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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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  • No way (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @11:44PM (#32093906)

    Too many ideas too few developers

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Getting ideas is the easy part.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Soilworker (795251)

        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 impleme

        • Re:No way (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Cryacin (657549) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:17AM (#32094142)
          Not only that, but the gaming industry is one of the hardest gigs in Computer Science. People really do it for the love of it, not the love of millions, or they are very seriously misguided.

          Think about it. Most business software costs a magnitude of millions to produce, test etc. But seriously look at the level of functionality that business software has compared to games.

          Games have such wondrous things such as fully fledged physics engines, statistics systems, and a whole plethora of other goodies as standard,that business software stakeholders can only drool over, and definitely never want to/have to pay for. Finally, the most important thing for a successful game is a truly slick UI/UX. If it's not a pleasure to use, it kind of defeats the purpose for a game. In most business software the main driver is making money for the company, not enjoying use.

          So what does that mean for everyone involved in producing? You're building a $500m project for a $100m budget, (if you're even getting that), so you have to product 5x as much value as your friend who's building a business system, whereas you will never get the return from it like in a business application of the same calibur.

          So what do you think your boss will say to you in a games company when you want to be paid as much as your friend who produces the same value? Either ramp up your production to 5x your friends, or be happy to be paid 1/5 of his wage. If he gives it to you, he doesn't understand the business, and you're all probably going to be looking for work shortly.

          It's grim, but reality. You really have to have games in your blood to survive in the industry, and do it for the love of it rather than making money.
          • Re:No way (Score:4, Insightful)

            by TaggartAleslayer (840739) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:18AM (#32094470)

            Your entire thesis is flawed. Business software is complex. Business UIs have to be precise. Game developers do not make 1/5 the amount of business software developers.

            I have worked in both areas. Pay is pretty standard for qualifications. None of it is glamorous. It's a job.

            If you want money and recognition you put in the extra hours, do a better job than the guy to your left, have actual intelligent insight, and have a plan for your career which includes your own personal motivation to achieve.

            • Re:No way (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Creepy (93888) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:02PM (#32100744) Journal

              So have I, I worked for a small studio, but one that was hired by a major publisher, and the studio head, designer, and lead programmer made quite a bit of money (but worked their tails off, as well). As a person pulled in at the tail end of the project to write GLIDE hardware acceleration (yes, it was that long ago, 1996ish) , I was also the first to go when the project ended (I was a contractor anyway), but that studio is still in business, mainly focusing on iPhone stuff these days. It paid OK - actually more than my business job, but without benefits (which is huge).

              The real issue is volume, price, and shelf life. A game that stays in stores 90 days and sells 100k copies may be a minor hit, but business software can sit on that same shelf for 2 years to sell its 100k, and charge 5x the price. Since that business software made 5x the money, they can afford to pay their employees twice as much (and the extra 3x goes in the CEO's pocket... actually it's more like 1000x... or more - I've seen 2000x myself, and I'm sure some people are 6000x or more).

              Interestingly enough, despite the privacy issues, I think content systems like Steam are good in that they can extend the shelf life of games, which ultimately benefit the studios creating them. Whereas a store will stop selling when a title only sells 1-2 copies a month, Steam can keep selling those 1-2 copies until buyer interest dries up entirely, and may be able to respark interest with discounts (like UT3, which sold dismally in stores and quite well when discounted on Steam). Profit margins are also much higher with digital distribution and even the business world is moving to digital distribution for that very reason.

          • Baby Steps (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sanman2 (928866)
            I'd say tackle it the way you'd tackle anything that's difficult and complex - do it in baby steps.

            Don't try to do that grand game on the first try. Do the smaller things first. Try to do a level, or a character, or a model, etc. Don't go for a 3D game first, try doing a 2D one, and mastering 2D physics first, etc.

            Apprentice with people who are better than you are.
      • by LetterRip (30937)

        Getting ideas is the easy part.

        This is a common meme but it is in fact BS. Getting good, marketable ideas, that are developable into a commercial success is enormously difficult. Getting crap derivative ideas, or ridiculously expensive ideas with little chance of earning back development costs is really easy.

        Unfortunately the plethora of crap means that noone is interested in looking at ideas in general unless they are developed to such a point that it takes minimum effort to turn them into a commercial game.

        • by fractoid (1076465)

          Getting good, marketable ideas, that are developable into a commercial success is enormously difficult.

          You're correct if we're talking about small scale PopCap-style games. If you're considering bigger, AAA-scale blockbusters, though, the development costs far more than the basic game design. Creating a new Tetris requires a work of genius, yes, but creating a new WoW requires impossible levels of funding.

          In fact, looking through the list of Cataclysm changes, a lot of them are things I begged them to do way back in vanilla WoW. Fixing game mechanic scaling (I still think spellpower should scale with spiri

        • You know what's considered a "good idea" in the game industry? One that is similar enough to a proven and successful concept but different enough from it so it can't be called a blatant ripoff. That's what a "good idea" is about. No studio will throw the money a AAA-title requires at a fabulous, but untested, concept.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by interkin3tic (1469267)

        Getting ideas is the easy part.

        Yeah, but often the "idea" is really just "Hey, you know that successful game by someone else? Let's make that!"

        Or sometimes it's

        "Hey, you know which world war is my favorite? That's right, number two, how did you know?!? We gotta make a game about it!"

        And that's not to discount the all-too-common "idea" of

        "That game that we made, the one that made actual money? Let's make a sequel! What's that? The main character died? And so did everyone else? Everybody in the whole world?... I smell PREQUELSEQUEL!

    • sorry to burst your bubble

    • Re:No way (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pegasustonans (589396) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:02AM (#32094048)

      Too many ideas too few developers

      Absolutely. If they find a developer willing to get on-board with the project, then they might be on to something.

      Then they should work on the concept and developing material to demo with an artist and the developer.

      A lot also depends on what kind of a game they want to develop and who they're targeting.

      Basically, they need to ask themselves some tough questions about their game and what they're developing. Then move on to the next step.

      • by codepunk (167897)

        The problem is that they will not likely get a developer on board. Anyone that can sit down and write a game doesn't need help to do so. He is not likely to want to provide 100% of the work in exchange for a small amount if any profit.

        • The problem is that they will not likely get a developer on board. Anyone that can sit down and write a game doesn't need help to do so. He is not likely to want to provide 100% of the work in exchange for a small amount if any profit.

          It depends on what kind of a game they want to develop.

          If the game doesn't really have a plot or strong characters, then you're spot on.

          At the same time, if the game is heavy on plot and requires intricate dialogue trees, character design, setting concept and concepts for other in-game assets, then you're looking at a fair amount of work.

          • by codepunk (167897)

            Having written a few games I just cannot see a situation where I would take on a "idea" person to assist me. I worked with a artist on my last and it was still 10% time his part and 90% my time to actually get it to work and finish the project.

            • Re:No way (Score:5, Insightful)

              by eln (21727) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:47AM (#32094322) Homepage
              Sure, but in the case of an artist his 10% may have been absolutely vital to the game's success. Certainly development takes up a huge amount of time and effort, but developers in general tend to be really crappy artists. The two skillsets (and mindsets) are very different from each other, and both are critical to a successful game. The art is what people see first, and if the game looks amateurish or poorly rendered, many people will simply not buy it or put it down almost immediately and tell all their friends what a piece of crap it is. On the other hand, if no one can play your game for more than 10 minutes without encountering a serious issue with the code, the game will be sunk just as bad.

              Artists are important for modern games. So are developers. "Idea guys", not so much.
              • by timeOday (582209)
                Wait, when did we switch from "idea guys" to artists? Artists make the appearance of the game - it's concrete, and right in the player's face. On AAA titles I think there are more artists than developers.

                Idea guys, on the other hand, not so much. Even John Romero couldn't make a living at it, so...

            • Having written a few games I just cannot see a situation where I would take on a "idea" person to assist me. I worked with a artist on my last and it was still 10% time his part and 90% my time to actually get it to work and finish the project.

              I don't think anybody is saying someone should just be an 'idea person,' but there are some cases where a lot of in-game dialogue and backstory need to be conveyed to the player.

              If you're writing all the dialogue, doing all the character/story concept work, designing all the interior/exterior environments conceptually and then taking everything and bringing it over into the virtual environment, that's a lot of work for some games. If you're trying to do all the engineering and game mechanics as well, then

            • by Patch86 (1465427)

              OK, well the alternative is that the person with the idea bankrolls the project.

              If you have a great idea for a game but can't do any of the development work: get some money, hire yourself some developers. If your game is a success then you'll make your money back.

              You have to bring something useful to the table, and if it's not coding or art design, it better be something bankable.

            • I agree. I have not done any games, but the principles hold for other kinds of software. Mostly, I've done risky, experimental software embodying ideas that no one really knows are any good. I feel I've been a little too willing to go along with such, in exchange for pay. Some things you should say "no" to, no matter how much pay they offer.

              Can't count the number of times people have approached me to code up their ideas, whether gaming, business, or something else. Sometimes I've given it a go, for a

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Harsh, but true - every gamedev forum I'm aware of is constantly flooded with "I've got this great idea, and need developers to help" posts.

      Your best bet, IMHO, is to go indie. Develop the game as fully as you can, then sell it as shareware. You probably won't get rich, but you *certainly* won't get caught up in EA or Activision's shenanigans.

      • No, that's for sure. Either the game fails or they'll rip off the idea.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vell0cet (1055494)
        Honestly, in this industry it is more important to get things done than for them to be good.

        The people who get to be the "idea people" have toiled years (if not decades) among the various disciplines in the industry. You need to prove that you can get something completed. And then you have to prove that you can get something good completed. And then... maybe... someone will buy into some idea that you have.

        But really, most of the creative types in the industry are working their asses off so that one day
    • Re:No way (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:42AM (#32094570)
      Agreed. I'm in the industry, and everyone I've ever spoken to has agreed completely that we have all the ideas we will ever need, and that is not at all a thing the games industry is needing or wanting to spend money on. I'm sorry, but your geek dreams aren't worth gold. We get thousands of ridiculous fan emails a day with game ideas that are mostly laughable, but even the good ones, who cares? The "idea" boils down to a story/setting, and some gameplay. If the gameplay can be done, it probably already is, and otherwise if it can't be done, then the idea is worthless. And if you think you have the best story around, who cares? Write a book. The challenge in making good games is not finding good stories, its organizing development teams and trying to produce "fun" which is unquantifiable and subjective.
      • Re:No way (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:01AM (#32095230)

        Agreed. I'm in the industry, and everyone I've ever spoken to has agreed completely that we have all the ideas we will ever need

        Yet all we get are generic first person shooters. COD, Halo, Gears of War, Killzone. All the same. None of these ideas seem to be getting anywhere.

        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. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripryat is up there but kind of samey being the third S.T.A.L.K.E.R. in as many years, but it was nice to see GSC get out one incredibly polished S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game.

        If the ideas are there then the implementation is horribly, horribly flawed. I'm not really looking forward to Halo:Reach and the inevitable successor Halo:Around or the next COD/Modern Warfare game. Can I at least have an original story with some decent in-depth game play mechanic, like Deus Ex or System Shock 2. Those games forced me to make choices I could do differently each time I replayed, now days COD leads me through a linear corridor, gives me all the weapons and ammo I could want and then tells me which one to use. Worse yet I always seem to be fighting Nazi's or Terrorists, can you invent some enemy that is not so stereotypical. Maybe even go as far to make the hero/villain lines blurred enough that I question what I am doing and why?

        I'm going to go off on a bit of a rant, the really important bit was above but...

        Why do games, especially FPS's and most RPG's need to fit into the standard character moulds so religiously. In every game, even ones where I can be evil like Fallout 3 I always seem to be the hero. If not the hero then the anti-hero. There's no ambiguous moral choices, it's too black and white. Then again with the enemies, they always have to be nameless, faceless certain evil like Nazi's, Zombie's and Terrorists. Why cant I encounter say, a personal letter from one of the guards I've dispatched back to his wife and kids. Especially with the Vietnam games, designers had a great opportunity to use the infamous VietCong/North Vietnamese propaganda and do some really abstract war games al a Apocolypse Now rather then the tired old red meat eating, flag waving, built like a brick shitter, Rambo style all American war hero. Even the British ones in COD are so bloody American that I can't stomach them (so I'm kind of glad we Australians have not really been depicted, they'd never get the Aussie at war right) I'm sorry but you cant put a cockney accent on a yank and call it a pom.

        System Shock 2 was good, it made me both hate and associate with Shodan, be seduced by the aims of the Many, absolutely brilliant storytelling. Deus Ex made you question everything, right and wrong, good and evil, is it possible to be neutral, what would most people give to play that game again for the first time. I know not every game can be an impressive work of art like Deus Ex and System Shock 2 but I've been waiting 10 years since the last one. In that time we've had massive sequel factories produced and overhyped (Halo, Battlefield, COD).

        • by Rakishi (759894)

          Congratulations on proving the original posters point. Ideas are easy. You just demonstrated it.

          Now try making such a game. Try going through all the choices, all the little details, all the possibilities, all the art and so on. And then make it so that every path is fun to play, has depth, is different, has impact. Now balance that with the need to pay for development, art and so on. Remember that modern games involve a lot more detail than older games.

          Then realize that you'll sell a tenth the copies, or e

          • by mjwx (966435)

            Then realize that you'll sell a tenth the copies, or even less, than if you'd focused all your efforts of polishing one game path to perfection. You know why? Because games are entertainment. That's it. They're to relax to rather than to live by. The later group hasn't been the main game buying demographic for a long time now.

            First, Polish != good. The Modern Warfare games were shined to an inch of their lives and complete crap because they were stereotypical and over simplified. There was not challenge i

            • by Rakishi (759894)

              Polish != good. The Modern Warfare games were shined to an inch of their lives and complete crap because they were stereotypical and over simplified. There was not challenge in playing Modern Warfare.

              That's your opinion. Half Life 2 is linear even by FPS standards and it's considered a great game and even a work of art by many. People want that sort of thing. I know I do.

              Secondly, this is the Hollywood paradox, crap movies sell so lets make more crap movies. This is only true when Hollywood is an enforced monopoly.

              Again, you're apparently incapable of understand the purpose of entertainment. It's to entertain you. A great action movie may have a rather shallow story but it may still be a great action movie. Passing, drama, action scenes and all that adding together to a great experience. A deeper story could very well make it a worse movie by det

            • by Rakishi (759894)

              Also, to add to what another reply mentioned. You're doing the equivalent of looking at the top grossing movies and then claiming no movies are good because you only like silent foreign movies. Of course you never actually look for silent foreign films specifically. Get over yourself.

              I'm sure you can find plenty of games that better fit whatever odd criteria you have. Of course you also apparently want the games to have the budget of Modern Warfare behind them and advertisements in every newspaper. They won

        • by frinsore (153020)

          The sad fact of the video game business is that it is a business. It always comes back to money.

          You keep seeing repetitive uninspired games because the market keeps buying those games.

          You keep seeing games without branching story lines because that's content that half of your user base won't see. Most of the story and cinemas are done at the end; why pay for a cinema that can't be used because Level X wasn't fun? At the run up towards hitting a ship date time and resources start becoming tight and it's e

        • You can't have an imaginative and thought provoking game because you might try to apply that same rationale to real life, and big media don't want that. They want you to buy the same stuff they've made for the past 20 years with a pretty new label on the front, and vote for the same two guys that let them do it.

          Art used to be rebellion. Now it's reinforcement. Chow down, guys; Your daily dose of correct morality has been delivered. That's $60, please.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mqduck (232646)

          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: (Score:3, Funny)

          by tehcyder (746570)

          In every game, even ones where I can be evil like Fallout 3 I always seem to be the hero

          That's probably because it would be pretty tedious being, say, the unfit, alcoholic sidekick who gets his head scythed off after five minutes. You wouldn't get much gameplay.

      • Lol, then why are 95% exploiting the same old concepts over and over again??

        • by timeOday (582209)
          Most people playing sports go with soccer, football, basketball, or tennis. There's hardly innovation in the rules of these games; why would there be?

          Movies, which are devoted exclusively to plot and have NO gameplay, also reiterate the same plots. There just aren't that many plots human beings actually care about. Finding love, being special, being powerful, preserving your offspring. That's mostly it.

      • by loufoque (1400831)

        The "idea" boils down to a story/setting, and some gameplay.

        And that's the problem.
        I don't give a fuck about story and setting. What makes the game is its gameplay mechanics.

        All games have the same mechanics these days; and even though it is known what kind of gameplay certain player groups are asking for, developers have yet to fully implement them.

        I don't care about crappy authors coming up with random background info and ridiculous race names (an attempt at making something generic less generic) when it

  • there's millions of patents granted every year.

    The trick is knowing the people to help you get funding, or to help you get grant money, or whatever.

    • Re:SOL (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Paul_Hindt (1129979) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:08AM (#32094092) Homepage
      Nobody is going to give you money though unless you have a tangible business plan or documented examples of your ideas. i.e. concept art, playable demo or mod of an existing engine, extensive design documents. Plenty of people can come up with good game ideas, the trick is to mold that into an actual workable idea and that that all down on paper or in a playable state. Having something that people can actually play, even just a simple demo, can go a long way in convincing people you can make a FUN game.
  • No. (Score:5, Informative)

    by dcollins (135727) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @11:49PM (#32093932) Homepage

    "Is there even a market, let alone a convention, for selling game concepts?"

    Having worked at two game companies in the past: No. I've never heard of such a thing happening. All the hundreds of people working at a game company are likely bursting with their own game ideas. Ideas are not in short supply.

    At best, your analogy for a "demo mp3" is a playable "demo game".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @11:49PM (#32093940)

    A demo tape provides a real example of your talent and ability. To be equivalent, this need to be a real example of the game.

    Look at the Portal developers. They developed a Portal like predecssor game called "Narbacular Drop". It got Valve's attention, and them a job, and finally the finished product Portal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      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 (especial
  • by Anonymous Coward

    In 15 years in the game business, I have never heard of any company being so hard up for ideas that they shell out money to buy one from the outside. Quite the opposite is true--there is always a glut of pet concepts developed internally by members of the full time staff, and very few of those will ever see the light of day. And ultimately, the "concept" itself has no value, only the implementation does.

  • It is my belief (back by the opinion of several indie game developper friend) that game concept is not the issue in the gaming industry. Companies have harddrives full of good game concept. The main problem is building the actual game. That takes forever and a lot of money.

    Moreover, good game concept does not sell games in general. You are sure that Football Game, the 5rd this year, is going to sell. Funky FPS, the 7th this year, is going to sell. Interesting Concept, may not sell. Therefore, you fund Crapp

    • by rxan (1424721)
      I'd say this is the best option for any app, game, whatever. Build a barebones version first and make sure it's enjoyable. There are plenty of concepts that look good on paper but have enormous flaws in reality.
    • by jonwil (467024)

      In the film business, all sorts of not-quite-mainstream films get made (and exhibited at major multiplexes alongside the big blockbusters). Many others are made and exhibited at art-house cinemas. Why can't the same be true for video games?

      Getting game ideas (and even game concepts/demos) that aren't "mainstream" out there is a lot harder than getting a movie idea (or draft script or whatever) out there.

      Some may argue the cost of video games vs films but there is no reason video games HAVE to cost a fortune

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        In the film business, all sorts of not-quite-mainstream films get made (and exhibited at major multiplexes alongside the big blockbusters). Many others are made and exhibited at art-house cinemas. Why can't the same be true for video games?

        We already have; it's known as "indie games". Like art-house movies they are relatively low-budget and usually unconventional. Like art-house movies they are doing just fine, but not making anybody rich.

  • Don't even try... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jerrith (6472) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @11:51PM (#32093960) Homepage

    Like the AC first post says, Too many ideas, too few developers. In my experience, this is very true. If you truly want to create your game, I suggest working in the industry, and developing contacts, such that at some point down the road, you can bring together the funding and people you need to actually create it.

    That's not to say there aren't also smaller scale projects that are successful as well - there are. However, most of them tend to either be of lower quality than many professional games, and/or have a number of people who have worked professionally in the industry.

  • 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 Drop...it 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by loufoque (1400831)

      Blender game engine probably is a no-no.

      Bullshit.
      Blender game engine is one of the most advanced engines in open-source software.

  • Dime a dozen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by binarylarry (1338699) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @11:52PM (#32093966)

    I hate to break this to you but the ideas are the easiest part of game development. My group has dozens of ideas on our wiki and we add great ideas all the time. But we've been working on our current project for YEARS now.

    Taking a great idea and making a great game is hard and expensive. Taking a great game and making a mediocre game is also hard and expensive.

    In this case, make a prototype. If it's good enough and your marketing skills are up to snuff, you might be able to get a publishing deal or self publish on the internet. Retail is still the most important part but some of the indie devs out there have proven you can at least survive if your games are decent.

    You won't be able to sell an idea, but a working example of the game might.... even if it's only one level.

  • by hardburn (141468)

    Is there even a market, let alone a convention, for selling game concepts?

    No. Since the '80s, an entire generation of programmers grew up with the initial idea of making their own games. Most of them never actually made a commercial game, but most of them now create other types of software. Those that did go into the industry either have way more ideas for games than their studio could ever implement, or they became slaves in the code mines of Activision.

    You'll have to create and market it on your own.

  • 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:Vertical slice (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kelbear (870538) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:00AM (#32094024)

      FYI, this is exactly how Dead Space came to exist. They made 1 level, pitched it, and they came back and told them to make the rest of the game.

      Force Unleashed developers did something similar, they animated conceptual scenes for Lucas to look at that demonstrated how the resulting game should feel. It wasn't interactive, but the idea is the same, try to get them to see what the final game will look like by using one complete picture.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cybereal (621599)

      This is probably good advice... for someone. I don't think it's what the OP is wondering about. I don't think they want to make the game, they just want to write it, so to speak.

      There is no market for this because there is no market for well-vetted game ideas. There's no need. People will be whatever garbage rolls off the truck that day as long as it vaguely resembles something familiar. There are maybe 10 visionaries in terms of overall game design in the industry at any one time and that's enough to c

    • Deadlines? Who uses deadlines? That's such an antiquated notion for mediocre programmers from the old 20th century economy.

      Take Duke Nukem Forever, they didn't use deadlines at all, but EVERYBODY knows that game.

      It's so successful that everyone who hasn't bought their own copy already probably keeps a special $100 bill in their wallet, permanently, just in case they find a copy in the store. I know I do!

      That game is a real killer.

  • by SaXisT4LiF (120908) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @11:56PM (#32093996)

    Is there even a market, let alone a convention, for selling game concepts?

    Nope. Quite frankly, the only way its going to get made is if you do it yourself. I'd suggest using an established engine to cut development time/cost to a minimum and going with a digital distribution service like Steam [valvesoftware.com] to bring the product to market.

    • by Kitkoan (1719118)

      Is there even a market, let alone a convention, for selling game concepts?

      Nope. Quite frankly, the only way its going to get made is if you do it yourself. I'd suggest using an established engine to cut development time/cost to a minimum and going with a digital distribution service like Steam [valvesoftware.com] to bring the product to market.

      Possible engines include the Blender one mentioned, and http://www.ogre3d.org/ [ogre3d.org] since they are both free and open source

  • Just Self Publish (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @11:58PM (#32094014)

    It's $100 for a dev license for the iPhone.

    If you want to make money at it, develop the game and sell it yourself. If you can't recoup $100, you'll at least learn a lot in the process.

    -Dan

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kitkoan (1719118)

      It's $100 for a dev license for the iPhone.

      If you want to make money at it, develop the game and sell it yourself. If you can't recoup $100, you'll at least learn a lot in the process.

      -Dan

      Your assuming they also have a Mac since one is needed to program for the iPhone. A better option would be to use Steam [steampowered.com] since it's free (if I remember right they charge a percentage of the sales, but no other fee's) and can be for both WIndows or Mac.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by zaffir (546764)

        Steam is NOT an open platform. In fact, it is more closed than Apple's app store. You need to be approved by the powers that be to be placed on Steam, and getting their attention alone is not as easy as submitting your app to Apple's app store. Plus, unlike the app store, there's also a pretty high bar for quality.

    • Why would he want to develop for such a tiny market?
      You can develop for all Symbian phones for free. And you can develop for pretty much all phones for free, except for a few lock-in ones which are such a small market share that it’s not relevant anyway.
      Also, it is very risky to develop for the iPhone. First of all you have to use their language. (WTF?) And then they can just reject it because after the drug they tried today, they feel like it. Show even a single boob in it, and goodbye. (Which may fi

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheKidWho (705796)

        Simple reason is because people who have iPhones/iPads/iWhatevers actually buy apps. Apple owns something like 95% of the portable app market right now, so yes, they are in fact the BIGGEST market for mobile games.

        • by mdwh2 (535323)

          Citation needed? Including compared with things like the DS? Or is this just more of the "But Linux users don't buy their software" FUD?

          Anyhow, I didn't see anyone talking about mobile development, which seems a way to add greater complication to your game, as you now have to worry about things like limited resolution and power, unless you intend to make a mobile game. Windows has vastly more market share, including in terms of selling games.

          • by TheKidWho (705796)

            Did you read the OP? He was talking about getting an iPhone dev license.

            Sure you could make a lot for the DS, but what's the cost of entry into the DS ballpark?

            The only thing I will point you to is the fact that Apple has had billions of applications downloaded from it's store up until now, and has made many people very comfy.

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      And it's free for most other platforms (including Windows, which as much as we dislike it round here, has far bigger marketshare, especially for games).

  • by amaupin (721551) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:04AM (#32094064) Homepage

    The Escapist: Why Your Game Idea Sucks [escapistmagazine.com]

    Every game developer has thousands of ideas of their own. They could not care less about yours.

    Unless your game concept is a one in a million idea that only comes around once a decade (to change the face of the gaming industry and inspire a thousand and one clones), there is no market for it.

    • Even more obligatory book (the best one I know) to get new game designers started:
      Jesse Schell — The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses [amazon.com]
      (Game designers. Not developers. That can even mean theme park ride designers. The principles are the same. Also: Jesse Schell should be well known to anyone who is serious about game design business. :)

    • by greg1104 (461138)

      Excellent article, and it doesn't apply to just games either. The "idea guy" who can't actually build a technical product is equally worthless to all development projects. Every good developer in every field has a stack of ideas they're sitting on, waiting only for time+money to build them, and those are always going to be better thought out than ones coming from someone doesn't understand the capabilities of the platform.

  • by LetterRip (30937) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:05AM (#32094072)

    Hi 2.49b the game engine of Blender is fairly reasonable. Definitely good enough to prove whether the idea works and to develop the core logic and game play.

    You might want to look at Blender after 2.6 which due to the generosity of googles summer of code, will have advanced path finding tools by default and other useful AI related libraries which will make your life a lot easier.

    Blender has a good path to some external engines particularly Unity which is now ported to all of the major platforms.

    These days no one is interested in a concept though. They want a game basically developed to the point it appears ready to sell - at least one fully polished level that shows all of the things that a publishing house wants to see in a game. They also want a team ready to develop it a complete game.

    Depending on the game type you might want to consider just doing smaller versions of it for a cheap to develop platform such as the iphone.

  • Anybody who thinks it matters what document editor is used for writing a screenplay has no clue.

    • by LetterRip (30937)

      Anybody who thinks it matters what document editor is used for writing a screenplay has no clue.

      He is asking about the game engine of Blender, not the content creation tools. Blender has a game engine that works fairly well for rapid prototyping of games. The author is interested if they are robust enough for doing a game demo. To which the answer is yes, but also 'wrong question'.

      Something I forgot in my earlier response - gamekit, a project lead by the developer of the Bullet Physics engine - is meant to allow Blender games to run almost unchanged on various platforms using a BSD licensed engine.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Cryptimus (243846)

      No, I think you're clueless on this particular issue.

      Screenplays are absolutely required to follow a strict set of conventions in order to even get a hope in hell of being glanced at, let alone read. If you spend so much time learning and implementing those conventions manually in Word or another naive editor instead of spending your time honing your craft then you're an idiot. Automatic assistance to format your intent into following these conventions is invaluable. Which is why custom

  • I cannot tell you how many people approach me with new game ideas every year. Most if not all want to share their fantastic idea for a cut of course. The only problem is non of these people have any game programming and or graphics, sound experience etc. Why on earth would I want a portion of the profits when I can have all of it since I am the one doing all of the work anyhow?

  • The title should really be. What is the best way to *pay* someone to implement your own game concept? And even then, it should really be the person who thought of the idea who should implement it, because he'll be the most motivated to get it done the way he originally thought of it.

    Not only, ideas are everywhere, and everyone has ideas, but where it comes to one's creative ego, everyone believes that their own idea is the best in the World (and yes, I do include myself in that category of delusional peopl

  • Game Dev Advice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ProfM (91314)

    http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html [sloperama.com]

    From the site:

    Welcome to the GAME BIZ ADVICE zone of Sloperama.com.

    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.

  • Professional quality productions are possible, and to a certain degree, easy, to make on a home computer now. This means people in whatever media industry expect that grade of quality when they review demo cds, independant films, etc.

    I would imagine the same goes for games, but from my observations, it seems like most people start there own company and just get on with it and find a publisher, rather that being scooped up by a larger development house.

  • The console and PC gaming market is at the point where it takes $20 million and up to do an "A" title. There's smaller scale stuff being done successfully on Facebook and on phones, though.

    Who would have thought Farmville would be a success? Farmville?

    • by mjwx (966435)

      The console and PC gaming market is at the point where it takes $20 million and up to do an "A" title.

      Sins of a Solar Empire was made on less then 1 Million USD. It sold like an "A" title, over a million copies.

      With Steam and Impulse you are no longer beholden to big publishers.

      For Console gaming that may be true, but at least 10% goes directly to the console manufacturer.

      It is entirely reasonable for a small PC game to be made on a budget of less then $250,000. For a really small game less then

  • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3@NosPAM.justconnected.net> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:26AM (#32094198)

    When you send a demo tape to a record label, you're not selling a song - you're selling your talent as a musician. Wouldn't make much sense for the label to sign you and only release a single.

    Similarly, when you send around a screenplay, you're selling an idea. It will be reworked, changed around, modified - not too seriously, hopefully - but the studio, director, actors, and physical constraints will all modify the script. You're trying to sell a compelling plot and set of characters, not an implementation.

    But who ever heard of a videogame selling based on individual talent? Or character development? A truly great video game will have a good plot, but that's not the central point of the game.

    A videogame is 'worth' something because it's fun to play. Everything else is secondary. Who cared about the plot of Super Mario Brothers? Who complained about the artwork in Tetris? Why does Asteroids need a catchy score?

    The upshot of all of this is that nobody cares about your videogame unless you have something you can play. And it really needs to be quite close to the intended final product, since otherwise a lot of work remains to be done on the gameplay - the core idea - and you have nothing to sell.

    Now, let's say you do a lot of work finishing one level of a videogame, with character sketches and plot for the rest of it. You may be able to sell that, but by that point you've done most of the work of putting together the game. If you needed to write a new engine for your awesome and new gameplay, you're done with that. If you were reusing another engine, you've already got it set up the way you want it and can basically start plugging in models, textures, and maps.

    So if you've done the work required to get to a marketable object, why not just self-publish? Stick it on Steam, they're very friendly to indie guys and pay quite nicely (ask 2D Boy). If it's any good, it'll do quite well.

    Good luck, whatever you end up doing.

  • by carcosa30 (235579)

    The idea of a couple of guys having an idea and selling it to game companies is almost quaint. It doesn't happen.

    1) Great ideas (far better than yours) are a dime a dozen.

    2) Game companies employ professionals to design games. They are called game designers.

    3) The more original your idea is, the less likely it is to sell or get anywhere. Companies don't want original games. They want games that will sell to the lowest common denominator. Free idea that they might have a snowflake's chance in hell of

  • Design, Demo, Team (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Runesabre (732910)

    The key ingredients that get a game design funded and developed are:

    1. A succinct, energizing demonstration of the core concept that can be comprehended within 30 seconds by a group of non-gamers (typically Investors, Directors and Executives). This can be a storyboard, a working demo or a mock demo with cobbled pieces from other games for illustration.

    2. Assembling a team that is ready and capable of executing the concept.

    Ultimately, what investors and companies invest in are teams of people that can de

  • There's a lot of naysayers in here. They are in a sense correct. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Anyone can come up with a game idea.

    So, you just do what hardly anyone does, actually follow through and make the game. That will really make you stand out. Now, maybe you won't get your game published, but at least you will have a better portfolio than most people.

    Luckily there are so many great tools at your disposal. Unity, XNA, Blender, GIMP, Audacity can all help you make a kickass game. A word of caution t
  • by cgenman (325138) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:16AM (#32094456) Homepage

    As a game designer in this industry... There isn't a market for game concepts. Every member of every creative team out there will have 1-5 designs they really, really want to get off the ground. At any given company, that means the founders alone are kicking around 5 - 50 "must do" projects, of which they can do one every 4 years or so.

    Publishers, on the other hand, are interested in funding game companies with concepts. If you can build a great concept, and a great demo, and prove that you have the chops to build a company around it, they might finance you. But as I said, that involves proving your ability to build a game and a company.

    Good luck!

    • But if you sign up with a publisher, you usually might as well sell out your soul. Since the only thing you will be left it, will be money. It won’t either be art nor something made with fun and love. Which your clients will definitely notice. (Example: EA.) So you won’t get respect for it.
      At least for me, I do it for the respect. Not for the money. Which sure is nice too, but I prefer respect without money over money without respect. I’m rather poor in money than in freedom. Currently bei

  • by aeoo (568706)

    You simply cannot sell game concepts. In fact, you cannot sell any concepts.

    I am somewhat familiar with a movie industry, and while in theory you could pitch a concept, and there are even conventions designed for pitching concepts, in reality chances are you won't be able to. People who have the money to implement concepts usually have plenty of their own pet concepts to worry about. For better or for worse, they don't want your concept. 99.99% of all concepts are old hat in the movie industry, and a ve

  • Ideas worth less than implementations.

    Implementations worth less than clients.

    A bad implementation, of a bad idea with 100.000 users, worth 40.000 than the best idea ever. Ideas are multiplicators, not additives. A good idea multiply the value of a good implementation and a big userbase.

    value = QualityOfIdea * (CoolStuffImplementation / ShitStuffImplementation) * userbase.

    Example, a ferrari car:

    value = 0.1 (everyone have the 'idea of luxury car', is nothing novel) * (1000 (ferraris are hella coool) / 0.1

  • Everyone in the game industry has a dozen ideas. The ideas are all chasing a very limited pool of money not devoted to sequels. Many of the idea bearers already in the industry have much better credentials than you.

  • Shelve it. Come up with another idea. A simple one where the development costs are tiny. Set up a company. Hire developers (You'll need at least a couple of programmers and artists). Develop a vertical slice. A single working level. Pitch that to publishers. If one of them likes it, they'll fund much of the rest of the development.

    Once you've sold this, finish development on the game, get it published. You'll probably have made a net loss at this point but that's not a huge problem. You have in
  • 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.

  • Nobody will steal it, because it sucks [escapistmagazine.com].

    However, if you publish, then you may inspire people with actual marketable skills - coders, artists, QA people - to get on board and develop a demo of it.

    Most likely not, and anyone you do attract isn't going to have any sort of proven track record. Your project is 99% likely to fail, regardless of what you do.

    But if you don't publish, if your strategy is "Oooh, we have a great idea, but it's so great that we can't tell you what it is you until you sign an NDA"

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. -- Woody Allen

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