Why many wannabes fail (or, Developer IP Part I)

Have you ever, for whatever reason, rediscovered a blog you completely forgot about? Well, Josh just linked to Psychochild’s blog that I had somehow completely forgotten about. I like the guy, and I like his blog. While Josh points to a post on free speech, I was also drawn to a post on intellectual property in games.

I went to Full Sail, maybe you’ve heard of it. I was in their Game Design and Development program. And one surprising thing I discovered in going to a game-centric school program is that from my angle, the Industry looks a lot like the comic book industry. Often the coolest thing to do is play with the big boys toys. Many aspiring comic creators just want to work for Marvel. Many aspiring videogame creators just want to work on the next Final Fantasy, or with Blizzard or Nintendo. And that’s why some of them never make it. They graduate, even doing excellent in class, and apply to four jobs that they want at companies they generally (as entry level applicants) have no chance at getting jobs at. And then they give up either going to application development or stop programming completely.

These people don’t want to make their own games, they’re just fans of existing IP. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a fan; I’m a fan of many characters/series/lines/etc. And I’m not talking the majority of wannabes here. But if you’re a film fan, your goal probably isn’t to make a new Nightmare on Elm Street movie. You may love the line, but that’s someone else’s IP. You should be making your own. Something that’s important to you. That’s why I’m amazed when a short while back I saw a post at Scott Miller‘s blog in which he said:

A good industry friend of mine is trying to start a new studio with some well known developers. He wrote to me: Scott, I’ve been making the rounds, pitching that idea for a new development studio — where we retain the IP. Not an easy sell — but no one has officially passed yet. Everyone asks — “Why do you care so much about owning the IP?” I say, “So I can someday sell it, like 3D Realms!”

It’s 2005 for Christ’s sake. If a Big Name wants to make a movie off of your IP, but they required that they own all of the rights, you should laugh at them. If a Big Name wants to distribute your album, but wanted to own your catalog, you should call them insane. If a Big Name offers to print your comic but demands that own your character/story/artwork, they’re just idiots to think you’d agree. If you believe in your work, why wouldn’t you want to own it?

But, why do some wannabes just want to work on others’ IP? I have no damn clue.