Recently, users in the toucharcade forums noticed strikingly similarities between the two games, both in footage, character and dungeon design, and even voicing. Following this discovery, Runic president Travis Baldree came into the entire spotlight himself, stating that the entire Armed Heroes Online was a shameless copy of Torchlight.
“All of the monster assets and every dungeon tileset, as well as voices, and most sound effects, are direct rips from Torchlight. We’re having to contact Apple about it, so, just a heads up – this may not be available for long.”
“In fact, I didn’t see ANY monsters that weren’t ours. Also featured are the Lava tileset, the Sunken Temple tileset, the Black Palace tileset, the Mines tileset, and in some of their other videos, some NPCs from our town, including the child NPC.”
This was stated by Baldree on the Touch Arcade forums. Though no confirmation of any formal action has yet arrived, the ridiculous amount of resemblance between the assets of the two seems like blatant plagiarism.
Armed Heroes creators though, have a completely different point of view. Stating in a completely different thread, Serena Zhang, the representative of the developer of AHO, said:
“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.”
The debate around the matter got a little too confusing and almost exceedingly defensive from Zhang’s side, when she stated that Runic was in fact ‘copying’ from Blizzard games such as Diablo and World of Warcraft, and most strangely from ‘Fate’. Fate was, in fact, a project done by Travis Baldree himself before he came to Runic, and Zhang seemed to be unaware of that fact.
“In Fate, players are allowed to raise their own pets, cats or dogs, and equip them with 3 items. These pets can help players’ in-game characters fight, pick up and transport items. What is more awesome is you won’t lose them even if they run out of HP when they just wander around for a while and come back to fight for you later. If you feed them with fish, they can transform into various powerful monsters.
In Torchlight, all the above elements are completely borrowed without any difference: cats and dogs, 3 available items, help in fight and pick up/transport items, feed them fish to transform them… Does everything sounds familiar?
Then, does it mean that we can conclude that Torchlight blatantly ripped off Fate?”
Perhaps the heaviest blow out of all came when Bradlee shared an appalling post, which showed that even the sound manifest and sound names were exactly the same as those of Runic, including the last boss and misspellings!
“We unzipped the IPA. (which is easy – it’s a zip file! ). There is a sound manifest. The sound names are verbatim the same as ours. In fact, it even includes the misspellings – How’s that? Notice things like ‘ordrakdie.wav’- that’s our game’s end boss. Or how about ‘mechdwardeath1.wav’ which we misspelled in our package files ( supposed to be mechdwarfdeath1.wav ). Anyone with a copy of Torchlight, a copy of WinZip, and a download of Armed Heroes can trivially verify this.”
Speaking to PCGamer, Baldree restated that he has no doubt that the assets were stolen, and that he would expect Apple to take action, but little can be said of the situation because he himself has never been in such an infringement issue before.
At the end of it all, every fair gamer would hope that justice is served, and served the way it should be. Baldree has come up with what seem like legitimate proofs of blatant plagiarism. The next move in the dispute is Apple’s – let’s hope for gaming’s sake they make it fast.