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can you copyright a game combat system?


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#1 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 10:14 AM

I am the combat master.

I was thinking of creating a combat system that can be used in many games with slight alterations.
Depending what kind of combat mechanics they want... RNG(luck or no luck.. turn based or live action etcetc.

I would be unhappy if other games copy my combat system though.
Would it be possible to put a copyright on it?

I was thinking it might be possible?

Because for example the DnD has a license on it... just that they chose to make it uhmm whats it called again... so anyone can use it commercially for free.

http://www.d20srd.org/
http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=d20/article/srdarchive


So I would also like to create a good combat system but make it so no one can use it without my authorization.
Which I would sell rights to use in a specific game to other studios or use in my own games.

Is it possible to do this?
And what conditions and everything to be able to put a copyright on a combat system?

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#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 18338

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 10:43 AM

Would it be possible to put a copyright on it?
I was thinking it might be possible?

Yes. Copyright protection is automatic as soon as an idea is expressed in tangible form. (Note there is a difference between copyright protection and enforcing copyrights.)

Because for example the DnD has a license on it... just that they chose to make it uhmm whats it called again... so anyone can use it commercially for free.
So I would also like to create a good combat system but make it so no one can use it without my authorization.
Which I would sell rights to use in a specific game to other studios or use in my own games.
Is it possible to do this?

Yes. It is rather straightforward to do. Groups do it all the time.

And what conditions and everything to be able to put a copyright on a combat system?

You talk to a lawyer with experience in IP rights in the game industry.

The lawyer will help you craft your license.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#3 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 10:52 AM

(Note there is a difference between copyright protection and enforcing copyrights.)


Can you explain more plase

#4 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8466

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 11:01 AM

can you copyright a game combat system?


No. Try patenting it instead.
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=difference+between+copyright+and+patent
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#5 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 11:07 AM


can you copyright a game combat system?


No. Try patenting it instead.
http://lmgtfy.com/?q...ight and patent


ok so would patenting a combat system be possible?
how much different would it need to be from other combat systems?
how can i know which combat systems are already patented?
If tehre is a good combat system in some game that isnt patented yet can i patent it?

how to enforce patent? is it easy or hard?

#6 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8466

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 11:17 AM

ok so would patenting a combat system be possible?
how much different would it need to be from other combat systems?
how can i know which combat systems are already patented?
If tehre is a good combat system in some game that isnt patented yet can i patent it?

how to enforce patent? is it easy or hard?


Answer:

You talk to a lawyer with experience in IP rights in the game industry.


Edited by Tom Sloper, 28 September 2012 - 11:17 AM.

-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#7 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 11:18 AM

isnt there anyone with any kind experience on this forum??

#8 Cornstalks   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6966

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 11:23 AM


Would it be possible to put a copyright on it?
I was thinking it might be possible?

Yes. Copyright protection is automatic as soon as an idea is expressed in tangible form.

Are you sure? IANAL, but as far as I've always understood copyright, it is the expression that is copyrighted, not the idea behind the expression. With that in mind, I would've thought the mechanics/flow/idea of the combat system is not copyrightable, and if one created a similar combat system with an original expression/implementation of it, it would be fine. I don't claim to know for sure though.


isnt there anyone with any kind experience on this forum??

Sure, we have professional lawyers here, but they charge a professional fee, because it's their career, and offering legal advice isn't something you just do willy nilly on the Internet (because it creates certain liabilities).
[ I was ninja'd 71 times before I stopped counting a long time ago ] [ f.k.a. MikeTacular ] [ My Blog ] [ SWFer: Gaplessly looped MP3s in your Flash games ]

#9 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 11:27 AM


isnt there anyone with any kind experience on this forum??

Sure, we have professional lawyers here, but they charge a professional fee, because it's their career, and offering legal advice isn't something you just do willy nilly on the Internet (because it creates certain liabilities).


So what programmers are career too..
But they give out help on how to program stuff instead of taking payment.

same with game designers giving out advice but not taking payemnt

and same witth artists

etc etc

#10 Cornstalks   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6966

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 11:30 AM



isnt there anyone with any kind experience on this forum??

Sure, we have professional lawyers here, but they charge a professional fee, because it's their career, and offering legal advice isn't something you just do willy nilly on the Internet (because it creates certain liabilities).


So what programmers are career too..
But they give out help on how to program stuff instead of taking payment.

same with game designers giving out advice but not taking payemnt

and same witth artists

etc etc

Except for the legal liabilities, which I explicitly mentioned...
[ I was ninja'd 71 times before I stopped counting a long time ago ] [ f.k.a. MikeTacular ] [ My Blog ] [ SWFer: Gaplessly looped MP3s in your Flash games ]

#11 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 11:35 AM




isnt there anyone with any kind experience on this forum??

Sure, we have professional lawyers here, but they charge a professional fee, because it's their career, and offering legal advice isn't something you just do willy nilly on the Internet (because it creates certain liabilities).


So what programmers are career too..
But they give out help on how to program stuff instead of taking payment.

same with game designers giving out advice but not taking payemnt

and same witth artists

etc etc

Except for the legal liabilities, which I explicitly mentioned...


wuat kind of liabilities?
how can it hurt to just give advice?
He can even say for protection its his unprofressional advice.

lawyer is for creating contracts and tailoring the contract for your business and deal etc..

but he can still say in a nice advice how its generally done :D

peace all
green world and world peace

#12 NaturalNines   Members   -  Reputation: 334

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 12:03 PM

but he can still say in a nice advice how its generally done

I'm no lawyer, but I studied law as an undergrad. First thing I was taught: never trust free legal advice.

Now to the free legal advice: patent law is incredibly complex. Any advice you receive from someone not currently practicing, even if they were formerly a patent attorney or paralegal, could be outdated and therefor incorrect.

Edited by NaturalNines, 28 September 2012 - 12:03 PM.

Good news, everyone! I have a signature now!

#13 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 963

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 12:11 PM

ok so would patenting a combat system be possible?
how much different would it need to be from other combat systems?
how can i know which combat systems are already patented?
If tehre is a good combat system in some game that isnt patented yet can i patent it?

how to enforce patent? is it easy or hard?


I spoke casually to a patent lawyer about game copyrights and patents before, but he does not specialize in the game industry. Supposedly, almost anything can be patented. There was a patent on a device that throws money at strippers (I am NOT making this up).

Enforcing a patent, if I understood correctly, means hiring a lawyer to sue someone in court for infringement. However, having a patent does not mean you automatically win! Even if the guy is outright copying you. Patents on game mechanics hasn't been thoroughly tested in court, so it could go either way depending on what the judge thinks.

This depends a lot on the country of course.

IMHO as an indie developer, I don't think we should bother worrying about patents and copyright. Chances that someone copies your game outright is slim to none. Unless your game is very simple. Furthermore, if they copy you, its unlikely that their version will be good enough to beat yours, since they are just copying and not innovating. Look at the number of Doom and Diablo clones: Id Software and Blizzard didn't really have to bother patenting/copyrighting their mechanics. Also, being an indie means you probably can't afford the costs involved in beating someone in court. : /

Finally, if our game is successful enough to warrant copying, then we have achieved our goals of making a successful game haven't we? :)

#14 Zouflain   Members   -  Reputation: 532

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 02:00 PM

I'll preface this by saying I'm not a lawyer, but here's some general info:

I would be unhappy if other games copy my combat system though.

It is extraordinarily unlikely that a game would copy your combat system rather than generate one appropriate for their own mechanics, and unless you have some revolutionary mechanic that does not involve random number generation, some game that came before you probably used a random number generator similar enough to your own "new" idea that the two are indistinguishable.

Would it be possible to put a copyright on it?

Not in the way you're thinking. You patent methods, you copyright expressions. You can copyright the lore, backstory, specific character classes (and it must be extremely specific) and that which is essentially unique to your game, but you cannot copyright a method of random number generation. You can patent it, but patents require a list of specific claims and if any one of those claims is not met by a third party with a similar device/method/ect, then the patent is not considered infringed. Your claim must be unique, also, and cannot be something already in general use. Thus, if you're using dice - unless these are special dice of your own creation not mirrored in pre-existing forms - forget actually getting an enforceable patent.

Because for example the DnD has a license on it...

Again not in the way you're thinking. They do not own the 20 sided dice, nor can they license its use. What they can license is the specific descriptions of, say, a Red Mage of Thane and the associated backstory. You could create your own Blue Mage of Bane with unique descriptions but similar game mechanics and it would not be an infringement of the OGL (Open Gaming License, unless I'm mistaken).

So I would also like to create a good combat system but make it so no one can use it without my authorization.
Which I would sell rights to use in a specific game to other studios or use in my own games.

No one in their right mind would buy a license from you, I'm sorry to say. It's much more appropriate in both cost and result to generate your own mechanics for a gaming system that suits your specific needs. The only time someone would buy into an IP is either to capitalize on its widespread popularity (see Warhammer 40K IP and all the recent band-wagoning) or as a fan derived work - and fans don't usually pay to do fan works. If by some miracle your work becomes as widespread and entrenched as the D20 system or similar, then it's possible that people might want to pay to publish works under your IP, but that is unlikely in the extreme.

Make your combat system and don't worry about copyrights or patents. Ultimately it wont gain you what you think it will gain you, and your work is not at the risk you apparently think it is. Copyright your game lore and your specific descriptions of things (like Regnar the Fighter), not the way you do things (which would require a patent).

#15 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8466

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 02:48 PM

Because for example the DnD has a license on it...

Again not in the way you're thinking.


The D20 system might be patented, and it might be trademarked. Likewise, "Dungeons and Dragons" is a trademark.
The words on those D20 pages are copyrighted, but the ideas behind them are not.
Copyright is not patent, and neither is trademark.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#16 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 18338

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 04:37 PM



Would it be possible to put a copyright on it?
I was thinking it might be possible?

Yes. Copyright protection is automatic as soon as an idea is expressed in tangible form.

Are you sure? IANAL, but as far as I've always understood copyright, it is the expression that is copyrighted, not the idea behind the expression. With that in mind, I would've thought the mechanics/flow/idea of the combat system is not copyrightable, and if one created a similar combat system with an original expression/implementation of it, it would be fine. I don't claim to know for sure though.

The exact definition depends on the country's laws.

The idea is not protected.

The expression of the idea is protected immediately and automatically.

If you create a system that is similar to but slightly different than a previous implementation, it could be considered a derivative work of the first system.

It is up to the judge, and it is not uncommon to see copyright claims mixed in with other IP rights claims; in the US the definition is intentionally vague, "a work based upon one or more preexisting works". It can be radically different, but a judge still gets to decide if it was based on the earlier work.

Frequently an idea can be protected through copyright this way.

wuat kind of liabilities?
how can it hurt to just give advice?
He can even say for protection its his unprofressional advice.

lawyer is for creating contracts and tailoring the contract for your business and deal etc..

but he can still say in a nice advice how its generally done Posted Image

There are all kinds of liabilities.

There are potentially professional 'expectations', where a person is speaking as an expert and legally they can be required to meet certain standards. There are liabilities for injuries, meaning you followed the lawyer's casual advice but got in trouble anyway. There is always tort liability, and it can vary based on the reasonableness of applying specific advice to arbitrary situations.

Professionals of ANY field can be liable.

As for how it is done, you've been told: You talk to an experienced lawyer in the field. It is not a difficult thing, they will help you build a license. If they are experienced in the field and you know exactly what you want, you're only looking at a few days worth of billable hours. It isn't a big thing.

The D20 system might be patented, and it might be trademarked. Likewise, "Dungeons and Dragons" is a trademark.
The words on those D20 pages are copyrighted, but the ideas behind them are not.
Copyright is not patent, and neither is trademark.

The expressed idea is copyrighted. Someone expressing the same system but with different words could easily be challenged as an unauthorized derivative work. What matters is if the judge is convinced one work is derived from another.

Most IP rights complaints include copyright claims. I've seen copyright claims for animation sequences, claiming the animation was based on it and therefore a derivative work.

If you've been following the EA Sims Social / Zynga The Ville lawsuit, there are copyright claims about animation sequences, copyright claims about character creation sequences, there are even copyright claims on the 8 color skin tones with the same rgb values.

The standard in the US is fairly low: They must convince a judge with a reasonableness standard that the work was based on the original. Being based on it is a vague thing. The new work can be radically different in expression and still meet that criteria of being based on the original work.

Fan fiction, where they might only use a half dozen names in the entire work, often get defined as derivative works. If I wrote an article about a magical world where a small family included Garion, Aunt Pol, and Mister Wolf, that's about all it would take to convince a judge it is covered as a derivative work from the Belgarath series of books. Similarly if I had a group of hobbits named Frodo, Samwise, Pippen and Merry, then if it ever came up in court simply having those words could place it before a judge as a copyright violation.

Edited by frob, 28 September 2012 - 04:54 PM.

Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#17 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6092

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 06:17 PM

SquareEnix owns a few combat system patents, namely the active time battle system which was employed in a lot of rpgs.

#18 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 05:31 AM

SquareEnix owns a few combat system patents, namely the active time battle system which was employed in a lot of rpgs.


active time battle system?
can you give me link please?

#19 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6092

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 08:51 AM

http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Battle_System
You can also look up their patent on wikipedia, they've put a nifty of good references in the below.

#20 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 10:50 AM

omg they have patent on that?
So other games cant use that kind of system with the recharging meter for when they can do another action?
Unless they pay squareenix?

that system is badass imo.
This is why i want to be able to patent a combat system i create...

What license did they choose to put on the active time battle system?




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