Desiging a game based on existing characters


Hello. I was wondering if you could help answer a few questions I have regarding the videogaming industry for me?

I am going to give you a scenario to help explain a current situation for a friend of mine who is just starting a company.

A new video game developing company has just opened and they have very brilliant ideas about making a game. The head director has an idea and storyline for a game he wants to make. He's got the plans made, he knows what will happen in the game, he has made storyboards for the game. He knows what features he and his team will make on the game, what fmv movies he will have and what will take place in them, etc. Basically he has a good vision of what it will look like and is really determined to make this game and put alot of effort into it.

The only problem is that this game he wants to make is a sequel of an already popular game by Squaresoft. Squaresoft is a publishing and developing company that has made and distributed games like Final Fantasy, Parasite Eve 1&2,Chrono Cross among dozens others. He really wants to make this game and thinks that maybe Squaresoft will let his company make this game, if he tells them about his plans and makes a demo of it for them. But he doesn't know what to do?

What do you think he should do next and how do you think he should go about doing it? What do you think he should do with Squaresoft especially if he wants to make this game for them, And how would he go about working with that company?

My friend is in a very similar situation, I told him that I have heard of company's like Squaresoft publishing their own games and getting other company's to make or develop one of their games like Final Fantasy, and Parasite Eve 2.But I'm not sure about what he should do or how to go about doing it and how to go about getting involved with a company like that.

Could you please help us especially by answering our questions or by giving us any helpful information. We would really appreciate it!!

Thank you! Sincerely, Kendra

Well I'd have to start off by saying that your chances are slim to none.

If you really think you guys can do it you are going to have to really really prepare. Make a few FMVs (Full Motion Videos) on your own time with full soundtrack at least 2 or 3 minutes long. Basically you want to make something at least as impressive as the last Squaresoft commercial for the game you are designing a sequel to. Draw all the storyboards, write out the story, the design, every detail you possibly can. The point is to show them that (a) you have the talent to do the game...this is what the FMV is for and 🍺 that you actually have thought it through...this is what the design and storyboards are for. Also include a resource list if you can. How many enemies are there going to be, how many animations per enemy, how many attacks, how long is each one going to take to model in 3d, texture, animate, and program. All together, how many people is the game going to take and for how long.

Then, contact Squaresoft. You'll probably need to contact their US offices. You'll need to ask for a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). An NDA basically says that if they don't buy your idea and then they come out with a game that seems very similar you can't sue them. Read it over but otherwise it's pretty standard and you can pretty much be sure nothing will actually be stolen even if a game that seems similar comes out later. The reason is that pretty much nobody that's actually working on making games will look at your proposal. Only people in management will look at it. The problem is most ideas are not that new at a basic level. "Save the girl", "Fight the dragon", "Carry a sword and shield" etc. If your design uses those ideas and then they come out with a game with those ideas too they didn't copy you, they are just common ideas.

So, you ask for an NDA (if they don't take submissions then you're out of luck). Otherwise you sign the NDA and send it back with your materials and somebody will look at your proposal. If you make FMVs I suggest you put them on a video tape and send the tape and then send color copies of your storyboard.

Basically the better your pitch is the more likely you are going to be able to get the project funded.

A little advice though, even though I'm sure your friend is hooked on his "sequel" it makes absolutely no sense to do one as an outsider. The reasons are many. One, you will not be the one making the money if it's a hit because the characters don't belong to you. Of course as your first game, even if it is a hit you will probably have had to sign your characters over to your publisher in order to get the deal. ⭐️ Two, you will have no control. I'll use characters from FF7 since I don't know the others well. If you have Cloud fall in love with Arela (I forgot her name) and that is central to your plot, well you may get told by Square that Cloud is not allowed to do that because that's not in his character. Or lets say you want Cloud to steal a key from somebody. You may get told that Cloud is not allowed to steal, he would never do that. The problem is that those characters are somebody else's characters and so they get to decide what they can and can't do, what they can and can't wear, what kind of settings they are allowed to go to etc. For example you may want your Cloud to travel to Hell or to the Moon but you may get told by Square that Hell does not exist in Cloud's universe nor does space travel.

I'm sure that's disappointing to hear. I know many people that want to do sequels to "The Matrix" or "Tron" or "Zelda" it's just pretty much not a good idea. Better you should just change the names of all the characters and adjust their looks enough that they are not obviously a rip-off of another story and then submit it.


⭐️ this is a pet peeve of mine. You can see people all over the net complaining that companies steal properties and rights from artists. What they don't seem to see is that it's the companies taking the risks. Especially in video games. Lets say you manage to get this game started by Squaresoft and lets say it's only 1/4th as big as FF7. Well, FF7 reportedly cost 40 million dollars. So basically Square is going to have to risk 10 million dollars on you. They are going to pay for you and your employees for a year or 2 years. If you fail to deliver (i.e., you can't make the product) they are out 10 million. What are you out? Nothing. In fact you got your entire team paid salaries for 2 years. If the game doesn't sell what are you out? Nothing. in fact you got paid for 2 years. Square is out 10 million. This is why the deal always seems to favor the publisher because they are truthfully the only ones taking any real risk.

The way around that is to fund the product yourself. Then you are the one talking the risk and you are the one that loses if you fail to finish or if your product doesn't sell. This also means you can generally keep all the rights to your characters etc. The problem is that most people can't afford to do this. (I don't know about you but I don't have 10 million spare dollars)

This is true for all "entertainment"...movies, music, games, etc. The reason is they are all very expensive and the person taking the risk (i.e., the one that could lose money) is the one that gets the rights (and most of the money) Books is the only major exception and the reason is probably pretty simple, book publishers have to risk very little money. Production costs of a book are one person and a typewriter on his own for 3 to 12 months and generally they don't pay for that anyway, the artist does it on his own.

Sorry for the lecture but most people just don't seem to get it.


I would like to become a designer
Gameboy Advanced Update + Zelda