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Nightlancer

"Take on jobs for your underworld contacts. You need to make critical decisions about the best ways to resolve the job set before you. Choose badly and you risk combat, raising the alarms or worse failing the job entirely. Choose right and with a bit of luck you reach your payday unscathed."

"You could spend the money to better prepare yourself for future jobs with equipment and cybernetics. You could grease some palms to make useful contacts in the underworld or society. Or you can spend it advancing your prospects so you can one day give up the underworld life. "

"That's the life of the Nightlancer."

Nightlancer is a card-driven game for 2-4 players with moderate complexity. Resource management and calculated risks are key to success. The players compete for victory and can interfere with each other's plan, but they often have the opportunity to trade and cooperate for mutual gain. It’s set in a future transhuman dystopia.

Comments

The title is a bit tenuous.

The title is a bit tenuous. It looks like there is no active trademark for it within this industry, but still, it is a core characteristic of Pondsmith's Cyberpunk game, which makes your game look like a rip-off. Also, being a card game, it isn't very distinct from Netrunner (originally a Cyberpunk CCG, now FFG's Android: Netrunner), so FFG would have a good trademark infringement case just based on the likelihood of consumer confusion.

Really, X-runner has been played out since the late nineties, be it edgerunner, shadowrunner, netrunner, or the Modern Lovers.

Might have a point

Ah. I wasn't aware the term "edgerunner" was actually used in the Cyberpunk RPG material. It's not in the early stuff, but I had a look around and it comes up in Cybergeneration and later on. So yes, that's a good point. I'll think about other names.

Why do you think being a card game makes it indistinct from Netrunner? Card games have a huge variety in terms of mechanics, saying it's a card game doesn't really say an awful lot about it.

(before the 90s even, bladerunner!)

It dates back to the original

It dates back to the original printing of Cyberpunk. Edgerunner is the catch-all term for all of the character archetypes, just like Shadowrunner in Shadowrun. Solos, Nomads, and Rockerboys were all Edgerunners. The later games boiled all of those archetypes down into a single one, the Edgerunner, which encompasses the descendents of the original movement.

From a legal perspective, nobody seems to have formal rights to the term, "edgerunner" in the gaming market. However, FFG has registered Netrunner, which is a CCG originally based on Cyberpunk, which I believe even has an "edgerunner" card. The issue is that the name, concept, and product class are all similar enough that there is room for consumer confusion. There are criteria for determining if the likelihood of confusion is actionable:

-- Whether or not the goods or services using the same mark compete with one another. Check. You'd be in direct competition.
-- Whether or not the goods or services are so closely related that they are being marketed through the same stores or channels of distribution. Check. Both target the FLGS.
-- Whether or not the alleged infringer intended to trick consumers in order to "cash in" on the plaintiff's business good will. This is what they'd attempt to prove in court, that you knowingly designed your game to imitate theirs.
-- Whether the marks are similar in appearance, phonetic sound, or meaning. Check on all three points.
-- How sophisticated the consumer is likely to be prior to purchasing. Check. Cheap product sold to teens versus a PhD having to tell two million dollar pieces of medical equipment apart. Your target audience isn't considered savvy, so it is a small leap that they'd buy one mistaking it for the other.
-- Whether or not the companies are accessing overlapping customer bases. Check. Same customer base.
-- The legal strength of each of the marks. Theirs would of course be much stronger.
-- Whether there has been any actual confusion. Again, something proven in court, but it is doubtful that things would ever get to this stage. If your game does well and FFG takes notice, they may have a lawyer suggest, "We have to act on this or it is going to dilute our mark," whereupon you'd just get a cease and desist (which sucks if you've raised 50k on a KS and spent the money on production without shipping yet). The question that then arises is, do you have the time and money to even challenge that in court?

> -- Whether or not the

> -- Whether or not the alleged infringer intended to trick consumers in order to "cash in" on the plaintiff's business good will. This is what they'd attempt to prove in court, that you knowingly designed your game to imitate theirs.

They'd be welcome to try. I think my game is unique and I don't know of any game like it. The fact it's in the same genre doesn't change that.

> -- How sophisticated the consumer is likely to be prior to purchasing. Check.

I'm not sold on this one. I don't think it needs to a specialist investing large amounts of money for a buyer to be discerning. Gamers tend to be critical thinkers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_moron_in_a_hurry

To be clear, I'm not actually arguing against a name change, it's just out of curiosity. I think it's in everyone's best interests if I aim for a unique brand for my game and I'd overlooked the use of "edgerunner" in the CP material.

iamseph wrote:They'd be

iamseph wrote:
They'd be welcome to try. I think my game is unique and I don't know of any game like it. The fact it's in the same genre doesn't change that.

It is unlikely they would, but it boils down to legalities of brand protection, not the uniqueness of your gameplay. Games Workshop has been the most aggressive at working to protect their brand, what with them being a publicly traded corporation. It bit them in the ass twice recently, first with Spots the Space Marine and then with the Chapterhouse suit, which led to GW entering a new phase of rebranding to ensure the distinctiveness of their IP. Chapterhouse won their suit, but they had a very strong defense, devoted consumer support (being cast as "the good guys" in a David versus Goliath match), and free legal counsel. Even then, they took a very hard hit, both emotionally and financially. FFG's future legal stance will now be dependent on Asmodee, who acquired them. I know that Asmodee was the subject of one of these suits not so long ago with Repos Production's (another Asmodee imprint) "Rampage" game being retitled "Terror in Meeple City" on account of a challenge from Midway, makers of the "Rampage" video game.

Legal risks are worth being aware of, because if you were slapped with a cease and desist (even if you are in the right), what are you going to do about it? Are you ready to spend months, even years, contesting it? Do you have a few thousand dollars sitting around to spend on legal and court fees? Are you ready to put your life on hold to cope with those months of crushing uncertainty and anxiety? Most people would say, "No," and larger corporations figured that out ages ago. Back in the late '90s, Microsoft actually filed a series of frivolous suits against small computer stores as part of their planned revenue stream. They made outrageous claims and sued for impossible amounts, then followed up with a smaller settlement offer that typically put the store out of business without utterly beggaring the owner. The vast majority of people settled, and that displaced a lot of small operations just in time for the big box stores to open up and start selling . . . I think it was Hewlett Packard back then?

iamseph wrote:
>I'm not sold on this one. I don't think it needs to a specialist investing large amounts of money for a buyer to be discerning. Gamers tend to be critical thinkers.

You have a defense, but be prepared to spend a few thousand proving it. Unlike you, a larger corporation can provide detailed marketing demographic information that they've invested thousands of dollars into to prove their point and frame their arguments with. Here is a freebie, far less detailed version of what something like that would look like:
http://www.superdataresearch.com/content/uploads/2009/08/TCG2010.pdf

This is to convince a judge whose opinion of CCGs will be largely informed by the Pokemon cartoon and this:

http://time.com/20074/player-exposes-magic-the-gathering-for-all-its-cra...

Again, even if you called the game "Edgerunner," marketed it as a clearly Cyberpunk game, and so on, it isn't all that likely you would have any problems. I just want people to be aware that those problems exist, and I believe that the litigation that is so prevalent in other industries will creep more and more into this one as larger companies continue to absorb smaller ones and brands prove to have greater value worth protecting on account of higher sales figures, digital licensing, and potential movie rights even.

Soulfinger wrote:Legal risks

Soulfinger wrote:
Legal risks are worth being aware of, because if you were slapped with a cease and desist (even if you are in the right), what are you going to do about it? Are you ready to spend months, even years, contesting it? Do you have a few thousand dollars sitting around to spend on legal and court fees? Are you ready to put your life on hold to cope with those months of crushing uncertainty and anxiety? Most people would say, "No,"

Yeah it'd suck to be hit by that problem after the time I've spent on this.

Soulfinger wrote:
I just want people to be aware that those problems exist, and I believe that the litigation that is so prevalent in other industries will creep more and more into this one as larger companies continue to absorb smaller ones and brands prove to have greater value worth protecting on account of higher sales figures, digital licensing, and potential movie rights even.

The input is appreciated.

One thing I'm concerned about is if I accidentally step on someone's toes - like if I use something that's similar to a product I don't even know about and they (rightly) slap me with C&D. Will I be able to continue with the game by rebranding it distinctly from their product or would there be implications in the way of continuing development even in a substantially different form?

The good news is that this is

The good news is that this is such a nickel and dime industry that lawsuits are uncommon. There have been several successful KS projects that blatantly and knowingly infringed on other properties owned by major corporations and even making tens of thousands of dollars didn't put them on the radar. The caveat is that, while litigation is a matter of public record, settlements reached before a lawsuit are not, so we only have the general chattiness of gamers as a measuring stick. The most important things you can do are:

1) Game mechanics aren't protected by copyright laws, but creative elements are. Try to make your work distinct, even if there is no such thing as original. Obviously Homer wasn't going to sue the Cohen brothers for borrowing from The Odyssey, but their movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? demonstrates a fresh, distinct take on a classic. So far, your description of Edgerunner can be translated as "generic cyberpunk game."
2) Don't plagiarize. It's so obvious, but don't use images you found online, copy text from other sources, etc. Be "inspired" to innovate, not to add a smiley face to the Disney logo when designing your own.
3) Start an LLC. Keep your personal assets separate from your private ones. Worst case scenario then is that you lose a business, not your house and car. Of course, this is only applicable if you are self publishing.
4) Keep in mind that you are liable for work done for hire. You can get in trouble for mistakes made by an illustrator or web designer who have done work for hire for you.
5) Google. It is amazing how much information a simple Google search turns up if you are on the fence about a particular word or phrase. Sometimes you have to be intuitive about search terms. "Edgerunner," for example, mostly brings up bicycles and a fan RPG site that Talsorian hasn't shut down for whatever reason. However, the first result for "Edgerunner CCG" brings up everything you need to know for determining the uniqueness of the title.

All-in-all, if you are doing anything to minimize your risks then you are light years ahead of many designers. Keep in mind also that receiving a C&D doesn't necessarily mean that the other party is willing to take things to court (it costs them money too) or that their claim is not necessarily valid. Rebranding could very well resolve an unforeseen issue.

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