How to Make a Fan Game

By Nate Combs
legal issues, your work

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Video games or storylines are so poweful and so strongly affect players that they sometimes want to create games that are spin-offs in honor of these titles. However, this can be a dangerous thing because game companies often have good lawyers, and they will not hesitate to sue you if you create a similar game without following the proper procedures. Some developers want to be the sole creators of a certain character or game, others do not care if tribute versions of their games are made, and all companies will want to know how they are being affected by your creation.

Decide what game you wish to make your own tribute to. Your game will be known as a clone-type video game. Clones can include making a video game of non-video games, such as board games and card games.

Contact the owners or developers of the game requesting permission to make a tribute to their intellectual property. Send a letter or email to the game's creators so that there is undeniable evidence that you have attempted to contact them.

State in the letter exactly what ideas or elements from the game you wish to include in your game. If the developer or developers say yes, you have the full legal right to put everything in your game that was discussed in the letter. If they do not respond, you have fulfilled your legal obligations and courts will often forgive you, as some companies try to deter fan games by ignoring them.

Avoid using specific and trademarked features from games, such as names, designs and sounds. Even if you create your own sound effects, make sure they do not sound similar to the ones in the actual games.

Rely heavily on aspects of the game that cannot be trademarked. For example, a company cannot put a copyright on storylines in which a hero is chosen by the gods to save a kingdom or world after gathering special items or elements. This is common in many games, and you may develop your own version of this very plot. In addition, using a sword as a weapon or having a general "whoosh" sound when it swings is free for all to use.

Make sure all game content not discussed with the companies is 100 percent yours. Even if this means you have to create your own entirely new game, you can always tribute it to or announced that it was inspired by your favorite games.

Do not advertise products and services or advocate or discourage anything from the actual game or developers in your clone game. Most clones are free and can be played online by anyone. Developers will most likely forbid you from using their characters and ideas if you make money off of your game.

About the Author

Nate Combs writes in both English and Spanish, obtained a real-estate license and is a certified translator. He has worked as a professional in music and production for more than five years and is an expert at adventure, role-playing, fighting, action and many other types of video games. Combs holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from University of Central Florida.

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