DMCA Safe Harbor

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. Just keep in mind that I am not a lawyer, and am only trying to educate myself, and in the meantime maybe share my journey with you.

We are getting *very* close to release (Feb. 8 2018), and as with any new venture – we are learning a ton. The interesting thing about The Painter’s Playground is that it isn’t just a ‘game’ as far as legality goes. It turns out that we the devs are legally considered ‘service providers’. What ‘the service’ in this instance is, in my mind, is the sandbox that is The Painter’s Port. Real life gamers go in and create wonderful and brilliant things to share with everyone else. It’s super cool if you ask me. But… Okay, so what?

Well, one surprising thing I have learned very recently is that all ‘fan art’ is not necessarily legal. In fact, if the art being copied is copyrighted, then unless the individual doing the fan art has proper license(s), it is in-fact illegal. Makes sense in hindsight, but I guess I just didn’t grasp that right off the bat.

Anyways, things get more complicated when there is user-generated content (UGC) involved. The issue of unlicensed copyright infringement is a very serious subject and needs to be addressed. Thankfully this was all brought to my attention before release.

TL;DR Next Zen Mechanics Limited (the devs) take no ownership for any UGC with The Painter’s Playground. We are merely service-providing ‘middle-men’. We take no part in policing the UGC of The Painter’s Playground unless we are served with what is called a DMCA Take-Down notice. Paintings that are removed/deleted via too many red flags are done so automatically by computer algorithm, and not by us.

If we are served with a take down notice, we will immediately address the issue. See our legal statement in the link below, or on the Steam store page.

DMCA stands for ‘Digital Millennium Copyright Act’. If you are interested in more details, here is some primer reading:

Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act

The Next Zen Mechanics Limited DMCA Legal Statement

At this point we’ve taken all necessary steps to be covered in DMCA Safe Harbor status.

It’s funny. I never thought fan art could be illegal. The things you learn, am-I-right?

February 8th Launch is Coming!

The Painter’s Playground full release is February 8, 2018! Things are coming along nicely, and we look forward to more fantastic artwork.

Note: the full version is no longer ‘free’ via, and a demo proper is forthcoming.

All Builds Updated

Change log:

` added new graphical help screens
` added some new Help screens for canvas selection and gallery close-ups (text only at this time)
` added a “Help” button in lower left, same as F1 key
` added “Are You Sure?” to crafty merchant purchases
` you can now start painting when the brush is off the canvas (for getting just a touch on the edge with a large brush)
` added some visual effects
` completely remodeled the level-up system, to include many more character levels, and space out the rewards.
` giving a painting a Thumbs Up now cost 3 Bits.
` voting on 3 paintings gives +1 renown per second for 12 hours.
` you can no longer vote / thumbs up on art that you own
` included 2 new steam achievements: lifetime renown earned and total votes cast / thumbs given. MORE TO COME!
` added new Showcase and For Sale boxes to your gallery
` fixed some issues with favorite colors being transferred between painting modes.
` fixed some issues with the tutorial. If you are STUCK in the TUTORIAL, press the SPACE BAR!

` changed the starting canvas (default) back to pure white. “realistic” will be a “setting” in future.
` fixed an undo error that switched data between different game modes.
` put the revised “water color brush” in the game.
` the game will now send you a welcome email when you create an artist identity.
` if you remember the artist name and email address you used, you can get an email of your password !
` leaderboards now show your score even if you are not in the top 10

Any feedback is greatly appreciated! Happy Painting!

Tips for Reviewers

This is a short post I’ve been meaning to write for some time now. Over the years I’ve had many Steam friends ask advice on writing quality reviews.

Here is my 2cents:

Writing a solid, digestible text-based review is actually fairly simple. Although I am fairly surprised at how many poorly built reviews I see on Steam (and other places). I’m not talking about joke reviews either – I’m talking about people that are actively trying to be a respectable reviewer.

Here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • Text walls are bad. If you feel passionate and need to write a metric ton of words, then there are a few strategies to mitigate text walls. First, make sure you break things into bite-sized paragraphs. Secondly, use some flair to separate really important sentences (such as bolding a sentence as I have done here). This trains peoples eyes to the really important stuff – and is particularly useful for people who are ‘skimming’ your review. I use the bolding tactic as a variant of the TL;DR.
  • If you need to write a lot of text, consider having a section at the end that summarizes everything up in neat bullet points, or something similiar. My reviews end with a ‘Pros’ and ‘Cons’ list. The ‘Pros’ use ‘+’ (plus signs) for bullets and the ‘Cons’ use ‘-‘ (minus signs). Again I am spoon-feeding information to the reader. Don’t make them work for it. It shouldn’t be a chore to extract information from a review. It works well, and is well recieved by readers.
  • Be consistant with how you structure your reviews. You want  your audience to know exactly what to expect, and how things will be set up. Here is my  structure:
    • The first sentence summarizes my feelings on the game. It is usually bolded.
    • The first paragraph (including the above first sentence) generally explains where this particularl title ‘fits’ within the gaming industry. What does it compare to, etc.
    • The second paragraph explains how the game plays. The first sentence is always italicized and starts with ‘Essentially, this game is about micromanaging X with Y etc’. That first sentence is how the game works, in a nutshell. The rest of the paragraph explains more details about the game mechanics.
    • Further paragraphs are optional. Usually the third one is either high praise, or me just damning the game and exposing its fatal flaws.
    • Next is the ‘Pros’ and ‘Cons’ list.
    • Finally, there should be between 1-3 sentences at the very bottom giving another TL;DR. Usually this is where I’ll mention if it’s worth full price, wait for a sale, or pass altogether.
  • This should be obvious, but please use spell checker. I’m guilty of making mistakes, but yeah, if you want to write professional reviews – act the part.
  • It is distasteful to dump on seriously indie games. To be crystal clear – I’m not saying to upvote if it is bad, I’m saying be tactful with how you do it. I’m not talking about ‘indie’ games like The Binding of Isaac or some other big money title. If some dude is selling his senior high school project labor-of-love on Steam and it sucks, you have a community duty to downvote it – just be tasteful about how much you curb stomp it.

Alright, well that’s my list. Hopefully there was something someone got out of it. Thanks for reading.

Take care.