Your Own IP?



I always enjoy your posts man. although I do have to get a cup of coffee and a good sit down before I read them. :smiley:

There are some fantastic points you brought up-things that I really think people should take to heart when looking at creating their own IP’s.

Speciically, your views on creating animated films, graphic novels, games, and novels-and the strengths and weaknesses that the mediums provide.

Something that I think that people should realise, is that an IP is so much more than just a short film. Its the universe that your film exists in. Star Wars is a really good example of this. The IP is so much more than the films. What makes it special, and expansive, is all of the books, comics, games, cartoons, action figures, card games…
This thread isnt really about creating a short film, novel, or single piece of artwork-but rather about creating your own worlds that all of those things can be encompassed in. I think that people are getting bogged down in the details of creating that one DEFINITIVE piece of artwork that defines their world-and I really do think that they are missing out on creating so much more! A really good IP should be able to encompass any medium in it-from single posters to feature films. THATS whats so exciting about it!


Ok I need to bring him into the conversation becuase he is prime example of what you are talking about:
George Lucas StarWars deal with Fox over its IP.

That deal he did in the 70’s over sequel and merchandizing rights is honestly a thing of beauty. It is testament of the power IP can have.


I want to cry, i just spent two hours writing a reply, i was about to hit reply and decided to go and find another link and the browser hanged :confused:

Ok so i’ll lose everything else i was writing and just add the links of interest;

Great post Chris, i love threads like this, hope it stays a live for a while :slight_smile:

A few successful IPs that i found inspiring recently … Very inspiring IP A great series of adventure games created by Jonathan Boakes i believe, though i think he might have expanded into a team with recent success. The work of Knut Muller Blackwell series

Check out bigfishgames, love or hate them, they’re all created by very small teams, often indie style and hold a very big market.

A few links to the various game development platforms;

Chris - a few thoughts…

Create a demo, but keep the players wanting more at the end. They should walk away from it wanting to know what happens next and convince them to go out and buy the game itself.

Consider a pre release campaign that could include developing a series of viral videos.

Create a Directors Cut special edition option? with added features, alternative endings, making of, developers blog, maps, concept art, wallpapers, scores etc … ( i love these and always buy the options with added extras :slight_smile:

Create a donation system. Look at the Worm World link above to see how successful this can be. That guy did a really great job of promoting himself and his IP.

Might be a little ambitious, but creating a toy/figure isn’t as impossible as it sounds, if you have a distinct character design, ship etc using 3d printing techniques.



I guess this is not considered cool like other peoples stuff, but I have a little character that I write stories for and I’m trying to get some funding to make a proper game for kids with her.
I just think there’s so much crap out there when it comes to games for kids, and the characters like Thomas the tank engine have lousy interfaces for touch screen gaming.

So, I want to make something intuitive, funny and feelgood witch lots of good storytelling. Something that’s so interesting that learning really isn’t obvious learning

Don’t ever doubt your work, it looks very cool to me :slight_smile: i think maybe a touch grimey but otherwise very commercial. i see that character and can imagine her in adventure games, interactive storybooks, TV shorts. etc

Check out Simons Cat. Another great IP that’s had a lot of success from a very simple character design;



Wow, this is a fantastic thread. I’ve always been interested in developing your own IP and absolutely love reading everyone’s opinions/ideas on this subject. I really do feel that the most creative and enjoyable content comes directly from artists, and given the explosion of digital distribution in recent years, I think it’s an exciting and opportunistic time for more people to just get together and make something great and hopefully make a living out of it. This is my personal goal and I hope to see many of you succeed at it!

Thank you for making this point! Your post actually made me think about an IP I’ve been slowly developing for the past year that has more or less been stagnant. I’ve had my mind so focused on pushing this creative project out as a 6 episode mini series that I hadn’t taken the time to even consider a different medium. At first glance, I’m thinking an indie game would be more in-line with my personal skills and far more manageable than the animation I saw in my head initially. :thumbsup:


Thank you for making this point! Your post actually made me think about an IP I’ve been slowly developing for the past year that has more or less been stagnant. I’ve had my mind so focused on pushing this creative project out as a 6 episode mini series that I hadn’t taken the time to even consider a different medium. At first glance, I’m thinking an indie game would be more in-line with my personal skills and far more manageable than the animation I saw in my head initially.

There’s a good point in there. A lot of people have these grand ideas that have little fruition because they’re too ambitious, even if they have all the skills to bring a decent shot together. Bringing a few hundred shots together is a different story. I’ve seen a lot of developers recently, especially in iphone apps, dividing content into chapters. I think this is a great idea for a lot of reasons. It allows you to test the market in a relatively quick turn around with the idea, you get something out there while continuing to develop the rest of the project, assuming it does well, if not you can it early and focus on other ideas. The player understands the chapter format and doesn’t feel like they’re being conned with only a single level of a game, you can also get away with charging more for over all products again without the customer feeling negative; by that i mean a single game on the iphone app store say $0.59 - 2.99, well if you have say 6 chapters, each at 0.59 each you eventually make $3.54 i personally think $3.54 is a touch high for a game on the app store, but if i was paying for it in chapters of 59 cents each, i wouldn’t really notice. The chapter platform also gives a sense of anticipation, you can leave the chapter on a critical moment leaving the player wanting more. There’s an adventure game on the app store called Absentia, the first chapter, its very basic, takes a few mins to complete, but hell i keep checking the app store for chapter two some 3 months later.

Adding to the above, you can also develop future chapters based on the critique of the first few.

Anyway, a few thoughts.



Yup, that’s the show I was thinking of.

I think this is a very good point. There are several reasons why one would want to work towards developing an expansive IP rather than just focusing on a single work.

  1. Time to build an audience: If you are creating projects as an individual or a small group, you aren’t going to have the manpower to turn out material quickly. Nor are you able to spend on some huge world-wide media blitz that informs a large number of people about your project all at once. Instead, you are going to depend on word-of-mouth, online discovery, people stumbling across your work in newsgroups and archives, etc. If you just created a single film, then the train has moved on and your newly found potential fan is left feeling like they missed the boat. But if three or four years later you are still working on the same IP, then the fan may discovered an earlier part of the work, but they can still come in and have the IP be fresh. This will make them more likely to stick around and talk about it because it is part of the present, not just part of the past.

  2. Long tail: If you are intending to make money from your work, then it helps to have several sources of income to rely on. Most of your sales will be concentrated in the weeks/months immediately after you release a new work, and then fall to where you sell just a handful of copies every week/month. If you have 10 different projects (even across different media) that each sell a few copies every month, it can all add up to a worthwhile income stream.

  3. Loss Leaders: When you are an individual or small team without a huge marketing budget, one of your greatest enemies is obscurity. No one will view your work if they don’t know about it. Also, few people will put money down on an unknown property to view it the first time. So you wind up needing to release your work for free and try to spread it around a popular portal like YouTube or some of the social networking sites so that there is a low barrier to entry for people to discover you. But giving things away for free doesn’t make much income. However, if you are developing a larger IP around multiple projects or in multiple media, then the first free project serves as advertising, and you make your sales off of the other projects and merchandise. Through the free work the fan knows what to expect from your other work, and by keeping within the same IP you are promising them consistency with what they already like.

  4. Cross Pollination: As mentioned by Lunatique, some mediums already have built-in audiences. If you can release something from your IP into that medium, you can possibly get that audience to check out your other works. So fans may learn of your work through a graphic novel or online comic, come to your site, and wind up buying the soundtrack, poster, tshirt, or animated short/film. Music fans may hear part of the soundtrack and follow it back to your site. Likewise with indie game fans, or people browsing online galleries where you are showing your poster art.

  5. Fan Work: You can build a very loyal audience if they feel that they are part of the process. When you offer them a larger world to play in, rather than a single one-shot story, they will stick around and become involved with your property. If you are an individual or small group, you don’t have the manpower to explore absolutely every aspect of your world in every medium available. Encourage your fans to write fan fic, draw fan art, build fan-made games or levels in other game engines around your property and characters. Encourage youTube remixes or music videos of your released work. Your own work will still be cannon and what people refer back to and purchase. It will also likely be higher quality than anything the fans are producing, so they aren’t going to be displacing your or stealing your ideas. But if you have a community of hundreds of fans creating their own take on your IP, you’d better believe they will be sticking around and buying the next thing that you release.

  6. Collaboration: If you do find some fans or other creators who are interested in your IP, bring them on board. If you are creating a graphic novel, let someone else write the novel or create a different graphic novel in the same world. Heck, each of you should be able to profit from your own work. If you create an animated film, encourage the people who did the music to release their own cut of the sound track, with or without additional material they may have created on their own. The goal is to grow the audience and fan base for your IP so that the different projects can feed off of each other for popularity and sales. If you are doing a 3D film, you may even be able to collaborate on common assets, sets, or designs. You don’t have to open source everything… it would be fine to have several independent creators contributing to a common library behind the scenes. I’ve seen some web-comics take this approach. The Thieves World novels did something similar where different authors wrote their own stories within the same world (managed by an editor), and then the collected stories were released as anthologies. This way each creator can work on a smaller, more manageable project (short stories in this case), but the collected work is large enough to stand on its own as something people are willing to buy and feel they got their money’s worth (a book).

  7. Trust: Finally, by continuing to develop works in the same IP, you build a level of trust with your audience. You show that you are a committed to the world, and will continue to help it grow. The fans therefore are more willing to invest themselves emotionally in your work, and stick around for the long run. They are willing to become part of the story, and not have it disappear just when they were really getting into it. I run across people online all the time who don’t want to pick up a TV series because they know it has been canceled and they don’t want to invest the time into it only to have it end. If the IP is ongoing and thus holds mystery in the future, your fans will be intrigued and stick around to see how things turn out.



Creating IP’s can be frustrating and empowering all at the same time. And you have to wear a dozen hats in order to get to where you want to go. I consider myself somewhat lucky because I operate a small business that primarily focuses on e-learning resources which keeps cash flowing, but for me it’s a constant intent that drives me back to writing and doing illustrations or CG work that supports my of my ongoing IP’s.

I did read Robert McKee’s book on Story, and even attended his seminar. Great experience to get ideas going. Read a collection of other books on story dev … and I even have first draft of a completed script. Each time I read another book or take another course, I end up rewriting and enhancing my script.

Next for me is the Pixar Animation Master Class coming up at the end of July in Montreal.

I figure, best approach is to enjoy the process of ongoing learning and creating, better to be the tortoise … and eventually cross the line with something that is a winner.


) Trust: Finally, by continuing to develop works in the same IP, you build a level of trust with your audience. You show that you are a committed to the world, and will continue to help it grow. The fans therefore are more willing to invest themselves emotionally in your work, and stick around for the long run. They are willing to become part of the story, and not have it disappear just when they were really getting into it. I run across people online all the time who don’t want to pick up a TV series because they know it has been canceled and they don’t want to invest the time into it only to have it end. If the IP is ongoing and thus holds mystery in the future, your fans will be intrigued and stick around to see how things turn out.

Very strong point. I’ve really felt that with TV shows recently, Event, No ordinary family and FireFly to mention a few. I was recently watching a sci-fi TV show called Outcasts, i hit the fifth episode which was beginning to get interesting then i discovered the show was cancelled, i really want to watch the rest of the season but can’t bring myself to do so.

If you can develop a world and continue to develop this at a reasonable pace and remain committed then your audience will feel a sense of security and trust. There’s nothing worse than investing yourself in a story that has a lot of promise but then axed just as it becomes interesting. Another reason why indie developers warrant far more interest; the projects they’re developing are something they feel passionate about, and don’t suffer the pressure of someone else micro managing every choice based around viewing figures.



Whoah Lunatique, that was huge! :slight_smile: Good advice though.

I think the graphic novel is such a great option because it doesn’t just get your story out there to a fanbase eager for more cool stuff for their bookshelves, but it also shows potential investors/film producers exactly how the film could look. A concept art showcase! :slight_smile: Also a much faster way of getting your IP into the public sphere first, which is so important.


Yeah, they are wordy, they rarely have useless fluff–it’s all solid content. :smiley:

It really depends on what kind of story you want to tell. If you have a heartbreaking and intimate story about a man who lost his child to an accident, and how it broke up his marriage, then that’s not really the kind of story suitable as a plotform-neutral IP that you can branch out from and continue to grow into a multi-medium empire.

I have epic sci-fi/fantasy stories, as well as serious literary efforts that are much more intimate, but sadly only one lifetime, so I must pick and choose which ones I spend more time on.

Promise, my “definitive” project (by definitive, I mean it’s likely the one piece of work that people will associate with you the most in your lifetime–IF you ever complete it), has been re-envisioned in different mediums and formats over the last twelve years–from graphic novel, short story, animated short, TV series (at the request of Optidigit/Android Blues), multimedia novel, and now currently, simply as a novel, but it’s not the kind of IP you spin an empire off of, because it’s not that kind of a universe. On the other hand, Steven Stahlberg and I co-created an IP that’s a sci-fi adventure/comedy series, and it’s got a rich and unique universe that could totally be used for multitude of different projects in different mediums.

Planning the IP is the most fun–you imagine the world, the characters, the various factions and forces, relationships, made-up history, and so on. You could spend a lifetime just doing all the pre-production work because a rich fictional universe can contain just as much nuance and diversity as the real world we live in. Anyone with a decent imagination can imagine fictional worlds, but the real challenge is execution. Without an actual piece of work that expresses to an audience what this world is like, all that pre-production would be just for your own amusement, and you could very well take it to the grave with you and no one would know or care, not to mention there won’t be a Confederacy of the Dunces after your death, because no matter how richly detailed your fictional world is, there’s nothing to show in a finished form.

So I say, sure, do your concept art, storyboards, write the universe bible, treatments, screenplays, illustrations, promo posters–whatever, BUT, never forget that unless you have something that the audience can really sink their teeth into, you essentially have nothing but a bunch of pre-production work. I know this too well because that’s what I’ve done a lot of in the past. For all the work I’ve poured into my creations, the only one that’s ever been published was Enchanted, but I have dozens and dozens more creations that will likely never see the light of day because there’s no finished form to meet an audience (other than an illustration here and there, such as Scythe Wolf, Promise…etc). If we just created IP’s instead of actually finishing something, a fire could destroy it all, but if you had finished work that’s out in the public, then no fire could ever destroy your legacy because once it meets the world in its finished, intended form, it takes on a life of its own.


I think that the main point of your post boils down to a lack of preparation with your ideas. I think that, esspecially when dealing with getting other people to work with you you need to have everything in an ordered form.
Would some sort of structured document, or template help you in organising everything together?

I really like the idea of having some sort of ‘skill swap’. Would you be willing to swap motion capture info for say, writing, or storyboarding? If you had 3 people with different skills, each developing their own IP, sharing skills would help in that area.

Part of that is my part, the other part was getting folks to follow through. You’d get one great model but it was unrealistic to think they could do ten. Then your left with just one good model but no other characters. I have gotten my act together better but doing the one man thing. I’m just going to live with my skills and go from there.

The swap would have been really cool. Problem is alot of people don’t work with writers. They think writers jobs are too easy and think they are doing the job for the writer and end up doing free work.

It would be nice to swap though but I didn’t really see that many folks developing their IP that needed mocap. IN the long run I had to sell the mocap system because I lost my job. I have a job now and good news is I’m back on track with the film but doing it on my own. And now there is mocap that is under 1000 and works good. :slight_smile:

My modeling was not too bad so I’ll live with it and still feel I can make a good product but most importantly tell the story.

Animated films - It seems most CG folks want to make animated films, since that’s the closest to what inspired them in the first place, and it could be done without a full blown animation studio. But from my observations, this type of creative endeavor is the least likely to be continually fulfilling in the long-term. We all have seen lots of animated shorts and attempts at full-length features produced over the years, and some are absolutely amazing. But if you dig deeper, you’ll see that the people who made them often said it’s so much hard work that they’re likely to never do another one, or that they spent so long working on one that it never got completed. Of all the ones that were completed, they got their 15 minutes of attention, but then what? They go right back to working for the man in some game or animation studio. We don’t hear from them again in terms of doing another IP of their own.

There might be some exceptions to this, but it is rare. And the chances of one of these animated films leading to bigger and better things? It’s also rare (such as Shane Ackers, Neill Blomkamp, Ruairi Robinson). So essentially, the animated CG film route is likely a one-shot effort and after that, you’re likely to be burned out. There are very, very few people who continuously make animated films one after another that’s their own IP, unless they were lucky enough to have it become their job to develop and produce IP’s.

I’ve seen alot of films and such lead to good things. If you make it they will come. I’ve seen people hired to work at a great company, film deals, and doing their own IP down the road. I think as the future goes there will be more just like in the Live action counterparts. I think more folks would make animated films if they could make a living doing it. I don’t think anyone has hit that point just yet but I think it will happpen.
Personally I’d say create a film and serialize it. 3 minute increments spread over a period of time, ,build an audience and use the time to build the next film.

Quality can be done in a quick time utilizing various shortcuts.
Jeff Lew, did about 3 minutes a month on his film. He did a lot of in camera stuff vs using 20 differant maps to color 1 character. He used A/O and a standard pass. There is also mocap and facial capture that is available for smaller studios.

It no longer should take years to do a 3-10 short. You have folks like Gareth Edwards doing tons of shots quickly, like in MOnsters.

It is a great time to make you own IP. Novels, books, comics, animations galore.

The thing is that good storytelling is good storytelling.

You know Robert it might be cool to have a contest for best IP and then CGtalk put support behind it. You know the Blender groups, Animation master groups and various other groups have created some shorts. Why not get the community behind a certain project to be determined by the forum. That would be kind of cool. Folks can contribute a model, animation and other. I wonder how quickly a movie could be made then? Just a thought.


A few months ago I had written CGSociety’s CEO a long email about how CGSociety should create a platform for IP development, so we have a dedicated media platform for various IP’s to shine and build an audience, instead of floating out there on their own without the backing of an established community. We can have animated series, online comics, indie game episodes, collaborative projects…etc. We can also publish “The Art of” books, behind the scenes DVD’s, as well as sell merchandise like toys and stationary. It’ll be a mutually beneficial arrangement because CGS will take all the commercialization headaches out of the process and take over that aspect, while the creators simply focus on creating content, which in turn will generate additional traffic for CGS, which could translate into more advertising revenue. The creators also don’t have to compete against camwhore chicks, crass college humor, and celebrity videos at portals like youtube in order to get attention–the portal CGS provides will already have a built-in audience. In a way, it’s sort of like what Penny Arcade TV is doing, but it’ll be even more diversified.

I have no idea if my idea will be taken seriously. I’m curious what you guys think about this arrangement.


Honestly, your idea is actually pretty awesome.


I love the idea, and I think that it’s possible to find funding for it from external sources (like kickstarter as I mentioned before).

It does feel like the “adventure game genre” have been on decline for quite a while. I miss the glorydays of monkey island :slight_smile: What do you guys think it would have to take in order for that genre to gain popularity?


From everything I’ve heard, the genre is still popular - just not with developers/publishers. They require a huge amount of time & resources for not a lot of finacial return.

Granted there are huge numbers of indie/small projects keeping adventure games alive, but the majority are a very low key affair by comparison to the classics & many are derivative. Personally, I think Lucasarts ruined everything by creating such rich (and expensive) games in their heyday that no-one can compete on that level today.

That said, I’m certain no expert on the subject & would absolutely love to be proven wrong! :smiley:


Adventure games have simply evolved and hybridized with other genres like action, RPG, FPS, platformers…etc. The point and click mechanic is just too boring and no longer visceral enough compared to the game mechanics today, but the “spirit” of adventuring, puzzles, dialogue trees, varied environments…etc have all found their way into other genres of games. Even a game like Heavy Rain has a strong adventure game vibe to it.

If technology since the beginning of games had been very advanced, I don’t think point and click mechanic would have existed in the first place. It only existed because of the limitations of technology back then.

I thought Dreamfall was a promising example of how to modernize the classic adventure game formula, but too bad it didn’t do that well (and it didn’t feel quite as magical as The Longest Journey, but the mechanics had nothing to do with it).

In a way RPG’s are so similar to adventure games. If you took away the leveling and the item management, then add puzzles, then you pretty much have adventure games. Both have dialogue trees, storytelling as the main focus, branching storylines, exploring worlds…etc.


I’ve never seen the clause that restrictive in any film contract I’ve signed - typically it only applies to anything you do at work (a standard work-for-hire arrangement). The clause makes no reference to any creative work you do outside of work.

Even the contracts which were heavily lawyered up by the much larger parent company - which had clauses in them about not bribing public officials (in vfx?!) - weren’t that heavy when it comes to creative work done outside the terms of your employment.


I’m working on a short in my spare time, taking place in New Orleans. It pushes me learning new stuff.


My impression is that this is more common in the game industry. I have friends that had to deal with it in the past when they took on freelance work in totally different industries (such as illustrating book covers). When the game companies they worked for found out, they were not happy at all. They want you to dedicate all of your creativity to them, and not split it between working for them and your personal career.

I usually ask about this when I interview for a job. Doing personal creative work is extremely important to me, so if the company is really strict about this issue, I probably wouldn’t take the job.