Dutch independent game developer Vlambeer has had quite the troubled history with lazy developers copying its games. First Gamenauts ripped off Vlambeer's flash title Radical Fishing before the two-person team of Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman could get its commercial remake Ridiculous Fishing onto the market. Then, Rubiq Lab revealed a game called Skyfar, which bared more than a passing resemblance to Vlambeer's upcoming dogfighting game, Luftrausers.
Now indie developers and friends of Vlambeer, Rik Nieuwdorp and Martijn Frazer, have created Vlambeer Clone Tycoon, a game about being a hack developer trying to rip off Vlambeer games for easy money. "They seem to have some interesting new gameplay ideas and probably won't even notice or care if you steal those," noted the game's intro. "Besides, they're indie, so they don't have a legal budget to speak of, nor any other resources or power to stop you. It's the perfect target."
Using "Game Faker Pro 3000," your job is to make the best-selling game you can by stealing game designs from Vlambeer. You're given the choice what game to copy, then for graphics and sound you must choose between "copy Vlambeer," "do it yourself," and "none." Picking "do it yourself," leads to a sub-menu of "rip off some art student," "search free clip art on the web," and "have your little niece draw it" among other things. Finally, you pick a platform for the clone. Each potential development method has a certain number of effort points associated with it. The less effort for your investment the better, because who likes to work, amirite?
You can even check out other people's Vlambeer Clones on the official Vlambeer Clone Tycoon Twitter account.
Back when Skyfar was announced in April, Ismail joked about setting up a Vlambeer Clone Jam, but Nieuwdorp and Frazer felt that didn't really get to the heart of the issue. "Creating a game, even a clone of another game, during a game jam is a very lighthearted and social thing to do. It doesn't truly represent the sadness that is cloning other people's creations," the developer said on Vlambeer Clone Tycoon's official site. "We want to demonstrate how dismal it is to clone games by letting people experience this activity themselves. And what could possibly be a better way to experience something outside of your reality than through a game?"
And what does Vlambeer make of this ode to its behind-the-scenes legal battles, you ask? Speaking to Ismail over Skype, he's pleased as punch with with project. "We heard of it a few weeks ago, but it was more of an idea they pitched than something we were personally involved in," he told me. "We were super happily surprised with the final result. It was pretty fun to try and drive Vlambeer out of business."
He noted that he'd played an early build of the game, but it didn't have newspapers or cloning yet. It was mostly just a proof of concept, and Vlambeer didn't actually play the game with its namesake until its release. "It's pretty amazing that they actually made it," Ismail said. "We were super amused."
Vlambeer is currently hard at work on its top-down action roguelike Nuclear Throne, which is coming soon to PC, PS4 and Vita. It's already available on Steam Early Access so ignoble cloners are already too late to snatch that particular title.