To what extent is gameplay copying justifiable
Thought this would fit well in the design discussion. Its my rant from another thread:
For example, how many GTA clones have you seen in the past 2-3 years? Thats right... heaps! Now its not wrong to take many elements of a great game like GTA and put it in your own, but when you deviously try to make it exactly the same (same setting, same language, same violence) then it becomes despicable. Look at True Crime, its a total rip-off gameplay-wise and it also sucks. They cant even match the great gameplay of GTA games. Actually, no GTA clone since GTA3 has matched it aside from the 2 GTA sequels.
I was reading a new review of the new PC release of Driver3, again a GTA rip-off and a bad one to boot. As a designer if I was in a position to make such a game I would at least try and differentiate slightly or add new gameplay elements that would work. I'd also try to stray away from the whole gangsta/mafia stuff, its been done to death in the space of 3-4 years with only a couple being good enough. I hear EA just released The Godfather, a GTA-esque mobster game using that particular universe. Its cool, its a rip-off to an extent but at least they aren't pretending, its a game based on a great mafia movie. Cliche but its ok. But please stop doing it!!! There seems to be no imagination at all.
Now watch all the unimaginitive MMO's that will be released in the next year or 2 running off the success of WoW. Just watch the craze!
What I mean to say is, how much should/can designers and studios be allowed to copy gameplay formulas or general ideas before it becomes just wrong? Ok I know most companies, especially their shareholders, are in it for the money and dont care if the game they are publishing/making is a blatant copy of another game, so long as they make money. And thats understandable.
Do the designers not care that they are copying other desings? Some maybe not, but i'm sure most would have many original idead that would probably be left out in case it is "too original or different" and the shareholders have a heart-attack cause they sold 20.000 copies less.
When should designers step up and speak their mind about what should and what could be done, two very different things? I'm not saying copying gameplay is a bad thing, on the contrary its needed in order for games to evolve. Every game has elements from some other game or a number of games, and thats good. But its wrong when a game is a complete copy of another game and especially when its not even as good as the game it is copying.