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game textures + copyrights

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I am working on a game that will likely become a commercial project. Currently I'm trying to create a few textures but I have no artist resources, zero budget, and very little gimp/photoshop experience... I only need a few smoke and explosion textures, nothing for environments and characters. (space shoot-em-up game) I did some digging around on my computer and I found a bunch of textures from games like Cellfactor Revolution and Sins of a Solar empire, which happen to be games that when installed leave their .dds and .tga texture files readily accessible. Now I realize that just *taking* them might get me sued, but what might happen if I were to modify them slightly? Is this unethical? I'm sure I could use them as a guide and create my own textures from scratch, and learn some valuable digital image editing skills while I'm at it, but this will no doubt be very time consuming. What do I do?

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Well, I'm no lawyer so I'm not sure what the legal implications of doing this would be. But if it were me, I wouldn't risk it. I realize you said you had zero budget, but I suggest checking on turbosquid to see if there is anything you can use...I wouldn't think something like what you need would cost more than $10 in total.

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Quote:
Original post by dc443
Now I realize that just *taking* them might get me sued, but what might happen if I were to modify them slightly? Is this unethical? I'm sure I could use them as a guide and create my own textures from scratch, and learn some valuable digital image editing skills while I'm at it, but this will no doubt be very time consuming.

What do I do?
This seems to be a variation of the "If I change it by 10% them I'm ok" myth - the company I work for has been to court because one of our artists believed that in the past...

Whether it's ethical or not is debatable, but I can tell you that it is illegal.

Even using them as a guide ("reference art") can land your in court for copyright infringement if the original authors are very aggressive about prosecuting people...

[edit]If you're comfortable with graphics programming, you could probably make your own smoke/explosion sprites with a simulation.
Build a particle system based off really simple textures (e.g. a single round/smooth brush stroke in Photoshop) and simulate thousands of these particles spreading out and rotating randomly while fading out. Render the results to a series of TGA files and you've got your very own professional animations ;)

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Okay thats what I needed to know, thanks! I'll be spending some time being creative now, I guess.

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