I received a real kick in the guts today and thought I’d share my experience as a warning to other potential collaborators.
I met up with this guy via an Adventuron game jam late in 2019. He had this idea for a game and was looking for someone to write it for him. It looked like an interesting project, so I took it on as a favour to him. I poured my heart and soul into that game. It was written in Inform 6 and compiled to Glulx. It was really polished with music and graphics - probably the biggest thing I’ve ever done and of commercial quality. It went through two rounds of play testing and my play testers loved it.
In the meantime, my collaborator had contracted other companies to write a book and an RPG based on the game. I haven’t seen these, as they’re not finished yet. I understand that he has paid big money for this, whereas I received nothing.
I planned to enter my game into IFComp 2020. I did the cover graphics during the weekend and thought I’d send it to my collaborator for his opinion, as I hadn’t heard from him for several months. Imagine my surprise when he sent me a software licence agreement to hand over all rights to my game to his company (Blue Dream Games) and send 70% of any competition winnings to him!
Apart from the music and graphics, this game is 100% my work, so, needless to say, I told him to get f*cked (but in more diplomatic terms). As there is only 3 weeks until entries close and I don’t have time to chase around seeking legal advice, I will have to withdraw my game from IFComp.
So, be warned, do not take on any collaboration projects unless you are 100% satisfied that the other party is not going to try to rip you off and make money out of your efforts. There is no such thing as a gentleman’s agreement.