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Vlambeer's games popular among players, cloners alike
Vlambeer's games popular among players, cloners alike
April 22, 2013 | By Kris Graft, Mike Rose

April 22, 2013 | By Kris Graft, Mike Rose
More: Smartphone/Tablet, Indie, Design, Business/Marketing

Vlambeer's not only known for tight and focused games like Super Crate Box and Ridiculous Fishing. The Dutch independent game studio is also known for taking a stance against game cloning, which is all-too-common on mobile app stores.

The reason Vlambeer is so publicly anti-cloning is because Ridiculous Fishing spawned a clone, which released well before the actual Ridiculous Fishing, and that nearly tore the studio apart a couple years ago.

Now it appears that another one of Vlambeer's upcoming distinctively-styled games, Luftrausers, has been cloned and released on mobile.

Vlambeer's Rami Ismail told Gamasutra over instant messenger that the studio has emailed both Apple and Google about game, which is credited to one "RubiqLab."

"The basic consensus seems to be since [RubiqLab is] using our assets and using fake screenshots exactly like our game that we should just file a complaint," he said.

Asked if he was planning to wait and hope Apple and Google would take the game down, he replied, "[There's] nothing I can do, really. [RubiqLab] is a one-project company -- it might be virtual, we don't know.

"There's no sense in us wasting time and effort that we should be spending on [Luftrausers]."

RubiqLab has denied to outlets including Kotaku that the game was cloned from Luftrausers, and suggested that Vlambeer is probably just "jealous."

Compare Vlambeer's to-be-released (but well-promoted) Luftrausers... this game from RubiqLab that recently appeared on mobile storefronts:

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James Kaufeldt
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Freek Hoekstra
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we in the netherlands have a saying, a donkey does not hit the same stone twice...
this is the supposed 3rd time this has happened,

so aside from the game not being extremely innovative for as far as I can see
asteroids but also: Time Pilots on the MSX and Wings of Fury on the Amiga.

so basicaly you can blaim the entire world for what they do wrong, and do that time and time again and never solve your problem, or not release a free version followed by paid for copies half a year later.

solve the problem by releasing at the same time, or atleast in a better release window.
also I saw this reply which I'm not sure is genuine or true, and I will say that the previous game was very clearly a stolen gameplay mechanic but I think Vlambeer has gotten a bit too sensitive to this subject:

their comment:

Hey..We are a students we have done this game with our own effort of 1 year.
Tried a lot of tectonics to make this game on iphone.
Few weeks back 1 guys mailed us like this a clone of our game luftrauser & all.
We explained him SkyFar is not cloned from any of the other game.
He was like you used our assets of there game. So we explained him Skyfar has own assets with All work file Art, Sound,Codes....etc
Soo we thought because some jealous.then we stopped.
We used Many tools to finish this game.
It took a very long time & a lots of effort to bring it out.
In Media most of the things looks similar. Especially in GAMES & MOVIES.
They have seen our advertised links recently many times we were publishing.
Again they might of jealous.& Really using Bad words.
they commenting on our Page,Links with the bad words.
I there friend circles, community making all these issues with some 100s of people.

again i don;t know if they are students, but launching a massive slander campaign against them just makes Vlambeer look bad imho. fix the issue yourself, and always look to yourself for problems instead of blaiming everybody else while repeating your mistakes.

Joseph Anthony B. A. Tanimowo-Reyes
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The second video's gone private.

In any case, while this may be a blasphemous idea, would it not be wise to, y'know, NOT show gameplay before the game's done if you're such a clone-magnet? >__>;

Joel Bennett
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Here's another gameplay video:

Aaron San Filippo
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If you're not showing gameplay until the game's done, then there's a good chance you're sending your game out to die.

I believe this is kind of antithetical to Vlambeer's whole philosophy. They're all about getting their games in front of people in Flash form first.

It's the same thing we're doing with our game, and I wouldn't want to change it, even if there is a chance of us being cloned. The benefits of early feedback, market viability testing, and creating a community are all too great to let some jerk who wants to make a quick buck change our whole method as a company.

E Zachary Knight
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What assets is the second game using from the first one? I watched both videos and other than similar sprites, there didn't seem to be anything lifted straight from the other.

Since when is using similar sprites in similar games wrong? How many ways are there to portray airplanes in aerial dogfights?

Jason Bentley
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just recently the court decision for the developers of "Triple Town" vs the developers of "Yeti Town"

E Zachary Knight
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You are misreading that ruling. That ruling was in response to a Yeti Town request to dismiss the case. The Judge ruled that there was enough of a claim from Triple Town to allow the case to go to court. That is far different from ruling that Yeti Town infringed on Triple Town.

What then happened was that Yeti Town settled with Triple Town. There were a lot of factors that went into that including the fact that Yeti Town developers had violated an NDA with Triple Town.

That case is very different from this one.

For a more in depth analysis of current case law on cloning, read this Gamasutra Feature:

Joel Bennett
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Of course someone could argue that they got the idea from the old Apple ][ game, Defender:

EDIT: I suppose I should clarify my point: The idea of a 2D flying/dog-fighting game certainly isn't new. It looks like they do have similar art styles and gameplay, but it certainly isn't a first in the industry. The quality of SkyFar definitely leaves something to be desired (including correct spelling!).

I see a few lessons to be learned here:
- Don't release gameplay videos of your game if you are concerned about people ripping it off
- Separate yourself from your competition with quality

Jacob Germany
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I know it may feel scary to have your game cloned, but I can't help but notice Vlambeer gets far more coverage for otherwise nice-but-not-spectacular games than they ever would have without these controversies. And I can't help but conclude they more than make up for any alleged "lost revenue" through this coverage on multiple sites for both of their last two games.

Andy Wallace
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Although there was a lot of increased coverage for Ridiculous Fishing in the wake of Ninja Fishing, it was largely because Vlambeer went on a month long PR crusade that came with a heavy cost in time that was not spent making games as well as a serious morale blow. It's hard to say if it was beneficial or not in the end.

nick ATpainttehDOTcom
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I feel sorry for the guy, but this is real life. There is no protection against things being copied or being inspiration for others. And probably shouldn't be any. Imagine that Vlambeer will be now accused by Wright Brothers for using their invention (the airplane) in his game. How will that look?
This is the risk you take when publish stuff to public. Sad, but true. Or perhaps it's just evolution :)

Neal Nellans
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Yet another studio clones Vlambeer's groundbreaking masterwork :

Nathan Tompkins
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Why isn't anyone mentioning 2010 IGF finalist MiniSquadron in this conversation? Unless I'm missing something both of these games are heavily inspired from that, so Vlambeer can relax.

Bruno Patatas
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All this thing with indie studios complaining about cloning lately is really getting on my nerves. Mechanics are re-used, replicated and rehashed in every game genre. We could say then that all RPG's in the market are just ripping of Dungeons & Dragons. Hell, a lot of what we now consider pillars of game design came from Gygax and his work with D&D.

Regarding this case in particular, I fail to see what is the problem. Yes, you have planes. They shoot each other. In the sky (God forbid!)

Oh, and btw, it we are talking about who cloned who, then take a look at Combat for the Atari 2600. Yep, Luftrausers concept is not as groundbreaking and novel as you may think...

Andy Wallace
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The issue isn't that they're using similar themes or mechanics, it's that SkyFar uses almost identical visuals and mechanics in obvious attempt to pass itself off as Luftrausers. Obviously Luftrausers is not the first dogfighting game, and it has drawn form many in the past going all the way back to Combat, but it still brings something new. SkyFar is not borrowing from any previous game besides Luftrausers.

There's a difference between expanding a genre using elements from previous games and making a clone. Tiny Tower obviously drew from games that came before it, like SimTower, but the same can't be said of Dream Heights which seemed to only draw inspiration from Tiny Tower. SkyFar appears to be doing the same thing. It isn't rehashing anything; it's just ripping off another game.

E Zachary Knight
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Something else that I was thinking about recently. If Vlambeer is not planning on releasing its game on mobile platforms, exactly how is this game hurting them? They will not be competing directly with them in any fashion. No one would have heard of this game had they not made a stink. Based on the mostly unbiased reviews of the game I have read, it is pretty crap over all. So it really isn't going to hurt Vlambeer in any conceivable way.

Aaron San Filippo
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Your logic makes perfect sense, assuming the only way you can hurt someone is to take money from their pockets.

E Zachary Knight
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Harm in a competitive industry is very fuzzy. While there is direct harm such as sabotage or espionage, the harm of having a competing product on the market is not a real thing. While you can claim that if the competing product had not been in the market you would have made $X, there is no proof of that. That is why I ask where the harm is in SkyFar being released. I bring up a number of factors that show that any "harm" is minimal to non-existent to further that point.

Josh D
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Not only are they better games, Vlambeer's earned a lot of sympathy/credibility in the market. Vlambeer will make their money, especially after all the controversy surrounding this and Ridiculous Fishing.

Does anyone know the precedent for this? There are a million Temple Run ripoffs in the App Store and Apple doesn't seem to be doing anything about that. Obviously that's just one example, and tons of popular games are being directly copied, but I'm curious if there's any response expected by the stores.

Bradley Johnson
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For instant PR make a mashup-clone of the next Vlambeer and Nimblebit games

Machine Works
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First of all, if the Luftrauser concept is too radical for your sponsors - DUMP THEM!
I think LR is genius.

However, the whining is not. " We are exhausted" -- geez...come on.
"Team member xyz became more and more withdrawn"... pffff.
For your next game - shut up about it and make a big noise when it is done.
All major mobile sites are very receptive and the argument "announcing our products early is the only PR that we can afford" is simply wrong.... you can do tons of PR for free.

- Andreas

jin choung
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totally dumb. they should stop sharing design previews before release.

rip me off once, shame on you. rip me off twice, shame the fuck on me.....

don't get what their insistence on refusing to learn a lesson is about.