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What do you do when you (inadvertently) copy something?

3 replies [Last post]
Some Random Dude
Joined: 01/30/2014

I have a dilemma.

I had a game idea about a year ago and shelved it in my mind while I focused on life. I've recently come back to it and hope to ramp things up and start playtesting soon. It's a simple voting filler game. I suddenly remembered today that I had heard about Democrazy years ago (Bruno Faidutti game I've never played) and decided to check out what it was like on BGG.

I've basically remade a Faidutti game.

Now, that's not *entirely* true, as there are some distinct differences that change the way you play my game, but it is still a voting game with colored chips for points. I can't help but think that, if I were to ever show this to someone they'd say "this looks like Democrazy" - and I wouldn't have that much of an argument.

Now, I don't want to drastically change my game so it is nothing like the other, and I don't want to avoid the other one entirely because it's a way to make my design better, but I also don't want to outright borrow from it (or even be suggested that I borrowed from it).

Have you ever faced this situation and if so, how did you handle it?

sheeptree's picture
Joined: 03/15/2017
Unless you're entirely

Unless you're entirely copying and are aware of copying the existing game, your game is going to be different and I think people would see that.

A similar theme isn't a problem and your game is going to change as you tweak it and playtest anyway.

I don't think you should let similarities between your game and an existing game discourage you from making your game. Just acknowledge the similarities, strive for your game to be better, and have fun!

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
We all "borrow" mechanics and ideas

Most of a game's "mechanics" are borrowed ideas. So what that means is NEW permutations of a game -- make for different results in game play. Even the smallest change could "dramatically" alter a design. So you should be aware that at the moment, your game has borrowed mechanics from another game.

But what you should focus on is what makes YOUR game different.

Early on when I was pitching "TradeWorlds" to several Publishers (and they are very known ones), one was like "so what makes it different"??? Because I explained the game in terms of other games from which I borrowed mechanics. Needless to say I was not properly prepared to discuss my design.

If I could have never gotten over the "it's a deck-builder like Dominion ... but DIFFERENT", I'm sure you'll be able to describe your game with comparisons and also learn how to "explain" the differences.

Picture it: "It's like Dominion but ... different." Q1:"How so?". A1:"Well it's got roles like Puerto Rico." Q2:"So it's a mix between Dominion and Puerto Rico??" A2:"Well not really, it also has hand-management like Uno and Dice Rolling & Set Collection like Monopoly!"...

You see my point? It's nice to describe your game in terms of the games that "inspired" you... But when talking to a publisher, you've got to focus on the differences and what makes the game unique. We know all games are unique.

In my particular case ("TradeWorlds"), what makes the game unique from most Deck-Builders is that each player has A> His OWN market from which he/she buys cards from and B> Unique Set Collection mechanic which allows you to re-purpose cards for use as starships.

See the difference? Once you figure out the similarities, you'll certainly be able to find the differences too. And focus on pitching what makes the game "different"!


Joined: 01/27/2017
The only time copying is fatal

The only time copying would be fatal is if you copied the title of a similar existing game. There be lawsuits there. Having similar mechanics in and of itself is of no legal concern, but as mentioned can force your hand a bit in how you pitch the game to publishers/backers.

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