Limbo of the Lost copycats not even speaking to locals

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Limbo of the Lost is the gaming meme of the month: three pub mates from provincial England coming together to produce an old-school adventure game years in the making, and landing a big U.S. publishing deal. And then it all going horribly wrong as a result, because the world then discovers that their game’s backgrounds are swiped from every second triple-A title from the last decade.

The publisher, humiliated by its own lack of oversight, can’t seem to get a response from them. And neither, sadly, can the local paper that penned a proud summary of their success in May. Helen Wagstaff reports that they’re “reluctant to comment at the moment,” writing a short overview of the game’s woes in the Kent Messenger.

There is a certain tragedy to it; the game got good reviews, after all, and as the work of three non-pros, amounted to proof that you can make it in this business without awe-inspiring truckfuls of capital – they even used an off-the-shelf game creation system, Wintermute. Limbo of the Lost could have been proof that artistic imagination and dedication alone were enough – were it not for the fact that so much of their art was from others’ works.

Think how it could have been different: a local art student bumped into at the pub, for example, paid a fair bag for a few dozen original backdrops. Hell, they could have just grabbed appropriately licensed work, free of charge, from the Creative Commons!

I wonder if the situation isn’t simply that an amateur project, little different in spirit from the countless online animations, mashups and flash games that rip sprites, music and other assets from classic games, didn’t just get way out of hand. The moment of truth, of course, didn’t really come in the last few weeks. It came a long time ago: when Steve Bovis, Tim Croucher and Laurence Francis took a breath, then signed on the dotted line.

About Rob Beschizza

Rob Beschizza is the Managing Editor of Boing Boing. He's @beschizza on Twitter and can be found on Facebook too. Email is dead, but you can try your luck at besc...@gmail.com
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14 Responses to Limbo of the Lost copycats not even speaking to locals

  1. Rob Beschizza says:

    Update: Response from the devs knockin around this afternoon in gaming forums, but I haven’t spotted the source, yet, so pinch of salt:

    “Well, some of the screenshots are pretty similar.

    But let us look at it this way…..

    You must all know the famous Big Ben clock in London.

    How many people have taken photographs of their family members or friends standing in front of Big Ben?

    Do they credit Charles Barry, the original designer of the strucutre for their photographs? No, of course they don’t!

    Now you mightm say a photograph is non-commerical use, but what about ITN news who use the image of Big Ben for their commerical news programming? Again, without credit.

    All I was really doing was taking photographs of my journeys through virtual worlds – had I ripped out the textures and re-assembled the 3D models that of course would of been another issue.

    I really don’t want to say too much as my solicitor has advised me for now to be quiet. However, I know some gamers can get over-excitied about things and I thought it worth stating it for what it really is – no more harmless than a tourist taking photographs.”

  2. Enochrewt says:

    The thing I don’t get is wouldn’t it be harder to make painstaking duplicates of another game’s environs than it would be to just use it as a guideline when you’re making your own?

  3. Enochrewt says:

    That’ all well and good to say now, but maybe they should have said something about it before the game came out.

  4. Avram says:

    Oh, man! If that really is one of the developers, not only does he not understand copyright, he also doesn’t understand what it means when your lawyer tells you not to talk about a case.

  5. artbot says:

    That’s rich! (if it’s truly one of the devs).

    Hard to argue with that logic. Actually, it’s easy to argue with that logic. Impossible to argue with someone who employs it.

    Interesting leap he makes from public works to copyrighted, purchased material. By that “logic”, I could photograph a Monet and sell the images as posters. Hmmm……

  6. yasth says:

    #1 The game was 2.5d, 3d chars against 2d backdrops. They used screen shots, and just duplicated a rough kind of 3d moving system (i.e. near/far, and exclusions) Much Much easier then duplication of art.

  7. umbilicaleyeball says:

    Even if it were 3d, you could use http://www.deep-shadows.com/hax/3DRipperDX.htm to steal content.

  8. Enochrewt says:

    Oh, well that makes sense then. Thanks for the explanation.

  9. Anonymous says:

    #10 YOU have it all wrong, do some research on the guys and you would know they haven’t actually been working on it since the 90′s, just throwing ideas to each other since then. Its only been recently that they’ve actually gotten work done on the game.

    Also they totally ripped off other games without credit and then had a publishing deal to release it. Which means that all works need to be credited to the original copyright owners just like any original works from them (even 2d backgrounds) would be copyrighted so someone can’t just take what they’ve MADE. I think people are forgetting these worlds that they stole work from had to be made, they weren’t just snap shots of public places and put up as a background in game. Artist created those pictures and filed them legally with copyrights. Even IF they did try to play the Derivative Works defense you STILL need the original copyright owners permission to use it.

    I work on a Mod based off a movie, even though we use no names, locations or characters from the original movies AND the game doesn’t even have the same title of the movies, being that we are set in that “world” we still had to contact the copyright owner to seek permission, and are mod is free!

    I hope they get blacklisted from the gaming industry.

  10. Rob Beschizza says:

    He simply doesn’t understand copyright, at all. The comparison between public buildings and published works is nonsense.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Look you guys have all got it wrong. Limbo of the lost was started in the 1990′s. All of these games they supposedly copied from were released much, much later.

    Given the dates involved i think its pretty obvious who’s been copying who here.

  12. aarrgghh says:

    copyright? i am not aware of this internet tradition …

  13. Anonymous says:

    It’s a viral. There’s nothing to see here. Move on.

  14. certron says:

    Would it be redundant to pirate this game? I mean, most of the game content has already been infringed upon once, why not keep the favor going?

    Two rips don’t make a byte?

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