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! http://ah.eglsgame.com
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.
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.