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Design, Intellectual Property and how to proceed

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Joseph Rozhenko
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Hi Everyone,

My name's Yossi and for the past year or so I've been recreationally designing games - mostly board and card games. I've prepared designed prototypes, tested them out on friends and family and now I need to take the next big step. For that - I need your help with the following questions:

1. In designing the game prototypes, I've used public images as backgrounds/fillers for pawns, boards etc. The arrangement of the elements is by my original design, but the artwork that fills them, is not. So I obviously need a graphic designer/artist to create original graphics. How do I go about this?

2. How do I protect myself before approaching major game companies and pitching my ideas? I'm a patent attorney and am well versed in the patent field, however, filing a patent application (even if it is merely a provisional application) for each game concept is way too much money at this stage (I have, at present over 7 different games). How did you go about this? Similarly, how do I know the concepts/ideas/images I post here are protected?

3. When you prepare prototypes, how much do you usually spend on printing, materials etc.? My estimate so far is around 100$ per project. Does that sound reasonable?

let-off studios
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Stealing Your Stuff, Etc.

Hey there, Yossi! I don't have much input on #1, however your second question is worth discussing. To sum up: don't worry about it.

According to many, many industry professionals, there's little reason to be so closely-guarded about your secrets (not the least of which is that if they even detect any hint of an NDA, then they'll likely avoid you). Jamey Stegmaier has posted recent blog entries about this topic. Here are a couple (useful even if you're not intending to use Kickstarter):

The Taste Test & Stealing Ideas:
https://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter-lesson-10-the-taste-test/

Your Idea is Brilliant, Your Idea is Worthless:
https://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter-lesson-204-your-idea-is-brillian...

Everything a Kickstarter Creator Needs to Know About Copyrights:
https://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter-lesson-159-everything-a-kickstar...

James Mathe (RIP) is another industry luminary who has written on this topic, so you can look up his words as well.

Regarding your question 3, I suppose it depends on the quantity and quality of your components. I've spent maybe $10 a copy on a professionally-printed card game through The Game Crafter because I wanted it to look and feel good for playtesters who saw it at public events. That was just cards, though. To date, the example I'm thinking of has been printed four times. I suppose if I was settled on the design then I would easily reach that $100 mark within a year: again, just for a card game.

If you can find a way to re-use components, home-brew your components, etc. then it will likely be less-expensive for you. Again, I think this is highly-dependent on the specific project and your intentions for its future.

Good luck to you, and best of success. :)

Warklaxon
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Hi Yossi

Hi Yossi,

Welcome. For item #2 I recommend that you give the Board Game Design Lab podcast by Gabe Barrett a listen. Specifically, episodes on March 8, 2017, “Why a Publisher Might Reject your Game”.

I was concerned and surprised myself with how game design is treated in industry, but it seems that the market is so saturated with designs that all use very similar machinations to other games that ‘unique’ games or even mechanisms are virtually non existent. Requesting an NDA from a publisher is likely to just get a no response. It’s not worth the headache for them with so many good concepts available to be published.

If you have significant concerns about a publisher stealing your concept, you should consider self publishing through Kickstarter. I think really this decision comes down to whether you want to be a game designer, or you want to publish your own games you have produced.

Also, be aware that the game mechanics that you use, unless all are 100% unique, are unlikely to be protected.

I myself am coming to terms with this part of the process and will be resolving which path to follow soon enough - self publish or published by others. Both have their place it seems.

Good luck and welcome.

Jay103
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Joseph Rozhenko wrote: 1. In

Joseph Rozhenko wrote:

1. In designing the game prototypes, I've used public images as backgrounds/fillers for pawns, boards etc. The arrangement of the elements is by my original design, but the artwork that fills them, is not. So I obviously need a graphic designer/artist to create original graphics. How do I go about this?


Search! When you see artists you like, ask them if they might do freelance work for you. I found one I knew I liked from a web comic and managed to figure out her email :). A friend of mine looked through fantasy images and found an artist he liked, contacted, hired to make custom images.

A smallish image is going to cost you somewhere in the $50-150 range, probably (let's say the size of a playing card), depending on detail, etc.

Quote:
2. How do I protect myself before approaching major game companies and pitching my ideas? I'm a patent attorney and am well versed in the patent field, however, filing a patent application (even if it is merely a provisional application) for each game concept is way too much money at this stage (I have, at present over 7 different games). How did you go about this? Similarly, how do I know the concepts/ideas/images I post here are protected?

If you're a patent attorney, you probably already know that your game isn't patentable :)

Nothing you post here is protected. But at the same time, you're definitely over-estimating the value of it :) No offense, but the chances that you'd post something that someone would be like, "Wow, rather than do my own game, I'm going to steal THAT idea and make a ton of money," is.. zero. Nobody's making real money off of these games without a lot of hard work and a lot of luck, and nobody's putting that kind of work into someone else's thing.

At the most, someone might say, hey, that's an interesting mechanic you're using for X. I wonder if I could adapt that into a piece of my game..

Which is much of the value of this forum, really.

Quote:
3. When you prepare prototypes, how much do you usually spend on printing, materials etc.? My estimate so far is around 100$ per project. Does that sound reasonable?

Depends how many you're making :) And also how complex your project is. You can probably put something together at The Game Crafter for a reasonable price and it'll look professional.

I did a blog post about my own early prototyping at

https://www.bgdf.com/blog/prototyping

But for the card game I'm working on I did it at TGC.. 108 cards, some acrylic crystals, and some plastic winks in an unprinted box cost about $15 per set. Otherwise you're mostly having to source everything separately, which could be fine if you're making a bunch of them and buying a bag of 1000 bingo chips makes sense (which it did not for the card game, which only needs 20 or so).

Joseph Rozhenko
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Thanks!

First of all, thanks for the warm welcome!

Very good ideas and links - I'll be sure to check them out.

Just to clarify, I wasn't planning on asking anyone to sign an NDA - those are usually a straight-fire way of getting rejected. What I was wondering was whether or not I should file patent applications BEFORE pitching. And yes, they ARE patentable (at least some).

As for 'stealing' ideas, I realize I'm probably not the first to invent anything, and yet, certain game mechanics are unique or, on the other hand, so simple that adopting them into other games is a cause for concern.

I'll be wiser after reviewing all the links and podcasts you suggested.

Many thanks.

Jay103
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Joseph Rozhenko wrote:First

Joseph Rozhenko wrote:
First of all, thanks for the warm welcome!

Very good ideas and links - I'll be sure to check them out.

Just to clarify, I wasn't planning on asking anyone to sign an NDA - those are usually a straight-fire way of getting rejected. What I was wondering was whether or not I should file patent applications BEFORE pitching. And yes, they ARE patentable (at least some).

I would be shocked, seriously. Obviously I haven't seen your games, but coming up with something novel in a world where there can be a few dozen games each week just on Kickstarter? I'd think the chances of someone finding prior art close enough to your idea is pretty damned high.

Quote:
As for 'stealing' ideas, I realize I'm probably not the first to invent anything, and yet, certain game mechanics are unique or, on the other hand, so simple that adopting them into other games is a cause for concern.

I'll be wiser after reviewing all the links and podcasts you suggested.


The Jamey Stegmaier links are invaluable.

And again.. there are many thousands of games you've never even heard of. Board Game Geek has over 100,000 entries. "Unique" is a true rarity, and yet, ultimately, is not even that valuable.

Jay103
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One more general point..

One more general point.. there's not a lot of value in having a patent on a game that you aren't selling (unless you're a patent troll, which I hope you are not). The only way nowadays to have a commercially successful game is to get the word out in as many ways as possible. Even if that means making your rulebook available on a public website and putting half your art up on your facebook page and showing the fancy doodad that you believe is patentable (and really, it would take a novel physical doodad, imho).

It may seem counter-intuitive, but, assuming the game is good and you're reaching your target audience, the more you reveal about your game the more likely you'll make a sale.

To put it another way, if you're selling your game, at some point in the nearish future everyone will see your doodads. If they want to rip them off, they'll have the opportunity eventually, and I'm not sure who you'd think you're enforcing that patent against, because unless it's a large US company, you certainly aren't getting anything out of it, and large US companies (a) won't notice you in the first place and (b) have their own patent attorneys in-house.

So anyway, everyone's going to see your stuff eventually. But in order to SELL GAMES, if you have an exciting doodad you need to let everyone know about it. Everyone needs to be EXCITED about your game. ANTICIPATE it. Put up posts asking about release dates. Tag their friends to spread the word. Secrecy is the enemy of success.

And truthfully, if I wanted to steal a mechanic, I'd probably steal it from a game that's sold 100k copies, not something that's barely a prototype..

Joseph Rozhenko
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Valid point

I completely agree with everything you wrote. My only problem is that I'd much prefer interesting bigger game companies in buying the game than starting a one-man operation of manufacturing, shipping etc. This is kind of intimidating as I'm more the person to design and come up with ideas than the person to run a large-scale operation.

That said, since most of the games I've designed can easily be translated to a mobile platform (game app), I was considering that route for expanding exposure. Now I just need a mobile app programmer who can take my design and turn it into code. Hell, I might break eventually and go study app design myself just for that.

Jay103
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Joseph Rozhenko wrote:I

Joseph Rozhenko wrote:
I completely agree with everything you wrote. My only problem is that I'd much prefer interesting bigger game companies in buying the game.

I wish you a great deal of luck :)

bottercot
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Nostromo Game

This reminds me of the controversy a bit ago about the Alien boardgame called USCSS Nostromo or something that apparently stole game design from another developer.
While I don't frankly care that the game was cancelled, it was a situation where that exact thing happened: a developer pitched an idea, got rejected, and then later his ideas were used in a very similar game. I believe the developer sued, and the game got cancelled. Clearly there are some sort of protections, but what those are I don't know.

Jay103
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bottercot wrote:This reminds

bottercot wrote:
This reminds me of the controversy a bit ago about the Alien boardgame called USCSS Nostromo or something that apparently stole game design from another developer.
While I don't frankly care that the game was cancelled, it was a situation where that exact thing happened: a developer pitched an idea, got rejected, and then later his ideas were used in a very similar game. I believe the developer sued, and the game got cancelled. Clearly there are some sort of protections, but what those are I don't know.

Looking that one up, it looks like it was an outright theft of a fully prototyped game by the publisher the guy pitched to and was in talks with for a while. The story worked out reasonably well, it appears :)

evansmind244
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Publisher

Joseph, I am the founder of Bullfrog Games LLC. So far I have only published my own title but I am lookin for more games to publish. I have no problem signing an NDA. If your games fit into the category of Family Game, with mass market appeal I would be more than willing to look at what you have.

- I am a disabled Veteran run business with access to the U.S. federal government's System for Award Management (SAM).
- I am also officially now Global Walmart vendor. Although I haven't sold any games in Walmart yet this year (time is running out as my game is Christmas Themed) I will for sure be in at least 3 Walmart Super centers next year. Between my wife and I we got this Walmart deal done with 3 Stores in about 1 month. I'm confident I will be in many more than 3 stores next year.
- I am small now, but I am dreaming very Big.

Also Hasbro has a very straight forward product submission process, and they love to look for outside innovators. I'd imagine as a Patent Attorney yourself, it should be pretty easy to establish prior art. The reality is that publishers don't want law suits they want games that sell. If a big publisher scares you, then contemplate going with someone like me who is new, fresh and hungry!!

Rick-Holzgrafe
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You may not need artwork

Most publishers, at least the well-established ones, won't need you to supply your own artwork. Artwork is not part of your job as game designer: it's the publisher's job. The publisher may even wind up changing the theme of your game, so that any artwork you supply would not be usable anyway. I've had two of my original designs signed by publishers, and in both cases any artwork I might have supplied would not have been used.

So just keep your public images in your prototypes, and don't worry about copyright. You're okay if you are only using those images for a few prototypes. Just make sure any publisher knows that you are offering the design and not the artwork.

Of course, if you give up on finding a publisher and decide to self-publish, then obviously you are both the designer and the publisher and you're responsible for everything. :-)

questccg
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A question of "compromises"

Joseph Rozhenko wrote:
...My only problem is that I'd much prefer interesting bigger game companies in buying the game than starting a one-man operation of manufacturing, shipping etc. This is kind of intimidating as I'm more the person to design and come up with ideas than the person to run a large-scale operation...

Well there are some "SIDE-EFFECTS" to choosing BIGGER "Game Companies". For example, they'll theme and do the art to their liking NOT yours. Or they'll pay you a royalty and take over the development of the game. You may or may NOT be consulted. The size of the royalty will be SMALLER with a BIGGER "Game Company" than a smaller one, with which you may be able to PARTNER with... And be included in the production (not payment) of art, heck you'll probably be involved in the development too...

So BIGGER is NOT always BETTER. You have to figure out what you can live with ... What I mean do you prefer a smaller partnership, where you will be actively consulted on art and development of the game. Or do you simply want a STABLE but predictable royalty and be able to move on to other designs...?

I've self-published and I've partnered with a small Publisher. Sometimes being a "one-man-show" is advantageous: it's all on you and your efforts. A Small Publisher can do wonders and take an unknown game and "BLOW IT UP"! I've never worked with BIG or LARGE Publishers... Even though at the moment, I am searching for one... Mainly because the game is completed and all that is needed is a SALESFORCE (and capability to finance re-prints)...

Joseph Rozhenko
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Original Imagery

Thanks, that did help clarify a few things.

I felt uncomfortable pitching a game with artwork that isn't original. My other concern was running public test-runs of the game with artwork that isn't mine - I was wondering if someone could sue me later on for using their imagery as a tool to boosting up exposure to my game. But I understand that's a slim chance.

In all honesty, I feel less possessive about the artistic design of the game and more possessive about the game concept as a whole. For example, I have one board game which incorporates pawns and cards for moving the pawns on the board. Although I designed the cards myself (and, me not being a graphic designer should give you a sense of how 'good' that design is), I don't really care if they change the design. I'd be much more upset if they changed the rules.

questccg
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Don't worry about placeholder artwork

Joseph Rozhenko wrote:
...I felt uncomfortable pitching a game with artwork that isn't original...

Then produce a prototype WITHOUT any artwork. That should alleviate your fears about using other people's artwork.

Joseph Rozhenko wrote:
My other concern was running public test-runs of the game with artwork that isn't mine - I was wondering if someone could sue me later on for using their imagery as a tool to boosting up exposure to my game. But I understand that's a slim chance.

TBH the real issue is not using copyright artwork. The REAL ISSUE is "profiting" from said artwork. I mean prototyping and playtesting, you aren't making any MONEY from those two (2) activities. Sure, you are INCREASING the appeal of the game but a SIMPLE "warning" should suffice before you begin: "All artwork used to produce this prototype is placeholder art and is copyright of their respective owners..."

That should be enough to say: "Look I'm just TEMPORARILY using it... Before it becomes the Publishers effort to produce original art for the game..."

Joseph Rozhenko wrote:
In all honesty, I feel less possessive about the artistic design of the game and more possessive about the game concept as a whole.

Usually the Publisher doesn't fudge much with the design. Sometimes they may ADD something or change something for clarification and better understanding. Like for example my own Publisher came to the conclusion that it would be SIMPLER to describe each TURN as four (4) steps: A, B, C, and D. Which corresponds to "Action", "Buy", "Configure" and "Discard". And so we went with that since it made sense.

Joseph Rozhenko wrote:
I'd be much more upset if they changed the rules.

Like I mentioned above, they may alter the "explanation" of the rules. Or want to add NEW ones or tweak with the wording in the RULEBOOK. You do have to write a "rulebook" if you want a publisher to make your game. And they can invariably alter the grammar, wording or flow of the document.

Best of luck with your game(s)... The only real way to know how it goes is to TRY it yourself. If you are NOT pleased with the RESULT... Next time try a DIFFERENT approach. You learn by doing more so than people advising you. Everyone's experiences are different and you may be successful with a BIG publisher with Design "A" and only to try again and fail with Design "B" (or be unsatisfied with the outcome...)

It's not because there is one formula that works. It's mostly a case-by-case basis...

Jay103
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Quote:TBH the real issue is

Quote:
TBH the real issue is not using copyright artwork. The REAL ISSUE is "profiting" from said artwork. I mean prototyping and playtesting, you aren't making any MONEY from those two (2) activities.

Well..

I'm not a lawyer. BUT.

What you can't do is harm the copyright's holder to make money. I mean really, you can't copy at all.. that's the Copy Right in question. But in practice, you (a) can't make money off of it, and (b) you can't get in the way of the copyright holder's ability to do that. For example, you can't make copies of someone's book and then give them away for free.

I'd go the no-artwork route, if you can't find public domain stuff. For things like icons, you can certainly find PD art.

Quote:
Usually the Publisher doesn't fudge much with the design

Well, there are cases of things like adding a solo or co-op mode, or making a 4-player game into a 6-player game.

questccg
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Very TRUE

Jay103 wrote:
...I'd go the no-artwork route, if you can't find public domain stuff. For things like icons, you can certainly find PD art...

I go that route too for all my designs. Until I'm ready to produce artwork, I just use NICE "Adobe Illustrator" card templates for my games.

Jay103 wrote:
Quote:
Usually the Publisher doesn't fudge much with the design

Well, there are cases of things like adding a solo or co-op mode, or making a 4-player game into a 6-player game.

TRUE. These are ALL valid points. In the case of TradeWorlds, both a SOLO and CO-OP mode were added. And we took the "box-format" from 1 Player boxes to a 4 Player "Big" Box. So yeah, the Publisher greatly improved upon what I had designed.

Rick-Holzgrafe
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Fair Use, and Publisher Changes

Regarding copyright: someone above said that you can't legally copy at all, but that's not true. See this Wikipedia article about "Fair Use" of copyrighted material under United States law. Whether making a few prototypes in order to test the game and find a publisher, without intent to use the copyrighted material in the actual published result, would count as "Fair Use" would probably require a judge's decision. But I'd be very surprised to see anyone go to court over such usage. It would be different if you included, say, copyright art in a PnP that anyone could download; pretty sure that would be asking for trouble.

With regard to publishers changing your design: I understand your attitude. I don't want publishers messing with my designs either. But I have yet to sell or license a design that wasn't changed by the publisher. The publishers were up front with me about this: they told me they wanted changes, and I could have refused to sign. But then I'd be sitting here with no published games to my credit. The choice is yours; just be prepared for it to happen.

questccg
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Copyrights and all that jazz

Jay103 wrote:
...I mean really, you can't copy at all.. that's the Copy Right in question...

If you really want to ensure the "Fair Use" all you need to do is STATE the NAME of the "Copyright" owner on the card.

Remember nothing other than your own prototypes. Submissions I would send WITHOUT any art... And if you have a certain type of ART you like or believe would look good for the game, do a couple "mock-ups" (Specimen cards with borrowed art). Again ensure you state the NAMEs of the artists on the card sent along with the rulebook, sell page and pitch.

Thanks Rick for adding the "Fair Use" clause ... I remember being taught that IF you are NOT making money on Copyright material and that you give proper credit to the owner of said art, you may use the artwork for personal reasons.

However IF you want to publicly distribute or SELL copyright artwork, you need to first get the permission of the artist FIRST! And/or pay for the use of the artwork in your product.

Cheers!

Joseph Rozhenko
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Very good points. In my case,

Very good points.

In my case, there are two types of art I use for playable prototypes:

images - specific images taken from the web to be used as icons, symbols etc.

backgrounds - also taken from the web but for use as the backdrop for cards, boards etc. These are usually very mild and have little detail so as not to visually overload.

I'm less concerned with the latter, the former is what bugs me.

As for using a 'no artwork' approach - I find that problematic. The prototype should be visually appealing if you're trying to get someone to invest in it. Sure, I could use a super-simplified version of the game, stripped of anything other than the game mechanics but... that would NOT sell well. From my very limited experience, once you show people something that is visually appealing, they automatically take a much more favorable approach to your design.

Also, let me slightly rephrase what I said before - I have no problem with the publisher changing the gameplay, as long as it's for the better. And yes, obviously, it's better to comply with their requests than staying at home with an unpublished prototype.

Jay103
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questccg wrote:Jay103

questccg wrote:
Jay103 wrote:
...I mean really, you can't copy at all.. that's the Copy Right in question...

If you really want to ensure the "Fair Use" all you need to do is STATE the NAME of the "Copyright" owner on the card.


This is not true.

Though you should definitely do it.

Wikipedia wrote:

As explained by Judge Leval, courts are permitted to include additional factors in their analysis.[9]

One such factor is acknowledgement of the copyrighted source. Giving the name of the photographer or author may help, but it does not automatically make a use fair. While plagiarism and copyright infringement are related matters, they are not identical. Plagiarism (using someone's words, ideas, images, etc. without acknowledgment) is a matter of professional ethics, while copyright is a matter of law, and protects exact expression, not ideas. One can plagiarize even a work that is not protected by copyright, for example by passing off a line from Shakespeare as one's own. Conversely, attribution prevents accusations of plagiarism, but it does not prevent infringement of copyright. For example, reprinting a copyrighted book without permission, while citing the original author, would be copyright infringement but not plagiarism.

As I was trying to imply, the issue you really want to look at with fair use in this case is how it affects the author's ability to market the work. NOT whether YOU are making money. For a personal prototype, that's really not a problem. However, if anything went beyond that stage, you'd have a progressively harder time convincing a judge. That's assuming you're put in a position where the copyright holder is upset enough to sue you, of course.

But it could get more complicated. For example, if you use the art in a way that could harm the property.. If you use someone's cute bunny artwork in a game about killer bunnies, even if you're just showing something to publishers, the artist might be pitching their cute art as well, separately, and now you've associated it with death and hurt the value. I mean, that's kind of a silly example, but hopefully the point is there. If someone wants to argue before a judge, they can argue before a judge. Just be circumspect.

I Will Never Gr...
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As an indie publisher ..

Joseph Rozhenko wrote:

As for using a 'no artwork' approach - I find that problematic. The prototype should be visually appealing if you're trying to get someone to invest in it. Sure, I could use a super-simplified version of the game, stripped of anything other than the game mechanics but... that would NOT sell well. From my very limited experience, once you show people something that is visually appealing, they automatically take a much more favorable approach to your design.

This is entirely anecdotal evidence and my own personal view, however;

As an indie publisher, of all of the submissions I have received, the ones WITHOUT art are the ones that got my greatest attention largely because if it's a good game with zero art assets (or even zero theme!) then it's a good game once the art has been added (and also because the vast majority of pitches with some form of art assets look bad .. usually really bad).

And, to be honest, not one submission that I have received (and accepted/signed) WITH art has retained any of that art. It all gets replaced. Even Icons have been replaced in every single instance.

So yes, visual appeal is good, but it's much less necessary for pitching to publishers, and in some cases, is a hindrance.

That said, not all publishers are the same, so research your publishers before pitching!

I Will Never Gr...
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Joseph Rozhenko wrote: 1. In

Joseph Rozhenko wrote:

1. In designing the game prototypes, I've used public images as backgrounds/fillers for pawns, boards etc. The arrangement of the elements is by my original design, but the artwork that fills them, is not. So I obviously need a graphic designer/artist to create original graphics. How do I go about this?

If you're going it alone and becoming self-published, there are plenty of artists and graphic designers that can be found through Facebook groups (art & graphic design for tabletop games is a good group for that), and various art and design websites where artists post their portfolios.

Quote:

2. How do I protect myself before approaching major game companies and pitching my ideas?

Quite frankly, you don't. Unless you're pitching to some fly-by-night scam artist, not one reputable publisher is going to steal your game.

Quote:
Similarly, how do I know the concepts/ideas/images I post here are protected?

Copyright law is your protection, if you're willing to actively protect your work.

Please remember, every designer and publisher has 1000 concepts and ideas of their own. They don't want more. Many of them actively give them away because they cannot work on them all already! The real work is in refining and developing those concepts or ideas into a playable, publishable product.

Quote:

3. When you prepare prototypes, how much do you usually spend on printing, materials etc.? My estimate so far is around 100$ per project. Does that sound reasonable?

Anywhere from $0 to $5000 (or as some like to answer, "How long is a piece of string?") .. far too many variables involved to give an answer to that.

Joseph Rozhenko
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I Will Never Grow Up Gaming

I Will Never Grow Up Gaming wrote:
Joseph Rozhenko wrote:

As for using a 'no artwork' approach - I find that problematic. The prototype should be visually appealing if you're trying to get someone to invest in it. Sure, I could use a super-simplified version of the game, stripped of anything other than the game mechanics but... that would NOT sell well. From my very limited experience, once you show people something that is visually appealing, they automatically take a much more favorable approach to your design.

This is entirely anecdotal evidence and my own personal view, however;

As an indie publisher, of all of the submissions I have received, the ones WITHOUT art are the ones that got my greatest attention largely because if it's a good game with zero art assets (or even zero theme!) then it's a good game once the art has been added (and also because the vast majority of pitches with some form of art assets look bad .. usually really bad).

And, to be honest, not one submission that I have received (and accepted/signed) WITH art has retained any of that art. It all gets replaced. Even Icons have been replaced in every single instance.

So yes, visual appeal is good, but it's much less necessary for pitching to publishers, and in some cases, is a hindrance.

That said, not all publishers are the same, so research your publishers before pitching!

That is an interesting aspect, and, to be honest, quite reassuring. Most of my games can be pitched with little to no artwork (except for one or two), or at least without considerable artwork. I'll have to give it some more thought and see if it's worth stripping from the current artwork just for the sake of the pitch.

Thanks.

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Joseph Rozhenko wrote:I Will

Joseph Rozhenko wrote:
I Will Never Grow Up Gaming wrote:
Joseph Rozhenko wrote:

As for using a 'no artwork' approach - I find that problematic. The prototype should be visually appealing if you're trying to get someone to invest in it. Sure, I could use a super-simplified version of the game, stripped of anything other than the game mechanics but... that would NOT sell well. From my very limited experience, once you show people something that is visually appealing, they automatically take a much more favorable approach to your design.

This is entirely anecdotal evidence and my own personal view, however;

As an indie publisher, of all of the submissions I have received, the ones WITHOUT art are the ones that got my greatest attention largely because if it's a good game with zero art assets (or even zero theme!) then it's a good game once the art has been added (and also because the vast majority of pitches with some form of art assets look bad .. usually really bad).

And, to be honest, not one submission that I have received (and accepted/signed) WITH art has retained any of that art. It all gets replaced. Even Icons have been replaced in every single instance.

So yes, visual appeal is good, but it's much less necessary for pitching to publishers, and in some cases, is a hindrance.

That said, not all publishers are the same, so research your publishers before pitching!

That is an interesting aspect, and, to be honest, quite reassuring. Most of my games can be pitched with little to no artwork (except for one or two), or at least without considerable artwork. I'll have to give it some more thought and see if it's worth stripping from the current artwork just for the sake of the pitch.

Thanks.

Don't get me wrong. SOME form of placeholder art is ok, as long as it's entirely clear it's placeholder art and many publishers don't care either way. The point of the matter is, don't put too much stock into artwork during a pitch to a publisher. The majority of them look past the supplied art because they will (almost always) replace it anyway.

Like I said, always research the publishers you are pitching to first to know what they prefer.

Tim Edwards
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"Similarly, how do I know the

"Similarly, how do I know the concepts/ideas/images I post here are protected?"

When you post something here, it's date stamped with your name on it. That might not stop someone stealing an idea (they won't) but it definitely means that if someone develops an idea similar to yours, you'll be able to protect yourself from accusations of plagiarism.

NB If anyone steals an idea of mine and turns it into a working game, I'll back it on Kickstarter. :)

questccg
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WTF has time to "steal" ideas...

Besides NOBODY knows your idea like you do. Each an every rule you design is your own. So what if you EXPLAIN your game to the public. It doesn't change the fact that there is no hope in heck that everyone will be able to "think-up" all your nuances...!

And TBH ... Most game ideas suck. And I'm not saying MINE are the best. Mine SUCK too! It's a matter of re-working, re-purposing, re-tooling, re-hashing, and WORKING an IDEA into a REAL GAME. And no two (2) people given the same SPECS will create an identical game. If they do, then someone plagiarized someone at some point.

It also depends on how complicated a game you design. If it's 10 pages with illustrations and card samples... Well it's going to be MUCH harder to copy than say someone with 2 pages for a PNP.

But NOTICE... Designers post WORKS-IN-PROGRESS. Nobody uploads FINAL rules to BGDF. Like I said BGG when the time is right. There are always room for last minute edits. And formatting... Nobody concerns themselves with formatting rules on BGDF. Everything is in DESIGN... Works-in-progress...

And when it's final, all we get is people posting in the announcement thread saying: "Please visit my Kickstarter page..."

Joseph Rozhenko
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Still cautious

Thanks for the comments fellas.

As someone coming from the intellectual property field, and having been there over 15 years (and have seen a thing or two), I might be overly cautious. I acknowledge that. That said, some things still bother me:

1. "...it's date stamped with your name on it. ...you'll be able to protect yourself from accusations of plagiarism."

I'm not afraid of being accused of plagiarism, I'm concerned with someone stealing my idea.

2. The timestamp safeguard, nice though it may be, is a very flimsy protection for the simple reason that, if this goes to court, I will need to prove that the stealing party did not develop the idea on its own, and that's a total bitch to do in court. Trust me. If you have a registered patent (or even a patent application), that's a whole different ball-game.

3. "...NOBODY knows your idea like you do." - very true. However, the basic concept is what counts, and will probably stay the same, with the smaller rules changing.

In short, I think I'm going to file for a patent application just to get the time and date down and proceed from there. Not sure if I'll do this for EVERY game design (I have quite a few and some more to come), but maybe bunch them up together.

In any case, thanks a lot for the input. It'll take me a while to understand how this community works, but your comments are super helpful!

Tim Edwards
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questccg wrote:Besides NOBODY

questccg wrote:
Besides NOBODY knows your idea like you do. Each an every rule you design is your own. So what if you EXPLAIN your game to the public. It doesn't change the fact that there is no hope in heck that everyone will be able to "think-up" all your nuances...!

And TBH ... Most game ideas suck. And I'm not saying MINE are the best. Mine SUCK too! It's a matter of re-working, re-purposing, re-tooling, re-hashing, and WORKING an IDEA into a REAL GAME. And no two (2) people given the same SPECS will create an identical game. If they do, then someone plagiarized someone at some point.

It also depends on how complicated a game you design. If it's 10 pages with illustrations and card samples... Well it's going to be MUCH harder to copy than say someone with 2 pages for a PNP.

But NOTICE... Designers post WORKS-IN-PROGRESS. Nobody uploads FINAL rules to BGDF. Like I said BGG when the time is right. There are always room for last minute edits. And formatting... Nobody concerns themselves with formatting rules on BGDF. Everything is in DESIGN... Works-in-progress...

And when it's final, all we get is people posting in the announcement thread saying: "Please visit my Kickstarter page..."

Quite right.

No-one is "stealing" games. My little joke about "If someone steals..." was a joke because it would never happen. Although it's true that IF that happened I WOULD back that Kickstarter. :)

Tim Edwards
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Joseph Rozhenko wrote:Thanks

Joseph Rozhenko wrote:
Thanks for the comments fellas.

As someone coming from the intellectual property field, and having been there over 15 years (and have seen a thing or two), I might be overly cautious. I acknowledge that. That said, some things still bother me:

1. "...it's date stamped with your name on it. ...you'll be able to protect yourself from accusations of plagiarism."

I'm not afraid of being accused of plagiarism, I'm concerned with someone stealing my idea.

2. The timestamp safeguard, nice though it may be, is a very flimsy protection for the simple reason that, if this goes to court, I will need to prove that the stealing party did not develop the idea on its own, and that's a total bitch to do in court. Trust me. If you have a registered patent (or even a patent application), that's a whole different ball-game.

3. "...NOBODY knows your idea like you do." - very true. However, the basic concept is what counts, and will probably stay the same, with the smaller rules changing.

In short, I think I'm going to file for a patent application just to get the time and date down and proceed from there. Not sure if I'll do this for EVERY game design (I have quite a few and some more to come), but maybe bunch them up together.

In any case, thanks a lot for the input. It'll take me a while to understand how this community works, but your comments are super helpful!

You can't really prove that someone stole your idea. You can only prove that you didn't steal theirs. :)

That said, I strongly suggest you're spending unnecessary energy (and soon money) on this issue. Developing a game is such a personal labour of love that it would be very hard to imagine anyone wanting to devote that energy into someone else's idea...

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