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Rancorb

Recreating graphics from example work.

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I have some graphics from a graphic designer of full screen gameplay mock-ups. Unfortunately he is no longer available to work on the project but I still like his concept. Would there be any problem with myself or another graphic designer using his design mock-ups as the basis to create the actual graphics for a game? Essentially it would mean copying / recreating the individual graphical elements to use in game.

My instinct is that it should be fine but I don't want to step on any legal toes.

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Sounds like you're planning to use his overall visual design but not his actual art pieces. You should check the wording in the contract (by which I mean the employment agreement or consulting agreement you and your graphic designer had in place when he was working with you) and see what it says. If he was compensated for the visual design, then (as long as your lawyer agrees) you might be okay.

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Thanks Tom. Unfortunately, no contracts were in place when this was done (just a lot of enthusiasm) and I don't have a lawyer available. Things are still at the spare time / hobby development stage.

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See the trouble you make for yourself when you don't execute agreements in writing? Maybe the guy is not able to work on your project anymore, but did you ask him if it's okay to proceed with his visual design? Get his okey-dokey in an email at least.

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That's what happens when you start working on things with friends but a couple of years roll by and lives move on.

I guess it's also one of those lessons learnt from experience. Like most amateur game devs my experience is in programming, so all the other facets of the process are being picked up as I go.

So far my last few messages over a month have gone unanswered. I suppose he could have lost his phone, so I'll try emailing him today.

Is there a point where you can say "all reasonable attempts to contact him have failed", or something similar?

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4 hours ago, Rancorb said:

Is there a point where you can say "all reasonable attempts to contact him have failed", or something similar?

Sure. There's also a point where he can say "Hey, I never gave you permission to use that, so I'm suing you." It's probably okay to use it, if you're using it as he originally intended, but I'm not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

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Understood, and thanks for the advice. It's not until you find yourself in one of these potential situations that you realise why they're almost a cliche of beginners mistakes. I've sent an email to check for certain if he's interested in doing the work or not. I'll give it a couple of weeks for a reply before deciding what to do next.

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On 15/09/2017 at 10:47 PM, Rancorb said:

Would there be any problem with myself or another graphic designer using his design mock-ups as the basis to create the actual graphics for a game?

Did you pay for the original work to be done? If yes, no problem (paying someone to do work creates a implicit contract, that while vague, almost certainly grants you permission to use that work). If no, you're potentially violating the copyright of the original artist.

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Thanks Hodgman, good point. There was no contract or payment made for the mock-up, it was more of an ad-hoc "I've got a great idea for how to skin that game, here's a mock-up I put together." You've just reminded me that I did agree to pay him cash and a % of income generated for creating the actual graphics back in February, but things subsequently went silent. Hence my concern and questions.

I suppose an alternative question might be along the lines of: He designed a space styled skin for the game (star fields, cloudy overlay, spheres for obstacles), can I now make a space styled skin of my own along similar lines or is that whole style effectively locked without explicit permission now?

I'd still prefer him to do the work (or another graphic designer) because my developer art is pretty rubbish and the game would definitely benefit from some simple but professional artwork.

Edited by Rancorb
Spelling and improved clarity.

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48 minutes ago, Rancorb said:

I've sent an email to check for certain if he's interested in doing the work or not.

Doing more work? That's not what I understood you were asking about. I thought you wanted his permission to use his original concept art as the basis for someone else to create your game art.

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