IS BORROWING SPRITES LIKE THIS LEGALLY OKAY? :3

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Original is from the game wargroove. When spriting gets too hard for me, I start from a sprite that has the general mold of what I want to make. Then I keep on working on it till it turns into what I actually need. By the time I am done even I can't tell the "inspirations" unless I specifically remember them.

This time around the original sprite is so close to what I actually need. Now I am confused. Can I legally use the sprite on the right? Can I morally call it an original art work?
kory_toombs
It’s your actions.. not your strength, that would lead you to victory.
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I don't believe using artwork as a template for new artwork is wrong in anyway.
As long as it doesn't look like a Nintendo character, you won't get sued into oblivion.
No, it's a derivative at best. You're using another artists work to technically make another. You have a right to the modifications of that work, but it could be argued as not enough to be its own thing. Look up what derivative works mean.

To take from Ludum Dare's guide for example. Simply using an existing template and calling it your "own" is bad practice. It's probably not enough to be a derivative this way either.


These examples below infringe on Mario as an IP, but at least add their own content to the work.


No one here is really gonna care that you modified sprites from an existing game, but I'd at least research and be upfront about what you're doing. Don't claim that sprite edits are original for instance. Don't sell a game with that sort of stuff either. Get permission or let the original author know what you're doing, then it comes off as less morally exploitative. It's fine if you're learning but it's worth to develop a style of your own and be able to create stuff from your own imagination and whatever makes you you.

Also don't take any forum member's word for it on legal matters (even me), do some actual research.
It doesn't seem to me like it would be illegal. For the Mario in the black suit, it's just a dude with a mustache. Yeah, we can all tell it's based on the Mario sprite, but does Nintendo own the rights to that exact formation of pixels, or just the likeness of Mario?

I'm not an expert on it either, so I dunno for sure. But seems pretty okay to me.
unity
You're magical to me.
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It's basically the videogame equivalent to an artist tracing another artist's work, which puts it in a gray area but generally feels kinda shifty.

On one hand, we're on an RPG Maker site, and RPG Maker has a long history of using ripped or traced sprites very liberally. So I think it's fine for a free game (especially if you're upfront about it) but like Darken said, you probably shouldn't sell a game with sprites made like that.

From my own (admittedly quick and limited) research, companies won't often come after people for doing this, but it still feels kinda cheap and crappy, and if your game got big and they did decide to come after you, I think they could get your game taken down pretty easily.

Also, much like tracing art, it can be good for a practice learning exercise, but using something traced or modified is bad for actually growing as a pixel artist. If you're not willing to build something from the ground-up, you'll have to keep relying on using other people's work as a starter, which will limit you in the long run.
Legally you cannot use someone else's work as a base and call it yours. Ever. That's it.

For a free game, you can get away with it but you should always give credit to those whose work you used for base.

For a commercial game, you open yourself up to being sued and if found out by, say, mods here or on other sites, it can lead to you being banned and give you a bad name that can persist negatively in the community.

Also, we're very against using fellow indie devs' work without permission. It can lead to banning if it's found out, so at least ask before using, where possible, or remove if not possible.
Cap_H
DIGITAL IDENTITY CRISIS
6615
Conclusion: Make a free game.

Also, there's one more thing to consider- who are you stealing from.
Basically, the if you take resources from an old 8-bit or 16-bit game, I'm okay with. But using resources from small games is more of a thin ice territory for me. I think that it is ok to borrow something from moddable game or inspire yourself with certain style. But never take someone's personal resources and use.
Your example, in particular, is totally ok with me if you use it in a free game and credit chucklefish.
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7549
Gonna go with a hard "no" on both a legal and moral front. Especially a moral front. If someone can put a translucent picture of the "inspiration" overtop your work and spot more than a few similarities, then at best that's gonna raise a lot of concerns over the originality of your work no matter how many edits you've made.

Feel free to use the original sprite as a reference for perspective or proportions or whatever, but don't actually edit another dev's sprite unless you have explicit permission from that dev. Whether your game or the game your asset is "inspired" from is free or not doesn't change the fact that yours is not a completely original work, and you should never try to pass it off as one.

If you're having a hard time with a particular sprite, tough. Learn to sprite like the artists you're copying from did. Yeah, it's not easy, but no one is going to jump down your throat for having wonky proportions every now and then.
author=Red_Nova
If you're having a hard time with a particular sprite, tough. Learn to sprite like the artists you're copying from did. Yeah, it's not easy, but no one is going to jump down your throat for having wonky proportions every now and then.


If anything, if you post it in a feedback place they'll give you tips and tricks on how to fix it and do better next time. Instead of just copying over someone else's stuff, look for feedback on how to make your stuff better. Become a part of the community by engaging and asking for help or critique. Don't just take without consideration or permission.
The internet is a different place now than it was even just five or ten years ago and the moral implications of using rips and edits, especially from indie games like Wargroove, have changed dramatically. Many sprites you find online and in other games now are from small-time creators just like you and me.

You also shouldn't immediately assume that it is still okay to do this if your game is free due to the way copyright law works. If you are absolutely dead set on using existing assets, you should either purchase them, or seek out assets that have proper Creative Commons Licenses for reuse.

I'm gonna say it once more for the people in the back: Do not assume you can do this if your game is free.

That said, using other sprites as a point of reference is a great way to learn how to learn how to make your own pixel art and many of us have done the same thing in order to develop our own styles. Unlike ten years ago when rips and edits were the norm, there are infinitely more resources, tutorials, and other tools out there to help you make your own distinct art. And even if you think you're not ready to make that step, there's hundreds of artists on Twitter and Gamedev forums looking to do commission work, so help 'em out!

I think what you're doing is a good start in making your own assets, but you absolutely need to go further than that. Nowadays, there's no reason not to.
I cannot speak for the law so I'll just give my 5 cents on the moral end as an artist and player:

I think there's a line between stealing and using something as a base. Well, more like a thick gradient, really. Stealing is bad in every and all circumstances and even moreso when you want to make a commercial game and call it your own. On the other end, pretty much every sprite artist starts out with sprite edits, or at least we did back when I started lol

Naturally, you'll want to release your work even if you're on that stage, and that can lead to some morally murky releases. The thing to keep in mind though is the awareness of what you're doing to that game, and nowadays with all these cool indie titles that didn't exist before there's a lot more to borrow from than Rudra or Sword of Mana. If you made sprites based on an indie artist's work, PM them. You might be surprised at their positive reaction and willingness to help, or at their (likely petty if you're not trying to profit off of their work) anger at you lol.
I say it's worth it.

And the other thing is to have that self awareness. "Am I ready to release this work with the reach I want it to have?", "Is this something I'd be ashamed of promoting?", "Am I hurting something else with this work?"

If you made a prototype for a big game, something that perhaps you want to release commercially or otherwise have have some notoriety, and it uses sprite edits................... Really question yourself whether you want to release it like that, or improve, ya?


to sum it up: edits and even rips are fine when you're just playing with stuff by yourself and learning, less fine when you're releasing the result of your playing around, and absolutely a no if you're actually making something serious.

That's my 5 cents for it anyway. This is not legal advice loldskfhvjshgb
eehhhh.. this is a bit questionable. if you're going to do this, i'd suggest asking the original artist. in my opinion, if you can't make your own sprites you should either use a ftu sprite base from a site like da or tumblr, OR make your own template with the rtp, don't trace the sprite, but make a box around the characters in the spritesheet and erase the original characters, then make your own sprites. you can reference the sprites you want your characters to look similar to, but don't make it look identical to the sprites that you're referencing (unless it's something like a fangame), people could potentially think you copied or traced someone else's sprites.

i'm unsure about the legality of using these sprites, i'd suggest that you try to find out what the copyright license is and if it allows derivatives.

if you have no other options, than at least credit the sprites.

using other people's sprites as placeholders is fine though, just get rid of the files once you have your own assets.
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