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Afraid Someone Will Steal Your Game Design Idea?

timothy posted 1 year,6 days | from the board-game-designer-sounds-like-a-fun-job dept.

Open Source 140

Lemeowski writes "Game studios go to great lengths to protect their IP. But board game designer Daniel Solis doesn't subscribe to that philosophy. He has spent the past ten years blogging his game design process, posting all of his concepts and prototypes on his blog. Daniel shares four things he's learned after designing games in public, saying paranoia about your ideas being stolen "is just an excuse not to do the work." His article provides a solid gut check for game designers and other creatives who may let pride give them weird expectations."

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NDAs (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44687071)

Didn't we have several articles before this one discussing how abused the NDA is in software development? Games are no different.

Games are different (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687497)

Games are no different.

U.S. judges have tended to draw the line between idea and expression in different places for games compared to other kinds of software. On the one hand, you have Lotus v. Borland and Oracle v. Google that weaken copyright in interfaces between a program and a user or between a program and other programs. On the other hand, you have Tetris v. Xio that strengthens copyright in the basic rules of a game.

Re:Games are different (3, Informative)

davester666 (731373) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688045)

All of which are worthless, because you can't afford to sue [or rather, afford to win the lawsuit].

Re:Games are different (1)

shentino (1139071) | 1 year,6 days | (#44690741)

You also can't afford to BE sued.

Re:Games are different (1)

miroku000 (2791465) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688081)

Games are no different.

U.S. judges have tended to draw the line between idea and expression in different places for games compared to other kinds of software. On the one hand, you have Lotus v. Borland and Oracle v. Google that weaken copyright in interfaces between a program and a user or between a program and other programs. On the other hand, you have Tetris v. Xio that strengthens copyright in the basic rules of a game.

I thought Oracle lost all of its claims except for the rangecheck funtion thing in Oracle v. Google. How did that weaken copyright in interfaces?

Re:Games are different (5, Informative)

Somebody Is Using My (985418) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688625)

He's saying that the Judge smacked down Oracle's claim that they can copyright an API. Copyright weakened.

Meanwhile, another judge ruled that Xio, although using none of Tetris's code, still violates copyright [ipwatchdog.com] because it infringes on the core concept or rules of the games. Copyright strengthened.

Re:Games are different (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44690405)

He's saying that the Judge smacked down Oracle's claim that they can copyright an API. Copyright weakened.

You have very strange ideas.

Most every programmer with 2 brain-cells to rub together already thought that APIs could not be copyrighted at all. There were decades of precedent in software design based on that assumption; Oracle claiming that they could copyright APIs came out of left field. You can't weaken something that was believed to not be allowed and was then proven to not be allowed in a court. You don't weaken your position by running in place.

Re:Games are different (1)

shentino (1139071) | 1 year,6 days | (#44690853)

Unfortunately it's the federal government's prerogative, by its judges, to regulate copyright as it sees fit. It's a reserved matter in the constitution delegated to the feds.

And that includes the legal system's battle of the budgets getting to decide who the judges even hear.

He clearly doesn't design for the App Store (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44687093)

Your game won't be copied until it is successful, than there will be a dogpile of imitators.

Re:He clearly doesn't design for the App Store (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44689267)

The App Store? You sound like a n00b. This has been going on for as long as gaming (not just video gaming) has been a commercial venture.

Re:He clearly doesn't design for the App Store (2)

Cruciform (42896) | 1 year,6 days | (#44689847)

The scale in which is takes place now is much higher due in part to imitation on the app store.
There's a cottage industry of businesses which do nothing but duplicate every element of a newly successful game except the art.
It's not just like the Tetris clones we used to see, but companies who monitor up and coming games and work to duplicate and capitalize on them in mere days.

It's actually a good idea. (3, Insightful)

Gman2725 (2947573) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687105)

He's creating a public record of his ideas and innovations by blogging in this way. It seems like it would encourage people to steal them, but could also be used in court to prove he had the ideas first. It may or may not hold up in court in the end, but at least it gives him the opportunity to get the credit he deserves publicly for his innovations.

Re:It's actually a good idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44687201)

Ideas are not protected so this has zero relevance in court.

The guy generalizes from his experience to that of others, but the fact that it worked for him doesn't mean it will work for others. There are already enough copycats out there, just look at an app store, no need to encourage them further.

And a good expression (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687435)

Ideas are not protected

But expression is, and good luck convincing a judge that what you copied is the idea, not the expression.

There are already enough copycats out there, just look at an app store

And some of these App Store copycats are getting sued [slashdot.org] .

Re:It's actually a good idea. (0)

binarylarry (1338699) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687327)

You sound like an amazing lawyer.

I hope you'll share more of your legal wisdom with us.

Re:It's actually a good idea. (2)

rolfwind (528248) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687419)

Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

We have this collective modern notion that someone gets a great idea and then makes millions off of it. That's simply not how it works in most cases, it never really did and that's what makes patent trolls and the system that rewards them so egregious - they do the 1% at most (and more than likely not buy it or simply take a preexisting idea) and leech off those that do the other 99%.

Re:It's actually a good idea. (1)

N0Man74 (1620447) | 1 year,6 days | (#44690737)

Well said, though I personally find patent trolls to be even more despicable than even you describe.

Re:It's actually a good idea. (1)

Stumbles (602007) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687775)

I think what he is doing amounts to creating the digital equivalent of "prior art". IANAL but prior art has been used in past cases to nullify at patents. Since everyone nowadays seems drunk on the notion of patenting every and any thing I think he might be on to something. Copyright can figure into his publicly documenting his ideas.

Re:It's actually a good idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44690665)

t seems like it would encourage people to steal them, but could also be used in court to prove he had the ideas first.

Your blog posts are not going to be allowed as forensic evidence in a courtroom unless you pay a bunch of cash to have an expert certify that you didn't just fake the whole thing.

He's creating a public record of his ideas and innovations by blogging in this way.

Maybe. Or maybe he's stealing other people's ideas and posting them on his blog to make it appear that he thought of them first.

gives him the opportunity to get the credit he deserves publicly for his innovations

Nope, not at all. You don't get any credit for an idea unless you can convince the "Court of Public Opinion" that you came up with it, in which case you get "lip service" credit. The only other way you'll get credit is if you protect your ideas in some fashion, for example copyright or some type of vetted publication.
Copyright is not an inherent 'right'... by publishing his ideas without copyrighting them he is abandoning any claim of rights or ownership to them. So if he was successful, and tried to copyright a finished game, he'd find it very difficult to prevail in a courtroom when people straight out rip off his ideas.

"Board game designer"? (-1, Flamebait)

Animats (122034) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687135)

No, nobody is going to steal your board game design. Or play it.

Re: "Board game designer"? (3, Informative)

techprophet (1281752) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687333)

Believe it or not, some people do still buy and play board games. You almost always have to go to a solid game shop to get decent ones, but they exist.

Re: "Board game designer"? (2)

jonyen (2633919) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687433)

Settlers of Catan, anyone?

Re: "Board game designer"? (2)

orgelspieler (865795) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688069)

depends, do you have any ore?

Re: "Board game designer"? (2)

rogabean (741411) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688255)

No but I'm offering wood for your sheep!

Re: "Board game designer"? (1)

techprophet (1281752) | 1 year,6 days | (#44689657)

No but I'm offering wood for your sheep!

I'll offer you one more than whatever he's offering!

Re: "Board game designer"? (2)

Applekid (993327) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687579)

Believe it or not, some people do still buy and play board games. You almost always have to go to a solid game shop to get decent ones, but they exist.

The idea, perhaps, is more along the lines that 95% of board games are crap and would never ever get published, and therefore, would never ever get played.

Except, of course, Kickstarter lets you self-publish. Unfortunately, that doesn't put the game in the 5% category with all the other published games, it's still crap except people will play it once or twice before forgetting about it on a shelf and hoping it's be worth something in 50 years since the print run was so small.

Re: "Board game designer"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44688207)

Pssst...If your older than lets say umm 12 and you play video games, well your a loser!

Re: "Board game designer"? (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | 1 year,6 days | (#44689039)

I've spent more and time on board games this year than video games.

Re: "Board game designer"? (3, Informative)

keytoe (91531) | 1 year,6 days | (#44689045)

Believe it or not, some people do still buy and play board games.

And believe it or not, they've been gaining in popularity lately.

It's been a long time coming, but the Monopoly Stigma is slowly dissipating. I think Monopoly was the Mt. Saint Hellens of board games. It blew up, left a swath of scorched earth and desolation in a generation of people who grew up thinking games were stupid, pointless and nothing but dumb luck followed by three hours of a runaway winner forcing everyone else to keep playing. Over time, that desolation becomes fertilizer for the next generation.

If you're interested in giving a post-Monopoly tabletop world a look, there are a couple of key resources:

Tabletop [geekandsundry.com]

A bi weekly show hosted by Wil Wheaton showcasing a host of "gateway games". He gets three other internet famous (and sometimes proper famous) people to come play a game with him. He lightly goes over the rules, and they play.

A lot of effort goes into showing the fun interactions between the players that happens over the table - truly the best part of tabletop gaming. These are 30 minutes each, professionally produced and great fun to watch with the whole family. Overall, it's a great resource for finding something that may appeal to you and your friends/family.

The best part is watching Wil repeatedly lose episode after episode.

Board Game Geek [boardgamegeek.com]

An extremely thorough, mature and self-built resource of pretty much all things tabletop game related. The community here is one of the best I've ever seen on the internet. Seriously, flame wars so germane and polite that they're helpful. Games are well reviewed, well discussed, and ranked overall.

The rankings are generally pretty spot on, but there is an overall tendency to devalue lighter games making it a bit difficult to find good gateway games. Be careful with this one if you have a tendency to lose hours whenever you land on IMDB, Wikipedia or TVTropes.

You almost always have to go to a solid game shop to get decent ones, but they exist.

I have yet to need to do anything other than order things from Amazon. Granted, if you're looking for some obscure Euro that's out of print, Amazon probably doesn't have it (or it's $300) - but then again, neither does your Friendly Local Game Shop.

Re:"Board game designer"? (1)

TrentC (11023) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687583)

I suppose this site [boardgamegeek.com] is just a figment of my imagination, then.

Re:"Board game designer"? (1)

rogabean (741411) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688221)

Board Games especially of the hobby kind are on quite a come back right now. Myself I own over 100 now and have a regular group of people who meet up twice a week to play. There is a lot of money to be made (take a look at the Zombicide kickstarters! we are talking millions). But board game designers / publishers have always been a self regulating crowd. No one wants to be the person who stole an idea. Keep in mind that really it's the theme that can be stolen. Mechanics are borrowed on a regular basis.

Re:"Board game designer"? (1)

gnupun (752725) | 1 year,6 days | (#44690873)

No, nobody is going to steal your board game design. Or play it.

Sure, in your imaginary world, they won't copy it. But reality is different. One instance of copying is the EA vs Zynga lawsuit (google it). Zynga wholesale copied many different successful games. They made small changes to the game play and interface, redesigned new graphics for background and sprites and voila, lotsa money for a while. EA could not successfully defeat Zynga because copyright protection only protects exact copy of a product.

So copyright protection is not enough to protect game ideas and patent protection is too narrow. The USPTO needs a new category of protection for game design. Once a product is successful and other publishers figure they could make money from it, they will copy it. But there are no clear guidelines of what can be copied and what is to be protected.

Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687145)

Ideas are a dime a dozen ... what matters is execution. That's not just for games but pretty much everything in life.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44687247)

Ideas are a dime a dozen ... what matters is execution.

Some of the lecturers in my department are ULTRA paranoid about people stealing their research ideas. They also tend to be the people who work on things which nobody else understands (because it's impossible to have a casual conversation with them about their work and they deliberately hold things back in papers) or who get quietly labelled as crackpots.

On the other hand, people who are quite open about their work tend to get a lot more interest, more input from people with different specialities and more offers of collaboration.

Ideas are indeed a dime a dozen, and execution can be greatly helped by people with different expertise or viewpoints on the matter. People who will outright steal your work are few and far between, and their reputation generally precedes them.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (2)

umafuckit (2980809) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687405)

Some of the lecturers in my department are ULTRA paranoid about people stealing their research ideas. They also tend to be the people who work on things which nobody else understands (because it's impossible to have a casual conversation with them about their work and they deliberately hold things back in papers) or who get quietly labelled as crackpots.

On the other hand, people who are quite open about their work tend to get a lot more interest, more input from people with different specialities and more offers of collaboration.

Ideas are indeed a dime a dozen, and execution can be greatly helped by people with different expertise or viewpoints on the matter. People who will outright steal your work are few and far between, and their reputation generally precedes them.

I see this too, but the specifics really depend on the field. In my field it's very competitive and densely packed and most people have become protective and secretive as a result. They don't work on stuff that's weird or unusual, either. When the whole field behaves this way, being secretive doesn't diminish interest in one's work but it does increase the tension between research groups. Knowing who is likely to steal your work doesn't help. Once the field becomes secretive, people are unwilling to even present their data as a talk or poster unless it's either quite near fruition or unless what they're doing is so far-out that nobody else could possibly copy them. Even in the latter situation, though, I've seen people be incredibly secretive about their current projects. Sad, really. We'd all make more progress if we pooled together.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687635)

In my field it's very competitive and densely packed and most people have become protective and secretive as a result.

I think that's a sign of a research field in need of something new and big. Immediately after a major discovery, there's plenty of good, interesting work on its implications, and people tend to want to talk about their work with each other. Once the low-hanging fruit has been picked, the paranoia sets in as people start trying to (stretching the metaphor a bit) shake the tree to dislodge others from the higher branches. "Paradigm shift" is a grandiose and over-used term, but something along those lines is helpful, some new area where people can do good work without worrying about being one of a thousand people doing exactly the same thing. E.g., bioinformatics was starting to show signs of getting a bit stodgy until epigenetics took off, which created all sorts of new opportunities both theoretical and applied--everything from algorithm development to drug design. Fortunately for me, this happened right about the time I was looking for a postdoc. ;) Whatever your field is, I hope it opens up again soon.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688171)

I think that's a sign of a research field in need of something new and big. ... Whatever your field is, I hope it opens up again soon.

Without getting into details, it's biology with a popular genetic model organism. I think you're right: the problem is to some degree the lack of a big new thing that opens many doors simultaneously. The other problem is that only a restricted range of things are being studied but there is constant development of new tools (which is, of course, a good thing). The result is that the next experiment is always fairly obvious. So lots of low-hanging fruit and you want to be the first to pick. What's really annoying, however, is when someone picks it before you, does a shitty job, and gets their paper published somewhere high profile.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,6 days | (#44689231)

Without getting into details, it's biology with a popular genetic model organism.

Yes, I could see how that would be a problem. My dissertation depended heavily on data from model organisms (D. melanogaster and S. cerevisiae) but that was a matter of using them as well-vetted data sources as test cases for algorithm development, not really trying to learn new things about the biology of the organisms themselves. Now, when I apply my methods to human data, I can make a case for credibility by saying, "Well, we know it works in flies and yeast ..."

FWIW, bioinformatics can always use more biologists; too many of us come from the CS/math side and really need collaborators who can keep us grounded in the reality of living organisms rather than running away with "hey, look at this cool algorithm!" So if you're interested in moving over, there's an opportunity there. In any case, I really do hope things get better soon.

What's really annoying, however, is when someone picks it before you, does a shitty job, and gets their paper published somewhere high profile.

My program director once said that the best way to get a highly cited paper was to be the first to do something and do it wrong. He wasn't recommending it, though.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688683)

You got to love what capitalism has done to science!

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (2)

rubycodez (864176) | 1 year,6 days | (#44689701)

funded it

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | 1 year,6 days | (#44690725)

... On the other hand, people who are quite open about their work tend to get a lot more interest, more input from people with different specialities and more offers of collaboration.

The paranoia sounds almost exactly like the results of the stack ranking they perform at MicroSoft.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

Nicros (531081) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687483)

This. I have a friend who had a great (he thought) idea and went to a bunch of different venture capitalists to try to raise funding. The first few he walked in with an NDA and asked them to sign- they told him to GTFO with your little NDA, nobody here cares. The only question they were interested in answering was whether he was the kind of individual who could execute on his idea.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

Full of shit (2908417) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687525)

Pretty much true. The things they're afraid of revealing aren't IP, they are BI. Compare the Apple watch phone leak - an idea straight out of the 1950s or 1960s, there's no IP on that concept. The only thing that got Samsung andothers on the same track was the BI that Apple were allegedly on that track

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44687555)

Yes and if you're really innovative there's not enough life for you to implement all your ideas yourself, so if you want more cool stuff faster you'd want other people to "steal" your ideas on the condition they actually implement them (rather than patent troll them).

I'm worried about people copying my ideas patenting stuff and then sitting on them, collecting toll and slowing down the rate of progress. But if they actually implement things, that's just great.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

zlives (2009072) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687559)

Elon would like to disagree, and present his new idea of a space elevator

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

pipatron (966506) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687661)

New way to develop products - merely pretend you're building some cool thing, hope that another company will steal the idea and do it first.

That way you don't actually have to get bored with the messy details, but can go out and buy the finished product later.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

SolitaryMan (538416) | 1 year,6 days | (#44690417)

Hyperloop was not an "idea", but an Engineering Design.

There is one hell of a difference.

Oh yeah, and it is free for anyone to "steal".

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

LetterRip (30937) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687609)

Ideas are only a dime a dozen if you have obvious ideas.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44687723)

Ideas are a dime a dozen, so are patents, welcome to the future of technology brought to you by ex-nsa contractors and google employees thanks to first to file.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687799)

Ideas are only a dime a dozen if you have obvious ideas.

Every artist, every scientist, everyone who does anything that requires any creativity at all has more ideas per day--per hour, per minute--than they can possibly bring to fruition. Most of them are silly, but some of them are very good. And there's really only one way to find out which is which (hint: suing someone else for "stealing" them isn't it).

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44688533)

silence your plebeian tongue, genius may be stolen at the discretion of the military industrial complex, it says so in the rule book.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (4, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687815)

"Ideas are a dime a dozen ... "

People SAY this but they don't know what it means. MEDIOCRE ideas are a dime a dozen, GOOD IDEAS are hard to come by. There are tonnes of small things game developers could do when they are endlessly rehashing some first person/third person shooter and they NEVER do it. One can only conclude: They've never had the idea. Because many fantastic and quality ideas are cheap and easy to implement. I look over a game like Rage and I can only shake my head at the level of idiocy and lack of scope control on that project. They put way too much emphasis on graphics so most of their budget was sucked up by stuff that really didn't matter. Knowing what ideas/aspects of the game to put emphasis on is absolutely CRITICAL and that requires knowing WHAT IDEAS HAVE VALUE. Idea's are the schematic for a game, so saying 'ideas are a dime a dozen' sounds wise in principle but HAVING THE WRONG ideas (schematic) for a game means you'll be developing it in the wrong direction. So ideas are in fact critical at every point else you can't make decisions concerning quality.

Someone out there has some killer ideas that no one can understand the value of, because if you're good at game design and coming up with ideas for gameplay. You need someone at your skill level or higher to understand their value.

The real issue is dunning krueger.

"The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes."

"Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44688521)

The real issue here is that you think you didn't just state the obvious. And then you link to the Dunning-Kruger effect as if we needed to be educated on it. And it has no relevance to your point. All you did was point out that good ideas are valuable and bad ideas aren't. And then it seems like you assert that a good idea requires someone smart to understand it.

WTF?

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

ikarys (865465) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688523)

"People SAY this but they don't know what it means. MEDIOCRE ideas are a dime a dozen, GOOD IDEAS are hard to come by."

I have to disagree with this. Before there was Google, there was thousands of people working on "search" who understood the end game but not how to get there. Thousands of smart people. Same thing with Facebook. Same thing with gearboxes, mechanical engineers, designers, chemists, business ventures, computer games, medical research etc.

Good ideas are easy to have and hard to execute - and I don't necessarily mean complex to execute. There many obstacles of getting things done: timelines, finance, communication, competence, team.

P.S. - I'm trying to figure out if there is irony with regard to Dunning–Kruger in your post, my post or both :)

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44690949)

Missing the point.
Facebook was a great idea, but a social network was something lots of people did before, and still do. The key to their success was in how they did it and the moment they chose for it.

The same goes for games. For instance, there are lots of transportation sims, like Transport Tycoon. There are games that copy the idea perfectly, but use full 3D or make minor changes, things that don't change anything from the original idea but completely change the end result.

Or the Diablo series. There were/are lots of games similar to each one in the brand at those times. Diablo brought very few new things, a lot of the features were blatantly stolen from other games. But while a lot of similar games existed, very few gave attention to those crucial details that made Diablo so successful.

As the saying goes, "God is in the detail." and in an extremely competitive market like the game industry I think a lot of people are learning it the hard way.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688039)

Definitely true in science. Some scientists act as if telling someone their preliminary results will cause someone else to steal the data and publish first. More likely, sharing results before they're published will result in better networking and valuable collaborations. At a minimum, if someone else IS working on the exact same thing, you can coordinate and publish at the same time so neither lab gets the scoop on the other, and the papers make a bigger splash together.

I'm no senior enough to say ALWAYS blab about your data, but my thesis adviser was, and she said in her 25 years, she had always been open with unpublished data.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

chuckinator (2409512) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688427)

I've heard this way too many times: "We've got a world class idea! Now we need to go round up some propeller-heads, ahem, I mean developers, to make it happen." Ideas in your head are worth squat. Ideas on paper are worth marginally little more unless you put some effort into figuring out answers for the mandatory engineering design questions. Ideas in code are worth quite a bit, but only if the code actually works or is very, very close to working.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

greg1104 (461138) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688973)

If you're paying a dime for a dozen ideas, you're being ripped off. Most ideas don't actually work out when you try them, so their average value is less than zero.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | 1 year,6 days | (#44690711)

Ideas are a dime a dozen ... what matters is execution. That's not just for games but pretty much everything in life.

It's the same in the publishing biz. n00bs are worried about other people stealing plots or characters.
Published authors worry more about finishing the book. Ideas aren't much of anything until you attempt to implement them.

Required reading about NDAs and "Unique" Ideas (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44687171)

The Cult of the NDA [frozennorth.org] :

To all those entrepreneurs with innovative, unique business ideas who want to capitalize on them before someone else does, I have one piece of advice: Get over it.

Written 10 years ago; still just a relevant today.

Confusing "ideas" with "IP" (4, Informative)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687179)

>> Game studios go to great lengths to protect their IP. But board game designer Daniel Solis doesn't subscribe to that philosophy.

I think you're confusing IP with "ideas." IP is often the successful and repeatable implementation of an idea (e.g., a patent). Furthermore, when game studios license IP, it's often to latch onto an established entertainment brand, like "Batman." The actual games themselves are usually formulaic at best, and their "plot" will be exposed on the Internet anyway as soon as the first public Beta comes around.

Re:Confusing "ideas" with "IP" (1)

adisakp (705706) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688017)

>> Game studios go to great lengths to protect their IP. But board game designer Daniel Solis doesn't subscribe to that philosophy.

I think you're confusing IP with "ideas." IP is often the successful and repeatable implementation of an idea (e.g., a patent). Furthermore, when game studios license IP, it's often to latch onto an established entertainment brand, like "Batman." The actual games themselves are usually formulaic at best, and their "plot" will be exposed on the Internet anyway as soon as the first public Beta comes around.

I'd disagree that "IP" is the successful and repeatable implementation of an idea. Many new "IP's" are developed which are not repeating previous ideas and hardly all "IP's" are successful -- in fact many new game IP's are financial failures.

However, IP or any content posted on a blog isn't necessarily unprotected. Published writing to blogs is already typically Copyright of the owner (as long as the hosting service doesn't make some outrageous claims on it). Blog entries may include Trademarked names or Characters whose protection does not diminish by a mere mention. And there is nothing to stop the patenting of inventions (i.e. algorithms) that have been posted to a blog assuming the blogger is the inventor.

I have an idea. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687189)

We got this guy. He goes around and shoots his enemies.
Or wait, we got this guy, he will jump around and avoid his enemies.
Oh Oh wait, how about a car racing game!!!

Re:I have an idea. (1)

vux984 (928602) | 1 year,6 days | (#44689081)

A car racing game with guns so he can shoot his enemies -- doh that goes back to DeathTrack and Car Wars.

How about... a car racing game with guns but the car turns into a boat and motorcycle... hmm... Spyhunter

How about a car racing game where you destroy your enemies by jumping on them. Oh wait... that's SpeedRacer. Dammit. This is hard.

I have it, you race transforming insect robots with weapons, jumping, drifting, dart throwing, and the ability to grab a tree and smash another racer with it, ... ExciteBots? Really?

I give up.

Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687219)

Which is pretty much the point of TFA (and in the case F really does stand for fine) but it's worth repeating, over and over, until people get it through their heads that "stealing ideas" is a meaningless concept. Good for this guy for having the guts to say it.

Tetris v. Xio (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687325)

"The player moves and turns pieces made of four squares as they descend into a rectangular playfield one at a time. Any row of the playfield filled with squares disappears, freeing space for more pieces." Lawsuits have been won over the "theft" of the idea that I just described.

Re:Tetris v. Xio (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687715)

"The player moves and turns pieces made of four squares as they descend into a rectangular playfield one at a time. Any row of the playfield filled with squares disappears, freeing space for more pieces." Lawsuits have been won over the "theft" of the idea that I just described.

Yep. Which is absurd.

Re:Tetris v. Xio (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44688145)

Another reason why I think the OUYA will just be a niche at best (Slashdot seemed to have stopped caring since its launch, that indicates it's not a game changer as many fanboys told me)

The OUYA thinks it can rely on cheap indie games that aren't too demanding on the hardware and try to make up for it with creative and innovative "ideas"

Too bad ideas as GP/OP said are cheap. Most of the time you won't make that much money off of it.

What would happen is that any idea good enough to knock you/OUYA out of the park would be sued to oblivion if it has any resemblance to existing ideas

Even if that doesn't happen, it would be quickly ported and/or a bunch of knock-offs will emerge on other platforms. So there's little reason for the masses to want an OUYA as a gaming console. It'll be a niche for hipsters who want to claim they played Angry Birds before it was angry, or had birds.

Re:Tetris v. Xio (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44688577)

Another reason why I think the OUYA will just be a niche at best (Slashdot seemed to have stopped caring since its launch, that indicates it's not a game changer as many fanboys told me)

It's not a game changer because it basically failed in every way. "Free The Games" is just a slogan, actual games on the Ouya are subject to a content screening and review process just like any of the big consoles. Doesn't sound very free to me. The purported compatibility with existing Android games is surprisingly low all things considered, and the Ouya "dev sdk" is basically an interface to their store, some dumb persistent storage (which is not encrypted or secure in any way), and a lousy controller API that doesn't won't even offload the work of handling a deadzone.

When the console's claim to fame is that it can run emulators and won't stop you from copying in your favorite stolen ROMs, yeah, it's going to be completely irrelevant.

Re:Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687717)

Ideas are easy. Successful ideas are not. I can come up with a hundred game ideas that no one would play. That's why people are concerned about their designs. If I come up with something unique and one of the infamous App Store copy cats decides to throw a ton of resources into replicating it, you could find yourself overwhelmed regardless of how first and best you may have been.

Look at some of the other App Store apps that have been ripped off by power players that turned the original developer's app into an also-ran.

Re:Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687935)

The thing is, the only way to find out if your idea is good or not is to implement it. Some ideas that sound good turn out to be bad, and vice versa--and if someone else does something good with an idea similar to one you had, that doesn't mean you could have done the same. In the App Store example, it seems to me this is more a matter of developers copying each other's implementations, which is a very different matter.

Re:Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44687737)

I'll all for ideas, and sharing them, but most people seem to be completely incapable of having any ideas, never mind being able to have good ones, regularly and inexhaustibly. A lot of people will even copy down the finest details, how a neighbor with more taste has furnished their room. And I mean copy - down the finest details, not even adjusting it to their own room shapes or circumstances.

If you have a good idea, the confidence that you know enough about the market or technology to know that it will work, and the ability to execute on it... it's easy for the sheep to jump on as soon as the idea is explained to them or is actually put into action. Of course you can just suck ideas out of people, but our creative types may get a little drained, frustrated, and well -private- after a while. So why share ideas at all?

So your call sounds much like ... unattractive people saying that attractive people should be forced to smile at them.

Re:Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688169)

So your call sounds much like ... unattractive people saying that attractive people should be forced to smile at them.

Where did you get the idea from my post that people should be forced to do anything? If you want to keep your preciousss ideas secret, go right ahead. Just don't expect the rest of us to pat you on the head for doing it.

Oh yeah, and those attractive people who don't smile at ugly people? I guarantee you a lot of them aren't nearly as good-looking as they think they are.

I also have given up hoarding my ideas (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687285)

The fact is that a lot of my ideas require a team and a lot of years to accomplish since they're expanding games that might already exist. I figured I'll give my ideas out for free a few months ago, and maybe it will inspire other people to make better games. I'm so tired of MMORPGS where you gain lots of power during the game and it is pretty fun, then BAM, you're at level max with all the best gear, and there is simply nothing else to do but quit. A lot of my blog revolves around how to make end game MMORPG fun. [crystalfighter.com] But I also cover other marketable designs.

One of my favorite ideas lately is expanding upon minecraft to allow for bots. Not a lot of people remember the game Cholo for commodore 64. [wikipedia.org] Essentially in Cholo, you play the man of a guy in the bunker, and the storyline in the instruction book is one of the best stories I've read in an instruction book. You need to acquire bots on the surface to be able to test the radiation if it is safe to come out of the bunker. Well there are all kinds of bots that do different things. In Cholo everything is a waldo(manually piloted bot), but imagine porting this to Minecraft with scripted bots.

Scripted bots in Minecraft with premade diagrams of structures you want to build from creative mode would result in: You start out just like normal minecraft, but when you make your bunker, you can build bots. The AI for the bots could be stuff you start with, stuff you wrote, or code found in game in vaults. The bots would mine for you, build for you, scout for you, hack other robots, or fight for you. The goal would be to create a solid robot army to seek out and kill your opponents on the map. The game could form up to 64 players at once, and when you die, you get thrown in a queue for the next game. There would have to be code to deal with stalemates after a few hours. If you also add ladder ratings on top of this, I think the game could get popular.

TR:DR The reason I give out ideas now is that I'm not just a greedy guy. I actually like playing fun video games, and there just isn't enough innovation lately.

Re:I also have given up hoarding my ideas (1)

fliptout (9217) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687343)

How about an in game bot in the form of a bikini model who will take your pizza order :P

User-scripted bots (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687393)

imagine porting this to Minecraft with scripted bots.

You mean like 0x10c, which got shelved [slashdot.org] ?

Re:I also have given up hoarding my ideas (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44687649)

TR:DR The reason I give out ideas now is that I'm not just a greedy guy. I actually like playing fun video games, and there just isn't enough innovation lately.

Actually, it's because you're either 1) lazy, or 2) know your ideas are terrible and aren't worth implementing. You're compelled to feel like a very important "game designer" but don't want to do any of the hard work it requires. You put it out there in the hopes that later on someone implements it (although, they're equally likely to independently come up with the same ideas) so you can claim the credit for it later.

Re:I also have given up hoarding my ideas (1)

jakimfett (2629943) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687779)

...In Cholo everything is a waldo(manually piloted bot), but imagine porting this to Minecraft with scripted bots....AI for the bots could be stuff you start with, stuff you wrote, or code found in game in vaults. The bots would...::snip long list of stuff::

This actually sounds much like what Computercraft [computercraft.info] does with Turtles [computercraft.info] . Turtles can be run manually, or can be scripted with Lua to (depending on the type of turtle) mine ores, fight mobs, harvest crops, build structures, transfer liquids, and even wirelessly network with a "master computer".

I'd highly recommend that you look into some of the modpacks out there that combine mods like Computercraft with industrial type manufacturing and processing. If you want one with very little setup required, take a look at one of the Feed the Beast [feed-the-beast.com] modpacks (I'd recommend the "Unleashed" version, it's the latest and most up to date).

Disclaimer: I run a FTB Unleashed server cluster, so I'm biased. But Computercraft is really amazing, even on its own.

The excitement at the prospect of game design (0)

korbulon (2792438) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687329)

Soon gives way to the ugly realities of the business: sleepless nights, rushing to meet deadlines that still whoosh by, browbeating managers, piracy, glutted markets, capricious consumers, sleazy publishers. Goddam, what's not to love?

I wish I was wrong. Somebody tell me I'm wrong.

Phuket Map - some drivel you can safely ignore (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44687337)

Game studios go to great lengths to protect their IP. But web designer Mr Phuket Map doesn't subscribe to that philosophy.

Phuket Map [phuketmap.org]

Bringing you shitty SEO since forever. I hate my life.

Ideas aren't really the big thing (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687353)

As Todd Howard pointed out during a keynote "Your ideas are not as important as your execution." The games that are loved and that endure are not the ones that had some amazing idea that nobody could have every thought of before. Heck, they often draw heavily on literature, film, myth, and popular culture. Rather they are the ones that execute their vision well, that are fun to play, that are a good ride.

I can't think of a single game that I've seen succeed just because the idea was so good and so unique. Always, always, always, it was accompanied with good execution. In fact many of my all time favourites are not particularly original ideas.

Good example? Civ 4. One of the all time greats in my opinion. I still play it from time to time. However an amazing original idea it is not. As the number implies, it is the 4th game in the series, they've done the same thing 3 times before. Also it wasn't an original concept to begin with, Civilization was a board game before it was a computer game. That aside, the idea of "a game where you conquer the world" is not that original of an idea.

The reason it is a great game (and its successor not quite as good in my opinion) is the execution. It is well put together, fun to play, well tested, well balanced, has good visuals and music, it is stable, and so on and so forth.

If you think the only thing that will make your game succeed is that its amazing idea be protected until it is released, well then it will fail. Good games are ones that would be good, even if someone had done something like them before, and does something like them after. They stand on their own.

He's right... (1)

SanDogWeps (2882399) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687359)

Just look no further than WASD. It's everywhere. It's a good idea, and it stuck. Personally, if I had an idea, put it in the wild, and saw it used later by someone else, I'd like to think I'd be charitable enough to say "Wow - I thought of that and people like it enough to use it." Developing a card game myself now, and a mite paranoid that someone like White Wolf or Steve Jackson might give me a slapdown due to some mechanics minutia. Reading this, I figure, heck with it. Make it, turn it into a PDF, throw it into the wild, and see what happens. Cards Against Humanity seems to be doing well for themselves. My day job pays enough. Why not?

Re:He's right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44687771)

Man, imagine if WASD was patented. The next developer would have to use ESDF and so on.

5 years later, developers would be stuck using leftovers like QCIM or !M9Ö

Re:He's right... (1)

Richy_T (111409) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688075)

I still mourn for QAOP. I don't think that works too well with a mouse though.

Video games (1)

ledow (319597) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687475)

In terms of video games:

Every single project started by a person "with a great idea", and who won't tell anyone else, that I've ever seen, came to nothing. Hell, I was dragged into a few being a "programmer" when I was younger and it usually revolved around some crap idea that hadn't been tested or even defined to the point you could start implementing it.

Every single project that was successful was successful LONG before it got to the point that other people thought about stealing its code. It got those people coming BECAUSE they thought it was a good idea and worth copying etc., but still they had YEARS of head-start on any cloner coming along.

Ideasmen are cheap. A coder who can turn it into reality is much rarer. And that coder will probably make a better ideasman than anyone else.

Re:Video games (1)

preaction (1526109) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687675)

Agreed. I wish I had a nickle for every "idea person" who applied to my indie video game company. Then I could actually afford more coders and get more work done...

Obligatory fortune: (1)

volkerdi (9854) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687663)

Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats. -- Howard Aiken

I hope somebody does. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44687841)

I do not have the skill to create the game but I want to play it so I hope somebody does steal the idea. I will gladly pay to play. It is called Treasure . You fall off a cruise liner and end up on an island that is one of a series of islands. You must stay alive, find the treasure, and escape. It is an adventure game in the style of FPS. Pirates have left clues to the treasure location, like the skeleton pointing in a direction and maps carved on boulders. There are many booby traps . Each island has a theme like volcanos, headhunters, monkeys, parrots, etc. Traveling to each island is also themed, like coral caves, sharks, etc. Imagine a modern, graphics heavy combination of Myst and Far Cry.

Re:I hope somebody does. (1)

Richy_T (111409) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688101)

Back in the 8-bit days, there were text-adventure toolkits (Quill for example). What with Scumm-vm out there, it's surprising something similar hasn't turned up for graphic adventures.

... and this goes way beyond game design (2)

ZouPrime (460611) | 1 year,6 days | (#44687971)

It's true for almost anything.

The world isn't divided between thinkers and doers. People who believe that generally see themselves on the thinker side, and they don't want to do, so it's a narrative that fits them well.

In practice, I've met very few good thinkers who weren't also doers in one way or another, simply because it's very hard to actually have good ideas if you never got down to implementing them. An idea can feel good and sounds great, but if you don't have the experience in knowing what works and what doesn't, how to see and deal with edge cases and exceptions, it's probably not that great - or, put another way, you are probably not a good judge of its greatness.

And that's the biggest problem with the "lets reinvent the world" crowd - if you don't know how the world works, why it works, and if you never actually managed to reinvent anything in your house, in your community, in your business, it's quite doubtful your great idea to save the planet is actually interesting. And it's also why so many of the world's doers seem to do so often the same things, and take the same decisions in front of the same situations - not because they are stupid and ignorant, but because more often than not, they already figured out what works and what doesn't, and the difference between what they can dream and what they can accomplish.

It depends on the content (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44688097)

As a former IT Manager and head of security for a AAA game studio I can tell you it depends on the content and what is up for grabs. If you have mounds of concept art and CG that will not be stolen. If you have accessible and unique IK and motion capture that will tend to be stolen. If you have UnrealScript and generic level design components no one will care. If you have tried and tested AI and NPC logic that will be stolen. So it tends to reason that ideas along the lines of "I have a streamlined process for integrating dismemberment and AI and it is *******"...yes that will be stolen. Ideas that go like "It would be really cool if the player can ********" no one will care. Just to increase general paranoia I will tell you the biggest threat of theft is not from outsiders but existing staff trading stolen works for a better job if they are unhappy- if you run a studio and are reading this then keeping your staff happy is your number one concern or your whole studio will be traded out from under you for better job opportunities. Confronting such theft should never be done if you love something (or someone) in this case let them be free but just make sure to change whatever was compromised or make it better.

Don't tell Zynga! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44688115)

How unplugged in do you have to be to not know Zynga copies games?

Get real. (0, Troll)

VortexCortex (1117377) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688159)

Zacktronics Infiniminer [zachtronic...stries.com] Oh it's a minecraft ripoff... that minecraft rippedoff. [youtube.com]

Tiny Tower [techcrunch.com]

Look, I can post a crap load more, but I'm not your personal fucking google.

Shit's been going on since the first videogames. It's like you fools don't know who Nolan Bushnell is. So, here's the thing. They will steal your shit if it's possible. If you do the crazy hard work of cranking out a shit ton of games & prototypes and testing them to find what's fun, and get some popularity (read: do market research for them), they they will steal your shit.

If you're a random indie gamedev, then chances are no one will play your game except other indie gamedevs and a few fans of the indie scene. Do that 100 times and get even a modicum of success? Yes, those mother fuckers will rip off your shit. STFU, you sound like a damn Noob.

If you haven't had your game design ripped off and executed by someone with more resources in a tighter timeframe... Then you either haven't made anything popular yet, or you're really fucking lucky (or your games suck.... Just sayin').

ideas are worth nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44688381)

generally only stupid idiots with crappy idiotic game ideas are scared to lose it.

ideas are a dime a million, so there are not reason to be scared.

if theres anything theres a extra of.. is ideas. everyone have any, or lost of game ideas. is the actual money and skill required to make them into games that is valuable

Rule learned after doing business in China (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688385)

I've done business in China for years. As you all know, copying is rampant. However, the rule I've learned is nobody will bother to copy something that's not successful. Worry about succeeding first, then worry about being ripped off. Don't put the cart before the horse.

Not afraid at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#44688503)

There are no unique ideas, everything is derivative of something else and it's almost guaranteed someone somewhere will have had your idea before. Ideas are cheap, plentiful and have very little value on their own. Even if you have an idea and throw it out to the world and six different people decide to rip it off, the games they produce will be wildly different from each other and your own.

The only people who make a fuss about people hearing their idea are generally "idea guys" with very little to contribute but a high opinion of themselves.

Not original? (1)

TheCarp (96830) | 1 year,6 days | (#44688993)

This was a really good point. Lots of people have lots of ideas that never go anywhere. Just last night I was musing about the old Chaum Digicash protocol and how it could be adapted to voting. I couldn't remember a few pieces, and did some searching and digging in boxes....

Then after a bit I moved on to see if there was already any software (GPG support) for blind signatures....I didn't really find much, except, when i looked for GPG support....

I found someone else, just days ago had posted on a crypto mailing list...asking if GPG had blind signature support because he wanted to use the digicash protocol and adapt it for a voting system...and a reply saying its not exactly a new concept but never goes anywhere :)

Ideas are great, but alone they are a dime a dozen.

Not Just Games (1)

organgtool (966989) | 1 year,6 days | (#44689951)

This article hits the nail right on the head. In addition to the content in the article, I believe that strong laws regarding Intellectual Property have indoctrinated the public at large to believe that ideas are worth more than they are. These people focus on the idea itself while minimizing all of the effort that went into the research, design, and testing phases that took years of refinement before leading to the final product. It is the public's overvalue of abstract ideas that have allowed for the vast expansion of patents and copyright to reach beyond their original intent of covering the concrete details of a particular implementation. The simple truth is that execution is worth a million times more than the idea. Great ideas often fail due to poor execution and mediocre ideas can be massively successful due to exceptional execution. We should be working to loosen the tight grip of IP laws so that abstract ideas can be implemented by as many parties as possible while the concrete details of their finished products remain properly protected.

Protecting ideas... (1)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | 1 year,6 days | (#44690441)

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats. -- Howard Aiken

My favorite example is Raymond Scott. He had some interesting ideas about automated musical composition, (ala Joseph Schillinger I suspect), that as it ended up, he was so protective of that he took them to his grave. Now no one will ever know what insights he may have figured out...

better question (1)

shentino (1139071) | 1 year,6 days | (#44690871)

Can ideas even be stolen in the first place?

Is someone who reverse engineers your product stealing your ideas?

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