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Category — Startup Game Developer Issues

Telefilm Announces Video Game Developer Competition Finalists

Categories: Canadian DevelopersGame Industry IncentivesStartup Game Developer Issues

Competition Rules

The Canadian federal agency, Telefilm, has announced the four finalists in round 2 of its video game developer competition. The finalists are:

The finalists were chosen at this years’ Game Developers Conference.

In the prior round, each finalist had won $50,000 to explore their proposed game, seek venture capital etc.. In this round 2, each of the four finalists received a further $250,000 to develop a prototype of their game. In September a winner will be chosen at Vancouver’s VidFest. The winner will receive a further $500,000 to launch their game.

In addition to the four finalists above, on January 15, 2007 the following additional $50K round 1 winnners were announced:

Good luck to all.

Sources: Gamasutra | GameCareerGuide.com | CBC.ca | PlayBack | Canada.com

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New Book: Unreal Tournament Game Programming for Teens

Categories: Startup Game Developer Issues

As some of my readers are interested in how to get started in the game development business I thought I would pass this along. A college and university game development professor (John Flynt) and a programmer who taught himself to program at 11 years of age (Brandon Booth) have collaborated on a new book – Unreal Tournament Game Programming for Teens. The text is described as follows:

Unreal Tournament Game Programming for Teens provides you with a structured but entertaining way to learn how to develop your own simple computer games using Unreal Tournament. It addresses the fundamentals of computer programming by allowing you to work with UnrealScript and the Unreal Level Editor. You’ll begin with programming basics and will then quickly progress to creating elementary events and games within the modification framework provided by Unreal Tournament. This book does not involve actual game play with Unreal Tournament, but rather focuses on how to derive classes from the classes in the Unreal Tournament class hierarchy, how to use features of the Unreal Level Editor, and how to work with the syntax of UnrealScript. Using the skills you develop as you work through the book, you can begin exploring how to program a number of events characteristic of Unreal Tournament.

The paperback version of the text is available here on Amazon.com for $20.39 as at the time of this writing. Two similar books are: Game Programming for Teens (2005) and Visual Basic Game Programming for Teens (2004).

Sources: Gamasutra | GameCareerGuide.com | Amazon.com

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Forbes: Why Gears of War Costs $60

Categories: Character License CasesFeatured ArticlesPersonality Rights CasesStartup Game Developer IssuesTrademark Cases

Forbes provides this article and interactive pie chart explaining/breaking down the cost structure of modern video games such as the blockbuster Gears of War:

Read Forbes Article

View Interactive Pie Chart

Here’s a Summary of the Interactive Pie Chart:

  • 25%/$15 – Art Design
  • 20%/$12 – Programming and Engineering
  • 20%/$12 – Retailer’s Cut
  • 11.5%/$7 – Console Owner Fees (to Microsoft/Nintendo/Sony)
  • 7%/$4 – Marketing Costs
  • 5%/$3 – Marketing Development Fund (print circulars/banner ads, etc.)
  • 5%/$3 – Manufacturing Costs, Packaging
  • 5%/$3 – Licensing Fees (personality rights, character and story licenses, copyrights, trademarks, etc.)
  • 1.5%/$1 – Publisher Profit
  • 1.5%/$1 – Distributor Fees
  • 0.3%/20¢ – Corporate costs (management, overhead, legal fees Wink)
  • 0.05%/3¢ – Hardware Development Costs (Developer kits, demo units etc.)

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GameIndustry.biz: Introversion Software – The Evolution of Distribution

Categories: Digital DistributionDistribution Agmt CasesFeatured ArticlesNew Business ModelsStartup Game Developer Issues

GameIndustry.biz Article: "The Evolution of Distribution". This GameIndustry.biz feature article discusses Introversion Software's fierce independence and success with digital game distribution.  

Source: GameIndustry.biz

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Microsoft Launches XNA Game Studio Express and Creators Club

Categories: New Business ModelsNew TechStartup Game Developer Issues

I wrote about this earlier when the XNA Game Studio Express Beta 2 was launched. This should be of interest for all budding game developers. All the tools you need to develop Windows and Xbox 360 games are available for free here. XNA developers can become members of the XNA Developers Club to access other XNA developers’ games and share their games with like-minded developers for $99 U.S. a year. Frankly, this is a terrific bargain and a wonderful opportunity for budding game developers to try their hand game development. Click here to get started.

More XNA Information: Gamasutra |Gamasutra 2 (interview with MS Rep) | Red Herring | XBox 365 | GameIndustry.biz 1 | GameIndustry.biz 2 (DNA of XNA)| NFHQ | XBox Solution | Digital Trends | Microsoft Press Release | Joystiq | GameSpot | CNet | Daily Tech

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Gamsutra Feature: Pros & Cons of Licensing

Categories: Featured ArticlesIndustry ContractsLicensed Game CasesStartup Game Developer Issues


Click here
to read this article on the pros and cons of developing games under license from others.

Source: Gamasutra

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New Book: Business & Legal Primer for Game Development

Categories: Startup Game Developer Issues

A new book entitled “Business & Legal Primer for Game Development” (Amazon.com) has been published. It is written by Gregory Boyd and Brian Green. The CoursePTR website describes the book as follows:

Business is an important part of making games and the legal aspects have also become significant. Business and Legal Primer for Games explores the major legal and business issues involved in game development with a particular focus on starting a business. The book contains practical introductory sections on business and legal problems that members of the development community are often confronted with. These problems include business structure, contracts, employment law, taxation, and IP. Those seeking to start their own game development company will receive invaluable information regarding getting started, basic business operations, marketing, licensing intellectual property, and exit strategies. Business and Legal Primer for Games is the ideal starting point with any who has ever wanted to start a game business and an excellent reference of information for those who already are involved in game development.

Sources: CoursePTR | Amazon.com | Gamasutra

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Pointeless Waste of Time: Games Manifesto

Categories: Featured ArticlesHumourStartup Game Developer Issues

This is a terrific article that I had to pass on. It outlines many of the pet-peeves that us gamers have with game developers – the many cheats used by developers to save time, artificially expand game play etc. Gamers hate these things. Game developers should take a serious look at this list.

I most relate to:

  • Item 6 – Save Points: Since all consoles in this generation have hard drives, there is no excuse not to have user-selectable save points. I am an adult. If I found it fun and challenging to play an entire levels without saving, I could choose to do that. But I submit that the increasingly aging gamer demographic does not find it fun to play the same thing over and over due to deficient save point planning by game developers. The lack of decent autosave points or user selectable save-points is the primary reason I abandon otherwise good games.
  • Item 12, para 7 – Unnecessarily Difficult End Levels: I thoroughly enjoyed Gears of War and had EVERY intention of playing the entire game again on the harder level until I had to fight RAAM (the final boss) over and over and over. It took me hours to figure out what was necessary to kill this guy. The arbitrariness of this fight is silly in the extreme. The game gives you no indication as to what is required to kill him and how much effort, of which type, it will take to kill him. This final boss fight was so off-putting that I no longer intend to play the game through on the harder level because the last thing I want is to finish the game and find I can’t kill the final boss on the harder level. Cliffy! Watch the end of Halo 1 for an example of a perfect ending level! Back to EB goes Gears for trade-in!

I would also add:

  • Escort Missions Should be Outlawed: If the character being escorted would actually accept orders from the player to hide somewhere, stay behind until beckoned, shoot at the enemy etc. it wouldn’t be so bad. But too many games require the gamer to escort a hapless character that will not take direction and repeatedly gets himself/herself killed for no fault of the gamer.

I can’t complain about the “Short-sighted Business Bull***” mentioned in item 15. If this were solved there would be almost no raison d’etre for this blog. :) And, as for me, wooden crates really don’t bother me all that much!

Warning!: The author uses both humorous and explicit language in this manifesto.

Source: PointlessWasteofTime

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Sniffing Out the Royalties

Categories: Featured ArticlesRoyalty DisputesStartup Game Developer Issues

Media Forensics offers to examine independent developers’ distribution contracts and sniff out unpaid or underpaid royalties.

Sources: Next Generation

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Canada to Provide Seed Money to Winner of Video Game Developer Competition

Categories: Canadian DevelopersGame Industry IncentivesStartup Game Developer Issues

Competition Rules

Today, the Canadian federal agency, Telefilm, invited new Canadian video game developers to compete for Cdn $2M (U.S. $1.8M) in financing. The ten projects voted most likely to succeed in the “Great Canadian Video Game” competition will receive $50,000 each to further explore their proposed game, seek venture capital etc.. Two months later the field will be winnowed to 4. Each of those will receive a further $250,000 to develop a prototype. At next year’s Vancouver VidFest, a finalist will be given a further $500,000 to launch their game.

Click here to apply! Applications are due by December 15, 2006.

Dale’s Comment: I am of mixed-emotions about this. I have no problem in principle with tax incentives to favor emerging industry. But I have always argued against Canada’s ubiquitous Canadian content rules and preferential treatment for Canadian-owned businesses over foreign-owned businesses. I’m also not so sure Canada actually needs these incentives because it is disproportionately represented on the global stage by its extremely successful video game development community – Montreal’s Ubisoft, Edmonton’s BioWare, Vancouver’s EA and Radical, London’s Digital Extremes, to name just a few.

All that said, if one of these new developers requires a place to spend this money on first rate legal services – look no further! Laughing

Sources: Reuters/Hollywood Reporter | City News | ZDNet | Washington Post

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FYI: How to Break in as a Game Programmer

Categories: Featured ArticlesStartup Game Developer Issues

The title speaks for itself. Click on the links to read parts 1 and 2 of this Gamasutra feature.
- Part 1 (November 3, 2006)
- Part 2 (November 9, 2006)

Source: Gamasutra

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XNA Game Studio Express Beta 2 – You Too Can be a Game Developer!

Categories: New Business ModelsNew TechStartup Game Developer Issues

Microsoft’s XNA Game Studio Express Beta 2 aims to provide anyone who’s ever thought they’d like to take a stab at developing a video game with a platform and system to do so. The beta version can be downloaded for free until December 11.

Dale’s Comment: From everything I’ve heard about the XNA Game Studio, this bodes very well for both the future of video gaming and the prospects for new developers to get into the business. With this development environment, anyone can attempt to develop video games. Video games created with XNA can be uploaded to the Internet and downloaded by members of the XNA Creators Club ($99 a year – or $44 for a 4 month trial) who wish to give your game a go – including through Xbox 360 Live Marketplace downloads. This is a tremendous opportunity for new developers to start off small and get their creations seen by publishers. If successful, such small games might, one day, become saleable PC game titles or XBox 360 Arcade titles – or both. Heck, maybe I’ll give it a try! :)

Sources: Gamasutra | IGN.com | Kotaku | EuroGamer | Next Generation | GameIndustry.biz | GameDaily.biz | TeamXbox

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Tom Buscaglia: The Game Attorney Interview

Categories: Featured ArticlesStartup Game Developer Issues

In December of 2005 GameCloud interviewed Florida game attorney Tom Buscaglia on a number of game law related topics. I thought the interview was interesting. In particular his answers to questions 3, 4 and 5 about common business and IP problems that game developers run into in the early stages of a game development studio. New game developers often fail to properly secure the intellectual property rights needed/used in a game. They also often fail to deal with the issues needed to sustain a viable business. Creating a great game alone is not sufficient to create a sustainable game development studio.

Source: GameAttorney.com

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Game Law: Contracts 101

Categories: Featured ArticlesIndustry ContractsStartup Game Developer Issues

Attorney Tom Buscaglia explains the reason why game development contracts are so complex.

Source: GamaSutra Feature

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The Basic Marketing Plan For Indie Games

Categories: Featured ArticlesStartup Game Developer Issues

GAMASUTRA FEATURE: “The marketing plan is your flightplan on how to get your game to your players. The contents of a marketing plan can be divided into several sections. A strategic plan or the company’s business plan will describe the company’s strategic objectives. The marketing plan will focus on those major objectives, and how to reach those goals.”

Source: Gamasutra

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How to Get Your Video Game Published – GameDaily.biz Feature

Categories: Featured ArticlesIndustry ContractsPublisher/Developer CasesStartup Game Developer Issues

This GameDaily.biz feature presents Careen Yapp’s (VP of Licensing and Business Development for D3 Publisher) thoughts on how publishers make their decisions to take on a developer and what developers should understand when preparing a presentation to a publisher.

Source:
GameDaily.biz

Dale’s Comment: Gamasutra also included a recent “Feature” entitled “Pitching Your Game to a Publisher”. While less informative, it is amusing!

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Non-Disclosures & Non-Competes: To Sign Or Not To Sign?

Categories: Featured ArticlesIndustry ContractsNon-Compete CasesStartup Game Developer IssuesTrade Secret Cases

Gamasutra Feature: Marc Mencher advises video-game industry job seekers to carefully consider and read before signing an NDA or non-compete agreement upon taking that new job.

Source: Gamasutra

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A Game Developer’s Bill of Rights

Categories: Featured ArticlesIndustry ContractsPublisher/Developer CasesStartup Game Developer Issues

Eric Zimmerman, co-founder and CEO of gameLab, proposes a bill of rights that postulates “the correct and proper ethical positions” for game developers to take when negotiating contracts with publishers. The x rights he discusses in this piece are:

  1. The right to full ownership of what we fully create.
  2. The right to be billed as the game creator in marketing and on game packaging at least as prominently as any mention of the game publisher.
  3. The right for every individual involved in creating the project to be given accurate and prominent credit within the game.
  4. The right to move freely between publishers on new game projects.
  5. The right to a fair and equitable share of profits derived from a game.
  6. The right to full and accurate accounting of any and all income and disbursements relative to our work.
  7. The right to promote and the right of approval over any and all promotion of our games and ourselves.
  8. The right of approval over means for distribution, as well as for licensing, merchandizing, and other derivative versions of our games.
  9. The right to a publishing arrangement that reflects the iterative nature of game development; one that recognizes that changing a game as it is developed is part of creating a game.
  10. The right to a publishing arrangement that results in a process that conforms to accepted standards regarding work hours, compensation, and labor practices.
  11. The right to acquire publishing rights to a game if the publisher has stopped distributing the game.
  12. The right to employ legal representation in any and all business transactions.
  13. The right to final say in creative disputes regarding the game.

Source: Gamasutra

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Video Games Create a Whole New World of Legal Liabilities

Categories: CheatingFeatured ArticlesProduct Liability CasesStartup Game Developer IssuesVirtual Crime CasesVirtual Property CasesVirtual Property Taxation

Chris Bennett, of Davis & Company, LLP describes numerous possible new legal liabilities flowing from video game play. He discusses online theft, online assault, offlline assaults and cheating.

Source: Lawyers Weekly

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Contracting: Case for Flexible Milestone Deliverables

Categories: Featured ArticlesIndustry ContractsStartup Game Developer Issues

by Thomas H. Buscaglia.

Source: Gamasutra | Tom Buscaglia’s Blog

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Game Pricing Strategies: A Hypothesis

Categories: Featured ArticlesNew Business ModelsStartup Game Developer Issues

Tom Hunter discusses the current and future pricing model for video games. Hunter argues why, in today’s modern age, there may be alternatives to charging consumers flat rates for specific content, citing the subscription-based cable industry as a model of particular merit to examine

Source: GamaSutra Feature

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Audit Rights – Use Em or Lose Em!

Categories: Featured ArticlesIndustry ContractsRoyalty DisputesStartup Game Developer Issues

Attorney Tom Buscaglia takes a look at royalty audits, a provision in most publisher contracts that few developers choose to exercise, but, Buscaglia suggests, many should.

Source: GamaSutra Feature

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Game Developers: Talk to my Agent

Categories: Featured ArticlesStartup Game Developer Issues

This article discusses the value that agents can bring to mid-sized developers when negotiating development deals with publishers.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

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