How many ideas can you take from a game before it's copyright infringement?

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gardon 101 Dec 20, 2007 at 02:58

I’ve always wanted to create my own video game after playing this awesome game online. Everything about it I love, and I wanted to make something just like it.

But how many ideas (ie. combat system, healing process, items in the game, etc.) can I take and use in my game before it’s considered infringement? I love these ideas and I find it hard to think of my own. It would be like running a business and realizing that renting a building would be more beneficial than buying a building short term. Company XYZ down the street did it, and it’s such a great idea that I want to use it too because it makes sense. Does that mean I’m stealing their idea?

I’m trying to think up my own ideas but I think the ones already implemented would work a lot better. Also, when I think about games out today, there has to be some similarities, or nothing would sell.

Any help would be appreciated.

-Gardon

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onyxthedog 101 Dec 20, 2007 at 04:09

@gardon

I’ve always wanted to create my own video game after playing this awesome game online. Everything about it I love, and I wanted to make something just like it.

But how many ideas (ie. combat system, healing process, items in the game, etc.) can I take and use in my game before it’s considered infringement? I love these ideas and I find it hard to think of my own. It would be like running a business and realizing that renting a building would be more beneficial than buying a building short term. Company XYZ down the street did it, and it’s such a great idea that I want to use it too because it makes sense. Does that mean I’m stealing their idea?

I’m trying to think up my own ideas but I think the ones already implemented would work a lot better. Also, when I think about games out today, there has to be some similarities, or nothing would sell.

Any help would be appreciated.

-Gardon

I am not sure but I do magic and I have seen that you can not copyright an idea or principal behind it like that, but you can copyright the dvd that teaches your method. But I am not sure in this case.

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gardon 101 Dec 20, 2007 at 04:54

Well think about this too. How many games out there have some sort of magic system? Or some sort of player trading ability? I think you’re right, copyrighting an idea is bogus, so I’ll just go with what I think is going to work out. Plus there are some upgrades to the ideas that would fit in nicely.

-Gardon

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Sol_HSA 119 Dec 20, 2007 at 14:17

You can take any amount of ideas. Ideas are cheap, implementations not so.

And anyone can sue you for any reason anyway.

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gardon 101 Dec 20, 2007 at 18:37

@Sol_HSA

And anyone can sue you for any reason anyway.

Agreed.

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Sloan 101 Dec 21, 2007 at 19:32

If you touch the plot they will shred you, if you touch the files they will eat you, if you go about it cut and paste style they will see you, if you make it almost but not quite the same thing they will pat you on the head like a good little clone.

What are the exact things that you wish to emulate from this game as of yet un-named? Another thought, what don’t you like about the game?

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mehsob 101 Dec 21, 2007 at 23:52

Speaking of clones, I think it’s legal to clone the behavior of software. I’m not sure how this applies to game systems, methods, etc.

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poita 101 Dec 22, 2007 at 08:10

I think a more important question is “Do you really want to just copy all their ideas?” Making a direct clone of a game isn’t going to impress anybody. If you are simply incapable of coming up with your own ideas, then a simple way to come up with something semi-original is to just take the better parts of two good ideas and merge them together. Still quite cheap, but if you can’t come up with good ideas then it’s about the best you can do.

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anubis 101 Dec 26, 2007 at 07:03

Speaking of clones, I think it’s legal to clone the behavior of software. I’m not sure how this applies to game systems, methods, etc.

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7290698.html

I think regarding patents everything is up for grabs at the moment.

In general though I don’t think that you should worry too much. Of course you can’t use clear IPs like Star Wars or Star Trek, but patenting game mechanics is not common… So as long as your project is inspired by other games and does not directly copy their artwork, you’ll be fine.

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samoxa 101 Dec 27, 2007 at 11:54

@Sol_HSA

You can take any amount of ideas. Ideas are cheap, implementations not so. And anyone can sue you for any reason anyway.

Not in all countries - in most countries you can’t just sue people for any reason.

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Nautilus 103 Dec 27, 2007 at 14:21

I would like to add that pretty much everything has been invented already.
How much innovative content can you find in any modern game (any genre, any platform)?
When you analyze some thing that you think innovative, chances are that _that_ same thing has been first seen in another game, likely much older.

In part I believe this is fault of Publishers, who are ‘forced’ to bet on sure wins, because the market is merciless - and when millions of $$$ are involved there’s no room for failures.
This in turn falls on Developers, who have closer and closer deadlines to slavelop the new dreamy game the people want.

The other part of the fault is that, well, seriously what’s left to invent anyway?
Think of something cool, and then take some time to find out if that something has been done already.
Any genre, any platform… eventually you discover that the idea is not new.
Probably the technology used was much different, quite surely the graphic is different… but the concept is the same, and your idea is not as new as you initially thought : (

This all is to say that even modern commercial games end up recycling old ideas and game mechanics, and thus you shouldn’t worry about copying something and break copyrights.
So long you don’t plainly rip-off contents or claim that yours are innovative, while they aren’t, you are gonna be fine.

Quick Note: I think the gaming industry started to run out of ideas when the first Carmageddon appeared. The situation definitely degenerated with Carmageddon 2…
(my very personal opinion)

Ciao ciao : )

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z80 101 Dec 27, 2007 at 21:34

@gardon

I’ve always wanted to create my own video game after playing this awesome game online. Everything about it I love, and I wanted to make something just like it.

Hmm.. Why?

Seems like a complete waste of time.. Use a bit of time to think about it and make something even better.

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LmT 101 Dec 29, 2007 at 05:38

Use core and generic concepts in games and expand upon them. That way you stay out of trouble and still offer something unique.

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NightRage 101 Dec 29, 2007 at 16:20

has anyone ever looked at “Saints Row”—> “Grand Theft Auto” wanna be.

How stupid can sombody be and Look at “Saints Row” at the video(Game Stop) store and say: “Wow how original” “I’m gonna buy That Game , Right Now!” This games looks tooo too similar dont you think?

I’m not saying the game is crap, I’ve played it, but said to myself “GTA Clone”.

As a Game Dev, do want to be known as a Dev company that just steals other peoples ideas? cause they just cant come up with any original ideas on their own, boo hoo hoo, whaa,whaa, whaa.

People are gonna say : “there goes those GTA clone makers” instead of your company name.

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onyxthedog 101 Dec 29, 2007 at 23:00

Kind of off topic from game development, well not really. Have you noticed that Eragon is almost a complete nock off of Lord of the Rings? I mean the book, the movie, and the game are pretty much an exact replica with a new problem throw in here or there. Just rent both games ( Lord of the Rings I or II and Eragon) play them. They are way too similar for my taste, anyone else agree?

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gardon 101 Jan 01, 2008 at 04:09

The situations and analogies you have presented here are far from what I was thinking of. You’re right, who would want to buy “Saint’s Row” when you can buy the proven success, GTA? It’s the same with Driver 3. Total knock-off of the GTA style of games.

However, look at the MMORPG setting. Not everyone is playing the same MMORPG. There are so many out there, it’s nearly impossible to be the best.

What I was suggesting was taking the key elements of a proven success and use them within my own game. Granted, the game I got my ideas from was FAR from perfect, and I would definitely do a lot of things differently, but there were a few key aspects that I would want to keep.

But when you think back to games you’ve played, most have magic, most have strength, dexterity, intelligence, and hit points, and most have the medieval time-set. So would I really be copying anything? It seems like everything is the same anyway.

Whatever, I’m taking a break from programming anyway. Too much time and too little to show for it.

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onyxthedog 101 Jan 01, 2008 at 21:46

@gardon

The situations and analogies you have presented here are far from what I was thinking of. You’re right, who would want to buy “Saint’s Row” when you can buy the proven success, GTA? It’s the same with Driver 3. Total knock-off of the GTA style of games.

However, look at the MMORPG setting. Not everyone is playing the same MMORPG. There are so many out there, it’s nearly impossible to be the best.

What I was suggesting was taking the key elements of a proven success and use them within my own game. Granted, the game I got my ideas from was FAR from perfect, and I would definitely do a lot of things differently, but there were a few key aspects that I would want to keep.

But when you think back to games you’ve played, most have magic, most have strength, dexterity, intelligence, and hit points, and most have the medieval time-set. So would I really be copying anything? It seems like everything is the same anyway.

Whatever, I’m taking a break from programming anyway. Too much time and too little to show for it.

That is why it is so hard. Most don’t have the patience to finish things, but if you are still interested in Game Design without the programming go here: http://www.yoyogames.com . AkA Game Maker, it has the option to program but not required if you want the Pro Version it is $20, but the lite version is fine too.

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dragonfly3 101 Jan 07, 2012 at 01:28

It would depend on the patents and trademarks that the game has. A game can trademark a word or phrase. For example, Mythic trademarked the terms “Realm versus Realm,” “Realm vs Realm,” “Realm v Realm,” and “RvR.” If any game uses any of these phrases within their game or in any form of marketing and advertising their game, Mythic can sue them for Trademark infringement.

They can also patent a specific “system” or “design” within the game. A company may patent their crafting system, for example. I myself am patenting my crafting and economy systems. If any other games use the same styled system then I can sue them for patent infringement.

You may want to do some research on what patents and trademarks the game you wish to copy has just to protect yourself. Keep in mind, also, that big companies and corporations don’t really care if a lawsuit is legit. If they feel your game may affect their revenue or customer base they can file a lawsuit against you just to try to put you out of business. This is something that some successful indie games unfortunately have to deal with. The reason? Because regardless of whether or not the lawsuit is legit, you still have to hire lawyers and go through the legal process to prove it is not legit. The large companies and corporations know this, and that it would typically put a small indie game out of business. These big huge games didn’t become big out of nowhere. These companies and corporations snatched up what used to be an underground market and they prefer to keep a hold on it.

Just keep these things in mind and make sure you protect yourself and prepare yourself for anything this game company might be able to throw at you.

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geon 101 Jan 07, 2012 at 17:50

Nice to see you around, dragonfly3!

This thread is from 2007, though. Let it rest in peace.