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Couple of questions

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Jerry
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Joined: 11/01/2010

Hi, new here and first post.

Just had a couple of questions that I hoped a few of you could answer.

I've got a couple of games in the works that I hope to bring through the pipeline sometime in the future. No date or schedule is being followed though.

Question 1:
Do I have to get a game or it's rules copyrighted before presenting to a publishing company, or is it general practice not to do so and just throw it out there and hope nobody copies your ideas? From what I've read here and on bgg, it sounds like some companies won't handle your game unless you've filled out some kind of form, go through an agent, or even still, unless you present it to them without any legal stuff attached to it.

Question 2: (3part)
When you do submit a game, do you have to get the whole thing into store shelf type shape? Or can you present it in prototype form? Can you present it without all the mechanics being fleshed out or not? (such as obvious flaws still being there but the idea is solid)

I'm just starting to fell my way around the idea of putting my games out there and am looking for advice.
Long time game designer as a hobby (for friends and family) and everyone has always told me I should try to get something published. I guess something else I'm looking for is good ways to get my games playtested by random people, since I realize that most of my games have only been played by friends or family, though they have been frank in their assesments.

Sorry if this was posted in the wrong section.

truekid games
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Question 1: works are

Question 1:
works are technically copyrighted as soon as you write them (in the USA, at least)- but more importantly, it only protects the work "as written", and any rulesheet can be re-written to mean the same thing, so a copyright gives you no real protection. You can get a design or procedural patent, however it's generally not worth the money to do so- you still have to front the legal fees if something does come up, some companies won't look at something that's already patented (largely because it just makes you look litigious), if a game does get picked up by a publisher and THEY think it needs a patent, they'll pay for it themselves... and most importantly, any legitimate game company doesn't need to steal your idea... it's bad for business, and good ideas are a dime a dozen anyway, it's the execution (manufacture, marketing, distribution) that is the rare half of the equation.

Question 2:
A prototype is expected, not store-ready shape. I wouldn't give them anything hand-written, but beyond that, what matters most is functionality, not prettiness.

your mechanics should be what you feel is a complete and flaw-free game. the publishers ARE going to spend time developing it further in many cases, even if you feel it's complete, but if you hand them something where they see the flaws (or perceived flaws) immediately, they'll generally hand it right back to you.

i recommend gaming conventions and a friendly, outgoing attitude for playtests by random people.

ReneWiersma
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1) There's no need to

1) There's no need to copyright or patent your game design when showing it to a publisher. No serious publisher will ever steal a game designer's idea for many good reasons. Publishers stealing game ideas and then making millions of dollars from it, is an urban legend.

2) A publisher will expect a prototype, not a game shelf ready design. A prototype that looks nice will perhaps pursuade a publisher to take a look at it (everyone a sucker for eye candy), but in the end it is the mechanics that will pursuade a publisher to actually publish it. Make sure your prototype is playable and complete. A publisher will almost always commission new art for the game anyway.

As for the mechanics, you should deliver the game in such a state that you think its rules are perfect and complete. Even then a publisher may alter some rules or mechanics, but a game that isn't finished or doesn't work completely will almost always be rejected. The publisher just doesn't have the time for it, and it is your job as the designer to come up with a good, solid game.

I also want to add that you should spend a lot of time perfecting the rulebook. A good rulebook is the single most important aspect of your pitch. If the rulebook sucks, it is very hard for a publisher to look past that.

rcjames14
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Prototype Artwork

Unless you are in the business of licensing products to publishers, they will expect to produce the artwork, game pieces and packaging themselves and figure out how to manufacture and market it. In this case, what they are buying from you is the idea and the set of rules that makes that idea a fun game to play. So, you will need to create a prototype that will allow them to learn how to play the game (without too much effort) and assess whether it is fun or not.

However... if you believe that it will pass those tests and you have a little extra time, you might want to think about putting a lot of placeholder artwork in your prototype. Ultimately, as ReneWiersma has said, everyone is a sucker for eye candy. So, something that looks good will ultimately get playtested more than than something that is plain looking.

Now... whether it gets playtested by the same people a second time and adopted by the publishers depends upon the rules and game mechanic. But, even then, artwork will help you frame the game. If you believe that the theme is critical to the fun of the game... having art to go with the game will help the publishers see your vision for the game and make it more concrete for them. It will give them something to work with and to shop around to artists and save them a lot of time.

So... a little bit of time making your game aesthetically pleasing can go a long way.

Jerry
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Thanks for all the tips!

Thanks for all the tips!

I've managed to enlist my wife into doing lots of the artwork for me (drawing is one of her huge hobbies) so i'm fortunate that I don't have to pay anyone for that.

I'm taking my time and theres no rush to me so I'd like my games to be visually appealing before I submit them.

Lukeocracy
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I was debating whether to

I was debating whether to join or not, then i found this post and the answers to the questions i've been searching all over the internet to find. I have game i'd like to try and publish after some extensive play testing, i have some prototypes in production of the dice. this was very helpful.

rcjames14
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Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down

Do you think this forum would benefit from having a thumbs up feature for threads like BGG?

It seems that it might help a lot of people find what they are looking for better (so we don't have to do as much referring to posts), but at the same time one might lose the experience of the forum that comes from constantly keeping an eye on the twenty most recent posts no matter how topical they are.

tridagam
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hi Jerry

I know I am a little far down the road on a reply...but here it is.

When we started Tridagam LLC we bought out the rights to 11 games, prox. 1/3 of our initial operating budget. Most all of the games had copyrights and 1 had some pats. This made the transfer easy on the legal standpoint, because we had a proprietary object to buy. I would feel the same about exclusive or non-exclusive licensees. I would look twice at anyone who had a problem, because I would not understand their problem with a system that has worked well in this country for a long time.

Now please note that our main objective is to reintroduce non electronic gaming to Americans. (Good families and friends thing) Any attempts at Publishing, Distributing, manufacturing and so on, are just stones in the foundation. We are not taking on more projects for a few years.

When the games came to us, We paid for the art, the writers, the editing. We also size it to maximize its cost per foot on the shelf. (smaller its foot print and higher the cost for a moderate seller the better)In our test stores here in the north west. store owners have shelved Tigele next to Ticket to Ride and Catan. We are selling next to them and even with them to date. I believe this has a lot to do with size. In this country we should be able to sell 1000,s of a bad game if it is newly introduced to the market.

I tell you this because i fell it is important that a product fits into a Retail sales environment. And the designer is the man on the front line of that problem. I can't sell a game if it has to be to big:

1) because the store owner may be able to replace it with 2 or 3 other games for a better cost: foot ratio

2) Because when a distributer takes his list into a store...Out of the dozens on the list he will point out a couple as good sellers and the rest sit in storage. So it has to look as if it will sell to him as well (plus having the money to send him on a cruise helps...Ha...HA)

3) Because the final buyer will look at it and say were in the heck will we store it / Play it
So if you have it shelve sized it is easier for a fellow like me to see how it will fit into the retail puzzle. And it shows me you did your home work.

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