I'm already half a year into planning a Turn Based Strategy (4X) game for mobile phones.

Recently I tried to play Civilization 6 and while playing, totally horrified, I realized that my idea and Civ 6 are very, very similar.

So what should I do? Do you recommend that I should change elements that are too similar, or create game I planned, not looking at similarities to Civ 6?

Could there be any legal consequences due to similarity of those two games?


1 Answer 1


Making a clone-ish game is a big risk.

Please go read Clone Wars: The Five Most Important Cases Every Game Developer Should Know.

I'm not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. I’m talking about Game Design.

Everything is a Remix. Or if you prefer, there is nothing new under the sun. It is OK to stand on the shoulders of giants.

It is extremely hard to make a game without mechanic comparable to those in other games. In fact, it is arguably good to use similar mechanics to other games. That makes it easier for players to pick up your game. You might be interested in the concepts of "skill transference", "affordance" and "conveyance".

Thus, having mechanics similar to those of another game is not a bad thing per-se.

What you want to avoid is the game (as a whole) being perceived as a clone. And, no, just changing the artwork or a change of setting won't do. You want to have a unique mix of mechanics. If you can add some innovative mechanics, much better.

Under the assumption that you do not get into any legal trouble. If your game grows in the shadow of a much popular game, its popularity will likely be hindered. Have you heard of "Blue Ocean Strategy"?

Since you are designing a 4X game, and you have already spoiled yourself with Civ 6... My suggestion is to study more games on the genre. In particular older titles and how they evolved. Older titles tend to be simpler and closer to the core of the genre.

For Civilization in particular. It suffered accretion up to Civ 4. Civ 5 was a reinvention. Going back to simple terms and breaking some traditions, making it easier to pick up for new players, and getting some old players angry. Civ 6 is a refinement of what Civ 5 did, incorporating what they learned with it. There are decades of design lessons packed in those games, if you can unpack them.

Think about the motivation of the designers to include each mechanic on the game. What would happen if you remove them? What alternative could you use to those mechanics? Is there any mechanics that would work better?

Also, can you incorporate mechanics from other genres?

In liue of buying all those games. Let's play videos and wiki articles are a cheap substitute. Oh, by the way, see what critics say, perhaps you can provide an alternative that avoids some of the drawbacks of the games you study.

Although I said that adding innovative mechanics is better than simply having a unique mix... There is also an argument for a minimalist approach.

Ideally, each mechanic is fun on its own... or rather I should say, has intrinsic rewards. In practice that is not the case.

Sometimes it is possible to remove mechanics in such a way that you find a better core than the original. To do this, you need to forget the lore, the setting, the world building and even the fantasy and the theme of the game. Do not let the fact that such icon is supposed to mean food prevent you from seeing the underlying mechanic.

Focus on the mechanics, abstract them. If possible, remove those mechanics that lack intrinsic rewards. Express the mechanics in simpler, minimalist, terms. You can think of a setting, a world, and a lore that fits your mechanics later.

Mario is a plumber because he goes into pipes. There are pipes because they are a way to connect different parts of the game. It is not the other way around. Mario is not a game about what it is like to be a plumber.

You may also be interested in game aesthetics. If you do not know what mechanics have intrinsic rewards, you need to think about what appeals to the players. In particular, have a look at the Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics framework.


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