How close is close when it comes to creating a story based on an existing IP?

Hello, long time reader, but first time - well everything, about the forums.

So I have this idea that I’ve been chipping away from and its essentially influenced fairly heavily from an existing IP (Not an existing story, from here from what I can find).

I’ve made an original story, characters, terminology, etc.

But the thing is the theme really gives you a big clue as to what it could be despite the changes and deviations from the original IP.

(Like for example, how if you make a “Very difficult, 3rd person hack and slash, with horror theme game” is almost immediately recognised as a “souls game”).

I just want to know in terms of gamebooks/choose your own stories - How close can we get in terms of recognisability?

Any help or advice would be most welcome regarding this issue :slight_smile:

I’m not a lawyer, but I’d have thought your “souls game” example would be in the realm of using Dark Souls as inspiration, rather than plagiarism or any sort of copyright infringement. Otherwise there would never be any similarities between games!

Knowing what the theme is, and what it’s similar to, would go some way to considering the question! There’s a difference between “my science fiction universe has a group of combat mystics” and “my science fiction universe has a combat mystic group called Idej who use Light Swords”.


So, about copyright.

There have been a quite number of discussions about this. The takeaway is, basically, reference and inspiration are good, straight up copy-paste is not. Of course, the best you can do is to ask us whether what you’ve got in mind counts as plagiarism or not.

That being said, what idea you’re worrying about?


Avoid lifting names or major plot points and you should be okay. Even if the major studios sometimes fudge the latter, as with FF 12 pilfering from Knights of the Old Republic.


This is a very quick and dirty summary (I tried compiling my notes together but having people read pages of ideas and unfinished story points is something I would not even subject my enemies to hahaha)

Well the idea was essentially from the Persona series.

It is essentially an adventure into the “Forgotten Dream” where the protagonist and cast defeat the “Falsehoods Exposed” (Little white lies made form) and “Falsehoods Buried” (People who’s lies have created creatures in of themselves - lie too big to dig out of) by channeling their inner turmoil (each character embodies an aspect of mental health) in order to survive and save their hometown.

There is this whole mental institution theme where the player will go through various tests (Rorschach, Thematic Apperception Test, etc.) which will shape their “Guardian” (sorry thats a fill-in name).

Each cast member will have their own unique side-story;

A compulsive liar, confidence trickster because of unsavoury foster parents and a forced lifestyle.

An anarchist-to-be suffering under a really oppressive household with the parents being fanatical cult members (A kind of dissociative disorder is involved).

A person who suffers from a persecution complex due to the overwhelming amount of rumours regarding their life.

Someone who only feels alive by going through near death experiences (I think it was something called a “Death Drive” or something?)

A person who is struggling with their sexuality and identity - the internal self doubt and self rejection had manifested into a mania triggered by their outward appearance.

The whole persona vibe is because its general theme is all about the mind and “gameplay-wise” the similarity is because the player will go through a year exploring the “Forsaken Dream” and improving the town folks’ lives as a sort of mental rehabilitation for the player.

I could put more but I feel like the current word vomit is enough to start with lol. :sweat_smile:

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For what it’s worth, there’s entire genres of games called “Metroidvania” and “Roguelike.” For various reasons, these games became archetypal, and noone bats an eye if a game resembles their fundamental gameplay aspects.

Personally, as a consumer, I don’t consider something IP plagiarism if the premise is all that’s alike–(how many “big city detective comes to solve bizarre smalltown crime” stories are there?) But I’d definitely expect the writer to strive for new characters and plotlines and so forth. That’s what makes Broadchurch different from True Detective.


Thanks for the insight. It does alleviate some serious worries I had - I mean all I want is to be on the correct side of “the line”.

I mean while I don’t want to plagerise per se, I’ve always wanted a mind-romp kind of idea where the people are empowered to physically battle their “demons” beyond just dealing with the issue. The persona series just happen to be the closest peice of media that I know.

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It’s based on the Persona series. The closest thing to “copy-paste” is the guardian that you get - the player’s guardian periodically changes based on their stats and mental state as opposed to the typical persona protagonist who can change theirs at will.

Really? I’ve never had a chance to play FF12 (got put off by everyone criticising the game)

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It sort of dips here and there tbh. I’m thinking that some “tweaking/tightening things up” is in order for some areas.

Two things to know about FF 12:

  1. It is one of the best original, non-port or remake games Square has released in this millennium (there are worse games than KotOR to copy after all)

  2. That still doesn’t mean much. It was a low bar to hurdle. Balthier is cool and the gameplay has some moments, but overall it is just middling for the series as a whole.


In my experience, from a creative standpoint, your best decision now is to dig into the inspirations behind the IP that inspired you (Persona games in this case, of which I know nothing). Something about the games sparked off your creativity, and that’s a good thing, but you’re not gonna understand what that ‘something’ is or how to use it if you don’t dig deeper, and analyze what drew you to the series, and why you found it so rewarding.

The quick and dirty example is, if you’re writing a pirate story and you want inspiration, don’t just watch Pirates of the Caribbean. Read Treasure Island. Maybe learn something about the Golden Age of Piracy and its historical antecedents.

Two seconds of googling tells me that one of the major inspirations behind the Persona games is Jungian psychology. If you want to write a dark, psychological game and don’t already have a background in psychology, that might be a good place to start.


To read more about understanding intellectual property:

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Wow thanks everyone. I’m really touched by the amount of support, I’ll definately read up more around the topic and get that “something” I’m sorely missing. :blush: