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Thread: Copying. Where do you draw the line?

  1. #1
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    Default Copying. Where do you draw the line?

    We were in talks to license our Flash game Scamper Ghost with King.com and they were very professional and cool to us until we went with another sponsor's better offer (MaxGames.com)

    At that point King made a particularly blatant clone of our game and are now distributing it widely.

    I suppose this sort of thing happens constantly in our line of work. I guess I have some sort of weird morality and integrity that causes me to feel this is wrong... I would never do something like this to someone else. Am I just a bad businessman?

    How do you feel about this? I know there's nothing I can do... But should I be flattered? Offended?

    SCAMPERGHOST (made first)
    http://www.stolengoose.com/index_scamperghost.shtml

    PAC-AVOID (made second)
    http://www.king.com/games/sponsored-...language=en_US







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    Please post this exact thread on FGL as well.

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    IANAL, but I think that's a clear violation of copyright there. The screens are almost identical in design. It's like changing the names of characters in a story - it doesn't clear you of plagiarism. Take 'em to court.

    <edit> Plenty of precedent around too. Just ask Hasbro.

    Cas

  4. #4

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    LOL never seen such a blatant copy before. I agree with caspian. This is really TOO much. King.com has really built a good reputation now

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    I doubt this is protected by copyright - the screens are similar but not identical. A lot of games are like this anyway.

    Note i'm not saying that what King did doesn't suck, but unless some lawyer is 100% sure that its illegal, i'm almost sure it isn't.

    As JGOware said, post this to FGL so other people will know. Although from what i've seen in the FGL chat, i have a feeling that this isn't very uncommon among developers or between developers and sponsors :-P

    EDIT: i would also like to add that you don't mention how you moved from King to MaxGames. While this doesn't make King's move right, i would justify them a bit if you decided overnight to change portals, never notifier King or you took advantage of King's feedback (something that flash sponsors usually provide) to polish your game and then switched to MaxGames. Actually the last one would be the worst in my opinion.

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    It must really hurt but I don't know what you can do about it.

    Personally, King should be more concerned about Namco coming knocking. The word "Pac" coupled with the whole look of it is a blatant copyright violation IMO. I think it would be justice enough if Namco made them take it down.

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    I was going to post some arguments to defend cloning, and probably also going to ask wether the way you ended the negotiation had not been angering King. But then I realized how the game screens were copycats of each other and I have to concede this is rather lame from the part of king.
    Unfortunately I don't think you could do anything, except maybe put the shame on King at FGL.
    As suggested you should post this exact thread at FGL


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    King.com has really built a good reputation now
    As if running regular ads on warez sites wasn't bad enough.

    Anyway.... yep its very dodgy, is that. The ice beneath their feet is made thinner by the fact that they make blatant references to Pacman in the blurb.

    For what its worth, their version has crap graphics and irritating music.
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    Bloody hell.

    Yes, please post this over on FlashGameLicence too - this is something developers over there will want to know about. There's a thread for sponsor reviews.

    This is really sad - King are one of the bigger flash sponsors out there.

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    To me, this kind of behavior is atrocious. Borrowing elements from other games is common and I actually fully support it: game designers should learn and improve from each other to help our industry evolve.

    But clones are despicable, and loser companies like Zynga or these guys deserve our disrespect. Are you sure there's nothing you can do? See the copyright page: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html

    Someone else made the point that their using "Pac" might be interesting to Namco. If they're willing to strike below the belt like this, I'd have no qualms telling Namco about it ...
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    Flash clones and iClones. Such fun.
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  12. #12

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    King? King of Thieves more like. Shame your game isn't called Aladdin! That would've been funny at least. Could they be more blatant? It's a damn shame companies with plenty money can't at least come up with their own games..

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    First off, I think this is appalling. Anyone engaged in blatant cloning should be stopped, or at the very least held in contempt. However, this situation reminds me of the recent StoneLoops/Luxor blatant clone debate I was involved in. Most people sided with Stone Loops (which looks like a blatant Luxor clone) including Junkyard Sam:

    Quote Originally Posted by Junkyard Sam View Post
    I'll respond as a consumer here:
    I picked up Stone Loops a while back, and I was VERY happy with my purchase. I think I got it for $.99 and it really is a premium quality iPhone game.

    Luxor looks different enough that I actually don't find it appealing. It's not bad, it just lacks whatever it is in the art that I like so much in Stone Loops.

    And responding as a developer:
    Stone Loops guys got a raw deal here. It sure makes me appreciate the Flash open market for small games.
    Most of the arguments in that thread support what King.com did.
    - "Scamperghost" itself is a clone of some game
    - "Pac-Avoid" didn't steal any assets/code, it looks different enough
    - "Pac-Avoid" might have improved the "Scamperghost" genre

    How does one draw the line at "Pac-Avoid", but not at "Stone Loops"?
    Last edited by jmcginley; 02-12-2010 at 02:28 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmcginley View Post
    First off, I think this is appalling. Anyone engaged in blatant cloning should be stopped, or at the very least held in contempt. However, this situation reminds me of the recent StoneLoops/Luxor blatant clone debate I was involved in. Most people sided with Stone Loops (which looks like a blatant Luxor clone) including Junkyard Sam:



    Most of the arguments in that thread support what King.com did.
    - "Scamperghost" itself is a clone of some game
    - "Pac-Avoid" didn't steal any assets/code, it looks different enough
    - "Pac-Avoid" might have improved the "Scamperghost" genre

    How does one draw the line at "Pac-Avoid", but not at "Stone Loops"?
    You have exposed the hypocrisy in me, admittedly. I argued for the Stone Loops guys and feel inclined to take up Junkyard Sam's side.

    I think the deciding factor for me here, is that I assume King was under a non-disclosure with Junkyard Sam and almost all of these contain stipulations about not using any of the information presented for their own gains. In this case, it seems like King clearly used confidential information (the whole game) to further their own ends once a deal could not be attained.

    So yeah, I'm a hypocrite. But had King not had confidential access to the game, and instead made this clone once Junkyard Sam had released it to the wild, I would have retained the same position I had in the Stone Loops case.

    Edit: By the way Junkyard Sam, yours is the superior product of the two after playing them both for a bit. And as always, I hope the superior product is more successful.
    Last edited by MFS; 02-12-2010 at 02:47 PM.

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    The Stone Loops situation was confusing to me. The original game, from what I could tell actually had slightly different mechanics than Luxor (Swapping). However, the iPhone version played just like Luxor (Matching).

    /me shrugs

    All I can say is being cloned sucks. Really sucks. Especially when it's a clone that beats you to market.
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    Bummer but your game seems more appealing , there color scheme looks like a grey blob whereas yours has some "pop to it".

    What do you think about copying your own game. For example giving an update and than changing the entire art/music.
    Last edited by aiursrage2k; 02-12-2010 at 07:43 PM.

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    Expect a huge surge of cloning soon as more tools come out making Flash dev even easier than it already is.

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    Thanks for the thoughts on this. Again, I know there's nothing to do about it.

    But some additional insight:

    Scamper Ghost was a clone of the flash game Particles. Directly. Scamper Ghost was 100% inspired by Particles (by RagDollSoft!)
    http://www.ragdollsoft.com/particles/

    But notice how we really evolved the game quite a bit in our own direction. King's version didn't evolve enough to be worthy of respect, not that they care.


    And regarding the negotiations - we were at the point of tentative acceptance with King, pending any problems we had with their API. Our programmer had some kind of problems with the API relating to our game being entirely AS3 and that we needed Flash for something - and he took great issue with their "SUBMIT" button tricking people into going to King's site... Our programmer preferred Max's score solution which used Mochi's leaderboard which was fully integrated into our game... Also, Max's offer was more than twice what King's was (though it was for exclusive rather than primary.)

    As far as who is right and wrong morally here - consider that King as a company doesn't change a bit whether or not they have our game... But the price difference between King and Max meant us working for less than minimum wage or for an amount that we could actually feed our hungry kids a little.

    Fact is - when it comes to developers vs. portals - the portals are winning while we developers starve and slave for our craft. So when there's a moral grey area, I think we should err on the side of the little guy.

    That being said - I don't hate King for this. I see it as a cold calculated business move - they wanted the game, couldn't get it - so they copied it. It's cutthroat - it's how they operate. I would still do business with them in the future. (They're one of the bigger sponsors, after all.) Not sure if they'd do business with us though. Oh well.

    All business is a bit snakelike, I guess... But this sort of blatant cloning is something I would never do.
    Junkyard Sam, Game Industry Artist & UI/UX Designer. Portfolio

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Junkyard Sam View Post
    Fact is - when it comes to developers vs. portals - the portals are winning while we developers starve and slave for our craft.
    ...
    It's cutthroat - it's how they operate. I would still do business with them in the future.
    Wow! those words are a real "flashback" - getting back to the dark ages of retail publishers that own your very soul...

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    There's cloning mechanics (which lots of people do and it seems to be more or less accepted now) and there's cloning look/layout, which is really sucky imho - it shows zero imagination. And that King game is a major look/layout clone; something that has happened to Princec I believe, and me with Holiday Bonus (there's an iPhone clone that's just that little bit too similar, see below), and even the Fairway Solitaire game screen. Lots of people have made match-3s but at least most of us tried to make them look different! Stoneloops looks different from Luxor, for example, even if the mechanic is similar so I'm on the side of Stoneloops.




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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey Alien View Post
    Stoneloops looks different from Luxor, for example, even if the mechanic is similar so I'm on the side of Stoneloops.
    Stoneloops was in development even before Luxor was released.

    Pretty lame that King did this. I can show you "avoid" type of games with many varying mechanics, some very close, but still to do something like that (not get a game so decide to hire someone to clone it as closely as possible) is very lame. I can totally see this becoming more and more common place as more tools are released this year which will make it very easy for people to make Flash games. Sponsorship Flash games are not good business for serious developers. If you must make Flash games then at least try and make some good social ones!

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by CasualInsider View Post
    If you must make Flash games then at least try and make some good social ones!
    True, But in that case you need to have a substantial capital to invest in ads and resources if you want to compete with the millions of other social games and make money

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    Thanks for posting this story here. You should send a notice to King, however I doubt that would change something. Posting your story like you did is probably a good thing. Bringing a company to court can cost ten of thousands of dollars. You need to proof that they have created damages and for flash game, it is more expanses that the game could generate. There are some cases like this that are impossible to defend without losing more than what we can earn. The justice system is almost totally useless for small developers.

    I suggest that you spread your story with your proofs and facts. Like it was mentioned above, their reputation is attacked. They may lose more in the long term if they continue to do bad business.

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    Gut hunch, but I think there's some petty emotion at work here. It's not like the look of Pac Avoid is hugely original or difficult to achieve, and I can't imagine that it's such an important game that King considered it absolutely crucial to have. Rather, I suspect there's one person behind this, and you pissed him off by going with another sponsor; it seems more like a "fuck you" than simply an amoral business decision. If it were a revolutionary game that looked like it was going to be the Next Big Thing, that would be different.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bad Sector View Post
    I doubt this is protected by copyright
    I think you could be right about that (I guess it would be up to a court of law to rule whether the differences are not big enough for it not to be copyright violation in a legal sense) but even if it isn't, you could argue for trade dress (like in the tetris case) - but I suspect scamper ghost isn't well known enough for that at this point. I guess the best way to protect against this kind of thing is a non-disclosure or similar, but I guess that is difficult for small indies to get when dealing with the big boys.
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    Doesn't surprise me really. King are unprofessional kids.

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    Just found this on my travels and thought of this thread. http://www.cracked.com/article_17299...-rip-offs.html

    The Lion King one was quite shocking..

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexWeldon View Post
    Gut hunch, but I think there's some petty emotion at work here. It's not like the look of Pac Avoid is hugely original or difficult to achieve, and I can't imagine that it's such an important game that King considered it absolutely crucial to have. Rather, I suspect there's one person behind this, and you pissed him off by going with another sponsor; it seems more like a "fuck you" than simply an amoral business decision. If it were a revolutionary game that looked like it was going to be the Next Big Thing, that would be different.
    I tend to agree about the possible personal attack due to not getting the game, but as far as the game not looking like the next big thing, you would be surprised how many online games that don't look anything like they would ever go viral.....yet they do.

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    It sucks. It's also standard practice in any creative industry.

    If you do business with them again then you're getting what you deserve. Like George Bush says "Fool me once...a shame...you can't get fooled again!"

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