There's a board game I enjoy, and I've been considering programming a web version of it to play online. How different must my knock-off version be from the "real" one to avoid trouble?
Similarities I'm concerned about (feel free to bring up your own if I've overlooked anything):
Can I safely call it "[Game] Online" or "Web[Game]" or do I need to remove the title of the original from mine? What about a portmanteau like "[Gam]ultiplayer" or something? If neither of those options, would a rhyme or synonym be okay? Or do I really need a title that doesn't evoke the original in the slightest?
I want to keep the actual game rules 100% intact. Am I on thin ice? I'll change the names of certain elements, like using "peon" instead of "pawn" or "train station" instead of "railroad" for example. Is that different enough? There was a Risk clone posted on MeFi
last year that allows a wide variety of customization in game rules, but (I think) it suggests the official Hasbro rules by default. Would something like that differentiate my game enough?
Obviously I'm not scanning and using artwork from the original game. I'll be creating my own assets, which will likely be pretty crude since I'm not an artist. I don't think there's any danger here but please correct me if I'm wrong.
Web site text.
Can I reference the original game anywhere in the site's "about" text? Or am I supposed to act like it simply doesn't exist? I'd prefer if it were clear to people what game it is before playing.
If it makes a difference, I'm not planning on making any money from this. It's really just a programming exercise for me and maybe a way for some friends of mine to play online. Maybe if people were interested in it, I could bring in a few cents from ads. Or possibly an Amazon referral link to buy the original board game (or would that be a no-no?). But I'd never charge anyone to play.
I know you're not a lawyer. How can I proceed without
needing to hire one? Surely there's a well-recognized middle ground for generic stuff that'll guarantee I won't be receiving any nasty C&Ds from anyone. Help me find it!