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Funkapotamus

Legality of recreating MTG:O

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I'm sure discussion about the legality of recreating video games or other intellectual content has been brought up ad infinitum. I apologize if this is old news, however, I believe this is a special case. The game, as the title suggests is Magic: The Gathering. The goal would be to recreate the online version of the table-top card game. Now, right there is the special case: we're dealing with two entities: 1) MTG - The card game 2) MTG:O - The computer game I know for certain that recreating board games is in fact legal. Just so long as certain conditions are met. For example, the board game Settlers of Catan has been recreated with no ill legal troubles. Microsoft's Settlers of Catan Online: http://zone.msn.com/en/catanonline/default.htm Freeware: http://www.jsettlers.com/ The conditions are something along the lines of: -No intellectual content can be used (pictures/descriptions) -No terminology can be used (must rename game pieces) If MTG were simply a card game (which I'm perhaps incorrectly considering a "board game"), I would feel confident suggesting someone attempt to recreate it. However, because it has an online portion, I am on curious legal ground. For the record: This would be a non-for-profit project I'm suggesting to an old friend- to challenge some of his bright students with. I'm assuming they'd want to distribute the finished project in some way.

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Creating an online card game would be legal. Making any reference to MTG, their ruleset, or any of their cards would not be. Unless you had the rights to use their IP.

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Microsoft didn't create the game concept... they bought the rights to use it for their online game. The jsettlers that you linked is unauthorized, though it might be getting a bit of a pass because it has its origins in published AI research:
Quote:
There have also been several unauthorized video game implementations of Settlers. One of these unauthorized versions, called "Java Settlers", was developed by Robert S. Thomas as part of his Ph.D. research at Northwestern University. A paper describing the AI research involved was published in the Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces.[8] The source code for Thomas' Settlers of Catan implementation along with the AI code was released under the GNU General Public License. At the time of this writing there are several servers running freely accessible on-line versions of the game using Thomas's code.


Long story short, though, if you are making a viable high-fidelity alternative to a game whose maker stands to lose a lot of money, you'd better have a very, very good lawyer. And it will probably ruin you, too, even if you have a very, very good lawyer.

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There are already unofficial MTG sites where you can get all the cardsets and play. It's better than the official MTG:O tbh...

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It doesn't matter if you were making a first person shooter. If you use the name Magic: The gathering you can get into trouble. Whether there are people/groups out there currently getting away with it is irrelevant, you have to seek your own permission.

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It depends on how much you're taking from MTG. If you are actually coming up with your own game with your own rule set, images, content, characters, etc., that's your own IP. If you borrow any part of MTG's artwork, rule set, story lines, designs, characters, etc., you're asking for trouble. And using the name is an absolute and resounding no.

read this and read Tom Sloper's article. The reason it's "legal" to make video games based on board games is because the creator of the board game gave permission to the developer.

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Quote:
Original post by curtmax_0
There are already unofficial MTG sites where you can get all the cardsets and play. It's better than the official MTG:O tbh...


That's true, too... there are unofficial ones that are quite good. Often they exist as pluggable card-game client apps, and then you download the cardsets and play with them... so in that sense they aren't really liable.

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Quote:
Original post by Funkapotamus
I'm sure discussion about the legality of recreating video games or other intellectual content has been brought up ad infinitum. I apologize if this is old news, however, I believe this is a special case.

The game, as the title suggests is Magic: The Gathering. The goal would be to recreate the online version of the table-top card game. Now, right there is the special case: we're dealing with two entities:

1) MTG - The card game
2) MTG:O - The computer game

I know for certain that recreating board games is in fact legal.

He who acts as his own attorney has a fool for a client.

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Wizards has several patents on gameplay elements of Magic, as well as copyrights on all of the cards and probably on the rulebook itself. They have viciously enforced this copyright in the past against other card games. They have not, as far as I am aware, taken action against electronic versions. Those versions are still illegal, of course.

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Quote:
Original post by Promit
Wizards has several patents on gameplay elements of Magic, as well as copyrights on all of the cards and probably on the rulebook itself. They have viciously enforced this copyright in the past against other card games. They have not, as far as I am aware, taken action against electronic versions. Those versions are still illegal, of course.

It's the patents that make things especially problematic. Copyrights and trademark on their own cannot own a game idea, as you can redo all the artwork, rewrite your own version of the rules and avoid any of the trademarked terms. But patents protect the basic idea behind the game itself.

Apart from the patents, you'd have to be very careful to avoid any of the MtG specific terms, such as "tapping" (incidentally, I think that's one of the aspects covered in the patent: it's been a while since I've skimmed over it).

All in all, it's a concept I'd tread very carefully around. My gut feeling is that you'd be fine making your own trading card game if it was only very loosely inspired by the concepts behind Magic, but conversion is on much shakier ground and you'd need to be very, very careful to not break any IP laws. Of course, the gut feeling of some random guy off the internet isn't worth basing such a decision on...

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