We do a lot of writing here at The Escapist. While it’s true that the vast majority of our content is produced by writers for hire, the backbone of any editorial enterprise, we here at Team Humidor do our fair share. Day in, day out, we dredge the bottom of gaming’s vast lake to find where the bodies are hidden. But sometimes that lake goes dry.
Call it writer’s block, lack of sleep, excess of bourbon or simply not caring, but we, too, occasionally run out of ideas. We can understand, then, what it’s like to be a game designer.
Starting a studio is easy: Sell someone with money on your idea and then release a hit game … OK, so maybe not so easy. To make matters worse for first-time designers, it can be devilishly hard to even get the word out about your game – even if it’s good. Still, anybody can get lucky once, make a game that’s not only good, but well-received and profitable. But to do it again and again and again requires planning, patience and skill, commodities usually sold separately – if at all.
It’s been said that all games are the same basic frame plastered with different art, and although there’s truth behind that lie, the fact is dreaming up a game idea is almost as hard as building the game itself. Thank Vishnu, then, for licenses.
From comic books, movies, toys and games, the stacks of games based on hit properties is almost as high as the copies of ET: the Extra Terrestrial buried in the New Mexico desert – and many of them are just as bad. Licensed games are relatively inexpensive to make, easier to finance than “some guy’s” vision and almost guaranteed to make money. This makes them an attractive alternative to going it alone, staking your career (and studio) on an unproven, unknown idea, and when you’re dealing with a property people already like (or at least know about), the battle is halfway won. Plus, it gives us something to write about, which is always a good thing.
In this week’s issue of The Escapist, Issue 104 “Golden Ticket,” Kieron Gillen talks to the creators of LEGO Star Wars; Shawn Williams peeks under the hood at Turbine, the developers behind Lord of the Rings Online; IGDA President Jason Della Rocca looks at the financial realities of original IPs vs. licensed properties; and Erin Hoffman examines the role of football in game design.