It feels like just yesterday that Netherlands-based indie studio Vlambeer was shamelessly ripped off when its Flash game Radical Fishing was cloned by Gamenauts before it could release its own commercial iOS remake, Ridiculous Fishing. The two person team of Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman have unfortunately found themselves in a similar situation again with Vlambeer's upcoming 2D dogfighting game Luftrausers already cloned by a studio called Rubiq Lab with its incredibly similar-looking SkyFar.
"War is my Distiny," read SkyFar's slogan at the end of its trailer - shown below. And indeed, war may be its "distiny" as Vlambeer is unlikely to take this sitting down.
For comparison, check out the trailer for Luftrausers below.
This is a slightly different situation than Vlambeer found itself in before. When Ninja Fishing ripped off Ridiculous Fishing's thunder and beat it to the punch, it came out on iOS, the same platform as Ridiculous Fishing. SkyFar may look astonishingly similar to Luftrausers, but the former is an iOS game while the latter is a Vita-exclusive. In fact, Vlambeer has stated to Eurogamer that it has no interest in porting Luftrausers elsewhere as the Vita's buttons and widescreen are integral to what the studio wanted to achieve.
Thus the control inputs probably make this clone slightly more distinct than Ninja Fishing, and chances are its touchscreen controls won't do it any favours. This means it's less likely to steal sales from Vlambeer, but could still damage the studio's perception if people don't know the full story and only see that Luftrausers came out after SkyFar.
SkyFar still looks an awful lot like a hack job and Rubiq Lab hasn't responded to allegation of cloning, despite several users asking the studio about it on the TouchArcade forums - where Rubiq Lab was warned about being banned for creating a separate account.
We've reached out to Vlambeer's Rami Ismail for comment and this was his "pseudo-official" response:
"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. 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 - 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 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 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 clone game jam - we might organise that after we're done crunching on Luftrausers."