PopCap attacks "copycat" designs

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

  1. spellcaster

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    Well, I do find this strange. And comparing a game to developing pharmacy is quite a stretch.

    I could understand if you'd have said that from first idea to final concept it took 14 month - but actually designing it for 14 month is something I find slightly over the top ;)

    Well, as long as it works out in the end for you, that's ok, I guess.

    Regarding Mr. Miyamto.. don't you think you should have used Mr. Wada as a role model? ;)

    I know. Have been working several years for a company specialized in UI usability with a focus on settop boxes and similar devices ;)
     
  2. soniCron

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    Well, now it seems we're having trouble identifying exactly what is the "design" of the game.

    Anyone care to offer something measurable?
     
  3. luggage

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    A finalised design can take a long time to arrive at, that's not in doubt. I'd put forward a design isn't really known until the game development is completed.

    If I had to pick something up and wave at someone and say "this is the design" I'd go with something similar to the guide books you can buy for lots of the big releases. There's a lot of info in those in how a game works and how levels are laid out.

    It's the recipe that's required to recreate a similar playing game. Imagine trying to tell someone who's never played your game how to make something similar.

    It's a cracking question and one that should be looked at before you can discuss what designs are ripped off from what.
     
  4. DangerCode

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    I didn't think I was asking for hours of research, nor classified information.

    So just to be clear, in regards to this claim ...

    ... there will be not one example forth coming to persuade those of us that may think the threat of cloning is a little over-exaggerated?

    It's not that I don't believe some developers shamelessly copy from other designs, and it's not that I think such maneuvers aren't tarnished - but I think these folks are really only harming themselves (which is what the OP pointed out, I believe).
     
  5. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    The design of a game isn't measurable -- that's part of what makes it the design.

    But, design would include (this varies by game, but these are common ones)
    - Coming up with the basic mechanics (at least those that differ from other games or those that are arranged differently from other games).
    - Coming up with the characters and their abilities, the enemies and their abilities.
    - Coming up with unit types or weapon types and their abilities.
    - Designing the story.
    - Level design, plotting out the maps, creating the levels.

    Basically any creative decision about the game external to coding and resource creation.

    Also, if you're asking for actual sales numbers of losing sales due to clones, you have to consider that most people don't make their sales numbers public, so if you're looking for information *that exact* it's pretty hard to come by and it sounds like you're asking for the impossible. But it would still surprise me if, say, Luxor isn't losing sales to Atlantis, especially considering Atlantis costs less.
     
  6. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I donno.. This all seems like over-analysis to me. If you make a game with squares and there's some color matching and you decide how many squares across and down based on how many squares the OTHER game is using then that's copying. Is it really so complicated? Developers know when they're copying vs. doing something new.
     
  7. Teeth

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    Heh. I guess you could argue it's a different market...
     
  8. Ola

    Ola
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    Of course not.

    It's not to have wheels, engine and pedals that make up the design.
    Design is the things that make your car _different_ from all other cars.

    If you clone to many original details from another cars engine instead, either it's shape, functionality, placement etc. Then the designers (that came up with the original solution after lots of research) will notice, and the company will take action against you.

    As svero says, people pretty well know when they are copying. And the original designer have better eyes then everyone else to see it. They tried hard to do something different when they came up with it, so the will instantly react when they see it elsewere.
     
  9. soniCron

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    I don't think it's an over-analysis. It may be a little pedantic, but I think it's necessary.

    In order to validate this discussion, we need to identify the kind of impact gameplay cloning has on the casual game industry, and therefore we have to clarify:
    • what a game design is,
    • to what degree a design needs to be similar to be considered a clone,
    • and then the kind of effect that clone had on its parent.
    Until we can do that, the entire discussion is based on conjecture and has little or no value. (We might as well discuss which shade of pink is prettier. [Hot pink, btw.])

    It would even be helpful to identify other industries that were faced with cloning, and how it may have affected them, but short of the misguided pinball analogy, I haven't seen any of those, either.

    So, baby pink or hot pink, anyone?
     
  10. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Sonicron speaks the truth.

    Apart from the bit about hot pink.

    Ola: We just have different ideas on intellectual propertly laws.

    Say I spent years researching the best place to put an engine on a car, everybody else was putting it at the back and I figure it could go at the front. Nobody else even considered putting an engine at the front before now. It's taken me years and years to come up with and make this idea work. Any inventions along the way - stronger front axles, new gear systems or something - will be protected by a patent. If someone then looks at my car and thinks "that's an awesome idea". Nothing stops them from making their own car and put an engine at the front so long as they don't infringe on my patent. If they infringe on my patent then I can take action. The law doesn't protect the idea of putting an engine at the front regardless of how long or how much effort when into it. Just like the law doesn't protect the idea of moving a bat along the bottom of the screen that bounces a ball.

    Broadly speaking games have copyright rather than patents. Copyright applies to an actual image\sound\video\text. Something that has been created. So nobody could copy your actual artwork that you created. If you drew a pyramid nobody could copy your drawing of that pyramid, they could however draw their own pyramid.

    How about this one. You did Bricks of Egypt. Now when you started doing that game did you consider how many years worth of effort the original designer of Breakout\Arkanoid put into their idea? If you could protect games like you seem to want to you wouldn't have been allowed to do Bricks of Egypt. You certainly didn't come up with the idea of moving a bat along the bottom of the screen yourself. So you've taken someone else's ideas (regardless of how many years of effort they spent developing it) and have done your own thing with it.

    The argument on clones seems to be 'where do you draw the line'? If you draw it too far on the side of protecting ideas we'd all be up shit creek as practically every game takes ideas from other games. If you draw it too far the other way and say the visual\audio\code aspects of a game are not protected it would be a free for all. I personally think the line, as determined by the law, is in the right place. While it may allow clones to exist it allows a lot of room for innovation.

    I'd like to draw a line under discussing what is an idea and what is protected and follow Daniel's direction. It makes far more sense.
     
    #210 luggage, Jul 3, 2007
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2007
  11. Teeth

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    I was thinking about music on this subject: once you record the song, that's the implementation. As some other band, you can cover a song, even use the lyrics - people don't tend to do it right after the song hits the charts, for some reason, but it's A-OK to cover a song. Back in the 20s pretty much everyone would be playing the same songs with their bands. I know, I was there. I don't think you can protect a song... just like you can't protect a game design.
     
  12. luggage

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    I'm not sure that's the case, link, if you wanted to release a cover version of a song you need to get a "mechanical license". Or...
    Upon further examination it appears to depend on whether the music is played live or not...
     
    #212 luggage, Jul 3, 2007
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2007
  13. Ola

    Ola
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    I never said how I want to protect games. I think you mix up things a bit. What's actually been discussed is:

    1) If to many clones will hurt the inventors?
    2) If it's legal to do reskins or any other computer game?

    They are not the same thing. If you don't care about #1 that's fine with me.

    You are correct that Bricks of Egypt have similar things to other games. Like the first monochrome breakout game, with 1 type of brick and a square ball, that was a derivate of pong, but with a brick added. But, I can't understand why you refuse to see the difference if a game is 1%, 10% or 100% similar. It's not illegal to be similar to another product, as long as it's not to much similar, that's how copyright work, even though patents work differently.

    Take a look at history, and see if it was original games, derivates or reskins that ended up in trouble. I think people that try to send out the message that it's safe to do reskins, may put a lot of people in a very troublesome situation.

    The casual buisness is going to change, it makes lots of money now. Any moneydriven buisness get lots of disputes and lawsuits. If you know anything about doing buisness with USA, you also know that you can be sued for anything, any day. However, the ones that clone a game 90% in the same market will more likely upset someone, and end up in a dispute, then those who cloned 10% of a classic game. If the company you upset are big enough, they will show their muscles and hire the best lawyers, and it might be the smallest catch or detail that is used to win the case.

    So yes, anyone can be sued, reskin or not. But pure reskins are a lot more likely to be, especially if it's in the same market, and at the same time. I think those things are to be considered.

    Big companies won't let you play around with them, and reskin their games. There are probably hundreds (or thousands) of cases, were the cloner / reskinner settled, so that it never went all the way to court. I guess Giana Sisters is one of them. Other examples is the Tetris company, that have been working active for a long time to remove lots of clones / reskins from the market. There is a company that maintain and protect the Boulder Dash game, and there are already rumours (and talk behind the scene) about several casual disputes, were developers had to settle. Anyone have any public info on those?
     
  14. electronicStar

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    what?You're that old?
     
  15. luggage

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    Of course I can tell the different between copying 1%, 10% or 100% of a game. I've not seen any clones yet that have copied 100% of another game. Once we accept that clones aren't copying 100% the problem opens up. Exactly what percentage will get a game classed as a clone? Do you think Zuma is a clone? What percentage of a game would you consider the art\sound\code is?

    Breakout is a small game, you took almost 100% of what Breakout is but I wouldn't consider Bricks of Egypt a clone. The argument then shifts to not "how much did they steal?" but "how little have they innovated?". And that's just another subjective view.

    Not sure about your wild guess at how many cases have been settled out of court - they don't prove if reskins are legal or illegal. And I could just say there's been millions of games that haven't gone to court and they all took someone's ideas in one form or another. There are lots of reasons cases get settled, I'd hazard my own guess that it is because it's cheaper. And it clearly must have escaped your notice that I've pointed out cases that went to court, and got rulings, about copying of designs. The most recent one from this year.

    While there's big money about there'll be lawyers making a profit out of it. Doesn't matter what you do there's a risk of litigation. You couldn't guarantee you wouldn't get sued for using Breakout's game mechanic - yet you still developed your game. It's up to the developer to decide on what they do.

    I agree the closer a game is to another the more likely you are to face litigation, whether the case has no basis is another matter. While I agree with "people shouldn't clone in case they get sued". I don't agree with "people shouldn't clone because we spent 14 months designing something". And I don't agree with "people shouldn't clone because we haven't made as much money as we feel we should have".
     
    #215 luggage, Jul 3, 2007
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2007
  16. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    If you're saying that you don't believe it's immoral to re-skin someone else's game for the purpose of people buying yours instead of theirs due to how similar the two are (regardless of whether this actually happens or not, which is an open question), there's not much further to take the conversation, no? It's just a difference in moral outlook, there's those who believe that people deserve the fruits of their labor and those who believe they don't.
     
  17. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I believe it's cheap and lazy to rip off another game design and not bother to at least try and innovate.

    If somebody cloned a game and it's only intent was to pass itself off as something else. For example keeping the look and feel (ie. very similar graphic style and plays the same) of Chuzzle and calling it "Chuzzel" then not only do I think it's immoral but I also believe it's illegal.

    However - I have yet to see a case from all of these "hundreds of clones" where the game is trying to mislead the consumer into buying their version rather than another. I see a clone as offering "more of the same" - which the consumers don't appear to mind.

    Nobody is complaining about the clones copying their source code and assets. That only leaves complaints that someone is copying the ideas behind the game. As I tried, and tried and tried to point out - going down the route of protecting ideas would be a very, very, very bad thing.
    It is a quote by one of the judges in the recent Mazooma trial. I agree whole heartedly with that quote. Unfortunately, a side effect of us being able to take existing ideas, like your tower defense game, or our bowling game or arcade labs Bricks Of series, and innovate with them also allows clones to exist.
     
    #217 luggage, Jul 4, 2007
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2007
  18. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    Yes, but nobody is saying that reskinning should be illegal, I don't know why you keep going back to that when nobody is taking that standpoint.
     
  19. Ola

    Ola
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    Yes, and nobody said that general ideas should be protected either.
     
  20. Ola

    Ola
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    You don't have to stretch it that far. It's just on such a simple level, anyone can understand it. If that's the kind of simple examples you are after, you will get dissapointed. Any lawsuit is a complicated mather, with personal opinions, a jury, witness, evidence etc. It's not only the most obvious technical evidence that a court take into account.

    It's also true that a game designers implemented work (not ideas) is a lot more complicated to explain then digital copies. That still doesn't mean it's not copyrighted.

    People most certainly would complain if someone copied their source code or assets.

    That's not what have been said.

    Way back in this thread, we came to the conclusion that a game designers ideas is not copyrighted, but even you agreed that his implemented work is. So what does it mather if the inital idea isn't copyrighted, when the implementation is?
     

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