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Treading the Fuzzy Line Between Game Cloning and Theft 235

Posted by Soulskill
from the welcome-to-the-world-of-policeactioncraft dept.
eldavojohn writes "Ars analyzes some knockoffs and near-knockoffs in the gaming world that led to problems with the original developers. Jenova Chen, creator of Flower and flOw, discusses how he feels about the clones made of his games. Chen reveals his true feelings about the takedown of Aquatica (a flOw knockoff): 'What bothers me the most is that because of my own overreaction, I might have created a lot of inconvenience to the creator of Aquatica and interrupted his game-making. He is clearly talented, and certainly a fan of flOw. I hope he can continue creating video games, but with his own design.' The article also notes the apparent similarities between Zynga's Cafe World and Playfish's Restaurant City (the two most popular Facebook games). Is that cloning or theft? Should clones be welcomed or abhorred?"
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Treading the Fuzzy Line Between Game Cloning and Theft

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  • Re:Warcraft (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @07:52AM (#30386682)

    Not Warhammer Online... Games Workshop put out the original Warhammer, a tabletop miniatures strategy game, back in 1983. Warcraft: Orcs and Humans came out in 1994 and completely ripped off the style as well as many of the gameplay concepts. The way the orcs talk, the races in the game, the art style, it's all blatantly copied from Warhammer. And now some people have the gall to call Warhammer Online's art style a "ripoff" of World Of Warcraft.

  • Re:There's no line (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @08:10AM (#30386768)

    Here's your source material:

    U.S. Copyright Office - Games []

    Copyright does not protect the idea for a game, its name or title, or the method or methods for playing it. Nor does copyright protect any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in developing, merchandising, or playing a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles. Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author’s expression in literary, artistic, or musical form.

    Material prepared in connection with a game may be subject to copyright if it contains a sufcient amount of literary or pictorial expression. For example, the text matter describing the rules of the game or the pictorial matter appearing on the gameboard or container may be registrable.

    The back side of this form letter describes the options for registering copyrightable portions of games. If your game includes any written element, such as instructions or directions, we recommend that you apply to register it as a literary work. Doing so will allow you to register all copyrightable parts of the game, including any pictorial elements. When the copyrightable elements of the game consist predominantly of pictorial matter, you should apply to register it as a work of the visual arts.

    The deposit requirements will vary, depending on whether the work has been published at the time of registration. If the game is published, the proper deposit is one complete copy of the work. If, however, the game is published in a box larger than 12" * 24" * 6" (or a total of 1,728 cubic inches) then identifying material must be submitted in lieu of the entire game. (See “identifying material” below). If the game is published and contains fewer than three threedimensional elements, then identifying material for those parts must be submitted in lieu of those parts. If the game is unpublished, either one copy of the game or identifying material should be deposited.

    Identifying material deposited to represent the game or its three-dimensional parts usually consists of photographs, photostats, slides, drawings, or other two-dimensional representations of the work. The identifying material should include as many pieces as necessary to show the entire copyrightable content of the work, including the copyright notice if it appears on the work. All pieces of identifying material other than transparencies must be no less than 3" * 3" in size, and not more than 9" * 12", but preferably 8" * 10". At least one piece of identifying material must, on its front, back, or mount, indicate the title of the work and an exact measurement of one or more dimensions of the work.

  • Re:Spore (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @08:29AM (#30386878)

    flOw came out before Spore, derpster.

  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @08:34AM (#30386896) Homepage

    Do you even know what plagiarism means? If the code was plagiarized, copied without citation, it was infringement. If not, there is no plagiarism.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @08:54AM (#30387004)

    No, it's based on ethics. Misrepresenting another's work as your own is a breach of creative ethics.

  • Re:Warcraft (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nathrael (1251426) <> on Thursday December 10, 2009 @09:15AM (#30387140)
    To be fair though, Blizzard cooperated a lot with Games Workshop iirc. GW even did some concept art for them.
  • Re:Warcraft (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheThiefMaster (992038) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @09:18AM (#30387160)

    Actually Warcraft was originally a licensed Warhammer game, but it got cancelled. Then Blizzard decided to change it just enough to avoid infringement and released it anyway.

    Which is why it's so ironic that Warhammer online is accused of being a copy of Warcraft.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 10, 2009 @10:25AM (#30387736)

    Starcraft was NOT a clone of Comand and Conquer. Starcraft was a spin-off of the Warcraft franchise. Warcraft: Orcs and Humans was released BEFORE Comand and Conquer but was a clone of an earlier Westwood Game, Dune 2.

  • by Francis (5885) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @11:03AM (#30388108) Homepage

    I haven't seen this mentioned yet - Ketara, the makers of Aquatica, have credited Jason Chen, creator of flOw, with the concept. On their website, they explain that they intended no disrespect, and have apologized for it. They viewed Aquatica as a fan remake.

    Because of the controversy it caused, they have removed Aquatica from the app store - it is no longer available. []

  • Re:Warcraft (Score:5, Informative)

    by LOLLinux (1682094) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @12:39PM (#30389602)

    No, he can't. It's a widespread internet rumor that no one actually can provide real evidence for.

  • Re:Warcraft (Score:2, Informative)

    by Belial6 (794905) on Thursday December 10, 2009 @05:51PM (#30394890)
    Wow, you took revisionist history to a whole new level with that one. First, there was no video game crash. People just started gaming on "home computers". A game console IS a computer, so the only thing that happened was that Commodore took away Atari's market share. Second, it wasn't clones that killed the Atari. It was the fact that the Atari 2600 was vastly inferior to the Commodore 64. They were not even in the same ballpark. Claiming that the 2600 died because of clones makes about as much sense as saying that the Playstation 1 died because of cloning. Or that the NES died because of cloning. The 2600, Playstation 1 and NES all died because superior systems were released, and people migrated to those new systems.

    Yes, a bunch of companies went bankrupt, or shut down their video game divisions after Christmas of '83, but given that many of them were not in business during Christmas of '82, you can hardly call their loss a 'crash'. In fact, many of them were businesses making games that were little more than advertisements. You could say the same thing happens every year when companies take their flash games off of their websites.

    Basically the "Video Game Crash of '83" is a piece of fiction for those that don't know what a computer is.

Premature optimization is the root of all evil. -- D.E. Knuth