PopCap attacks "copycat" designs

Discussion in 'Feedback Requests' started by Teeth, Jun 26, 2007.

  1. Ola

    Ola
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    I understand that, and that's the most common approach.

    If you had worked for Popcap or ArcadeLab, you would have find out, there is companies that works a lot different.

    The task to implement a new and original game design (or just to make a really good derivate) that is both fun and working good with the casual audience (to get a high conversion) is a tremendous pile of work.

    I think you would be amazed what kind of time some companies spend to improve the gameplay and make their own twists, to make it a derivate instead of a reskin. It's about years, rather then months of development time, week in and week out to add features and try them with their QA and beta testers to figure out what features will work in reality etc. Every little detail you add must be tested so it doesn't break the game, or make it less entertaining. It needs patience, experience and maybe even a bit of talent. But most of all, it needs time... lots of time.
     
  2. Ola

    Ola
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    If you have followed the casual top ten lists the last years. You would have noticed that the original games, spend less and less time on the chart. Actually all games do. And it's not because we have lots of more original games today. What we have is a lot more clones and parasites, that makes life shorter both for each other and the original games.

    This means, that it's more risk and less profit to make original games today, then a couple of years ago.

    For detailed data and stats, you can study the archives of: http://www.game-sales-charts.com
     
    #182 Ola, Jul 2, 2007
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2007
  3. luggage

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    Please, that's more than a little patronising - I know what goes into designing a game and while I agree the implementation of a design can take a long time - the design itself isn't the most time consuming part of writing a video game. If it was, the number of game designers listed in credits would far outweigh any other development staff.
     
    #183 luggage, Jul 2, 2007
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2007
  4. luggage

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    But he's looking for concrete examples which you said there's loads of but not quoted any. You could explain the lack of time spent in the top 10 based on the fact there's far more games released nowadays regardless of whether they are clones or not.

    What you say happens in every young market place. The early adopters get in there and make some relatively easy money. This encourages new companies to try and get in on the act. This makes the area more competitive and harder to be the one to succeed. It's the gold rush mentality. You're blaming it on "clones" without backing it up with any evidence.
     
  5. Ola

    Ola
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    You base your opinion on credit lists you find in games? Interesting, but not very realiable. In that case, you could as well made the opposite conclusion that the few game designers mentioned in games, might be the reason why there is so few original games on the market.

    I don't think people even write "Game Designer" as a title very often in their credit list, at least we don't. The design of the game is done on many levels, including the concept art, the work of the producer, members of the team and QA etc.

    Sometimes I'm not sure if when you refer to game design, you are referreing to a concept document on paper, that a programmer strictly follow. There are many other way to work then that. For us, game design is the whole process of designing a game, with many people involved during the whole development process.

    We work differently, if you spend very little time on design that fine with me.
     
  6. luggage

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    That's fine - but I disagreed with your statment that game design is the most time consuming part of a game's development. If you're going to include the development of the art\music\code as part of 'game design' process then that's fine. But I call that "game development" rather than "game design". You seem to be suggesting then, that the development of a game is the most time consuming part of developing a game.

    Maybe it's why there's so much discussion on clones, if you can't agree what a design for a game is it's hard to discuss what ripping off a design means.

    When I say Game Design I mean the design of a game. How you arrive at a finished game design can vary. Some people will write everything down at the start, some people will take a more organic approach. Once a game is released there is an overall design to that product. Imagine that you had to then write everything down to give a recipe for what your game is. That is what I mean by game design.
     
    #186 luggage, Jul 2, 2007
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2007
  7. spellcaster

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    If art is part of the game deisgn,wouldn't that imply taht changing the art would alter the game deisgn, and thus the game?

    Basically, I am wondering when do you consider a game a "clone" and when does it just "belong to the same genre"? Personally, I've used both terms interchangeably. Tetris-clone? Or Falling Blocks-Game? Puzzloop Clone? Or puzzle Shooter-game?

    We stopped saying Doom-clone and started to talk about First Person Shooters. Wheh did this happen and why? IIRC there was a big fuzz about all the Doom and Duke3D right before they were made a "genre"m, too.
     
  8. Ola

    Ola
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    You have to add the other part to the equation as well. Clones take less time to create = even more games.

    I'm sorry that I don't have time to dig up material for hours, that people anyway can collect themself. I neither can't give away classified or inside information, so I refeered to games-sales-chart and try to be as helpfull as I can.
     
  9. Ola

    Ola
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    Why do you disagree? I've never said it is in general, for all companies. Only that game design (including implementation) is often the most time consuming part for us, and probably Popcap as well. Everyone isn't doing games the same way. I don't disagree with the fact that you are different, and use a lot less time on your game designs.

    I never said that. Please read my posts carefully.
     
  10. luggage

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    And we're back to Daniel's point about what is a clone and what isn't. Maybe you could show several examples of these clones and why you think it is clone? Then show us examples of games you don't consider a clone but are close in design. Just so we can understand your comments.
     
  11. luggage

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    (Emphasis mine)
    I must have misunderstood something - especially the bits I've just put in bold.

    We'll just have to agree to disagree I'm afraid. I've listed what I consider a game design is and why I think implementing ideas takes longer than coming up with those ideas. Arriving at the right idea takes a time because of how long it takes to implement each step.

    If you want to say "Only that game design (including implementation) is often the most time consuming part for us" that's up to you but that to me is common sense, you are talking about the entire game development process. What else is involved in game development other than 'game design and it's implementation'?

    I've tried to make my position clear. I'm not keen on clones personally. I can see why people do them, I can see why people buy them and I can see why portals stock them. I don't know if they're harming the industry as nobody has yet put forward any evidence and I only ever hear about the growth rate in casual games. It's not something new to the industry, cheap knock offs have been around since the early days. I'm not sure I agree that it stifles innovation, the best way to stick out in a crowd of 'me too's' is to to be different. I see the clones as a good opportunity for designers of original games to stand out from the crowd.
     
  12. electronicStar

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    Hey what about clones of threads?
     
  13. Ola

    Ola
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    To define what a general clone or reskin is, is impossible. Because it's from case to case, and decided by personal opinions (in a court if nothing else works)

    I don't want to be the judge of others buisness. But as I said many times, the more you copy from the same source, the more likely you will get in a twist, or even end up in court.

    However, after all discussions we had, it's still pretty fuzzy how safe it actually is to do reskins. The discussions is endless, but and interesting aspect would be to create 2 lists and balance against each other, for personal judgement. Something along the lines of...

    1) Why it may be safe to do a reskin
    2) Why it may not be safe to do a reskin
     
  14. Ola

    Ola
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    What I mean with the game design and it's implementiation is virtually everything except code, art and audio.

    So if Alice Greenfingers took 18 months to write, I will try to estimate time for you.

    2 months were spend on the art.
    2 months effective time of coding.

    The other 14 months was to design and make the game fun, and to get all new ideas to work in reality, so that the casual audience understand how to do things etc. Test the game in many different versions, to see what version most people like etc. Waiting for feedback, delays and then tweak, send back for feedback, wait, tweak. Throw away all the latest week of work, because the previous version was more fun etc. etc.

    If you write a reskin (or just a game for yourself and don't care what other people think) you don't have to go through all that.

    Those 14 extra months, that's what the reskinner then just lift from your game.
     
  15. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    "I understand that, but I'm looking for a concrete example of where a developer makes a hit game, enjoys the successes that comes with that work, but then is thwarted months later once the evil cloners emerge."

    This thread has many concrete examples. It doesn't always work the way you describe (clones, the theory goes, don't usually "thwart" a hit game, just steal a chunk of its sales).

    Atlantis is a clone of Luxor.
    Luxor is not a clone of Zuma.
    Zuma is a clone of Puzz Loop.
    Munch Man is a clone of Pac Man.
    Llamatron is a clone of Robotron.
    Final Fantasy is not a clone of Dragon Warrior.
    Super Mario Bros. is not a clone of Pitfall.
    Great Giana Sisters is a clone of Super Mario Bros.
    Warcraft is not a clone of Dune 2.

    And BTW, I agree with Ola about design time. I often spend 2/3rds of a game's development time on design, and the other third on coding and creating resources.
     
  16. luggage

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    In my opinion that's how innovation works. Someone takes an existing idea and builds on it. What you're complaining about is that applying a different theme isn't enough innovation for you personally. Consumers appear to differ. And as you have pointed out, what one considers a clone varies from person to person.

    When someone manufacturers a new car they don't design the engine from a position of no knowledge - they don't reinvent the wheel. They build on the expertise of those before them - hence 'standing on the shoulders of giants'. If someone clones your game, consider yourself a giant rather than a dwarf.

    If you use your Bricks Of series as an example, how do you know it didn't take someone 5 years to come up with the idea of moving a bat along the bottom of the screen and knocking out bricks? You came along, took that mechanic and used it as you felt fit. Doesn't really seem fair for someone to say "we can take another idea and use it, but we object to somebody else taking our idea and using it".

    Which nicely leads us back to the original point of the thread. Huzzah!
     
  17. spellcaster

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    Um.. just to get this straight... you spent 14 person months to make that game fun and to get the interface design right?
    Even if we assume a creative team of 4 persons that would have been 3 months consisting of 8h brain storming 5 days a week. Impressive.
     
  18. luggage

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    The clone list is debateable, and it would be good to see hard evidence of lost sales due to a clone. In my experience, people want more of the same and that's what clones offer.

    Regards the design, maybe we just differ in what game design is. If I want to write a rally driving game and spend weeks writing physics code then weeks tweaking it to get it to feel nice I don't consider it 'game design'. The game design simply demanded a rally vehice etc. It's only applicable when you try and seperate a game design from asset\code creation though which is what I believe you need to do when discussing clones that lift designs as the clones don't take the source code actual assets.
     
    #198 luggage, Jul 2, 2007
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2007
  19. Ola

    Ola
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    Do you find that's strange? A new medicine can take over 10 years to come up with, and it's "just" a little pill.

    One of Shigeru Miyamotos famous quoutes is "A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever" ... It's not rare for Nintendo to delay its games. This is largely due to the perfectionist tendency of Miyamoto who would go as far as scrapping the entire development of a game if he did not find a game up to his standards.

    Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shigeru_miyamoto
     
  20. tentons

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    14 months is a long time, but iterating/prototyping gameplay and focus testing interfaces is extremely important to a game's success. A bad interface will kill sales instantly, believe me (hard lessons). I don't find it unreasonable at all that the design phase was the largest part of development.
     

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