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Square Enix Shuts Down Fan-Made Chrono Trigger Sequel 455

Posted by Soulskill
from the suspicious-timing dept.
KIllagouge writes "Just days before the release of Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes, SquareEnix sent a Cease & Desist letter to Chrono Compendium to stop everything to do with Crimson Echoes. People might remember when they did this with Chrono Resurrection. Seems to be the growing trend; instead of listening to their fans, which would net them even more money, game developers continue to lock down old gaming IP. A copy of the C&D letter is available online." The fan project had been in development since 2004 and was 98% complete.
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Square Enix Shuts Down Fan-Made Chrono Trigger Sequel

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  • by BikeHelmet (1437881) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:52AM (#27919715) Journal

    The argument could be that this is a ROM mod. Aka you need to download the game (likely illegally) to play it.

    I wonder if it'd be different if it had a separate engine, or would they send a C&D letter for that too? Hmm... they probably would.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @06:52AM (#27919719)

    Never heard of them

    I can make do without their game. Can they make do without my money?

    So far, so good.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @07:26AM (#27919899) Homepage Journal

    I'd wager that most of the people interested in this project do already own a legal copy of Chrono Trigger for either SNES or Playstation.

    But they probably do not own the equipment to copy their Super NES cartridges to the PC. Per UMG v. MP3.com, owning a lawfully made copy doesn't entitle you to download another copy elsewhere.

  • To nitpick: why would you link to the section on United States law?

    As CmdrTaco wrote [slashdot.org]: "Slashdot is run by Americans, after all, and the vast majority of our readership is in the U.S." Besides, the minimum copyright term across all WTO members (life plus 50 years) is still long enough that Atari 2600 games will probably stay copyrighted for the rest of your life.

  • It's a ROM hack (Score:5, Informative)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @07:31AM (#27919931) Homepage Journal

    Replace X characters with new Y characters.

    Is it still infringement?

    Yes. It's a ROM hack, meaning that it uses most of the same computer program as the original game. Putting new characters in a non-free program doesn't make it not a non-free program.

  • by Sabz5150 (1230938) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @07:38AM (#27919985)

    Great, what does that have to do with the profitability of fan made mods?

    Mother 3.

    Any idea how many copies would sell if the fan mod were sold officially in cartridge format? I'd buy it at 50 bucks and not think twice. Millions would.

    Wherever there is demand, there is money to be made. There are no exceptions.

  • Re:But of course... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Burkin (1534829) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @07:40AM (#27920001)
    Yes, because you aren't allowed to use someone else's non-free assets without their permission.
  • Re:Unfortunate (Score:4, Informative)

    by snerdy (444659) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @08:41AM (#27920443)

    Here's fourteen titles off the top of my head: Half-Life, Neverwinter Nights, Quake, Doom, Unreal, The Sims, Spore, Elder Scrolls, Civilization, Fallout 3, Bard's Tale, Lode Runner, Boulder Dash and Raid on Bungling Bay.

    Some of those titles can be broken down into additional individual games (for example, The Sims was a significantly different game from The Sims 2, especially from a modding perspective) so this list could be expanded quite a bit. Some of them make modding a necessary part of their structure (Spore) and others wouldn't have garnered any attention at all if not for their mod tools (Raid on Bungling Bay) and others have just been outright owned by the mod community (Doom). And it's worth noting that even this short list of games represents a substantial portion of the entire market for video games on personal computers. The Sims and Half-Life alone have sold more games than the rest of the top ten list put together [wikipedia.org], and that includes World of Warcraft.

    So, yes, modding is a significant factor in the success of "a lot" of great games on the PC.

  • Re:It's a ROM hack (Score:3, Informative)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @09:18AM (#27920769) Homepage Journal

    It's been reverse-engineered. Isn't that supposed to be legal?

    When reverse engineering a cartridge format was ruled legal (Sega v. Accolade), the end result didn't contain more than a tiny amount of the original work: an init routine of (IIRC) 32 bytes or less. In this case, the copied game program is several orders of magnitude bigger than that.

  • by drb_chimaera (879110) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @09:30AM (#27920927)
    I think he means Gunman Chronicles [wikipedia.org]
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @09:38AM (#27921019) Homepage Journal

    But that doesn't mean that when we are discussing a non-US topic, that US law is somehow automatically applicable!

    Nor did it mean that we were even discussing a non-US topic. WHOIS says the domain is registered to a proxy company based in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. And Netcraft's report [netcraft.com] says the site is hosted in the United States.

  • by JSBiff (87824) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @09:47AM (#27921133) Journal

    Ok, I missed something before - I didn't realize this was a modification of the original ROM for Chrono Trigger. All I can say is these game devs are sort of idiots. They should have just built their game from the ground up 'clean' (well, they could have probably used an open source game engine as the basis for it). That way, if Square-Enix decided to stomp on them, they *could* have done what I originally suggested - change a few names, dialog, and maybe a little bit of artwork, and have an essentially original game.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @09:48AM (#27921147) Homepage Journal

    The fact that it "uses most of the same computer program" is irrelevant, as surely that is what is installed in the user's machine, and therefore is not distributed by them?

    Because Super NES cartridge copiers (Pro Fighter, Super Magicom, Super Wild Card, etc.) are uncommon in English-speaking countries, most users will obtain "what is installed in the user's machine" by downloading it from a ROM site. This is copyright infringement, even if you already own a legit Game Pak. Universal Music Group v. MP3.com.

    The question is whether (a) their ROM hack itself includes copyrighted material

    It's likely, given that the IPS format has no way of moving data from one place to another place in a ROM. It's just a list of runs of bytes that are replaced. Besides, new poses of existing characters are probably "non-literal copies" of the existing data.

  • by gerglion (1264634) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @10:07AM (#27921415)

    Assuming they did not rip off too much, they should just rename the game, characters, locations, redraw the character sprites so they bare no resemblance and then release like that. If they are still not happy and are feeling daring, they can later "leak" a patch which changes everything back to as it was originally intended.

    It was a Chrono Trigger rom hack. Removing all Square-Enix IP would be starting from scratch, thus not really a viable option.

  • by Yosho (135835) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @10:13AM (#27921487) Homepage

    Umm, Crystal Defenders came out recently. They published Persona 4 in Europe. Echoes of Time is a few months old, but that was pretty good, too. Same with Lost Winds. I suppose they got mixed reviews, but there's also Star Ocean 4 and The Last Remnant. The FF4 sequel and Dragon Quest 9 will be out in a few months. If you count games that were recently released in Japan, there's also Kuroshitsuji and Dissidia.

    Wait, was I supposed to not actually say anything?

  • by ildon (413912) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @10:48AM (#27922069)

    Uh, no one creates original derivative works for WoW (a.k.a. emulated servers) without getting a cease and desist letter. Not only that, but Blizzard recently started taking advantage of what is actually a pretty strict licensing agreement for working on UI mods, such as not allowing them to be sold or allowing them to ask for donations anywhere in-game.

    Further, there's a long detailed history [wikipedia.org] of mods for Quake, Unreal, Half-life, etc. that took content, characters, or even just concepts from other works that were not part of the game they were modding being shut down permanently by the owners of said content, characters, or concepts. Those games also have detailed license agreements about what users are and are not allowed to do with mods for those games.

    There is no such modding agreement with Square Enix for Chrono Trigger.

  • Re:It's a ROM hack (Score:4, Informative)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @12:06PM (#27923197) Homepage Journal

    Changing up notes in a song makes it a new copyrighted work

    Citation needed. If the new work is substantially similar to the old work in ways not inherent in the work's genre, it infringes.

  • by Drinking Bleach (975757) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @04:41PM (#27927767)

    It's illegal to download it no matter what. The only legal way to have a ROM image is if you own a SNES cartridge copying device.

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