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Releasing a remake of a game whose rights are unclear to whom they belong

A topic by joflof created 10 days ago Views: 80 Replies: 5
Viewing posts 1 to 6
(Edited 2 times)

Hello there everyone!

I apologise if my english is not really good, it's not my native language, but hope I can make myself understood.

I just registered here, willing to share a project I have been working for a long time that is finally almost finished.

In the first place, I just wanted to share my project through a personal web site, but I think this platform could be a great place to have more visibility and better feedback :)

The thing is that the project is a remake (with some new features) of an old computer game named "Alley Cat". This game was released in 1983 for an Atari computer and in 1984 for PC IBM by a company named Synapse Software. The creator, Bill Williams, sadly passed away in 1998 at the age of 37 because of cystic fibrosis.

This remake wants to be a tribute to him and to the game itself. It does have new graphics and sounds but also reuses the old ones with an option to play with the different versions.

Who is the current rights holder - if anyone - is quite puzzling. What I know (thanks to wikipedia) is that Synapse Software was bought by Broderbund in 1984, who finally shut it down, so it doesn't exist anymore. Maybe the rights of old Synapse games were hold by Broderbund, but they happened to be acquired by "The Learning Company" in 1998, and in 1999 Mattel acquired them both. In the 2000 Mattel gave away The Learning Company to "Gores Technology Group". This company sold part of their rights to Ubisoft and another part (like the broderbund name) to another company called Riverdeep. Although Ubisoft is the company which published some Broderbund games such as "Myst", it seems that ANOTHER company, Encore Inc publishes games from the line of Broderbund under license from Riverdeep.

So... I'm not really sure of the situation of the rights for this game. I simply guess that anyone gives a sh cares at all about it... but you never know.

As I have seen some remakes released here (like Donkey Kong or Mario from Nintendo, for example), I guess it's not something against the rules. So, the questions are:

1) It's fine to release a remake of that game without having the rights to use the name, graphics or mechanics from the original?

2) If it's ok to distribute it here, the intention is - of course- to do it for free (as I wanted to do on my website). I am an amateur programmer and my job is not related to this, but the possibility of accepting donations seems interesting, as a lot of effort and time has been spent on it.
¿Would that be acceptable, in any case?

Thanks a lot for this place and for your attention. I'm sure I will enjoy a lot playing some of the games I've seen around!

(Edited 2 times)

If it's a hobby project and you do NOT accept money/donations, I don't see a problem as long as your game doesn't get super popular. I think ist wrong to accept donations when your game contains some art from somebody else for which you have no permission to use. Also I would keep away from using the original game name.


I understand. Yes, it's a hobby project. I asked about donations because I have seen people accepting them for remakes around (but giving the game for free), so I'm not sure if your answer is your opinion or the rules of this place. It's true that original concept and art is used, but also a lot of new has been remade. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that the game will not get very popular, and that if I receive donations it will be very few, so maybe, as you say, it's better to not give the option and avoid any kind of problem ;)

About using the original game name, there have been other projects of remaking this game (most of them unfinished), and all them used the original name without having issues about it. The original name was "Alley Cat" and the name I have in mind was "Alley Cat Remeow Edition".  It would be a problem, for me, to change it now, but I will think about it.

Thanks for answering! :)


Our policy is that you should not be using our platform to distribute intellectual property that you don't have the rights to. You can see more information here:


Ok, thank you very much. I understand that I can't distribute the game here.
May I ask, then, if all the remakes around using sprites and names from other games go against this policy too?

(Edited 2 times)

Well ,let me try again asking again ;)

I 've read the legal terms of your website carefully and the only point that could affect this particular case is this one:

- Violating copyright by posting content without permission to distribute

The thing is that I have seen a lot (and I mean A LOT) of content here where probably people don't have the rights to publish, but the companies who own them probably don't care about fan games, so they're really not doing nothing illegal. I guess that's the reason why they have not been erased. Some companies (like Disney or Lucas Arts) are famous for their prohibition of fan gaming, but most companies don't care and also others are very positive about that.

This is the case of the recently released Mini Doom 2 I guess. I don't know if they have the explicit permission, but I'm pretty sure there is no problem with original Doom creators or ID Software as they are very positive with fan base.

So, let me insist in my particular case: nobody seem to have worried about the game I did remake: Alley Cat, in the last 35 years. I would love to know if someone cares about it's rights, but it's very difficult to find somebody who knows about it nowadays.

Some fan games pop up in different moments since then (we are talking about a game from 1983). A indiegogo campaing was raised by some people who wanted to do a remake, but it just didn't go well. And never the defunct/closed Synapse Software or, of course, the original creator who is not with us since 1998.

The game turns 35 this year. It's been 20 years since the original author passed away. What I tried to do with this enhanced remake is a tribute to them all, done with all the respect and love I always had for this game that a lot of people played back in the 80's with their computers (thanks to that it usually came packaged with them... and to piracy too, of course).

So, here is the trailer I made for it, so you can see I really worked very hard with any profit motivation at all, but to give this game a second life after that 35 years.

As I said, my initial intention was to publish it on a website, but then I discovered this place and seemed a very good one to have the possibility of getting the game to more people, specially after seeing a lot of projects like this (using names and content from other games).

I just want to understand if this project is different in anyway to other remakes around so it can't be published. If not, and if you allow me to publish it (I'm pretty sure there will be no legal issues with this), I would love to do that. Completely for free, of course.

Thank you very much and excuse me for insisting. It just seemed a very good place for this project to be presented :)