How Much Is Considered "Too" Similar?

Discussion in 'Game Design, Development And Publishing' started by KPJ, Sep 16, 2019.

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  1. KPJ

    KPJ Member

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    Hey all. Recently I've taken a great interest in stealth games, and a few days ago I decided to make a top down stealth game. I started planning a stealth game set in space, and I was a solid amount into planning when I researched top down stealth, and found out that my game has many similarities with Tom Francis' Heat Signature.

    For example, they both are top down stealth games set in space, the player plays as an assassin, both have unlockable weapons/tech gadgets (and an accessible in-game equipment menu) and both have a "home base" when a mission is completed. That's about as far as the similarities go.

    There are quite a few differences as well, such as my game's levels aren't made by procedural generation, nor is my game an open world sandbox (it's like Hotline Miami, where the levels are fixed). There are also some different/new gameplay mechanics, for example there isn't a ship that flies around in space looking for enemy ships to infiltrate, and a few more.

    So, what do you think about the similarities of the games (with the given information)? Do you think that my game is too similar and/or a ripoff of Heat Signature, and there are just too many similarities? Or, do you think that the similarities aren't too much of an impact, and that there are enough differences?

    Thanks!
     
  2. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    I think it only becomes a problem if you implement a very unique mechanic or design that is has already been used before, by a very popular franchise.

    But if you implement a unique mechanic of your own, that will set your game apart from others. I haven't played Heat Signature, but I don't think they have the rights to the ideas of:
    - playing as an assassin
    - unlockable weapons
    - and a home base when a mission is completed

    The first two are DEFINITELY common features in many games. As for the home base thing, I think it depends on how its done. In one Megaman game that I played, you start off at the home base where you choose the mission, and upon finishing it, you automatically teleport back to the home base. In fact, the homebase is a huge level by itself where you can walk around, talk to NPCs and even get weapon upgrades.
     
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  3. ParodyKnaveBob

    ParodyKnaveBob The Laughing Rogue

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    Consider the countless jRPGs out there. Dungeons & Dragons inspired so much of it (either directly or indirectly), and even then, Tolkien obviously inspired D&D. In your case, it was coincidence with this one particular game, yet how many of your elements are inspired from other sources anyway?

    Take out the top-down aspect, (and stealth being more a built-in reliance rather than a personal playstyle,) and when I read your description, I got Metroid out of it, Super Metroid and Metroid: Fusion especially. Samus Aran, a bounty hunter, flies through space in her portable homebase (with a different hub for a base in Fusion), unlocking her power suit's potential as she goes along her missions to assassinate every metroid in existence (at least at first).

    I'm with pixeltroid on this. Since one can't own a mechanic/technique (without explicit patents) nor concepts behind writing (space-faring adventure, killers for hire, homebase between missions - vs. - Lylat Solar System, Team StarFox, the Great Fox), whether you're perceived as a rip-off (or inspired by something) becomes more subjective in the audience's eyes.

    Ha ha, I remember being around your age and developing on paper a total rip-off of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past -- but only in a lot of blatantly obvious concepts. My characters' looks and names were different, including run-of-the-mill monsters; my setting's name was different (and had one key feature inspired by both ALttP and an episode of Tale Spin ha ha). I'm no lawyer, but I enjoy IP law enough that I'm confident I'd have every legal right to develop and release what I had on paper -- but oh man, everyone would call it a rip-off (despite some neat unique features) because it .. just .. was. Lol.

    I hope this helps? $:^ D lol
     
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  4. CameronScottCreations

    CameronScottCreations Member

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    It really depends on how "inspired" your game is and by that I mean are you making it with a passion and vision or are you deliberately copying a game. I know this is somewhat subjective but I mean if you love what you are making and you aren't doing it for money as in "game A was highly successful so I will cash in on that success" then you should be fine.

    I wouldn't worry about it being a clone because there are people who only want more of the same thing, more of what they love. If someone loves metroid-vanias then it doesn't matter there are a zillion out there already, like a junky, they want another good fix. I feel like as developers we sometime think like "oh there is already one of these so it would be un-original to make another one" but in reality that type of thinking is going to paralyze you from making a game because there are just too many variations out there now, you would be severely limiting yourself.

    Of course, that doesn't mean you shouldn't try and be original, add your own flavor to the mix, or push some boundary. But don't let an already released, similar game stop you in your tracks. The main questions to ask yourself when developing a game are, "would I play this?" and "am I enjoying working on this?" and if the answer is yes to both of them then carry on!
     
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  5. KPJ

    KPJ Member

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    Thanks for all the replies, guys!
    @pixeltroid Thanks for replying! Yeah, your right. And I am planning on having a lot of unique features :D. Your reply was helpful!
    @ParodyKnaveBob I agree with you as well. Yea, no one really can own a feature lol. And :p about the Legend of Zelda paper game - I understand your point! Very helpful reply as well.
    @CameronScottCreations Your reply was most inspiring! I am definitely making this game for my passion for game development, not just because Heat Signature was popular! I get what your saying.

    After thinking about it, I think I am going to go ahead and develop this game after all.
    And again, thanks for all your help guys!
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
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  6. Toque

    Toque Member

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    Just make sure you put some love in the game that screams this is a KPJ passion game.
     
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  7. HayManMarc

    HayManMarc Member

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  8. KPJ

    KPJ Member

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    @Toque I will :D
    @HayManMarc Whoops! Thanks a lot for the reminder! I always get mixed up between you two and I have no idea why. I think its because both your usernames have three words, and end with a name. LOL. Anyways, fixed it and sorry to @ParodyKnaveBob and @HayManMarc!
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2019 at 2:24 PM
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  9. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    For Tetris it's having the same width of the play field. Have the same width and they'll go after you.

    Just make it your own. Then again even making a game of your own people will still try to pigeon hole you into "looks like this game or that game."
     
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  10. rIKmAN

    rIKmAN Member

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    They've got the width of the board covered under copyright / trademark / patent?
    Just the width of the board or is that tied to the number of blocks that fit within it etc too?

    Interesting.
     
  11. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    Last I recall just the width. They've won in the past.

    Other devs / publishers have put patents on specific mechanics like floating arrows to guide your way, having a mini game on a loading screen, but a lot of those patents have expired. Heck one of my friends has managed to get a cease and desist for using 2 words that were under a fresh copyright for his game with 3 words. They weren't even in the correct order.

    I've seen plenty of Mega Man clones on Steam for money that use a GMS Mega Man engine and basically swap out the sprites and make new levels. There was another game that took a GMS Mario engine, used free assets and released it. The thing is a lot of people don't care. They'd rather have the originals if you're too much like the originals.

    One thing that will help is if a game is only on a Nintendo system and never had a PC port. The first to make it to market will reap those rewards.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
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  12. rIKmAN

    rIKmAN Member

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    Yeah I have read / seen videos on some of the crazy patents that are granted, gotta be some brown envelopes being passed around for some of them to be given approval.
     
  13. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

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    The spirit of the law is "look so close to an original that customers get confused and gets the bootleg, thinking it's the real deal, the original's company losing money and goodwill at the same time"... but a good enough lawyer can make practically anything seem like intellectual property infringement if there's enough money involved to make it worthwhile taking the fight.
     

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