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How To Sell a Video Game Idea?

timothy posted about 6 years ago | from the keep-cat-in-bag dept.

Software 351

fobsta writes "Do any Slashdotters have experience of selling video game ideas? I'm an artist who has programmed a rough-as-nails demo and animated a trailer to explain my concept. Obviously I think it's fun, it shows promise, and my friends think it's cool. Who should I pitch the idea to? Existing video games companies, venture capitalists, or what about those dentists who financed the Amiga? Are they still around? I've had a previous idea hijacked, and received no reward for it whatsoever; how can I prevent this happening again?"

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351 comments

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Don't post first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517357)

like me.

Re:Don't post first (3, Funny)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | about 6 years ago | (#24517535)

Thats terrible advice, I'd think you would want to be first when selling an idea, what with the whole copyright thing.

To begin with... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517369)

"Who should I pitch the idea to?"

Everybody. Put the trailer online, put up a download link for your demo. Make sure it says somewhere on the page that you want to make money from it, though.

"Having had a previous idea hijacked and received no reward for it whatsoever, how can I prevent this happening again?"

Don't show your idea to anybody. Just tell them you've got it and make sure they know that you want to make money from it.

Re:To begin with... (0, Troll)

philspear (1142299) | about 6 years ago | (#24518031)

A worthwhile post, glad I read it.

What a freaking waste of time my time, you contradicted yourself and it wasn't even funny.

Ideas are cheap. (4, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 6 years ago | (#24517379)

Really ideas are a dime a dozen. Get a good bit demo code done. Shop it around to some venture capitalists and see what happens.
As to protection. NDAs are about it but if you are not prepared to sue then they are just paper.
The old saying is "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door"
Have an idea about better mousetrap well that is nice.

Re:Ideas are cheap. (5, Informative)

dlaudel (1304717) | about 6 years ago | (#24517467)

Exactly. The group that made Portal started out with a little project called Narbacular Drop. It was a rough looking project (I think for school) but it nicely demonstrated the concept of portals. Valve apparently hired the team on the spot when they saw the demo, and that has worked out very well for the team. If you can, code a demo, or find someone to code for you while you provide art and direction.

Re:Ideas are cheap. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24518067)

The Portal group were students at DigiPen, where you make a game as a project every semester. There's a big difference between being a college student and seeing your final thesis become a commercial product [as happens in many different industries and fields] and trying to support yourself while coding and creating assets for a garage game.

Re:Ideas are cheap. (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | about 6 years ago | (#24518017)

Yeah... there are *loads* of video game ideas. Look into jobs for game design... every piece of game design job info you find will say something along the lines of, "If you're looking into being a game designer because you have some pet project that you want to see happen - don't hold your breath."

Re: Idea theft - If your idea is truly unique and you're worried about it being stolen I'd definitely immediately put a copy of what you've got so far on a disc and mail into yourself. That can *roughly* provide evidence that you had the idea before someone took it from you.

As for shopping it around... the others are right. If you want to convince people you've really got to build a compelling demo. People will understand that the graphics aren't amazing. There's a reason architects build models and programmers (should) provide UI mockups... A picture is worth a 1,000 words. Telling them the gameplay is unique and cool isn't nearly as effective as letting them find out for themselves.

Re:Ideas are cheap. (1)

pthor1231 (885423) | about 6 years ago | (#24518193)

I wouldn't go with the Poor Man's copyright [wikipedia.org] idea. It doesn't have any case law AFAIK, and is easily fakeable.

Re:Ideas are cheap. (3, Informative)

AuMatar (183847) | about 6 years ago | (#24518203)

Mailing something to yourself is worse than useless. You'd be laughed out of court. There's no legal requirement that letters be sealed. You could just as easily have mailed yourself an unsealed envelope, and put a cd in there at a later time. If you want copyright protection, register it with the copyright office. Really, this mail it to yourself meme needs to die.

Of course, copyright doesn't protect ideas, merely an individual implementation. SO even if mailing it to yourself was worth a damn it wouldn't matter- there's no law against ripping off a game idea. If they use the same character names, plotline, and artwork you might have a case. But taking the idea and running with it is not copyright infringement. If you're afraid of that, get an NDA signed, and hire a lawyer.

Indie game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517389)

You could make your own free open source software (FOSS) indie game.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_video_game_development [wikipedia.org]

Re:Indie game (0, Flamebait)

Vectronic (1221470) | about 6 years ago | (#24517629)

That would probably only work if the game was demo, or had a lot of the features disabled (removed entirely). F-Free is fine, its the OSS that becomes a problem, licensing, etc and like a previous poster said, its basically just paper unless you can back it up in court (ie: money + time)

Otherwise you end up with the problem he/it/them apparently already had with people taking the idea and running with it (some EA snoop or something)

FOSS wouldnt make him a profit unless it was a MMORPG or similar where you can make the money from selling items and such, or just an account to access the items, or servers. MMORPGs are hugely profitable, but pretty hard to start without a decent backing to begin-with (and an addictive game) which he doesn't have.

But I think a lot of it depends on just how much he depends on the game to live, how soon he needs to depend on it.

Re:Indie game (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 6 years ago | (#24518369)

Yes F/OSS software *can* make money. Think of it this way, if you wrote an application and licensed it like under the BSD license, stuck the source code on a website, but made people pay $3 to download it for your iPhone, you just made money on an OSS idea. And really, no one is going to compile the source other than people who jailbreaked the iPhone, and that is few people. Then port the application to the Wii, Cell Phones, etc. All the while having source on your website but offering binary downloads for platforms that your can't "sudo apt-get install" or double click an .EXE to install programs. I can see this possibly being a problem if you use the GPL V3 though.

Re:Indie game (1)

topham (32406) | about 6 years ago | (#24518433)

You release it to the iPhone and on a BSD license then I can download it, compile it and release it on iTunes for $2 instead of $3...

Not really a good way to go.

Existing process? (2, Interesting)

zugmeister (1050414) | about 6 years ago | (#24517407)

Isn't there some sort of process where the people you show your idea to Agree to Non-Disclosure of it?

Re:Existing process? (-1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 6 years ago | (#24517637)

Sure, but your chances of getting any VC or similar to even look at an NDA, much less sign one, are approximately the same as those of the Sun going supernova tomorrow.

Re:Existing process? (2, Informative)

HateBreeder (656491) | about 6 years ago | (#24517761)

Bullshit.

I had several ideas which i pitched to Venture Capitalists. They all had no problems signing an NDA and even offered to sign one as soon as I approached them.

This is a very common and accepted practice. VCs are looking for good ideas all the time.

Re:Existing process? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24518109)

No, the GP is correct, most VC won't sign a non-disclosure. Angels might be more willing, but I doubt it. Ideas are (as has been repeated many times) a dime a dozen.

The fund manager I know says they won't sign because they may also be looking at the very same idea coming from someone else (who may be more fundable), and they don't want to create potential conflicts.

Ideas ? Where we're going, we don't need ideas. (0)

shihonage (731699) | about 6 years ago | (#24517409)

Videogames are an interactive medium. A trailer is not a convincing means of portraying working gameplay mechanics. I'm sorry to say, but ideas are a dime a dozen, even if you can make a video out of them. Unless you can make a convincing video of a continuous chunk of mock-up gameplay, that proves without the shadow of a doubt that your "original" gameplay mechanics actually work, it's kind of a crapshoot.

I don't know, but... (4, Funny)

RingDev (879105) | about 6 years ago | (#24517413)

I've got this great idea for a movie. It's called "Vampirates 2: Vampirates in Space!" With the tag line "In space, everything sucks!" and it would be a continuation of the Vampirates vs Ninja Mutants saga that started in Vampirates 1. So if ya find anyone with resources to throw around, point them over my way when you're done with 'em, I want to see some hot Vampirate vs cat-man ninja action on the big screen!

-Rick

Re:I don't know, but... (2, Insightful)

ArmyOfAardvarks (1281154) | about 6 years ago | (#24517851)

You joke, but that sounds like fun. :)

Re:I don't know, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517939)

Sounds shit, can't wait to see it. Can't be worse that the never ending cycle of regurgitated comic characters the jews in Hollywood throw at us.

One request though, please have gratuitous booby shots all the way through. And don't blur out the nipples. Not everyone is like Americans and suffers from nipple-phobia!

Re:I don't know, but... (1)

Onetus (23797) | about 6 years ago | (#24518079)

Sorry, but Uwe Boll's already taken the funding to do a movie with that "plot".

You could Ask (1)

CaptScarlet22 (585291) | about 6 years ago | (#24517415)

Armin Heinrich

Go Independent until you find a publisher (1)

Dex5791 (973984) | about 6 years ago | (#24517427)

Make something playable then try to sell it to a publisher. If they don't bite, make it better until they do.

How should one choose a platform? (0)

tepples (727027) | about 6 years ago | (#24518007)

Make something playable then try to sell it to a publisher.

On which platform should one develop the prototype? The consoles have lockout chips. Would you recommend SDL+OpenGL, XNA, Java, or something else?

Oh wait, someone might have already answered that question [slashdot.org] .

I don't have an answer, but here is another idea (2, Funny)

sjonke (457707) | about 6 years ago | (#24517439)

Put a talking point in it for McCaine, and at the very least you might win a toaster

You could try... (1)

AbsoluteXyro (1048620) | about 6 years ago | (#24517449)

You could try to get reincarnated as one of Shigeru Miyamoto's kids... otherwise I think you are pretty much SOL.

give up now (4, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 6 years ago | (#24517457)

You have no chance of making it big. Bring the idea as far as you can on your own and just use it for resume fodder.

You need something innovative on the business side to catch anyone's attention. Yet another "innovative" game concept is not going to attract any investment. You're about 10 years too late for that.

Re:give up now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517859)

Yet another "innovative" game concept is not going to attract any investment. You're about 10 years too late for that.

That post + Alien Hominid + Portal = You're a moron

Re:give up now (0, Flamebait)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 6 years ago | (#24518021)

Alien Hominid? you've got to be joking. It's a minor cult hit. By no means was it a major success.

And Portal works because 1. it's from an established studio 2. the studio uses an innovative business model.

Either you're a moron or a troll, likely both.

notamoron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24518113)

This was an "ask slashdot," AKA "please give me terrible advice." He was just doing what he was supposed to.

Ideas are a dime a dozen. (4, Informative)

RomSteady (533144) | about 6 years ago | (#24517471)

In this industry, you will NOT be able to sell an idea with what you have.

Time, money, resources, staff, all of these are in short supply...but ideas are in abundance in the industry. Everyone in the industry has an idea, but only a rare few will get the opportunities to make their ideas into products.

If you want your idea to come to life, make a prototype and a proof of concept like you've already done, and then polish it to a shine. Make what is called a "vertical slice."

Once you have the vertical slice, create NDA's to cover your idea and work from there.

Re:Ideas are a dime a dozen. (2, Interesting)

aztektum (170569) | about 6 years ago | (#24517853)

Indeed. I'd even say this applies to ANY creative realm. You could write Marvel or DC every day saying "OO I have a cool idea!" and their response will be something along the lines of "So do the other 1,000 people we received letters from today." (I may or may not have received such a letter as a kid :))

Hell even the pros have to come up with a fleshed out concept, characters, storylines, etc.. I remember reading in Wizard Mark Waid's outline for the new Ka-Zar comic a decade ago. At that point he had plenty of success under his belt, but he still had to give Marvel something to get them to consider it and approve it.

IP Attorney (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517477)

I was in a similar situation so if I were you I would hire an intellectual property rights attorney. This person would also probably have helpful advice.

Re:IP Attorney (1)

Zordak (123132) | about 6 years ago | (#24517791)

I was in a similar situation so if I were you I would hire an intellectual property rights attorney. This person would also probably have helpful advice.

Ooh! Pick me! Pick me! That would be great to be able to tell the firm "I have to post on Slashdot. It's where my clients come from."

Four ways to turn your concept into a video game: (5, Informative)

MiceHead (723398) | about 6 years ago | (#24517481)

Four ways to turn your concept into a video game:

4. Create a polished game and approach (or be approached by) an established studio. Also known as the Portal [wikipedia.org] approach [wikipedia.org] . Also the flOw [wikipedia.org] approach. "Sony Computer Entertainment approached some future members of thatgamecompany after seeing Cloud and asked them to form a company and signed them on to make three downloadable games for the PlayStation 3. Cloud ended up being a game that wouldn't be possible for a company as small as thatgamecompany to make, so they made flOw instead. thatgamecompany was created on May 15th, 2006."

3. Work your way up in one or more established studios towards the role of game designer. The American McGee [wikipedia.org] approach. "McGee began his career at id Software. He worked on such games as DOOM, Doom II, Quake, and Quake II in the areas of level design, music production, sound effects development, and program coding. In 1998, he moved to Electronic Arts, where he worked as a consultant on many projects and also created his own game, American McGee's Alice." Mind you, that can be the long route, assuming you're even successful.

2. Work with an independent group of hobbyists and promise to split the profits once you make money. This is difficult to pull off, because contributors lose interest when things become difficult. This is enough of a problem that I'd rather have one paid contractor with modest abilities than a dozen unpaid contributors with spectacular abilities. Blech.

1. Establish your own company and finance development as a third party. Many small developers bootstrap with smaller projects in niche or new markets, eventually working their way up towards larger ones. The iPhone is potentially an awesome way [tgdaily.com] to get your title out there. Start by developing a finished game that's small in scope, and demonstrates the very core concepts of your idea. Rinse. Repeat.

My favorite is, of course, to take #1 and run with it. Tighten your belt, and pay a contractor with good references to help you bring your idea to light on the platform where the competition is still pretty weak, and the barrier to entry is low. That was the Palm Pilot during late '90s, and is probably something like WiiWare or the iPhone now.

Good luck!

Re:Four ways to turn your concept into a video gam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517903)

In addition to WiiWare and the iPhone, Steam, and Xbox/Windows Live (when XNA 3.0 is out) are good places to start.

Re:Four ways to turn your concept into a video gam (2, Insightful)

nhtshot (198470) | about 6 years ago | (#24518305)

I'm a programmer. I have experience writing games for several different platforms.

A good friend of mine is a 3d artist. He came to me a few months ago with an idea for a game. We pooled our cash, bought the necessary equipment and are making a go of it.

I can tell you that it's not an easy road, but, if you really want to see your game get built, and potentially make some money from it, you'll have to build it yourself.

On the bright side though, there are many opportunities once you have a viable product. We're still a while from release, but our playable proof of concept was good enough to negotiate a publishing contract. Once we had that, raising money was easy.

Nintendo stole one of my ideas once... (5, Funny)

scourfish (573542) | about 6 years ago | (#24517493)

It was back in the 80's. And I was pitching a "mat," that you use to "Jump" to "conclusions." Nintendo blew me off. A few months later, they released the power pad, and I still haven't seen a dime.

Re:Nintendo stole one of my ideas once... (0, Redundant)

cashman73 (855518) | about 6 years ago | (#24517841)

"That's a horrible idea, Tom."

Patent Patent Revolution (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 years ago | (#24518189)

I was pitching a "mat," that you use to "Jump" to "conclusions." Nintendo blew me off. A few months later, they released the power pad, and I still haven't seen a dime.

You should have approached the patent office. Then you'd have made a killing as a patent troll when Konami started to sell Dance Dance Revolution.

tell me about your idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517499)

and maybe i'll finance it.

Ideas are crap... (3, Insightful)

topham (32406) | about 6 years ago | (#24517515)

Ideas are crap, everybody has ideas.

In this case, it sounds like you've gone beyond an idea and prototyped the game. Now what?

Non-Disclosure Agreements are your friend.

Got some money? Hire a programmer (or two) to write it.
Write it yourself.

Promote the demo to everybody and get the game re-written as open source. Everybody gets to play to game, you get some street cred, and you have a better chance of finding someone to listen for the next game idea.

I can help (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517521)

Please PM me with your idea. If you are unable to reach me at that address, post it here and I will review it.

You don't (1)

Plasmadog (564162) | about 6 years ago | (#24517533)

This question often comes up on forums like Gamedev.net, and the answer is always the same. Nobody wants to buy game ideas, from you or anyone else. Ideas are a dime a dozen, and there is too much legal difficulty involved in even looking at someones idea. Developers would much rather work on their own ideas (of which they have many) than take on someone else's.

rec.games.programmer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517547)

Isn't this the classic post on rec.games.programmer?

I have this great Idea! All I need is a couple of slaves^H^H^H^H^H^Hprogrammers to come and write it all up. I'm willing to let you work for free and will give you 0% of the earnings. Don't even bother trying to share your thoughts, I'm the Idea. You're just grunt work. My two seconds of thinking are absolutely more important and valuable than your thousands of hours of software development.

Finish the game first (4, Informative)

neostorm (462848) | about 6 years ago | (#24517549)

As a veteran of the game industry I can tell you - you need to complete the game first. Ideas are a dime a dozen. No one will give you money for development. You need to show them the finished product and ask for them to fund the publishing of it. That's the only way you will be able to acquire money from a publisher, unless you self-publish online or through various indie-channels (XBox Live, Wii Ware, Greenhouse, etc), but of course those still require a completed product as well.

Re:Finish the game first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517775)

I'm an vet of the industry as well and I can tell you with a certain amount of accuracy that this post is basically correct. Otherwise if you're hell bent on showing your work, head over to the next GDC and start trying to shop it around. But unless you have a working demo that's pretty damn fun, your up the creek.

Re:Finish the game first (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | about 6 years ago | (#24517971)

What would you suggest for someone how has... well, no idea how to do that? I design learning environments; so far curricula, but my main interest is informal learning settings, including video games. I think the DS would be a perfect platform, and have a few ideas that I could develop - but I have no idea how to get further than outlines, mockups, maybe flash versions of parts. I can program a bit, but I have no idea how to make anything like a finished product. Do I need to add a second career as a programmer, or is there any hope of attracting someone's attention with mockups and outlines? If not to publish it from that form, at least to get funding to hire programmers?

It's all based on the latest and greatest in learning research, I swear. :)

Re:Finish the game first (1)

kesuki (321456) | about 6 years ago | (#24518171)

"It's all based on the latest and greatest in learning research, I swear. :)"

then most likely whomever you work for made you sign away the rights to it, even though they aren't a game developer, most likely it some way pertains to work you've done for your employer, and it's going to be untouchable.

now, you could look into the DS homebrew scenehttp://www.ndshb.com/ [ndshb.com] , maybe find a couple credible homebrewers who are willing to slave away on your idea to produce a totally free product that will turn heads, and get them serious 6 figure jobs... or whatever it is they slave over homebrew games for...

that site might not be the best, it was just a top google site.

Re:Finish the game first (1)

AuMatar (183847) | about 6 years ago | (#24518337)

Either learn to be a programmer, or find a programmer who's willing to do it for cash (or if you can sell him on it, a share of the profits). However, flash demos may be good enough- write the game in flash, use that as a demo, and then hire real coders to port it (or rewrite it, which is probably needed if you write it as a non-coder). But you need to be able to show some sort of finished product as proof of concept. Otherwise why should someone give you money rather than someone with a proven track record?

DIY (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517559)

Ideas are cheap. If you want to cash in on it, you have to go at it your self.

The people who make the big bucks are those who can take an idea and make it into a product.

Even pretty good ones like say the Portal (the game ) concept, is nothing without the follow through, the attention to detail and creativity that brought it to life.

You could just as easily make perfectly crap game with the same concept and story.

Watch The 6 O'clock News: +1, Ingenious (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517577)

Fii ( Fucked In Iraq) [whitehouse.org] is the title of my new game.

flexibility? (2, Insightful)

BPPG (1181851) | about 6 years ago | (#24517607)

I'm not speaking from any real experience or anything, but it might be a good idea to leave room in your pitch for flexibilities and possibilities. Or at least imply that you're willing to accept suggestions or criticisms. Producer-types like to feel like they've made some sort of impact on a project other than funding it. The main thing is getting them to actively think about the possibilities, which will force them to take it a little more seriously.

The tricky part is to not let them get too involved, because then they might start to suggest some silly ideas.

Go Rogue ya panzy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517609)

Independent [slashdot.org] that is

People will insist on NOT seeing it (4, Interesting)

Spectre (1685) | about 6 years ago | (#24517615)

If they see your demo, and anything they are already working on is similar or has similar elements, they're opening themselves up to a suit (from you) when they release their product.

About the only way anybody I know in the industry will look at anyone else's concepts is if:

A) The concept is being given away, for free, to be used in any way, without any limitations

and

B) The originator of said concept signs legal papers stating the material is theirs to give away and A) applies.

Even then, most companies still won't touch it and will refuse to see it, as the person providing it may be wrong in stating the material isn't already encumbered (whether the originator knew it or not).

Some examples of how material (like a trailer) can be encumbered without the originator really being aware:

- trailer was made using originator's employer's software/hardware/time

- trailer was made by somebody with a strict employer agreement on original works (anything I author that isn't "for the company" I need to register the material with my employer ... or my employer owns it)

- trailer includes characters based on somebody else's trademarked images

- trailer was made using pirated software (believe it or not - this can cause very weird legal problems)

So, sorry, but you'll have a very tough time getting anybody to view it, even just to say "that's neat, but we aren't interested."

Instead it'll be, "I'm sorry, but we can't look at it."

Re:People will insist on NOT seeing it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517723)

Welcome to the brave new world of opportunity, brought to you by intellectual property.

Amateurs (4, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 years ago | (#24517625)

Disclaimer: I am not a developer, but I've read a lot of horror stories. If you try to pitch it to an established publisher or developer, the legitimate ones will turn you away because it leaves them wide open to a messy lawsuit if they do anything remotely similar in the future, even by coincidence. The unscrupulous ones will just rip you off. You really need to turn it into a legally-protectable game, or a total conversion mod, or something, and then get it published small-scale to demonstrate popularity. If you don't have the know-how, try to get together a team of amateurs, friends, sufficiently motivated guys online, whatever. Give it away, shareware, however you distribute it make sure that it gets out there and people know it's yours. Enter it in indie game contests. Whatever you can.

Then when you have an actual game to speak of, and some indication that it could sell, see about getting a publisher interested in buying the idea from you. What happens next will depend on the type of game we're talking about.

What I've read about game development in the past suggests that your project may well vanish into development hell at this stage, or be pushed out as a diabolical mess which means nobody will ever want to touch your game ever again. And you'll be unable to make amends because you've sold away the "big version" rights. You may make some money back for your time and effort though. The alternative would be to keep it small-scale, on mobile phones or whatever. This would suit many kinds of games. Only if you can manage to turn that small game into your own personal development empire, could you crank out a large-scale game like Halo or whatever.

Moral: the odds are against you ever being able to produce a Halo-style blockbuster, unless you want to get into career game design or are willing to give the idea to someone who is. And even if you're just trying to create one fun little puzzler, it's going to take a lot of time, effort, and cooperation.

ENCOM (1)

devotedlhasa (1298843) | about 6 years ago | (#24517627)

Although, you might have fight some gladiator style games and destroy the MCP before you get credit for you work.

depends... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517639)

It depends a lot.

If your idea is very very good and original, and you've explored fully (having written quality content for it), then you *may* pitch it to a gaming studio and hopping you are special enough for them to hire you as a writer or artistic consultant or something like that.

If it's just another idea for a shooter, then just forget about it. Everybody got ideas. They are mostly worthless, and a developer won't invest in you because you happened to have one and you coded a prototype around it.

Tell the pros. (1)

y86 (111726) | about 6 years ago | (#24517683)

I hear Bill Gates and Steve Jobs value ideas. I bet if you let them in on your design idea they would pay you lots later.

The reality is... (1)

TobyWong (168498) | about 6 years ago | (#24517709)

There are no shortage of good ideas in this world. The same goes for good video game ideas. It's all about who has the means and the skill to execute on an idea.

Also, NDA's don't mean shit when it comes to protecting yourself. You take a calculated risk every time you show someone your idea no matter what you make them sign before hand. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to have enough development work in that they would be better off buying you out than stealing. Make it worth their while to go the legit route.

easy procces (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | about 6 years ago | (#24517711)

Print out all material for your idea, organize it neatly, stick it in a box, tape the box up and put postage on it, now light the box on fire. Don't know if this works for Ideas but it sure works on my bills.

Buy my idea!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517721)

For $50... comes with a free blowjob

Abandon all hope... (4, Insightful)

MythoBeast (54294) | about 6 years ago | (#24517725)

Unfortunately, video game ideas are about as rare as fiction plotlines. Every major series on TV is deluged by hundreds of story ideas that they are not allowed to read because they fear that if they read them, they'll be sued for using an idea that they already had on their own.

Writers of all types suffer from this on a continual basis. The writers themselves usually have far more ideas than they have writing time. The desire to turn those ideas into reality is usually what pushed them to learn the skill in the first place. As a result, recommendations by other people that the writer should develop THEIR idea usually just winds up being annoying.

Video game ideas are the same. People with the resources to develop video games are perpetually surrounded by people who say "wouldn't it be cool if...". Unless you have the development skill (or can find a friend with such) to actually create the game yourself and put it out on the internet, it'll never happen.

Sorry, but that's the harsh reality of things.

You don't want your idea ripped off? (1)

billlava (1270394) | about 6 years ago | (#24517731)

Just email me all your materials and I'll show them to my contacts at EA, Microsoft, and Blizzard... really.

Steam? (2, Interesting)

Sta7ic (819090) | about 6 years ago | (#24517795)

I'd hunt down a programmer, or hit the books, put something playable together, TEST IT, and try to pitch it to be published on Steam, XBLA, or the like. There are a couple of un-boxed distribution channels these days, and it couldn't hurt to look into them.

In the meantime ... ideas are a dime a dozen, we keep hearing, and it's when everything gets put together and runs that you have a sellable product with value.

The Art of Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517805)

Tell me what your idea is and I'll tell you how to keep people from stealing it.

Ideas? (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | about 6 years ago | (#24517817)

No-one in this industry is interested in ideas. Ideas are anathema to the people in control. A project that is based on "an idea" is a project that could fail. Better to base a project on a film tie-in, or a mechanic from a previous game, or preferably both. That way you can be sure it will sell.

I've got an idea that you all can have . (3, Funny)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | about 6 years ago | (#24517825)

Sadly, Ideas are cheap - although ironically they are truly the most precious things we can posses.

I have zero experience in the game industry and I have no success in getting any idea of mine going big-time. Still, I have had ideas which later have been implemented by someone else (often because they were obvious due to some recent event).

I have come to the conclusion that the best ideas are the ones which you don't actually mind if someone else creates, because it means you get to use the creation.

My idea is for a video game called "Freeway Crash" or "Freeway Pileup" or something.

The game starts up with you getting on a freeway in random traffic. There is a countdown timer and at some random time in the countdown there will be an accident and you have to avoid it somehow - or avoid being caught-up in it.

The game would hinge on two things - one, it would need to be freely downloadable. two, it would need to have very good car models and crash physics.

The freeness would allow for mass download and play and the great graphics and physics would push for the pay (cheap 10$) version which would have the ability to playback the crash in slow motion and to create youtube-like vids a'la spore style and perhaps some other features like different cars and freeways or even an online component.

There. Free idea for the world.

Anybody want me as a game designer? I have 10 more concepts.

Re:I've got an idea that you all can have . (2, Funny)

CorSci81 (1007499) | about 6 years ago | (#24518027)

I play this game every day I drive to and from work, it's called Commuting in Los Angeles.

Thank you! (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | about 6 years ago | (#24517829)

Thank you for asking this! I have been wondering the same kind of thing, I'll be bookmarking this page for future reference. I design learning environments and would love to make educational video games but have absolutely no clue how to go from idea to game that you can buy in the store.

it's time to show it to your mum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517835)

Maybe she'll do some pancakes for you!

Not a grammar game I'm guessing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517837)

'who has' or 'who's' not 'whose'.

just tell them... (1)

evilmousse (798341) | about 6 years ago | (#24517847)

..there's cake!

I am a video game designer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24517889)

I, and my colleagues, each have our own pet ideas we'd like to get made. So does everyone else in the office... I bet even the HR person has a pet design doc.

There is no way that some guy off the street is going to sell his design into this environment. I think that generally you will find that anyone who is capable of making your game isn't interested in your ideas... we have our own. I have worked at big companies and small companies and I have never heard of this happening.

I can't imagine anyone stealing a design, either, but I guess anything is possible.

I'm sure it is possible to sell an idea too, but... Your best chance is to start your own company, so find some VCs or rich dentists.

Unless you are Shigeru Miyamoto posting under an alias. In that case, sumimasen, sensei.

Re:I am a video game designer (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 6 years ago | (#24517967)

so, where do we find out how to write a knockout design doc?

Do it yourself -- really! (2, Interesting)

Allen Varney (449382) | about 6 years ago | (#24517891)

Honestly, the best and most practical path forward in today's game market is to create and market the game yourself. Though the indie space is constantly changing (for instance, the casual-game portal market that thrived as little as two years ago has now turned stagnant), there are still many opportunities for independent creative thinkers.

Indie designer Jonathan Blow, whose inventive puzzle platformer Braid just launched on Xbox Live Arcade, speaks eloquently about the indie viewpoint in his keynote speech at the Free Play 2007 conference [sumea.com.au] in Melbourne. The video of his speech is compelling and inspirational. Look up his many interviews and then go on from there to learn about other indie designers. It's a tricky path but exciting and potentially rewarding.

The 3DRealms Method (3, Funny)

cashman73 (855518) | about 6 years ago | (#24517917)

  1. Think up idea for a sequel to a popular first-person shooter game based on a popular selling title from the early 90s.
  2. Spend ten years millions of dollars on its develop, and change your graphics engine 10 times prior to release.
  3. During this time, hype up the game in every major gaming rag, and on every major website and blog on the internet. Don't forget to tell Slashdot [slashdot.org] and Netcraft [netcraft.com] .
  4. ???
  5. Profit!

It's all about the Team (1)

Spazmania (174582) | about 6 years ago | (#24517947)

Lots of folks have ideas. Some are brilliant. Most are unworkable. It's awfully hard to be sure at the front end that yours won't be among the unworkable ones.

That's why VC's don't buy ideas. They buy teams instead: a group of apparently well qualified people who have subscribed to the consensus that a particular set of ideas is good and have already spent a considerable amount of effort building the idea to a point where they need capital to take it further.

You're the artist. When you, a composer, a developer and salesman (at least one of you with prior entrepreneurial experience) have each put 200 hours into the project, that's when the VC's will start to become interested in talking.

Until you can convince 3 other people with the right set of talents to jump on your bandwagon and put their time and reputation on the line, well, no offense but the VC's time is too valuable to waste on you.

I've got an idea for a book (3, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | about 6 years ago | (#24517949)

Every well known writer has had someone come to them and tell them about their idea. "It's about this guy called Bob. He builds a spaceship and visits lots of planets where exciting adventures happen. Can you write this story for me? I'll split the profits 50/50".

The same applies to studios. Everyone has an idea for a game. Here's an example [freelists.org] . It just doesn't work like that.

What actually happens is that someone in the company comes up with a game concept, and producers and designers talk about it. In many cases (especially party games), there's some discussion about whether it's technically possible. It's possible that the technology isn't up to it, so some development effort is spent in making a tech demo to check that the concept works. If that works then the developer will submit a pitch to a publisher. The pitch is, at the very least, a detailed description of the game and how it will work. Ideally the developer will have some idea of the market for this as well.

It's possible that none of the publishers will be interested. In this case, unless the developer is sure enough about it to develop a demo, they just come up with a new idea.

Ideas are cheap. Developed polished realised ideas are wherethe difficulty is.

Finish Something (1)

hardburn (141468) | about 6 years ago | (#24517965)

Any studio with an ounce of creativity already has more ideas than they can reasonably implement. They get tons of guys coming through their doors with great ideas, and they just shoo them back out.

If you want proof, look at any indie gaming forum. There are tons of people with ideas for games I'd probably love to play, but only a handful make a finished product.

Now, if you can create and release something (even if it's yet another Tetris clone), you are far more likely to be taken seriously.

Re:Finish Something (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 years ago | (#24518125)

Now, if you can create and release something (even if it's yet another Tetris clone), you are far more likely to be taken seriously.

Tetris clone? Check. I've made one of the most configurable tetromino games on the Internet [pineight.com] . My next idea is a party game that uses two buttons per player, and I plan to prototype it on Windows and Linux. Once it's done, which publishers should I contact in order to get it onto a platform that's conducive to party games?

Haha! Selling an idea (1)

Layth (1090489) | about 6 years ago | (#24517979)

That is pretty funny..
Nobody buys ideas, and I think you'll be hard pressed finding anybody to invest their money in yours, regardless of what the idea is.

The only way to get around this is to have a proven track record of earning money for past investors.
It's one of those annoying catch-22s we're all so familiar with.

The circular logic of needing to already have what you're trying to get.

I will help you (1)

ROMRIX (912502) | about 6 years ago | (#24518025)

Just gather everything you have regarding "The game" and send it to me at biglouie@i-trust-this-guy-with-my-game.com and I will make sure it gets into the right hands... really... trust me, I'm not trying to rip you off or anything. Honestly.

fuck!.? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24518057)

good m4nners

The Jack Thompson Method (3, Funny)

HannethCom (585323) | about 6 years ago | (#24518069)

I give no guarantees this will work.

1. Make a demo of the game extremely violent, sexual, or something that would really offend Jack.
2. Send him a copy of the demo.
3. Profit as he advertises it to the whole of the US.

Find a programmer, then a publisher (1)

Snocone (158524) | about 6 years ago | (#24518105)

As I see other people have already mentioned, until/unless you have something in spitting distance of publishable territory to acquire, no publisher and vanishingly few development houses are going to be interested in allocating a single second to reviewing whatever it is you have in mind; they are constrained by resources, not by good ideas.

However, if your idea is on a scale that can be implemented -- at least to acquisition candidate stage -- by a single programmer, then your probably not insurmountable task is to find a programmer who's interested in investing their time in hopes of some eventual payout. Like, for instance, myself; I happen to be an iPhone developer just finishing up my first project (a brainteaser type game port) and I'm flexible as to what I take on next. If your idea is appropriate for implementation on an iPhone, and it looks like it would be not too big of a job to do the programming side of things, I'd be quite interested in doing that, publishing the result through the App Store, and splitting the take.

Same as any other business.. (1)

Restil (31903) | about 6 years ago | (#24518135)

Whether you're programming games or selling shoes, if your intent is to make money, you're going to need a few things first:

1. A lot of money. If you save up for 10 years and use that money as your seed money, if you make it big, you'll enjoy all the rewards, if you fail. You lose it all. You could also find a VC willing to fund your project, and your risk is minimized. However, you'll have to constantly deal with the VC's restrictions and requirements, and if you end up with a blockbuster, they'll end up with 90% of the profits.

2. A lot of time. And by time, I mean time spent working 80+ hour weeks at minimum wage for the next few years. This might not be a problem if you're in your early 20's and don't have a family to support.. or more importantly... interact with.
This will probably mean you keep your day job and spend every other waking moment working on your project... unpaid... either way, you'll need a source of income while your project is being developed. You had better enjoy what you're doing, because that's going to be the only source of entertainment you'll have for a while.

3. A good idea. Yeah, you said you had that already. Now think of your great idea in context with regards to #1 and #2. Is it STILL a great idea? Would you be willing to risk $100,000 of your OWN money and three years of your own time on it? Is it worth paying off loans for the next 20 years if it fails? Really think about it. Be absolutely sure that your idea is SO great that it will overcome every obstacle you have.

Ultimately, you need a finished product. And you'll need to prove that it's a product that will make money... and you do that by actually making money from it. Once you're earning a decent income through your own products, have a few programmers employed and several new products in production.... THEN you'll start getting calls from companies wanting to purchase your company. Either because they think they can make money from it, or because you're competition they want to be rid of. THAT is how you sell your idea.

Good luck!

-Restil

Re:Same as any other business.. (1)

caywen (942955) | about 6 years ago | (#24518415)

Right, I agree. If I were an angel, the line of questioning I'd ask for this kind of project is: "How much money do you have? $100K? So, why don't you use that money?"

First step: what's your idea? (1)

caywen (942955) | about 6 years ago | (#24518187)

You should post it here and us ./ers will tell you what you need to know... My opinion is that you just don't hold the cards to effectively sell your idea. I think it's all in the execution of the demo. Rough-as-nails demo probably won't cut it because I think investors want to know how well you can actually execute the real thing. They aren't just investing in the idea, they are investing in your abilities. Either you have most of the talent baked in (plus the great idea), or you have the resume that gives them confidence that you'd pull the right team together to make it happen. That said, I might suggest moving to Naples, FL and pitching your idea to some of the many rich, bored doctors that live there. Avoid the rich, bored lawyers that live there, however.

Re:First step: what's your idea? (1)

caywen (942955) | about 6 years ago | (#24518225)

Sorry, I didn't mean to be derogatory by saying "you don't hold the cards." That's an unjust assumption on my part.

Get a friend and a lawyer. (1)

$criptah (467422) | about 6 years ago | (#24518311)

Show your idea to a friend of yours. Select somebody who you can trust and then show the demo or paper drawings and make sure that the witness signs off. Then show the same to a lawyer who can come up with some legal document showing that the idea is yours. Only then talk to a company.

If you do not protect it, people will rip it off and you'll be left with zero $$$. While most of us do work because we like it, there is no reason not to get paid for cool ideas.

Sloperama (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24518339)

Its like what everyone else says. Use NDAs and finish the game. I find that this website [sloperama.com] gives good advice about being a game designer and the business behind it. Your question sounds exactly like one on the website's Q&A page.

Just read your bio on your website (1)

fat_mike (71855) | about 6 years ago | (#24518367)

And it seems that you've worked in the industry. Why don't you ask some of the people you've worked with, it seems like they'd have better answers for you.

Take notes from The Behemoth. (1)

protodevilin (1304731) | about 6 years ago | (#24518393)

These guys created "Alien Hominid". They started out by making a full, polished Flash game, and because of it's roaring popularity, they were approached by industry developers to port it to the PS2 and Gamecube.

Your best bet is to rely on your own skills. Don't know how to program a full game? Teach yourself. Use free tutorials and resources. Publish on free websites like Newgrounds. Save as much overhead as possible. It'll take time, but like anything else, dedication is the key.

Like they say in the film industry, "If you wanna get into the movie business, start making movies." The same is true for games.

"my friends think it's cool" (4, Insightful)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | about 6 years ago | (#24518419)

What is that supposed to demonstrate? That's why they're called *friends*, doh! Friends are the people who tell you you're not fat, you're not ugly, you're not stupid, and that your ideas are cool. Come back when your enemies are worried because your idea is cool.
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