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What should I think of to get around being sued

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#1 NucleiN   Members   


Posted 20 December 2012 - 11:56 AM

So currently I'm in the middle of creating a game, and I'v come so far as to where I will have to begin making the textures and writing a detailed story.
So a little background:
I'm developing a game in Unity3d based off the legend of Robin Hood. I'v looked in to the possible problems with this and what I've found there won't be a problem as long as I don't copy other people who has made similar games or movies/books based on the legend. The graphics will be are kind of similar to the minecraft characters only that I've made it possible to bend the arm, to make more advanced movement possible. This might not be a problem but i would also like to use the same pixelated textures as minecraft, not copy but quite similar. The characters will be the only thing similar to minecraft. But what I've understood is notch and mojang not against other people using similar art style and graphics.
Since I'm new to this I'm kind of just wondering if anyone has any tips on what to stay away from.

Best Regards,

#2 samoth   Members   


Posted 20 December 2012 - 12:40 PM

Nobody (not even your lawyer) will be able to give you a reliable answer, because you can be sued on almost everything that is reasonable or unreasonable. In some countries, you can even be sued on things that are obviously of fraudulent nature.

Also, in some countries, every crap can be patented (such as a big floating arrow).

Generally, though, if what you make is not obviously copied/stolen and not of such a nature that it could be easily confused with something else, you are usually good.

That means, if your game looks and feels like Minecraft, you are likely to get into trouble, but "some pixelated textures" and "some kind of blocky guys" probably won't get you sued (if it's not a voxel game where you can dig and build).

Otherwise, any game that uses textured triangles to draw a terrain and characters would risk being sued by someone who has done that before. Or any game where you control a character that swings a sword would bear the risk of getting sued. Obviously, that's kind of nonsensical.

Edited by samoth, 20 December 2012 - 12:44 PM.

#3 frob   Moderators   


Posted 21 December 2012 - 01:06 AM

There are really two issues you need to address.

The first is willful infringement. That is when you know you are copying somebody's IP. Don't do that.

It looks like you've done your homework, figured out what other people have done, and are doing your best to not violate their rights. As long as you are being creative and coming up with your own stuff, you will generally be fine.

The second issue is risk tolerance. How much risk is there, and how much can you stand?

Everything you do has risks. Leaving your home each day has risks. You could pick up an infection and die: most people find that risk acceptable, but a few people such as the immuno-compromised, will not take that risk. If you drive a vehicle there is a risk you could crash, causing injury or even death: most people find that risk acceptable, but some do not.

Publishing software online has risks. There is a risk you will be sued. There is a chance you will get C&D orders. There is a chance nobody will ever download your stuff. You need to understand what your tolerance of risk is, what the actual risks are, and figure out ways to minimize or mitigate that risk. A good lawyer can help you there.

Most hobbiest game developers who work hard to create their own stuff (rather than cloning another work) have very little risk of lawsuit. The vast majority of projects never make it to market. Those that do frequently die in obscurity -- a lawsuit would actually help them out. Those original games that do succeed are very rarely hit with anything more severe than a credit card chargeback. It is very low risk to create an original game.

Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I occasionally write about assorted stuff.

#4 NucleiN   Members   


Posted 21 December 2012 - 09:39 PM

I'm very thankful for your answers and it's probably like you said, frob, it will never make it to market, but I do like to be prepared ;)

Thank you :)

#5 Greg Quinn   Members   


Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:31 AM

There is a good answer here on Yahoo about usage of Robin Hood and anything you should be weary of.

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