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ArchangelMorph

Will we get sued?

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ArchangelMorph    263
At the moment me and a couple of collegues are working on a MMORPG project thats going to be completely original.. We decided to make the game 2D and do the graphics in a similar style to the Seiken Densetsu III (Secret of Mana 2) game made by squaresoft in the 90's for the SNES.. The problem is i've started work on the first spriteset and the character i made has been reported to be 'too close' in similarity to the one's in the SD3 game.. I'm concerned about this fact as we want the game to try to keep the style and flair of the squaresoft title but without being similar enough that we end up getting sued because we in breach of some copywright law.. [img]http://archangelmorph.250free.com/Concept.bmp[\img] The one on the left is from SD3 abd the one on the right is mine.. Please help shed some light on this for me, are we safe or r we looking for trouble?

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frostburn    380
It's hard to see since it's so small, but at least the feet and the armor looks identical except for the color. But considering that 32x32 is only 1024 pixels, it's almost impossible to create a sprite that looks like nothing that's been made before and still look like a human in armor. I don't know if you'll be sued though. You'll have to ask the guys who made Secrets of mana.

One tip though:

I'm not sure what platform you're coding for, or what res the game will play in, but if I was the one making a game like this I'd create the tiles much larger and perhaps used vector graphics at least for the development. It's still possible to get an old style console rpg feel without designing for old hardware caps. Unless you're actually planning on releasing if for the snes of course.

It'll also make it less likely that you'll get sued; if you design the sprites in 128x128 with vector graphics, and the user selects a low res so the sprites end up 32x32, they could look identical to another game without them having anything to say. I mean if you continued to scale it down it'd end up as a pixel of a given color, and they can't claim that.

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nuhusky    122
your dealing with copyright laws. As you have purposely gone out to copy an idea by supposedly creating your own game based on a pre-existing idea you have a duty to ensure that your graphics are original.

Original art work is something created by you using nothing to assist you. If you purposely went out to copy something that is not original art work. If however you started to draw and at the end it is 100% identical to something already existing this is despite the similarities orginal art work. So long as you never actually copy something you are OK.

Howeever as you have already admitted to have begun your project by copying another game, a court will not give you the benefit of the doubt. YOU must prove that your art work is orginal and not copied. Since you have already copied an idea, and your art work looks like the characters from that game you are kinda shooting yourself in the foot.

Bottom line, anyone can sue you for copying their work. They might not win as your work is supposedly original. However, a lawsuit costs money, money you probably do not want to spend.

My advice. Drop the project and come up with your own IP.

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ArchangelMorph    263
just to clarify,

The idea isn't to 'copy' anything..

The only part of the SD3 sprites that we intend to 'emulate' is the style in terms of the character detail level, colour pallette and the style of some of the poses maybe..

In terms of the games themselves, the game we are developing is nothing like the SD3 games and the game concept is nothing but original, so the need to 'drop the game altogether' is just not needed..

If anything will need to be changed it will be the artwork style and at this stage i'm convinced that its dissimilar enough for it to be ok, legally, but i'm just making sure..

If its not then we'll change it.. Its as simple as that..

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Obscure    175
But you are still copying elements of the game, so it isn't surprising that people thing they look too similar.

The only reason to copy/be inspired by someone else's work is a) want to benefit from the recognition or b) aren't creative enough to come up with something original.

Dump the "inspired by" graphics and come up with something original. Its less trouble and in the end the potential benefits are greater.

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ArchangelMorph    263
Ok thanks!

I agree with you point, However I still believe the sprites are far enouh apart from the SD3 sprites to be different, plus I do feel like once all the other elements of the game are in place e.g. the tiles for the backgrounds (which are all going to be completely original) and all the effects for the spells and magic (which will be done using an advanced particle engine and other 3D programming wonders instead of simply spriting them) then these elements all put together will make for an original package on the whole.. For example, some of the tiles used in the game "chrono trigger" for the snes were actually re-used for "final fantasy 6" on the same platform (in fact most of the tiles were used, as was the entire menu system design).. I kno both games were developed by the same company but the overall style and feel of the game would in no way make you associate the two games I don't think.. I didn't even realise until I played the games back to back accidently..

I'm not trying to make excuses, Its just that i've recieved mixed oppinions on this by many professionals in the industry all telling me that either its fine and don't change it, or it needs changing as its too obvious.. Plus the fact that I would prefer if I could keep it as I feel the particular character style suits the game.. I've also made an attempt to contact the makers of SD3 and hopefully I should recieve some kind of feedback on there take on this issue.. Obviously if they command us to change it then we don't really have any choice I guess..

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qazlop    229
there is no reason to use such low res artwork in this day and age, especially if you plan on using a 3d particle system for spells. You will just make the characters stick out and look stupid. Personally I think you should raise the detail level. Such small charcters are hard to see on my 1024x768 desktop. Granted you will scale them in game, but would it not make more sense to have them at the higher resolution to begin with?

On being too close? Well its a look and feel issue. Currently there is nothing stopping you from doing what you are doing except if your characters begin to take on the life of the SD3 characters. Furthermore if you are using their sprites as a base, you will have major problems. It seems that you may have done this, and that is a very bad path to take. Whatever you do, dont mention SD3 or any of squares games as being the inspiration for the artwork. That will lead to problems because you will be accused of using their name and IP in hopes to gain business (or fame).

Why not post some higher quality (ie resolution) concept artwork (ie non sprite based) to show that you created your characters emulating a style. Also show more then one character comparison. Konami (i think, may have been tecmo) got in trouble with capcom for having similar looking characters in a street fighting game. You dont want law problems. just the fact you feel obligated to email square makes me think you are doing things you should not be doing.

Citing that square reused their own artwork is just plain silly and dont help your argument. The reason that the games have disimilar character design is because their were two different designers that did the artwork. Akira Toyriyama (sp?) of Dragonball fame did the character design for chrono trigger, while someone else did the character design for Final fantasy 6. Also the gameplay was different because two different groups did the games. there is more to a character art then the sprite. Unless you have some real concept art of the character design, you definatly will want to start creating some before making any sprites.

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ArchangelMorph    263
Well thankyou all for your comments regarding this matter, As it stands i have recieved a reply from square-enix and it was not the reply i was hoping for should i say.. It looks like its bk to the drawing board with this one.. thanx for the support and i'll b sure to bring any future issues to light in these forums in the future as you were all very helpful and informative..

(so if you'd like to say "I told u so" then is cool)

Thankyou all for you time

Regards

Oladotun

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