I was hoping to make a development post today, as we've got some cool new things under the hood. Now that the site is reasonably speedy (is it? Let me know!) and we've almost got a stable software release, we've moved onto some long-requested feature creep. I can't make promises as we're in the evaluation stage but we may be able to sneak a thing or two into version 481 (hopefully without breaking a thing or three).
However, this was all disrupted this morning when I got an "abuse" alert from our ISP. In a nutshell, FUNimation-- owners of Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, Soul Eater, and a whole bunch of other stuff I've never heard of-- has decided that fan-based games using their intellectual property are not welcome here and has requested we remove them. All told, 24* games were listed in the complaint. I am not sure what their exact criteria is as some were excluded, and some were rather dubious (eg, AirMapster's "Draggin'Ballz4k"-- a parody of DBZ where players drag balls around a screen-- was considered infringing! What?) We have no choice at this time but to oblige with the request as our ISP is taking a heavy hand. However, we can contest speculative claims at a later date.
I outlined my opinion on fangames earlier. In a nutshell, I don't personally have a problem with them and in fact think they only help the original IP holders in promoting their brand. I DO have a problem with them dominating our site and turning it into a DBZ/Naruto hub, because that doesn't give us mainstream appeal. We addressed that in the earlier site update. I think that any kind of medium that inspires someone to learn how to design & develop something is a great thing, even if it isn't wholly original. That said...
I have known for some time that we were walking a fine line here, because, unfortunately, my opinion as to the harmlessness (or even benefit) of fangames does not hold up in a court of law. Essentially, whoever owns the IP makes the law, and if they say "no go", so be it. We have to suppress 24 games now, probably more down the line. Now suppressing a game doesn't kill it-- we have no control over that as games are not hosted here; it just removes it from our website. Those of you continuing to operate such games should keep in mind that you or your ISP may get contacted by the IP holders as we have, but that is out of our jurisdiction.
I'll do my best to work with these agents to see if they can understand where we're coming from here. It is a longshot, but perhaps they can grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis. Unfortunately, dealing with large companies can be futile because they understandably have to make blanket rules to deal with all of their traffic.
In the meantime, the best advice I can give is to produce original games. They are the only medium that is free of this legal nonsense and, as an added bonus, can be promoted on our new site. Fangames can always be converted to "original" games after the fact; although I acknowledge that they may lose some of their luster in doing so.
I apologize to the developers who invested countless hours following their dreams, only to hit this setback because someone else had the same dreams first.