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So much to say, I can't keep up with your blog!
I know that companies do copy ideas, and that making clones is part of the industry, but it still makes me angry (however few people are to blame, and most employees whether programmers, artists, designers, have no choice but to do it, keeping your job is a priority... fortunately my company is known for always coming up with original ideas).

I was curious to try Radical Fishing (the Flash game), and after just a few minutes of playing, it was obvious that this was a little gem, with great potential to be exploited on other platforms.

Still even though game design is not protected by copyright, there is a limit to the extent to which a game can be copied.
If you are interested, this video from Nitrome (the company I work for) was intended for Apple to demonstrate the ripoff of one of our flash games ported to iOS without our knowledge, and sold on the App Store. In this case, many of the graphics had not changed, and the level design was exactly the same. Justice was done, Apple removed the game from their store, but this happened another time with another of our games, and probably many more Flash games that have been ripped off this way.
Video:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPrVe_YDRFc

Now I can't blame some of our fans who say that this would not happen had we ported some of our games on iPhone ourselves, which I'm sure is what some people are inclined to think about Radical Fishing too. Can't blame them either.

Roman Age: thanks for sharing your views! It's always welcome.

"So much to say, I can't keep up with your blog!"

Goodness, I'm down to posting just once a week and you can't keep up? In the early days of Only a Game I had game posts up five times a week! >:)

"Still even though game design is not protected by copyright, there is a limit to the extent to which a game can be copied."

Copying graphics and code assets is illegal, copying design elements is not - although there are some grey areas. Having new graphics and combining new game mechanics is fair game every day of the week. :)

"Now I can't blame some of our fans who say that this would not happen had we ported some of our games on iPhone ourselves, which I'm sure is what some people are inclined to think about Radical Fishing too. Can't blame them either."

Of course, the objection gets raised that indies don't necessarily have the resources to get an iphone game up and running quickly. But this excuse only goes too far - if you can't make an iphone game quickly, partner with an iphone developer.

The problem as I see it is that indie game devs don't want game development to work as a regular business and then get annoyed when other companies do work as regular businesses. Indie devs have to toughen up a bit.

In this case, it's clear that they had found something fun, but they still put it out there for everyone to see. You can't afford to do this unless you are happy to be copied (and I think there are good reasons why it isn't a bad thing when someone is inspired by your design, as I say here).

I don't enjoy being a pragmatist about these issues, but the way I see it this issue is part of the shape of the business landscape and is, in the grand scheme of things, too trivial to lead a revolution about. Indies need to learn the lay of the land better when it comes to business. If they think about games as a hobby, expect to be spanked occasionally by companies that think of business as business.

Wow, I'm such a different person than when I started designing games. :)

Thanks for sharing your experiences with Nitrome. Much appreciated.

All the best!

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