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Why license things?

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As the topic says, I'm wondering why you would license things. Say for example I wanted to make a Dragon Ball Z game, I've heard you need to license the characters and such. I've found out where to license stuff like that, but my questions are these: 1. Are the characters the only thing you'd need to license? 2. Is licensing mandatory or just a good thing to do? 3. If I did get a license, would I have to draw all of my own images for the game, or would I be able to use screen shots and stuff? I'm not much of an artist :P haha I'm wondering because I'm just a teenage developer, and while I don't plan on selling my first or so game, if I can gather a team (which I've been doing) and develope a small but solid game I would like to sell it. Perhaps just to my local area, for a small fee, nothing like publishing and stuff. If anyone knows the answer to these questions that woudl be awesome! Thanks for any help you may offer. Iron_

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Quote:
Original post by Iron_Cross
1. Are the characters the only thing you'd need to license?
2. Is licensing mandatory or just a good thing to do?


you need a license on the whole shebang, but that'd be part of the contract with the company anyway.

YES!!! it's mandatory. failure to license the stuff and then selling the game will result in them sueing you for lots and lots of money. they'll sue you for lost revinue, which covers anything you've made on the game and any money they think their brand lost because your game didn't meet their standards. so basically you'll have no money left. don't mess with lawyers.

-me

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That's cool. At very least I'd like to be able to use this game on a resume, not for profit. But only if it turns out that way, of course if I can sell it I'd like to.

Also, if I were to base my game off the idea of DBZ, but not use the same characters or names, yet they looked very similar and were based on the same ideas, would that violate these laws? Because I don't really have tons of money to blow on a license, especially when I don't expect to make a profit off this game, any money I would make would be put directly into production/upkeep costs.

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I'll never understand why some people are so gung-ho about basing game ideas off of established franchises (and Dragonball Z in particular). Do y'all really not have any original ideas you'd rather see made a reality?

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Because when you base it off something, much of the work is done, and already popular. The chances of me creating a totally new game, then trying to get people to hear of it are near 0.
Or take for example pokemon, magic:TG, or yugioh. In those games, there are hundreds, if not, thousands of individual monsters pre-drawn and thoughtup. For someone like me, who couldn't possibly create each of those thousand monsters and such it's easier to use what's already made. Why re-invent the wheel, when the wheel works great and is popular as hell?!

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Personally, I would love making the game on my own, the part that worries me and makes me think I can't do it, is the fact that I can't draw :P If I could draw decently, I'd be making something on my own in a heartbeat.

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It doesn't matter if you are selling it or not. The company that created the property invested their time/money/hardwork/creativity into producing it. Because of that they get ownership rights over the property and if you want to use it (because you don't want/can't invest the time/hardwork/creativity then you need to negotiate with them for the rights to use it.

Of course if you really are just going to use it on your CV then you might be able to get away with it as they wont see it. However there is another important issue apart from the legal one. Employers in the game industry are looking for creative staff. I would never hire someone whose art portfolio was full of copies of other pictures. Same goes for programmers. Originality is a prized asset.

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im currently developing a full stand alone game based on Star Gate SG-1.

as far as i know licenses are not required as long as:

you do not profit in anyway from the idea you are using.

you do not claim to be affiliated with the company the piece of property came from.

and you give the appropriate copyright information of the company on any ad, website, packaging, etc.

another project i am working on however will require a great deal of licensing. cars, music, etc. but this is a commercial game, which means i have to do this. but if you never sell the game, do not use any material(read: artwork, sound, etc.) from the company who owns the thing you are copying, and dont claim it to be your intelectual property, you should be fine.

BTW, here is the lsit of music you will see in my game, all of which will be licensed, at a great expense:

Walkin On The Sun----Smashmouth
Kryptonite----3 Doors Down
Independent----Kelly Clarkson
Harder To Breath----Maroon 5
Blurry----Puddle of Mudd
Come Down----Bush
Around the World (la la la)----ATC
Get This Party Started----Pink
Family Affair----Mary J. Blige
Highway To The Danger Zone----Kenny Loggins
Headstrong----TRAPT
All Star----Smashmouth

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
...the part that worries me and makes me think I can't do it, is the fact that I can't draw :P If I could draw decently, I'd be making something on my own in a heartbeat.


SkiFree

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Quote:
Original post by Game Developer 1
im currently developing a full stand alone game based on Star Gate SG-1.

as far as i know licenses are not required as long as:

you do not profit in anyway from the idea you are using.

you do not claim to be affiliated with the company the piece of property came from.

and you give the appropriate copyright information of the company on any ad, website, packaging, etc.
I am afraid you are wrong. None of the above make any difference at all. What you are doing is breach of copyright and the owner of the copyright can take legal action against you for that breach.

If your game is unsuccessful and no one hears about it then it is unlikely that they will bother you. However, if word of your title spreads there is a good chance they will for two reasons.

i. By giving the game away for free (most media companies believe) you devalue their IP. As the most valuable assets of such companies are their IP rights they will seek to protect them.

ii. In the specific case of Stargate SG1 a company has bought an exclusive license from MGM to make games based on the IP (to be published by JoWood). If you are giving away a game for free (and they find out) they would almost certainly be able to force MGM to come after you. If MGM didn't take action against you the developer in question could sue them for breach of contract.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
-- you base it off something

"Based on" : you have to pay royalties.
"Inspired by" : free

Building a game that borrows on the ideas of a set of portals left behind by some alien civilization would no longer need IP rights from MGM, as long as it's not 'StarGate SG1' nor use its characters and 'look & feel'. You can twist the character names, design new portal visuals, involve the British SAS or the French Foreign Legion instead of the US Marines, use the Maya instead of the Egyptians, use a cel cartoony look; all of those are fine to avoid IP litigation.

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then how come so many other people are doing this with StarGate SG-1 and not getting in trouble.

e.g. the FarGate mod for FarCry
the StarGate SG-1 mod for Half-Life 2
the hundreds of StarGate mods for Half-Life and Star Trek
Elite Force

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Quote:
Original post by Game Developer 1
then how come so many other people are doing this with StarGate SG-1 and not getting in trouble.

e.g. the FarGate mod for FarCry
the StarGate SG-1 mod for Half-Life 2
the hundreds of StarGate mods for Half-Life and Star Trek
Elite Force
Because they have not been successful enough (yet) to be noticed. There are lots and lots of similar mods that have been closed down. Lucasarts are hot on it, as are Nintendo and Fox. In fact Fox do it so often that killing a fan game is known in the industry as "doing a Fox". A developer over at The Chaos Engine just posted a message about working on a fan project entitled Chrono Resurrection, based on the Chrono Trigger IP. They just got a cease and desist letter.

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Quote:
Original post by Obscure
Employers in the game industry are looking for creative staff. I would never hire someone whose art portfolio was full of copies of other pictures. Same goes for programmers. Originality is a prized asset.


Really? for programmers?
So if i'm a programmer and i'm making an original title for my CV, then i have a better chance of getting employed in the industry if i have created my own original content for the game? (asking in terms of the artwork more than the coding..)

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If you programme clones of pac-man and space invaders all you show is that you can copy someone else's work. If you identify a problem in a popular topic such as AI or pathfinding and create a piece of code that solves the problem then you have shown that you can identify and solve problems. That is much more useful to an employer.

Having a Pac-man game in the portfolio as well shows you can make a fun game but isn't as valuable as good problem solving abilities.

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