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  Don't want my game to seem like a ripoff  (Read 4429 times)
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Offline bert

Junior Member




Miles of road and miles of code


« Posted 2006-05-07 00:12:01 »

I came up with this (to me) great idea for a game about three years ago. I developed it in my spare time (didn't get too far) and recently I pitched it to a friend. He said that it ripped off ideas from so many other games, it wasn't funny. Should I go ahead and keep plugging ahead with my project, or should I rewrite the whole entire storyline? Also, I'm open to suggestions on ideas for a fantasy RPG. I'll probably have to rewrite my storyline, and I've never made a whole game in 3D before. I'll need lots of tips and pointers, and luck.  Undecided

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Offline kevglass

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« Reply #1 - Posted 2006-05-07 00:43:30 »

All games have elements of others - don't worry about it - its normal. Write your own game, if its similar to others - so what?

Kev

Offline woogley
« Reply #2 - Posted 2006-05-07 03:31:43 »

for real, I mean technically Bejeweled takes after the concept of tetris, and hexic, and collapse, and...
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Offline Jeff

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« Reply #3 - Posted 2006-05-07 08:05:03 »

Keep your game.  Get a new friend  Cheesy

Got a question about Java and game programming?  Just new to the Java Game Development Community?  Try my FAQ.  Its likely you'll learn something!

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Offline beowulf03809

Junior Member




We live for the code, we die for the code


« Reply #4 - Posted 2006-05-08 12:29:43 »

Personally, I think it depends on how CLOSE those elements are.  If you take an honest look it should be apparent to you if it is a "rip off" or if it's just an evolution in the genre.

Most of the hottest games over the last 5-10 years have really been evolutions of previous ones.  Each new FPS is just a step up the ladder from the last one by either adding additional player interractions, greater environments or simply more eye candy...but the basic elemnts are not much different than those in Wolfenstien & Doom ( run around, collect weapons and keys, destroy pretty much everything ).  Doesn't matter if the weapons are machine guns, light sabers or plasma blasters.  The RTS world is no different.  StarCraft, WarCraft, Command & Conquer, etc all have the same basic elements.  if you picked any one of those games and described it to another gamer  they would say "yeah, but it's just like..."

How you DELIVER those elements and make them your own is what sets your game apart.  Even if you're just working on a rehash of a clasic 80s arcade game, if you do it right it can still be "yours".  However, if you're just cranking out another Tetris clone but changing it to use 3d graphics, animated background pictures, and making the squares look like glowing crystals...well, you haven't altered the game play or really given anything new.  It's still Tetris, just pretty.  Now, change it to a truely 3d environment where you are trying to build cubes instead of just lines and can rotate your entire environments and you just took the game to a new level ( although a probably unplayable one! ).

I know you won't want to give out too much of your ideas in a public forum like this but if you have any specific concerns that you wanted to address that won't give away your key elements I'm sure you'll get some good feedback.
Offline TheAnalogKid

JGO Coder


Projects: 2



« Reply #5 - Posted 2006-05-08 14:03:05 »

Quote
All games have elements of others - don't worry about it - its normal. Write your own game, if its similar to others - so what?
One question I have for a long time is how do you make sure that you don't risk to have copyrights issues by reusing elements/concepts of other games? Be visual or conceptual? For instance I can do a kind of Pacman clone that is not exactly pacman but what about the copyright issues?

Offline kappa
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« Reply #6 - Posted 2006-05-08 14:47:32 »

its perfectly ok to copy/steal/borrow idea's and you shouldn't have any problems with that, you will only run into copyright problems if you directly steal/use work from another game!
Offline TheAnalogKid

JGO Coder


Projects: 2



« Reply #7 - Posted 2006-05-08 14:59:49 »

Quote
you will only run into copyright problems if you directly steal/use work from another game!
You say use. Where is the line between being legal or not? To me it's still not clear.

Offline Kova

Senior Member





« Reply #8 - Posted 2006-05-08 16:27:38 »

I think he means if you steal / use their code. If you wrote your own no harm done, whatever it is.
Offline kevglass

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« Reply #9 - Posted 2006-05-08 17:08:07 »

Na, thats not quite true.  You'd definitely get into trouble if you use any assets (arts, sounds, music, etc) from another game. You also would have problems if you use any copyright names, for instance Joust, Tempest, Tetris - all copyright.

However, I don't believe there is a case for copyrighting ideas or mechanics - that'd be a patent. Though software patents are getting stupid now - they still don't apply in large amounts of the world and I haven't seen any high profile patents for game related stuff.

[I am not a lawyer - evidently its been pointed out to me that names are trandemarked not copyrighted Smiley]

Kev

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Offline beowulf03809

Junior Member




We live for the code, we die for the code


« Reply #10 - Posted 2006-05-08 17:14:06 »

Using your Pac Man example this would be my opinion. 

The concept is a player-controled entity which runs around a maze collecting points for exploring new parts of the maze.  He is being chased by four computer-controled entities and making contact with any of those entities kills the player.  Spread around the maze are power-up items which, for  a limited duration, give the player  the ability to destroy the enemy entities.  Destroyed enemy entities regenerate after a short period of time and return to chasing the player.

From a legal perspective, use of the same graphics and/or sound effects from PacMan would be a clear violation.  Use of "Pac" in the name for any derivitive of this concept would be treading thin ( PacElvis,  PacElmo, etc ). 

Lets say you want to get away from that risk but don't put in much effort.  You just present a basic top-down maze of colored lines, use dots for points and power ups and have ghost-like enemies chasing a player that is some basic geometric shape.  It may not be in atual violation, but it really doesn't enhance the basic game at all or add anything new or interresting.  You most likely won't get sued, but you won't get much interrest either.

Now take the maze idea and turn it into a bunch of different floor plans for old buildings, public libraries, etc.  Make the player an animated man wearing a white jump-suit with an EctoBlaster pack strapped to his back.  Make the ghosts look like animated ghosts of your favorite type ( from Casper-friendly to "13 Ghost" type haunts ).  Make the power ups be recharge canisters for the EcotBlaster.  Add some cheezy 80's pop music and you are in business.  It's still very much a Pac Man clone but now has enough new elements to stand out.

Offline TheAnalogKid

JGO Coder


Projects: 2



« Reply #11 - Posted 2006-05-08 17:20:50 »

I perfectly understand your point and I'm not talking about how to create a good game from a well known concept for a game style.

Offline beowulf03809

Junior Member




We live for the code, we die for the code


« Reply #12 - Posted 2006-05-08 17:44:10 »

Sorry if i misinterpreted.  Your question seemed to be that you had elements in your game idea which someone told you are a "rip off" and you were concerned about that.  I was trying to provide some thoughts on just because your friend believes it's a rip off it may simply be use of common elements. 

From a pure story-line perspective, it's the same.  There is ( or at least was last year ) an entire semester course at a California university which explored all the key elements of the Harry Potter series.  I heard an interresting ( long ) piece on NPR about it.  Many of her key story elements, sometimes to great detail, are "borrowed" from other literature and mythological stories.  However, she put them together in a way that was fresh, and has a financial and public following most creative souls would die for.  But if she just explained some of the basic key elements of her first story to a well-read friend that friend might have said "that's reallly just a rip off".  If she listened, where would she be now?   Huh
Offline dishmoth
« Reply #13 - Posted 2006-05-09 13:24:24 »

If you're interested, this article http://www.1up.com/do/feature?cId=3147544 has some nice examples of game "clones" leading to lawsuits.

Offline Jeff

JGO Coder




Got any cats?


« Reply #14 - Posted 2006-05-10 04:39:30 »

Quote
you will only run into copyright problems if you directly steal/use work from another game!
You say use. Where is the line between being legal or not? To me it's still not clear.

I AM NOT A LAWYER AND THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE!  FOR  THAT HIRE AN ATTORNEY.

Okay now that we are past that....

Its actually pretty easy.  A Copyright is the right to control the copying of an artistic work.  To be protected it must be a significant original work fixed in a tangible medium.  So lets break that down....

"Significant" work refers to size (not importance).  A page of text for instance is probably "significant". A paragraph might well be significant.  One or two individual words are not.  Generally if it is large enough to be recognizable as "original", it is also significant.

Original means you created it.

A tangible medium is anything you can hold.  Recording refers to being usable at a date other then its creation.  So writing something down is fixing it in a tangible medium.  Recording audio is also fixing it in a tangible medium. As is painting a painting or making a movie.

Something becomes copyright automtically to the original author as soonas  it is fixed in a tangible medium. As a good example of when something becoems copyrighted consider a street performer like a mime.  His performance itself is not, by itself, copyrighted or copyrightable.  You can watch his performance, go home and do it for your friends or even charge others to watch you do it BUT as soon as you videotape it that recording is copyright to HIM and you cannot make copies without his permission.

Somethings are considered original expression even when not concious production of art. You cannot take a picture of someones face and sell copeis of it without their permission.  As soona s you take that picture, it becomes copyright to them.

SO in the game...  ALL artwork, ALL audio and ALL code is copyright to the original authros. You cannot rip any of it out and use it yourself because that very act is making an illegal copy, even if you never make more then one copy of your game.

Keep in mind though that it is the work that is copyright NOT the idea of the work. Copyright does not protect ideas. Those are not tangible.  So you cannot grab a frame of bugs bunny from your Bugs Bunny DVD and use it in your game but you CAN have a wise-cracking rabbit who blows things up.

Now, a related but *totally seperate* issue is Trademark  law.  See my next post  on that....


Got a question about Java and game programming?  Just new to the Java Game Development Community?  Try my FAQ.  Its likely you'll learn something!

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Offline Jeff

JGO Coder




Got any cats?


« Reply #15 - Posted 2006-05-10 04:51:15 »


I AM NOT A LAWYER AND THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE!  FOR  THAT HIRE AN ATTORNEY.

Okay now that we are past that....

Trademarks are also a lot easier to understand then people often think.

A Trademark is a set of words, symbols, sounds or images used to unqiuely identify a provider of goods.  (There is a related thing called a Servicemark for providers of servuces.)

Trademark law is all about protecting companies form imitators selling to their customers under the guies of being them.  Thats its total and only purpose.  A trademark is not a copyright.  They are totally different things.

Whereas a copyright is infringed by any copying, a trademark is ONLY infringed by a use of the mark that would "confuse a reasonable consumer as to the provider of the goods (or Services in servicemarks) in question.

What does this mean?  To use an example from some time ago, saying "A D&D Supplement" on the front of my game book I am selling is infringing TSR's (ne WTOTC's) trademark D&D.  However saying "A Supplement compatable with the D&D System" would not be an infringement, particularly if my own company name was clearly displayed on the cover.

To be a trademark the trademark must:
(a) Be used in trade. If you arent currently using it to identify a product you cannot claim it is a trade mark.
(b) Must be significant.  I can't trademark the work "The" though I can trademark "The D&D System" or even D&D.
(c) Must be original and not already in use. I can trademark D&D.  I can't trademark ABC.
(d) Generally only applies to a limited scope for which it is registered. (ie D&D might be TSR/WOTC's game trademark, but they can't go after "D&D Plumbers" for infringement unless the plumbers are clearly trading on THEIR reuptation (have a castle anda dragon painted on the side of thei truck, for instance.)

I bring TSR up for a good reason. They did a LOT of damage to a lot of people's understanding of Trademark law near the end of the period before they were bought by WOTC by claiming all sorts of thinsg were trademarks that werent and all sorts of rights under trademark that were total nonsese.  Its worth noting that the old  TSR was in court a total of 4 times and LOST all 4 times.

Which brings up a final point. NOTHING protects you from law-suits.  At least here in the US anyone can sue you at any time for anything and you and they have to go to court to settle it (unless you settle it out of court first.)  All you can do is be so scurpulous of the law that noone has a reason to sue or is likely to win if they try.


Got a question about Java and game programming?  Just new to the Java Game Development Community?  Try my FAQ.  Its likely you'll learn something!

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Offline TheAnalogKid

JGO Coder


Projects: 2



« Reply #16 - Posted 2006-05-10 16:36:50 »

Thanks Jeff for all the info!  Smiley

Offline bert

Junior Member




Miles of road and miles of code


« Reply #17 - Posted 2006-05-15 17:30:41 »

Thanks a LOT to all... Smiley Your advice has been well worth it and I've decided (with your help of course) to keep working on my game. Here's the general gist of the idea, if it's WAY too close to something else let me know...

This person who's driving to work in the middle of a big city, all of a sudden his car gets blown up and he's sucked into another world. The only discovered land is this chain of islands called the Mystic Isles. Recently an evil force has been taking over these islands and he has been called to the region by the local shaman (his name is still to be decided). You are the prophesied savior of these people and it is your job to drive away the evil creatures. You don't want this role, but you grudgingly accept it, because it is your only chance of going home...

All right, I admit, because this is a public forum the idea is slightly different from what I have posted here. (I'm a bit nervous about even sharing this much because this is the only creative impulse I've had pretty much in my entire life.) Sound familiar... hopefully not?

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Offline Riven
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« Reply #18 - Posted 2006-05-15 17:53:02 »

The whole alternate-world story is kinda "well covered" in fanatsy games. If everything else in the game fits this stoyline it's not really an issue, and in this game it sounds pretty much like it. I think you are right it sounds quite familiar, like games where this 1000 year old stone tablet is discovered that holds magical powers to those protecting them (bla bla) and the world is going to end and you are the only one to save it (bla bla).

Just realize that there are hundreds of A/AA/AAA titles based on such storylines, so you might think it's more about the gameplay anyway and players will forget all about the storyline after the intro.

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Offline nva225

Junior Member





« Reply #19 - Posted 2006-05-25 04:09:43 »

http://project-apollo.net/text/rpg.html

^ see list. It's true.

Mostly just make sure you're creating it off your own impulses and not directly looking at something else and copying it. There will be little differences and then general ideas that are essentially the same. You have to face it, it's nearly impossible to come up with an idea that hasn't been addressed in some form already. Different combinations of ideas can be unique however. And then there's presentation, your own unique style, and of course gameplay. Make sure you're gameplay is solid, easy, in depth, and addicting and really nobody cares about the story. (in the since they don't care if it's bad/cliched; a good story is still nice to have) Smiley
Offline beowulf03809

Junior Member




We live for the code, we die for the code


« Reply #20 - Posted 2006-05-25 14:36:20 »

That list is great.  You can almost create a random number generator to pick ten items from the list and it will give you a pretty marketable game design.   Tongue
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