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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Apples to Apples company likes my game!

   
Author Topic: Apples to Apples company likes my game!
Marlozhan
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Anyone here played or heard of Apples to Apples? It is a card game published by Out of the Box Games. I have been making strategy board games for a few years on my computer and printing them and playing them with family and friends. I have been told many times to try and get them published, but it hasn't been worth the effort to me.

So I recently invented an original, but simple card game based on cards I designed. I printed a prototype and have been playing it with people who have really enjoyed it. So, I emailed this company with the details of my game, since they go for games that are fun, simple, quick and easy to learn. Within a couple weeks, the president has requested I send a prototype for playtesting (which is usually the last phase of the process before acceptance).

Needless to say, I am excited and I thought I would just share that. Does this sound promising, or do you think they playtest hundreds of games each year (and they say they only plan on publishing 4-7 games this year)?

Should I get an agent if things progress? I have never attempted this before with one of my games.

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aiua
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Apples to Apples is one of my favorites.

I have nothing helpful to say other than Congratulations. :}

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Dagonee
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Congratulations on piquing their interest! I'd get a lawyer - not necessarily an agent, but definitely a lawyer with good Intellectual Property credentials.

Preferably there'd already be one involved here to advise you about nondisclosure agreements and the like.

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Marlozhan
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They do say that they don't take any nondisclosure agreements:

quote:
Congratulations on your new game idea!

Out of the Box Publishing is always looking for new and innovative designs that fit for our growing line of games. If you would like us to consider your game for publication, please observe the following submission guidelines:

1. First, email a basic description and overview of your game idea directly to me (mark@otb-games.com). Make sure that you include the following information:
* Age ranges
* Time needed to learn the game
* Time needed to play the game
* Components
* Brief description of play and winning conditions
* Proposed theme

2. If we feel that the information that you provided in step 1 appears promising, we will request a copy of the rules, more detailed information or both.

3. If we are still interested after step #2, we will request a prototype for more extensive playtesting.

4. Out of the Box Publishing will not consider any product submission requiring a signed non-disclosure agreement .....sorry, there are no exceptions to this rule.

Since we plan on releasing 4-6 new products each year, I would be delighted if your game turned out to be a good addition to our line!

Thank you for your confidence in Out of the Box Publishing.

Mark Alan Osterhaus
President

Is that a bad thing? Does that give them the right to steal ideas if they choose? I assume a big company like this with a lot of publicity and well-known games would be more respectable than that.
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libertygirl
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Congrats!! I have no advice, but if your game gets out there, I'll buy it for sure! I love Apples to Apples!
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Dagonee
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quote:
Is that a bad thing? Does that give them the right to steal ideas if they choose? I assume a big company like this with a lot of publicity and well-known games would be more respectable than that.
I'm sorry, I can't give specific advice in this situation.
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beautifulgirl57
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Ooooh I love Apples to Apples! Congratz on their attention.

Hehee, I played once and was stuck between whether Hitler was more "peaceful" or "adorable"...

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Belle
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Apples to Apples is definitely one of our family's favorites. We have both the regular and Junior versions and play it often.

I would be concerned about the NDA clause. That worries me. I'm not a lawyer, and I don't play one on TV so I can't give legal advice, I would just say before I submitted, I might ask someone who is in the position to give you legal advice. That may require you getting someone to represent you, which could be costly....I know that's not encouraging but still.

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Amanecer
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Congrats!! That's awesome!

About the NDA clause, this topic came up in a creative writing class I took once in regards to story submissions. According to that professor, early NDA's are too big of a liability for publishing firms. If a story came out from that firm that bore similarities to your story, then you could sue. When companies get a large volume of submissions, its quite likely that somebody's rejected story will bear a resemblence to an accepted story. That professor suggested that if it really concerned us, we should mail a copy to ourselves at the same time we submit it. The unopened, post marked letter would prove it was our property if the subject ever surfaced. I don't know that it works the same way with game companies, but I would assume that it did.

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Dagonee
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quote:
That professor suggested that if it really concerned us, we should mail a copy to ourselves at the same time we submit it.
This is almost useless. People who can testify about the game are far more valuable, as is an actual copyright registration (not required, but easy to do and definitely useful).

The game materials gained copyright the instant they were fixed in tangible form. The issue is proof, and registration is the best form.

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NicholasStewart
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Where can I get a copy of your game?
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kojabu
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I don't like Apples to Apples, but I like board games. What do you have to do in yours? I promise I won't steal the idea.
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B34N
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Don't know anything about the game industry but a nondisclosure agreement would help but it is not really neccessay. As long as you have the game copyrighted or patented (sp?) on paper with the government you'll be fine. If not mail it to yourself before you send off to the company, I think this will hold up in court if they try to rip off your idea.

Congats though, that is really awesome.

Edited for Spelling

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MyrddinFyre
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Cool! I love Apples to Apples.
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Bob_Scopatz
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This actually sounds pretty cool. I hope they like your game, publish it, and ask for 10 more ideas!
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mackillian
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^and you know, eventually, another game. [Wink]
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Marlozhan
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Thanks for the input, I will post more about the game later tonight after I eat.

I suppose if I print a second copy for myself, and have my friends and relatives that have played it with me sign a statement that they played it and that it was my idea, that would hold up in court with their testimonies.

But I have no copyright or patent. I literally invented this game in my head in 3 nights after this last Thanksgiving, and proposed it to the company less than 2 weeks ago after printing it and playing it. More details to come...

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Avatar300
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The game was copyrighted the moment you transferred it from your head into reality.
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kojabu
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Would that hold up in a legal battle though?
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fugu13
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Yeah, if you have evidence for it (for instance, testimony of people who have seen the rules, postings about the rules on the internet, et cetera). An unopened envelope mailed to yourself is pretty low on the list of evidence.

Also, make certain you have evidence that you sent and the game company received any correspondence -- send it with delivery verification every time at least until you have some response that acknowledges their receipt of the idea, their interest in it, and your copyright upon it, that way they don't have much of a chance with the independently-invented gambit.

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Marlozhan
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Here you go:

link

quote:
When does Copyright Protection begin, and what is required?

Copyright protection begins when any of the above described work is actually created and fixed in a tangible form.

For example, my brother is a musician and he lives in the United States. When he writes new lyrics, he prints them out on paper, signs his name at the bottom with the Copyright © symbol to show that he is the author, places it in an envelope and mails it to himself without opening it. His copyright begins at the moment he puts his idea in a tangible form by printing the lyrics out on paper. He creates proof when he mails it to himself - the postmark establishes the date of creation. He then registers his copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office which is a requirement in order to sue for monetary damages should a violation of his copyright arise. However, if somebody copies and redistributes his lyrics without permission before his copyright is registered, he still has the right to assert a copyright claim as the true author.

The above applies to digital art and graphics. Open a gif, jpg or png file that you created and look at the properties. It states the date that you saved it to your hard drive as the date of creation. If somebody copies a graphic from your web site I assure you that the date of creation on your copy of the file is earlier than the copy taken off your web site. If that still doesn't feel like enough proof for you, save everything to a floppy disk and mail it to yourself via certified mail. Keep the envelope sealed, wrap it in protective plastic and put it in a safe place.

Somebody once asked if it was "illegal" to place the copyright © symbol next to your name if you have not registered your copyright. Unless you have stolen the work from somebody else and you are not the true author of the work, it is not illegal to place the copyright © symbol next to your name - it is your right to do so.

The proper way to place a copyright notice is as follows: Copyright © (first date of creation) (name of owner). Like this: Copyright © 2003 John Smith.

So, if I put the copyright symbol on the box that holds the cards, would that cover the whole deck?
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Will B
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Cool. Congratulations!
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fugu13
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The copyright symbol has nothing to do with you having copyright, it only has to do with alerting others about where (at least some of) the copyright lies, and can impact penalties for infringement and such.

Putting it on the box would serve that purpose fine; you can always clarify it with something like 'Game contents copyright © 2003 John Smith'.

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Marlozhan
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Here is the description I sent to the publisher:

quote:
Magneto (Copyright 2006 Christopher Franklin)
(a magnetically-themed card game; nothing to do with X-men)

-a quick, fun, competitive and interactive card game-
(detailed rules, visuals, and a prototype are available upon request)


Age ranges: 12 to Adult

Number of players: 2-8

Time needed to learn the game: 15 min

Time needed to play the game: 30 min

Components: 1 deck of 105 game cards, at least 4 scoring key cards, blank scoring paper, and pencils. Each game card has 1 symbol on it, which attracts exactly one other symbol and repels another different symbol.


Setup: Setup is quick. All players take a scoring key-card and one player agrees to keep score at the end of each round. One person simply deals 2 cards to each player and play begins.

Proposed theme:
As the title implies, this game is based on cards that are meant to be magnetic. Just like a magnet, every card attracts one other symbol, and repels another different symbol. Each symbol has a unique, colorful design and a metallic name (such as Scarlet Steel or Pitch Titanium). There are 10 different symbols in the game. The rarest card is Pitch Titanium, of which there are only 6 in the game. The most common is Jade Iron, which has 15 cards in the deck. This game is meant to be simple, quick, flexible in play-time, and can be played right out of the box. The cards are very visually oriented. The only words are the name of the symbol (and even the names are optional), thus increasing the simplicity of the game. (visual examples of each card are available upon request).

Brief description of game:
Players quickly compete in rounds to build combinations, called Magnetos, which consist of 4 unique cards. None of the cards in a Magneto can repel each other, so possible Magneto combinations are limited. Players start with 2 cards, but gain more cards by drawing from the deck, picking up the last discarded card, or playing symbols that attract cards from other players’ Magnetos. Players gain cards in this way until able to build a Magneto combination. The more rare the card symbols in the Magneto, the more points that player gains.
This game involves a lot of interaction, since players are frequently stealing (also called attracting) symbols from each other to build the best Magneto possible, while not taking too long, since another player may call “Magneto” (thus ending the round) before they finish their own Magneto. Players must use good timing and be aware of what their opponents are doing to prevent their Magnetos while building their own. They must know when to discard, when to build a Magneto, and when to attract from others. Players must also be careful when attracting other symbols, since that same card also repels a certain symbol. If that symbol is in the player’s own Magneto, that symbol is repelled and discarded. Once a round ends, players find their matching Magneto combo on the scoring key card to see how many points their Magneto is worth (combo values range from 1 to 16). Rounds continue until a player reaches 30 points to win.

Each type of card has a specific metallic symbol printed on it. See example.

I have more detailed rules written, but I'm not sure I want to post them on the internet. Tell me what you guys think from that brief description.

P.S. - Don't try to steal my idea, the ball is already rolling and I've done half the things recommended above. I will beat you in court. [Wink]

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Scott R
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That sounds awesome!

Good luck!

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Farmgirl
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I was introduced to Apples to Apples by fellow Hatrack posters (back at KamaCon), so that is why I had a big smile when your opening line "anyone heard of or played...." I don't know many here who haven't played that awesome game.
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Belle
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That sounds pretty cool, I like that you don't have to be able to read to play it, my twins can't really play Apples to Apples yet because they can't real well enough.

I wish you luck getting it published!

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Soara
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quote:
I send a prototype for playtesting
How can I get that job?
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Wendybird
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Good luck to you! This sounds like a very fun game that my family would enjoy. Hopefully it will be available soon [Big Grin] [Wink]
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Marlozhan:
Anyone here played or heard of Apples to Apples? It is a card game published by Out of the Box Games. I have been making strategy board games for a few years on my computer and printing them and playing them with family and friends. I have been told many times to try and get them published, but it hasn't been worth the effort to me.

So I recently invented an original, but simple card game based on cards I designed. I printed a prototype and have been playing it with people who have really enjoyed it. So, I emailed this company with the details of my game, since they go for games that are fun, simple, quick and easy to learn. Within a couple weeks, the president has requested I send a prototype for playtesting (which is usually the last phase of the process before acceptance).

Needless to say, I am excited and I thought I would just share that. Does this sound promising, or do you think they playtest hundreds of games each year (and they say they only plan on publishing 4-7 games this year)?

Should I get an agent if things progress? I have never attempted this before with one of my games.

So... did anything ever go forward with this game? I'm curious, because I've been corresponding with the head of development at Out of the Box about a game I came up with, and he asked for a prototype as well. He wrote me on Friday saying that he received it.
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Itsame
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I totally thought that this was a new thread, and just read the entire thing.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by JonHecht:
I totally thought that this was a new thread, and just read the entire thing.

haha, I did too. And responded.

Someone should flag "THIS THREAD IS OLD" or it should have a skull and cross-bones on it or something.

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Raia
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That's amazing!! Congratulations! I obviously missed this the first time, but that's so cool! Let us know what happened with this! I love Apples to Apples. [Smile]
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Lisa
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I will. I would have marked it as old, but I can't modify the subject line, since I didn't start the topic.
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MidnightBlue
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I remembered it from the first time around, and immediately wondered what had happened. Too bad we never found out.
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Lisa
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Marlozhan is still around, though. I checked, and he posted two days ago on the "my kids say the cutest things" thread.
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Marlozhan
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Yes, I am still around. When I first glanced at this thread title, I had this weird moment of deja vu before I realized that one of my old threads was brought back.

They tested the game, but did not accept my submission. They said it was a "low strategy" game, but that even low strategy is too much for their target audience. They liked the game, I just haven't submitted to anyone else yet.

I have designed around 15 games or so in the last several years, and I have submitted a few more to Out of the Box. They requested another one of my games for playtesting, and it was closer to being accepted, but wasn't quite as fun as what they were looking for. I have become pretty familiar with the types of games they like, and they definitely like games that are quick, easy to learn, very low strategy, and unique. Basically, they are targeting the ADHD population, or at least that's how I am describing it when I am joking around.

One thing I like about the owner is that he is willing to provide a little bit of positive and negative feedback with each email submission I send to him, instead of just saying, "no thanks, it's not what we're looking for." I will continue to think of games and submit one that I think they will like. I will also be submitting games to other publishers once I decide to start down that route. I am always thinking of the next game to make. Being a board game designer is my dream job, but even if I never get a job doing it, I will always be designing, making, and playing games for the rest of my life.

That's cool, Lisa, that they accepted a prototype for testing. You will probably hear back from them within the next month I bet, unless they told you otherwise. Have you designed other games, or is this the only one, just out of curiosity?

By the way, I also have the phone number to a board game agent that I will be giving a call soon. I need to start becoming more proactive in putting my games out there. I just have so much fun making them that I procrastinate the marketing part of it. Some games I just make because I want them, even though they are not the type I would try to market, at least in their present form.

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Lisa
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I've been corresponding with Max, rather than Mark, but he's the same. We went back and forth on the idea. He wasn't sure about it, but I made a web-based version for him to fiddle with. After a few back-and-forths, he said I'd convinced him that it was worth taking a look at, and asked for a physical prototype.

My game actually is a strategy game, but it's a variation on a really popular one, and I think it would do extremely well.

I'm not really a game designer by inclination. But sometimes I'll be playing a game, or watching other people play, and I'll think, "Hmm... wouldn't it be cool if...?" This game is one of two games that I'm working on, and each one is a variant of an already existing game.

Here in Chicago, there's a board game design Meetup that I go to once a month. It's a great place for exchanging ideas. We're going to be doing some joint projects starting in March, and I'm kind of looking forward to it.

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