Inspired by vs Based off of

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by chainedfiction, Mar 19, 2015.

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  1. It's something I'm curious as to what the difference is. Examples are highly appreciated in order to help me understand right away. Why and how they're different, explaining that with the examples, those would both be appreciated as well. I think I know the difference but if someone asked me I would have no idea how to respond. I just see a lot of roleplays based off shows, then I think that's not original, then there's times where a person is making a roleplay based off a show but all the lore is player made, then I wonder if the person meant inspired by. Explanation please!
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  2. First, because I wondered and then went and looked it up, 'based off' is a relatively new usage, and by that I mean it's gained popularity within the last 30 years. The correct preposition should be 'based on'. Yep, that had nothing to do with your actual question, sorry, I'll go hide in a corner now. People will probably not care and continue to use 'based off' to their heart's content. :P

    Anyway! Back to the actual question!

    A good format to use by way of example is movies and books. You'll see a lot of movies out there that are based on books or comics. All those X-Men movies, or Memoirs of a Geisha (first things I could think of, seriously brain?). The point of basing anything on something else, is that you generally are following lines already laid down. For instance, making a book into a screenplay usually requires sticking to the overall plot and character development. Harry Potter and the Game of Thrones tv show are both based on books already written.

    When something is inspired by another thing, it generally means that it won't, and likely shouldn't, be half as similar. Crime dramas or supernatural shows are often inspired by true events or urban legends. There's a less concrete foundation to pull from, and they aren't trying to recreate an exact story.

    There is a bit of a grey area in separating the two, because an idea, say fanfiction for Harry Potter, can be inspired by one segment of a particular part in the book or movies about the twins and their joke shop. So, someone decides they want to write a story about a magic joke shop. They could base that idea within the already created wizarding world JK Rowling has given her readers, but it might have absolutely nothing to do with the books beyond that, none of the characters, and maybe only distant mention of the wizarding war or uhhh Hogwarts or something. The base is still there. They are using a foundation already laid out. So, this story or rp could be both 'based on' and 'inspired by'.

    Now, if they were to make full use of the same story arch and variously mentioned characters, possibly even using Fred or George for their purposes, and simply focusing on a different persepctive and character story than Rowling did, that is more aligned with 'based on'.

    If they were simply to take the idea of a magic joke shop and wizards hiding from a mundane world, and the rest of the world, characters and story arch is their creation. The story is merely 'inspired by'.

    Then again, they might have come up with the idea of a wizarding joke shop all on their own. Or without being aware of where the inspiration came from. Generally, it is harder to pinpoint inspiration than it is to figure out where the basic foundation of a story has come from, which can sometimes be a tell for based on or inspired by, though not always.

    Of course, whichever term you use would likely be acceptable, simply because you're giving credit where it's due. And that is the main point of using either. It also offers prospective players the chance to understand what tone/setting/plot or rules the GM might be going for, which is the secondary purpose. Getting it right is only really important if you're actually going to publish something, I would think. Could be wrong though. Hope this helps.
  3. Just an addendum for extra clarity

    I'd like to point out that movies "based on" books are called "adaptations". At least, the examples you cited are. They take the source materials (the books) and translate them into a new medium (movies). Their aim is to copy the original resource into a new form, although they often make changes for marketing purposes (ie: to widen the demographic or increase ticket sales)

    A better example of a movie "based on" a book rather than adapting the book into film form might be Tangled, which uses the fairy tale of Rapunzel as a base. Very generalized, they're about the same thing. A girl with incredibly long hair is trapped in a tower by a wicked witch, until she is rescued by a handsome prince. But there are differences; instead of poor farmers who couldn't have children, Rapunzel's parents in Tangled were royalty. Instead of kidnapping Rapunzel because she was promised in return for the ability to have children, in Tangled Rapunzel was kidnapped because her hair is magic! Like most old fairy tales, the book version had a more gruesome ending, too. However, despite its many differences, you can see the resemblance between Tangled and Rapunzel, because Tangled is "based on" it.

    Another way to define "inspired by" would be "got the idea from".

    The definition of "inspired" means "of such extraordinary quality, as if arising from an external creative impulse", so we can define any idea that was born from other ideas "inspired", technically speaking.

    With the Harry Potter example you've given, I'd say it's "based on" if it takes place in JK rowling's world, because it's importing elements from the original instead of taking the ideas behind it and coming up with its own thing. Fan-fiction in general, even AU fanfic and Genderswapped fanfic, is "based on", because by definition it uses material directly from the original source; even if the material is tweaked a bit.

    If someone were inspired by the Weasley's joke shop, and wrote an original story about two magicians who operate a shop of magical jokes, set with their own characters, their own joke items, and their own universe, THAT would be "inspired by" the Weasley's joke shop in Harry Potter

    If someone were inspired by the relationship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and wrote their own story about three friends who struggle in a weird love triangle, but was not about wizards, magical schools, etc (ie; they just used this idea and wrote their own story), that would be "Inspired by" Harry potter.

    In summation:

    Think of "based on/off" as being something that takes the original material and does something new with it, such as fan fiction, Tangled, etc. Fiction "based on/off" other fiction makes greater use of the material from its source, without plagiarizing it

    Think of "Inspired by" as meaning that the idea came from a different source, but the material is the creator's own.
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