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I want to build a system based on the idea of Monster Rancher's monster generation system.

First, is it legal per se?

Obviously, I don't know how they built theirs and I will be generating my own "generator". But the idea itself of being able to randomly create a character or monster based on it copyrighted? patented?

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Could you provide a little more context please? – drxzcl Jun 9 '11 at 7:33
I notice that someone downvoted this. I think that people are often concerned about copying another game, and I think it's worth answering that they should not be worried. That said, the question could certainly be clearer. – Olhovsky Jun 9 '11 at 9:06
I think that the question is particularly unclear to some because they aren't familiar with Monster Rancher's monster generation system. Coupled with the fact that the asker referenced the question title without making that explicit (I hate it when people do that by the way). – Olhovsky Jun 9 '11 at 9:08
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I'm not a lawyer.

You can't copyright game mechanics in the U.S. or Canada. The same likely applies to many other countries.

Apart from that, cloning games happens all of the time. I wouldn't worry too much about copying game mechanics, especially if you are adding your own little spin.

Using the same names as another game however, can be a different matter.

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I see. I guess that would be a bit helpful then. I realized that when you copy a game's mechanics, either you're labeled as a clone or suddenly, that game becomes a genre in itself(kinda like how tower defense, started, right?) – corroded Jun 9 '11 at 9:33
Basically, what makes this generation system different it that it reads input CDs/DVDs that are not necessarily affiliated with the company. I doubt that they could patent such an idea because basically they are just reading data from CD's/DVD's, like every game does, the fact that this is used in-game is like getting an add-on pack to get extra vehicles. If you are really worried, use something different, like codes in webpages; you could hide them around the interwebz and people could search for them to get different monsters. – Jonathan Connell Jun 9 '11 at 15:53
At the end of the day they made a monster generator and then let you use CDs as the seed for the random number generator or the like.. Its a unique way to get seeds but I do not think you can patent or copyright a parameter to a function :) – James Jun 9 '11 at 16:11
You can't copyright a lot of things -- that's why we have patents (for processes, certain ideas, etc.), trademarks (for names, short phrases, etc.), and trade secrets (for [CENSORED], etc.). Game mechanics would most likely fall under the system of patents, and possibly qualify as trade secrets if you have just the right lawyer. – Randolf Richardson Jun 10 '11 at 1:25
How can something that is publicly on display count as a trade secret? – Olhovsky Jun 11 '11 at 10:42

I'm not a lawyer either.

While you cannot copyright the mechanics of a software design, you can patent them. This is why IBM spends a fortune on patent discovery during their software development.

You can search patents online, but it is tedious... I have my doubts a monster generator would make the grade but whoknows (tm).

Much better to make sure you're not copying anything too closely... in this case pick a different prng seed method...

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yeah that's my plan, use a different method for the seed. I guess seeig mybrute and monster rancher aren't under the same company, it's not patented yet – corroded Jun 9 '11 at 12:48
Likely but still not guaranteed. If you don't see a "used under licence somewhere it's a good hint that it's cloned and not patented. – Stephen Jun 9 '11 at 14:27
The US Patent Office will patent pretty much anything these days. [SARCASM] Go ahead and get your patent because it's better to be safe than sorry. [/SARCASM] – Randolf Richardson Jun 10 '11 at 1:28

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