Search Unity

  1. Unity 2020.1 has been released.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Good news ✨ We have more Unite Now videos available for you to watch on-demand! Come check them out and ask our experts any questions!
    Dismiss Notice

Recreating old Arcade games - Legal?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by joostvanpoppel, Apr 13, 2018.

  1. joostvanpoppel

    joostvanpoppel

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2017
    Posts:
    29
    Hi Unity Community,

    I want to start up a new Unity project to recreate an old 8 bit arcade-game (1985). This new version of the game will have its own (new) graphics, sounds, and some new functionality etc. It will be completely new but with the same feeling as the old game (bottum-up-scroller). Based on the result of the game it might be a commercial product.

    I have contacted Capcom.com - who originally made the game - through various emails/twitter/contactforms to ask for permission but didn't get any reaction.

    The general question is:
    - Can I recreate a game without permission of the original creator? (with all new assets)
    - If so, are there any limitations? (I suppose I can't reuse the name or refer to the original game?)
    - How would you guys suggest how I should act?

    thanks in advance,
    Joost
     
  2. FMark92

    FMark92

    Joined:
    May 18, 2017
    Posts:
    1,244
    No, unless IP is made public domain by owner.

    And stop asking question that we can't answer, without knowing which game you're talking about.
    Which game do you want to make?
     
  3. verybinary

    verybinary

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2015
    Posts:
    373
    I suggest you act by making a game like the game you like.
    are you talking about recreating 1942? instead, make "My Airplane Zooms Through the Sky Shooting Stuff"
    (but don't use that title, im about to trademark it)
    Capcom cant tell you that you cant make a game, they can just tell you you cant steal anything they created. Use their game as inspiration, don't try to mirror it.
     
    Socrates likes this.
  4. joostvanpoppel

    joostvanpoppel

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2017
    Posts:
    29
    I don't think it's very important to know the title, but if you want to; Commando.
     
  5. joostvanpoppel

    joostvanpoppel

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2017
    Posts:
    29
    I just read; https://gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/11752/is-it-legally-possible-to-make-a-clone-of-the-game

    One of the replies:
     
  6. joostvanpoppel

    joostvanpoppel

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2017
    Posts:
    29
    What do you consider "mirroring"? recreating it the way that it looks the same as original? (I want to create completely new sprites/backgrounds/sounds/etc.
     
  7. verybinary

    verybinary

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2015
    Posts:
    373
  8. FMark92

    FMark92

    Joined:
    May 18, 2017
    Posts:
    1,244
    It's a reference to IP. Of course it's important.
     
  9. verybinary

    verybinary

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2015
    Posts:
    373
    but not really. a clone is a clone is a clone.
    he could be cloning Mario, he could be cloning frogger.
    it wouldn't change the question in the least
     
  10. joostvanpoppel

    joostvanpoppel

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2017
    Posts:
    29
    I'll just keep on trying to contact Capcom and get permission. Think thats best to do.
     
  11. verybinary

    verybinary

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2015
    Posts:
    373
    no its not. getting license to use the commando name is going to be too expensive to make it worth it. The best you can do is make a similar game and not name it Commando.
     
    theANMATOR2b and zombiegorilla like this.
  12. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    8,168
    This ^

    Getting permission means licensing the content. It’s probably unlikely they will, unless you are established, and even then, it will be expensive.
     
  13. SnowInChina

    SnowInChina

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2012
    Posts:
    205
    about cloning "ideas"
    i am not sure if everything goes
    i think there were some article about how final fantasy has a patent on the combat system ?
    if anyone knows how this played out, enlighten me, i don't really find much useful things on that matter
     
  14. derf

    derf

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2011
    Posts:
    347
    Define recreate?

    You cannot, for example, remake Pac-Man. Even if you point out you created a new Pac-Man sprite, its still the same looking sprite. Even if you create your own four ghosts colored red, orange, pink and blue, there the same ghosts. This WILL get you in trouble.

    Games that cloned classic games, got away with it because they supplied their own unique sprites and they called the game something else entirely. The only thing they copied was the GAME PLAY.

    Now if you were to create a game with what looks like a little kid in pajamas who moves around a maze "eating" what look like little cookies and a glass of milk that randomly appears in the maze worth large points, with 4 objects (Teddy Bear, Ray Gun, Flashlight and Slingshot) to collect that grant invincibility while being pursued by 4 unique looking monsters that emerge from a square box that is called Closet, who try to collide with the little kid, you could do that. In fact there ya go a game idea I offer. The first one who creates it, keeps the idea.


    Never re-use the name of an existing game. EVER!

    Create your own game from scratch (get what you can from the asset store if possible). PERIOD
     
    iolo79 likes this.
  15. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Posts:
    26,727
    It is legal to have similar art and gameplay, but it is not legal to copy anything or have a resemblance that is too close. In short a homage should be perfectly acceptable

    There is a precedent for copying gameplay somewhere, but this only applies if the levels are also exactly the same, in which case it falls foul of copyright. I would just make the game with the idea of it being "in spirit".

    - note: not a copyright lawyer :)
     
    Whippets, zombiegorilla and derf like this.
  16. MrArcher

    MrArcher

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Posts:
    105
    Commandon't.
     
  17. longroadhwy

    longroadhwy

    Joined:
    May 4, 2014
    Posts:
    1,483

    Here is something from a video game attorney ...

    https://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comments/5pxldd/ultimate_as_promised_guide_to_legal_needs_and/
     
    SnowInChina and derf like this.
  18. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2013
    Posts:
    8,759
    Copying gameplay is only a concern if the original gameplay was covered under a patent, but even if so a 1985 game's patents would already have expired. You can't copy any of the old game's trademarks because those will still be in effect, so you need to use a different name for the game, different characters, etc. You also can't reuse existing art assets from the old game. From your descripting it sounds like you're already on the right track.

    Here's an old example. So say you want to create a Pac Man game. You can't call it Pac Man, you can't use the iconic Pac Man characters such as Pac Man himself or the ghosts. You can through replicate the game play with all new characters and its own unique theme, such as with my all time version of this game, 1981's Mouse Trap:



    So in Mouse Trap, you play virtually identical to the original Pac Man, but the name is different, you play as a mouse instead of Pac Man, and you're chased by cats instead of ghosts. When you grab one of those dog bones you actually turn temporarily into a dog and can go eat the cats just like how Pac Man could do similar and eat the ghosts. Very fun twist on the game for its time, and is a good example on how to copy a game.
     
    theANMATOR2b likes this.
  19. tsibiski

    tsibiski

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2016
    Posts:
    296
    To piggyback off of this from hippo, I recommend you review this to get a better idea of where the line begins to blur...



    That is a video by Leonard French (actual copyright lawyer), who is reviewing a case between PUBG and ROS, which has dangerously skirted the line between imitation and actual copyright infringement.
     
  20. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Posts:
    26,727
    Those are designed to steal business, while a homage like The Other Brothers was designed more as a flavour, or sense of that era. Nintendo did not mind at all, and there were significant differences, despite the general flavour and feel.

    We knew there was no chance of confusion. We didn't even have bashing blocks with our character's heads because that would be going too far IMHO. It's a different thing to copy-shops out to actually steal business.
     
  21. Arowx

    Arowx

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Posts:
    7,483
    Most new games are tweaked copies of an older game, as long as they differ enough from their precursors there are no IP/copyright issues.

    Otherwise the makers of the original FPS "DOOM" (?was this the first FPS?) would be getting IP revenue from COD, Battlefield 1 and PUBG.

    Take the original concept play with it make the game design data driven and play with the concepts/rules in the game, improve or re-style/re-genre the artwork and you have made something new and hopefully better without IP/copyright issues.
     
  22. Ryiah

    Ryiah

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2012
    Posts:
    15,959
    Wolfenstein 3D is the game credited with inventing the genre. You might be able to make a case for earlier games like Maze War but Wolfenstein has most of the basic elements you find in a modern FPS.
     
  23. tsibiski

    tsibiski

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2016
    Posts:
    296
    I think there is a mighty difference between copying a genre (like FPS/TPS/2d Platformer etc), or a concept (such as the cover system implemented by Gears of War, or the Horde Mode they made hugely popular) - and then comparing carbon copying those things to carbon copying an entire premise, game design, etc.

    Ignoring obvious infringements, like decompiling and stealing code; when you copy a game and very literally only change the art assets, then you are definitely walking a line from a legal point of view, and I'd argue from a social point of view too (IMO). The example above of the Pacman rip off with cats and dogs is closer to that line than many I've seen. Although I doubt it would ever have came to a legal showdown that would ever work in Pacman's favor... But its a line being skirted nonetheless.

    That is ultimately what it comes down to. If you really do a copy pasta, change some art, and then try to compete in a way that vies for the original's market share in a way that can be reasonably and tangibly proven by prosecution... then you've stepped in it, so to speak.
     
  24. zenGarden

    zenGarden

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2013
    Posts:
    4,538
    Every game is a clone to some extent of other games graphics or gameplay.
    Use your own models, your own levels and graphics, make some twists to gameplay and you can make some game inspired by another without beeing a simple clone game.
     
  25. theANMATOR2b

    theANMATOR2b

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2014
    Posts:
    7,782
    I'm 100% behind protecting copyright and upholding the law, but for this instance I don't think pubg has a case, they are hoping Ros can't afford the battle.
    I'd wager a small amount, if this was a fare fight between two entities who had similar bank, Pubg looses this - unless they can 100% prove Ros has stolen code or art content.
    Looking 'similar' and playing 'similar' is not copyright violation.

    However being in California - anything can happen in that case.
     
  26. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2013
    Posts:
    8,759
    Yeah a lot of what I have read in their complaint boarders on comical.

    For example, in their complaint they are specifically trying to claim copyright on:

    * frying pans as melee weapons
    * storage containers scattered across a map
    * the phrase "Winner Winner Chicken Dinner"
    * a waiting area where players can test weapons, even though PUBG had removed weapons from their waiting area prior to even filing their complaint
    * jumping out of an airplane to start a match
    * scavenging for gear
    * Use of helmets and body armor to protect the player
    * Use of a ghillie suit as camouflage
    * Use of energy drinks as health/boost items
    * Fixed and random item spawning
    * Increasing gun accuracy while prone
    * Decreasing sound made while crawling compared to walking
    * Lack of music during gameplay
    * Supply air drops
    * Use of a large island as a game map
    * Inclusion of farms with a tractor
    * Use of a Tommy gun and M4 variant firearms
    * Use of a red dot sight

    The ridiculous list just goes on and on. None of which are actually unique to PUBG.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
    theANMATOR2b, Whippets and hippocoder like this.
  27. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Posts:
    26,727
    Yeah it's a good enough reason for us to disrespect them. And I do for that that list. I have no reason to ever do business with these people or recommend them.

    It's one thing to claim copyright on something you believe is your USP and unique and another thing to take this piss. Taking the piss is insulting so they can GTFO for trying to harm pretty much every developer on the Unity forums.
     
  28. Mauri

    Mauri

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2010
    Posts:
    1,781
    Well, PUBG is made by a South Korean studio (Bluehole, Inc.) and Koreans are generally very strict when it comes to Copyright stuff. No excuse here, it's the truth.

    (Doesn't change the fact that this list is indeed ridiculous, though).
     
  29. ShilohGames

    ShilohGames

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2014
    Posts:
    2,808
    ROS clearly copied PUBG, but it is possible they could get away with it since they did not literally copy any art assets.
     
  30. zenGarden

    zenGarden

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2013
    Posts:
    4,538
    This means all type of gameplay will be copyright, and you'll have to buy thousand copyrights to make a game lol

     
    kittik likes this.
  31. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2013
    Posts:
    8,759
    Pretty much. You'd think that list would be a joke, but its all in the complaint and more. Here's the exact text of PUBG claiming that the way they handle sounds is somehow some unique invention, including their revolutionary lack of music:

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/pubgneteasecomplaint.pdf

    To be clear, they are not saying that the games that copied them actually copied the exact sounds, which they didn't. They instead copied the concept of having different sounds for different guns and vehicles, being able to hear footsteps, and all that is made possible by PUBG lacking music unlike all other games. :rolleyes: PUBG invented all of that!
     
    theANMATOR2b likes this.
  32. zenGarden

    zenGarden

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2013
    Posts:
    4,538
    If that would happen there would be no more indies making games because of copyrights costs or copyrights forbidden usage.
     
  33. derkoi

    derkoi

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2012
    Posts:
    2,043
    Do you guys remember this: http://www.wired.co.uk/article/tetris-clone-ruling

    Basically because players thought the clone was an actual official version (just like Pubg & ROS) Tetris won.

    Food for thought.
     
  34. JohnnyA

    JohnnyA

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Posts:
    4,839
    Its not that hard to get old arcade IP, for example g-mode are quite approachable and they have a lot of old games. You will of course have to pay.

    Getting POPULAR old games is going to be much harder.
     
  35. derf

    derf

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2011
    Posts:
    347
    This example, however is poor, simply because the game play of Tetris is SO SIMPLE, the design is simple, everything about it is so simplified it is impossible to attempt to "clone" the game and try to declare it in your own style and not have it be considered infringement unless you take it to the next level (no not just adding multi-player feature like they did).

    An example of next level would be instead of "blocks" they are geometric shapes instead.
     
    theANMATOR2b likes this.
unityunity