#270 Copyright Infringement and Fanfiction in Videogames

After a corrupted file and three unsuccessful attempts to properly download and re-install the game I finally was able to sit down and play some Black Mesa.

Woot! lets get this party started

Woot! let’s get this party started

 

So far I have really been enjoying it and while from an art and story telling point of view I did appreciate the ominous foreshadowing and steady and slow build up to the first contact with the aliens a part of me really wanted to get to the part where you/Gordon Freeman picked up the famous crowbar and start going to town on the alien headcrabs.

There it is

There it is

 

I do know if it was just the file I downloaded or a necessary feature for the updated engine or a part of the original game but I was running into quite a bit of immersion breaking loading screens. During those moments I could not help but think, “this can not be legal”

Black Mesa is a result of a team of 40 taking the original story from Valve’s half-life game, gutting it and transplanting the vital organs of the original into a new game engine with a graphical enhancement and distributing the result to the public for free. 

I am not a lawyer, and I hope a lawyer can come forward and tell me what they think in the comments, but it feels like this is just on the edge of copyright infringement. What might have saved the team from a major lawsuit was the fact that Black Mesa was distributed for free.

While I am sure the Black Mesa team received permission from Gabe himself I chose to download the free mod rather than paying Valve for the game, netting a financial lost for them.

While I am sure the Black Mesa team received permission from Gabe himself I chose to download the free mod rather than paying Valve for the game, technically a financial lost for them.

 

I was lucky to pick Black Mesa for this for this monthly backlog challenge because it transitions us nicely into the more recent game on Kickstarter that is making news for completing its fundraising goal in just over 24 hours. I am of course, talking about the new intellectual property, Might No. 9 or as everyone on the internet has been calling it ‘Totally-Not-Mega-Man’

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Mighty No. 9 is a project started by Keiji Inafune of Mega Man fame and his team of programmers and artists from other Mega Man games in their quest to create a “classic Japanese side-scrolling action” that stars a blue robot boy fighting through waves of robot minions and bosses and collecting weapon power-ups along the way.

The interesting thing is that while it heavily borrows from other game projects that the team have worked on in the past, once Mighty No 9 Totally-Not-Mega-Man is completed the team is going to bring it to the Steam/Xbox/PS3 market and try to make a profit from it, which Capcom might be interested in stopping if they think had a legal leg to stand on.

Economically speaking the only reason that Totally-not-mega-man is making headlines with its success is because there was a need from the players for a game like this, a need that is not being fulfilled by anyone in the videogame industry.

Currently the need for a new Half life or Mega Man game is all the way on the left.

Currently the need for a new Half life or Mega Man game is all the way on the left.

 

This sort of behavior of Black Mesa and Totally-Not-Mega-Man reminds me a bit of fan fiction. As the PBS’s Idea Channel video points out when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed off the beloved Sherlock Holmes in “The Final Problem” officially ending the Sherlock Holmes series but the readers had other things in mind. The fans, who wanted more from the World’s (second) Greatest Detective decided to write their own unofficial Sherlock stories and bring back the fictional British genius back from the grave to solve more impossible puzzles around England.

Those fan of the late 1800’s to early 1900’s saw that they, and others like them, wanted more from the intellectual property and saw that the official producers showed no interest in continuing the story  took matters in their own hands and created more for themselves.

The team at Black Mesa noticed that Valve was not planning on releasing a HD version of the first Half Life so those 40 people took on the challenge themselves and Keiji Inafune saw a lack of proper mega man games in production so he asked the internet and Mega Man fanbase if they wanted to fund his pet project and they responded as one would expect.

As the barrier of entry in making and distributing  a game gets lowered with every software improvement more and more fans will be making more and more fan-made games like Mari0, where Nintendo’s Mario gets a Portal gun.

If you need any more proof just look at Xatoku’s project to bring life into the one thing everyone has been asking Gamefreak and Pokemon to make for the past ten years, a 3D Pokemon MMO simply called Pokemon Generations.

This is only allowed to go forward because the creator promised the Pokemon company that he would not make a profit.

This is only allowed to go forward because the creator promised the Pokemon company that he would not make a profit.

 


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Be MOP focuses on the world of videogames with my own reflections about the current news and developments that happens throughout the gaming industry. Updates Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

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