[Question] About Fangame and Copyright ©

hello there, I’m interested in making a non-profit fangame based on FAITH: The Unholy Trinity. I haven’t started working on it yet, but I’m planning to do it soon, however, this question came up. I wouldn’t use the core mechanics, original characters, or the game’s story itself. It would be something completely separate, but I wanted to use/redraw some sprites/assets, the game “vibes” and the name “FAITH”. would there be any problems with this, considering it is a non-profit and largely original project?

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Non commercial status doesn’t remove any copyright issues, it only makes it less likely to be targeted by a strike

It depends on how you take inspiration and how directly you base it on the materials

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this probably is not the best place to go for legal advice.

have you reached out to the creators of this game? 2022 is not abandonware. and they have many titles on steam.

not approaching them first about reusing their assets is, to put it
as nice as i can, potentially very uncool. IMHO this discussion could make us all look bad.

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it’s a bit tricky. I did some research, but I’m still not sure what to do.

Using any existing assets that you don’t have some kind of license for opens you up for liability.

Considering the New Blood Interactive people (Oshry and Szymanski) are quite indie you could probably just reach out to them.
I’d be very upfront about what your plans are, what your project looks like, and what you’d possibly want/need from them.

That aside, reading this:

It would be something completely separate, but I wanted to use/redraw some sprites/assets, the game “vibes” and the name “FAITH”. would there be any problems with this, considering it is a non-profit and largely original project?

Sounds to me like you’re already pretty close to having an original project, so why not go all the way?
Nobody can copyright the “vibes”, retro horror is a genre with plenty of games, all with sometimes very clear inspirations.

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I’ll give it a try. Actually, Airdorf Games is quite active on other social networks and so on, but I don’t know exactly how to ask this. it’s literally the first time I’ll be doing something like this.

in a certain way, you just opened my eyes! but it’s more because it’s a game that I admire a lot, and I’ve always seen fangames around (like the many of LISA series and FNAF). I wouldn’t intend to profit from it, anyway, because I don’t think I’m capable of making a really good product on my first try… but let’s just say it would be visually very similar to FAITH, in that case.

Copyright is tricky, and even copyright lawyers are sometimes wrong. Always assume that you will be sued for using someone else’s stuff, even if the use is minor, unless you have an explicit arrangement with the owner.

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ok, bud! thank you for the advice!

Generally, it is not allowed, BUT some devs don’t give a damn or actively encourage fangames. It’s a case-by-case thing really, some devs will send you to hell for that (Nintendo) while others may even allow you to make money off your fangame if it’s good enough (Valve, FNAF). I’d suggest asking the dev if they’re okay with it.

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It can be incredibly intimidating to reach out to a dev, but it’s the best approach. If you haven’t done it yet, then I would recommend consolidating what it is you want to do. Your description gives a very vague and very nebulous idea, most likely because your idea is just that. It will be difficult, if not impossible, for a dev to green light it.

I can tell you the name is very likely to be off the table. Names and Brand Recognition are extremely important. You could probably make a riff off the name - Faithless, Faithful, Finding Faith, Last Hope, etc. A lot of projects do this and then pin the ‘A __ fangame’ to the end to give it more separation and show omages to the inspiration.

Before you go and spend more energy into what I say below (refining your thoughts and game design) you need to message the dev. Simply ask what their feelings and rules are when it comes to fangames. most likely you won’t be the first to ask.

Summary

I’m a wordy person, so I am going to break down your ideas and give some construction on how to make a tighter argument or how to nail down what you want to/intend to copy. Even if you ask to do something (can I copy myself doing x animation and animate it myself, so it looks similar to yours but isn’t yours) and you don’t use it, they won’t be mad. It’s all about packaging your ideas and intentions as plainly as possible.

  • Asset Use

So you’re asking for 3 different permissions here. And depending on what it is you want to use, it could be a yes/maybe or a definite no. Like if you ask if you could reuse the deer sprites my educated guess would be that would be more acceptable than reusing say John or Michael.

Maybe you just want the trees, or you want to edit the deer. And you could ask for all three, but it would help if you make a bulleted list of the assets you are interested in using or editing.

  • Vibes

This is tricky. Are you talking about the art style? Maybe the music and sound effects? Are you going for that very retro game feel? Maybe the weird Microsoft Sam voice lines?

There are some concept and ideas that are just in the cultural conscience. That’s why 2d Metroidvania is a popular genre, even if it is literally a mashup of metroid and castle vania. Retro style games, Famicon/Nintendo/Atari style retro games are things you don’t necessarily need permission to use.

Another example is Vampire Survivors. The game did very well, and now you’re seeing an explosion on steam of games that don’t have the same graphics or sound, but copy the mechanics to a T. Technically the idea of earning upgrades after killing monsters isn’t unique, nor is the idea of having to face down a swarm of enemies. I am not saying that gives you carte blanche to do the same, or that you could copy Faith’s story beats or action sequences, but if Faith is the only game allowed to use the mechanic of running away from monsters instead of killing them… We have a major issue in the horror game space, lol.

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Thank you for your words! I’ve been dealing with some personal issues lately and reorganizing my thoughts. I actually need to think a lot about some things… I’ve put gamedev aside a bit, but I haven’t given up yet. And it’s okay to be a person who writes a lot, I like to read! One of the things I decided was to make a new game, from scratch, instead of a fangame.

Now about the additional information… I will answer the questions one at a time.

  • A) Regarding the use of assets, it’s more about the trees and the blood. Environmental factors. Making environmental sprites like Atari’s is quite a headache, even though I recently managed to make some bigger ones (in the 16/32 bit style).
  • B) About the “vibes”, it’s about the “energy” of the game. The retro atmosphere, the TTS voices and a bit of the music ideas (not completely copying the original soundtrack). It would be boring to make an authorial game and see several people calling it a copy, right? Although my game idea is a JRPG (turn-based RPG), there are some people who believe that if the game is even remotely similar, it is because it is in fact a copy.

I’m not working on the game right now because of the issues I mentioned before, but I haven’t given up on the idea. Thank you very much for your words, once again!