Joined: Apr 28, 2010
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September 11th, 2010 at 3:17:54 AM permalink
I saw a documentary tonight (free on called "Dreams on Spec." It was a documentary on a few up and coming (and REALLY struggling) screen-writers, or wanna-be screenwriters, mixed with interviews and advice from Heavyweight writers such as James L. Brooks and Nora Ephron. A REAL eye-opener, and so totally releated to a struggling "game writer." At times, you wanna say, "yeah, that's a good script, mortgage your house and film it, because you'll make it!" and "Give it up: you've spent $200,000 and five years of your life for nothing but a pipe dream. Get a job."

One of the best quotes in it, and one that starts off the film, was "Who is the most important person in the film industry? The writers - and we must to everything in our power to prevent them from knowing that!" Same with the game designer, so it seems.

I get a lot of contacts from other game designers, some with great ideas, and some not-so-great, and I never mince words stating 'MHO.'

One exec from a game designer group who attended the Raving Table games conference (and with a decent game) contacted me with with a bit of a distressed email. When I went to call him back on the company phone number from his company's Web site, I got the automated announcement: "du-DU-DUP! WE'RE SORRY, BUT THE PHONE NUMBER YOU HAVE DIALED...."

My heart dropped. So much lost money, time, and pain to get this far, only for it to hit a brick wall at this point for them. Their game is good and salvagable, but what many had already gone through...

My rules of thumb on getting a game out, - (aside from the math report, the patent, getting jurisdictional gaming approval, getting a distributor, getting a field trial, producing documentation, etc.), are upfront:

1. Do not quit your day time job until you have guaranteed income from it. I work as a dealer, and will do so until I have a few years salary in the bank with health insurance coverage. My wife and I live in a one-bedroom; I drive a used Hyundai. No dreams until $$$ is achieved.
2. "No" is a word you'll constantly hear in one form or another, and in a way, it can feel VERY "invalidating" on a personal level after you've put SO MUCH blood, sweat, and tears, and money and time and dreams into something. Yet you may have to plow through a hundred no's to get your first yes that counts for anything.
3. A minor fix (and one that hopefully falls within the claims of your existing patent) can turn a lousy game into a great game, or a game that is not feasible into one that's easily doable.
4. But if that miracle minor tweak is not there, then the best fix to it may involve a clean sheet of paper, not massaging the 90 pages already written that cannot seem to be fixed.
5. Money: one of the items of an investor's contract is the clause that states, "understand that we are gambling here...if it makes money, then fine, we make money, but if the project dies for any reason, your 25% of the revenue stream is now 25% of a revenue stream that is zero dollars." And a project can die if the game is unpopular, if it infringes someone else's patent that your lawyer didn't spot, a lousy field trial, or you had an error in it that is discovered after you go into wide production that "stenches" the game forever, etc. You get investment, you pinch every penny of other people's money and show due cause for expendatures.
6. You have no guarantees. To quote Rob Scott, "There are a hundred GREAT games that never got out, and never will, for one reason or another. And there are many other games are great only in the inventor's mind." The Golden child may die a crib death, and the Tin child will certainly die a crib death.

In looking back, getting a game out was a gamble, and we were lucky some things fell just right, and right into our lap. I'm amazed. A guantlet.
Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes - Henry David Thoreau. Like Dealers' uniforms - Dan.
Joined: Nov 9, 2009
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September 11th, 2010 at 3:59:52 AM permalink
Quote: Paigowdan

In looking back, getting a game out was a gamble, and we were lucky some things fell just right, and right into our lap. I'm amazed. A guantlet.

It's interesting to hear about all this. Every life has its own version of frustrated aspirations. What strikes me with this is the mixture of frustration and a certain unknown degree of success over adversity that you have experienced.
the next time Dame Fortune toys with your heart, your soul and your wallet, raise your glass and praise her thus: “Thanks for nothing, you cold-hearted, evil, damnable, nefarious, low-life, malicious monster from Hell!” She is, after all, stone deaf. ... Arnold Snyder
Joined: Nov 12, 2009
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September 11th, 2010 at 6:20:17 AM permalink

Great advice for anyone with entrepreneurial aspirations like yourself. To be successful, you have to have a lot of skill, and a little bit of luck: being in the right place at the right time, getting someone to believe in you and your product, and the right kind of skill set to get your idea to market.

Excellent message.
----- You want the truth! You can't handle the truth!

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