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Register, Others Call Plagiarism in "Limbo of the Lost" Game 400

Posted by timothy
from the hey-man-poetic-license dept.
Fallen Andy writes "'The Register' has an article describing 'Limbo of the Lost' (developed by Majestic and sold in the U.S by Tri Synergy) which seems to have 'borrowed' copiously graphics assets from other games. Over at the GamesRadar forum there is a thread with some screenshots. Finally, this game has its own Wikipedia entry. Warning to all — move the soft drink away from the keyboard and monitor before you look at those screenshots. Blatant this is, very blatant indeed."
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Register, Others Call Plagiarism in "Limbo of the Lost" Game

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  • by k_187 (61692) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:24PM (#23844645) Journal
    The original creators of that stuff didn't lose anything, its all bits man.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by wattrlz (1162603)

      They might loose someone's game purchasing dollars since we can get most of the game experience from just playing LotL.

      • One cannot lose what one does not already own.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:33PM (#23844795)
        But, based on my understanding of several recent different but similar situations involving movies and music, we can all safely assume that those people would not have bought the game to begin with.

        We can also take comfort in knowing that the companies from whom the graphics were lifted probably keep the lion's share of the profit from game sales and the graphic artists make almost nothing, by comparison.

        Also, if the guy at 'Limbo of the Lost' bought the game it is his to do with what he wishes because he didn't agree to any stupid 'don't lift graphics' clause and shrinkwrap licenses have never been proven in court anyway so no one has any legal standing to complain about anything. This includes if he wants to make a mashup of the game's graphics and his own cool gaming idea and call it 'Limbo of the Lost'.

        And furthermore copyright law has been subverted by corporate interests and is just a shadow of what the found fathers wanted it to be. Copyright is OUR rights not theirs it makes sure WE get the copyrightable content but it has been changed around to give CORPORATIONS all the control. Do I want DRM on my hard drive so I can play a game but keep me from taking screenshots? No! I'll never install Vista. If this was available in WINE I would play it but it isn't. I don't even run NDISWRAPPER!

        So, in conclusion, no. I don't think anyone has stolen anything. Information wants to be free.

        As in I don't pay anything for it.
        • by inviolet (797804) <`slashdot' `at' `ideasmatter.org'> on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:45PM (#23844985) Journal

          And furthermore copyright law has been subverted by corporate interests and is just a shadow of what the found fathers wanted it to be. Copyright is OUR rights not theirs it makes sure WE get the copyrightable content but it has been changed around to give CORPORATIONS all the control.

          Guess what? The CORPORATIONS that own this stuff are composed of people and owned by people. You can become one of those people for about $50 a share. A corporation is the modern expression of the Right of Free Assembly, and is used to administer cooperative division-of-labor and ownership of property.

          Would you prefer that property can only be owned whole, by single individuals? Do you realize that it would be impossible to undertake any large, capital-intensive project in that environment?

          • by Broken scope (973885) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:51PM (#23845089) Homepage
            That wasn't thunder you just heard, that was something breaking the sound barrier as it went over your head.
        • Agree and disagree, you see ultra cheap books and games on sale at the dollar rack that lift content from others all the time. I don't really care, but try to sell me a full prices game which is expected to contain original artwork and I'm going to feel ripped off. Yes, part of what I am buying in the game is the original artwork, not just the game experience itself. Be straight forth that this is a cheap game using knockoff artwork and I wouldn't care.
        • You seem to be implying that those who justify their music and software piracy but condemn this company are hypocrites. But even your straw-hat parody of that viewpoint would not be hypocritical in condemning the folks behind Limbo of the Lost. The reason: it was made by a corporation, and the piracy was used to make that corporation money. Thence the puppet considers vilification for anything (including copyright violation) to be quite justifiable! That said, nobody I know holds the bizarre grab-bag of vi
          • by enderjsv (1128541) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @07:46PM (#23847593)
            I have no idea what 'zeitgeist' or 'petard' mean, but I'm gonna attempt to address your post anyway.

            I don't know if the intention of his post was really to call "those people" hypocrites. If I had to define his point, I'd say that he is simply trying to show "those people" that the arguments they often use are, at best, questionable justifications that, in another context, seem rather ridiculous.

            For example, you seem to be saying (and forgive me if I misinterpret) that in one context, we have a company making money off of another companies work, and that's wrong. But it's not so wrong for an individual to use or acquire a companies copyrighted assets without compensation because that individual won't profit from it. Never mind that said company could be losing profits because of it. Never mind that it doesn't belong to that individual, regardless of how insignificant they feel their actions are. I mean, where's the line, and what gives this individual the right to draw it? But there's no use in arguing, as the OP pointed out, there are a dozen or so ways for the individual to justify it to himself, and in the process trick himself into thinking he's some kind of freedom crusader, saving the world from the evil corporations that *gasp* want to charge us for things, even when most of us secretly know he/she just wants free stuff.

            In the end, as an observer, I guess I've always just found the pirate's reasoning to be a little self-serving. It's always been so easy to call corporations evil, controlling bastards intent on ripping the public off. It's a lot more difficult to ask yourself what your personal responsibility is, what your true motivations are, and what your self-serving justifications say about you. Maybe there is something hypocritical about a thief that steals from thieves.

            But I can't think about that now, I have definitions to look up.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by westlake (615356)
          We can also take comfort in knowing that the companies from whom the graphics were lifted probably keep the lion's share of the profit from game sales and the graphic artists make almost nothing, by comparison

          That almost nothing can amount to something:

          Results of a 2007 survey indicate that the average salary for a game artist is USD $66,594 annually. The least experienced artists (with less than 3 years experience) generally earn about $43,657, while artists with over six years experience on average ear

    • by NiceGeek (126629) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:26PM (#23844683)
      I know you were going for humor, but even people who download music, etc. aren't taking credit for creating said music.
    • by Ferzerp (83619) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:26PM (#23844687)
      The problem with your analogy is that they are making a profit on it (well, they won't now). The people who use the argument you are talking about for copying music/games/etc don't turn around and make mixed CDs, package them, and sell them as their own work (except puff daddy).
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      So THAT'S where all my bits went! I've been looking for them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The original creators of that stuff didn't lose anything, it's all bits man.
    • by Tehrasha (624164) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @06:17PM (#23846449) Homepage
      If they dont get sued for lifting the content, someone should at least sue them for false advertising... How can they call the game 'Limbo of the Lost' when the players are going to recognize all the rooms and know where they are? Should be called 'Limbo of the Strikingly Familiar' or maybe just 'Deja vu'
  • To add insult to injury.

  • From Wikipedia (Score:4, Informative)

    by kellyb9 (954229) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:28PM (#23844707)

    On June 11, 2008 GamePlasma, a gaming news site, posted an article showing certain places in Limbo of the Lost were identical to the game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.[7] After the revelation, others looking into the game discovered environments and features that appeared to be taken from the games The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Unreal Tournament 2004, Unreal Tournament 2003, Diablo II, Thief: The Dark Project, Thief: Deadly Shadows, a CryENGINE2 Tech Demo, Silent Hill 4: The Room[citation needed], Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Painkiller, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth, Hexen and World of Warcraft.[8][9] Other scenes appear to be taken from live action films: one from the 1997 film Spawn, another from Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl and several more from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. [10][11] and level design from enclave[citation needed]. The game also contains footage from Sea Dogs[12][13]
    Wow... at least they have decent taste in games.
  • Screenshots (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lord Lode (1290856) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:28PM (#23844713)
    It's all screenshots from Oblivion, Thief 3, Unreal Tournament series, Diablo, and other games. Limbo Of The Lost doesn't render those things in 3D but uses it as background image for the adventure game. Really lame that the developers of that game thought they were going to get away with it. I wonder what was going on there, they couldn't find a graphics artist to draw the backgrounds so they just photoshopped screenshots from other games together. Still a bit of a shame for the (if there were any) good points of the game, that are now gone down together with the whole game due to this plagiarism.
  • by Trojan35 (910785)
    You have a game idea you've put (some) hard work into since the Atari days. You finally get it released.... And since you cheated, all people will ever remember is that you're crooks and your game is a fraud.

    I feel sorry for the people who worked hard on the game and had no idea someone was doing this.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Abcd1234 (188840)
      Bah, there's no way the devs didn't know this was going on... they had to test their own stuff some time, so unless the assets got changed right at ship time, I suspect they were fully aware.
      • Re:Sad (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:48PM (#23845049)
        There are no 'Devs'. This was done by 3 con-men who apparently met a pub. If you dig though some of the links and other forums about this mess you can get more of the pathetic details.

        They used an out-of-the-box-create-your-own-2.5D-adventure software and just imported in screenshots from other games. I don't think any of them know a lick about coding whatsoever.

        It's amazing that these guys got published when some real independent shops with real talent can't get anything going.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PitaBred (632671)
          Amazing? The publishers just looked and said "Oohh, pretty!". They don't know the games. Independent developers who do it the right way have a harder time because it actually does take a lot of work and time to get good artwork in a game, even a simple 2.5D adventure software based game.
        • Re:Sad (Score:5, Informative)

          by ludomancer (921940) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @09:53PM (#23849047)
          The trick was that they completed the game before seeking a publisher. If you seek out a publisher with a completed product, chances are you will find a deal there. The reason more developers don't do this is because the operating costs of funding the development of a game are so high. Not many people can fund a number of full-time employees out of their own pocket for the duration of a games construction.
          These guys didn't have to worry about operating costs because they stole all their art assets and used a free-ware engine.
  • Oblivion (Score:3, Funny)

    by strength_of_10_men (967050) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:30PM (#23844759)

    Looks just like Oblivion

    Except much shittier... Oh... and YES, I quoted myself!
  • I mean... did they somehow convert/import the assets, or did someone just sit there trying intentionally to make something exact.

    I do wonder if these are a few 'rare' points in the game, or a larger overall theme. Maybe some intern/rookie screwed up and copied too much when the boss said, "Make something like this"
    • My understanding is that the game takes place on static backgrounds. Basicly they loaded thief, took a screenshot of the game when looking in the library, and used the entire screenshot as the background for the adventure game screen. They didn't directly rip the levels and textures to have the same 3d world. This is just what I've heard in other discussions, I haven't actually seen any videos, jsut screenshots, so I can't really tell if the world is static art.
    • The backgrounds in Limbo of the Lost are all static images. They took screenshots from the games and pasted them into their own.
  • by chill (34294) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:33PM (#23844801) Journal
    ...it is sampling, just like in the music industry.

    For example, listen to the opening sequence of Queen's Under Pressure featuring David Bowie. Then, after having your stomach pumped as a precaution, the opening bits of Vanilla Ice's Ice, Ice Baby.

    For the Google impaired, here is a YouTube link [youtube.com] doing a comparison.

    Just equate Limbo of the Lost with Ice, Ice Baby and you will understand. Of course, that would mean Majestic Studios is really Vanilla Ice...
    • by AioKits (1235070) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:44PM (#23844955)
      I dunno... It would require listening to Vanilla Ice... Is it okay if I just take your word for it?
    • by AllIGotWasThisNick (1309495) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:48PM (#23845039)

      For example...
      You are aware that Vanilla Ice reached an out-of-court settlement [wikipedia.org] with the copyright holders of "Under Pressure" for using the material?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LandDolphin (1202876)
      Not quite the same, and your example is bad

      First off.. Vanilla Ice did not sample. He changed the 8th note, so therefore it was "original".. This was not listed as "sampling"

      Now, for someone who does sample, a lot, P Ditty (Puff Daddy, Sean Combs, Whatever).

      He does sample a lot. But, he pays the copyright holder for the rights to sample that music.
    • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:51PM (#23845073) Homepage
      But, based on my understanding of several recent different but similar situations involving movies and music, we can all safely assume that those people would not have bought the game to begin with.

      We can also take comfort in knowing that the companies from whom the graphics were lifted probably keep the lion's share of the profit from game sales and the graphic artists make almost nothing, by comparison.

      Also, if the guy at 'Limbo of the Lost' bought the game it is his to do with what he wishes because he didn't agree to any stupid 'don't lift graphics' clause and shrinkwrap licenses have never been proven in court anyway so no one has any legal standing to complain about anything. This includes if he wants to make a mashup of the game's graphics and his own cool gaming idea and call it 'Limbo of the Lost'.

      And furthermore copyright law has been subverted by corporate interests and is just a shadow of what the found fathers wanted it to be. Copyright is OUR rights not theirs it makes sure WE get the copyrightable content but it has been changed around to give CORPORATIONS all the control. Do I want DRM on my hard drive so I can play a game but keep me from taking screenshots? No! I'll never install Vista. If this was available in WINE I would play it but it isn't. I don't even run NDISWRAPPER!

      So, in conclusion, no. I don't think anyone has stolen anything. Information wants to be free.

      As in I don't pay anything for it.

      (P.S. -- I'm adding some skulls to this comment)
    • by Altus (1034) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:57PM (#23845205) Homepage

      I dont believe that is a sample. Samples are when you take the actual audio of one song and take a bit of it and use it in your song. In the case of Ice, Ice Baby the riff was ripped off and re recorded.

      This is important because the labels own the recordings of the songs but the artists own the songs themselves. You have to pay the artist if you re-record their song, you don't have to pay the artist if you sample a recording.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by PoliTech (998983)

      ...it is sampling, just like in the music industry.

      I would have to second this opinion. Given that the Backgrounds are evidentally static screenies, then I don't see a lot of difference between this, music mix CDs and/or video mashup.

      Heck, I use the background images from Bejeweled as wallpaper. Does that make me an IP infringer? If I give the wallpaper to the guy in the next office am I then a pirate?

      This is simple Fair use IMHO, although they should give credit to the sources.

    • by Eil (82413) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @06:08PM (#23846309) Homepage Journal
      And just like that, you've gotten that insipid song stuck in the heads of thousands of slashdotters.

      I hope you're happy.
  • by wylderide (933251) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:34PM (#23844809) Homepage
    ... The scene where the protagonist is leaping over barrels thrown by a large orangutan. It's a dead giveaway.
  • What level of idiocy is required for people to think they can somehow get away with this type of thing without anyone noticing or caring.

    I simply can't comprehend the thoughts that must've gone through the developer's minds when they decided this was okay.
  • by Notquitecajun (1073646) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:37PM (#23844841)
    Heh, that's some of the hardest work I've seen gone into plagiarism. That is, outside of academia and Hollywood and politicians where everyone pretty much copies everyone else...
  • You know one room, surely could be similar with a developer having played one of those other titles and been inspired even subconsiously while building. No way in hell you could claim that as anything near original work.
  • by Kingston (1256054) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:40PM (#23844885)
    What they need to do now is spend all the money they saved on the artwork on a really good lawyer. One that can stand up in court and say "A layman might think he sees a superficial resemblance" while keeping a straight face.
  • What DRM it uses to keep it from being copied...
  • The company may go bankrupt because of this, but the game will probably become an internet legend. Surely this'll be a collectors item, get your copy from bittorrent today!
    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @05:11PM (#23845449) Journal
      Antiques Road Show - 2085 AD

      Expert: I say, that's a jolly good thing, a shrink-wrapped copy of the infamous "Limbo of the Lost" game!

      Owner: Why? Is it famous?

      Expert: Well, you see, the creators of the game (and I use the term "creator" generously here) basically stolen static screen shots from a number of other games, and using a crappy adventure game generator, produced this wonder, which they actually managed to get published and distributed.

      Owner: So how much is it worth?

      Expert: A top-notch undamaged shrink wrapped copy like this would go at auction for at least three million dollars!

      Owner: Wow! I mean wow wow wow!

      Expert: Indeed...

      Owner: So what about this shrink-wrapped copy of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion?

      Expert: I'll give you twelve bucks.
  • by thewils (463314) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:47PM (#23845021) Journal
    It's about an adventurer who wanders from game to game to solve the mystery of the plagiarised graphics.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:48PM (#23845033)
    "everything was re-written from the ground up, everything apart from the initial concept and some character design ...and the rest is history."

    "The project is more influenced by film and literature rather than other games, we want the experience to be as original as possible and as such we have made a calculated effort to keep away from other games in the genre."

    "All of the game (apart from initial background story and some character designs) had to be re-written, all the characters had to be created in 3D and animated, all the background scenes re-created, all the sounds, coding and music?..basically everything had to be redone or newly created for the PC version. This is not an old game that has been dressed up. This is the original concept, dusted off and re-created."

    Also, the game has been in production for 10 years and rewritten few times. I think these guys deserve a "Hard core audacity" award...

    Full Article [quandaryland.com]
  • by thewils (463314) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:52PM (#23845105) Journal
    ...it's OK to pirate this one then??
  • by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:54PM (#23845143)
    Oblivion? D-Eye-Ah-Blo? Man, how the hell did anyone remember these incredibly obscure games?
  • I'm not going to buy it, but I have a weak point for unintentional comedy.
  • by WeirdJohn (1170585) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @05:03PM (#23845313)
    Not that I approve. Some people can write code, design game concepts etc but be incapable of drawing pictures. When I look at the photo of the 3 main developers I don't see a picture that looks like three guys that would play typical cutting edge games. They come up with game logic that kinda works but is butt ugly. They hire someone who claims they are a shit hot CG artist, complete with examples of "their" work. This person then proceeds to rip other peoples' work.

    The developers are of course stoked by the amazing art "developed" for their game, and give lots of bonuses. Then they discover that they've been sounded robbed, as their game (and their reputations) are soundly denounced.

    I'm not saying this has happened in this case, but I've seen scenarios like this before (when I did work in the games industry).

    I'm also not saying that this justifies it. If anything it reveals "technology blindness" where the developers are so in love with their own product that they don't bother looking at what else is on the market.
    • by king-manic (409855) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @06:11PM (#23846355)
      You may actually look into the story before you invent a situation where it was right. These guys are just amateurs who took a run at the shovelware market using plagiarism to fill in where they lacked talent. Much of the coding was done on the winter mute forums as these three douches don't know much about coding. The graphics where screenshots that were badly photoshopped together because this group lacked graphic talent. Apparently from people who played it, they also lacked story telling talent as well as voice acting talent. These guys really shouldn't have tried to market their dreck shovelware and should have kept it as a amateur project.
  • by lantastik (877247) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @05:16PM (#23845533)
    I started to wonder how they got rips of all of those games in to their engine. Then I started to wonder if they just stole the engine. I did a search and came up with this page:
    http://209.85.141.104/search?q=cache:GTYHJgCqVCYJ:www.bluesnews.com/cgi-bin/board.pl%3Faction%3Dviewthread%26threadid%3D88482+%22Limbo+of+the+Lost%22+engine&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us [209.85.141.104]

    I'm still wondering how they were able to import all those assets and levels so flawlessly into their own engine?

    That must have been a tremendous job just to write the different converters but then again I don't understand why Steve Bovis, was not able to code a simple CD check into the main menu???
    ...this was the follow-up to that question:

    They didn't.

    "Wintermute Engine Development Kit is a set of tools for creating and running graphical âoepoint&clickâ adventure games, both traditional 2D ones and modern 2.5D games (3D characters on 2D backgrounds). The kit includes the runtime interpreter (Wintermute Engine, or WME) and GUI editors for managing and creating the game content (WME tools) as well as the documentation, demonstrational data and prefabricated templates." - http://dead-code.org/home/ [dead-code.org]

    All the backgrounds they stole are screenshots from other games. They made a 3D character to move (with scaling) on 2D backgrounds.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @05:17PM (#23845561)
    Contest to create "screenshots" from Limbo of the Lost: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/?page_id=1909

    Contest is over, but the entries are hilarious.
  • The Article rocks! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anachragnome (1008495) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @05:18PM (#23845583)
    The thing I like the most about the article is that the it specifically states the NAMES of the morons that thought they could get away with this.

    All to often, articles simply list the name of the company in question, and the people actually behind the theft(I consider it theft) hide behind that, thus circumventing any real lasting public derision.

    The article destroyed any credibility these idiots may have had in the gaming marketplace, and rightfully so. A simple Google search by potential employers/investors will be all it takes to bring up that article.

    Back to McDonald's with you, fryboy!
  • Parodies (Score:3, Informative)

    by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @06:01PM (#23846199) Homepage Journal
    Some decent parody screenshots in the vein of Phriday can be found at Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/?page_id=1909 [rockpapershotgun.com]

    My favorite is the Zork one.

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/images/june08/limbocompo/JohnLeonard.jpg [rockpapershotgun.com]
  • by jscalbny (1252620) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @06:32PM (#23846621)

    I mean, it's not as if any gamers would know such obscure titles as Diablo II or Oblivion or Unreal Tournament or anything...

    I can just hear the designers now...

    "We'd have gotten away with it, too... if it weren't for those darn kids!"

  • by brkello (642429) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @07:19PM (#23847217)
    ...is call it a parody and its all legal! Brilliant!

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