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So, I have this idea for a huge game that would take years to develop if I did it on my own (with help from friends) I've learned a lot about game programming, but nowhere near enough to start coding the thing itself.

It would still take at least two years if I started a business and hired programmers

How much will open-sourcing it speed up the project? Should I open-source it, given that I have no code to show for my learning in this kind of programming? Can an open-source project be directed to keep the original idea alive, or will it often veer away from the creator's original idea?

Can an open-source project receive any kind of reliable funding (can we have investors, for example)?

Should I make a business and hire programmers to get it moving, and then open-source it?

If that ends up being the case, I'd like to send the full specification to anyone who wants to see it.

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This is off-topic for SO. –  razlebe Jul 9 '11 at 13:51
    
Not an answer, just a comment. If your idea is so gigantic, it will survive the test of time and therefore I suggest you keep it between you and your friends. As all the other answers have noted, no one is going to give free time to an idea without even a prototype. –  Patrick Hughes Jul 9 '11 at 17:53
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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jul 9 '11 at 13:56

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6 Answers

The world is full of gigantic game ideas.

I could list a dozen big, very promising, open source game dev projects I could participate in (and hundreds of similarly big, but dead/failed projects). Or, of course, I could get a job as a game developer, and actually get paid while working on a gigantic game idea.

So what makes your project special? Is your gigantic idea better than everyone else's gigantic ideas? Is it more likely to actually be finished? Be successful? What will your contribution be?

In short, what separates you from the literally thousands of people who ask for help on "how do I turn my huge brilliant game idea into a game" on various game development forums, and who are subsequently told "you probably won't, unless you write it yourself. Ideas just aren't enough"?

Open-sourcing the project makes it possible for others to contribute to your project, but it still depends on strong, competent leadership, in order to:

  • convince others to want to contribute, and
  • keep your contributors interested. Are you going to give them any control over the direction of the project? Or is your idea nailed down in every detail, and no change to the game is allowed without your approval? In other words, will people be working on the team's idea, or on your idea?

(By the way, let me guess, it's a MMORPG ;))

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or more usually.. "how do I get you to do all the work while I get all the rewards for my awesome idea?" –  gbjbaanb Jul 9 '11 at 17:58
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If you cannot code, you need to bring money for those who can.

I would suggest you instead ask Valve or Blizzard or id software if they need a good game designer, and let them hire you.

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You're unlikely to get any help on an open source project that has no actual source. Why should $programmer work for free on something that hasn't even started, vs all the other dead game projects out there? You're unlikely to get investors on the idea of "we'll take your money, then wait for people to work for us for free without doing anything ourselves".

Open-source projects generally need someone to actually get the project started, and to the point where it looks interesting enough to work on. If you're not prepared to do that, you won't have much luck. Ideas are a dime a dozen, and I for one would prefer to work on projects based on my own ideas, before someone else's :)

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First have a solid code base, which shows some nice working features, then you have a decent chance that programmers will join to the project.

Creating an open-source project idea and hoping that people start to implement it doesn't sound viable to me.

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Dude. There are so many people throwing down ideas from 6 yr old kids to soccer moms. Anyone (yes anyone) can dream up an awesome game. Few can implement it.

Programmers didn't spend years learning the craft so they can slave away on someone's 2 cent idea. If you have $$$ to play a living salary that's a different story. But you probably don't.

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The only way that an idea alone is going to carry a whole commercial-grade product is if you flesh out the idea to a fully developed business plan with which you can demonstrate your leadership ability, which is important to projects open-source or not, and convince everyone you need to convince - developers, investors and other contributors that their time will not be wasted.

Most new IT projects fail. Developers know it as well as investors do. Your business plan will be your roadmap to success, the important part of your idea. Convince people that their time and money will be well spent - that is, sell your idea to them - and you just might have a chance.

Probably not though.

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