Advice on Possible Contest [CLOSED]

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Advice on Possible Contest [CLOSED]

#1 Post by ypressgames » Sat Aug 04, 2018 9:47 pm

We're throwing around the idea of having a contest for a visual novel script for either a 50,000 word PG dating game (LGBT or straight) or a horror game. The winner would get $2500 plus a royalty on the sales of the finished game. We would have our team work with the winner to create the game, providing all art, assets, and so forth.

I'd like to know the best way to ask for entries for this game. Should we be asking for a Ren'Py script file, or should we provide a template for people to create the game scripts in Word or Excel? (Do any such templates exist for public use?)

My first thought was to make sure people without programming abilities could participate in the contest, but we would need stats, multiple endings, multiple routes, etc., which could make this hard to format outside of the Ren'Py engine. I'm up to the challenge of making a template if that's the best route to go, but would a simplified Ren'Py template be better? Seriously, I'm at a loss.

We're the company who put out the My Magical Demon Lover game (Itch/Manga Gamer) and the people behind the To Trust an Incubus Kickstarter. We are seeking a PG-rated game this time for a bunch of different reasons.

I'm eager to get people's input on the contest idea.
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Re: Advice on Possible Contest

#2 Post by ComputerArt.Club » Sun Aug 05, 2018 2:53 am

That is a long entry for a competition. Would you own the rights too all entries or just the winner? Would you even have the time to read all the entries fully? Perhaps you could make the entry requirements less demanding?

What made you want to choose a competition rather than a more traditional route to finding a writer?

Personally, I have heard a lot of artists being taken advantage of by contests with over reaching terms. Especially with the huge entry requirement here, I can't help but feel skeptical and suspicious about your intentions.

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Re: Advice on Possible Contest

#3 Post by ypressgames » Sun Aug 05, 2018 5:33 pm

Our entry requirement is half of what Choice of Games required for their very successful contest. We would not own the rights to all the entries. -_- Who does that?

Competitions are simply a way of getting a large amount of submissions at the same time which all conform to the standards that are set up by the contest. Many publishers have had success with this. That's why we're considering it.

Is there anyone else who could offer the advice we're looking for? Something helpful?
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Re: Advice on Possible Contest

#4 Post by Imperf3kt » Sun Aug 05, 2018 5:50 pm

I'd personally check local regulations and purchase a permit. Holding a competition with a cash prize (or any prize, for that matter) requires permits and licenses in many parts of the world.
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Re: Advice on Possible Contest

#5 Post by ypressgames » Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:25 pm

Thanks Imperf3kt. I will make sure to look into that.
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Re: Advice on Possible Contest

#6 Post by papillon » Sun Aug 05, 2018 9:39 pm

ypressgames wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 5:33 pm
We would not own the rights to all the entries. -_- Who does that?
Jerks who want a lot of free art done while only having to pay for the 'best' of it.

Similarly you'll run into trouble if you advertise a "contest" with very specific requirements so it's clearly "I want a whole bunch of people to write this exact pitch, and then I'll pick the best"

But a more open-ended thing where people who don't win clearly still have the rights to make their own game out of their entry if they want to is fine, from the ethical perspective. The legal perspective was already mentioned.

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Re: Advice on Possible Contest

#7 Post by ypressgames » Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:02 pm

Hello again Papillon,

This will just be for text, not art. We do our best to pay our artists what their work is worth, and fortunately a lot of artists from our past company (graphic novel publisher) have come back to work for us again.

For criteria what do you think of this:

- 50k words or more
- Genres of Romance (LGBT or Straight) or Horror (within these genres can be subgenres of fantasy, sci-fi, western, etc.)
- PG rated content
- Three or more stats
- Five or more endings

Of course we would not expect the rights to any entries. Even the winning entry would need a contract in place to grant us the rights.

If we made the content for a much smaller game, say 20,000 words, we could only price it at $3.99-$5.99. Our old Steamspy records show that short games like this often don't make more than $1,000. I guess I'm saying for it to be worth our while it would need to be a substantial game. This would warrant the $2500 prize and royalty.
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Re: Advice on Possible Contest

#8 Post by BáiYù » Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:04 am

ypressgames wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:02 pm
This will just be for text, not art.
Writing is an art form, just as how singers in the music industry are called artists as well.
- 50k words or more
- Genres of Romance (LGBT or Straight) or Horror (within these genres can be subgenres of fantasy, sci-fi, western, etc.)
- PG rated content
- Three or more stats
- Five or more endings
You're asking for a lot here. A 50k+ script with stats and 5+ endings takes a lot of careful planning, at least if it's going to be good. As others have mentioned before, your contest as it is now is spec work, and the first prize payment is far below a fair rate for any freelance writer. I would heavily reconsider the entry requirements or increase the payment.
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Re: Advice on Possible Contest

#9 Post by traineroflegend » Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:51 am

I am a writer (self-published, but still...) and don't find the terms too disagreeable. As has been said before, contests are very tricky things and you could get into some legal trouble regardless if all parties agree with the rules.

Contests for book covers exist and are done successfully: https://99designs.com/book-cover-design/contests. Some things to think about include:

- Is there a guaranteed winner?
- Would you retain any control over any of the other works? (You said no in an earlier post, but this needs to be clear).

As for pay, $2500 for a 50k work comes out to $0.05 per word, which is more than fair. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (https://www.sfwa.org/about/join-us/sfwa ... uirements/) consider $0.06/word a baseline amount to be considered a professional author. Five cents, with a cut of royalties, seems fair to me.

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Re: Advice on Possible Contest

#10 Post by Imperf3kt » Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:49 pm

The thing is, this is a contest for a complete script where only one person gets paid.
Personally, I'd change the entry requirements from completed script, to a first edit pass draft of the first chapter and a rough storymap for the rest of the routes.

Edited to add:
And of course, incase it isn't obvious, you should adjust the 'prize' accordingly. I'm not sure what would be fair here, but as it currently stands, isn't particularly good for either side.
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Re: Advice on Possible Contest

#11 Post by ComputerArt.Club » Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:48 pm

Imperf3kt wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:49 pm
The thing is, this is a contest for a complete script where only one person gets paid.
Personally, I'd change the entry requirements from completed script, to a first edit pass draft of the first chapter and a rough storymap for the rest of the routes.
I agree with Imperf3kt here. Asking for 50,000 words with multiple endings from multiple authors and then only paying one of them the bare minimum is pushing things too far, and if people don’t stand up for themselves this will become the norm.

Consider how demanding it is to write and edit such a long story. This is in a completely different league to asking for a book cover, logo design or a character design.
traineroflegend wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:51 am

Contests for book covers exist and are done successfully: https://99designs.com/book-cover-design/contests.
https://mobile.digitalartsonline.co.uk/ ... 99designs/

Honestly though, I think you should read this website posted by another user:
https://www.nospec.com/

Abandon spec work, choose a single author based on their portfolio and commission a work. It will end up being better quality and you can be part of the conversation as the piece is written. Treat creatives with the respect they deserve. As I wrote on another thread earlier, you wouldn’t order 10 pizzas from different delivery services and then only pay for one. Furthermore, think of how much more work is required to do this compared to the process of making a single pizza. Don’t exploit creatives. Treat them and their time with the respect they deserve.

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Re: Advice on Possible Contest

#12 Post by Zelan » Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:49 pm

ComputerArt.Club wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:48 pm
As I wrote on another thread earlier, you wouldn’t order 10 pizzas from different delivery services and then only pay for one. Furthermore, think of how much more work is required to do this compared to the process of making a single pizza. Don’t exploit creatives. Treat them and their time with the respect they deserve.
I will readily admit that I have no professional writing experience, so I don't know the ins and outs of this market. However, I still don't see what's so heinous about a contest like this one as long as the terms are fair and clearly defined. As long as the winning writer is compensated fairly for their work, and the others retain the rights to their scripts to use as they please, it seems like everyone participating comes out with something in the end. Unlike a fresh pizza, a script won't go bad after a week - it could still be published later on, since the guidelines on the storyline itself are so loose.

I do see the point of maybe loosening the restrictions on things like number of endings, stats, etc., and maybe having it be a draft instead of a full script, but this is why OP asked for advice, after all - nothing is set in stone yet and they want to figure out the best way to approach this.

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Re: Advice on Possible Contest

#13 Post by puppetbomb » Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:26 pm

I'm assuming that a script for your contest will be for a Visual Novel style (BG layer, character sprite with a text box), which is much more involved than an entry for Choice of Game's contest. Especially if you decide to ask for a RenPy file.

Choice of Game is basically a digital Choose Your Own Adventure book, but a usable, outsourced script for a Visual Novel will need to have to specify things like scene changes, transitions, character expression changes, dialog breaks, flags and planning how stat points will be distributed.

It's definitely more work, since stats also add an element of game design.

On that note, I agree with Zelan: I think you should loosen up on the restrictions. Five endings sounds like a lot (unless you're allowing Game Over and joke endings), and cut out viewable stats since it's not really writing.

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Re: Advice on Possible Contest

#14 Post by Zelan » Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:17 pm

puppetbomb wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:26 pm
I'm assuming that a script for your contest will be for a Visual Novel style (BG layer, character sprite with a text box), which is much more involved than an entry for Choice of Game's contest. Especially if you decide to ask for a RenPy file.

Choice of Game is basically a digital Choose Your Own Adventure book, but a usable, outsourced script for a Visual Novel will need to have to specify things like scene changes, transitions, character expression changes, dialog breaks, flags and planning how stat points will be distributed.

It's definitely more work, since stats also add an element of game design.

On that note, I agree with Zelan: I think you should loosen up on the restrictions. Five endings sounds like a lot (unless you're allowing Game Over and joke endings), and cut out viewable stats since it's not really writing.
Choice of Games may contain only writing, but they also tend to be very heavily branching, have a lot of variables, use stat systems, and the like. Also, the contest that YPressGames referred to actually had a minimum wordcount of 100,000. That's quite a bit of work as well, but the contest was quite successful; I think this is what YPressGames is trying to emulate.

That aside, I definitely agree with you that if any requirement should go, it should be the stat element. It's something that a writer might not have experience implementing, and IMO it's not really necessary to have a fun VN. Some people even dislike stat-raisers and refuse to play them. For me personally, I don't mind them, but I won't automatically play something just because it's a stat-raiser either, so I don't see the point of including it in a contest meant to be open to writers with litter programming experience.

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Re: Advice on Possible Contest [CLOSED]

#15 Post by ypressgames » Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:34 am

Thanks, everyone. We've decided not to proceed with a contest. We appreciate the input.
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