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Treading the Fuzzy Line Between Game Cloning and Theft

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the welcome-to-the-world-of-policeactioncraft dept.

Businesses 235

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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Warcraft (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386592)

One of the world's most popular computer game franchises is a clone of Games Workshop's tabletop/pen & paper games. That seems to work OK.

(captcha = helmets)

Re:Warcraft (3, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386612)

Saints Row 2 (haven't tried the first) is actually much better and IMO more in line with the GTA philosophy than GTA IV. I was surprised how good it was. Bring on the clones. We don't have to play the crappy ones.

Re:Warcraft (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386668)

It's not exactly a clone, though. What made SR so welcome was that it was so un-GTA in so many regards. That's not cloning, that's evolution.

Re:Warcraft (4, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387274)

Cloning is what caused the videogame crash of 1983. The popular console of the time, Atari VCS/2600, was an open platform with ~25 million users so everyone was trying to create quick clones of previously-created Atari and Activision games. For example: Coconuts is an obvious clone of Kaboom with near-identical play mechanic, but nowhere near as good.

What then happened was a major overload of games, most of which were not worth buying, and consumers got feed up and simply stopped buying. Sales fell-off during 1983, game prices plummeted from $30 to $5, and after Christmas many companies went bankrupt.

I think we're going to see the same thing happen now. There are too many games flying around on Facebook, iPhone, and other net-connected services, people will burn-out, and sales will plummet.

Re:Warcraft (4, Interesting)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387300)

I think that, paradoxically, the tool we have that is inundating us with information (the Internet) is also the greatest weapon against this happening. With the way information is processed, it becomes trivial to sort through all the crap out there and skim the sweet delicious cream from the top of the Intarwebz (ewwww....)

Re:Warcraft (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386680)

I dunno about 'in line with philosophy' and all that, but SR2 was a great game. I hated SR1, and GTA games are just 'pretty good' in my book... But SR2 I actually played to the end without cheating. For a guy that has so much to do that he never gets bored any more, that's saying a lot.

Re:Warcraft (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386990)

For a guy that has so much to do that he never gets bored any more, that's saying a lot.

There's a difference between "never gets bored" and "easily amused".

Re:Warcraft (2, Funny)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386662)

There's scant little "pen and paper" in Warhammer, and the gameplay is bugger-all like Warcraft. The setting is a knock-off but the game sure as hell isn't.

Re:Warcraft (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Warcraft (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387028)

Yes, and Warhammer was a rip off of Tolkien who was a rip off of god knows how many people.

Re:Warcraft (3, Informative)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Warcraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386870)

There's scant little "pen and paper" in Warhammer

You've never played WHFRP, I see.

Re:Warcraft (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387036)

I think I'll never pronounce it, either ...

Re:Warcraft (2, Informative)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387140)

To be fair though, Blizzard cooperated a lot with Games Workshop iirc. GW even did some concept art for them.

Sometimes clones surpass the original (3, Insightful)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386594)

Starcraft is one example. I would rather play Starcraft than C&C.

Re:Sometimes clones surpass the original (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386658)

starcraft is not a c&c clone. when graphics and gameplay are as different from one game to another as they are between these two games, it's just two games from the same genre.

Re:Sometimes clones surpass the original (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386724)

...and Starcraft is a clone of Warhammer 40,000, the sci-fi version of Warhammer Fantasy Battles. Blizzard rips off Games Workshop again. Zerg = Tyranids, Terrans = The Imperium of Man, Protoss = Eldar...

Re:Sometimes clones surpass the original (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387152)

More like both Starcraft & WH40k we're loosely based on Heinlein's Starship Troopers.

Re:Sometimes clones surpass the original (2, Insightful)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387210)

Not just Starship Troopers, but Dune as well. God Emperor of Man? Astropaths? Space Marine training grounds often look like Salusa Secundus.

Re:Sometimes clones surpass the original (1)

kjart (941720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387234)

To be fair Tyranids were ripped off from the movie Alien. That being said, I do agree with you on your implied point about Blizzard gettin too much credit sometimes. While they make polished games (which I can certainly appreciate) I've never found that they bring much new to the table. Just look at the upcoming SC2 vs Supreme Commander (on the tech side) or the Dawn of War series (for gameplay).

Culture vs Consumerism (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386608)

at its finest. "This is plagiarism!!" No it's not, you tool, it's conversation. Your attitude is exactly what is wrong with the world copyright has built. You don't own that idea, it belongs to the ages.

No kidding (5, Interesting)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386656)

If you, an intelligent Slashdot reader, can no longer distinguish between a genuine creative influence and copying something wholesale, then the notion of authorship is fucked, and it's all commodity.

Re:No kidding (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386960)

I can distinguish it, but don't really care.

A good game is a good game regardless of who wrote it, or who came up with the original idea. The logo on the box is unimportant.

Re:No kidding (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386980)

Precisely: commodity. It could be Walmart's own-brand for all you care.

Re:No kidding (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387010)

Exactly. I can tell the difference, I just don't think it makes any difference.

Re:No kidding (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387022)

Did Linux copy UNIX wholesale? They implement the same API. That's no different from games like Tetris and Quadrapassel implementing the same rules.

Re:No kidding (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387090)

That's an awful comparison. An API exists to be implemented by multiple outside projects to achieve a particular function on a particular system. The rules of Tetris weren't an "entertainment API" released by the creators of the human brain to allow multiple games developers to impliment entertainment.

Re:Culture vs Consumerism (1)

shish (588640) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386978)

You don't own that idea, it belongs to the ages.

So what motivation is there for anyone to come up with any new ideas?

Re:Culture vs Consumerism (2, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387044)

Copyright applies to expression, not ideas. The motivation to make new ideas is that you can make money off the execution of the idea. That's why Linux and Wine aren't copies of UNIX and Windows respectively, even though they implement the same idea (the POSIX API and the Win32 API).

Re:Culture vs Consumerism (3, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387050)

Only temporary monopolies called Trademarks and Copyrights.

The fact that they are being extended for well beyond their original intended life span is what's wrong with the system. I blame Disney.

Re:Culture vs Consumerism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387060)

EXACTLY!! Why would anyone spend their life creating new ideas if the moment they finished it the work 'belonged to the ages' and they starved?

Re:Culture vs Consumerism (2, Insightful)

badpazzword (991691) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387308)

Are you trying to claim there was no reason whatsoever to innovate or create art before patents and copyright were introduced?

Re:Culture vs Consumerism (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387066)

My feeling is the opposite: if you don't have to spend ages looking for prior art, and millions in preventive lawyers fee, you're freer to focus on actually coming up with and developing your ideas.

Of course, some will also be freer to spend their time looking for others' ideas to steal too... There's a balance to find, and I think right now, we've over-balanced.

Re:Culture vs Consumerism (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387148)

Once upon a time, it would've been credit for having come up with a great idea, but desperate one-upmanship in the "I hate IP" game has clearly devalued that notion. Even if you have an idea, it's not your idea - it's everybody's. According to our friend up there.

Re:Culture vs Consumerism (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387222)

I don't think it's so much one-upmanship as a backlash against the entire idea.

As a developer myself I think the concept has proven to be such an incredible pain in the ass that we'd be better without it.

Re:Culture vs Consumerism (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387266)

I'm all for reducing the scope of IP protection in law, but when you start reducing one's right to stand up and take credit - simple, moral credit - for one's own ideas, then that's bullshit. I'm a scientist, the only payback I get for my work is credit for having had the idea. I don't get a patent or copyright or a trademark to defend.

Re:Culture vs Consumerism (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387298)

If that's your attitude, then don't - the rest of the world will happily tick along, with people having ideas and getting along fine, without worrying about them getting sued because you claim you had the idea first.

It's sad that some people and companies behave like 12 year olds - "Wah! You can't do that, that's my idea!" said the schoolkid.

Re:Culture vs Consumerism (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387068)

Aquatica is very clearly a flOw knock off, so Aquatica is plagiarism if and only if the author did not explain that flOw inspired him.

All these terms have very different meanings with very different real purposes, but all cover an aspect of "depriving the creator".

Plagiarism the closest to theft by far because plagiarism deprives the creator of the credit due for their creation. Plagiarism has no legal status for various sound reasons, like being only indirectly tied to compensation and not being abused by large corporations, but society tries to punish it indirectly nevertheless.

Copyright exists solely to prevent those who control distribution channels from distributing works without compensating the creators. Copyright is vastly further from theft than plagiarism since the creator has far less intrinsic right to distribution than to credit. Copyright has legal status because (a) the criteria is fairly well defined and (b) publishers will never reward authors otherwise. Btw, copyright is basically functioning correctly when shutting down commercial distribution channels like Napster and TPB who have no intention of compensating creators, but copyright is being grossly misused when attacking individual file sharers.

Patents exist solely to protect the investments of venture capitalists while creating new industries. Patents are by far the furthest IP device from "theft" since they protect venture capitalists not creators. Patents are more just a contract between society and the capitalist that says "If you fund this, then we'll grant you a monopoly for a few years." Clearly patents have also drifted extremely far from their original purpose, now functioning more as a "currency" between businesses.

Should clones be welcomed or abhorred? (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386610)

I, for one, welcome our clone overlords.

There's no line (4, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386636)

First, there's no theft. There could possibly be copyright infringement if somebody is using somebody else's graphics.

Second, there doesn't seem to be any copyright infringement, since as far as I can tell nothing is being copied. Copyright only applies to copies of the original material. Making your own graphics that look a lot like something else is not copyright infringement.

There could possibly be trademark infringement, but that's most definitely not theft.

And what's the big deal, anyway? For every successful game, there have always been a few clones.

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

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386768)

Here's your source material:

U.S. Copyright Office - Games [copyright.gov]

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:There's no line (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386792)

And what's the big deal, anyway? For every successful game, there have always been a few clones

So to within the world of literature. After many ground breaking works; like say Tolkien, there were multitudes of new works from aspiring authors that wanted to write that type of literature; with a range of quality from piss poor to works that could be called unique in their own way. This to can be found, as mentioned, among computer games, just look at Wolfenstein3D/Doom and all the clones that popped up over the years. While most are now entirely forgotten some became hits in their own right; and FPS games are still being made today.

Of course if we are talking about someone taking a game and just remaking it on another platform, with almost no alterations, we might be talking plagiarism. But concept "cloning" is, in my mind, entirely legitimate.

Re:There's no line (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386900)

So to within the world of literature. After many ground breaking works; like say Tolkien, there were multitudes of new works from aspiring authors that wanted to write that type of literature; with a range of quality from piss poor to works that could be called unique in their own way.

Indeed. Pretty much all modern fantasy owes something to Tolkien. Tolkien redefined elves, for instance. There have been also bigger works based on it, for instance, Nik Perumov wrote a sequel to LOTR.

But it shouldn't be forgotten that Tolkien heavily borrowed from mythology.

Re:There's no line (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387368)

Indeed, and it's good to see this response here on Slashdot. The forum Gamedev.net is a great forum for games development, but it's depressing to see that there's a lot of people there who jerk their knee at any hobby project that remotely resembles a clone. ("It's probably illegal, you'll have to get a lawyer!") Despite the fact that commercial games do it all the time.

I'm surprised no one's mentioned Civilization - it had the commercial clones such as Call To Power, and then of course there's games like FreeCiv that no one has a problem with. And Civilization itself borrowed ideas from earlier games such as Empire...

(There's was also that recent uproar over Civony, now Evony, about its bad advertising practices - the criticisms were valid, but it was a shame to see some people also deciding to add to the criticism that it was a "rip off" of Civilization. If someone brings us an online Civilization, preferably without the bad advertising, then good luck to them I say.)

Re:There's no line (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387472)

and for every blockbuster movie, there is some lame 7th rate cut budget no-name film studio release of the same film. (the tom cruise war of the worlds had like 3 no name studio knockoffs release the same year. not that the Cruise one was anything to write home about)

the point is, people try to ride the coattails of other peoples successes.

Wonic the Hedgehog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386648)

Totally not cloned.

Collect 7 magic crystals and save Princess Tobotnik.

Sonic Gonzales (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387078)

Sonic's concept of "cartoon character with an attitude, of an animal species known in mythology for being fast" has been cloned left and right: look at Bubsy and the rest of the me-too games. In fact, Sonic himself appears to be in part a clone of Warner's Speedy Gonzales, so much that someone made a mod of a Speedy Gonzales game for Super NES to replace Speedy with Sonic.

Iteration leads to innovation (4, Insightful)

Kentaree (1078787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386678)

Why did someone write Linux when Unix was already out there? Why was Mario created when there were already other platform games out there? It's going to get harder and harder to come out with original ideas, e.g. look at any game released in the last 10 years, you can count truly innovative ones on both hands. But yet there's still games that come out, using a tried and tested formula, that are better than the rest. If there was no cloning, we'd have very few new games coming out ever.

SMB1 may have been the first (0, Troll)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387096)

Why was Mario created when there were already other platform games out there?

In the early 1980s, there weren't other scrolling platform games. As far as I can tell, SMB1 was the first game to use scrolling instead of a Donkey Kong-style single screen or Pitfall!-style page flipping.

The great pet war of 2010 (2, Interesting)

Flixie (643395) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386704)

I think 2010 will be the year of the Great Pet War. Zynga just launched Petville, a Pet Society (Playfish) clone, and although it's arguably better looking, much of its content it's also embarrassingly familiar. http://petsocietyanonymous.com/2009/12/06/petville-vs-pet-society/ [petsocietyanonymous.com]

Re:The great pet war of 2010 (1)

zaffir (546764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387392)

Check out Farmtown, released several months before Zynga's Farmville. Farmville is almost a direct copy.

Glass houses and all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386706)

Is it me or does this look exactly like the first part of Spore.

Re:Glass houses and all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386830)

Or does the first part of Spore look like it?

Re:Glass houses and all (1)

10Neon (932006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387190)

Spore had barely been announced when flOw was released.

Visual Style (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386712)

When you copy a game right down to it's unique visual style, it's pretty obvious what side of the line you are on. If the developer of Aquatica had created his own graphical style from scratch, but kept the same gameplay rules, it would have been a lot murkier. And I think he would even have been left alone.

Devil Kings and 99 Nights were very clearly clones of Dynasty Warriors, but they brought their own visual styles, characters and plots to the table. The engine behind them is pretty much the same. No reasonable people called it theft.

Re:Visual Style (2, Interesting)

daid303 (843777) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387212)

So it's just style that counts?

Aquatica is a clone of Flow for a different platform. So someone took a game they liked, changed platform, and released it so the world could enjoy it in a different way.

Clones don't happen because of lack of imagination, but because someone sees more in it then the original developer.

Clones should be abhorred (2, Insightful)

Shinobi (19308) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386722)

The reason is that no clone brings any innovation or evolution. Another problem is developers who confuse cloning and inspiration, thinking both equate the other. There are some who view any game inspired by theirs as a clone, but far more common are developers who straight off clone/plagiarize something and then claim it's inspired by as well as innovation blah blah, and it's not just game developers who are guilty of that. In fact, just look at development in various open source areas, and you'll see that they are more busy plagiarizing functionality and then spouting off some PR about innovation rather than actually engage in innovation. GIMP is one, the Linux project has a fair amount of it too. The various BSD's have also done this, but to a lesser extent.

The FSF may claim that it somehow fosters innovation, but that's disingenious at best. Innovation is, when you get down to the root of it, to say "Who cares if others think I'm wasting my time, I'll do this completely new thing". Plagiarization fosters laziness and incompetence.

Re:Clones should be abhorred (2, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386774)

I think the truth lies somewhere in between. A mechanical, soul-less knock-off, like the flow example in the article, accomplishes nothing from a creative perspective. Yet even the most conservative "Doom Clone" brought some sort of rich addition to the design mix, even if it was just new levels. In the act of duplication, creative forces can be at work, producing a less-than-exact copy which carries with it some trace of the creative processes of the duplicator. There's a broad spectrum there.

Re:Clones should be abhorred (1)

Shinobi (19308) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386852)

A new map, while creative in its own right, does not change the fact that the game in itself is a clone.

Re:Clones should be abhorred (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386988)

I'm not saying that it does: I'm arguing that its derivitive nature does not automatically eliminate the possibility of creativity.

Re:Clones should be abhorred (4, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386836)

Sorry, I don't give a damn about originality. I care about what matches my needs. Obviously a straight 1 to 1 feature clone isn't terribly interesting, but once you're there, you're probably going to want to differentiate your clone somehow, so you'll have to add improvements somewhere. That's where it gets interesting.

It fosters innovation by the virtue of competition. For instance, you make a text editor and have the idea of adding syntax highlighting. Somebody else goes and makes their own editor, also with syntax highlighting. Now you need to do something new to be a better choice, so you add code folding. Then do too, and add a spell checker. And so on. There's your fostering of innovation.

If you had the only editor in existence you wouldn't have a lot of motivation to make it better, you could just keep selling 10 year old code. But that wouldn't be very innovative.

If you're so worried about somebody else copying your idea, get off your ass and improve your.

Clones are adored. (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386930)

Halo was a clone of every shooter that came before it. The basic mechanics haven't changed much since I first took up hmm... Hexen may have been my first shooter experience. Everything has been incremental technological improvements.

If the clone doesn't offer real value, people will play the original.

Re:Clones should be abhorred (3, Insightful)

shish (588640) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386966)

GIMP is one

Last I checked the GIMP developers were trying to be innovative, but all the users were screaming "No! Everything must work exactly the same way it does in photoshop!" :-P

Re:Clones should be abhorred (1)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387188)

They didn't listen to the userbase when they pushed through their abhorrent new UI though. Hm.

Then you must loathe Blizzard .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387048)

Because all they did was copy the world of Games Workshop (i.e. Warhammer) and the gameplay of C&C to create Warcraft. Cloning at its finest.

Re:Clones should be abhorred (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387116)

I don't know who ever built the first car, but I'm glad as all hell you weren't around at the time, or we'd still be using this slow, not weather-proof and noisy piece of crap. It probably had real leather seats, though.

I'm glad others copied his idea, and built on it.

PS: Take THAT PizzaAnalogyGuy. Cars >> Pizza !

It's copyright infringement, not theft! (5, Insightful)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386746)

First, it's copyright infringement, not theft. And no one can "steal" your idea because ideas cannot be owned.

Second, it's infringement if he infringed on your code, art work, or music. If not, it's not infringement.

 

Re:It's copyright infringement, not theft! (-1, Troll)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386844)

He's not calling it stealing, he's calling it plagiarism. Which it is.

Re:It's copyright infringement, not theft! (2, Informative)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386896)

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

Re:It's copyright infringement, not theft! (-1, Troll)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387000)

You clearly don't, if you think that duplication of code (or any other text) is a requisite.

Re:It's copyright infringement, not theft! (4, Insightful)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387012)

No, plagiarism and infringement are two very different things. For example, if you copied someone's ideas for a paper and took credit for them yourself, that would be plagiarism but not infringement; if you copied the paper itself but gave credit, that would not be plagiarism but would be infringement.

Plagiarism is about who gets credit for things, not copying, while infringement is the other way around.

Plagiarism and copyright breach are orthogonal (0)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387370)

That's copyright infringement, not plagiarism. They are two seperate issues: one moral, one legal.

Re:It's copyright infringement, not theft! (1)

I cant believe its n (1103137) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387322)

Modders gone wild.

Re:It's copyright infringement, not theft! (0)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386860)

The discussion isn't based upon the legal definition.

Re:It's copyright infringement, not theft! (3, Funny)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386890)

So it's entirely based on someone's feelings? Oh poor baby, someone liked your "idea" which you do not own. I feel so sorry for you.

What is this fricken the Oprah?!

Re:It's copyright infringement, not theft! (1, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387004)

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

Re:It's copyright infringement, not theft! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387100)

Sure he copied the concept, but he recreated it from scratch with his own hands on a different platform. If I make a copy of something but use a different medium, it becomes a creation of mine too.

Re:It's copyright infringement, not theft! (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387132)

He didn't just copy the concept, he copied the artwork, audio, and everything else he could get his hands on. It's hardly a different medium, either: it's not rendered in interpretive dance. It's an improperly attributed port of the title, basically, down at the low end of the "creative influence" spectrum.

"Another's work" (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387114)

Define "another's work". When I read it, I see the legal definition: "a work whose copyright is owned by someone else". If you mean something else, please be specific.

Re:"Another's work" (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387216)

work (wûrk)
n.
5.
a. Something that has been produced or accomplished through the effort, activity, or agency of a person or thing

other (r)
n.
2.
a. A different person or thing

Ergo, something that has been produced or accomplished through the effort, activity, or agency of an individual other than individual claiming credit for its production or accomplishment.

Re:It's copyright infringement, not theft! (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387162)

"Misrepresenting another's work as your own is a breach of creative ethics"

That's complete BS! There is no trademark violation here. The guy made a came similar to another game. Which is the exact same thing John Carmack did with Commander Keen. Eventually Carmack created the FPS and there have been countless imitators ever since. That's what happens in creative fields.

And exactly where do these "ethics" come from if they do not come from the law or from your subjective feelings?

Re:It's copyright infringement, not theft! (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387244)

Actually, if there had been trademark infringement (you don't "violate" a trademark as you would a trademark attorney) it would be less of an ethical issue, as a player would automatically assume that it was from the same developer as the original "flow". Misattribution would have been diminished.

As for your other question:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics [wikipedia.org]

No, it's plagiarism not copyright infringement (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386902)

Yes, but plagiarism is a third word, which means taking ideas without giving credit. Of course, plagiarism has no legal status, since plagiarism cannot be judged in court. We nevertheless seek to take plagiarism extremely seriously and punish the most clear cases. Punishments for plagiarism are intentionally fairly mind but highly embarrassing.

Aquatica is very clearly a flOw knock off, so Aquatica is plagiarism if and only if the author did not explain that flOw inspired him. If the author cited flOw, then Chen should be happy for the free advertising, and get on with life. If the author did not cite flOw, then Chen should complain to the authors employer or university about the incident of plagiarism, which should slow the authors for promotion or possibly institute academic dishonesty proceedings.

Good faith (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387142)

Of course, plagiarism has no legal status, since plagiarism cannot be judged in court.

Really? As I understand it, in a copyright case involving a fair use defense, giving due credit to sources can count toward the defendant's good faith.

Aquatica is very clearly a flOw knock off, so Aquatica is plagiarism if and only if the author did not explain that flOw inspired him.

One of the promotional pages for Blockbox [gamepoint.co.uk] , a game with the same rules as Tetris, stated: "Tetris? No, I like this better." Therefore Blockbox isn't plagiarism. Am I following your logic right?

Re:It's copyright infringement, not theft! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386974)

what about if you have an idea whilst drunk, write it down and forget about it. somebody comes and takes that piece of paper. have they stolen your idea?

most popular facebook games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386750)

"The article also notes the apparent similarities between Zynga's Cafe World and Playfish's Restaurant City (the two most popular Facebook games)."

Wow, did Farmville [slashdot.org] become 3rd place in only 4 days?

"Theft" is a poor word here. (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386770)

Is imposible to make videogames on "The void", so all games have ideas from all other games. From the menu system, the way to reward or inform the player, to how to store the textures/extra files, how to distribute, how to sells, develop and some share code, but most share ideas, all share ideas. And the first one, was a "tennis" like clone.

Also, even the worst games ( PACMAN clones ) try to add something to the table.

We don't say that Warcraft 3 is a clone of dune 2, or thief, we say Warcraft 3 is a RTS.

Re:"Theft" is a poor word here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387014)

(it) Is imposible to make videogames on "The void"

Oh, yeah? What about Daikatana?

Spore (1)

iccaros (811041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386782)

wow, both examples look a lot like the first part of Spore.... neither look like new ideals..

Re:Spore (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386878)

flOw came out before Spore, derpster.

Clones should be welcomed (5, Insightful)

rcastro0 (241450) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386934)

"Is that cloning or theft? Should clones be welcomed or abhorred?"

Easy. Clones should be welcomed.

1) They put innovation pressure on the original, benefiting everybody.
2) They put price pressure on the original, benefiting everybody.
3) They may create a better platform, a better product than the original, benefiting everybody.

Everybody wins. Except when you look at the motivation to create original products in the first place. Will the clones lower the reward and make it less beneficial to be original?

Hardly.

1) A truly original and inovative product will take some time to clone -- there will be a lead, in which user base/fan base/multiplayer communities should create critical mass.
2) Playing it right, the original *will* have goodwill. In other words, all things being fairly equal, people will likely stay with the original.
3) Originality is a scale, not a binary concept. Games are more or less original. Per (2) above, clones will need to compete in originality just like their inspiration did. When each clone out of many tries to be a little more original than the next, they may arrive at a quite original game, per Darwin. This could happen even though they started off at a lower plateau of originality than the concept originator. Think StarCraft.
4) In this sense, everyone is (or must be) original to be relevant. Originality is not at risk.

I hope that didn't sound too confusing :-)

Staggered regional releases (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387168)

A truly original and inovative product will take some time to clone

But it won't really matter if the original publisher plans a staggered release. For example, Lumines was out in the United States in March 2005, giving one developer several months to get a GPL'd clone going [pineight.com] before the European release six months later. And Tetris still isn't on the PSP, but the homebrew clones are.

Re:Clones should be welcomed (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387508)

1) A truly original and inovative product will take some time to clone -- there will be a lead, in which user base/fan base/multiplayer communities should create critical mass.

That's not true at all. It can take a long time to develop the concept and game design before you even start implementation. For a 1 man shop doing it on his own the implementation time could be many, many times longer compared to an established corporation with an existing dev shop working to copy your concept and design. In this case, the corporation can accomplish many man hours of work in a compressed time window, produce the work, and then jump ahead of you buy pumping more dollars into deployment channels and advertising.

oh well, it's my brain not yours (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387174)

In many ways you owe most of your creative efforts to the society that formed you. Ideas are usually not absolutely original. And have an original basis or inspiration. Clones are usually poor clones. if you don't like competition, find a new line of work.

Also there is plenty of great software out there that are just clones:
* Microsoft Excel is just a clone of Lotus123 which is a clone of VisiCalc.
* Linux is a clone of Unix.

I'm tired and can't think of other examples. I'm not convinced that a person deserves protection but if they can't execute on a successful business and only has ideas and "designs". I realize that people work hard to design cool things, and they *feel* cheated when someone just hops in and makes a clone that is almost as good as theirs. But the important thing to remember is that it is a feeling. Where you actually cheated? I don't think so. Is it fair? Maybe. Is life fair? No way.

Also, it is hard for me to accept that a person owns an idea after they showed it to world. By then the idea is in my brain, and frankly nobody owns anything that is in my brain but me.

Re:oh well, it's my brain not yours (1)

CaseCrash (1120869) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387538)

Also, it is hard for me to accept that a person owns an idea after they showed it to world. By then the idea is in my brain, and frankly nobody owns anything that is in my brain but me.

Careful, don't give the *IAAs any reason to think about forcibly removing ideas from our brains, they'll get congress to do it.

It's not theft (1)

Beerduck (1109047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387178)

As long as you write your own code and make your own graphics you should be allowed to create whatever you want. In this case, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" fits perfectly. Copying someone elses work also increases competition which is good for everyone, especially the gamers.

Heh.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387206)

The entire Open source movement is based on creating clones of previously successful proprietary software..

Seems to work for them :)

+5, Flamebait.

Most popular? (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387416)

Zynga's Cafe World and Playfish's Restaurant City (the two most popular Facebook games).

This article would beg to differ [independent.co.uk] that they are the two most popular. However, the top two (FarmVille and Cafe World) do have clones (Farm Town and Restaurant City) at 8th and 9th places.

But can you blame them? FarmVille had 65.6 million active users in one month, I think a lot of devs would be just fine with only 1% of that, and a clone might be a simple way to get it.

Copycat as a business model? (1)

garg0yle (208225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387454)

They mention Zynga for Cafe World, but some of their other products (I'm looking at YOU, Farmville) also seem very similar to competitors' products (Farm Town, anyone?). Their latest, PetVille, seems awfully derivative of Pet Society by Playfish, for example.

great giana sisters ! (1)

yossarianuk (1402187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387546)

I remember great giana sisters being more playable (and far faster) than the original mario bros - I was glad that came out as Nintendo would never have made an Amiga version of Mario. In this case the clone was banned

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Giana_Sisters
br>
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