This month, we spent most of our month recovering from the Indie MEGABOOTH madness at the Penny Arcade Expo and the Game Developers Conference. Rami visited Boston again after the Game Developers Conference for somewhat of a week off after two weeks of conferences as Jan Willem started wrapping up the final interface tweaks for LUFTRAUSERS. Zach Gage, Greg Wohlwend and us started working on a minor update for Ridiculous Fishing. We’ll finally be updating Super Crate Box iOS shortly (think two or three weeks) and if things go well, a minor next project is already lined up beyond that and we’re pretty excited about that one.
We obviously endured a bit of a scare when news arrived of LUFTRAUSERS being cloned and released ahead of our own release schedule by another developer. This time, however, it’s not ‘just’ the idea of the game that has been cloned, but also the visual style. This gives us much more room to fight the whole thing, and we fully intend to. The developer of the clone has gotten in touch with us after Twitter exploded and let us know that ‘acttuly we genrated our assets, Codes and all newly’ and that the gameplay as indicated on the screenshots ‘is not there in game as in the screen shots. We just done those screnshots for public attraction’. They signed off with the note that ‘we really dont think it links your game at all’.
We simply can’t deal with the stress of another cloned game, so we’ve gotten in touch with Apple and Google to see if there is a way for for the issue to be resolved without us getting involved in yet another clone war. They’ve requested us to file a DMCA filing, which we (and the handsome men at Devolver Digital) have done and we’re awaiting the results of that now.
We’re more than happy to see games inspired by our works and we encourage anyone to practice game design and development by recreating personal favorites – in fact, many of our games have been cloned dozens of times without us complaining – but the clones of both Ridiculous Fishing and LUFTRAUSERS take ‘inspiration’ a step too far and into the marketplace. We’re extremely exhausted from dealing with this type of cloning and even though this is an important issue to stand up against, we had hoped that we could just release a game without the cloning debate happening for once.
Ultimately, we refuse to accept this as a part of our industry. We believe that showing our games to our fans early is a better way of developing Vlambeer games than keeping secrets and just dropping the final result on people when it’s done.
Now that we’ve got the chance, we’d also like to take a few seconds to use the clone as an argument towards why LUFTRAUSERS is almost certainly not coming to mobile – we just can’t find a way to make it work as well as it should on touchscreen devices. LUFTRAUSERS requires you to keep track of three things: steering left or right, accelerating or stalling and firing or not firing your weapons. You’d need one input for each of those pairs – so on keyboard, three fingers or on a controller an arrow, a button and a trigger. On touchscreens, you’d need three thumbs.
LUFTRAUSERS is still hitting PC, Mac, Linux, Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita – with the latter being the most interesting device for those of you who would like to play LUFTRAUSERS on the go. We’ve been wrapping up development and we are on schedule to release the game later this spring.
Thank you so much once again to the fans, friends and press that have helped us out with Ridiculous Fishing and thanks so much to everyone for standing with us once again with LUFTRAUSERS. We hope this will be the last time we have to deal with this, but we’re encouraged to know that if it’s not, we won’t be alone.
P.S. We really like the idea of a Vlambeer clonegame jam – we might organize that after we’re done crunching on LUFTRAUSERS.
If you all don’t mind, we’re going to take a nap now. It’s been a long day. We hope to be back soon with nice news.
If you’ve been paying attention, you probably followed the development of Wasteland Kings during our participation in the annual Mojam. We’re extremely proud of the $450.000 raised for charity during the whole event and just as grateful for all your support, the nice comments in the chat and your enthusiasm for the game.
However, Wasteland Kings was not all we were working on: while Jan Willem and Paul were jamming away on Wasteland Kings, Rami, Zach and Greg wrapped up something else over in New York: we submitted Ridiculous Fishing to Apple.
This was a long time coming.
On December 7th, 2010, we started on the iOS version of our debut game Radical Fishing. Things started when Brandon Boyer introduced New York City-based conceptual artist and developer Zach Gage to our little Flash game. Brandon put us in touch and with us being big fans of Zach’s lose/lose and Zach being a big fan of Radical Fishing, we decided to work together on iRadical Fishing.
Within the next two months, the three of us got in touch with Greg Wohlwend, back then best known as the artist for Solipskier. He was instantly sold on the project and quickly added to the roster. We finally reached out to Super Crate Box musician Eirik Suhrke to work with us on the project as well. We had an amazing team and our output was far above expectations. This was a project we couldn’t stop being excited about.
Greg immediately sent us the above image: he had come up with an amazing art style based on 45 degree angles. Eirik sent us some amazingly fitting audio mockups. Zach was coding, Jan Willem was spending time on the Serious Sam: The Random Encounter project while designing Ridiculous Fishing and I was working on Serious Sam: The Random Encounter and the usual Vlambeer stuff. Within weeks, the game was fully playable and we were halfway before we knew it.
Obviously, things were perfect like that until six months into the project. The same Brandon Boyer that put us in touch with Zach Gage notified us of a clone of Radical Fishing, and it was going to launch on iOS before we would be ready to launch. We argued, we discussed and we negotiated – but ultimately it turned out the cloners never intended to yield: they admitted to ‘being inspired’ by our game and launched their game to great success. With that, our motivation and progress suffered a blow we didn’t recover from for far longer that we are comfortable admitting.
Progress on the game was slow for months, all of us being demotivated from working on it. We would’ve killed the project right then and there if it wasn’t for the enormous outpouring of support from fans and press alike. Still, opening the project files would just remind us of the critical and financial reception of the clone – and reminded us that when we’d launch, people would just see Ridiculous Fishing as a clone of the clone. We worked on different projects; Zach launched the absurdly succesful Spelltower, Greg worked on Gasketball and Hundreds, Eirik launched Spelunky and we worked on whatever wasn’t Ridiculous Fishing.
There was a small boost in morale when the game was unexpectedly nominated for the Independent Games Festival in early 2012, but even that couldn’t persuade us to work on the game. We had all gained a lot of new responsibilities with our new releases and painfully struggling through the accursed development of a game that’d be received as a clone wasn’t something we had time for.
We almost killed the project, but we couldn’t give up on it either. So it lingered and lingered in the back of our head. We spoke about the dangers of cloning at conferences, we gave interviews to newspapers and television. Ridiculous Fishing wasn’t moving forward, but it was always there. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Ridiculous Fishing nearly ended Vlambeer.
The ball started rolling again after PAX Prime 2012. Zach, Greg, Greg’s MikenGreg partner Mike and I spent a week in a car driving from Seattle to New York to try and revive the game at Zach’s apartment in New York. Over the course of the week we stayed in Manhattan, the three of us managed to push the game forward just a tiny bit.
That turned out to be enough to slowly snowball into serious progress. A few weeks after our stay in Manhattan – or almost five weeks ago – Greg traveled from his place in Chicago to move in with Zach for as long as we needed to finish the game. Jan Willem and I set aside our work on LUFTRAUSERS to make sure no momentum was lost on the project again. Eirik set aside all of his work to make sure the game sounds perfect. Suddenly everything fell into place.
Two weeks ago, Zach and Greg declared the work on their end was done. Jan Willem slaved away for two full time weeks checking up on final progress tweaks, Eirik worked on additional sound effects. Then, during my recent stay in New York City, Zach and I found ourselves staring at the App Store submission screen: a screen we thought we might never see.
So, this is it. No more talking about clones: Ridiculous Fishing is something we’re too proud of to be discussing its value in terms of another game. It’s time to focus on what we made: Ridiculous Fishing has been submitted. We’ll be back with more news as soon as Apple approves the game.