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Cybearg

Movie Tie-In Games... Should I Bother?

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I usually prefer not to reveal what i'm working on before it's truly ready to be shown, but I'm at a point of uncertainty.

 

neotokeo2001's recent topics encouraging homebrewers to create games of classic Halloween-themed films led me to the belief that, much as remaking an existing game is the bread and butter of Homebrew cartridges, making film/tv tie-ins would be no big deal. Encouraged by that, I decided to start work on a couple Christmas-themed games in the hopes of a tentative holiday release.

 

That is, until I recently noticed this thread for the first time, which essentially says that's a big mistake. Since I'm a month or so into the two games' developments and was really getting excited about how they were turning out, it's a pretty crushing blow, needless to say.

 

At the risk of sounding like a corporate whore, I'll say that I'm not particularly interested in working on games that couldn't eventually come to a cartridge release--moreso than being about the money, I want my work to be immortalized in a cartridge that I can put on my shelf and be played in similar cartridges by others, rather than just being a ROM one can delete and forget about. I only have so much time to devote to this hobby, though, so working on games that can't developed fully is basically a waste of my limited time.

 

Is there hope? Dare I risk continuing development on these games?

 

Alternately, is it possible that I could get away with a little tweak to the game's name and still release them? Or would changing the name ruin the brand recognition and make the whole thing pointless (and cheesy) anyway? Zippy seems slated for a cartridge release in spite of the similarities being rather on the blatant side, and Princess Rescue would have gotten away with it, too, if not for those meddling game journalists.

 

Please give me your advice! I've got a very early screenshot from each game below. I'm not going to say what they are, in case Google's spiders are watching, but I presume you'll be able to figure out what they are on your own.

 

Game A

post-34988-0-22195800-1414561466_thumb.png

A stealth-adventure game on the VCS where the player must find and steal presents in houses while avoiding toddlers and adults who will put a stopper on your nabbing frenzy.

 

Game B

post-34988-0-05582500-1414561471_thumb.png

A side-scrolling shooter (of sorts) on the Intellivision where the player takes to the skies on a very unusual Christmas eve. Drop presents into the chimneys of the good little boys and girls while avoiding the spooky Halloween nasties that have been set loose to stop you... or blow them out of the sky with your explosive presents.

Edited by Cybearg
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Why the tie-in? Why not avoid the entire debacle and make an original title? You can get inspired by an existing franchise, but write your own story, create your own characters, and add your own game-play elements that make it unique.

 

I'm sure the community would appreciate that even better. Here's an example, which happens to be very a propos as to the them of your choice. It was voted "Best Game Of The Year 2012" and later "Best Home-Brew Game Ever" by the AtariAge Intellivision community.

 

Tying your game to a trademark, in my opinion, is lazy in that you rely on people's association to the franchise to be recognized. Many home-brews prove that with a little extra creative effort, you don't need that. :)

 

-dZ.

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By the way, although I recognize exactly what movie those screenshots represent, there's absolutely no reason why they should be tied to them, really. It's not like you're making such high-resolution likenesses to their movie counterparts, what you'll be using is only the movie title and story.

 

If you need help coming up with original story-lines, I'll be more than happy to help you, I got plenty! :)

Edited by DZ-Jay

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We all do homebrew (etc.) for old systems for different reasons. I did them to fix what I think was done wrong back in the day, and prove that the ol' girl was capable of more. Others make games they think were missing (I've crossed that path myself while pursuing my own latter goal). Cybearg seems like he falls into that category.

 

One thing that's universal, though, is that unless your homebrew is absolutely technically stunning, it's going to get more attention for its name than its own merits. A game called "Mr. Green Wrecks Christmas" is not going to get the attention that his first title would get with its more obvious name. (Even with its proper name, it won't get the attention that something like a remake of a game that was very prominent and very disappointing back in the day, or a demake of something that shouldn't be possible on the 2600.) Programmers write code typically for one of three reasons: money, attention, or to scratch their own itch. Usually it's a combination of the three, though we see little enough of the "I'm doing it for money" crowd on the 2600 today that it's really obvious and appalling when it does happen.

 

I can't speak to the second case, but in the first case, speaking as someone who grew up in a town where that particular character was all over the place because his creator lived there, it seems pretty safe. Nonetheless, as I said on the trademark thread, releasing anything to the public is a risk, a greater one when money gets involved, and a still greater one if you get coverage on news sites. It doesn't matter whose side has more merit; it matters how aggressive a legal team the owners of a particular character, title, etc. may have. I feel like I've been lucky, but what it comes down to is that Nintendo are more dickish than most about fan games, Sega and Namco less so, horror film makers still less so, and dead authors of children's books don't really seem like they care much about adaptations for 30-year-old systems.

 

If you want to be sure your work survives, release the source with every ROM release. That's the best you can do. Only Albert can answer whether he'd be comfortable making a cartridge of a game based on a 60-year-old children's book, but if a C&D does show up, at least if your source is released, it'll be out there forever whether or not any cartridges ever get made.

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Two more things:

 

1. I love the way you've drawn the main character in the first game, in such a way that you could use a ball or missiles with the width register to draw the whole thing, leaving you both players for enemies and items.

 

2. The second one you've done, if I'm recognizing it correctly, is a property of the mouse house, who are historically total jerks when it comes to copyright, trademark and fan stuff.

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Well, my point is that, it is intellectually lazy to piggy-back on the coattails of someone else's name just to get attention. Especially when a little more effort gets you that on your own.

 

To each his own, I guess. *shrug*

 

To say, "it's too hard, nobody is going to pay attention unless it is tied to [big blockbuster]," is the same excuse plagiarists or intellectual property usurpers in general, use--and that is not a good thing, in my opinion.

 

Countless home-brews that are wholly original prove otherwise.

 

Note that I'm only concerned here with movie tie-ins, which are weak attempts at tapping onto the existing mind share of popular culture. Game ports to a platform for the purpose of proving the technical prowess of a platform (or programmer), fall to me under a completely different category.

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The only reason to personally develop and publish a movie tie-in is for the added popularity. I think your games can stand on their own, dude. :)

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And for those seeking attention, being "intellectually lazy" beats being obscure. You appear to fall squarely into the "scratching your own itch" category, and that's okay, but you can't understand the other two any more than I can understand the "in it for the money" crowd.

 

Edit: that was at DZ, not theloon who snuck in while I was typing.

Edited by raindog

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If you want distribution rights then you must go full and proper licensing. That's why my Great Giana Sisters tribute game is on hold. Getting license holders attention takes a huge amount of time.

 

If you want people to just play your game (instead of paying tribute to something) then don't deal with branding at all. Make your own.

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And for those seeking attention, being "intellectually lazy" beats being obscure. You appear to fall squarely into the "scratching your own itch" category, and that's okay, but you can't understand the other two any more than I can understand the "in it for the money" crowd.

 

Edit: that was at DZ, not theloon who snuck in while I was typing.

I do understand them, I just disagree with it, which is fine. Horses for courses and all that.

 

The upshot of my point of view is reflected on theloon's comment: your games can stand in their own, you don't need a crutch. :)

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I'm sorry to have to differ, theloon, but I never sought distribution rights from Namco (or Atari, for that matter) for my Pac-Man hack which has been, by far, my most successful 2600 project.

 

Not taking risks, whether that risk is of rightsholders coming after you or of a large amount of your time making a game that squeezes everything out of the 2600 and does something technical that genuinely hasn't been done before, means you're just one in a sea of unremarkable 2600 homebrews. Using something like batari BASIC makes your game even less notable because, frankly, it requires less effort. That's fine if you're in the "scratching your own itch" category, but not if you're looking for either attention or money in exchange for your time and effort. But those in one camp rarely understand those in the other two, so your opinion isn't surprising.

 

Putting a known name on it makes it more notable. That can be good if, as with the ever-improving Pac-man clones, you've improved over your predecessors. But it can be bad if you make the modern equivalent of ET.

 

To seek permission is to seek denial. Even if you change the name and graphics (c.f. PR) you're still risking aggressive rightsholders coming after you, so you might as well do what your heart tells you. Just keep in mind that if you approach rightsholders, you're on their radar from the beginning if they decide to say no. I certainly didn't. If not having the title will damage your passion for the project, use the title or cancel the project. It's the only way to keep more anonymous, me-too games from appearing now that bB has enabled everyone with a half-assed idea to implement it.

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I'm not sure where bB fits in this conversation. I already know some people feel that easier means that the work is diminished somehow. I don't disagree with you either on branding. I'm glad you're brave enough to stand by your position.

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Thanks to everyone for the input. It's something to really mull over, as Game A was something I particularly wanted to do, not just because I thought it would be fun to have a game based on that IP in the library, but also because it was a good catalyst for me to try making a stealth-adventure game, something you don't see very often on the VCS. I'm sure, should I finish and release it under the recognizable IP name, assuming Al didn't run for the hills and the IP owner didn't come for blood, it could (depending on the game's quality, of course) be considered another fun Christmas homebrew to play when the season arises (of which I keep hearing there is a high demand).

 

So, as it scratches my itch to want to make it, seems to demonstrate a genre could be done on the platform that hadn't been done before, and seems to fit a niche that is in demand, all while benefiting from a recognizable IP, I would think it would satisfy all the "reasons for creation," the big sticking point just being that I don't have official permission to make it.

 

Don't get me wrong--I have plenty of original ideas. More than I can ever hope to make, but this seemed like a fun way to get the ball rolling and start working on brand recognition. I don't know how Piñata will fare in its upcoming release, but I'm betting that, when it comes to new IPs, people tend to stick with brands they know (Spicewire, for instance) rather than take a risk with a new IP from a new developer, so I need to build cred somehow, especially as I plan to develop across various platforms (VCS, Intelli, and 7800).

 

1. I love the way you've drawn the main character in the first game, in such a way that you could use a ball or missiles with the width register to draw the whole thing, leaving you both players for enemies and items.

I really appreciate that, thanks! But...

 

Using something like batari BASIC makes your game even less notable because, frankly, it requires less effort.

Sorry to rain on your canine, but it's actually a bB DPC+ game. If I thought I didn't have much time to develop now, it would be a crap-ton less if I was coding in Assembly.

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Go for it Cybearg!!! I don't have an Intellivision but I love the VCS game idea. I don't think anyone has ever made a game of that. We own the animated and live action versions and watch them multiple times during the Christmas season. We would love to play this with the proper name. I would buy it immediately to make sure I get one like I did with PR.

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I hope you go for it. Game 'A' that is. I have also mulled over doing the same character game in the past. Never did any coding for it though. I had an idea for picking all the lightbulbs off of a wire while grappling it, and throwing Christmas trees up the chimney. That's about as far as I got...

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I hope you go for it. Game 'A' that is. I have also mulled over doing the same character game in the past. Never did any coding for it though. I had an idea for picking all the lightbulbs off of a wire while grappling it, and throwing Christmas trees up the chimney. That's about as far as I got...

I think I will go for it. After hearing both sides and the encouragement, at least Game A seems worth the effort. :) I'll focus on my original projects after that.

 

Game A already has a lot to thank you for, Omega. Will I ever make a game where you're not high up in the credits, I wonder...?

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I think I will go for it. After hearing both sides and the encouragement, at least Game A seems worth the effort. :) I'll focus on my original projects after that.

 

Game A already has a lot to thank you for, Omega. Will I ever make a game where you're not high up in the credits, I wonder...?

Not if I can help it. We make a great team. ;)

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Just watched the live action version of game A with the family. Will soon watch the cartoon. I love the Christmas season!

Then don't forget to join us this month--for Christmas lovers of any "bit" denomination, everywhere! :)

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