Torchlight Art Assets Ripped Off by Mobile Game

Thanks to KayDee for pointing me to the amusing (if it’s not you) news on IncGamers that a Chinese developer has wholesale ripped off art and sound assets from Torchlight and reused them in a derivative dungeon crawler game for smart phones. The story began when Torchlight lead developer Travis Baldree tweeted about the issue:

So, wow – this game is releasing on the app store. They wholesale stole most of the assets from Torchlight!

Kotaku also wrote up the issue and got an additional quote from Travis, as well as a screenshot comparing TL art to what you see in the new ap.

Torchlight on the iPhone?

Baldree said the asset stealing is so comprehensive, the voice of a Runic technical artist, who supplies the sound effects for a “joke weapon” in Torchlight, also appears in Armed Heroes. Baldree said Runic’s attorneys have contacted Apple to demand a takedown, which he said was a pretty easy and straightforward process. “Our main goal is simply to take it down,” Baldree told Kotaku. “They shouldn’t be selling it.”Baldree said that Runic has seen other visual assets pinched before but it was usually in small details or single instances. “This is different in that every one of their monsters is the same as ours,” he said. “It’s not like they took one thing because they were running short on time. They took everything. It’s so over-the-top.”

The story got funnier today when the Chinese developer denied the theft in a public statement that reads like it was translated via the Google bot. (And may well have been.)

“We sincerely hope that Mr. Travis Baldree can note that the similarity between Armed Heroes and Torchlight may be due to that we both learn from Blizzard, unless you are suggesting that except you the rest must not learn these advanced skills from Blizzard who has long been one of the great leaders within the industry,” Zhang wrote. “Moreover, if anyone has ever pay attention to games of similar themes, he or she should have found that there are always several games of same type compete with and learn from each other’s game designs, functions and other settings.”

Travis replied to that in sensible fashion:

“I have no problem with inspiration,” he wrote. “We are obviously inspired by Diablo, and make no bones about it. But we don’t include any Diablo artwork or sounds in our game.

The comparison image makes pretty clear that the Armed Heroes Online (wouldn’t you have guessed they were stealing art from Call of Duty, from that name?) is just reusing Torchlight assets, and the fact that they didn’t even change the name of the sound files is great. As the Kotaku article points out, you can now buy Torchlight for $8.99 from Steam’s Summer Sale, though most RPG fans are more interested in Torchlight 2, which must be coming out fairly soon…

Here’s the official promo video for Armed Heroes Online. For bonus luls, click to the YouTube page to join the masses in disliking it. There are 20 likes vs. 529 dislikes, right now.

Related to this article
  • The Real Torchlight Falcor Desperately Needs Your Help
  • Runic Games Closed Down
  • This Week on IncGamers

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    44 thoughts on “Torchlight Art Assets Ripped Off by Mobile Game

    1. To even try to say NO WE DID NOT STEAL is so retarded when anyone with a pair of eyes see that its the exact same assets that Torchlight 1 have. Look at the video and you see it pretty clear 😀

      • Chinese people…

        Also, the game is probably complete crap. They don’t even have the skills to make a proper website, let alone a proper game. Lol.

        Chinese people…

        • As a Chinese, this is not one of the things that I am proud of. However, not saying it is right, but I can understand why they have stolen from TL. Totally wrong, but the market is so competitive in China for ANYTHING that either you do what is necessary (like stealing intellectual prop) or starve.

          It is not like EU or US where if you fail as a game designer, you can always work a blue collar job and still feed your family. In China, blue collar job workers cannot even find a partner, let alone feed them. Just a perspective here.

          • Perspective is always good. And I’m glad that you understand that “we” get pissed off when some Chinese people steal things.

          • Being talentless and living in a terrible country that has less regard for its people than the dirt they walk on is not an excuse to steal other people’s work.

            It’s not like Torchlight is the only incidence of chinese stealing from everyone else. There was a lawsuit put into china by BMW some years back that a chinese auto maker had stolen the design of one of BMW’s cars. If you hid the hood ornament, and put the two side by side, you COULD NOT TELL THEM APART. Chinese court found that the cars were not at all similar, and dismissed the case.

            It’s not just the chinese people who are thieves, it’s their government as well. Can’t get a revolution fast enough in that place.

      • I wouldn’t mind seeing a video of his statement, just to count how many times he did the Jedi Wave.

    2. The best bit is where they accuse the creators of Diablo and Fate of copying Diablo and Fate.

      Also, if you want Torchlight 1 you’d be better off pre-ordering Torchlight II from Steam (for $20) since you get Torchlight 1 for free with it.

    3. Is it just me or is the Necromancer in this clip almost a carbon copy of World of Warcraft’s Warlock (at least with older armour sets) ?

      (got to love these captcha’s: yadda yadda yadda)

    4. I still don’t like this title Runic got “creators of Diablo”. No, they are not. They are simply Fate/Mythos team. Plus Max Schaefer who is not involved with the development and Erich Schaefer as some kind of an advisor. And those two are not the creators of Diablo too. They were two of the designers. Even worse, some people think Bill Roper is the creator of Diablo 🙂 David Brevik is the creator of Diablo and that’s it. (there was a reason he was the head of Blizzard North, not Max or Erich Schaefer)

      As for Torchlight, the game is almost Travis Baldree himself. It’s a true continuation of Fate. Not Diablo. Diablo never got a true sequel after D2 and it never will…

      • You’re also missing Matt Uelmen, who gave a good chunk of the soul to Diablo, and Peter Hu, who made D2 what it’s been for the last 9 years. To name two.

        So maybe Runic aren’t the only creators of Diablo, but they’re certainly some creators of Diablo.

        • Peter Hu (one of D2:LoD devs. He wasn’t in the team until just before the relase of D2) doesn’t work for Runic anymore and he didn’t put any work on Torchlight I. Matt Uelmen is a very good composer and he did have an important part on Diablo series but his current work’s theme is absolutely different and I can’t say his music gives that much of a character to Torchlight.

          • Erich and Max are deeply involved in TL1 and TL2 development. Torchlight is more Travis Baldree’s project than anyone else’s (as D1/D2 were more Dave Brevik’s than anyone else’s), but Max is more than just a PR guy. He plays the game constantly, offers input and suggestions, interacts with the team daily, etc.

            Erich, on the other hand, is a full time employee and does coding and game content and assets as much as anyone. He’s doing all the item system for TL2, much as he did for D2 (and TL1, which had a lame item system, but was very very rushed in production).

            Also, Matt Uelmen did all the sound and music for TL1 and TL2, and he’s deeply involved in the game creation, as he was at Blizzard North. He’s not just the music guy; he’s done a great deal of internal testing and contributed to the game design.

            Also, not to name drop, but I know this not from speculation about news items, but from direct, first hand information. I’ve traded numerous emails with Matt and I asked Max about his brother’s job duties when I visited Runic last November.

            • OK. You’re right. Max gives suggestions here and there and Erich is responsible for the item system. I can add that Max did some scripting for Torchlight too. But these are minor roles imo. Matt’s role as the sound designer and composer is even bigger than their roles.

              For example, I remember Max told you Diablo III was going to be an MMO but after they left, rest of the team scrapped that idea.

              Let’s read what David Brevik said.

              \There have been a lot of challenges, but I think we’ve overcome a lot of them simply because we’ve experimented with this kind of idea before in the past. A lot of this was the original inspiration we were going to go in for Diablo III. We decided not to go with it in the end, but we had thought about turning it into an MMO.\

              Who remembers 9 years ago better and why?

      • David Brevik and the Schaefers co-founded Condor Studios and pitched Diablo to Blizzard. They are two thirds of the original three who worked on the game, that makes them the creators.

        • No. The creator is who comes with an idea and do what’s necessary to make that idea reality. In this case, David Brevik came with an idea. To make that idea reality, he had to found a company and assemble a team. All the visionary, general design and programming of Diablo belongs to him. That’s why he was the president of Blizzard north and that’s why he had the project lead, lead designer and lead programmer titles for both Diablo I and II.

          In Runic’s case Travis Baldree is no different. Max Schaefer is not the creator of Torchlight. Travis Baldree is the creator of Torchlight.

          • Yes, and David Brevik’s idea was a claymation turn-based RPG, it was only after Condor was formed and the ide was pitched to Blizzard that it changed. The Schaefers helped to create Diablo. It’s an unarguable fact.

            • Diablo turned real-time late in the development and David was the one decided to go with Blizzard Irvine’s real-time idea in the end. I accept Schaefers helped creating Diablo.

              Just I don’t like to see Runic or Schaefers called – creators of Diablo – . It’s almost like they try to market their games this way. The creator of Diablo is either all Blizzard North or David Brevik.

              Because of this false title, Blizzard fanboys bash original Diablo team pointing Torchlight.

      • Erich is designing all the set pieces and all the legendaries

        so he’s more than just some kind of advisor

    5. Seems to me that you have problem with evolution Permaximum Judicium. Why is Diablo III not a true sequel?

      • Because people make games. Not companies. How would “The Dark Knight Rises” be if there was a different crew instead of Christopher Nolan and his team (writers, actors etc.)?

        The answer is that simple.

        • Companies help too. I’m guessing HG:L would’ve turned out much better if it had had the same team, with Blizzard funding and publishing it. Note that taking the same route as SC:G and WC Adventures: Lord of the Clans counts as “turning out much better”.

          • I kind of agree. Assembling the right dev team is not enough. They should be given enough funding and time. Marketing helps too.

            But without the right team, it’s over there.

        • What if other of the same writers, actors, cinematographers, editors, etc were still on the movie sequel?

          Because if you only count the head guy, then D2X wasn’t a true sequel to D2C, since the executive producers of D2C were all working on D3 at that point, and other guys from the D2C team took over the main production of D2X.

          • They definetely oversaw D2X development and after all it was just an expansion.

        • I guess the SC franchise is dead, then? With OSL quitting SC1 for SC2, and SC2 was not developed by the same head guy……

          Back on topic: Ya, this is wholesale IP theft.

    6. So you must have exact the same people ? no new ones at all that can shine a light on new things or give new inputs or add something new to the IP? I don´t agree with that statement at all. Sure some creative minds is hard to replace but still. To have the same people don´t mean that you get a new product that is amazing or fresh, it might turn out to be too close to the old product without nothing new just same old thing but with a new number attatched.

      • No you don’t have to have the same people. You should only have the key people and core part of the team. Creators, important members, lead and senior roles etc. and “the soul members” of the team.

        Diablo 3 team is “a completely new team”. There hasn’t been one considerable example where the completely new team succeded (not business wise). They can even make good products but those products definetely don’t have the soul, the concept and the idea of the previous products.

        • “There hasn’t been one considerable example where the completely new team succeded (not business wise).”

          So you don´t know what Call of Duty and Halo is? Sure Halo 4 is not out yet but new team and for that title to not be a massive hit sales wise is pretty unlikely.Then look at Call of Duty 2 studios 2 different creators and still year after year commercial successes. There are many more examples and even examples were same team failed bigtime with sequels to their own IP

    7. I would be pissed but on the other hand I would feel honored because when someone copies your game you know you did something right.

      • Copying is not the problem. Taking the models and textures, tweaking them, and shoving them in your game, is a problem. Also, stealing the sound files directly, without even bothering to change the names is pretty blatant.

    8. This is not really news, just that they put it on apple store so it got to the attention of the Runic people.

      It is almost impossible to find a game in China that does not copy other games (by copy I mean a full copy of image files/ song or user interface). There are thousands of them, we even have “Diablo 7” in mainland China already. (actually 2 years ago already)

      • Well the Title isnt exactly unique but yeah I seen the boxarts but never screenshots if you have please link them

    9. You’re the man Permaximum Judicium. Yes, indeed. I can relate to your perspective on the whole “Runic = Creators of Diablo” silliness. It’s very refreshing to see someone challenge this idea because it’s darn near false.

    10. There is actually a lot of plagiarism and general academic dishonesty from Chinese academics (a lot more so than from other countries) as well. There are also a lot of brilliant Chinese developers and scientists, but then again there are so many of them (Chinese in general) that its no surprise you find the best and the worst among them.

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