Nintendo Ended Up Creating A Competitor After DMCAing Fan-Game It Decided It Didn't Want To Make Itself

from the real-nice-guys dept

In the wake of the success of Nintendo's Mario Maker game, Nintendo fans almost immediately began clamoring for similar versions of other classic Nintendo properties. The obvious choice for the next franchise to get the treatment was the Zelda series, of course. The desire for a Zelda Maker title reached enough of a pitch that Game Informer asked Nintendo reps in 2015 about whether the company would be producing such a game.

If Super Mario Maker is a success, will it open the door for a comparable Zelda Maker?

Zelda Maker might be a challenge to make I think. Personally, making Super Mario Maker that was a challenge in itself, and we hope that it's a success, so thank you for saying that, but I think that might be a difficult task.

In other words, Zelda Maker would be too difficult to make, no matter the desires of Nintendo fans. Those comments, by the way, are from a producer and director of Mario Maker.

So, fine, Nintendo doesn't want to tackle the task of creating a game that its fans are screaming for. But this herculean task didn't pass by without someone taking it on. Justin Sink, who created games as a hobby, decided to give it a go.

So in 2015, Sink got to work within Game Maker to craft a design suite that anybody could use to make a Zelda game. Just like Mario Maker, you could place elements such as enemies and landscape sprites anywhere on the digital canvas. Sink released an early version of the tool as “Zelda Maker” online, Link included, and the game blew up. People wanted to play something like Zelda Maker, they loved the idea of it.

Because we're talking about Nintendo here, you already know where this is going next. The company sent DMCA notices for all of the videos showing off Sink's creation in action. Then it sent a DMCA notice to MediaFire, which Sink used to make his fan-made game available to the public. That was back in 2015. Nintendo likely thought that the assassination of a game it didn't want to make had been completed.

Not so much, as it turns out.

But Zelda Maker did not die in 2015, not entirely. Instead of shuttering the entire project, Sink decided to rebrand and expand on it to make it his own—that was the plan all along, he claimed. He set out to create his own engine suited for the purposes of easy level design, even if it meant scrapping some of the work he had already done. Beyond the expanded functionality, Sink also had to come up with a new aesthetic for the game that, while still inspired by Zelda, couldn’t be mistaken for it.

Despite those troubles, “Zelda Maker” was eventually reborn as “Legend Maker,” but that, in of itself, was not the product Sink wanted share with the world. Instead, Sink used Legend Maker to create a game of his own, Runiya, an action-RPG.

Sink has set up a Patreon page where people can support his efforts. Runiya comes packaged with Legend Maker, which pretty much everyone knows is actually Zelda Maker slightly modified. In other words, what started off as a single fan and hobbyist looking to prove to fans and Nintendo alike that a Zelda Maker game could indeed be made has now morphed into a competitor for Nintendo. Legend Maker isn't going to run afoul of the intellectual property of Nintendo any longer, yet it still exists, and Sink is now collecting money for his efforts. Meanwhile, if Nintendo does want to try giving Zelda Maker a go, someone basically already was first to market with that kind of product. The company didn't listen to its fans, so another fan did. And the bullying didn't really stop the project, it just made sure that the project -- that, again, Nintendo didn't want to do itself -- no longer gets the brand recognition of having Zelda attached to it.

Nintendo has long been amongst the masters at pissing off its fans, but turning them into competitors is a bold new step for the company.

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  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 17 Apr 2017 @ 3:04pm

    It is nice to see a fan not meekly accept the first slap down, and something bigger grow out of it.

    So many things Nintendo doesn't want to think about doing, despite huge demand (oh that new abandoned console that sold like mad? end of lifed) from people who want to give them their money.

    This should be another warning to the corps, that consumers no longer have to take it, we can make our own.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2017 @ 3:32pm


    Hence why they want stronger IP laws, every computer on earth to do their bidding, and absolute power over consumers via shrinkwrap contracts. To forbid you from creating your own, or at the very least to ensure you'll never see a single penny for your efforts while being jailed indefinitely.

    Make no mistake, the corps know the public has found out that they can make things too, and those corps will to anything and everything to kill that idea before it overtakes their power.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2017 @ 3:32pm

    There's also the Solaris engine for that kind of game:

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Thad, 17 Apr 2017 @ 3:46pm

    Meanwhile, Zelda Classic still exists, is still under development, and has been around for something like two decades without interference. Go figure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2017 @ 3:47pm

    I can't help but see Nintendo as that "Autistic Screeching" meme every time some fan wants to do something with their IP.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 17 Apr 2017 @ 3:51pm

    Another plus

    And I'm sure Legend Maker and Runiya players will be able to post footage of themselves playing those games without fear of it being taken down.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    William Braunfeld, 17 Apr 2017 @ 3:56pm

    I do wish more people would do this; I almost exclusively buy indie these days and it's always nice to see and support more passion projects.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Thad, 17 Apr 2017 @ 3:59pm


    I'm generally in favor of people creating new things rather than using an existing property anyway. Though there have been some great stories of fans becoming pros (Christian Whitehead working on a Sonic fan game and getting hired by Sega to port old Genesis games and, now, make an official Sonic game of his own).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2017 @ 4:18pm

    Re: Re:

    Inspiration for elements of the original game include Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, and also Authurian legend. Also, the style and mechanics of play are common across many games. As always creation is a mix of personal experience, and a remixing of what other have done before.

    These Corporations are all too willing to borrow from the common culture, but refuse to allow anyone to borrow from their work. Derivative works is just an excuse to take down competition for people eyes, ears and wallets.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Thad, 17 Apr 2017 @ 4:42pm

    I don't know that I'd call it a competitor, except in the very loose sense that, on some level, every game is a competitor to every other game. Nintendo isn't making any games that are anything like Runiya; that's why it was created in the first place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2017 @ 5:39pm


    That, and I'm pretty sure Nintendo knows ZC exists and continues to let it exist. Seriously, it's been around since 1999, there's no way they don't know about it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Châu, 17 Apr 2017 @ 7:01pm

    Open Source & Open Culture License?

    If want support must
    1) open source game
    2) use open culture license

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2017 @ 8:55pm

    I wouldn't be surprised one bit if Nintendo still tried suing him just because, they really love over protecting their IP besides massively pissing off fans.

    They loved stringing the fans along for at least 7 months with the classic only to now tell them to piss off, they're not making it anymore.
    All this does is tell the fans that if you love this stuff then just go build your own and pirate the games cause nintendo sure doesn't give a shit about the fans begging to buy it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Ninja (profile), 18 Apr 2017 @ 5:55am

    Nintendo couldn't take an opportunity and run with it even if it slapped them in the face with no mercy then jumped in their lap. It's no surprise they are barely making it for years now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 18 Apr 2017 @ 8:19am

    As a tvtroper, if only a casual one, I read the headline and immediately thought of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero. Of course only Nintendo thinks of itself as the hero here, so it's more of a Nice Job Fixing It, Villain, but they're really just two sides of the same trope.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Rekrul, 18 Apr 2017 @ 11:31am

    So it's like a modern version of Adventure Construction Set.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Thad, 18 Apr 2017 @ 11:49am

    Re: Re:

    Right, I meant to imply that when I said "without interference"; sorry if that wasn't clear.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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