PopCap attacks "copycat" designs

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

  1. luggage

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    I was asked my opinion on games that pass themselves off as something else in order to mislead consumers into purchasing that game rather than the one they are passing off.

    I put forward a hypothetical example where I believe this would be the case. I also stated that it would not just be immoral it would also be illegal. I don't believe clones are are trying to mislead the consumer. They are simply offering more of the same.
    And do the complaints of clones include suggestions that their code and assets have been copied? No. Therfore nobody has copied an implementation of an idea. Hence why I believe they are just the right side of the law.
    It matters in a huge, this is how innovation works kind of way. The intial idea and the implementation are two different things.
    I just don't understand what you're talking about. To have copyright it has to be an actual manifested idea - something that you can hold up and show to someone. If you can't show me a piece of paper with the implementation on (be it source code or art) then I'm sorry, it does mean it's not covered under copyright.

    This is all getting tiresome, not only for me, but for everybody who has the misfortune to read this thread. I keep giving illustrations on the difference between an idea and an implementation of that idea. I have given a very recent court case, copyright office quotes from two major countries, all saying that an idea behind a game is not copyrighted.

    You seem to accept an idea can't be copyrighted but what else other than ideas does a clone take from another game? Ola, until you accept the difference between an idea and the implementation of an idea you're going to struggle to come to terms with my point of view and indeed what copyright actually is. Perhaps it might be worth buying a book on the subject - I'm just going around in circles here. Maybe we can leave the legal discussion alone now? Can you accept that clones are just on the right side of the law and instead tell me why you believe you should be allowed to use Breakout's game design but nobody is allowed to use your Bricks Of.. design? And while you're at it - do you think Zuma is a clone of PuzzLoop and should Zuma be allowed?

    Rinku: Because if we establish that it's ok to use ideas from games - and we all do it that's for sure - it becomes a case of people in glass houses throwing bricks. I'm not sure what gives somebody the right to point to someone else and say "sorry - you have not innovated enough, we feel your game shouldn't be allowed".
     
    #221 luggage, Jul 4, 2007
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2007
  2. soniCron

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    Switch sides for a moment...

    Ola, could you generously provide some examples of how someone might claim your Bricks Of... series was a clone of another game? And, then, how would you defend yourself to that person? (The scenario takes place outside a court of law, in a casual setting.)

    luggage, could you generously provide some examples of games which are very similar to other implementations, but skirt far enough away to avoid a legal battle? (Entirely theoretical and on your opinion, of course.) In what ways might they be legally attacked? (This scenario takes place on the cusp of a court of law, in a more formal setting.)

    Rinku, could you generously provide some examples of games which others might take offense to their similarity, but you find some value to the direction of the game design field? In what ways might others compare and contrast them to other, similar games? In what ways would you defend their value? (This scenario takes place outside a court of law, in a casual setting.)
     
  3. Ola

    Ola
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    When you see a game, you will see the game design as well. It's spread all over it and part of the experience.

    If you exchange all graphics in Tetris, and people say. Oh, this is just like Tetris! What do they see?

    Would you say. That people should ignore the Tetris company? They can make reskins, as long as they just replace all the art, and code it themself?
     
    #223 Ola, Jul 4, 2007
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2007
  4. chanon

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    OK I'm listing some things that hopefully most of us agree with
    - original/innovative games and games with new mechanics are harder to develop, take longer to design and get right, mostly require some trial and error during development
    - developing innovative games takes more time / money and thus is more risky
    - innovative games are higher risk => they may lead to a higher return or a high loss depending on how the market responds to the new idea (and also how well it is implemented)
    - most games borrow some design decisions from other games, some borrow fewer than others, while some borrow more (or everything) from others without any unique/new ideas.
    - it is hard to come to an agreement of what is the absolute definition of a "clone" since there are many levels of "borrowing of design decisions" ie. some games are more clonish than others and each person has their personal view of what level of "borrowing" is to be considered cloning
    - borrowing design decisions/elements from multiple games is less "clonish" than borrowing from a single game
    - a genre of game is an established type of game with a certain gameplay mechanic that many games use ... some games add innovative features to a genre while others do not
    - a game that creates a new type of main gameplay mechanic (thus possibly creating a new genre) is considered more innovative/less clonish than a game that bases it's main gameplay mechanic on another game. It could be considered riskier to do this because it is not known whether the market will like it or not
    - a game that is the first to bring an existing main gameplay mechanic to a certain market is considered riskier/more innovative (in terms of giving something new to the market)/less clonish than a game that uses the same gameplay mechanics (without good additions) of a game that has already done well in that market
    - a game that is a direct functional copy / implementation of another game and changing only the graphics is considered a 'reskin' and is the most "clonish" least innovative (but even the word "reskin" can have different meanings to different people)
    - some developers in the casual industry focus more on developing more innovative games, while other developers focus more on borrowing design decisions from successful games already existing in the market. and other developers do both
    - the developers who develop innovative games will usually have a higher production cost per game than those who focus on borrowing design decisions
    - people like more of the same, when they had fun with a certain kind of game, they want more of it, this is where the games that borrow designs from other games are useful to the consumer as they answer a need in the market as can be seen by the creation of successful "genres" in every market.
    - it is hard to legally protect a game design, it is only possible to protect an implementation of a game through copyright

    OK, now for the questions
    - Are innovative games healthy for the industry?
    - Are innovative developers healthy for the industry?
    - Are games that are more to the non-innovative end of the innovativeness spectrum of games healthy for the industry?
    - Are the design borrower developers healthy for the industry?
    - Is it true that because a "clonish" game sells, it is healthy for the industry?
    - Is it healthy for the industry to have lots and lots of games using the same main gameplay mechanic come out at the same time?
    - In what ways do "clonish" games affect the industry/innovative developers. (I'm always trying to not use the word "clone" because we would have to go back and define "clone" which is a problem as stated above.)
    - How can one define the "health" of the industry? What are we actually striving for?
    - What can we do about any of this?

    Basically I want to propose that the discussion progress to identifing what the problem is (if there is any problem) and if there is a way that we can do anything about it instead of trying to define what a "clone" is and their legal concerns. (since legal concerns can be left to the offended/offending party to handle themselves)

    We all have some idea about it, it just isn't possible to state everything in absolute terms.
     
    #224 chanon, Jul 4, 2007
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2007
  5. chanon

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    My thoughts are that basically, the problem we have in the casual industry is that there are fewer innovators than borrowers. (LOL I try not to use "copiers" as that sounds a little too offending.)

    What happens is that when one of the innovators creates a new innovative highly successful game, all the borrowers begin to "borrow" the design, develop their own version of the game and then they all try to push it to market at the same time.

    Then what happens is that we have tons of games with the same main mechanic (or I would call tons of games in the same genre) come out at the same time. The success of these games depends on whether the market is still interested in playing them when they come out (if they are bored with the genre yet), how much new do they add to the genre, and their production values etc.

    The problem with so many games in the same genre coming into the market at the same time is that they
    - quickly saturate the market... even though consumers may buy them for some time, it is possible that they quickly become fed up with the genre
    - instead of taking time to innovate and add interesting things to a genre, many borrowers mostly just create a generic copy. if each game had interesting things to add to a genre, it would extend the lifetime of the genre and each would probably be more successful

    So even creating an innovative game based on a current successful mechanic is sometimes risky as it will take more time than straight cloning. The risk is by the time the game is finished, the market may have already become fed up with that genre.

    Think of the time when too many generic RTS games came into the hardcore PC market, and the time when too many generic FPS games came into the hardcore PC market. Both of those times probably helped lead to the downturn of the overall hardcore PC market. (OK I have no proof on this so don't ask.) The console market on the other hand always has a higher variety of game types/innovation (with help from the Japanese who aren't big on PC games), thus their success.

    What is happenning in the casual market is the same thing, except the timelines are like 4 months from original groundbreaking game to glut of clones instead of 2-3 years.

    The whole casual industry basically stands on the shoulders of the (few) successful innovative games and game developers. If they fail to produce the next Bejewelled/Zuma-Puzzloop/Diner Dash-Betty's Beer Bar/MCF-I Spy then what will all the borrowers do?
     
    #225 chanon, Jul 4, 2007
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2007
  6. luggage

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    Good questions - do you have a gavel?

    PuzzLoop v Zuma : PuzzLoop would have to argue that Zuma has copied a "substantial" amount which would be copyright infringement. PuzzLoop would lay out a list of all the similarities between the two products with images and explanations to back up why they believe those items were copied.

    Obviously, this presumes that no source code or any of the assets have been copied - the case would be clear cut if so.

    And this is the thing - I'm not convinced I could legally attack Zuma. The only possible chink is that at least two of the level designs are identical. You would have to argue that the skill and effort of the artist and coder has been copied and that it is a substantial amount. 2 levels out of however many would be a stretch to say it's substantial.
     
  7. luggage

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    It's entirely up to a person whether they should ignore the Tetris Company. You could read some guys thoughts on Tetris here - he quotes case law. Or how about Webfoot who settled out of court when Hasbro demanded they remove their versions of Frogger. They settled out of court because the offer was too good - not because they thought they were infringing copyright even though this was the accusation.

    If you think it is wrong to take another games ideas and use them for yourself can you explain why you think it's ok for you to copy Breakout's ideas with Bricks Of Egypt? What parts of Breakout did you not use?

    My point is it's not 'wrong' to use somebody elses ideas it's just cheap.

    (I don't think Bricks of Egypt is bad (and I wouldn't call it a Breakout clone), I bought it for my Dad ages ago, I'm using it as an example that you have knowledge about).
     
  8. Ola

    Ola
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    Luggage, seriously.

    I think people here are getting tired of the fact you loose your memory every ten posts. I never said that.
     
  9. luggage

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    I disagree but from your last post I can assume you agree that using other people's ideas is ok? thank the lord for that.
     
  10. Ola

    Ola
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    That's a very complicated mather. It would take weeks to do a valueable analysis / report of the similarity of 2 games, and how they differ. At least if we are speaking of a serious report that could be used in a court, and that's all that matters in the end.

    A company that seriously claim you have copied their work, won't just accept an excuse. They would force you to settle, or take you to court. So there is normally no use defending yourself, until in court.
     
  11. soniCron

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    Ola, as I stated before, this is a casual scenario in which you play the "devil's advocate."

    This is to help clarify--to us--your understanding of the other person's perspective, and possibly rectify some of the miscommunication that appears to be happening.

    I don't expect a lengthy, in-depth analysis, just a simple commentary; maybe a couple paragraphs.

    It would be beneficial to everyone if you participated in this role-play, though it's by no means necessary. (Although it'd be a sign of good-faith--a demonstration that you wish for all parties to be on the same page--if you did.)
     
  12. KNau

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    People, please! Let's wrap this up.

    Can't we all just agree that regardless of where you stand on the issue of cloning, Popcap are the last people who should be bitching and pointing fingers?
     
  13. papillon

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    Don't be silly. The LAST people? Surely the LAST people who should be bitching would be the people producing the 35th hidden objects game we've seen this month... :)

    Lily white no, but utter hypocrites also no.
     
  14. KNau

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    Fair enough. How about "Popcap's rallying cry against cloning would have been more timely 2 or 3 years ago. Now it's too little, too late and of questionable authenticity."
     
  15. electronicStar

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    Oh, people are getting tired of the whole thread already.
     
  16. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    Relevant recent article: http://www.arsecast.com/ -- a interesting list of clones there.

    "Rinku, could you generously provide some examples of games which others might take offense to their similarity, but you find some value to the direction of the game design field? In what ways might others compare and contrast them to other, similar games? In what ways would you defend their value? (This scenario takes place outside a court of law, in a casual setting.)"

    I think that sounds a bit like a high school essay question. But I think it mistakes my premises. I don't care whether people are offended by the similarity of clones, and I don't feel that clones harm the industry. I feel that clones harm the more innovative designers, by taking a portion of their profits by through games which are quickly made copies of other games.

    Now, of course there's no hard evidence of this, but I mentioned the soft evidence: I don't think so many of them would be made if they weren't profitable, and it doesn't fit my common sense to believe that a person would often buy a game and then a re-skin of that game (or a re-skin of a game and then the original), they'd either buy one or the other.

    I agree with Ola that Luggage seems to be losing his memory every 10 posts. I made an entire post saying it wasn't about the legality, and that nobody is arguing that clones should be illegal, and a few posts later he starts talking about the legality again. :confused:
     
  17. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    But to answer the question more directly, it's easy to imagine a situation in which someone feels that two games are two similar but where I feel they are different enough that both are good games in their own way. An example of this is Space Invaders and Galaxian. Galaxian was accused of being a Space Invaders clone, but to me both play pretty differently and I feel that Galaxian is still worth buying even though I own Space Invaders: it's faster paced, the enemies swoop down at you in waves, there's a scrolling star field background, there's multi-colored sprites, it's different enough that I wouldn't consider it a clone of Space Invaders even though both, to a casual observer who never played either or perhaps doesn't play videogames, might have enough similarities to be labeled the same game.
     
  18. luggage

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    Rinku: I was answering Ola's points not yours. Indeed, I addressed directly...
    But I felt compelled to answer comments that suggested certain things are subject to copyright.
     
  19. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    Yeah, but the way I see that part is this: I don't agree that the definition of ideas and implementations of those ideas are as clear-cut as they are defined legally. For instance, a particular way of doing pathfinding might take years to develop, but legally it would be classified as an "idea" and not an implementation of an idea. I don't think the government has the final word on what is and what isn't an idea, and I don't feel the need to go by their definitions of such when we're dealing with morality and not legality.

    So I do still think you're dragging legality into the question, and not considering that what is legally an idea or an implementation of an idea is just a legal classification, it's an arbitrary distinction, and using legal classifications as the final arbiter of the moral distinction is still bringing legality back into a discussion where it has no place.
     
  20. Allen Varney

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    As I said a couple of times earlier in this thread, the urge to smear the speaker isn't helpful, and it smacks of diversionary tactics.

    The incessant squabbles over "what is a clone?" and the legality of clones are proof that no good outside solution can be imposed on designers. Instead, the field needs cultural reform, a movement to instill personal ethics in the quick-buck parasitic developers and (a foredoomed effort) the portals.

    Plagiarism is shabby ethical behavior. I wish more parasitic developers would avoid it on that count alone. Trying to instill that ethos in the culture involves steady attention to the issue, and -- to repeat -- isn't helped by diversionary smear campaigns.
     

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