Reboot a game by a now defunct Developer

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DominatorxR 101 Jan 16, 2013 at 10:40 indie law

Hello,

As Powerslide is still one of my favorite racing game and an great multiplayer (especially Lan) experiance.
I was wondering, the original development team is now defunt, is it possible to take the game and update it to modern standards?
Also where is the best place to look for people interested in developing an project in theyre spare time?
The plan is to first actually recreate the game in a open and modern engine so we can give the game a facelift and compatibility with modern operating systems.
After we have a fully functioning Powerslide 2.0 (let’s call it like that) we can look into alterations in level design and car design.
While doing this we make sure not to alter the course of the road or make obstacles that werent there in the original game.
So you could say if you drive the track the same way as you used to do, you will have about the same results.
The thought of what I wish to accomplish is to bring an very enjoyable games of the early days back, update it, and if it picks up expand upon the concept with new cars and tracks and easy online, lan AND splitscreen multiplayer.
The original game was simple in design and controls, where many games get more complicated, i think a simple, low friction and badass postapocalyptic racer with new eye-candy while trying to keep framerates high on lower spec machines will make an nice breeze of something different.
I hope i dont sound like somebody with an idea and is just spitting it out there, i have little experiance in game devolopment but like to see this as an oppertunity to to learn new things and make friends along the way.
Thank you very much!

Gordon

The defunct developer is Ratbag

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fireside 141 Jan 16, 2013 at 11:02

Copyrights last a really long time. You can do something close to it and name it differently, otherwise you need permission. Someone still owns those rights.

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DominatorxR 101 Jan 16, 2013 at 11:20

Ratbag was bought by Midway, which is at the moment being liquidated.
So who can i ask permission?

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Stainless 151 Jan 16, 2013 at 11:32

Really difficult problem, and one I’m working on as well.

Even when you do find out who owns the rites, getting a response from them is a nightmare.

Not a lawyer, so I am in the same situation.

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fireside 141 Jan 16, 2013 at 11:35

You can take a chance if you want, but the game could be closed down by whoever owns the copyright. They are generally sold along with the company. What I’ve seen people do is name it something different and say it was inspired by whatever, to attract the same fan base. If the game is old and unused, doesn’t seem like much of a point to name it the same thing anyway, and you will need to make changes just to modernize it. Plus, from a game development point of view, you probably wouldn’t want to be held to developing an exact replica. I kind of feel the same way about Return to Krondor. I wouldn’t make it the same, but the way the fights etc were designed was really amazing.

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DominatorxR 101 Jan 16, 2013 at 12:22

Yeah, maybe a Powerslide inspired game would be better, do you think using similar physics and drive style would be ok?
Because the main reason Powerlide was so fun was the way the cars handled and the openess of tracks.
It would be fun after releasing the game, to release a track of Powerslide itself and a car, and do that every once in a while with the updates.

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geon 101 Jan 16, 2013 at 17:12

> do you think using similar physics and drive style would be ok?

No one can stop you from using “similar physics” or “drive style”. They are way to vague to be copyrightable.

You might be able to get something half decent working in Unity. I was found a complete racing simulator Unity project (meaning you could poke around in it and modify anything) for download about 2 years ago. It had a DeLorean and pretty nice physics.

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Albertone 101 Jan 16, 2013 at 17:27

The Wolfenstein brand was owned by Muse software http://en.wikipedia….i/Muse_Software , which closed in 1987.
That brand stood into the oblivion until, in 1992, the then young id software picked up the name for its famous FPS…

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Kenneth_Gorking 101 Jan 17, 2013 at 05:53

If the company is being liquidated, can’t you put in a bid for the rights? I don’t know what these things cost, but it might be a shot

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geon 101 Jan 17, 2013 at 10:31

@Albertone

The Wolfenstein brand was owned by Muse software http://en.wikipedia….i/Muse_Software , which closed in 1987.
That brand stood into the oblivion until, in 1992, the then young id software picked up the name for its famous FPS…

Well, Wolfenstein is a village in Austria, so it is questionable if it would be an infringement to call a completely different game “Wolfenstein 3D” vs. “Castle Wolfenstein”.

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DominatorxR 101 Jan 17, 2013 at 13:35

Yeah sounds it’s really difficult to know where the line is between infringement and a copy, thou in my case it wasn’t an issue, first thought was to actually make a copy indeed.
And even thou powerslide is also just a name for a throttle-on induced oversteer, or a drift, making a game that is basiclly the same and the same name will probably make someone angry…
So yeah the game will be inspired by powerslide, and later IF we can get permission to use the cars and tracks then that would make an awesome update or patch or DLC.
I think Unity would probably the best option in my situation, so i learning the basics right now, any ideas what the best place is to recruit?

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fireside 141 Jan 17, 2013 at 18:50

For models, you could try Blender Artists.
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If you need help with programming, then the Unity community. I would suggest doing some work on your own first, though, so you have a prototype to show others.