Anonymous, Henk Roger's Reply #1


>Hello,
>I'm a freeware game developper. My next game will be a tetris clone. The
>main common point between my tetris and Alexey's is this:

Hi,
Thank you for your letter. Why is it that a perfectly good game developer
would spend any time building a game which has already been developed by
another game developer? I don't get it. Is there some lack of good ideas
out there?
Do you realize that if you actually made your own original game, you might
be able to make some money out of it?

>I'm going to help my tetris clone "get this game to the West"(*)
>When I get time, I browse arround and try and find on the web what kind of
>tetris extensions, nice add-ons exist.
>And today I found one thing I did NOT expect at all. It seems that you
>forced someone to close his site because
>he was outlaw offering his own version of tetris as a free product.

I did not force anyone to do anything. Someone was notified that Tetris is
a trademarked and copyrighted piece of software. That unfortunately means
that the owners and or licensees of the intellectual property must protect
their intellectual property in the same way as Disney and Michael Jackson
must protect theirs. I hope that you don't think that people in the movie
or music business should have intellectual property rights and we in the
game development business should not.

>Now, I'll tell you, WHO are you to do that kind of thing?

I am a game designer/developer turned businessman. I designed and developed
my own game and made enough money to become a publisher. Since then I have
licensed games from developers like yourself and made them and myself a
fair bit of money while I was at it. Is there something wrong with that?

>I've read your site, and I have a few things to tell you:
>"Vadim Gerasimov, a 16 year old "hacker""(*) made the first PC tetris.
>Where has this "hacker" spirit gone?

Alexey Pajitnov paid Vadim Gerasimov to make the first DOS version of
Tetris. I have met Vadim. He is a nice guy. It was a very straightforward
business arrangement. Vadim made some money and he became somewhat famous
in his own right as a result of his efforts.
I don't know know where the "hacker" spirit has gone. When I was a
programmer, the hacker energy was turned against the establishment which
was trying to listen in on all of our telephone conversations. The "hacker"
energy was never meant to make game developers turn against other game
developers. We are supposed to protect each other.

>Pajitnov said "if you can't give me money, that's OK"(*).
>That's what I say now, that's not what you say.

Alexey Pajitnov lives in the USA and makes enough money to send his kids to
college and buy a house. Is there something wrong with that? Should he be
working on speech recognition or ballistic missile control instead?

>"The royalties for the original Tetris went to the Academy and the Soviet
>Ministry of Commerce"(*)
>How much has Alexey got from tetris and how much have you got from it?

In the Soviet Union, individuals had no right to own property, intellectual
or otherwise. The government ("the people") took everything. Alexey was a
Soviet citizen when I first met him. Things have changed for him, largely
due to my efforts. How much he and I have made from Tetris is really our
private affair.

>"Illegal copies are often poor imitations of the real thing, made from
>inferior materials and filled with bugs"(*)
>Wow. What's the real thing? Today freeware products offer multiplayer
>tetris, with special blocks and so on...
>I also know free tetris games which are bug free (at least they never
>crash...). Was alexey's original tetris a piece of shit just because it
>wasn't licensed? I guess not.

I don't know where you got the stuff your quoting. Probably it was in a
lawyer letter. It is what any self-respecting owner of any intellectual
property will say. Buy the real thing, we spent the money to do it right,
it should be better. Whether or not a program has got bugs in it doesn't
effect whether or not it infringes someone's copyright. Alexey's original
Tetris was a stroke of pure unadulterated genius no matter how crude it was.
Would you laugh at the Wright brothers for creating the first plane? You
might laugh at someone who made such an unsafe flying machine today. There
is a difference.

>"Illegal copies hurt the market. If a store carries illegal copies of
>Tetris"(*)
>Hey, just wait a minute! My games never come to stores. They are not to be
>sold. They usually have a banner that says they are free so nobody can
>sell
>them. What do you have to say about that?

What would Disney have to say if you started to give away pictures of
Mickey Mouse? What if you finally started making money by developing your
own game and someone else started giving it away. Why do game developers
have to make their money doing something else besides making games? Why
don't we stick together and stand up for our rights? Why don't you make a
game that makes you some money...you would be making money doing something
you love to do.

>You've forgotten something about your "Tetraddict"(*) definition:
>A tetraddict also has at least 10 differents copies of different tetris
>games on his hard drive, and has paid none of them because they are
>just>FREE.

Tetris has sold over 50 million copies under license worldwide. 30 million
of them were sold on GameBoy alone. I think that the people who have copied
Tetris are in the minority.

>Wohoho, I'm starting to laugh, is that what you claim being the "real
>thing"(*)?

I have teams of game developers working on newer and better versions of
Tetris. Check out "The Next Tetris" on PlayStation and Tetris DX on Color
GameBoy. These versions are the real thing, competing with other real
products like "Super Mario" and "Final Fantasy" in places like Toy's R Us.
>The poor tetris coming with the Microsoft Entertainment Pack? It's such a
>shame for tetris to be compared with the solitaire.

I unfortunaltely had no control over the Microsoft product. It was done
before I got involved managing Tetris. But, I know how you feel.

>"Distribute copies of the work to the public by any means, including sale,
>lease or rental."(*) is forbidden.
>Ok, I'm not sure to understand this quite well, for my english isn't
>perfect. Does that mean I cannot just put my game on a FTP site, for free.
>It's seems that it's hard for you to understand that one can make software
>for free.

That's alright, English is not my first language either. Having said that,
you seem quite a capable writer. In answer to your question:
Yes, you can make your own software for free. No, you just cannot copy
someone else's software for free. Intellectual property laws exist so that
people like you and me can create something and then benefit from it.

>Now, this is what happens next:
>I WILL release my tetris clone when I'm done with it. I will NEVER get any
>money from it.

It took Alexey only two weeks to come with the idea for Tetris. Why don't
you spend your energy coming up with your own idea. In this case, you could
just make enough money to send your children to university, as Alexey has.

>Then I will wait until you contact me, for it seems you cannot tolerate
>free tetris clones.

The legal stuff simply goes on. If you do something that puts you on their
radar, they will try to shoot you down. Why waste the time?

>- If you never contact me, everything will be fine, you'll continue to sell
>your products without any problems, and I'll continue to developp my free
>software stuff.
>- If you try and forbid me distributing my free copy of my own self-made
>tetris, I'll ask you to be nice with me and let me go with it. I would of
>course accept to say in the game that my product is a derivated product and
>that it is not the real, genuine tetris.
>- If you absolutely don't want me to continue to distribute me tetris for
>free, this is what will happen (remember I'll do it ONLY if you are as hard
>with as to forbid me to distribute for free a tetris I did all by
>myself):
>I'll continue to distribute my software, but by other means than an official ftp
>site. That's to say that instead of being on regular sites, my game will be
>on warez sites.

I understand that you feel as though some right you have is being violated.
I can't help you here.
The way that I design games is that if any part of my game looks anything
like another game, I will change it. I take pride in the originality of
what I do. I also respect the ideas of my fellow game designers. We are
professionals.
If you ever make an original game, contact me. Maybe I can do for you what
I have done for Alexey.
I appreciate your openness, thank you for your letter and wish you the best
of luck in your endeavours.
Henk B. Rogers
Game Designer/Developer

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