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Best Way To Sell a Game Concept? 250

Posted by kdawson
from the based-on-a-novel-by-a-man-named-lear dept.
dunng808 writes "If a couple of young, game-crazy guys wanted to get started designing a game with the intention of selling the concept, how should they proceed? In the music industry they would make a demo MP3. In the film industry they would write a script (and I would recommend lyx with the hollywood document class). Should they develop some sample game play with a well-known engine? Is the one in Blender good enough? This somewhat dated list suggests it is. Or should they focus on textual descriptions and static scenes made with Blender and the GIMP? Is there even a market, let alone a convention, for selling game concepts?"
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Best Way To Sell a Game Concept?

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  • Ideas (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @11:52PM (#32093964)

    Ideas are a dime a dozen, they rarely pay for ideas, they pay for prototypes and people who can make the ideas reality. It sounds like you're at least taking this into account in that you want to create a demo. The demo needs to be bang-up. It doesn't need to have every feature or quality graphics, but it needs to show the gameplay mechanic or idea that you want to sell - and it needs to sell it -HARD-. See Nabacular became Portal. The idea for portal was there, but it wasn't until a solid implementation came along a game company got interested. So model it on that idea - You need to have something coherent.

    Blender game engine probably is a no-no. Use something a bit more high-quality/powerful and customize it to do what you want.

    And if you don't have a compelling gameplay mechanic or idea, then don't bother. You're just another nerd with a fantasy, no offense.

  • Vertical slice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kelbear (870538) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @11:55PM (#32093992)

    It's called the "vertical slice".

    You get 1 piece of the game prepared. Get all the core things working just for this single scenario, and show them what the final product looks like in this one scenario.

    It's up to you how detailed you want it to be, but the idea is to get it as close as you can to the final product. It's hard to get everything in a working status so pick your scenario carefully to avoid complex problems in implementation (Don't generate tough pathing, excessively detailed environments, game-breaking dilemmas).

    Get that working and the investor can imagine what the actual game might be like. The less he has to imagine, the easier it is to invest. Also, and /most importantly/ it shows that you are organized and disciplined enough to produce a working product top to bottom. One of the biggest risks for new games is developers who don't know how to finish something. They get caught up in the big fun ideas and forget about critical details like making it work and meeting a deadline.

  • Re:No way (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Soilworker (795251) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:03AM (#32094052)

    Exactly, and the real challenge is to find an idea that can be developed with minimal cost and developers.

    I've been 1 year in game development at the university i'm still studying in and on the 5 projects presented to be developed the next year, only 2 was possible to be done in the 1 year accorded for it and with a team of 5 (mostly bad) developers.

    One had enough ideas to do a complete new World of Warcraft (nothing really original tho...) but he failed to realize how ideas are useless if you can't implement them.

  • Game Dev Advice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ProfM (91314) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:19AM (#32094154) []

    From the site:

    Welcome to the GAME BIZ ADVICE zone of

    My intent here is to help game biz aspirants learn what it takes to get in and move up in the game business. I write occasional articles to answer Frequently Asked Questions ("FAQs") about designing and making games - computer games, video games, even board games.

  • by Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:46AM (#32094584)
    Exactly. This is like somebody who has no idea how to compose music going "hey, i've got this idea for a really fast metal song with lots of guitars, and there would be a part that went like this, hey, do you think I can call up a band and sell them my idea for money? How do I go about doing that?" Sorry, but no band is ever going to care about your song concept. And similarly, no serious video game developer has the time to care about your video game concepts. And unfortunately, a single person (especially without the technical skills) cannot develop a modern videogame, even a demo. (note: there are exceptions but they're mostly 2d and it took the developer years and they were highly skilled, like Rollercoaster tycoon or braid)
  • From experience ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fingerbob (613137) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:59AM (#32095538)

    I've been making games professionally for close to 19 years. Much of the advice in previous posts is very important, so I'll summarize all the bad points first.

    1. Your game concept is worthless to anyone but you. I've personally got 30 ideas for games that will most likely never see the light of day; some of which I honestly believe are better than the very best games out there right now. Without turning that idea into a playable demonstration, no-one will give you money for it.

    2. You might think your idea is brilliant (and you could be right) but chances are once you turn it into an actual playable version, you'll more likely than not find flaws and issues with the design. I've never worked on a single game that plopped fully formed from design to execution, it just doesn't happen. Expect 90% of the effort of designing your game to happen after the first implementation is complete.

    3. Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of other people want to do exactly what you're suggesting (sell their idea for money). The people with the money to give you are publishers, and the vast majority of those explicitly will not even talk about your game design, just in case it comes close to a product in development. The last thing they want is to open themselves up to being sued because your idea was remotely similar to a game they intend to ship next year.

    now the good stuff:

    You can make games yourself, right now. Trust me - making (and playing) your own games is infinitely more satisfying than just talking about it or writing down half-baked ideas on a piece of paper. Do what the Narbacular Drop guys did, *make it*. If you don't know how - learn. Everything you need to learn is out there right now.

    There's some really good frameworks for making games out there. look for Unreal Development Kit, Blender you already mentioned, and my personal suggestion for your best starting place would be Xbox 360 development using XNA. The benefits of making your game on a platform where it's easy for everyone else to look at the end results in the cold light of day are huge - plus for a small investment you get to play your game on a proper console gaming environment (big telly, etc). There's also mobile platforms - basically, if you care enough to try and are willing to invest your time and maybe a couple of hundred dollars, you can get started on making a product that will be good enough to get attention from people with serious money.

  • Re:No way (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mqduck (232646) <mqduck@mqduc k . net> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @10:31AM (#32097910)

    I can honestly say the most original game I've played YTD is Tropico 3 and that's only because it's the first game I've played with a Latin jazz soundtrack.

    I take it you've never played Tropico 1. It's the exact same game, Latin Jazz and everything. If one was asked "what are the *least* original games ever made?", one would be logically mandated to include Tropico 3. (BTW, I'm not complaining. An updated Tropico 1 is something I'd been longing for for years.)

  • Re:Prototype it. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drsquare (530038) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @11:14AM (#32098664)

    It's nothing to do with being 'boring', it's that after several decades of game development, they've settled on a set of genres that most people enjoy playing. People still eat bread after thousands of years, is that unoriginal and boring? Four-wheeled cars enjoy popularity over more innovative exciting designs etc.

    Most of these new original gaming ideas aren't actually fun to play, so players and developers will fall back on proven formulae such as the FPS, sports games, MMOs etc.

    Just because something's new, it doesn't mean it's better.

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.