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Can I create a Tile game like Catan without coyright issues?

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sojon09
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Joined: 03/20/2009

A couple of years ago we got bored playing all the Catan games and using the pieces we created our own game. It took us six months of trying new things but we've now been playing our version for about a year and a half. We have introduced it to about 50 Catan players, all of them loved our version, in fact most say they want our version over all the others of Catan. We've played it hundreds of times and have taken it to several game parties where it is the hit of the party.

We use all the Catan pieces; resource tiles (grain, wood, brick, stone, sheep, gold, jungle water with prots water without ports) resource cards, roling for resources, cities, settlements roads, ships, and the robber (but to us it plagues just a single city) and the general idea of Catan. So some of the play is similar to Catan.

However, we play with all 67 pieces upside down to start the game and can only be turned over as they are discovered. We have added a single 10 sided die, there are 30 "treasure" that you can buy when you uncover empty water, you can purchase other things such as city walls and scouts too. There are more things to do and the resources are evenly distributed in the purchasing of "stuff" unlike Catan. And a lot fo the game play is impacted by the treasures in the ocean. The idea is to discover as much of the baord as you can and get to 15 points before everyone else to win.

I want to create the game, publish it and sell it, but I don't know what the copyright is for Catan. Can I create a game that is similar, but different? Do I need to make all new resources? Do I need to change other things to be able to do it?

I know that others have created knock-offs of catan and sold them. I just need someone to tell me what I can andcannot do.

Willi B
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Joined: 07/28/2008
Re-Theme

Re-theme the game and don't use the original art in what you sell.

There you go... all you need.

JB
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Joined: 02/06/2009
Copyright

Basically, you can't use the term "Catan," and personally I would stay away from "Setterlers of." No mechanics are copyrightable (they are patentable but very few people bother). For example, in Monopoly you roll two dice and move a number of spaces. Other games can do that too. You can't copy any words from the rules into your rules. It's dangerous to have a game so similiar that no one would ever buy both.

I agree with the above poster that your best be is to retheme. For example, you could change the time period, or make it fantasy. If you have Faries setteling flowers in a feild, or explores setteling an asteriod feild, your probably in the clear. Do any of your new mechanics suggest a different theme? It certianly seems like you have more exploration than Catan. Maybe you can build a theme around that.

sojon09
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Joined: 03/20/2009
Yes

We actually call it "Explorers." We thought of making it a space game with colonizing a new planet. We thought about differnt recources but we alway end up with Forrests (Wood) Animals (Sheep) Stone, (stone) etc.

So if I retheme the game, the part about getting resources when the die is rolled and numbered resource six sided squares won't matter?

Katherine
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Joined: 07/24/2008
I think there is a couple of

I think there is a couple of games based on colonising a new planet. Have you thought about the convict settlers? That could make an interesting theme.

NativeTexan
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Joined: 03/04/2009
sojon09 wrote: We actually

sojon09 wrote:
We actually call it "Explorers." We thought of making it a space game with colonizing a new planet. We thought about differnt recources but we alway end up with Forrests (Wood) Animals (Sheep) Stone, (stone) etc.

So if I retheme the game, the part about getting resources when the die is rolled and numbered resource six sided squares won't matter?

Changing the theme (and the resources) is important for other reasons besides copyright. You want to make sure this is not a knock off of Catan because it is SO popular. It has cult status. If it seems too similar, many people will reject before even giving it a chance.

In addition to many of the things you are already doing, consider doing the following:
- change from hex tiles to square tiles
- change from a single landmass to multiple (perhaps just separate the land mass with rivers / canals)
- change development cards to work differently, maybe something that you place in front of you as a 'power' or 'special ability' that is in effect for the entire game (or maybe until the next time one of your cities is robbed)
- DEFINITELY change some of the resources. There are lots of possibilities here: Meat, Vegetables, Wood, Hemp, Skins, Stone, Gold, Straw, Mud, Water, Minerals, Crystal, Bamboo, Rocks, Gems, Adobe, Ivory, Flint. If you go with an alien planet, then you can create totally different resources!

Best of luck. It sounds like you've got a real winner on your hands. I especially like the idea that you "discover" the map over time. That is very cool.

Jpwoo
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Joined: 03/26/2009
If your game uses that much

If your game uses that much of a catan board maybe you should consider Micro-publishing it. Just printing the extra bits that you need and a rule book. So that people can buy the cheaper stripped down version, and play on their catan set.

I think this would be easier to market online. And much easier than trying to produce a full blown game.

apeloverage
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Joined: 08/01/2008
if you take the above suggestion,

it's permitted to say that it's an "unofficial expansion for Settlers of Catan" - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominative_use for what you can and can't do.

Dralius
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Joined: 07/26/2008
Better to ask a lawyer

apeloverage wrote:
it's permitted to say that it's an "unofficial expansion for Settlers of Catan" - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominative_use for what you can and can't do.

You never know who put up the information on a Wiki so i wouldn't use it for legal advice. Check with a lawyer.

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