a game development journey. Ideas usually do not survive the game development process unchanged -- they change a lot during development as you test and refine them.

 

The job of a professional game designer is not to simply come up with game ideas and then go home -- a designer has to babysit the idea during the entire period of development, which can be years. During that time they're refining ideas and adapting them to the unforseen. If you want to be a game designer, iterating, modifying, nurturing ideas and adapting ideas to constraints is your real job. 

 

If you have an idea for a great MMO it has zero value to you, because you do not have the capability to act on that idea. It costs millions of dollars to make a simple game and hundreds of millions to make a ground-breaking blockbuster game -- so ideas for big games are worthless to people who don't have that kind of money behind them (And before you say it - it's pretty much impossible to sell a game idea. So it still has zero value to you).

 

So, an idea for a big game only has any value for the people who are actually in the business of making big games... and these people do not buy ideas...

So, if you want to ever design a big game / MMO / etc and have it be made, you have to get hired as a game designer at a company that makes big games / MMOs / etc...

So, if your goal is to get hired as a game designer, you need to get as much practice in designing games as possible...

But, if your designs for MMOs will never get made into games, that's a catch-22 situation, right?

Nope, you can get practice by sharing and discussing your ideas and learning from them!! :)  That is how you find value in ideas that you don't have the capability to act on.

And if someone does actually "steal" one of your ideas and turn it into a big game, then that is actually creating value for you. If you've previously published the idea, and then it turns up in a big game afterwards, then you can claim credit for inventing it and use that of evidence as to why someone should hire you as a game designer.

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Most indie game developers make games THEY want to, so unless they have the same idea as you then your ideas should be safe (ish). It has to be said that lots of games are copied and inspired from other past games, most notably Minecraft was a "clone" of Infiniminer (Notch's words not mine lol) but that's just how it works in the game development world :) If you have a million dollar idea and share it then yes, somebody will probably take it, but you should be pretty safe if your idea is generally normal. I wish you good luck and all the best with your game!

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I have an idea for a game- I have a ton of concept art for it and I know the overall direction I want it to go.. but I really think I could use community feedback on some aspects of it.


Check out the "game design" sub-forum. It also has some insightful FAQs about ideas and why nobody bothers stealing them.


Yes, exactly. For Beginners is a technical forum. Boxrib, if you want to talk about game ideas, the Game Design forum is the place. I'll move this thread there.
And check out http://www.lostgarden.com/2005/08/why-you-should-share-your-game-designs.html 

the only thing is I'm a bit worried about someone swooping in and taking my idea before I can even begin to work on the actual game.... do any more seasoned Devs have experience with this? Does anyone know some way I could protect my work and still get the feedback I need? How common is theft in the indie community??


Ask this frequently-asked question in the Business/Law forum. Short answer: don't worry about it.
 

EDIT;
thank you for your responses!


The proper way to use forums like this one is to post a new reply (don't go back in and edit the original post with follow-up replies). Much easier for readers to follow the discussion that way. Good luck! Edited by Tom Sloper
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Although I never agreed with "ideas are dime a dozen" because good ones aren't, still it's not much likely for someone else to "steal" your idea as explained in thread in many ways.

 

It's okish to be cautious if you have a very good reason but even in such case let a limited number of people test your idea. Don't act on passionate love with idea, let others tear it apart :)

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I worry about the same thing as well considering the fact people get "inspired" by others all the time. I would discuss pieces of the idea or discuss it with others closer to you. Discussing in pieces may or may causes an overwhelming negative or positive response but it still useful data.

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There is no original idea and good ideas will never stop. Shareing what you have with others does many good things like; feedback, confidence and possibly connections with experienced developers/publishers. If you don't share your ideas, its basicly the same thing as not doing anything. Make you you tube video of your project. Its just as good as a copy write. Gives a date and provided proof of ownership. And people can look at it.

Take your time to get to know people. Build a relationship. Game development is not an easy task.

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It's interesting, even though I do agree 100% with everything already said and stand myself on the same notion that ideas have to be shared, there are still thing few interesting edge cases that I'm not quite sure about. Ok, let's say that just a raw idea has a little value, but what about demos and half-implemented products? Do you think it's safe to share them long before release with a wide unknown audience on the Internet? There are clearly some quite unique pieces of game design, that are relatively simple-ish to implement and quite distinctive at the same time. Games like Factorio, Minecraft, KSP? Would it be wise to disclose their core gameplay in ready-to-play state months before actually releasing it? Especially if your team is small and resources are limited... Well, I tend to think that points mentioned above can be still applied here, but can't say I'm 100% sure about it... at least not in some cases. 

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I've seen stupid ideas be amazing and I've seen amazing ideas be stupid.

Do you need or have a team? Will you get the project done? Can you get it done? Do you need money? If you have the team and the funds then start the project. Make a you tube of it when its nearly done.

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I don't know Factorio, but your other two games are prime examples of sharing not being harmful and arguably playing a big part in the success of the product.

Minecraft was originally the work of a solo developer, was not a novel or original idea, and was available as a near-unplayable pre-beta form from very early in development.

KSP was Early Access, and available for a year or so before that, and didn't come out of beta for 4-5 years.

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A quick search suggests that Factorio is still in Early Access, was crowd funded (meaning the idea was shared very early on), and is again not novel ("inspired by Minecraft mods"). Again, sharing obviously hasn't hurt this game.

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Well, Early Access is already selling the playable game, doesn't quite fall into a category 'sharing an idea on early stage'. And yep, Minecraft probably not the best example. Anyway, there is a difference between sharing an idea and sharing all information during development process which might include sensitive and costly R'n'D things, and that's what my point is about. If it wasn't like that, and sharing everything was always beneficial, we would see a line of developers willing to share everything they do with community, but that doesn't happen. Instead, companies compose NDA's for employees and focus test users, and put protective film on office windows, keeping development in secret up until a certain point.

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If i want to share pre-development intel so to speak, i only share the concept, setting, story of my game and keep the vital stuff like gameplay-design to myself until demos/betas are ready. So i can understand your nervosity

 

but in the end it is your call

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If it wasn't like that, and sharing everything was always beneficial, we would see a line of developers willing to share everything they do with community, but that doesn't happen. Instead, companies compose NDA's for employees and focus test users, and put protective film on office windows, keeping development in secret up until a certain point.

I don't think this is really about preventing idea theft, though.

 

Some of it is about managing expectations. You want to control how your work is portrayed in the marketing materials, and want to avoid negative press getting out about features that don't look good (yet), and may also want to avoid people reporting on features that might end up getting cut.

 

Code and art assets however provide clear business benefits. If you pay people $10000 to work on something for a month, then another company gets that stuff for free, then they get to develop at a $10k advantage. But those aren't really ideas, those are products (or sub-products, if you like).

 

It's certainly possible that a sufficiently good idea and a sufficiently transparent implementation could, if observed prior to full launch time, could be quickly cloned by a malicious company. Cloning is becoming a bigger problem in these days of mobile game companies with large resources and marketing budgets. So I might be more cautious these days about open development than I would have been 5 or 10 years ago. But the chance of an idea alone being good enough to merit someone else taking it entirely from concept to completion seems minimal; the main benefit of cloning games is that someone else has done most of the prototyping and design work for you, and an idea is only the seed for that.

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If it wasn't like that, and sharing everything was always beneficial, we would see a line of developers willing to share everything they do with community, but that doesn't happen. Instead, companies compose NDA's for employees and focus test users, and put protective film on office windows, keeping development in secret up until a certain point.

I don't think this is really about preventing idea theft, though.
 
Some of it is about managing expectations. You want to control how your work is portrayed in the marketing materials, and want to avoid negative press getting out about features that don't look good (yet), and may also want to avoid people reporting on features that might end up getting cut.

Yeah -- the games that I've worked on with the strongest secrecy have been movie tie-ins and sports games, which don't have any great secret sauce to protect. The secrecy was demanded by the publisher for other business / publishing / marketing reasons, not for IP protection.
The games that I've worked on with the least amount of secrecy are the actually innovative indie games :)

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Anyway, there is a difference between sharing an idea and sharing all information during development process which might include sensitive and costly R'n'D things, and that's what my point is about. If it wasn't like that, and sharing everything was always beneficial, we would see a line of developers willing to share everything they do with community, but that doesn't happen. Instead, companies compose NDA's for employees and focus test users, and put protective film on office windows, keeping development in secret up until a certain point.


It's big companies that do that. I work for a small company (I work on Factorio actually) and I'm not bound by any NDA whatsoever.

The point of not sharing everything with the community is that rumour has a way of spreading and starting a life of its own. You say “Oh, I'm working on X” somewhere public and a week later, there's a Reddit post saying “the devs have confirmed that X will be in the next release”. Then the feature gets removed and everyone loses their mind saying “But you promised us that X will be there!” That is undesirable. Although I suppose this is only a problem when you're working on a game that already has a community – there's less danger of rumour starting a life of its own when you have an audience of three people.

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