Zap Front

S Updated

One spare time project which I will work on for the rest of the year and hopefully also finish in this time span is "Zap Front", the title under which I want to create an Up Front clone; a game which uses the same rule system as Up Front, but where I create anew all the material otherwise subject to copyright laws. My intention behind this project is not monetary; instead I intend to work on it as a means to channel my artistic output and to also gain first experience in publishing. In addition, Up Front is at the time of this writing as likely to be reprinted as it was in the year 2000 and I personally consider it a shame that this ingenious game system is currently not implemented  in any way and unavailable to the gaming scene.

Copyright Confusion

Judging from the information I have (although I will try to find more) game systems are not protected by copyright, only their artistic expression - the actual implementation of such a system, in written text and images - material that can actually be copied. An invention could be protected through a patent, but this is not the case concerning the Up Front game system.

Here is what the U.S. Copyright Office has to say on board games:

http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html

Since I want to draw new graphics anyway and since the original rulebook certainly warrants a rewrite, the law actually plays into my hands.

I am aware that Up Front is currently in the progress of getting a reprint, but neither am I fully convinced that it is actually going to happen, neither do I feel much remorse concerning a business as fraudulant as Valley Games or the various shell companies they entertain. I would probably think differently about the whole affair if Up Front was reprinted by an honest business in an unbloated, non-kickstarted fashion. Moreover the would-be reprint is also likely just a derivation of the original, not a licensed copy, so my version and the reprinted version are probably going to be more distinctive from each other than my version and the original version, which remains unavailable in any case.

Free as in Freedom

Be that as it may, I still believe it would be ethically wrong to charge money for a product that is essentially a clone of another game. I've had a look at various copyleft-type licenses to publish Zap Front under and given that I am a propnent of the Free Software movement, will probably choose the GNU Free Documentation License, which would turn the resulting published document into a free work of art - free in the sense of free to use and modify, although of course it will also be free of charge.

What I am most concerned about is the possibility of single images getting reused out of context, which would be limited by the GFDL, because any copies would have to contain also a complete printing of the license, which is about 1-2 pages long.

The S in SciFi stands for Satire

Now, what I want to actually do with Zap Front itself is to create a Science Fiction theme for it: firstly because SciFi is more playful and popular than War or History and secondly because a SciFi theme allows satirical elements and philosophical musings to more easily enter into the game. As an example, I will list below ideas I have for creatures to replace the nationalities in Up Front with:

Tellans are the offspring of humans living on Earth. Around the year 2035 the universe was folded (read below), placing the solar system right next to the core

There Will Be Games
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