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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 something..is 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. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster_Rancher#Monster_Generation 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
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2 Answers

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
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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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