Your view on Secrecy while in development

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Your view on Secrecy while in development

Postby superLED on Mon Dec 22, 2014 12:50 pm

I am curious about what you guys think is "too little" or "too much" to share when it comes to your projects.
Do you want to share everything to the public, or do you try to keep everything a secret? Or somewhere inbetween?

For me, I'm afraid that my ideas will be "stolen" by other people with more experience (and more people behind them). They can release the game faster and be "first", and they have the resources to make a better game in general.
And when you have a unique idea, you have the special opportunity to be the first on market.
This applies only when I would try to make a game that could make some income (I want to be able to live of off programming in the future, so I'd have to be smart about it).

But if you do start to share early, you will quicker grow a fan base who will get the game at the release date and maybe talk about the game to others, instead of trying to market the game after release (slow process) when nobody have heard about it.
Just like ES. I know there will be a lot who buys the game at the release date, and many people (me included) have already bought the game (Kickstarter).

So, what are your views on the matter?
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Re: Your view on Secrecy while in development

Postby dandymcgee on Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:09 pm

I think it's completely dependent upon the developer's needs.

If you require a pre-release audience to succeed for whatever reason, be it funding, motivation, recruiting help or anything else, then you obviously need to release content. That content doesn't have to be game-related, but it *does* have to be brand-related.

    Take Elysian Shadows for instance. Adventures in Game Development has always been an effort toward a particular dream game, but early on it was nothing more than a vlog of learning and experimenting. Elysian Shadows was able to utilize that audience for motivation and funding later on.

If you are some sort of game development machine, and can effectively motivate and fund your endeavor without an audience, then there's no reason you can't do just that.

    Maintaining an active audience has its perks, but it's an awful lot of work. If you're more interested in long term success than launch week records it may be in your best interest to focus on release the best, most polished, entertaining product you can make. Then, you have a ready-to-buy product on the market and all you need is a bit of shameless self-promotion. If your creation is really as good as you think it is, word-of-mouth will take over from there.

There's one more thing to consider: community feedback. When you have an audience, it becomes possible to bounce ideas off them and iteratively improve your initial offering. This can be an incredible tool or a crippling distraction, depending on how you choose to address the feedback you receive.

Oh, and since the title is "Secrecy": I'm a *huge* proponent of Easter eggs, secret rooms, in-jokes, and off-the-cuff references to inspirational works.
Don't leak any of those during development. ;)
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Re: Your view on Secrecy while in development

Postby gamenovice on Mon Dec 29, 2014 6:09 am

I would definitely have fallen in the paranoid secret category when it comes to development, but only for games that I plan to sell.I guess the key is to ignore any notion of money if you want to build an audience early.

too much is if, for example, you give away your entire game, like if ES were to release the story plot first. that is really detrimental to any anticipation for the game. if it were a game like minecraft... do whatever the fuck you want :P you really have nothing to lose with that kind of game (seriously, you could tweet, herp derp i added a new feature, and soo many people could rave about it for weeks if it was cool enough)
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Re: Your view on Secrecy while in development

Postby AaronGlazer on Mon Dec 29, 2014 6:34 pm

Yup, my personal policy is to stay in the dark about my projects until I have probably at least around 2/3 of the "minimum shipable product" done, and then don't start actual marketing (PR and whatnot) until you have something that you consider the minimum shipable product.

"Minimum shipable product" as in, something that doesn't necessarily embody everything that you want to put in your game, but something that you'd still be comfortable releasing if you had to.
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Re: Your view on Secrecy while in development

Postby Falco Girgis on Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:16 am

A very good question. There's quite a few factors to consider, and there honestly is no universal right or wrong answer here.

If you show off your game too early, nobody is going to take you seriously. How many kiddies do you see posting "concepts" and "design docs" of games that they have no experience, expertise, or resources to create? Game ideas are a dime a dozen these days. Everybody wants to be a game developer, and everybody has an idea. They are completely worthless until you have developed them far enough for people to grasp your creative vision, and that usually isn't until much further in the development process.

Elysian Shadows pulled this off with AiGD, because it was the "Adventures in Game Development," a bunch of guys getting together in their mommy's attic trying to program and develop a game together--it was not marketing a product or even focusing on a product that had yet to exist. Hell, we didn't even have a name for the fucking game until AIGD Chapter 13.

Yes, people can steal your ideas... But do you really care? I'm going to be honest here. This used to be one of my biggest fears with AiGD... Look around you and see how many clone 2D RPGs we have inspired who have blatantly ripped off just about every innovative idea we have introduced... I even see "Adventure Logs" and "Lua Debug Prompts." It used to bother me, but then I took an honest look around me... Even with all the rip-offs, we still reign as king. Why? Because we make the ideas, the ideas don't make us. We are the minds that innovated these features while everyone else blindly copied them, and we are the ones who will continue to do so, leading the way, as the others trail behind us...

It's not about just being the only guy with the idea, because trust me, if it's good, after your game is released, it will be copied. It's about doing it the best. Just like Apple products have generally not introduced anything "innovative" or "groundbreaking" technologically, but they implemented features in the most user-friendly, intuitive manner, which is why they flourished.

Then finally, who are you competing against? They're your ideas. You are ultimately just competing against yourself and your own ideas, which is arguably an insanely useful tool for self-motivation... It quite literally forces you to stay ontop of your shit and to make sure that you are the best of the best. I have grown to welcome the competition and embrace it... Yeah, plenty of people steal our shit, but nobody does it quite like we do.

Early marketing is very useful for building pre-launch hype. This is on the other end of the spectrum... If Elysian Shadows had not been introduced to the world through Adventures in Game Development, there is no way in hell our Kickstarter would have been successful. It's not about how good your product is, it's about the audience you have built up, ready to push the "donate" button the second your Kickstarter launches.

Unfortunately most developers don't understand this, as they believe their clock starts ticking once the project goes live... Successful Kickstarters generally have a years worth of legacy built up from the gaming press and social media exposure. They do not enter the fight blindly, expecting to rally an entire army and take the world by storm in a mere 30 days.

So when the hell do you market?Even in the case of the Kickstarter pre-hype, you still aren't going to build any hype up with just concept art. I believe that kind of marketing and exposure should come once you have at least a bit of gameplay implemented, highlighting exactly what it is that sets your product apart from the ocean of wannabe indie developers and indie games out there... because only then are you contributing content to social media and the gaming press that is truly interesting and innovative. Until then, keep your head down, keep your eyes focused, and keep working.
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Re: Your view on Secrecy while in development

Postby hydroxy on Sat Jan 03, 2015 2:58 pm

Keep in mind also how difficult and time consuming it is to create video games. I would find it absolutely amazing and be so honoured if someone stole an idea of mine and made it into a game.

Though realistically, there is only a tiny chance of this happening because most people capable of developing games have their own ideas to work on. Games development attracts creative minds almost exclusively.

Also the games that are cloned are already proven hits that are guaranteed to return money.

Games in development are relatively safe from that.

When I started developing I didn't release anything but a few screenshots for years because I thought someone would steal my ideas but in reality this is not the case.

The benefits of gathering an audience also are much more beneficial to you.
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Re: Your view on Secrecy while in development

Postby gamenovice on Sat Jun 20, 2015 11:02 pm

so i started looking into copyright and found that [quick disclaimer: im not even close to a lawyer, so you'd have to double check me on this] the united states follows the bernes convention for copyright. this means if you publish your game in a public manner, with obvious way of telling that it was you who created the piece (for example you type something like: (c) billy bob 2015-2016 all rights reserved), then copyright is applied automatically to you. you could go for the kill and register it with the government, which would help streamline your case if you ever had to utilize your copyright in a court case. this means as far as someone stealing the ideas, they could 'steal' the general concept, but you shouldnt be worried if someone tries to steal your game if you've already released it publicly. even with the general concept, they could only steal it from what is presently shown, but they cant replicate what you truly have in mind, which is why many good games still feel genuine despite so many clones. though it is a good idea to go for trademarks too, since that helps you secure the ability to brand and market the product freely.
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Re: Your view on Secrecy while in development

Postby hydroxy on Tue Jun 23, 2015 5:44 pm

Well executed cloning can circumvent most legal barriers from what I know. Just look at the trouble Vlambeer had with Ridiculous Fishing. They were totally helpless to stop the clone being released even though it was an obvious clone. It hasn't stopped them from publicising their games before development though. I believe that is because as you say

gamenovice wrote:they cant replicate what you truly have in mind


The best a cloner can do is copy the game mechanics, they don't understand them in quite the same way that the original developer does. The original developer will have gotten their ideas from their own real life experiences and will understand their origin, why they are enjoyable and will perhaps have unique future plans for developing the ideas further that a cloner wouldn't have any idea of.
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