need help submitting to publisher

need help submitting to publisher

Post by AliasMoz » Wed, 10 Mar 1999 04:00:00



Hi
I am a new educational software developer.  I have one title out and have
been working on packages to submit to publishers.

What I need is some experienced insight into the submission process:
1.  How fleshed-out should a game concept be to submit?
2.  What should the materials be?

Any help is greatly appreciated.  Thanks.

 
 
 

need help submitting to publisher

Post by NebulaJe » Thu, 11 Mar 1999 04:00:00


Hi there,

I am on the design team for a game company called Nebula Games. We currently do
not have a computer game in development; however I still feel that my advice
would be helpfull.
First of all, make sure that your product is protected by law. This can be
accomplished generally by mailling a finiched copy registered mail to yourself
or through a copyright office.
Once the leagal ownership is established, search for a number of companies.
These could even be companies like Nebula who have not yet started on a
computer game. When you have a list, do some research on the companies. Find
out what others (industry and customers allike) think of the company's product
and their public image.
By now, you should have a list of companies which meet your expectations.
Now, the hard part.
Go over your product several times and decide on a marketing strategy. Why
should anyone by your product? After you have found it's weak points (in the
context of the above statement) try to work them out. Now you are ready for
playtesting.
Playtesters are people who test games out of their love of games and they
usually reveive free product.
At this point you will be forced to make certain comprimises to your original
concept. Believe me, I have seen the look on our head designer's face when he
must trash months of work.
At this point you should be gaining confidance ( that oh, so important factor
in industry) and when you feel that you are ready to play with the big boys, go
out and talk to them. Eventually you will get a positive response. This is when
you must maintain your confidance, sometimes people will scorn you, sometimes
they will*you around. Do not let that dicourage you! When you do hitch up
with a company, make sure that you know what you what from the deal.
When you approach a company, make sure that you have a working copy of your
product, a business plan, and a marketing plan. Also, these areas need
research.
As you learn more about each individual company, you will understand what they
expect. That will determine how you approach them.

I hope that helps you, just do not sell yourself short. You must change your
mind-set. I don't mean become a sell-out I mean keep the understanding that you
know what you are doing.

Good hunting!

Jeff Clark
Product Manager,
Nebula Games
"It is the fire that lights itself
But it burns with a restless flame"
                                        -- RUSH
                        "Cut To the Chase"

 
 
 

need help submitting to publisher

Post by Brian Upt » Thu, 11 Mar 1999 04:00:00



>Hi
>I am a new educational software developer.  I have one title out and have
>been working on packages to submit to publishers.
>What I need is some experienced insight into the submission process:
>1.  How fleshed-out should a game concept be to submit?
>2.  What should the materials be?
>Any help is greatly appreciated.  Thanks.

Since I'm currently wading through developer submissions to Red Storm,
I'll tell you what *I* like to see:

1. A treatment -- tell me the high concept and give a brief
description of how to play the game.  3 or 4 pages max.

2. A feature list -- how many types of units, how many missions, how
many special effects, minimum spec, etc.

3. Concept art -- characters, space ships, interfaces, settings.

4. Screenshots -- if you're that far along.

5. Prototype -- if you're that far along.  With a prototype I'll be
trying to get a sense of the play experience.  How busy is the player
how does the interface feel.  I'll ignore crappy art and limited
gameplay if the core feels solid.

6. Professionalism -- convince me that we should trust you to do the
game you've described on time, on budget and with the features that
you've promised.  

What I don't want to see:

1. Your complete production bible.  I don't want to read ten pages of
back story.  I don't want to read about the controls on your options
screen.

2. Anything with marketing superlatives.  Don't tell me "This game
will revolutionize interactive entertainment."  or "The action-packed
missions will knock you off your seat."  When I read stuff like this
my response is "Yeah, right."

3. Misspellings, poor grammar, etc.  If you can't get the details
right on a pitch, why should we believe that you'll do it in the
finished product.
--
"No live organism can continue for long to exist
 sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even
 larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream."


** Opinions expressed are my own and not those of Red Storm **

 
 
 

need help submitting to publisher

Post by Mike Seller » Thu, 11 Mar 1999 04:00:00


Quote:> First of all, make sure that your product is protected by law. This can be
> accomplished generally by mailling a finiched copy registered mail to yourself
> or through a copyright office.

Oof.  Let's not start yet-another-thread on copyright issues, please.
If you want legal protection, see a lawyer.  DEFINITENLY see a good
lawyer before you sign a contract with anyone.  This is NOT an option.
Mailing a registered letter to yourself offers zero protection.  Yes,
your work is automatically yours by copyright, but that doesn't do much
for you, really.  OTOH, the chance that a major game company is going to
see the potential in your idea and get someone else to do it is
vanishingly small too.  

Quote:> Once the leagal ownership is established, search for a number of companies.
> These could even be companies like Nebula who have not yet started on a
> computer game.

I don't mean to offend anyone, but what exactly is a game development
company that hasn't done any game development?  

You're far better off getting together a design and a team that can
accomplish it (if you can't do those, don't talk to a publisher yet) and
then talking to a publishing company with a good track record.  

[Other good stuff deleted -- especially about having confidence in
yourself.]

--

Mike Sellers       Chief Creative Officer       The Big Network

 
 
 

need help submitting to publisher

Post by HOLLA » Thu, 11 Mar 1999 04:00:00




Quote:>> First of all, make sure that your product is protected by law. This can be
>> accomplished generally by mailling a finiched copy registered mail to yourself
>> or through a copyright office.

>Oof.  Let's not start yet-another-thread on copyright issues, please.
>If you want legal protection, see a lawyer.  DEFINITENLY see a good
>lawyer before you sign a contract with anyone.  This is NOT an option.
>Mailing a registered letter to yourself offers zero protection.  Yes,
>your work is automatically yours by copyright, but that doesn't do much
>for you, really.  OTOH, the chance that a major game company is going to
>see the potential in your idea and get someone else to do it is
>vanishingly small too.  

I'll second that.  I used to serve as General Counsel for a game
publisher and there seemed to be a direct inverse correlation between a
developer's desire for protection and the likelihood of our signing it up.
Typically, this was because the people seeking the most protection had no
product and merely concepts.  It also seemed that the more protection
people wanted the broader the concepts were.  

The likelihood of a publisher ripping off an idea is almost nil if the
idea/design is fully developed.  There are lots of ideas out there, but
groups that can turn those ideas into a product.  I think it is unlikely
that developers will get the shaft by showing a product to a publisher.

Rolo

 
 
 

need help submitting to publisher

Post by Cathryn Matag » Thu, 11 Mar 1999 04:00:00


Yeah, I agree.  Paranoia about how 'they're going to steal my brilliant ideas'
is a dead giveaway that you don't have a clue.  Or maybe that your goal
is really to sue them down the line when the come up with a game with
any similarity.  "Hey, I gotta' great idea.  It's just like Ultima Online,
except it's 3D!"  Believe me, everyone comes up with the same idea at the
same time.  I think we're all watching the same TV shows or something.  

Me, I don't think it would be such  a huge mistake not to blow cash
on a lawyer until you were talking seriously about actually doing the work, or
delivering the game.  




> >> First of all, make sure that your product is protected by law. This can be
> >> accomplished generally by mailling a finiched copy registered mail to yourself
> >> or through a copyright office.

> >Oof.  Let's not start yet-another-thread on copyright issues, please.
> >If you want legal protection, see a lawyer.  DEFINITENLY see a good
> >lawyer before you sign a contract with anyone.  This is NOT an option.
> >Mailing a registered letter to yourself offers zero protection.  Yes,
> >your work is automatically yours by copyright, but that doesn't do much
> >for you, really.  OTOH, the chance that a major game company is going to
> >see the potential in your idea and get someone else to do it is
> >vanishingly small too.

> I'll second that.  I used to serve as General Counsel for a game
> publisher and there seemed to be a direct inverse correlation between a
> developer's desire for protection and the likelihood of our signing it up.
> Typically, this was because the people seeking the most protection had no
> product and merely concepts.  It also seemed that the more protection
> people wanted the broader the concepts were.

> The likelihood of a publisher ripping off an idea is almost nil if the
> idea/design is fully developed.  There are lots of ideas out there, but
> groups that can turn those ideas into a product.  I think it is unlikely
> that developers will get the shaft by showing a product to a publisher.

> Rolo

 
 
 

need help submitting to publisher

Post by Scott LeGra » Thu, 11 Mar 1999 04:00:00




Quote:>Yeah, I agree.  Paranoia about how 'they're going to steal my brilliant ideas'
>is a dead giveaway that you don't have a clue.  Or maybe that your goal
>is really to sue them down the line when the come up with a game with
>any similarity.  "Hey, I gotta' great idea.  It's just like Ultima Online,
>except it's 3D!"  Believe me, everyone comes up with the same idea at the
>same time.  I think we're all watching the same TV shows or something.  

And then of course there's the exception that proves the rule.  In 1996,
we commenced our attempts to pitch _BattleSphere_ as a PSX or PC project
to just about everyone in the Los Angeles and Silicon Valley area.  Nothing
came of it except for a company about 1 mile from our home stealing the
concept and name and trying to come to market with their version before
we did.  The good news is that despite having tons of money, they blew it,
and their company died in 1998 without shipping the thing.  The bad news
(and the proof of this story) is that their corpse still owns the domain
battlesphere.com.  The saddest part is that we'd have done the thing for
a song at that point if they'd just come to us.  I never will understand
the corporate mentality methinks.  These days, Hasbro will not let us
ship our completed product even through we've offered to donate all
the profits to charity which while small are still somewhere between $10
and $50K.  And why is this?  Because it would cost them too much money
to verify the truth or falsehood of our claims of a legitimate development
contract with the former Atari Corporation (or so they say).

Quote:>I don't think it would be such  a huge mistake not to blow cash
>on a lawyer until you were talking seriously about actually doing the work, or
>delivering the game.  

I'd bring the lawyer in the minute there's a chance of real money.  Large
corporations don't like to even acknowledge the little guy unless there's
the chance of litigation if they foul up.  It'd be less than $1,000
investment if you use your lawyer only when you really need 'em and
well worth it if you're serious about getting into this.  Do your
negotiations in his absence but always let him look over your work.

My latest horror story involves a guy a who is representing himself
as a developer to a larger publisher and as a publisher to the actual
developer.  I won't name names, but watch yourself, things can get
pretty rough for the little guy.

 
 
 

need help submitting to publisher

Post by Peter Seeba » Thu, 11 Mar 1999 04:00:00




>First of all, make sure that your product is protected by law. This can be
>accomplished generally by mailling a finiched copy registered mail to yourself
>or through a copyright office.

The former does you roughly as much good as taking a finished copy and
flushing it down the toilet.  It has *NO* effect whatsoever.  None.  At all.

-s
--

C/Unix wizard, Pro-commerce radical, Spam fighter.  Boycott Spamazon!
Will work for interesting hardware.  http://www.plethora.net/~seebs/
Visit my new ISP <URL:http://www.plethora.net/> --- More Net, Less Spam!

 
 
 

need help submitting to publisher

Post by Cathryn Matag » Thu, 11 Mar 1999 04:00:00


And, my thinking is the point isn't so much that they don't steal your
ideas, maybe they do.  But, if you play that game, nobody is going
to want to talk to you.  And the simple fact that if you want to sell
an idea, you've got to tell people the idea.  Besides, it takes a 'true
visionary' to know a good idea when it hits them on the head.  
These guys are mostly pretty rare, and are probably doing something else
other than sifting through the slush pile, at least how I figure.  

I don't quite understand what happened with Atari.  It sounds like you
shopped around the title and game. Atari made the same game with exactly
the same title, the imploded, and then you guys went ahead and made
another version of the same game, right?  So, you're worried about them
suing you for them stealing your idea and claiming it's yours?  Can't
you just ship the thing and take what comes?  How can they nail you for
being similar to a game that was never published, considering there's
no way you could ever even look at it?  I assume I don't understand this
weird deal completely.




> >Yeah, I agree.  Paranoia about how 'they're going to steal my brilliant ideas'
> >is a dead giveaway that you don't have a clue.  Or maybe that your goal
> >is really to sue them down the line when the come up with a game with
> >any similarity.  "Hey, I gotta' great idea.  It's just like Ultima Online,
> >except it's 3D!"  Believe me, everyone comes up with the same idea at the
> >same time.  I think we're all watching the same TV shows or something.

> And then of course there's the exception that proves the rule.  In 1996,
> we commenced our attempts to pitch _BattleSphere_ as a PSX or PC project
> to just about everyone in the Los Angeles and Silicon Valley area.  Nothing
> came of it except for a company about 1 mile from our home stealing the
> concept and name and trying to come to market with their version before
> we did.  The good news is that despite having tons of money, they blew it,
> and their company died in 1998 without shipping the thing.  The bad news
> (and the proof of this story) is that their corpse still owns the domain
> battlesphere.com.  The saddest part is that we'd have done the thing for
> a song at that point if they'd just come to us.  I never will understand
> the corporate mentality methinks.  These days, Hasbro will not let us
> ship our completed product even through we've offered to donate all
> the profits to charity which while small are still somewhere between $10
> and $50K.  And why is this?  Because it would cost them too much money
> to verify the truth or falsehood of our claims of a legitimate development
> contract with the former Atari Corporation (or so they say).

> My latest horror story involves a guy a who is representing himself
> as a developer to a larger publisher and as a publisher to the actual
> developer.  I won't name names, but watch yourself, things can get
> pretty rough for the little guy.

I've always speculated the people who are sufficiently charismatic to
get publishers to spend money on them, are also, likely, to have used this
same charisma their entire life to avoid doing any real work.  Kind
of a funny thing -- really.  

Cathryn Mataga

junglevision.com -- check it out.

 
 
 

need help submitting to publisher

Post by Brian Upt » Fri, 12 Mar 1999 04:00:00



>Gee, Brian. Your list reminds me of submitting spec screenplays to
>production houses and/or existing shows. :-) I guess a lot of that
>applies both ways!

Well ... yeah!  Making games *should* look like making movies.  In
both cases you've got a big team of specialists hand-building an
entertainment product with a high probability of failure and
potentially huge returns for success.

This is my argument to anyone believes game development should be a
totally freeform creative process.  You can't make something the size
of _Titanic_ with a freeform creative process.  Even legendary
examples of directorial excess (_Apocalypse Now_, _Waterworld_)
started with a script and a production plan.
--
"No live organism can continue for long to exist
 sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even
 larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream."


** Opinions expressed are my own and not those of Red Storm **

 
 
 

need help submitting to publisher

Post by Michael Hawas » Fri, 12 Mar 1999 04:00:00



>>I don't think it would be such  a huge mistake not to blow cash
>>on a lawyer until you were talking seriously about actually doing the
work, or
>>delivering the game.

>I'd bring the lawyer in the minute there's a chance of real money.  Large
>corporations don't like to even acknowledge the little guy unless there's
>the chance of litigation if they foul up.  It'd be less than $1,000
>investment if you use your lawyer only when you really need 'em and
>well worth it if you're serious about getting into this.  Do your
>negotiations in his absence but always let him look over your work.

As a lawyer who negotiates software development and publishing contracts, I
can tell you one of the worst mistakes is too wait until you already have a
deal before getting your lawyer involved.  Asking your lawyer to review the
contract after the deal has been struck is a bit like getting a lawyer
involved in your criminal case when the jury is about to come back with the
verdict -- it's too late!  The worst thing you can do in a contract
negotiation is agree to something with the caveat "I'll sign as soon as my
lawyer checks it out."  By that time, the publisher already knows he has
you.  Your lawyer will have little or no negotiating leverage if it turns
out your deal is bad.

If a lawyer's fee is your concern, talk to your lawyer about a contingency
fee arrangement to negotiate and finalize the publishing/development
contract, with the lawyer's fee being dependent on a deal being signed.
Many lawyers who also act as agents for software developers will do this --
in fact, if the lawyer/agent is worth his salt, he (or she) will already
have a list of prospective publishers who publish in your genre, the
publisher's applicable submission requirements, contact information, etc.,
etc.  This information will greatly streamline the submissions process.

Good luck,

Michael Hawash
Meyer Orlando & Evans, P.C.

 
 
 

need help submitting to publisher

Post by Noah Falstei » Fri, 12 Mar 1999 04:00:00




> >Gee, Brian. Your list reminds me of submitting spec screenplays to
> >production houses and/or existing shows. :-) I guess a lot of that
> >applies both ways!

> Well ... yeah!  Making games *should* look like making movies.  In
> both cases you've got a big team of specialists hand-building an
> entertainment product with a high probability of failure and
> potentially huge returns for success.

Quite true.  Having served as the external submissions reviewer for both
LucasArts and Dreamworks Interactive, I've seen that from companies that
handle both types of submissions.  There are differences however.  The
biggest one I know of is the variablility of game submissions.  Movies
have been around long enough so that there are very specific format rules
and nomenclature for submissions, and as this newsgroup evidences, that's
just not true for games - yet.  The other thing I've noticed is also
indicative of the relative seniorities of the industries.  Screenplay
pitches are VERY polished - too much so for my taste.  I like the fact
that game pitches still tend to be a little raw and unfinished.  I'll
mourn the day when we get so established that the newcomer is shunned
unless he follows the exact specified industry procedures of the
Interactive Developer's Guild (West).

--

Noah Falstein
The Inspiracy
* Interactive Design
http://www.veryComputer.com/


To reply remove the obvious

 
 
 

1. preparations to submit to publisher

    I'm getting prepared to send our game submission out to publishers
and I want to make sure I have all the bases covered.  We are a small
group and this is our first game submission so I want to present us as
very professional, dedicated, and serious about game development.
    For you industry gurus, if you have any comments feel free to chime
in, for the other groups out there thinking about sending in first time
publisher submissions this is what we will have.

-Incorporation complete, all necessary business licenses, bank account
in name of corporation
-Business plan/company profile
-Legal counsel
-Design Treatment/Document
-Itemized budget with attached description of each expenditure and
reasoning, resumes for current members of company
-Timeline with breakdowns for programming sections, art sections and
milestones
-Engine prototype with screenshots and demo available for download or on
VHS

Anything else I could put in there? I've already pulled the kitchen sink
out of the counter and got it ready just in case...
--

 Del 'Dr. Doom' Chafe III

 http://www.digitalosmosis.com/

2. Philips PCA267CR Firmware needet.

3. Game developer and publishers need your opinions. :-)

4. SQLPLUS QUESTION

5. European Online Help Conference Dates and Invitation to Submit Presentation and Showcase

6. PC Speakers

7. Help. Graphic submit button in php3 ?

8. floating point overflows on PCs ??? (with C)

9. Help needed in Scottsdale - Mac help needed using C++

10. Need Help With Printing Complete Beginner Need Help!!!

11. Help! Help needed on Help

12. HELP!!!HELP!!!HELP!!!HELP!!!HELP!!!HELP!!!HELP!!!HELP!!!HELP!!!HELP!!!

13. Submitting to the Knowledge Base