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 Hello fellow game devs I am seeking some answers to a somewhat simple question. Now I always thought that when a dev was going to work on a new game to publish he/she should keep some aspects secret infill time to release then he/she can give out needed information pertaining to the game to the public as a marketing tactic. However I had a discussion with other game devs who stated that my way was somewhat not right and the only reason I had such thoughts was due to me being a smaller indie dev who was afraid of having my idea stolen. 

Therefore I would honestly like to know if my way was right or were the other devs correct. If I were to start working on a new game and give out information about it online via social media would I be risking my idea being stolen and it being made faster and better by another developer or team of developers. Am...Am I paranoid??? 

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There are a lot of unscrupulous developers out there who will clone a game to try to cash in on its success: see for example, all the different versions of 'threes' or 'flappy bird' on the app store.

Notice however that I said they will clone a game, as opposed to an idea.

These people are in the business of trying to make a quick buck, and they want to minimise the risk of wasting their time and resources. In order to minimise their risk, they typically copy successful games. They aren't interested in an idea that may or may not actually be successful.

 

There are also some people who will see an unproven idea and copy it if they think it's good. It's probably rarer than you think, but it does happen. A lot of these people are beginning developers, and you don't need to be concerned with them, because most will either not finish the project, or will release a typical low quality beginner project that won't compete with a better version.

Consider also, that if you give the exact same idea to five different developers, you will very likely receive five completely different games. Just look at the different interpretations on the themes for popular game jams!

Lastly, even your most original idea has probably been thought of by some other people.  Surely you've had the experience where some developer releases a game that's exactly or very similar to an idea you haven't told anyone about. If an idea is even half decent, other people will think of it without stealing from you.

 

In summary, I don't think having your idea stolen is something you should worry about.  It is my opinion that the value you get in feedback, potential help, generated interest, etc. far outweigh any risk of idea theft.

Successful indie developer Daniel Cook shares his thoughts in this very well written blog post: Why You Should Share Your Game Designs.

HERE is a recent discussion on the topic in our forums.

 

Now, all the above being said, withholding some information for marketing reasons can be valuable. You almost certainly don't want to keep the whole project secret until release, but you might have a marketing plan that involves withholding certain features or aspects of your game until some formal announcement.  This generally works better for established developers with a large eager fan base than someone unknown, but it may still be something you'd like to try.

If you're withholding information, do it for the right reasons, not because of some fear of having your idea stolen. :)

 

Hope that helps! :)

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2 hours ago, jbadams said:

There are a lot of unscrupulous developers out there who will clone a game to try to cash in on its success: see for example, all the different versions of 'threes' or 'flappy bird' on the app store.

 

2 hours ago, jbadams said:

In summary, I don't think having your idea stolen is something you should worry about.  It is my opinion that the value you get in feedback, potential help, generated interest, etc. far outweigh any risk of idea theft.

This is a sentiment I have seen repeated fairly often when I questioned myself the same thing. I was a bit doubtful at the beginning, but I believe evidence indicate that it is really true. A good example of this perhaps are the GameDev challenges. Even for very simple and established games, the end result is slightly different for each project. 

On the other hand, convergence might still happen regardless of secrecy (think about how some themes or mechanic iterations seem to appear in batch for new games). This is natural, considering that all devs are trying to improve on what came before.

All in all, being open reduces the risky of failure in my point of view, as game devs, especially unexperienced ones, have a tendency for feature creep, getting stuck in minor details and being overly generous with the quality of our products (when we even see the games as products). 

And, why not, another post mirroring the sentiment: https://opensource.com/life/13/8/stealing-ideas  :)

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I don't think it is a good idea to hold back information just to secure your idea.

The chance that someone sees your idea and says "this is exactly what I want with no modifications" is close to zero.

If someone thinks "hey this is a really neat idea, let me take an approach on this", he might take the idea and modify it before starting to work on it.

If you fear that other developers might steal your audience, be aware that games are not exclusive and if a game is free, you can be sure that people who are interested in the idea will take a look at your game.

You won't be able to prevent your idea from leaking to the public when you release your game and then you have the exact same problems with other devs copying the idea.

Usually they won't copy the setting and add or remove a few mechanics to make their game feel different to yours.

 

But the input from other developers who are trying to help you is much more valuable than the problems sharing your idea might cause.

Getting input on settings, mechanics and code is how you can improve the game by a lot.

 

Also be aware that most ideas are not that great on their own.

Ever heard of a game where you place blocks on top of others in a 2D environment to fill a hole?

Or a plumber walking from left to right jumping through obstacles and onto turtles?

Of course those ideas sound lame, but I don't think Tetris and Mario where that bad.

It's the result that matters.

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By all means, if you don't want to talk about your game, don't talk about your game.

The downside is that nobody else can talk about aspects of your game that they don't know about. This limits the sort of sharing and coverage you are going to get. The biggest problem with most game devs is that nobody cares about your game - without some sort of buzz around it, you're unlikely to shift any copies.

The risk of anything being 'stolen' from you is basically zero. You can just decide what sort of information you want to share based on your marketing plan.

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20 hours ago, SeelenGeier said:

"hey this is a really neat idea, let me take an approach on this"

And if something like this actually happens to an indie dev, like I've mentioned before, it would be an honour.

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Ideas are only getting better and refined with time and involvement.

Usually the first one to implement an idea is not the one succeeding with it.

 

Just remember how the iPhone was just a smartphone with a very refined Interface.

Apple did nothing new and made billions with this.

 

In case of code, think World of Warcraft which in theory is only Ultima in 3D in the Warcraft universe.

It made Blizzard the industry giant it is now but no one really complains.

 

Counterstrike was just Team Deathmatch from half-life with realistic military setting and started as a simple mod...now it is an esport giant.

 

You can also refine your own ideas and games with a second version of your game.

Many game series best games were the second game and not the first.

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It's worth noting that many of the most popular and successful games are not actually original ideas.

Minecraft was not an original idea.

Angry birds was not an original idea.

World of Warcraft was not an original idea.

Call of Duty was not an original idea.

Madden NFL was not an original idea. 

Skyrim was not an original idea.

The list could go on...

 

There's this romantic thought that a great idea is important, but the reality is that many of the most successful and popular games are well-executed rehashes of existing ideas; novelty can be an advantage, but it's also frequently and vastly overrated.

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Implementation > Concept

 

Make sure your game is playing great and the concept can be bad.

A good concept with bad gameplay is worth nothing as history shows.

The player has to have a good feeling from a game, he does not care about the overarching concept or setting.

Just think about all those awful film adaptations that had a great concept (the film) as reference and bad gameplay (just crammed something in there).

There are very few adaptation games that were actually good (Spiderman 2 was awesome ^^).

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