• Announcements

    • khawk

      Download the Game Design and Indie Game Marketing Freebook   07/19/17

      GameDev.net and CRC Press have teamed up to bring a free ebook of content curated from top titles published by CRC Press. The freebook, Practices of Game Design & Indie Game Marketing, includes chapters from The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, and An Architectural Approach to Level Design. The GameDev.net FreeBook is relevant to game designers, developers, and those interested in learning more about the challenges in game development. We know game development can be a tough discipline and business, so we picked several chapters from CRC Press titles that we thought would be of interest to you, the GameDev.net audience, in your journey to design, develop, and market your next game. The free ebook is available through CRC Press by clicking here. The Curated Books The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition, by Jesse Schell Presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, anthropology, and more. Written by one of the world's top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again. View it here. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, by Joel Dreskin Marketing is an essential but too frequently overlooked or minimized component of the release plan for indie games. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing provides you with the tools needed to build visibility and sell your indie games. With special focus on those developers with small budgets and limited staff and resources, this book is packed with tangible recommendations and techniques that you can put to use immediately. As a seasoned professional of the indie game arena, author Joel Dreskin gives you insight into practical, real-world experiences of marketing numerous successful games and also provides stories of the failures. View it here. An Architectural Approach to Level Design This is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. The book presents architectural techniques and theories for level designers to use in their own work. It connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with this space. Throughout the text, readers learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory. View it here. Learn more and download the ebook by clicking here. Did you know? GameDev.net and CRC Press also recently teamed up to bring GDNet+ Members up to a 20% discount on all CRC Press books. Learn more about this and other benefits here.
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Dark_Oppressor

Legal issues for software tools

8 posts in this topic

This isn't about a game, but a tool related to games, so I hope that's OK.

 

I've recently had an idea about a software tool that would provide a new way to look at one's Steam profile.

 

I'm wondering if there are legal issues to creating such a tool. Is this sort of thing common? Is it totally out of the question, perfectly legitimate, or questionable? I really have no idea, and I've never even considered selling software that isn't a game (my company is called Cheese and Bacon Games!) but if it is an OK thing, it would not take long to create it and try it out (famous last words...)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's hard without knowing the details, but in general you are free to reverse engineer things and do what you like with the data.

 

One interesting case is Sega vs Accolada (http://www.law.cornell.edu/copyright/commentary/chn95t1.htm).  Accolade reverse engineered the Sega Genesis security code so they could make Genesis games without Sega's imprimatur.  Sega sued and eventually lost on appeal.

 

Another interesting case was the Palm Pre.  The engineers at Plam reverse engineered the format and data transfer protocol for the iPod, so that when you plugged in your Palm Pre, your computer would think you were plugging in an iPod.  The US copyright code (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap12.html), specifically allows that type of reverse engineering.

One thing to note-- although they didn't sue, Apple was able to very easily thwart Palm by simply changing their protocol from time to time, making Palm's reverse-engineering not work....

 

(Note, that there was a lot of bad blood between Apple and Palm, particularly since many of Palm's engineers were former Apple engineers...)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's hard without knowing the details, but in general you are free to reverse engineer things and do what you like with the data.

That's great news, thank you!

 

The Apple/Palm thing sounds like a funny story, heh.

 

What about naming? For instance, could I call it something like "Steam Sorting Thingy"? That seems like it would be problematic, but if so, how would anyone ever know what it was?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about naming? For instance, could I call it something like "Steam Sorting Thingy"

 

Steam is trademarked, so you can't  use it without explicit permission.  Calling it "Steam Sorting Thingy" would probably be a no-no.

 

The issue is whether or not someone might be confused to believe that your thingy was created or endorsed or licensed by Valve.

 

There are a few cases where you can use a trademarked name-- such as a Drug-store version of a brand name drug that can say on the label "Compare to the active ingredent in Claritin(tm)", but not in naming your own product.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seeing that Valve post the Steam Web API online, I don't think they'd be antagonistic towards you providing "a new way to look at one's Steam profile."

 

See here for the community-sourced information (also hosted on Valve-controlled web servers).

 

You have seen things like Steam Gauge, right? Apparently I have $2278.59 worth of games, that take a total of 468.14 GB, and that have been played for 2605.9 hours.

I've never used Steam Gauge specifically before, but there are dozens of sites like that. Never give them your passwords, obviously, but most just ask for your Steam account name, which is already public.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh wow, I did not know that API existed, thanks! Heh, I've just been gathering all the info I need from their site. I.e., you give it a Steam username, and it builds a list of your games from the profile page's HTML, then it looks at each game's store page for more info on it. It actually works really well but this might simplify some things :-)

 

So the only real issue is with the name. It looks like Steam Gauge just has a disclaimer on the page saying that Steam is Valve's thing. Is that enough, or should I be safer/more paranoid and not have Steam anywhere in my program's name? Bear in mind I am thinking of selling it (on mobile, maybe), in case that is relevant.

 

Also, the number of hours you've played Awesomenauts makes me sad, Servant of the Lord, it's a great game! :-(

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Valve is very community-friendly. Legally, using the name Steam would be a no-go, but Valve doesn't go lawsuit crazy - they have a reputation to protect with their fanbase.
When a bunch of modders were making a remake of Halflife 1 with the Source engine, Valve encouraged it. When they called it "Black Mesa Source", Valve politely sent them an email asking them not to use the name "Source", so Valve can use it to mark official Valve products (Day of Defeat: Source, Halflife: Source, CounterStrike: Source, etc...), and suggested just naming it "Black Mesa"... but let them continue to use their "blackmesasource.com" domain name so they wouldn't have to spend $10 on another domain.

 

I think the disclaimer would be fine - but shoot Valve's community management team an email, explain your project, and ask them if "Bob's Steam Profile Tool" is an acceptable name to use.

 

Uh, I'm not sure about you commercially selling the product, but you can email them about that too. Maybe make it donation-based, and ask Valve if they're cool with that.

 

Re: Awesomenauts tongue.png

 

I got it in a bundle (one of the Humble Indie Bundles, iirc) only a month ago, so I've never played it.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks a ton for all this advice, guys. It all actually sounds less scary than I expected. I'll definitely try to get in touch with Valve and just ask how they'd feel about it. I think I might make it even if they don't want it sold, because I think it could be useful to people. But I'd sure not mind making some money off of it, haha! Donations is a cool idea, that might be a good way to go.

 

I really only had plans for a mobile version, but my prototype is a little C++ Windows program so I could probably do a desktop version if I wanted.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0