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Subject: How similar is too similar? rss

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frakkin toasters
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I've been working on a variation of an A&A style game for my friends and I to play. It's set in 1988 and is about full scale war between NATO allies and communist powers.

My variant game uses the same D6 combat mechanics, similar sequence of play and many of the same unit types, strengths and special abilities as A&A, but also has significant differences. My game also introduces new unit types, features nuclear weapons, oil resource management, fixed income, civilian casualties, and a public approval rating mechanic to determine victory.

My rules use some similar terms, such as sea zones and territories, and some similar language because of similar combat mechanics and turn structure.

I have created my own original game board and artwork for the game.

In short, my game is more than just a set of house rules for A&A, but is clearly a variant of it.

I'm not looking to make any money off this game, but I'd like to share my variant game with others and get some play test help by posting it online as a print & play game, but don't want to be accused of ripping off A&A.

Would it be poor form to put up a public website about my game? Is it permissible to make a game variant like this available to the public without the express permission of the original game's distributor? Should I credit the original? If so, how?
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Evan Derrick
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See this thread for a case study on what happens when your game draws heavily from the mechanics of another game.

Ultimately it's your call, as you'll find people who will argue vociferously on both sides of the issue.
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First, please remember this:

With just a few exceptions, there are no new ideas in board game design.

Next, purchase this microbadge...

mb

...because all board game designers are inspired by (and borrow from) previously published material.

Finally, just play your A&A variant with friends and have fun. I say this for two reasons.

#1 -- I fear that the hobby might not "need" another A&A style wargame, plus if your project runs afoul of Hasbro it will be a major headache.

#2 -- I suggest using your prototype as a punching bag to get in shape for your next design. Watch trends in the hobby and discover other concepts which you can incorporate into a crisp, fresh wargame about the Cold War era.

Good Luck!

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frakkin toasters
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Sheesh! Yeah, that thread is exactly what I don't want, especially for something I never intend to sell or make a dime off of.

I'd be perfectly content to share it on a fan site for A&A as a variant or extensive set of house rules or whatever the acceptable terminology is. Heck, I'd give it to Hasbro or whoever, but I'm not conceited enough to think they'd want it.

I'm not really interested in breaking into professional game design. I'm not trying to launch a career or start a business or make a buck.

I just have something I think is fun to play and wanted to share it with others who might enjoy it.

After reading that other thread, I guess I'll take the advice of the previous poster and keep it to myself.
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Gláucio Reis
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If you only want to share, just post about it in the variants forum for A&A and upload any necessary files (as a single package) to the files section. No-one will condemn you for that.
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mike
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I wish I could remember the company that put them out, but back in the early 90s there was a company that produced alternate rules and sets of minatures to use with the standard axis and allies board

They had a World War I Set and a Sci-Fi Set and I believe a Cold War set that were pretty cool
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80sgamer wrote:
I wish I could remember the company that put them out, but back in the early 90s there was a company that produced alternate rules and sets of minatures to use with the standard axis and allies board

They had a World War I Set and a Sci-Fi Set and I believe a Cold War set that were pretty cool


Table Tactics

Excellent miniatures!
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John "Omega" Williams
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pete belli wrote:

[/COLOR]Next, purchase this microbadge...

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Can I get a badge that reads "Would you people please stop standing on my shoulders?" whistle

(Hasbro is very heavy...sauron)
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Just call me Erik
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pete belli wrote:
First, please remember this:

With just a few exceptions, there are no new ideas in board game design.

Next, purchase this microbadge...

mb

...because all board game designers are inspired by (and borrow from) previously published material.



This is truth. Completely unique ideas are rare.

Fortunately I have a couple. They're probably total crap though. Sometimes things have never been tried for a reason. Like a magnesium frying pan or a pair of airplane wings made of butcher paper and drinking straws.

Referencing the microbadge, there's a similar saying among racing vehicle developers. "Those in the industry who see the furthest do so because they stand on the tallest pile of broken parts."
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that Matt
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Omega2064 wrote:
Can I get a badge that reads "Would you people please stop standing on my shoulders?" whistle

(Hasbro is very heavy...sauron)

Because Hasbro stole your...?
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Robert Beachler
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I would say if you credit A&A and your game being an extreme variant there shouldn't be an issue. Since you are not looking to sell the comparison to the Flash Duel thread isn't really relevant. People make a ton of variants for games in every area of BGG. I am currently helping playtest Tom Vasel's Capo which is loosely based on Kremlin, thus showing that in many ways you are simply adjusting a game to fit your preference. As for specific terms used like perhaps finding another term at least in your documentation will help separate it from A&A, even if any people who play it that also play A&A will know what the original term is.
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John "Omega" Williams
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tumorous wrote:
Omega2064 wrote:
Can I get a badge that reads "Would you people please stop standing on my shoulders?" whistle

(Hasbro is very heavy...sauron)

Because Hasbro stole your...?


Eyebrows? Nope, still attatched... I think...

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Alex Weldon
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As long as the end product is substantively different than the original, I see no problem. A certain type of board game fan will rage about anything they see as being derivative, but you'll just have to ignore them. There's no point in reinventing the wheel every time.

On the other hand, be wary of doing things a certain way just because another game does it and you happen to like that game. If you set out to make "A&A but in a different time period and with a bunch of extra stuff," not all of A&A's original rules will necessarily work well with what you're adding. A warning sign is that you're copying from one game, whereas if you were really taking the mechanics that work best for your particular idea, you'd probably be drawing them from multiple sources.

So I'd say do it the other way around... come up with an idea that you want to execute (NATO allies vs. communist powers in 1988) and whenever you're searching for inspiration for a given mechanic, look to several other games in the same (or even different) genre, rather than always going to the same one.
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