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How to make a fan game without getting all the legal issue stuff?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Lee Zhi Fei, Apr 17, 2011.

  1. Lee Zhi Fei

    Lee Zhi Fei

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    I just played the amazing Sonic Fan Remix a while ago... and then wonder, I should make my own fan-game, based on the game I like. There's a few in mind I would really like to make, but there's all these legal issue things faced by many of those fan games developers that kinda frightened me out.

    Some may say, why not just make one of your own version but with different characters, different theme, different level design, just a bit similar to the original version... but that kinda cuts the whole point didn't it?

    I like those characters, and the theme, the background design of those games, I love playing with the game, but I still didn't have enough of it after playing through it, and the sequel took forever to come... Can't I just make something just like it, to share to the other fans of the game on what we all like about... for free and without getting sued by the original maker?
     
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  2. ivanzu

    ivanzu

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    You can make mods.But not the same game.
     
  3. Frank Oz

    Frank Oz

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    Don't make a forum
    Don't make a website
    Don't talk about Fight Club
    Don't announce it to the world
    Don't advertise it

    Release it quietly
    Get it on Torrents
    Stick it on Gumtree
     
  4. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    Fan games are getting cracked down on more and more in recent times due to the fact these developers and publishers re-release their old games and bring out new versions.

    Fan games aren't safe to do. You can make one for personal pleasure but once you upload it there's no telling what will happen. No-one on these forums or the internet can predict if your game will cause them to order you to take it down or not. There's not predictions on what company tolerates it either.

    You know this quite well, so you can answer all your own questions. There's no magic bullet except maybe:

    1. making a game using placeholders which require graphics

    2. anonymously :p uploading the graphics pack elsewhere ....

    That wont cause your game to get taken down, and the graphics pack should be entitled "fan art" and have no relation to the game anywhere and not be hosted in the same place. It is sneaky but so long as you are not the author of both, there is no legal thing they can do - providing you do not in any way sell it, and you do have different gameplay.

    Then the best they can do is request random fan art be taken down? that is not likely.
     
  5. spiralgear

    spiralgear

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    This.

    There are no damages you could be sued for, all they can do is force you to stop distributing. Once its on torrent sites it no longer needs you to distribute, allowing it to survive on its own.

    Making a website/forum for it puts you in a bad spot legally. It could be argued that any income from the site (Obviously), or any recognition you or your site received directly benefits you. Then there is the potential for lawsuits because you are using their IP for your benefit.


    Despite popular belief, fan games are rarely attacked. The ones you hear about being taken down are games that were making money. They were "real", profit oriented games under the guise of a fan project.
     
  6. Cnaff

    Cnaff

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    lol xD!
     
  7. Dreamora

    Dreamora

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    Even if you make it torrent distribute, you are still its author and the one who broke copyright and trademark, still F***ed as much unless you never talked about it and there is no way for Google to bring up a relationship between it and you.
    But the chance that googl-o-racle missed the slightest trace goes towards 0 ;)

    What makes more sense is that you clear it up upfront for example or approach them if you can show them enough of the game that you are not going to hurt their brand. Cause thats a major thing they can sue you for even if it was given out at $0, many of the games you do fan titles for have a brand value that goes beyond what you earn the next 100k years.
     
  8. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    They will *always* say no. It is simply safer for them to say no. If they said yes, it would cost them money to ensure their yes answer was legally watertight. It's not going to happen unless that company has already got a policy in place such as star trek fan fiction.
     
  9. Dreamora

    Dreamora

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    Exactly, but not all companies have a public policy, sometimes only an internal and sometimes one that decides on case to case base ;)
    In the end, if you don't ask, it could be lost time at any moment basically, so its up to you to decide if you want to invest time into nowhere

    Sure there will always be things where you get a no. Star Wars for example is like asking for the financial end of your life as Lucas Arts doesn't take it lightly, not even for non commercial projects.

    the only ones similarly strict and fast on taking stuff down as far as I'm aware are the owners of popular anime / manage IP (Bleach, Naruto, One Piece) which send you letters right away the moment they become aware of your projects existance

    Nintendo is hard to predict and I think its also depending on which Nintendo branch is related to it. There have been take down letters in the past for their top brands (Mario, Zelda, Pokemon) but on the other hand http://pokemon-universe.com/ still exists for example and that although its commercial (there are ad banners). I tend to think that nintendo potentially holds out in some cases looking where stuff goes to either take it out later to send out a message to others or to hire people / buy whole projects ...

    Unsure on Segas stance, I think they don't care that much as there are that many sonic fan games it hurts.
    Similar Capcom and Konami are not all that strict unless you hit a field they wanted to go.
     
  10. PrimeDerektive

    PrimeDerektive

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    I was always curious as to why Super Mario Crossover was never sent a C&D.

    In Sega's case, they probably just accepted the fact that Sonic Fan Remix was a better Sonic game than anything they've made in the past decade.
     
  11. Alexander Gogolev

    Alexander Gogolev

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    Who knows, when Sonic Fan Remix will be completely made (will be finished)?
     
  12. andorov

    andorov

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    This isn't true at all. Even if you don't make money on a game, you can still cause the company damages. And they *can* sue. Fan games are definitely not safe unless you have clearance before hand.

    I know some companies will let you do it though, but those are the ones that actively support their modding community. I believe Relic had a policy where you could directly use any of their work in any engine as long as it wasn't commercial (I think).
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2011
  13. saymoo

    saymoo

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    There is no legal way.. releasing a game based (read: using) Intellectual Property from someone else without his/her/their consent is forbidden. Doing so, puts you in danger of being caught and held responsible for IP infringements. (meaning lawsuit)

    The best practise would be, to ask permission by the IP holders. (and with old IP's you might have a chance you are allowed to use it)
     
  14. janpec

    janpec

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    You can always make a fan game as long as you dont charge anything for it. I have seen several fan games, pretty decent however all of them were free. Its hard to make fan game AAA level based, becouse you have to get involved in either this or other big company or publisher that sits behind game you are "remaking". Which leads that your game has to be top notch in gameplay and especially in graphic to suit their needs and requirements. I think its very hard to make fan game in decent ammount of time with indie team or to point out with team that is working for free in spare time.
     
  15. Laypoof

    Laypoof

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    very true, well said.
     
  16. hallamasch

    hallamasch

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    One thing I would want to add, in regard to more anonymous distribution channels.
    Use the darknet instead of torrents. (tor, l2p, freenet)

    That way you can build up a fanbase and advertise your game, inside of the darknet.

    The best way is still to clear it up with the IP Holder before hand.
     
  17. JRavey

    JRavey

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    Maybe Lucas would grant permission for a Howard the Duck fan game, you couldn't possibly make that mistake any less valuable.
     
  18. CharlieSamways

    CharlieSamways

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    hehe :') That way its done
     
  19. JRavey

    JRavey

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    On another note, unless somebody is an IP lawyer, I wouldn't take their advice on this stuff. Anonymous Interneter is not going to get in trouble if you stupidly follow their bad advice.
     
  20. Nemox

    Nemox

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    Some companies intentionally overlook fan games because they strengthen the fanbase and keep a series fresh. SEGA for example is really cool about fangames.
    Other companies are very opposed them, and will go out of their way to stop all fan works (Square Enix I think). Then there are some in the middle like Nintendo, who are only strict about certain series or quality of games.

    Generally, if a company wants you to stop working on a fan game, they will slap a Cease and Desist order on you. Only if you pursue it after that do they tend to feel the need to bring legal action against you.
     
  21. ChaosWWW

    ChaosWWW

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    My personal opinion on this is that most companies are usually pretty lenient with fan games, especially big companies like Nintendo or Valve. If your fan game was made with completely unique content and new level designs (not a remake of an old game. The sonic fan remix seems to have got past this problem somehow but most of the time this is not a good idea), then it should be fine if you don't sell it for money. People do this all the time, just check out a site like newgrounds which has all types of fan games, often using sprites from the original games, and they are still up. Your best bet is to contact the company yourself and see if they think you can or not, but chances are they will say no or say they can't say by default. One time I did this with Nintendo and they basically said "we can't really say if you can or not, we get like 1000 emails like this every day and we can't look at every case." So, good luck with that if you want to try it.
     
  22. Jingle-Fett

    Jingle-Fett

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    Personally if I was making a game I'd try to make an original one since there's the potential to make money off your project. However, if you're really set on making a fan game, I would simply make it but don't talk about it much or anything. Maybe on forums here and there but generally keep it low key.
    When your game is getting close to completion and you plan on releasing it online, then contact the company. If they say yes then great. If they say no then change the art assets and anything else that needs to be changed so there's no infringement. This way, even if they say no, at least not all your work goes to waste. This way you can also show the company good screenshots of what the final product might look like and they might be more likely to say yes (keyword being might).
     
  23. Rush-Rage-Games

    Rush-Rage-Games

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    Yah, +1. Plus if you want people to play it you have to make it better than the game your basing it off of. And it's pretty hard to compete with AAA game studios. ;)
     
  24. robattle

    robattle

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    make a completely ultimately cheap knock-off,of the game so that way getting sued is not likely (possible but not likely)and if you do you win by saying it was a legal knock-off!!!best part you can still make money(but i do recommend parody?it's what i do)
     
  25. ChaosWWW

    ChaosWWW

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    Do you really think you, one guy, could win against a companies massive army of lawyers? Also, the company holding the copyright can, for the most part, decide what is and isn't fair use. If you use their franchise for a whole game, you have to take it down if you say so and in court they will always win. The only time you might win against a lawsuit using fair use is if the amount of copyrighted material you used is so miniscule that you can only see it for like a second or it could be open to interpretation (I.E, you could have a character who looks nothing like mario but is called mario and speaks with an italian accent. If Nintendo sued you for that, they would probably lose assuming you had a good lawyer). Once again, I'm not an legal expert, this is just using my limited knowledge. I pretty much know for a fact that you won't win against a large company when it comes to a fan game, though.
     
  26. Dreamora

    Dreamora

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    In this case its especially not just about copyright but about Trademark and valuable brands.
    Considering your situation as "you are F***ed" is a good base and it goes only towards the worse not the better.

    the Brand value is also the reason why they can sue you for indemnification even if you make $0 as you hurt their brand if your game has a crap quality etc
     
  27. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    That sonic clone listed by the op was actually made in unity, and it does look stunning. Shame it wasn't an original game he could sell though. But if he's not working for sega yet, thats sega's great loss :)
     
  28. Hardcharger

    Hardcharger

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    Make your own game and stop being a f4nbo1
     
  29. callahan.44

    callahan.44

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    That Sonic clone is from last year - maybe the developer got the C&D order!

    You also don't have the right to Mod any game you feel like - even if they are pro-modding and provide tools to add new content, they have a hefty EULA to go with it. Getting a 3d engine to do what the developers didn't intend is no different to hacking a <cough> PS3 in eyes of the law.

    I'd rather see people put their efforts into adding new/innovative games to the ecosystem then rehash old games - want some nostalgia get an emulator. :)
     
  30. npsf3000

    npsf3000

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    I actually was part of a fan game, and while the game never got off the ground (unrealistic expectations, lack of initiative in actually getting something done) they got permission to use the original game.

    And this was from Microsoft.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​

    Ensure you have a good model up front, then ask nicely. If they say no, don't be a douche about it - re-petition but don't release crap on bit-torrent etc.
     
  31. Darksider

    Darksider

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    Sorry because I revive this very old topic, but got a crazy idea that involves the same question. I'm thinking of a non-commercial fan game, in which I could invent a story where some characters of the original IP would be teleported to our world, right in the game studio building, interacting with devs (with invented names) in a fun way. I could model their studios. Of course, by doing this I would learn some game dev stuff and also have some fun. After releasing the video walktroughs, I show the videos to the real company and ask for game posting permission, in the showed state. Is this allright ?

    Also, game races are copyrighted or just character names/race names, not their general look ?

    The main goal of the project would be to learn something, and show the community some cool fan stuff. It's more like a story demo. Could the videos put me some problems ?
    Also, regarding company name, if I shorten it in a recognisable way and use a different logo who could suggest the real logo, could this put me some problems ?
     
  32. goat

    goat

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    You present the existing IP as trivia answers to be earned in your original game.

    e.g.

    You create your own new IP characters and game and the goal of the game is to see who is the 'expert' on the other game. The other game and it's IP don't participate in your game they are simple answers to win the quest of your game. And like a television show or a magazine you can use original images and models showing likenesses as that can be relevant to the trivia answers and for illustrative purposes.

    So enough with this making the same game using another's IP and make your own original game using another's IP in a legal way.

    You don't even have to be quiet or use torrents or any other absurdities - plenty of 'cheat' books by non-holders of the IP explaining various games are written and published legally. You simple need to take the same approach to your game.
     
  33. Darksider

    Darksider

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    Does a character count as a 3D model ? What a 3D model needs to have to be considered legally a character ?