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How to proceed with the game design

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Anonymous

Hi, I am currently in the middle of patenting a board game that I have ideas for. It is in the lawyers hands at the moment and I am at the stage of getting the actual game play, rules, and final design finished for the patent process. As you all may know, ideas in the head do not easily get to the drawing board. I have the concept and some of the play, but is there software out there or any other media to help me finalize how the game can be played, rules, etc.?

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Re: How to proceed with the game design

spinnakercc wrote:
Hi, I am currently in the middle of patenting a board game that I have ideas for. It is in the lawyers hands at the moment and I am at the stage of getting the actual game play, rules, and final design finished for the patent process. As you all may know, ideas in the head do not easily get to the drawing board. I have the concept and some of the play, but is there software out there or any other media to help me finalize how the game can be played, rules, etc.?

Just curious, how can you patent a game that's not finished? Also what exactly are you patenting? Also are you aware of the HUGE expense involved in getting a patent, not to mention the HUGE costs involved in enforcing that patent if there ever is a dispute? Perhaps you should just stick to copyrighting the game instead. If I were you, I wouldn't waste time patenting something you haven't finished and you arent' sure is worth patenting. I'm not trying to be harsh, just practical. Very, very few games need to be patented (or are worth it). I don't have the time right now, but perhaps some other members can post threads to previous topics regarding patents. After you read them you will see that patents are only for specific situations. My best advice to you is to slow down; finish the game, playtest it a lot, refine it, do market research, then decide if you need to proceed further with legal maneuvers. Otherwise you're wasting time and money and further reducing your chances of getting the game out.

-Darke

Anonymous
Well, call me stupid, but I did it

Well, I understand what you are saying but here is the story: My wife and I came up with a board game idea and wondered how we could get it to market. We found an online service named Inventors Helpline and the Patent and TradeMark Institue of America. They did a preliminary patent search and a preliminary game design graphic from our description of what we were envisioning. We paid them $10,000 for this and the patent process. They said that the idea was marketable and that they would also market the game idea, in hopes of finding a funding manufacturer, at International Tradeshows. We have been notified by the Patent Attorney that he is ready to proceed with the patent and wants a final design. We were always wondering when we would need to get the ideas, play, etc. finalized but never got an answer until now. We probably got took and this I believe. We are just trying to make the best out of our money and get at least the patent for our idea.

Johan
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How to proceed with the game design

Hello spinnakercc

As I understand it you have a game idea that has no prototype, no testing, no initial design and no rules. That will take me at least ½ a year to complete (2 month if I work hard but you can't rush the test sessions).
After that there are still work to complete the graphic design, printing, marketing and sell process.

Your next step is to decide how much money you are willing to spend on your idea. Each part you can't do yourself, you have to pay for (design, rule creating, graphics, printing and so on). The only thing you can get for free is review and tests (This forum is an excellent place for that part)

When you are calculation on how much you are willing to spend, don't count on any income from the project. Money back is a bonus.

You can also sell your game-idea, but most companies are crowded with hopeful designers.

…and: A patent is only valid for one country. Thing you can get a patent for in US it's impossible to get a patent for it in Europe (not the same law). The copyright law is a stronger law (you get a protection in several countries) with a lower (and sometime no cost).

// Johan

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...

Spinnaker,

Hmmm. I am very sorry to hear about your situation. First let me say a few things about patenting. It is my understanding that just because you apply for a patent, does not mean one will be granted to you. There are several reasons for this, the most obvious are that your idea has already been previously patented or your idea is not unique enough to be patented. In your case the latter will probably apply more than the former, because, most things from board games can not be patented. Parts of the game can be copyrighted (the rules, the illustrations, box art) but these are limited to only the artistic aspects of the game. The only thing that can really be patented are the game mechanics and how they pertain to your game. The most frequently used example that I think of is the tapping mechanic in Magic the Gathering to denote that a card has been used, and this is only in the context of a collectible card game. So if you or I were to create a collectible card game, we couldn't use the word tapping when refering to whether a card has been used or activated.

So why am I going on about Patents? Well because your game needs to have some mechanic about it that's unique enough to patent. Most board games do not meet this requirement. This is just a heads up for you to be aware of.

Now on to your real question about getting started with the design. There's no real magic to it. I usually start by writing out the rules. From there I make a rough prototype. Then I self playtest it to work out the major bugs. From there I playtest it with friends. Then I revise based upon playtest. At some point where I feel happy with the game I create a nicer prototype and playtest and revise more. Again, there's no magic bullet software or technique; the best thing to do is just get your hands dirty with the actual process. We here at the community are here to help you in any way we can, so feel free to pop in whenever you have any specific questions. I'm sure you might find some folks who would be willing to 'hold your hand' through the entire process, if that is indeed the level of help you need. Again, just ask, that's why we're here.

-Darke

jwarrend
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How to proceed with the game design

Spinnaker,

Ok, I'm sorry if I'm way off here, but red flags are going up left and right for me with this one. I would strongly advise you to find any way you possibly can to get your money back; I think it's highly unlikely that you're ever going to get your money's worth from your investment. I'm sorry for how that sounds, and I hope I'm completely wrong.

First, as Darke said, slow way down. Until you have a finished, playable, bug-free game, you don't have anything of value. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Flesh out the idea for the gameplay, play it to death, and if it's still fun (as measured by people other than just your immediate family and friends), that's a good sign! Then you can think about the next step.

Finding a publisher depends on the scope of the game. If your game is a "mass market" game like Monopoly, and you want to approach a big publisher like Hasbro, then indeed, you do need an agent to represent you. however, the one that you've chosen sounds like a catch-all inventor service, and I personally would be skeptical that they could help you much; you want someone with proven experience getting games published by the big companies. We probably have some listed in the Web Resources section, but if not, check out www.discovergames.com, I bet they have some agents there.

If you have a hobby game or wargame, in almost all cases, there's no need for an agent; you just approach the company directly. In most cases, your game gets rejected, so you want to try to find a company that your game fits really well into their line.

I don't think patenting is ever a good investment. Your better use of the money is marketing your game (assuming you've self-published). There's just so little money to be made in selling games that patenting really isn't necessary unless you have some clever mechanical device (like the tower in Dark Tower, for example). Since it doesn't even sound like you have a playable game yet, I'm surprised you could even get a patent in the first place.

Again, please take my "advice" with a grain of salt, because I'm not an expert and I'm not even that knowledgable. I encourage you to do a forum search on patents, there's been a lot of discussion on the subject. I also encourage you to spend some time on the board discussing the craft of game design; I'm sure we could help you a lot with getting your ruleset into a fun, playable game. It's probably already too late, but if it's at all possible, I really would seriously consider trying to get your money back from the inventor's board; I'm dubious that you'll get what you've paid for. And definitely check them out with the Better Business Bureau.

One other thing; since you're in Syracuse, you should be aware that we occasionally hold "regional" playtest sessions in Albany, that have pulled people in from Rochester and NJ in the past. We get together on a Saturday to playtest each others' games and get to know one another. We'd love to have you along next time (probably this winter) if you're interested!

Welcome to the group, and good luck!

-Jeff

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How to proceed with the game design

Johan wrote:

…and: A patent is only valid for one country. Thing you can get a patent for in US it's impossible to get a patent for it in Europe (not the same law). The copyright law is a stronger law (you get a protection in several countries) with a lower (and sometime no cost).

// Johan

You have said this several times in the past. Although you statement might be right, it leads people to infer that they have no legal protection in foreign countries. Any country that adheres to the Berne Convention should observe copyrights made in all any other country observing the BC. Again, I know patents aren't the same as copyrights, but I just wanted to make this clear to other folks who may read this thread in the future.

Quote:
Your next step is to decide how much money you are willing to spend on your idea. Each part you can't do yourself, you have to pay for (design, rule creating, graphics, printing and so on). The only thing you can get for free is review and tests (This forum is an excellent place for that part)

This not entirely correct. A person could (in fact most of the people here do) do a lot these things themselves, especially designs and rules. A lot of folks here even do their own graphics also. Your mileage may vary from other folks.

-Darke

Anonymous
Thanks for the kind words..

I thank you all for the responses! They are well taken and I would like to participate in the regional that is coming up this winter. I am glad that I found this board because I have been totally confused of what to do next. I have contacted a few people who have also entered ideas with the people I have used and they, too, have felt that they have been scammed and not gotten anything for their money. They are willing to be involved with creating a lawsuit, if need be. I don't like doing that, but it may be the only way to get my money ( or some of it) back. Unfortunately, after the fact, I read postings from the patent office describing scam inventor helps promises to be not true and to avoid them. I guess some of us learn the hard way. But, I do not want this to detract from our game idea. The game is to be mass marketed like Monopoly and it is a game that will operate like Monopoly and Easy Money. It involves real life situations in the finance world and will require a certain amount of skill and luck to win. It will have a unique board and playing figures as well as some electronics. The future of the idea is to make it available for internet play. I have been writing down all sorts of ideas about play, materials, and rules. I have a pretty good concept of it and I just need to get it going. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty and I can do alot of the work myself. The only thing that I fear is that my concept will be stolen before I get it to the point of marketing, etc. I guess that is why I was swayed into a patent process.javascript:emoticon(':roll:')
Rolling Eyes

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Re: Thanks for the kind words..

spinnakercc wrote:

It involves real life situations in the finance world and will require a certain amount of skill and luck to win. It will have a unique board and playing figures as well as some electronics. The future of the idea is to make it available for internet play. I have been writing down all sorts of ideas about play, materials, and rules. I have a pretty good concept of it and I just need to get it going. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty and I can do alot of the work myself. The only thing that I fear is that my concept will be stolen before I get it to the point of marketing, etc. I guess that is why I was swayed into a patent process.javascript:emoticon(':roll:')
Rolling Eyes

Regarding having your idea stolen:

Read this:

They stole my game!

This sounds like a fun game. Just curious, are the electronics really necessary? As for a web version of the game, there may be some folks here who can assist you with that. Ask around once you get to that stage of the design process.

-Darke

Anonymous
Electronics?

Well, I was thinking in the line of "getting into the 21st century" and using an electronic dice device instead of the usual dice. This game will also involve financial calculations and this will need to be done by a calculating device to keep "records" for the players. Each player will have one of these such devices..not a big deal, but a battery operated calculator that has some computing ability to keep balances; debits, etc. I get so excited about this that it is hard to not blurt out what it is.

Anonymous
How to proceed with the game design

Hi and welcome! Being in the ROchester area, I'll probably see you at a future playtest session.

I'd hate to say it, but I agree with others in that you should try to get as much of your money back as possible. I was in the exact same position as you just a few years ago. My wife and I came up with an idea for a board game, we fleshed out some ideas and started looking into getting patents. Believe it or not, I actually started looking through books on the patent process in hopes of filing the forms myself! That's a joke now... There are literally hundreds of books on patents and the protection of intellectual property.

Fortunately my searches for everything regarding the creation of a board game led me here. Since then I have learned so much about the design and publication process. Everything you need to know to get started is here in either the forums or in links to other web sites that cover the information. Read through as many threads as you can. There's a handy search feature that will help you narrow down the threads regarding specific topics.

I will also chime in with my thoughts on playtesting. I can't agree enough with everyone else that testing is the most critical part of the design process. Everyone thinks their game is perfect until they have it playtested. That's where a designer can collect feedback from others about the design, the rules, and the all important "fun factor." These things are really hard to determine on your own.

A great resource is the Game Design Workshop here at the BGDF. It's a forum whereby game designers look over the games from other designers and offer their comments. It's a great tool for seeing how your game is doing, how it compares to other games, places that could be improved, etc. It's a fantastic resource that everyone should take part in. Once you review and comment on a few other designers' games, you can submit one of your own for comment. We'd be glad to look over anything you have and let you know how you are doing.

Again, welcome and good luck with your game!

Anonymous
How to proceed with the game design

spinnakercc wrote:
Well, I was thinking in the line of "getting into the 21st century" and using an electronic dice device instead of the usual dice.

It's amazing how people are turning more and more to the traditional board games despite the overwhelming intrusion of electronics in our daily lives! Games with elecytronic components seem to remain on the fringe of board game design even though the electronics are constantly getting smaller and cheaper to make.

Quote:
Each player will have one of these such devices..not a big deal, but a battery operated calculator that has some computing ability to keep balances; debits, etc. I get so excited about this that it is hard to not blurt out what it is.

You may find that there are other non-electronic ways of tracking and calculating these game states. It's all in how you look over and abstract the game.

Johan
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How to proceed with the game design

Darkehorse wrote:
Johan wrote:

…and: A patent is only valid for one country. Thing you can get a patent for in US it's impossible to get a patent for it in Europe (not the same law). The copyright law is a stronger law (you get a protection in several countries) with a lower (and sometime no cost).

// Johan

You have said this several times in the past. Although you statement might be right, it leads people to infer that they have no legal protection in foreign countries. Any country that adheres to the Berne Convention should observe copyrights made in all any other country observing the BC. Again, I know patents aren't the same as copyrights, but I just wanted to make this clear to other folks who may read this thread in the future.

I have spend a lot of time on patens
My father worked with helping people that was in a patent situation or got problems with there own or other patents. I often got a patent he was working on and he sad to me to try to Crack the problem and see if I could come up with something that the patent did not cover and could make the same thing without violating the patent. Most of the time it is an easy job (you should see how many poorly written patent that exist).

But still: there is more then one reason to patent a product.
- The most obvious is to protect an idea. The problem with that is that you have to patent the idea in each country you want to work in (that will be an annual fee in each country). The patent will protect the product from being produced in that country and from others to sell copies in that country.
- Stop others for a while. During the patent process you can stop others from doing the same thing by referring to the patent. You don’t have to go finalize the process. During this time you also have a protection in other countries.
- A patent can also be used as a marketing or sell argument. You should see how a useless patent could boost a product. If you going on this line, you will only need the patent in one country.

You will automatically have Copyright on something you have designed (not created). If someone is creating something where you have specified exactly how it shall be done, you are the one that has the copyright on that product (at least here in Sweden, I don’t know how that work at other parts of the world).

The only time when I have seen a patent on a game that really worked is the one on Monopoly.

Darkehorse wrote:
Johan wrote:

Your next step is to decide how much money you are willing to spend on your idea. Each part you can't do yourself, you have to pay for (design, rule creating, graphics, printing and so on). The only thing you can get for free is review and tests (This forum is an excellent place for that part)

This not entirely correct. A person could (in fact most of the people here do) do a lot these things themselves, especially designs and rules. A lot of folks here even do their own graphics also. Your mileage may vary from other folks.

That was exactly what I meant but it came out the wrong way (I blame my Swinglich on that one ).

// Johan

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How to proceed with the game design

Johan wrote:
The only time when I have seen a patent on a game that really worked is the one on Monopoly.

Ironically enough Monopoly is now pretty much public domain.

-Darke

Johan
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How to proceed with the game design

Yes, but the patent for Monopoly ended sometime between 1985-1989. They got the patent for 50 years period (still this is the Swedish version of the patent, I have not read the US version).
Monopoly is still a strong trademark and they copyright (and pattern protection) on the design.

// Johan

gamemaker-KD
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How to proceed with the game design

Ahoy there spinnakeree, I with you could have found this site before hand. I see everyone is giving you some good information, please finish your game first. Don't even contact any company unto your game is complete with prototype. If you go for the big companies you have to go to a agengy (anjar.com or cactus.com) for hasbro, pressman and others will not take submissions from inventors. To see what companies may have intrest in the type of game you have go to (toy-tia.org) than go to member directory, there a list of every company and there line up. Hope you can recover some if not all of your money. gamemaker-KD

Anonymous
How to proceed with the game design

gamemaker-KD wrote:
If you go for the big companies you have to go to a agengy (anjar.com or cactus.com) for hasbro, pressman and others will not take submissions from inventors. To see what companies may have intrest in the type of game you have go to (toy-tia.org) than go to member directory, there a list of every company and there line up.

Cool links! Could these be added to the web resources section?

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