Part of what we do to keep the waterfall of cool new iOS games flowing on slow weeks is explore other international App Stores for new releases. It's almost become normal to stumble across wide-scale "beta" releases of online and free to play games on the Canadian App Store, for instance. From a developer's perspective, you can't really do server stress testing utilizing the 100 UDID slots Apple provides for pre-release builds, so by releasing in Canada you can get a much larger testing pool without unleashing it to the entire world.

Armed Heroes popped up on our radar a few days ago. We saw the screenshots, thought they looked cool, and Brad whipped up a quick news story with the trailer. From there, we added it to our watch lists for a US release to do more in-depth coverage when it was actually available worldwide.

Neither of us are that familiar with the Mac/PC game Torchlight [$8.99, Steam] beyond cursory knowledge of its existence, so the similarities between the graphics of the two games flew directly over our heads. It didn't take long for the story to start getting tweeted around, which brought about a response from Runic Games president Travis Baldtree who explained that practically every asset in Armed Heroes was stolen directly from Torchlight. Travis then started getting pretty active in the Armed Heroes thread, pointing out that everything including misspelled asset names were lifted directly out of Torchlight. Runic even threw together the following comparison image:


(Click for full size.)

Moments ago, Serena Zhang of EGLS, the developers of Armed Heroes, posted a response thread on our forums with their (admittedly fairly confusing) side of the story:

First of all, we have to say that it is a great shock hearing what Mr. Travis Baldree, president of Runic Games, said about Armed Heroes Online last weekend. We can hardly agree with Mr. Travis Baldree who judged that EGLS “wholesale stole most of the assets from Torchlight!” only based on the similarity between several small monsters. The judgment is simply untenable. Armed heroes Online is an action MMO role-playing mobile game, however, Torchlight is a console PC game. Not only the platforms(Mobile devices vs. PC/Mac), but also game mechanics(multiplayer online vs. console), engine support( self-developed 3D engine vs. commercial authorized OGRE engine) , scenes and techniques employed in Armed Heroes Online developing are all largely different from Torchlight. ...Read More

Runic's Travis Baldtree responds in the same thread:

We're not making complaints about lifting design, or mechanics, or even STYLE.

Even if they tried to replicate our style, and made a game with goblins, alchemists, undead dwarves, weird purple zealot ladies, tree golems, and a big end boss who is a purple dragon - WE DON'T CARE. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and all that.

What we DO care about is using our ACTUAL assets with minor adjustments in their game, as opposed to making their own.

It's hard to get behind EGLS in this argument, as, at least in my opinion, the identical sound names, complete with misspellings, just pushes me over the edge. Regardless, we'll be keeping our eye on the drama between Runic and EGLS, especially as we watch for a response from Apple as they eventually (hopefully) answer to Runic's filed complaints.

Either way, it's sad that this is all going down, as if you remove the alleged asset theft from Armed Heroes, it actually looks like it could be a fairly interesting game.

  • http://twitter.com/vervesix Casey Hickey

    "Either way, it's sad that this is all going down, as if you remove the alleged asset theft from Armed Heroes, it actually looks like it could be a fairly interesting game."

    More specifically, shouldn't this say "It's sad that this is all going down; if EGLS came up with good material on their own, it would've been good game."

  • http://twitter.com/subglass Glass

    It's truly hilarious how they made comparisons between Torchlight and Diablo and Fate. Runic games was started by Max and Erich Schaefer and Travis Baldree. The Schaefer brothers created Diablo, it was them that pitched it to Blizzard and they were the lead designers on Diablo 1 and 2. And Travis Baldree was the lead designer on Fate.
    Not that it matters since they've pretty much got them with the soundfiles all having the same name (typos and all).

    • Noah

      Is Torchlight on iOS? If not, then STFU. kthx :)

      • Luke S

        The platform is irrelevant.

      • Noah

        I use the word "The" on my personal website, which was released a decade before Torchlight was released. I demand an apologize for every use of the word "The" that Torchlight has used in their game. I don't care about the content per-say... I'm more concerned about their utter lack of respect by using the word "The" in the EXACT SAME FONT THAT MY WEBSITE USES!!!111

      • http://twitter.com/phasedoor Paolo Zito

         I think that the Troll living under the bridge want to have a word with you about a lawsuit.

      • http://www.facebook.com/denick Thom Denick

        This has got to be one of the stupidest comments I've ever read.  You need to head back to wherever you came from and bone up on your trolling skills.

      • Noah

        The internet is serious business, don't ya know? Take it off the forums and sue the company in court if you think you have a case. Otherwise, I don't want to hear about it!

      • DCver3

        Wow...just wow.

  • ndre

    twice shameless...

  • http://www.facebook.com/donald.ronald.754 Donald Ronald

    The fact that this is even being debated is mind boggling. The evidence.. is right there. What is debatable at this point? They stole assets.. come on. THE MISSPELLINGS ARE THERE AS WELL. 

    Come on people.

    • http://twitter.com/spacecowgoesmoo Taylor Calderone

      The only debating going on is by EGLS trying to do damage control. I think everyone else is perfectly clear as to what's happened.

  • http://www.vitaltitles.com/ Nick

    The only good thing about this is the fact that this put Torchlight on my radar and has currently become my daily addiction.

    Outside of that, EGLS sound moronic and I hope they get their just deserts.

    • bigred447uk

      Yeah me too. This maybe isn't that bad for them A bit like how illegal samples in music turned people onto the source material.

      Just my 2 (insert currency) / playing devils advocate etc I can see both points of view !

      • rodgerodger

        There's no two ways to view this, only one.  EGLS stole Torchlight's assets plain and simple. Until that changes, this app should never see the light of day on the app store.

      • http://twitter.com/sabin1981 Sabin Figaro

        Absolutely agreed.  There is no "two sides" to this, the devil deserves no advocate. EGLS stole (plagiarised, squarezero :P) entire assets from one game and transplanted them into their own.. and then not only claimed these were their creations, but then actively called Runic/Travis a liar when presented with evidence. It's a dastardly trick and EGLS should be prohibited from launching their stolen rubbish on the app store.

  • Maniacfive

    Yeeeeeeeah. That's, uh, no because you see what could've happened is, that, the assets, uh.

    I got nothing, blatant asset theft is blatant.

  • Deamon34

    Soooo whats the difference between this company and Gameloft?

    • http://www.facebook.com/tommiyu Tommi Zhihao Yu

      The fact that Gameloft only copies the idea and non of the assets are directly taken (which is theft), A good example if you still don't understand is the many different diablo clones out there, many have if not very similar ideas that are taken from diablo (random loot, skill allocation etc) but all are made by themselves and non are  directly taken from diablo's own assets. Armed heroes on the other hand, took sound files directly from Torchlight database(names unchanged). What they did is steal your music and resell it as their own with your signature still on it, yet still claim its their own.

    • AcneVulgaris

      Gameloft miss-spells the game title and character names.

  • http://twitter.com/videobuzzard David Manchester

    Gameloft steal the gameplay ideas but atlrast create thier own graphics and sound. The assists in armed heroes not stolen from torchlight were taken from wow.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000550362553 Klas Segeljakt

      They try to steal gameplay ideas but fail miserably.

      • http://twitter.com/sabin1981 Sabin Figaro

        I actually like quite a few of Gameloft's games, especially the likes of Sacred Odyssey and Eternal Legacy ;)

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000550362553 Klas Segeljakt

        Yes, but they're not really like the game that they copied it from. Such as Eternal Legacy has worse gameplay than final fantasy.

      • http://twitter.com/sabin1981 Sabin Figaro

        It's still better than FFXIII, natch! :D

  • Richenbaum Fotchenstein

    so their defense is basically "what? but they're not even on the same system! and one is single player and the other is multiplayer! therefore how can there be theft?!" wtf. 

    • Tuzzo

      So you are saying that, if a make a movie getting the very same scenes from another one and publish it on DVD before the original gets on DVD, it is totally legal because they are on a different "platform"?

      And again: I could buy a Metallica CD, rip off the tracks and publish them to iTunes as my own work? They are different platforms, so I wouldn't steal anything...

      The comments left by people like you explain why these things happen...

    • Tuzzo

      Oh sorry, that was THEIR words, not yours.
      My apologies

      Well, everything else I said still applies. They either think we're idiots or ARE idiots themselves.

      Poor Travis. Having to do with all this while Torchlight II is nearing release...

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5FLRQI2X2LU3IHMCG7HEAEFD5I Cat Astrophy

    This sort of theft really ticks me off in this case because Runic was cool enough to release an editor to the public so we could create our own content (for use within Torchlight, of course). When people abuse access to the assets to design things for profit I can't help but want to see these guys get some jail time rather than a simple civil suit.

  • SomeRandomJerk

    That is literally a torchlight ass torchlight game. You'd have to be an idiot to deny that with a straight faced emote.

  • beeto456

    I actually find it hilarious that they would steal the artwork of things like LEAVES. lmao.

  • Belgmeister

    This is exactly like torchlight. What Runic SHOULD do is buy the indie devloper's out and let them finish the game. Can't wait to finally have GOOD 3D dungeon crawler on iOS. Torchlight is awesome:) theft is really unacceptable, bit this game is to good to get lost.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/IMPWGG25OM3ICOZODPSNUFZ6EQ ROBERT

      I am sure they can't wait to reward someone for stealing their assets.

    • http://twitter.com/beck_runic Jason Beck

      When people return to their house and catch a burglar they should pay for the getaway car because the loot is just *that* good...

      um, what?

  • GSJ1977

    iOS Developer Blacklist:
    • EGLS
    • Um, that's it for now...

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000550362553 Klas Segeljakt

      The guy that made the fake Pokémon Yellow and shit, I hope that he burns in hell for all eternity.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5FLRQI2X2LU3IHMCG7HEAEFD5I Cat Astrophy

      Moregames Entertainment

  • http://twitter.com/jinchoung jin choung

    this is insane.  there's nothing for them to say.  nothing.

    it's like they took shots from "raiders of the lost ark" to make their own movie... not recreate it themselves, just literally cut the shot from the spielberg movie and cut it into theirs.

    wtf??

  • InfectiousRed

    EGLS can rot for all I care.
    On the other hand, Steam's summer sale has Torchlight 75% off right now, and I just bought it. Sadly, my laptop is a piece of junk. I'll have to borrow one of my kids' laptops or wait till I get a new one(reason I didn't buy this game a long time ago)

    • GSJ1977

      Torchlight is the most laptop friendly game, like, ever. You sure it won't run on the piece of junk? Did you try it?

    • Tuzzo

      NOOOOOOO!
      You should have pre-ordered Torchlight II. It comes with a free copy of Torchlight on Steam!

  • Goose

    I would probably care more about this if great developers were bringing top notch products to this platform. Sadly, that's not the case. Runic I feel bad for you son, but not that bad, especially with all this free press and steam sales you're gathering from the sympathy vote, people just love the wounded ox.

    • Silverfist

      Yep, you're totally right; they pretty much ASKED for it.

      Shouldn't have worn that provocative outfit.

      .

  • Marikhen

    The EGLS response is rather hillarious, I must admit. I just about laughed at them trying to compare World of Warcraft's kobold to Ordrak, er, I mean Or....dret/ What do they call Ordrak in their game?

    Still, I think that the best proof that EGLS really doesn't know what they're doing is when Ms. Zheng felt the need to compare Torchlight to Fate and Diablo 2 when several key members of Runic's staff worked on one or both titles and decided to try.

    My sense of the obsurd would also like to point out that their reference to their game as a "multiplayer online" game and Torchlight as a "console game" is amusing in light of the fact that Torchlight players have, in fact, created a functional, albeit barely, multi-player mod for the game which does allow for multiplayer gaming. Granted it's not official, but http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svygyD-hIz0 rather tends to trump the "Well Torchlight is offline only" statements.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Lord-Gek-Jordan/1559737263 Tim Lord Gek Jordan

    EGLS was caught red handed, all of the rambling defense they can muster doesn't change the facts.

  • Chris_M0

    Having worked with Chinese developers, I can say that they have a notion of ownership that's pretty much alien to Westerners. But if you'd like to get an idea of how they work, watch a video of Jane Goodall trying to eat her own food around a bunch of apes. Hobbits in D&D are also a fair comparison. If it's not nailed down and protected with machine guns, they figure it's theirs.

  • DCver3

    Gotta love the Chinese...

  • Jonathan McCulley

    Don't forget that the warlock is from world of warcraft, not torchlight (didn't see it mentioned at all) ^^;;