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Subject: Are fan games legal? rss

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Luis Ramirez
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Hi everyone, I just discovered this site.
I've been having an idea for a board game based off of The Legend of Zelda
and I really wanted to make it.

I already started designing the game itself as far as the rules, etc.
But then it hit me, is this even legal?
I know that fan art and fan fiction are generally okay
as long as you don't sell it. But what about a fan board game?

I don't intend to sell it, but I did hope to print up a bunch
of copies and if anyone wanted one, they could just pay me for the
amount it costs to print it and ship it. I would not profit
off of it myself. I just wanna do this for fun.

Does anyone have any tips? I don't want to put a lot of work
into something that I won't be able to share with the world anyway,
so if it's not legal, I rather just not do it.
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Robert Wesley
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Re: Are fan games legal? why not!
Sure, go ahead and as 'moi' will sell DICE also, at $1-USD-per-EACH-52 and $3.50-USD-per-EACH-d10-9d10-6 so, STOCK-UP before you REALLY needed these, and this is selected accordingly with what is actually available: "on hand"; or CHOSEN by me.

EDIT
robot "Shipping" & etc. is determined "and then?" PAID by the customer based upon what it comprised for whatever.
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Stefan
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Down, GROG, down. You'll scare off the new blood.
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Robert Wesley
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blush Well, I'm not 'touting' those "as" anything BUT just that! Call these with "Legendary-ACME" sorts, so as to 'befit' whichever!
goo ~"dough"DUH SEZ: "Buy & TRY, there is NO: "DO NOT WANT!"
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Dezza
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There are probably some people that could talk a lot about the legality of it, but there have been a number of people making games using art from other sources.

Check this game using Zelda assets.
My Custom Legend of Zelda Board Game
The person used another board game, and made up the files, but only makes the files available to others, they don't make it for others.

There are a lot of Love Letter rethemes using other intellectual property.

Most often these are made for 'personal use', or people release files for people to make it themselves. Charging cost and postage only might avoid the issue of making a profit from someone else's intellectual property, but I don't really know the issues.

You could go ahead and design your game with Zelda assets for yourself, and if it's actually any good, perhaps release it to others with alternative art.
The Legendary Helga: Clock of Music
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Luis Ramirez
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That's good solid advice, thank you.
Another idea I was having was to start a kickstarter page,
since I've noticed many people have projects on there involving
things such as Pokemon, etc. that they obviously do not own.
And they seem to be getting away with it...

If I were to do that, anyone who donates to the project
will be getting a finished copy sent to them.
I much rather print and ship myself because let's face it,
people are lazy. If I give them the files and say,
"here you go, print them yourself" people might not
go through the trouble of doing that. But if I give them
a finished package that looks good, complete with
the game pieces and everything, now that would be different
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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The big sticky thread on IP protections is here. It's worth a read.

I suspect you can probably avoid copyright infringement if you're careful (you can't use any artwork or text descriptions directly from the original).

Trademarks seem likely to be a problem, though. For example, the phrase "Legend of Zelda" is presumably a trademark, so if you use that in advertising your game, you'd be infringing.

If you don't make any money from it, that will reduce the incentive for some lawyer somewhere to spend his time coming after you, but it doesn't necessarily make it any more legal. It is one of the factors in determining fair use, but it's not enough by itself.


The "right" way to do this is to file off the serial numbers and create your own world that is very similar to Legend of Zelda, but doesn't use any of the exact same names or symbols. For example, you could have a courageous green-clad hero with a sword and a bow and bombs, just don't call him "Link" or put a triforce symbol on him. This is a common and accepted technique that is 100% legal. It's why Dungeons and Dragons has "halfings" instead of "hobbits", and why dozens of video games call their floating eyeball monsters anything except "beholders".

Alternately, you could ignore the law and hope you're too small-time for Nintendo to waste their time hunting you down. You probably won't find any manufacturer who wants to print your game if you take that approach, though, so you're probably looking at a print-and-play. It's also risky--just because lightning hasn't struck others doesn't mean it can't strike you.
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Dezza
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silverblaize wrote:
That's good solid advice, thank you.
Another idea I was having was to start a kickstarter page,
since I've noticed many people have projects on there involving
things such as Pokemon, etc. that they obviously do not own.
And they seem to be getting away with it...
No, not all seem to be getting away with it
Cancelled Pokemon Kickstarter
Cancelled Zelda Kickstarter
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Luis Ramirez
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YIKES! Thanks guys, I think i'll just recreate
it into my own thing then. Maybe a Zelda parody or something
completely original instead.

I was looking through the board games that people are
working on on kickstarter and I'm overwhelmed and impressed
that I don't think my humble little fan made board game
could even compare with them anyway haha...

I mean I still think my game idea is a good one.
So we'll see. Maybe the print and play method is
the best option after all.
 
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Grace McDermott
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What has inspired you to make a fan game? Is it the specific lore of LoZ, the art, etc?

Is it something you could "file the numbers off" and make your own?
 
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Koen Hendrix
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dezza wrote:
No, not all seem to be getting away with it
Cancelled Pokemon Kickstarter
Cancelled Zelda Kickstarter
That's different. Those are Kickstarters, i.e. people asking for money to create and publish a product.

If you just want to create a game in your own home for your own enjoyment, you should be fine.

Sharing it through downloadable PDFs or whatever seems more risky.

As soon as money gets involved, the legal hounds might well be unleashed.
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John "Omega" Williams
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I've worked with a couple of IPs now for games.

In general most IP holders do not care about free fan games. It is when you try to sell it that you run full tilt into trouble. An IP must be defended.

But.

Some IP owners will not allow ANY fan material at all. Mercedes Lackey C&Ded a MMO game for allowing someone to name their in game character as one of her characters. That is close to worst case scenario.

Easiest to just ask if its ok.
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Gimo Barrera
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We should take Bikini Bottom
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Yes just to keep on beating on the dead horse:
Copyright laws prohibit you from using trademarks (in this case Zelda) without permission from its owners. If you make fan art and/or fan fiction you are technically getting into a gray area, yet because you are not making profit on those, they rarely go out of their way to put up a small claim like that, at most you'll get a request to put your work down. If money is involved in any way, like the transactions you are referring to, this can get you in legal trouble, since even though you are not making profit, you are distributing trademark goods without authorization of it's owner. I think your best options are these:
1. If you really don't care about profit, you can design and make the game as a free print-and-play file and posted on bgg.
2. If you do want to make the game and ship it out to a few people, I would recommend the same thing other users said, and that is to retheme the game.
3. Since you brought up kickstarter I assume you're somewhat interested in profit. I would highly recommend against it. Unless you will be making this project a full time job, it will not do well on kickstarter (sorry if that sounds harsh), kickstarter became a platform where people will not just back anything anymore (with some exceptions), and will focus on games by established publishers, or games that have been marketed before hand, in conventions, by reviewers, and gaming stores. Which takes a lot of work, money, and time. So as a project for the sake of fun and your love for zelda, I would not go the kickstarter route.

Hope this helps! If you do decide on the print-play I'd love to try it!
 
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Luis Ramirez
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Good point, I think I'll definitely just do the free print and play then. I honestly didn't want any profit from it, I just had a fun idea for a Zelda board game, and I wanted to share it with other Zelda fans, while at the same time providing them with a fully finished
decent to good quality board game. I only mentioned kickstarter
because there I'd find people willing to donate to fund the
printing of the board game itself, not for myself.

But to answer that other person's question, what inspired
me to make a Zelda game in the first place?
Recently I've been playing 2D Zelda games, you know the old school
ones where you're looking at the game screen and you're inside
a dungeon, and the entire room takes up a screen.
And as you explore the dungeon taking different paths,
you discover new rooms, find keys, fight monsters, etc.
Basically I wanted to recreate that into a board game.
I was gonna call it The Legend of Zelda: Dungeon Explorer (the Unofficial board game).

Basically I was gonna have each dungeon room printed into
6 x 4 sized cards, and then you shuffle those cards. And as you enter a new room in the dungeon, you draw a dungeon room card and connect it to the map, that way you're exploring the dungeon and you don't know what you're going to find. This way it'll be a different experience every time you play. I also wanted to do different themed dungeons,
meaning there would be different themed artwork for them,
expanding the game possibilities even more, and hopefully
creating a higher replay value.

I have noticed on here that someone did a great Zelda board game
already, but my idea is entirely different, as I want to
recreate a Zelda video game experience into a tabletop game.
 
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Rob Harper
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gimodude wrote:
Yes just to keep on beating on the dead horse:
Copyright laws prohibit you from using trademarks ...
And just to flog a different dead horse: NO, copyright law has nothing to do with trademarks. Copyright and trademark law are both related to what you could describe as intellectual property, but they are separate things.
 
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Robert Wesley
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Perhaps, some varied parodied: "The many loves of Dobie Gillis` 'acquaintance' as Legends of ZELDA Gilroy!" whistle
 
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Derek H
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silverblaize wrote:
I was gonna call it The Legend of Zelda: Dungeon Explorer (the Unofficial board game).
Why not just call it Legend of Z: Dungeon Explorer - no confusion with any licensed product arrrh
 
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pnp fanatic
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gamesbook wrote:
silverblaize wrote:
I was gonna call it The Legend of Zelda: Dungeon Explorer (the Unofficial board game).
Why not just call it Legend of Z: Dungeon Explorer - no confusion with any licensed product arrrh
Sometimes you just can't win:

http://www.kongregate.com/games/yahyas8/purify-the-legend-of...

http://shirtoid.com/106226/legend-of-z/

https://vimeo.com/136665165

Maybe just call it 'The F&%*@+% Accomplishments of the F&%*@+% letter Z'
 
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Grace McDermott
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If it's a dungeon crawler, are the elements of the LoZ mythos necessary, or can you create your own to fill in the gaps?
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Jake Staines
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Or just rename the protagonist "Loz". I'm sure it's a legitimate diminutive of "Laurence" or something.
 
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Benj Davis
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Bichatse wrote:
Or just rename the protagonist "Loz". I'm sure it's a legitimate diminutive of "Laurence" or something.
My high school classmate Lauren was called Loz.
 
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Grace McDermott
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Bichatse wrote:
Or just rename the protagonist "Loz". I'm sure it's a legitimate diminutive of "Laurence" or something.
Australia? I can imagine a Laurence being called Lozza.
 
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