18-Year-Old Developer: ‘They Cloned My Game’

18-Year-Old Developer: ‘They Cloned My Game’

Mattia Traverso is 18. But that didn’t stop him from having his first-ever video game be about love. One and One Story‘s a puzzle platformer where the narration changes depending on what you do. Millions of other people tried out it as a Flash game and gave it love right back. Someone out there loved Traverso’s game in the wrong way, though, and ripped it off wholesale before sticking it on the App Store.

The fake One and One Story appeared two days ago, just a week after the Independent Games Festival where One and One was nominated as one of the best student games of the year. Traverso says he found out about the impostor earlier today via a Google Alert. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said over Skype text chat. “I thought it was a joke.”

Traverso thinks that the ersatz One and One is the work of a Vietnamese developer who’s touting the release on this Facebook page. “The original version was made in Flash, which is fairly easy to decompile,” he explains. “They just took the old .swf, took the graphics and probably rewrote the code.”

Cloning is becoming an increasingly troubling issue in the games development community. Recent examples include the high-profile bogus Pokemon Yellow app, the Tiny Tower/Dream Heights brouhaha between Zynga and NimbleBit and a similar indie scandal over Ridiculous Fishing and its clone Ninja Fishing.

Worse for Traverso is the fact that he and his team have been planning their own port to iOS. “We started working on it two months ago and are in the beta stage. We’re doing a redesign to make it work better for the iPad,” he says.

When I asked him if he was able to take anything away from this, Traverso says an iOS release closer to the Flash version would probably have secured his position in the App Store better. “I waited a lot of time to start working on this and I was sure nobody would have copied the game.”

One and One Story won accolades from other game creators and Traverso says that other indie devs have rallied to his cause. Canabalt creator Adam Saltsman has helped him file a DMCA complaint with Apple to have the impostor game taken down. Still, Traverso remains stunned. “I know it’s stupid, but I didn’t think there was a chance of a human being just taking it and putting it on the App Store.”

Unfortunately for him and other independent game designers, the cloning and theft of popular games is a shadowy enterprise that’s all too easy to pull off.


    • What are Apple supposed to do, though? They can’t know of every Flash game that’s out there and check them against a list. As far as I’m aware, their reviewing process is only designed to find malicious software, which this isn’t – it’s just stolen.

      • And yet they seem to have a team of lawyers specifically assembled to stop production of unofficial Steve Jobs merchandise.

        • Well, sure. But are the lawyers going to go through the app submissions? I don’t really get what point you’re trying to make. Of course they’ve got a massive team of lawyers – they’re a massive company. These days those two things go hand in hand.

  • I think a company should be set up to help indi devs with proteciton of games like this. You would regester the game with the company, witch would then have the power to take legal aciton on the devs behalf. The company would not own the game however. It would just be alowed to take legal aciton to stop copy-cats. Hell, a legal company could have probono workers on this sort of stuff….

    • What makes this different to law firms now?
      That company would still need to have a legal representative if it was to make a claim against the offending party. The same process of arbitration would still apply. The point being is that someone still has to pay for all of these costs, and that someone has to be the developer. Unless that company is willing to work for free and will only take payment if they win, providing they can substantiate this from the very beginning. Also, country laws may need to be factored in as well.

  • I’ve only just started playing the game since I read this, and the flash game is amazing. Especially for an 18year old’s first game. I wish Apple would be more active in the app community, rather than just releasing an new phone every 6months with one more feature..

  • Is it me or has all these copying of flash games and other ios games been by Vietnamese developers?

  • “Cloning’s becoming an increasingly troubling issue in the game development community. Recent examples include the high-profile bogus Pokemon Yellow app, the Radical Fishing the Tiny Tower/Dream Heights brouhaha between Zynga and NimbleBit and a similar indie scandal over Ridiculous Fishing and its clone Ninja Fishing. particularly among indie game-makers who don’t have the legal or logistical resources to protect their work. ”

    Complete writing fail. Absurdly bad.

  • Dude, this happens all the time. Most hit IOS games were originally flash games that were then ripped off.

    • Yeah, but most of them were “I like the idea, let’s make it an iOS game”, in the way that, say, Angry Birds is similar to a lot of those “destroy the castle”-type games. They appear to have literally downloaded his game and put it on the App Store.

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