View Full Version : Using "Commander Keen" or "Mario" in a Hydra game - what constitutes fair use?

Dennis Ferron
02-04-2007, 12:56 AM
Suppose I wanted to make a game like Smash Bros., except that it would include characters that got left out of the Smash Bros. series, such as Megaman (left out because he was a Capcom character) or Commander Keen (because he was a PC game character). Or just suppose that in general, someone wanted to make a game for the Hydra that was a clone or a spoof of a popular console game, would they be legally able to give away that game for free? Would they be able to put it up on the forums or object exchange for download, or would it make Parallax nervous to have the material up? What if it only had original artwork inspired by the popular character, or what if it instead used actual bitmaps ripped from ROMs, what would be the consequences of that?

02-04-2007, 01:30 AM
They call those "Fan Games" a lot of people make those for the PC using easy to use game creation tools.
I was always one for Originality. Though I don't see anything wrong with using another game's "Ideas".
Professionals seem to have been doing this as long as videogames have been around. (Look at how many Mario Clones there are).

Dennis Ferron
02-04-2007, 01:51 AM
Well like in the case of Commander Keen, the copyright to the game got left in dispute when the original company was bought. So it isn't like there wasn't more to explore with the series, it was that, tragically, the new company wasn't going to make any more Keen games, but the original developers weren't (legally) allowed to either.

Still, a lot of the Keen fan games I've seen are atrociously bad... Mostly it has to do with the poor quality of the engine used by the game creation tool; it might simply just not respond to controls like the original Commander Keen did.

I guess my main question is, how does Parallax feel about people posting fan games for the Hydra or Propeller?

02-04-2007, 03:12 AM
I'm sure they assumed that people would write fan games for the hydra.
I know every other game development platform/system/tools in the world has had a large number of fan gmaes written for it.

JT Cook
02-04-2007, 04:38 AM
I don't think the Commander Keen copyright is in limbo in anyway, it is owned and created by id software. There aren't any new Keen games because id isn't making them and no one is licensing the game to make their own to sell.

02-04-2007, 09:16 AM
Dennis Ferron to answer your question just take a look at "Dr Hydra" (a Dr Mario Clone) and "Hydra Man" (a Bomberman Clone).
Looking at those two examples, I'm guessing there is nothing wrong with fan games or game clones on the Hydra.

02-04-2007, 09:42 AM
Fan games are fine as long as you don't sell them. Also, as long as you dont COPY exactly pixel for pixel, behavior for behavior then its fair game and derivative work and you could sell it if you want to, but bottom line is millions of fan games are out there, clones, etc. if you want to make a game, sell it for $29.99 and its a definite rip of CK then you "might" get blasted sooner or later, but if you make a complete clone and just give it away for free, that's not a problem.

Of course, the law is always up to interpretation by the party with the most money, so what's legal, illegal, has nothing to do with reality in a court of law. In this country at least.

So bottom line is if you make up the MOST original game on the planet, that had ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with Pacman, Atari could sue you if they wanted to. By the time it got to court and any kind of intelligent delliberation ensued you would be out of pocket $50-150K, maybe more just to get to the pre-lim or even arbitration.


Post Edited (AndreL) : 2/4/2007 2:51:25 AM GMT