Op Ed

guardian.co.uk - Clone Wars- is plagiarism killing creativity in the games industry? Thanks Ant via Boing Boing.
While finding out that a rival company has plagiarised your hard work may sting, there is little legal recourse for developers who believe their game idea has been appropriated. The issue is that video games are creative in both visual and aural terms, but also in purely functional terms, and the laws that govern these elements are fundamentally different.

Alex Chapman, a lawyer at Sheridan's specialising in games, says: "Generally speaking there is no copyright in a game mechanic or the functionality of a game (or indeed any other type of software). Copyright will protect the visual appearance of the game to the extent that it is original – such as by protecting the graphics, screen layouts and art assets. It will also protect the underlying software code. However, it will not protect the functionality.

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27.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 28, 2011, 19:15
27.
Re: Op Ed Dec 28, 2011, 19:15
Dec 28, 2011, 19:15
 
Prez wrote on Dec 28, 2011, 10:32:
Yeah Jag I see what you did there. It's called "copy and paste".
I had to quickdiff it just to be sure


My 2001 Sable just hit 160k last week. It has a ton of (non-dangerous) problems that I don't intend on fixing, just going to drive it into the ground. Since the transmission was supposed to go at 150k, I'm guessing I won't have it much longer.

This comment was edited on Dec 28, 2011, 19:22.
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26.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 28, 2011, 16:44
26.
Re: Op Ed Dec 28, 2011, 16:44
Dec 28, 2011, 16:44
 
Beamer wrote on Dec 28, 2011, 09:17:
That whole "they want cars to die" thing is crap anyways. How many people here have or know people with cars over 200k miles? In the past that was fairly uncommon for non-diesel engines, particularly in the 80s when everything about the auto market fell apart.

I just got rid of my van, it had 384k miles on it, not km. My car hasa 234k miles on it(I did the conversions no worries ). They're both 90's. The problem with the 80's was the NA auto markets were in a "they'll buy what we tell them to buy" mindset and people said: "haha fuck you." Oddly it was the end of the 80's that gave us the updated 3.8L from the 70's that not even time could kill, and GM is still using to this day. But it's hard to compare gas vs diesel, you're talking different wearing components, and different failure points. A diesel is meant to take heavier abuse, it has to, otherwise it couldn't withstand compression ignition.

I shoulda taken some pictures when I was doing my diesel cert, but I was doing a rebuild on a volvo F12 turbocharged straight 6 that the guy'd been driving since the 70's. 3 of cylinders had bore melts in them from where the pistons had actually melted centre pits. Engine was fine once it was resleaved, pistons were replaced, cam was toast, it was cracked up one side and down the other with hair fractures, crank was rebalanced, new bearings put in and the head was checked to make sure it was level(it wasn't and had to be shaved). But I'd never seen anything like it. Going by his log books, it had nearly 1.6m miles on it when he brought it in for a rebuild.
--
"For every human problem,
there is a neat, simple solution;
and it is always wrong."
--H.L. Mencken
25.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 28, 2011, 10:32
Prez
 
25.
Re: Op Ed Dec 28, 2011, 10:32
Dec 28, 2011, 10:32
 Prez
 
Yeah Jag I see what you did there. It's called "copy and paste".

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
Avatar 17185
24.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 28, 2011, 09:17
24.
Re: Op Ed Dec 28, 2011, 09:17
Dec 28, 2011, 09:17
 
That whole "they want cars to die" thing is crap anyways. How many people here have or know people with cars over 200k miles? In the past that was fairly uncommon for non-diesel engines, particularly in the 80s when everything about the auto market fell apart.

23.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 28, 2011, 08:51
23.
Re: Op Ed Dec 28, 2011, 08:51
Dec 28, 2011, 08:51
 
Jerykk wrote on Dec 28, 2011, 08:20:
Overall, the "originality" meme that keeps popping up in game journalism is a bit of a red herring. There will never be another 100% original game made, just as there will never be a completely original song written. It's not that originality is dead; it's just that the limitaions of the art form and the human senses prevent further innovation, unless someone discovers another note in the octave or a 6th sense that everyone has access to. Someone looking for originality needs to look closer at the minutia and details.

I agree that people need to pay attention to the details when deciding whether or not a game is original. That said, some games are so blatantly unoriginal that it can be difficult to read between the lines. The Call of Duty games, for example. Or military shooters in general. When it comes to gameplay, there are definitely differences between Call of Duty and Battlefield, for example. However, it doesn't change the fact that the games have similar (or in many cases, exactly the same) weapons, enemies, settings, storylines, factions, themes, vehicles, etc. Part of the issue is that these games are inspired by reality and as such, draw from the same pool of reference. The other issue is that military shooters (CoD in particular) sell so well that most of them just stick to the same exact formula. There's a lot of unique gameplay that can be done in the military shooter genre, whether it be the open-world, simulation-based gameplay of the ArmA series or the potentially interesting moral choices of the upcoming SpecOps game. However, most publishers will just continue to copy CoD because it's a proven seller.

The market is dominated by first-person shooters and the first-person shooter market is dominated by CoD-alikes. If I see another completely linear, completely scripted, pseudo-realistic military shooter with regenerating health and completely linear and scripted sniping, rail and stealth segments, it'll be too soon. Unfortunately, we're guaranteed to see at least one more in 2012 and most likely again each year after that.

Many games are only "unique" because they are too expensive/complicated to make or too niche to sell well enough to make money for a AAA studio. I mean, you can say now "I wish someone would make a space sim" but after 5 years of yearly big publisher releases, they'd get reactions like modern war games do.
22.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 28, 2011, 08:50
22.
Re: Op Ed Dec 28, 2011, 08:50
Dec 28, 2011, 08:50
 
Overall, the "originality" meme that keeps popping up in game journalism is a bit of a red herring. There will never be another 100% original game made, just as there will never be a completely original song written. It's not that originality is dead; it's just that the limitaions of the art form and the human senses prevent further innovation, unless someone discovers another note in the octave or a 6th sense that everyone has access to. Someone looking for originality needs to look closer at the minutia and details.

I agree that people need to pay attention to the details when deciding whether or not a game is original. That said, some games are so blatantly unoriginal that it can be difficult to read between the lines. The Call of Duty games, for example. Or military shooters in general. When it comes to gameplay, there are definitely differences between Call of Duty and Battlefield, for example. However, it doesn't change the fact that the games have similar (or in many cases, exactly the same) weapons, enemies, settings, storylines, factions, themes, vehicles, etc. Part of the issue is that these games are inspired by reality and as such, draw from the same pool of reference. The other issue is that military shooters (CoD in particular) sell so well that most of them just stick to the same exact formula. There's a lot of unique gameplay that can be done in the military shooter genre, whether it be the open-world, simulation-based gameplay of the ArmA series or the potentially interesting moral choices of the upcoming SpecOps game. However, most publishers will just continue to copy CoD because it's a proven seller.

The market is dominated by first-person shooters and the first-person shooter market is dominated by CoD-alikes. If I see another completely linear, completely scripted, pseudo-realistic military shooter with regenerating health and completely linear and scripted sniping, rail and stealth segments, it'll be too soon. Unfortunately, we're guaranteed to see at least one more in 2012 and most likely again each year after that.

(see what I did there?)
Avatar 24934
21.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 28, 2011, 08:20
21.
Re: Op Ed Dec 28, 2011, 08:20
Dec 28, 2011, 08:20
 
Overall, the "originality" meme that keeps popping up in game journalism is a bit of a red herring. There will never be another 100% original game made, just as there will never be a completely original song written. It's not that originality is dead; it's just that the limitaions of the art form and the human senses prevent further innovation, unless someone discovers another note in the octave or a 6th sense that everyone has access to. Someone looking for originality needs to look closer at the minutia and details.

I agree that people need to pay attention to the details when deciding whether or not a game is original. That said, some games are so blatantly unoriginal that it can be difficult to read between the lines. The Call of Duty games, for example. Or military shooters in general. When it comes to gameplay, there are definitely differences between Call of Duty and Battlefield, for example. However, it doesn't change the fact that the games have similar (or in many cases, exactly the same) weapons, enemies, settings, storylines, factions, themes, vehicles, etc. Part of the issue is that these games are inspired by reality and as such, draw from the same pool of reference. The other issue is that military shooters (CoD in particular) sell so well that most of them just stick to the same exact formula. There's a lot of unique gameplay that can be done in the military shooter genre, whether it be the open-world, simulation-based gameplay of the ArmA series or the potentially interesting moral choices of the upcoming SpecOps game. However, most publishers will just continue to copy CoD because it's a proven seller.

The market is dominated by first-person shooters and the first-person shooter market is dominated by CoD-alikes. If I see another completely linear, completely scripted, pseudo-realistic military shooter with regenerating health and completely linear and scripted sniping, rail and stealth segments, it'll be too soon. Unfortunately, we're guaranteed to see at least one more in 2012 and most likely again each year after that.

This comment was edited on Dec 28, 2011, 08:26.
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20.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 28, 2011, 06:32
Dev
20.
Re: Op Ed Dec 28, 2011, 06:32
Dec 28, 2011, 06:32
Dev
 
Cutter wrote on Dec 27, 2011, 16:04:
And as for cars, difficult? Not so much as disposable. They want cars - and almost everything else - to die ASAP these days. From the facorty to the scrap heap you'll pay 3-5 times the amount of the sticker price in parts alone over the car's life. This disposable consumer culture we live in really gets on my tits because it's all just about pure greed and entirely unnecessary.
Its not so much that they WANT that, its more that its cheaper to design and build it that way (although in some cases no doubt intentional, so you have to buy out of warranty service or replace the device entirely). If you have one part that will last 10 hours and thats all that you need for the expected lifetime, and its twice as expensive to use a part thats 15 hours life, well then you save a few pennies and go for the 10 hour part.
For instance, I learned when I did a tour of a car transmission plant, that they use a lower grade of steel in the backup gear, one thats only designed for 10 hours lifetime, because they expect you'll have to redo or replace the tranny before that time.

The 3-5 times thing isn't always the case, some cars are better than others, and buying a low mileage used car can also help. In fact, the cost of owning a car (maintenance, etc) should be one of the first things people look at when purchasing, but I doubt many do.

Sometimes if you buy higher end stuff you can get things that aren't quite as disposable. For instance, craftsmen tools. They have a lifetime warranty, regardless of how they break. Did you put a cheater pipe on that wrench and break the wrench from too much leverage? Or did you use that screwdriver as a pry bar instead of actually getting, you know, a pry bar? It's ok, sears will replace it. For a relative this Christmas I got a 200+ piece set of craftsmen tools for $75 that will probably do 90% of what he needs. Its basically designed for car maintenance it has all 3 normal sizes of socket drivers, like 5 kinds of sockets including deep sockets, some hex wrenches, spark plug socket, and all of it is in both metric and SAE. It only has a nut driver though no screwdrivers (though it has the tips), so I told him to get the 16 piece craftsmen screwdriver set thats on sale for $17 now.

Anyway, I agree with your general points, I just quibble with the way they are stated
19.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 28, 2011, 06:06
Prez
 
19.
Re: Op Ed Dec 28, 2011, 06:06
Dec 28, 2011, 06:06
 Prez
 
Jerykk wrote on Dec 28, 2011, 05:44:
Even then ,indie games that are thought to be "fresh and original" aren't nearly as original as they pretend to be. "Braid" and "Super Meat Boy", while having fresh concepts are still at their heart 2D side-scrollers, which haven't been original in about 30 years.

That's a bit of a generalization. Just because a game is 2D and has platforms doesn't make it a Mario ripoff. That's like saying any third-person game is a Tomb Raider ripoff and that any first-person game is a Doom ripoff. Mario, SMB and Braid are completely different games. I'd say that Braid was very original in that it introduced gameplay mechanics that hadn't really been explored before. It also attached a very serious and relatively pretentious story to an otherwise cartoony presentation, something we don't see very often.

No game is ever going to be 100% original, but I think many games have enough original ideas or reinterpretations of existing ideas to qualify as original.

If you read what I wrote again you might see that what you wrote and what I wrote are saying virtually the same thing, though I don't completely accept your analogy of 2D side-scrollers and games with a 3rd person perspective. Of course, that could just be because if I ever see another 2D side-scroller game it'll be too soon. I'm just burned out on them. That's not to say I don't see the freshness in the concepts throughout Braid and SMB, nor understand why 2D is so often the mode of choice used by indies.

Overall, the "originality" meme that keeps popping up in game journalism is a bit of a red herring. There will never be another 100% original game made, just as there will never be a completely original song written. It's not that originality is dead; it's just that the limitaions of the art form and the human senses prevent further innovation, unless someone discovers another note in the octave or a 6th sense that everyone has access to. Someone looking for originality needs to look closer at the minutia and details.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
Avatar 17185
18.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 28, 2011, 05:44
18.
Re: Op Ed Dec 28, 2011, 05:44
Dec 28, 2011, 05:44
 
Even then ,indie games that are thought to be "fresh and original" aren't nearly as original as they pretend to be. "Braid" and "Super Meat Boy", while having fresh concepts are still at their heart 2D side-scrollers, which haven't been otrignal in about 30 years.

That's a bit of a generalization. Just because a game is 2D and has platforms doesn't make it a Mario ripoff. That's like saying any third-person game is a Tomb Raider ripoff and that any first-person game is a Doom ripoff. Mario, SMB and Braid are completely different games. I'd say that Braid was very original in that it introduced gameplay mechanics that hadn't really been explored before. It also attached a very serious and relatively pretentious story to an otherwise cartoony presentation, something we don't see very often.

No game is ever going to be 100% original, but I think many games have enough original ideas or reinterpretations of existing ideas to qualify as original.
Avatar 20715
17.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 28, 2011, 03:58
Prez
 
17.
Re: Op Ed Dec 28, 2011, 03:58
Dec 28, 2011, 03:58
 Prez
 
Is "plagiarism" killing the industry? Aside from the fact that I don't think "plagiarism" is an applicable term here, I'd say 'no'. Well-made derivative games make up about 99% of every gamer's library I'm guessing.

In visual media consumption, it's much, MUCH more about production values than originality. Two of the hugest properties in visual entertainment media, "Modern Warfare" and James Cameron's "Avatar" are hugely derivative in concept, yet sport extremely high production values, not to mention staggering marketing budgets.

The indie game and movie scene have been challenging that notion with varying degrees of success, so originality can still earn some notoriety. Even then ,indie games that are thought to be "fresh and original" aren't nearly as original as they pretend to be. "Braid" and "Super Meat Boy", while having fresh concepts are still at their heart 2D side-scrollers, which haven't been otrignal in about 30 years.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
Avatar 17185
16.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 28, 2011, 02:14
16.
Re: Op Ed Dec 28, 2011, 02:14
Dec 28, 2011, 02:14
 
Alamar wrote on Dec 27, 2011, 23:48:
This has always been a tough argument, and I am kind of surprised by the lack of support here, where so many love the indies.
I love indies for their fresh approach to gaming genres and gameplay mechanics.

I do NOT wish that they behave like big corporations, locking all up, hiding from competition behind legal barriers and preventing evolution and progress by "patenting" the shit out of everything.
15.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 27, 2011, 23:48
15.
Re: Op Ed Dec 27, 2011, 23:48
Dec 27, 2011, 23:48
 
This has always been a tough argument, and I am kind of surprised by the lack of support here, where so many love the indies.

On the one hand, it hurts to come up with a cool idea, and have it ripped off by a group with more money, but that's in part, the nature of competition and consumerism.

Blizzard is a massive entity because of this... They 'stole' the RTS concept and made it into a great (set of) games... Same with Diablo and WoW...

Angry Birds made a crap ton of money 'ripping off' some guys idea and cute'ifying it...

But all this is exactly what the industry (and really, just about any creative industry) is based on...

Doesn't stop me from feeling bad for the 'little guy' though.

-Alamar
Avatar 22996
14.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 27, 2011, 23:43
14.
Re: Op Ed Dec 27, 2011, 23:43
Dec 27, 2011, 23:43
 
You can patent game mechanics and I don't mean code. The actual rules of games are patentable, such as chess variants.
Avatar 17249
13.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 27, 2011, 20:02
13.
Re: Op Ed Dec 27, 2011, 20:02
Dec 27, 2011, 20:02
 
I agree with one of the original commenters here, that this sounds like a writer kissing as much ass as possible without having to sound like a complete meathead. He fails though, as it comes off like an anti-competitive whine barrage.

Many have also pointed out that almost all of these ideas are done, played out(so to speak), and obvious...so wanting to turn to litigation because someone made the same game as you(direct copying aside)...makes you sound like the guy who can't deliver on the better product and actually compete.

Wahhhhhhhh Bigcry

Here's a tip for those folks....Go work for a utility or communications company, games don't need you.
12.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 27, 2011, 19:48
12.
Re: Op Ed Dec 27, 2011, 19:48
Dec 27, 2011, 19:48
 
Ozmodan wrote on Dec 27, 2011, 16:42:
Hyatus wrote on Dec 27, 2011, 14:45:
I quit reading when all it talked about was how you can't copyright a game idea.

Well, no shit. It's called a patent.

Well there is no precedent for software patents, they should be covered under the copyright law. There is a lot of judicial thought that software patents are illegal to start with as they are not covered by patent law.

That may be true... but "protecting a written work" is copyright (In the case of games, specific code, created art content, etc.), and "protecting an idea / invention" is a patent.

You technically can't copyright "plot ideas" (I mean how many times have we seen the same cliche plots used over and over in movies, tv, and books), so I don't see how you could really copyright nor patent "game ideas".

A totally new way to interact / input to games could be patented. - that's an invention. (Kinect, PS Move, Wii-mote, etc.)

But the idea for a game, really can't. (Let's make a 1st person shooter)
And the plot really can't be copyrighted (Let's make a WWII 1st person Shooter, where you follow a squad through "Saving Private Ryan" scenes)
The dialog, character names, etc. etc. of the plot can be copyrighted. (Can't have BJ Blackowitz in Call of Duty or Battelfield games)

The same goes for the movie industry. So I don't get what these guys are really bitching about. It is what it is.

You make a WWII shooter that gets a lot of market support... there are going to be a half a dozen other studios/publishers that try to ride that wave.

/shrug
Get your games from GOG DAMMIT!
Avatar 19499
11.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 27, 2011, 16:42
11.
Re: Op Ed Dec 27, 2011, 16:42
Dec 27, 2011, 16:42
 
Hyatus wrote on Dec 27, 2011, 14:45:
I quit reading when all it talked about was how you can't copyright a game idea.

Well, no shit. It's called a patent.

Well there is no precedent for software patents, they should be covered under the copyright law. There is a lot of judicial thought that software patents are illegal to start with as they are not covered by patent law.
10.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 27, 2011, 16:04
10.
Re: Op Ed Dec 27, 2011, 16:04
Dec 27, 2011, 16:04
 
jdreyer wrote on Dec 27, 2011, 15:03:
If I make game "Hero X" with "Iceman" that has powers "Ice Shield" and "Ice Spear" and another developer makes game "Hero Y" with "Iceman" that has powers "Ice Shield" and "Ice Spear" with identical gameplay, then I should be able to get a court injunction to stop them.

well you can...if you can prove your work is wholly original and not derivative. And that, is all but impossible these days. There is nothing new under the sun. It reminds me of an article I read a while bac saying that most science Nobel winners these days are considerably older than they used to be. And one scientist replied that was because all the easy stuff had been done and now it took a lot more time and resources to do the harder stuff.

And as for cars, difficult? Not so much as disposable. They want cars - and almost everything else - to die ASAP these days. From the facorty to the scrap heap you'll pay 3-5 times the amount of the sticker price in parts alone over the car's life. This disposable consumer culture we live in really gets on my tits because it's all just about pure greed and entirely unnecessary.
"While playing golf today I hit two good balls. I stepped on a rake." - Henny Youngman
9.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 27, 2011, 15:54
nin
9.
Re: Op Ed Dec 27, 2011, 15:54
Dec 27, 2011, 15:54
nin
 
jdreyer wrote on Dec 27, 2011, 15:03:
If I make game "Hero X" with "Iceman" that has powers "Ice Shield" and "Ice Spear" and another developer makes game "Hero Y" with "Iceman" that has powers "Ice Shield" and "Ice Spear" with identical gameplay, then I should be able to get a court injunction to stop them.


Hey! Leave Frozone out of this!
8.
 
Re: Op Ed
Dec 27, 2011, 15:03
8.
Re: Op Ed Dec 27, 2011, 15:03
Dec 27, 2011, 15:03
 
If I make game "Hero X" with "Iceman" that has powers "Ice Shield" and "Ice Spear" and another developer makes game "Hero Y" with "Iceman" that has powers "Ice Shield" and "Ice Spear" with identical gameplay, then I should be able to get a court injunction to stop them.

If my code appears in their games, then I should be able to get a court injunction to stop them. This is the whole point of the patent system.

However, if the developer makes a similar Hero game, but with different hereos, different powers, and similar but not identical gameplay, then it is not a clone, and should be allowed. Iteration is how games improve in time. It's necessary. No company should have a total lock on a specific genre or gameplay mechanic.

If Russia stops fighting, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends. Slava Ukraini!
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