There’s this really old, dated, and yet beautiful IF work that I’ve loved for a long time, and I feel like it would do really well with a modern reworking on Inform 7. The author, however, seems to have fallen off the face of the IF community decades ago, with no apparent means of contact. I was wondering if anyone had any information and/or ethical opinion on the prospect of recoding, porting, or rebooting a work of IF without the permission of the author.
If anything, there’s a lot of historical precedent for it: a solid portion of IF can trace its ancestry back to people porting and modding and rebooting Adventure, to the point that a modern adaptation is one of the worked examples for Inform 6.
If you’ve made a solid, good-faith effort to locate and contact the original author, and have come up empty—and as long as you provide credit where it’s due and keep the original author’s name in place—I personally don’t have any ethical misgivings. But that’s just a personal view, not the official stance of the moderators of the forum.
Legally, of course, it’s still copyright infringement; how much that actually matters depends on the creator. Again, I’d recommend trying to contact them first and foremost. I’d personally be honored if someone liked my freely-distributed work well enough to want to revamp it, but others can (and do) feel differently.
Nobody has contacted me on this subject over my reimplementations of Shadowgate or Uninvited. Just thanks and kudos.
I loooooved those games! I gotta check out your adaptations.
If the author has released the source, a careful search may find a post with an explicit license statement.
In 2006 I discovered that my game To Hell in a Hamper had been ported to the Acorn Electron and BBC Micro, without my knowledge and by someone unknown to me. Coincidentally, the Electron was the machine I’d first learned to program IF games on. The author of the port had not only credited me with the original game, but also the port itself, which was slightly bizarre. I’m not exactly hard to get hold of, so I’m not sure why he didn’t contact me. Perhaps he feared I’d say no. It was a pretty faithful port and since he had given me full credit and later allowed me to add the port to IFDB, I had no problem with it. I was flattered by his interest in the game.
So that’s my experience as someone on the other side of the situation, but others’ mileage may vary.
Yeah, I’d agree philosophically with @Draconis - if you port it faithfully in spirit, crediting the original author(s) and disclaiming that you have no rights to the work - perhaps with a message to contact you via email for any issues.
Of course, don’t post it commercially anywhere, and be prepared to remove it or follow any other wishes if the creator does eventually contact you. You do run the risk of doing a lot of work only to have it invalidated - kind of like when a YouTube video gets copyright-claimed and de-monitized or removed (though there is no money involved here).
The original work will be owned by someone somewhere, also check that the “someone” is not now a big corporation.
Putting something out on commercial app stores - even if free, can often require you proving you have the rights to publish. So even if the work is not challenged, this can be a stopper.
Bla bla EU article 13 == things even worse.
Please, PLEASE mark a fan port or translation as a fan port. Make it clear what was the original and what’s new in your version. Old games (yes, even from 00s) are obscure so any port will be higher in search results than the original.
I always have some doubt about new ports and translations that change the engine because it might have an effect on gameplay. It is very hard to tell what’s original and what’s new without a reference. I’ve seen a guy boasting about his point-and-click-enhanced work as a faithful translation of a parser game from 80s.
Another reason for what Oreolek said: I’ve also seen a review of a (IMO) pretty good game take marks off for the parser being clunky - when in fact the original game’s parser was excellent, but the reviewer didn’t know they were playing a fan remake.
I recreated some games in their entirety with IFDB Spelunking and no one complained. For the unfinished sequel (IFDB Spelunking 3) I made efforts to contact people… but mostly so that they could share with me the source code. I say go nuts.