The term "Fan Games" is used to describe a video game created by someone, usually a fan of a fictional franchise, based on a series made by somebody else.
Development Structure Edit
Most fan-games are often created by one person or a small team. These passionate creators produce these games in their spare time.
Programming Languages Edit
Most developers seem to use Game Maker Studio to produce fan games, largely as it is a simple way of creating two-dimensional games. Unity may be used to create three-dimensional games. There are various other means of coding, such as C++ and Fusion.
Although a lot of fan-games use their own engine, various creators have released pre-made engines that others can use as a basis. For example, there is the Megamix Engine and the Mega Engine for the creation of Mega Man fan games, the Sonic MAX Engine and Sonic Worlds Engine for Sonic the Hedgehog fan games, and the Gatete Mario Engine for Super Mario fan games. There are many more.
Being created without the need of making profit, ultimately meaning that marketing and public interest is the least of someone's concerns, premises doesn't need to bend down to consumers, and thus these fan games can be super insane to the nth degree with passion being the main driving force. This can result in weird crossovers (like Super Mario Bros. Crossover and Super Mario: Crossover Explorers) and bizarreness in general (like Minus World Visual Novel).
However, there is also a lack of quality control. There are a lot of really good fan games, but for every Sonic Before the Sequel there is a Super Mega Man. A likelihood of less than "good" quality could be the result of: A) Poor programming, B) Lack of creativity, C) Flawed design and/or D) Lack of sense.
Many creators use their previous work to see where they need to improve, at least providing they can take criticism from others, which a fan-game maker should. This can lead to sequels or unrelated games made by the same person with superior quality than their previous work. Developer Mario Obsessed released the critically panned Mega Man OP and would use the criticism to make Mega Man OP2 better (which too was negatively received. However, many have pointed out how it's a step up from the previous entry).
Some fan games are made to purposely be a troll, such as Mega Man 42.
However, fan-games aren't as harshly criticised as much as official games, mostly because it is impressive that an lone programmer can make and release something on their own dime and upload it for free. However, developers should expect some harsh criticism when creating unofficial games based on well respected franchises.
Nintendo is well known for taking down fan-made games using their licenses (such as with Super Mario Bros. (Commodore 64 Remake) and Mario Battle Royal). They are also strict with the Pokémon franchise, with Pokémon Uranium being a rather famous fan game that received DMCA takedowns. Even some editing software made to help people create Pokémon fan-games had to be ceased for legal reasons.
SEGA also has had Streets of Rage Remake taken down, however, they also seem to contrast heavily with Nintendo, especially with Sonic the Hedgehog. There are many fan-games based off the blue blur, and the official company themselves worked with fans to produce Sonic Mania.
Capcom seem to function similarly, with there being more Mega Man fan games than you can probably count.
Different companies have different responses. Some see it as blatant plagiarism, whilst others see it as fans showing their creative take on a franchise. As some may say, "Characters are more alive in our minds than they are in the creator's mind". (We got that from PhantomStrider.)
However, selling a fan-game based off a licensed IP with the intent of making money IS illegal, hence why fan-games are released for free. Putting fan-made software that uses stolen/borrowed assets on an official app store like Google Play can result in the game being removed (Rockbot faced this issue the most).
Examples of Fan-Games Edit
- Super Mario 63 - A 2D game based off the 3D Nintendo game Super Mario 64.
- Mega Man OP - A game including an altered version of Mega Man, along with enemies from that series. Granted, it's an engine reskin at most.
- Sonic The Hedgehog Before The Sequel - A Sonic the Hedgehog fan-made game with gameplay similar to Sonic 3 and Sonic CD.
- Kirby's Dream Land Advance - A remake of the Game Boy game Kirby's Dream Land. This version uses an engine based on the Game Boy Advance Kirby games.