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Commissioned Game Creation Ethics

mynameisacemynameisace Hull, UKPosts: 2,484Member
Hey Guys,

Just wanted to get everyone's opinion on something:

I have been creating paid games for people for around a year now and have worked on some exciting projects.

The latest request for a game being created is an EXACT copy of a pretty big game (when I say pretty big, I mean HUGE). All the levels, all the original sounds and sprites (that he has sourced and provided) and for all of the characters to behave how they do perfectly in the original. It will be an exact clone.

Now, I don't want to get in to figures, but he is offering a huge amount of money for me to do the work and that's not a problem, I have worked for varying amounts before and will have a contract in place and 50% money up-front, but the problem is ethics. I don't know why he wants this creating and what he is going to use it for, but should I re-create the game for him?

I could either look at it one of two ways.

1. It is similar to @utopiangames creating templates for people of current games and that is not only ethically fine, but welcomed amongst the community and is an honest way to make a living.

2. I am re-creating work that other people have done to the exact movements and levels set out to the exact pixel for somebody to use it for ill-gotten gain.

I know that from a code point of view, I'm not breaking the law or anything, I'm just getting paid to make something and making it for him and what he does with it is up to him.

Let me know your thoughts.

Ace

Best Answers

  • PhiliePhilie Posts: 240PRO
    Accepted Answer
    I would do it, its your job. He is the one that wants to copy something, not you, you are just doing it to eat dinner, and provide for your family. Just like you said, your making it for him, and what he does with it is up to him, don't worry Ace!
  • DreamLabDreamLab Posts: 2,127Member
    Accepted Answer
    I would do it, its your job. He is the one that wants to copy something, not you, you are just doing it to eat dinner, and provide for your family. Just like you said, your making it for him, and what he does with it is up to him, don't worry Ace!
    Have to agree. Now, I can't speak from the same stand point as you can, but if it was my pay check, I wouldn't hesitate to make the client happy. It is his name going on the project, not yours.
  • LiquidGameworksLiquidGameworks Anchorage, AKPosts: 956Member, Sous Chef
    Accepted Answer
    Hm... this is a curious situation.

    Well, I'd sort of think of it this way. Creating a copy could be ethically wrong if you stand to gain from its existence as a copyright infringement. However, it doesn't sound like you are intending to take any profits from any potential sales. You are only earning money for the creation of the game, which in itself is not unethical. Maybe make mention in your contract that you are creating the game for creation sake, and do not endorse the distribution or resale of copyrighted material.

    Look at it like technology. You're just the scientist exploring and proving that you can create it. It shouldn't really be your concern whether someone uses it to cure cancer or annihilate the world. :)
  • DimensionGamesDimensionGames Posts: 993PRO
    edited April 2012 Accepted Answer
    Hmmm a very tough one, I disagree with others as I think it is your ethics in question as well as his, as you know exactly what he is going to do with it. It is a very grey area.

    I remember that guy who created the original atom bomb was racked with guilt even though he was just creating it. (not that this app is going to capable of killing, I hope?)

    This guy puts an interesting perspective on a similar issue: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/167244/Turning_down_Zynga_Why_I_left_after_the_210M_Omgpop_buy.php

    At the end of the day it is obviously you're decision but I think it really depends on the personal ethics you have. In my opinion I would have to question myself if I would do it for less money? If the answer was no then i'd probably have to say no.

    I can see where the others are coming from and it is easy for me to take the supposed moral high ground when it is not me in that situation.

    Good luck with the decision, I would rather not be making that decision myself!
  • tenrdrmertenrdrmer Posts: 9,934Member, Sous Chef, Senior Sous-Chef
    Accepted Answer
    Personally I would pass.

    Its like Selling a guy a gun when your pretty sure he's going on a shooting rampage.

    I don't even see it as a template thing. even when Darren creates a template or a game he does not make an exact thing and he definitely does not do it will ripped artwork.

    Look at it like this. if your completely ok with having your name publicly attached to what ever this guy does with this thing. then go for it. If your not. then you've got the right answer to your ethics question.

    Its very easy these days for people to push blame off onto others for their bad actions even when you get right down to it that one person could have possibly prevented what ever shouldnt have happened in the first place.

    Im broke as hell, so I know all about needing to feed the family but I still would not take part in something I felt was ethically or morally wrong to do it.

    It's not my fault I never learned to take responsibility for anything. ;)

  • tenrdrmertenrdrmer Posts: 9,934Member, Sous Chef, Senior Sous-Chef
    Accepted Answer

    Look at it like technology. You're just the scientist exploring and proving that you can create it. It shouldn't really be your concern whether someone uses it to cure cancer or annihilate the world. :)
    Wow….. Im gonna fundamentally disagree with you on that one. :)

    It's not my fault I never learned to take responsibility for anything. ;)

  • tenrdrmertenrdrmer Posts: 9,934Member, Sous Chef, Senior Sous-Chef
    Accepted Answer
    @mynameisace In all honestly. I would bet you could be nailed with infringement just for being the creator. you may not be selling it yourself but you got paid to copy someone else's work. I have seen GS pull templates from the old marketplace where someone was too close for comfort with an original and the original dev bitched to GS.

    It's not my fault I never learned to take responsibility for anything. ;)

  • DimensionGamesDimensionGames Posts: 993PRO
    Accepted Answer
    @mynameisace Realistically you know that he will probably use it for 'evil' ;) and if money isn't an issue, what is the attraction of the project? It is a really interesting issue :)

    tenrdrmer +1
  • DimensionGamesDimensionGames Posts: 993PRO
    edited April 2012 Accepted Answer
    @mynameisace Realistically you know that he will probably use it for 'evil' ;) and if money isn't an issue, what is the attraction of the project? It is a really interesting issue :)

    tenrdrmer +1
    EDIT: Good on ya! A tough decision to make especially with large amounts of money but you can't buy a clean conscious (well not just yet).

    -------

    Whoops accidentally created another comment!

Answers

  • mynameisacemynameisace Hull, UKPosts: 2,484Member
    @Philie @DreamLab @LiquidGameworks - I am kind of swaying towards this point of view, he is giving me a target and I'm just putting the 1s and 2s together to see if it can be done, like the science analogy, but no-where near on the scale of cancer of annihilation ;) I also am not gaining any money from sales, just getting paid to do the work.

    @Bright-Spark-Games - I don't know exactly what he's going to do with it, I imagine he is going to release it but he may sell it as a template or something, I don't know. I'd totally do it for less money, money isn't something that bothers me that much. As long as I have enough to feed my daughter and live, I'm happy :) I enjoy using GS every day no matter what project I'm working on, so the money thing doesn't matter. I have a lot of morals when it comes to creating things. I've been a musician all my life and don't believe in stealing other people's work, be it torrenting a song or passing lyrics off as your own, etc.

    Still would be great to get other people's opinions.

    Ace

    P.S. If you see a hugely famous game on the App Store in the coming months with the GS loading wheel, I'm to blame haha.
  • xforcexforce Posts: 187Member
    i would definetly do it without hesitation. if hes offereing alot of money, why not. i mean in the end it will be his name on the final product so i dont think you need to worry about a bad rep or anything.
  • mynameisacemynameisace Hull, UKPosts: 2,484Member
    @tenrdrmer - There are a lot of death analogies going around, I feel like I should be in prison ;) Those are some fair points and the exact points I had in my head with the fear of creating the project for the person in the first place.

    Ace
  • mynameisacemynameisace Hull, UKPosts: 2,484Member
    edited April 2012
    @tenrdrmer - Good call, I think I'm going to pass on it in all probability. Even though I know he will just get another developer to create it and stick it on the store anyway (if that's indeed what he is wanting to do with it), at least I could go to bed with a clear conscience.

    Ace
  • mynameisacemynameisace Hull, UKPosts: 2,484Member
    @Bright-Spark-Games - I use GS because I enjoy using it and the project that he set would be genuinely fun to create from start to finish - I'm searching eBay now for a clean conscience ;)

    Ace
  • DimensionGamesDimensionGames Posts: 993PRO
    @mynameisace Shame that really. Was there a similar game on IOS or was it based on a internet game?
  • mynameisacemynameisace Hull, UKPosts: 2,484Member
    @Bright-Spark-Games - Well, I suppose I can discuss it if I'm not going to create it and keep the guy's details to myself. I was offered $20k to make an exact clone of the original Super Mario Bros. for the NES.

    You can hardly talk about ethics... Stealing someones shoes is hardly something to boast about :P

    Ace

  • DimensionGamesDimensionGames Posts: 993PRO
    @mynameisace WOW. If I am honest, I would suggest you create you're own version (different levels etc) and make millions :p Surprised that no-one has tried to make a decent clone already (Excluding fake and illegal ones!).

    Hey, shoes are priceless! No monetary value can be put on them I swear!
  • quantumsheepquantumsheep Posts: 8,188Member
    You know how we tell all the kids that ask 'Is this alright or will I get into trouble?' that if they have to ask, they've answered their own question?

    Well, you answered your own question in your first post ;)

    Dr. Sam Beckett never returned home...
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/Quantum_Sheep
    Web: http://www.quantum-sheep.com

  • mynameisacemynameisace Hull, UKPosts: 2,484Member
    @quantumsheep - The simplicity was too obvious :) Haha

    Ace
  • LiquidGameworksLiquidGameworks Anchorage, AKPosts: 956Member, Sous Chef
    While I still wouldn't consider the creation of a clone ethically wrong in of itself, I'm glad you've found a decision.

    Though, I'm a little curious as to why someone would drop 20K for a Mario clone built in GS...

    That's a huge chunk of change for what would be an obvious copyright infringement if published in any way.
  • mynameisacemynameisace Hull, UKPosts: 2,484Member
    Mario on the App Store would be a surefire success, that's why, I'm guessing.

    Ace
  • LiquidGameworksLiquidGameworks Anchorage, AKPosts: 956Member, Sous Chef
    For a week before its pulled and he's sued. :)
  • MotherHooseMotherHoose Posts: 2,456Member
    @tenrdmer is right about your be including in any infringement suit
    it would be conspiring to violate the IP laws …
    but, as an independent contractor doubt if that would be provable/enforceable

    Ace … you know the axiom… If you have to ask … you know it is wrong!

    so what is wrong? … what the guys wants to do!

    if you need the money … if you think it would be a challenge …
    then do the coding …
    to accept money for your skills/work is not wrong

    just promise yourself … that you will be proud of your work …
    and stop thinking about how that guy will use it!


    image MH
  • JohnPapiomitisJohnPapiomitis Posts: 6,256Member

    to accept money for your skills/work is not wrong



    image MH

  • tenrdrmertenrdrmer Posts: 9,934Member, Sous Chef, Senior Sous-Chef

    just promise yourself … that you will be proud of your work …
    and stop thinking about how that guy will use it!
    image MH
    Thats horrible advice IMO

    Just do a good job and look the other way when the CEO ruins the lives of **** loads of people by breaking the law.

    I know that example is a much larger scale but it all boils down to the same thing. at one point every illegal activity began as a small idea. and at some point someone looked the other way for one reason or another. and most cases the idea never amounted to any real harm. but the fact is someone had a choice to in someway be a part even if that choice was to tell themselves they are not directly doing it so its not on them. Its a major problem with our society sure but come one guys take responsibility for your actions. even if you only commit half the act you are a part of the whole thing.

    this is of course just my opinion. And I will try to stop beating this horse to death now. :)

    @MotherHoose No disrespect intended.

    It's not my fault I never learned to take responsibility for anything. ;)

  • JustMe74JustMe74 Posts: 542Member, PRO
    edited April 2012
    I don't know. I don't think I'd want my name associated with a knock-off, personally. There are already WAY too many derivative games for iOS.

  • MotherHooseMotherHoose Posts: 2,456Member
    edited April 2012
    @tenrdremer … no disrespect taken!

    I personally, did about 10 independent contractor apps/games years ago …
    and didn't like how they were exploited …
    so I haven't done anymore

    in most respects I agree with you …
    especially in terms of small wrongs can lead to a major wrong

    but, I just have to go with … if you write code for a game, you are not doing wrong

    and, as far as contributing to the wrongs in the world today
    we all are guilty … (just think about our footprint in the environment)

    -when we spend our money on something …
    do we consider what will be done with that money?
    -when we pay our taxes
    do we accept that some of that money will go to killing fellow human beings?

    what can anyone do? … but try to maintain their personal integrity and values?

    what was quoted is in context of the If statements
    in effect what I should have said: we each have to live with the decisions we make.
    and, when we make a decision … then do what we decided … dauntlessly

    image MH
  • LeonardDeveloperLeonardDeveloper Posts: 4,630Member
    edited April 2012
    Its your job its money....
    But I think selling menu templates and non copied game templates what @tshirtbooth does... thats fine morally and ethically.. and good ;)
    And th snippets of code, that darren & wayne over @utopiangames make for us showing how to do something like in somebody's game is fine.. and good
    But IMO recreating someones game is immoral... We're all indies here... And If I was to make a game called "Star Craze" With the exact same gameplay as @tsb's "Star Daze" that would be like stealing his little baby that he's worked for months and months on... :)
    I disagree with it..
    But however...
    hmmm.. Its a toughy ;) Id say no...
    Cheers,
    Jack
  • UtopianGamesUtopianGames Posts: 5,686Member
    edited April 2012
    I would pass and explain how much trouble he/she would get into if they went ahead with it.

    It sounds like the game would get pulled and he/she would have wasted a lot of money.

    You also wouldn't have posted here if you felt comfortable about it so it all leads down the path of saying no.

    Darren.

  • OmenaboOmenabo Posts: 121Member
    The problem with this type of work is that if your customer gets in trouble with the product he has ordered from you, it is possible that he will try to cast the blame on you, since you were the one creating the product. I've had similar projects ordered from me (not gamesalad -projects, mind you), and the first question I always ask from myself is:

    Can I get in trouble with this project?

This discussion has been closed.