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Minigames: fair use, or copyright protected?

Posted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 2:46 am
by RedSocialKnight
To what extent would it risk violating someone's copyright to have a minigame similar to commercially available games in your own game?

For example, I have an idea for a combat mechanic that is basically a simplified version of the card game "Sets". Would I risk being shut down by the makers of that game?

What about block-matching puzzles? There are a million clones of Bejeweled out there -- but are they all paying Popcap games a royalty, or do they have to change the game just enough to avoid copyright infringement?

Or can a game mechanic not be copyrighted?

Posted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:08 am
by hanako
Software patents are... complicated. Mostly people say you can't protect the gameplay, just the look and feel. If you make your game look confusingly similar to Bejeweled, you're more likely to be in trouble than if you just make a game about matching groups of three. IIRC people got in trouble for making scrabble clones either because they used the name scrabble or because they had tiles that looked just like scrabble tiles (with the number in the corner).

However, it's always a good idea to change the rules a bit, both to protect yourself and so that people playing the game don't feel like they're being ripped off by getting an exact copy of something else.

To an extent, games with similar rules are considered to be just members of the same genre. Most FPSes have a lot of things in common. This is good for developers AND players because it means a common skillset can carry over, so players are more comfortable trying out different games.

Posted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:16 am
by RedSocialKnight
Thanks!

Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:26 pm
by FantasiaWHT
Good advice, Hanako.

Worst case scenario a cease-and-desist letter heads your way. You're not going to get sued out of the blue.