Developer Sees Game Announcement, Realises He's Making The Same Game

Developer Sees Game Announcement, Realises He's Making The Same Game

Perception, where you play a blind person who taps a cane to see around them, was revealed last week. Soon, an email went around indie studio Tiny Bull. "Panic started to spread among the team," said CEO Matteo Lana. Why? Tiny Bull had been making Blind, a game with the same premise, for more than a year.

It all started when a Tiny Bull programmer was surfing new Kickstarter projects and came across the one for Perception.

"He sent me a message saying 'Hey, this game looks a bit like our game.'" said Lana. "And I went 'No, that is our game.' It was a bit hard. It was quite a blow at the time."

The link was quickly shared on an internal message board for the company, prompting a meltdown from the rest of the staff. Lana doesn't even remember the first few hours anymore.

"When I saw the news," he said, "I just read about the game, and I didn't look at the team. Then, after a while, I checked out the team, and I was like 'OK, we're really screwed. These guys made BioShock and Dead Space. How can they not do something great with this one?'"

The immediate reaction from Lana and everyone else at Tiny Bull was shock. The pedigree behind Perception guaranteed people would be paying attention to it immediately. In the first few hours, several Tiny Bull employees proclaimed their game was now dead on arrival.

"Everyone was going 'well, I guess we can go home now, it's been a nice year and a half'" said Lana. "'We had fun. We learned a lot of things."

Now, more than a week later, Lana can laugh about it — a little bit, anyway. It wasn't funny at the time, though, as everyone slipped into "panic and depression."

The game's publisher, Surprise Attack Games, tried to calm the studio down and focus on the path forward. If the game didn't already have backing, Lana said "it would have been worse," and it's possible the game would have been outright cancelled.

Once everyone had some space to breathe, Lana went to the team and tried to salvage their morale. There were two points he wanted to make.

One, while Blind and Perception generally had the same premise, their execution was going to be different, and they should focus on that. Two, if the developers behind BioShock and Dead Space had decided this was a game worth making, they were on the right path, too.

Developer Sees Game Announcement, Realises He's Making The Same Game

It's at this point Tiny Bull decided to go public with Blind, even though the proper reveal was supposed to happen at Gamescom in August.

"We feared that going out at the time we originally planned would have made us look like like copycats," said Lana.

Lana also wanted to make sure the developers of Perception weren't offended, so he reached out, to make sure there was no bad blood.

Perception creative director Bill Gardner confirmed the two had chatted.

"[Lana] did send me an email shortly after the story went up," said Gardner. "He more or less said that he wanted to make sure I didn't take the article the wrong way. I told him that I understood the article completely and that synchronicity happens all the time. So, yes, we had a brief exchange and I appreciate that he gave me a heads up."

Gardner was in the same position as Lana a while ago, too. He pointed me towards Division 9, an abandoned Irrational Games project that would be very easy to mistake for Left 4 Dead.

"I think anyone working in a creative field is likely to have at least one story like [this]," he said.

There are a few key differences between the two games, too. Perception is a horror game, where players are constantly looking over shoulder and trying to avoid what's hiding in the dark. Blind will be a creepy game, explained Lana, but not explicitly horror. Blind is more about exploring a space and solving puzzles. Furthermore, Blind is specifically designed around virtual reality, whereas Perception will only have VR support if they reach a stretch goal.

For Lana, the question is whether or not the team follows Perception's development at all. It would be tempting to see how Perception solves certain design problems.

"We will try not to let their game influence us in any way," he said. "We are a bit torn between checking their game out and seeing what to avoid or what we can do [or] completely ignore it and go forward with our idea and get the game done the way we were doing it at the beginning."

In either case, the situation hasn't stopped Lana from wanting to support Perception. He's already backed their Kickstarter and is hoping they reach the finish line.

"I love all the previous games these guys have done," he said, "so I guess I could help them make another good one."


Comments

    I would have to suggest that from a legal standpoint, their entire team should just simply pretend that the other game doesn't exist. Otherwise, they could open themselves up to lawsuits down the track.

    Obviously keep their legal department with eyes wide open on the other game so as to ensure they know where the lines cross and how to handle the legal repercussions. However, the dev team should NOT look at the other game...I just feel like this is going to end with them in court and all their hard work down the drain.

    Here's hoping they both do well! The premise is interesting enough that I wouldn't mind seeing different implementations of it.

      I love how civil they were to each other.

    I'll probably play neither (not my thing) but I'm happy that I live in an era where not one but two games like this will actually (probably) see commercial release. It's good to see innovation not only in game mechanics but in the premises of games. Good luck to both studios :-)

    One story? Probably several, twice have i actually started to pitch game ideas only for someone to point out a recent game doing the exact same thing that I had no idea existed. The most frustrating one was Recettear, I had developed quite a bit of material for my idea and it was generating some serious buzz until someone found this obscure at the time JRPG that pretty much exactly mirrored my idea, although mine had a western style RPG focus all interest died off once Revettear started to get around.

      Recettear was really hard for me. I would totally back yours if it was easier =P

      You should have gone for it anyway. Recettear's kind of a combination of the Atelier games with a dash of Harvest Moon and some of Dragon Quest IV's Torneko chapter added into the mix. Nothing exists in a vacuum.

      IMO, you don't need to have a unique idea, just a unique execution.

      Last edited 04/06/15 1:57 pm

      I had a wonderful idea for a VN that I would discover less than a week later had a Kickstarter for the exact same premise.

      The Kickstarter failed a month later, and no progress has been made at all.
      Maybe I still have hope.

    Almost every idea I've come up with for a game has at some point been announced as an actual game, but never for something I'm working on. As they said, on the one hand it's great to receive vindication of your idea but on the other hand you feel like you'll be perceived as copying someone else. Thankfully there's always room for two people to be working on similar ideas otherwise we'd be in a world where there was only Windows on PCs, iOS on phones, only one console, only one handheld and a whole bunch of boring.

    Ah the old Deep Impact/Armageddon situation....or not. whatever. Aerosmith! Good luck to both!

    Edit: Why am I being moderated for EVERYTHING. Is it because I called some magic players nerds yesterday? Bet it is!

    Last edited 04/06/15 11:38 am

      LOL remember when those two volcano movies came out that one year? No me neither but Hollywood has been pulling this sort of crap for years so why not the games industry?

        Volcano and Dantes Peak! I remember that.

      Did you get loads of downvotes (I calls them negative-crosses!)
      If you get a certain amount, like 10 or something, you go into moderation mode for a while.

        I sure did. I guess a lot of people got upset I called some nerds nerds. I thought I was allowed to use that N word though....being a nerd myself.

    I've seen this story going around the industry sites a bit, and it kind of baffles me.

    First, never assume that your idea is entirely unique. There are literally millions of people out there making games. That's a lot of ideas being explored. If "uniqueness" is your only selling point then you're screwed from the get-go.

    Secondly, it's already been done at least once before, over 5 years ago. "Devil's Tuning Fork" (http://www.devilstuningfork.com/) was a really fun little student game where you used a tuning fork to make sound that revealed your environment.

      Yeah, a guy in my course came up with a similar idea two years ago and did it as his group's main project for the rest of the year. You were a blind person wandering around some kind of a maze having to "ping" to see the environment. But there was some other unseeing monster wandering around which would be attracted to your pings, though I think you could also throw stones to misdirect it.

      Wouldn't be surprised if he did "borrow" the idea from somewhere else, though then I wonder how likely it would've been that he'd have actually heard of that game there :P

        That game sounds like it could have been a lot of fun. What course were you doing?

          Actually some time last year I came across another project by someone who weirdly had the same first name as him, and their project had the same title, being made as a demo for the Rift (and the original guy was working on adding Rift compatibility to his game at the time too). But this other person seemed to be based over in San Francisco, so it was just a super weird coincidence. Super really weird.

          It was the programming course at AIE.

      Also the Daredevil 2003 movie scene based on the Daredevil 1964 comic book, which is based on bats which have been around for how long?

    I have been working on a prototype for a game that is similar to these two games. HA

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