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10 Game Inventor's Tips

10 Game Inventor's Tips From the Founder of Battlefield Sports

Here are 10 game inventor's tips from the award-winning, patent-holding game designer.  Peter Lander wrote his first video game on a Commodore VIC-20 saving his work on a casette tape while he was still at school. This was before floopy disks were common or DVD drives and apps were invented.

commodore vic 20Today, his patented SATR laser tag system has been sold in more than 45 countries.

No matter how good you think your idea is, MOST LIKELY somebody else has already done something similar. But it might just be possible to create "a better mouse trap".

As Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous phrase goes "if a person can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse trap than his neighbor, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to their house". This phrase has become a metaphor for the power of innovation.

You want to discover what has already done and how you can make it better. It is your chance to make something fresher and better.

Tip 1.    If you have an idea, write it down.

Tip 2.    In fact it is a good idea to keep a log book of your iterations. A diary of your invention's evolution. One day this sort of detailed record-keeping might be important in proving your intellectual legitimacy. For example in the development of SATR we have hundreds, no thousands, of emails and documents about the project. There's requirements documents, test plans, scripts, alogithms, not to mention the tens of thousands of lines of code. Besides, critically analyzing your own work may assist you in considering your ideas in ways you might have not yet imagined.

Tip 3.    It is also a good idea to officially register your idea. SATR, for example has an International filing date, December 20st 2006, for the SATR US patent. There are several ways to register an idea such as copyright registration, registered design and patent application.

Tip 4.    Get your legal house in order. If you employ sub-contractors make sure they have assigned copyright of the work to you. If you have employees then this is usually covered in their standard employment contract but it can't hurt to include an explict clause when they sign on.

Tip 5.    Play lots of games. You can learn a lot by playing. Play live games, play video games. Play indoor laser tag, play outdoor laser tag. Play video games. Experience as much as you can.

Tip 6.    Once you've got your idea, prototype it.

Tip 7.    Then play test it. The alpha version of the SATR system, for example, was play tested by a small group (around 25) of veteran live gamers. If your first forray go doesn’t work that well, don’t worry, your cadre will be forgiving.

Tip 8.    Then beta test. We field tested the system with paying customers. Then we had a soft launch in November 2008 in Australia. Then eventually, SATR version 1 was officially launched in London in April 2009.

Tip 9.    In all these stages we got feedback from the gamers and the battlefield operators. This feedback was used to improve the system.
For example after countless of games played, and input from battlefield operators from around the planent we launched SATR version 2 in December 2013. (SATR2.2 came out in January 2016.)

Tip 10.    Enjoy the journey. You never know, you might just be the one who will build a better mouse trap.