I think everyone agrees on point #1. If CTRL+C and CTRL+V are ever involved in the process, you are in trouble.
However, points #2 and #3, while of best intentions, are still in extreeeeeemely dangerous territory.
Your cited examples don’t do the issue justice, in my opinion. Metroid took influence from Mario? OK, so they are both sidescrollers with jumping puzzles… but everything else about Mario has been scrapped. In other words, Metroid took one piece of Mario and changed everything else. I wouldn’t consider that “adding”. That is indeed simply taking some inspiration.
If I want to make a game about using portals to go to and from specific areas I don’t have to worry about Valve’s legal team. But if I want to make a game about using portals in a giant laboratory while a crazy AI is watching, that’s different.
No, it’s not. While Valve is famous for having a game set in a giant laboratory with a crazy AI watching, it is impossible for Valve or any other entity to own that concept. You have to get much closer to the source material to be in danger. The AI would have to be female, the main character would have to have the orange prison suit, the starting level would have to be the same tutorial, etc. before it even becomes a remotely possible infringement case. Even then, copyright law protects parody.
Copying and pasting game mechanics from one game to another in my opinion should be frown upon as the offending party isn’t creating a new game, but using someone else’s hard work to profit from.
First off, every human on the planet profits off someone else’s hard work. It’s called standing on the shoulders of giants. Please be careful when throwing that statement around. We should be grateful that we’re not still paying royalties per cycle to whoever invented the first CPU.
Second, aren’t you grateful that it’s legal for us to frown upon such behavior? I think a social solution is far superior to a legal one. Sure, it’s legal to manually copy a game detail for detail, but it’s also legal for the community to smear such copycats and/or create store policies to pull such copycats out of the market. The instant we start seeing laws against such copies, we’ll start seeing opposite laws that forbid negative reviews or anything that would “harm sales”. It’s best left hands off.
If someone takes specific gameplay and/or brands from one platform, and moves it to another without getting consent from the owner.
This stems from a much deeper problem. There has to be some give and take on this one because nothing is more frustrating than requesting a port of a game to a particular platform only to be met with “don’t have the resources” or whatever PR response. Well, it may not be worth the effort to the company, but if it is worth the effort to a group of fans, they have every right to produce it themselves.
That kind of thinking is juvenile in my opinion. There are several Ios games that I saw that looked interesting to play, like the Infinity Blade series. I would like to try one, but I don’t have an Ios device. Because I can’t play it, does that give me the right to make or commission a game in the same exact style to be made on the PC? Hell no.
First off, please type iOS. Seeing ‘Ios’ is confusing and refers to other industry acronyms. ;)
Second, wrong! This goes back to the whole “selling of rights”. The RIAA loves to sell people CD rights and then sue them for activating their MP3 rights without purchasing them. Sorry, but if I have the tech and talent to format-shift my legally purchased content, I will.
Now, to be fair, I know that what you’re talking about: making that illegitimate port and then selling it to everyone. I still think this should be protected activity (short of calling the game Infinity Blade, copying every character/level/etc. but game mechanics are fine). Again, the community is free to either smear it (it’s an unfairly timed unethical clone) or praise it (the original company was being stubborn). As long as code/assets are not copied wholesale, it’s legal.
Cloning is a touchy subject. I understand the frustration experienced by hard-working developers everywhere. (I am one myself.) However, these are largely emotional and not well thought out reactions to the problem.