Game Design Questions

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[edit] How do you give away free updates / bug fixes to your existing game boards?

When you make updates to a game board Warfish provides 2 avenues for updating them depending on whether or not you would like your customers to have to pay for them or receive the updates for free.

"Paid Upgrade": If you would like to force them to pay again you create an new board using Design > Boards > Create board to create a new game. This would be roughly akin to when a game publisher like EA puts out "Sims 2" vs "Sims"... they want you to pay for "Sims 2".. even though you bought "Sims" a couple years ago.

"Bugfixes/Patch/Free Upgrade": If you would like to deliver a free new version of your game board to all the users who have bought a game board of yours you create a "Game Mod".. which can change / update basically any aspect of your game board (add new countries, borders, update the background, etc.) Once you create a "Game Mod" for your game board it will immediately become available for all people who have purchased your original game board. This would be similar to EA offering a bug fix patch download for "Sims"... any user who has already purchased "Sims" simply goes to their website and downloads a free update/patch.

[edit] How does Warfish handle Copyrights/Trademarks?

The Warfish game design tool and Games Directory are an open-ended system provided to let you create and share your own game designs. Therefore, infinite game designs are possible inspired from pretty much anything. When designing and experimenting with game designs on your own for personal use there is more flexibility in the source material you use, however when sharing games in the Games Directory (either for other Plus Members or for sale) please do not use copyrighted or trademarked material that you do not own the rights to. Warfish Plus Members spend a lot of time designing / developing / testing games on Warfish. It would be a crime if someone stole your design and shared or sold it elsewhere, likewise on Warfish.net we should do what we can to respect the rights of others.

A basic guideline is that images that are created by someone else are usually copyrighted and brands or words such as "Disney" or "War Craft" or "Coca-cola" are usually trademarked and shouldn't be used. However, in both these cases there are legal ways to draw inspiration or make cultural references to them and still be respectful of intellectual property rights. For images, for example, if I wanted to do something based on a copyrighted map or image I could edit that image in photoshop / MS paint and draw on top of it until enough of it were my new pixels (enough is a grey zone, if I wanted to be 100% free and clear I would draw over all of the pixels, the original work would just provide me with inspiration, see Cartography 101 for an example). For trademarked phrases, changing the phrase enough (again a grey zone... Apple is suing people for words containing "pod") should be sufficient to be respectful to trademark rights, for example, if I wanted to do something inspired by "Lord of the Rings", I might name it "Lord of the Fish" or "The Mines of Warfish" or "My precious, Fish" or "One Fish to Rule them All"... or for someting inpired by "Qbert" I might name it "WarBert" or "FishBert". (side note trivia: according to wikipedia D&D was forced to use the word halfing instead of hobbit).

This is all subject to change, so please send feedback if you know any differently and do not take this as specific legal advice, this is a learning process for all involved. Also, since it is difficult to know when something is an original work, please help Warfish respect intellectual property by helping to identify game boards you feel are violating intellectual property rights. For now, any game boards found that do not at least follow the basic guidelines described above will be removed from the Games Directory.

Also, for more information on game design intellectual property please visit this page on the US copyright site.

[edit] What is the Games tab / Games Directory?

This is an experiment please be patient. The games directory is a listing of game board designs for sale by Warfish Plus Members. Warfish Plus Members can design games, decide on a price and offer them for sale in the games directory.

[edit] What are all the different sections in the Games Directory?

Members and non-Members see slightly different sections in the Games Directory. non-Members only see two sections the "Sample Games" and the "Games for sale by Warfish Plus Members" sections. On the other hand, Members see three sections in their Games Directory since they also have access to "Games shared amongst Warfish Plus Members".

[edit] What should I charge for my games?

The system allows any value between 1.00 USD and 30.00 USD. This is difficult to say how much one should charge, since it depends on how much people like your game and what people are willing to pay for it. Game designers can set the price and change it later, so starting lower might be good (around 1.50 to 3 dollars) and raising it later to test the trade offs between price and number of sales. Please be patient with this as we embark on this experiment together and remember once you've designed/listed a game it doesn't cost you anything for it to stay for sale on the site. Also remember to keep realistic expectations.. maybe just a sale or two a month.

[edit] What does Warfish get out of it?

Warfish charges a 20% commission on the profit after Paypal fees are subtracted. For example, if a game is sold by a Member for $10. The Paypal fee will be 59 cents so the profit will be $9.41, then Warfish.net will take $1.88 (20% of $9.41) in commissions so the Warfish Member will receive $7.53 net (80% of the $9.41). Although, it is likely boards will sell for less than $10. For small amounts the Paypal fees can be quite a large percentage of the sale price, so at some point payment services will be supported (once more data on how much players are willing to pay is gathered from this initial testing). Please send in any suggestions for other payment methods.

[edit] What is being sold exactly?

Basically, the buyer is getting lifetime unlimited access to the "create table" (i.e. "create game") page using your board. This is a non-transferrable right. As usual only the host of a game needs to own the board (i.e. have access to the create game page) and can invite anyone (members, non-members, non-board owners, people who have never heard of warfish.net) to play. Also any player in a game can click on Rematch to start a Rematch game, but all the settings and players will be the same. If the buyer upgrades to "Plus Member" the buyer will also have access to the "Tweak Rules" page to customize the game rules when starting games with a purchased board. The reason for lifetime and unlimited is to try to make it easy to understand i.e. analogous to buying a physical board game and also to make people feel like they are getting more value (i.e. a game feels more worth it.)

[edit] Who owns the intellectual property?

By using the design tools and game directory you are granting Warfish non-exclusive rights to resell your board and for Warfish to host games using the board indefinitely (in order to fullfill the lifetime unlimited use granted to users when they purchase the board). Basically, this means that you're allowing Warfish to sell the boards on your behalf and are claiming you have the rights to do so. On the other hand, games that you create for your own use only (not-shared and not for-sale) Warfish considers are for your "personal use". Also, when you use the design tools and play your games on Warfish you are granting Warfish the rights to continue to display your game indefinitely for people who have played in their game history.

If you see any boards for sale in the Games Directory or Shared that you believe are violating your intellectual property ownership of someone elses please send feedback. Warfish.net will do everything it can to protect your rights. Thank you. For more information on game copyrights please refer to this page on the U.S. Copyright Office website.

[edit] How do I as a game designer get paid?

As a game designer you can request your balance to be paid at anytime regardless of amount the balance. You can find out how much Warfish owes you by referring to your Account Settings page. However, there is a 30 day waiting period in order to allow for refunds to the user in the event there is any complication, for example, if the board design is "broken" and or if a 3rd party files a copyright infringement complaint with Warfish concerning that particular board. In these cases the board may have to be administratively removed from the site and the user may be refunded some partial amount of the cost if it occurs within the first 30 days of their ownership. So game designers can request any funds from sales older than 30 days to be paid by contacting support online or via email support@warfish.net

For more information on game copyrights please refer to this page on the U.S. Copyright Office website.

[edit] How much should I expect to earn?

Please do not expect to earn much. Not only is this feature new and untested but is really designed just to provide a way for players to support game designers in some small way, not to "make millions". There is no way to tell what one's sales will be like, but I wouldn't expect more than a couple sales a month if that.

[edit] When will Warfish be public so more people can see my game designs?

As you know Warfish is still in "invite only" Beta which means that the only way for a new user to join is by being invited by other players. This is to try to moderate the growth during development so that Warfish can be the best product it can be when it launches. Even though Warfish is "invite only" the site gets reasonable growth such that your game boards will still get some exposure.

You may have noticed the Games Directory currently has a "Members Only" plus icon and is only visible to Members. This is to give Members some time to populate the Directory and try it out before it is openned up for general Warfish users. Members can purchase boards from each other. The Games Directory will be made available to all Warfish members once there are enough games (i.e. 10 game boards) available for sale there.

[edit] What is the difference between sharing and selling?

As a game designer you can decide how your game will be listed and at anytime you can change these settings. You can just keep your games private for your own use, share your game with fellow Plus Members or list your game to be sold to any Warfish player. Some people may share just because they want more people to play their creations, but sharing lets allows you to play test new ideas with a broader community (and get some initial reviews) before listing it for sale. Once you list a game for sale you can decide to remove it from the shared list or leave it there as well as have it for sale.

[edit] How will the ladder work?

In keeping with the idea of Warfish making it easy to "create gaming mini-sites", Warfish will support ladders for each game. The current thinking is that the ladder can be used as a way for users to try out a board before buying it. On other words, designers can opt to enable the ladder for free on their "buyable" boards so that users can join the ladder games for free to try out the board. If they like it and want to create their own game tables using the board they may purchase it.

[edit] Why does it work this way?

This is model is just a first attempt or preliminary experiment on how this can work. There are many little gaming mini-sites on the net, the basic idea here is instead of creating just another little online mini-site, Warfish provides a way for anyone to easily create their own gaming mini-sites (and perhaps make a little money as well) using their own designs. Game designers focus on designing games (graphics/gameplay/rules) and Warfish focuses on the nitty gritty of getting it to work (i.e. email notification, maintaining the website, accounting, adding RSS feeds/XML apis, IM notification, mobile phone interface, language translations, adding possible games rules options, etc.). In fact in order to keep Warfish's free Sample Maps from competing with "for sale" game designers maps, Warfish intends to continue to produce Sample / free maps using only the primitive graphics used in the pre-Beta/Basic Game board. Hopefully, being a game designer on Warfish will be the easiest way to start an international (even currently Warfish has users all over the world) online game.

Please send feedback on how to make this work better for you. Are the commissions too high or too low? Should the ladders be free? What should a user get when they buy your game? Is lifetime reasonable, or should it be for a limited number of create games (i.e. maybe 100)?

[edit] When would I want to allow Ranked Games using shared game boards?

By default Ranked games using your shared game boards is enabled. There is still a requirement of a board having a rating of over three with three or more reviews before it will available for ranked games. Generally you'll want to leave this option on the default setting since when people create Ranked games it is a good way to for non Plus Members to be introduced to your game and for people to get interested in competing on your game board designs.

However, there are a couple scenarios where disabling Ranked games for a shared board of yours may be necessary. [1] The primary reason this control was added was for game designers who create game mods to launch along with their game boards. In this case you may want to get some feedback and test several revisions of your game mods before selecting one of your game mods to be the "Ranked Mod". Since you can not change the "Ranked Mod" once ranked games have been played it is useful to disable Ranked Games first while you are initially sharing your game board, getting feedback and revising your game mods. This way you won't open your game board to users inadvertantly starting Ranked games with our board and blocking you from selecting the Ranked Mod of your choice. [2] Also, if you feel that your game board is popular enough already you may want to require users to pay for your game board in order to play ranked games. This is not really recommended but I leave it up to the game designer to decide.

[edit] How do I play other members' game designs/share my game designs?

Game designers can choose to share (or unshare) their games with other Warfish Plus Members by clicking on the share link next to the board name on their boards list. Once shared, any Plus member can start a game with the map. Additionally the game designer can also choose to have it listed on Plus Members' New Table/Game page. The game designer for a share game is provided stats on number of games created and finished as well as a list of links to shared games being played. Of course, like all game pages on Warfish if you're not a game participant only the first four letters of player's email addresses are displayed to protect users' privacy.

The sharing feature is designed to allow game designers to test their new game designs and get feedback. Many designers leave their boards shared even if they choose to also list the for sale. In addition to the joy of just having other people enjoy your creations, sharing provides a great way to introduce people to your game designs to get valuable feedback/reviews on a new board.

[edit] How do I limit rematches on Shared games?

This option is found on the Share/Sell page for a game board. After having a game listed and played as a Shared game you may want to phase it out in favor of a new version or provide it only as a game for sale. Limiting shared game rematches is intended to be enabled after you remove a game from the Share Game list (and disallow other members from creating shared games with it). It stops a user from creating a rematch if the Shared game ended more than 10 days ago or was created more than 90 days ago.

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