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Licensing a major IP

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Havok12
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Joined: 01/17/2016

Hello Everyone,

So my brother is the biggest Star Trek fan I know and he loves board games. His major complaint for the last decade and a half has been the absence of a really-good thematically appropriate Star Trek game, just the huge number of tactical games and random other stuff, like Star Trek Catan. So for his birthday this year I handed him a prototype copy of a game I've been working on for him for the past 3 years.

I didn't design it with a view towards getting it published. But I still wanted it to be a viable game, so a lot of playtesting has gone into it and all the playtesters have really enjoyed it. So now that I am coming to the end of the process I am wondering what the steps would be to try and get someone at Paramount/CBS or a game company with the license to take a look at it? I recognize the odds are they will not even give me the time of day and this game will be limited to less than half a dozen copies ultimately, produced by myself, but because the feedback was so positive I feel compelled to at least try.

Any advice on how to go about doing this or where to start? If it doesn't go anywhere, it was still worth it for the look on his face when he opened it. I made a pretty snazzy looking prototype and when we started playing it kind of blew his mind. Would be kind of nice to have the opportunity to share the idea with the larger community. It is definitely something that has not been tried yet.

Thanks!

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
Sorry to tell you...

One of our BGDF Designer has published a Star Trek game with Mayfair Games:

http://www.mayfairgames.com/products/star-trek-five-year-mission

Maybe you would want to check out Dralius game... And see if your brother likes it! More over Dralius has been telling us that he will be planning an expansion for the game (http://www.bgdf.com/node/17353).

I'd take a look...

But PM Dralius maybe he can help you out. Or at least get you to understand the challenges with licensing IP!

Havok12
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Joined: 01/17/2016
Much appreciated

Thanks a lot! I sent Dralius a PM and I will certainly check out his game, it looks very cool! Thankfully mine looks quite different!

lewpuls
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Joined: 04/04/2009
Basically, forget it

A big company like FFG or Mayfair might be able to get a license to a big property like Star Trek. An individual game designer, very, very unlikely. You have to appear to be worth the bother!

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
The Game Crafter

Havok12 wrote:
Any advice on how to go about doing this or where to start? If it doesn't go anywhere, it was still worth it for the look on his face when he opened it. I made a pretty snazzy looking prototype and when we started playing it kind of blew his mind.

My advice to you is this:

-To produce a 1-off prototype is nearly unheard of unless you use a service like "The Game Crafter" (TGC):

http://www.thegamecrafter.com

At this site, you may be limited in terms of dimensions of your box, the amount of rulebook pages, how your product is packaged inside, etc. BUT there is a silver lining:

-IF you want to make a PROFESSIONAL looking PROTOTYPE for your brother, well then I highly suggest using their service.

The quality is pretty near finished product - yeah sometimes the bleeds are not perfect. But this can be a fact for any manufacturer. But remember you will not be able to publish this game because of the copyrighted material.

But you could of course pick from Google the photos you like and put them into your prototype - for your brother's EXCLUSIVE game only.

That might be more REALISTIC and at least DO-ABLE!

Havok12
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Joined: 01/17/2016
My brother's prototype is

My brother's prototype is already completed and while I didn't use the Game Crafter, I made all the components except for the map myself, using a bunch of DIY techniques, but as you suggest I pulled my imagery and art from a variety of sources and the prototype copy I made for him looks awesome. I obviously can't upload pictures of it here, but it looks quite professional, certainly comparable to professional or near professional, so it had the WOW factor when he opened the box.

That is though, as you suggest, not publishable in its current form for the copyright reasons you have highlighted. Even if it was licenced, some of that art would still not be usable.

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
Think it's tough for YOU, think about Adam Nemoy!

Here is a past Kickstarter I backed:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/adamnimoy/for-the-love-of-spock-a-d...

This is ADAM NEMOY, Leonard Nemoy's OWN SON! If you watch the documentary, you'll find that EVEN HE needs to pay for material of his dad when he was working on the set of Star Trek.

Imagine Adam having difficulties - I don't honestly think you will be able to make it a "publishable" game.

Just FYI - but I'd be curious as to what David tells you...

Havok12
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Joined: 01/17/2016
I'm aware of Adam Nimoy's

I'm aware of Adam Nimoy's film, but that is a great example. Just to be clear, I'm not thinking that I can use Star Trek material, subject to their copyright to make a "publishable" game without acquiring the license to the IP. And I recognize that getting that license may be impossible.

The prototype I produced for my brother is for him only and in no way is something I would just try and publish. The game itself is quite robust though, so I am merely exploring whether it would be possible, even if extremely difficult, to license that IP from CBS and Paramount or else partner with a game publisher who could do so.

With the IP license, making it "publishable" would be very easy. Without it, totally impossible. I'm not trying to avoid the IP issue, just trying to figure out if others have advice on how to approach it, even if the odds of success are low.

Terri
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Joined: 02/02/2016
I've been researching

I've been researching licensing for the past few years (not even relating to gaming)... and I recommend Stephen Key's book: "One Simple Idea"
It goes through licensing, how it works, etc. etc.
I don't see how it wouldn't apply to gaming as well. There's actually another newer version of this book. I think it's called "One More Simple Idea" ... or something like that.
Also, he and his partner have a Youtube channel that's interesting/helpful: lookup InventRightTV.

radioactivemouse
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Joined: 07/08/2013
I'm not a fan...

I'm not a fan of acquiring existing IP's. The question you have to ask is: Does your game NEED to have that IP in order to exist?

To me, it's too much of a hassle to try and get it just so you can get that specific theme. If your game really needs that IP, then maybe your game wasn't that strong in the first place. I know that seems a bit harsh, but that's what I think.

My suggestion would be to create your own universe. I mean, why make a game for an established universe that someone else created? Part of the money you'll gain will go to THAT universe, why not take all the money from your game for yourself? It's your game, right?

It may be harder to try and start your own universe, but I assure you, it will be easier to make your own than to try to adhere to the standards of that universe, much less the legal aspects of that IP.

questccg
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While I agree... I also disagree...

There are some IPs out there that I would love to DESIGN a game for. Take "Star Wars". I submitted a game proposal to Lucasart and they responded by sending me back the material I had sent them saying: "We do not accept submissions from the outside."

Obviously this is a lie. How else would all these game studios make games about Jedi Knights and such... But because it's more of a 1 man show, they are not INTERESTED. They can't picture me making a game... Which is IF I had a wad of cash, I would make my "Star Wars" game.

So I agree it's difficult, expensive, and demanding.

At the same time it has an existing FAN base for which I too would love to design and publish a game in their "Star Wars" universe... :P

And BTW I spend over a month reading through the Star Wars Wikipedia... There is so much material there - I was able to draft a 15 page analysis document about the game. 15 pages rich with "Star Wars" lore is in my mind something that was FUN to research and worthwhile to look into...

But I'm over 40 and while I would love my own crew - it is unlikely. I'm more interested in family - and is the more pressing question on my mind. When I was 20, yeah sure I could dream about it. At 41 I know I'd rather get one independent game "out-there". And continue with our game expansion plans...

However I am thankful to all the contributors to "Tradewars - Homeworld"... and also the designers who have provided invaluable feedback concerning our Kickstarter campaign or simply feedback and comments on our blog... It's nice to know someone read them! :)

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