My Photo


  • Michael Moorcock
    "a genuine philosophy for the 21st century"
  • Mary Midgley
    "this matters - read it!"
  • Kendall Walton
    "wonderfully refreshing and inventive"


Game Design

Blog powered by Typepad

« Automatic | Main | Moorcock's Metaphysics (6): The Game of Time »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Very interesting. There are some Match 3 games that are so similar that they might as well be plagiarism, mind you.

Regarding the playing-something-as-a-genre-it-isn't: I played Play With Fire like a jump and run and from that perspective it pretty much sucked. Hope you have more luck with Reluctant Hero. :)

I think you make a very good case that both Puzzle Quest and Bejeweled had strong similarities (whether intentionally or not) to previous games, but that both also innovated original ideas or combinations of ideas. With Puzzle Quest, it was combining a match-3 mechanic with a RPG structure, and with Bejeweled it was creating one of the very first puzzle games with a light, non-punishing feel. Those innovative touches were also keys to the success of both games, like you say.

However, I think these are both edge cases for "plagiarism of game mechanics." There are other games that barely bother to innovate at all. Bejeweled and Puzzle Quest have never seriously been called "clones" -- that designation is usually reserved for games that follow immediately in the wake of a new landmark success (like Bejeweled, for instance) and try to capitalize on the popularity by mimicking a game almost exactly. Like you say, these are "strict cases of plagiarism," but it's a very profitable form of plagiarism, right? So it's bound to continue. What this ends up meaning is that game companies either have to pour money into huge production budgets that aren't easily reproduced by imitators, into "original IP" that actually is protected by law (you can't put Mario in a non-Nintendo game) or they have to keep a tight lid on any new game mechanics lest they become copyable. If you're only relying on the last measure, because your game is a relatively small puzzle game whose mechanics are its true strong suit, you can be sure that if you have a big hit, you're not going to see most of the profits generated by your mechanic. Maybe that's just a fact of life for designers of games, but it does tend to disincentivize the creation of new simple mechanics, at least a little bit.

Admiral Frosty: I heartily agree! Plagiarism is rife, it's just not illegal. ;)

Pyr0: Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy Play with Fire... Wish the game had a better tutorial so that it was clearer what was involved. I imagine it was very frustrating to try and play like a regular platform game, especially in the Puzzle Path that has no platform elements! :D

Holly: thanks for your interesting comment! I don't believe, however, that anyone has shied away from original game mechanics for fear of them being stolen - rather, they are afraid of new mechanics for the very real risk that new mechanics won't work, will be expensive or difficult to balance, or won't appeal to the audience.

The games industry is highly risk averse... new mechanics are a risk that is seldom borne.

Best wishes!

Yes I like the idea, that game concepts should be open to everybody. This could increase the quality of future games and it is very positive result of sharing ideas.

After all, sharing of game concepts also contributes to easier development.

@chris: i didn't play it completely as a platformer, maybe as a puzzle with some platformer elements. after all you are constantly jumping and dropping onto falling/disappearing blocks.
but i think i got it now, i played the game again and my main problem with it seems to be that i have no patience for the blocks to burn or fall down. when i see a solution to a puzzle i'm basically done and the only challenge left is waiting for the blocks to fall down which isn't very interesting or challenging for me.
maybe i'm too much of an intp and don't care enough for planning my moves before i do them.

Pyr0: it's interesting hearing you talk about not wanting to wait for the blocks to fall down - there certainly were fields in this game which leave the player standing around, especially in the Puzzle Path. I'm sure you wouldn't be the only player to complain of such problems. I would think the Challenge Path wouldn't have this problem though - that was very hands on.

But then, I think a problem with this game was thinking that we could have players find the path that would work for them, rather than expecting all players to try all paths. The Puzzle Path wouldn't work for challenge-oriented players any more than the Challenge Path would work for puzzle-oriented players!

Oh well, it was a low budget experiment - and it was still fun to make a game about burning things to the ground. :)

Thanks for the feedback!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)