I posting my January 16th entry early and yet again am taking a break from DDT (though will probably be working on it this weekend). There is a bit of a controversy about a game Capcom released and its similarity to an indie game released by Twisted Pixel. The article http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/01/capcom-saddened-by-its-own-apparent-theft-of-splosion-man.ars covers this in some detail with video clips. I just wanted to express my opinion on this and it is definitely game-development related.
First off, I would like to say that MaXplosion is very clearly inspired by 'Splosion Man. In fact the single unique feature that 'Splosion Man introduced and which it's game-play revolves around is the distinguishing feature of MaXplosion. One could argue that using explosions to propel yourselves was introduced with Quake over a decade ago is probably a moot point. Or is it? Every element in 'Splosion Man has been borrowed from other games. Some people have pointed out that it is a platforming game which is derivative of Super Mario Bros. Even the Mario games were not the first platforming games, just the best known ones. I believe Apple Panic, Lode Runner, Jump-man, and Pitfall all came before it. So why is it okay for 'Splosion Man to derive it's gameplay elements from other games but not okay for MaXplosion?
That said, MaXplsion is very clearly a rip-off of 'Splosion Man. Capcom could have easily afforded to hire Twisted Pixel to develop the game for them or even bought them out. They are claiming that the Mobile division was unaware of Twisted Pixels proposals to Capcom. Having had some experience with corporations, I sort of believe them. Here is what I think happened. It is my opinion based on my personal experience so how well it corresponds with reality is debatable.
Capcom Mobile is told to start developing new IP by Capcom. They take a look at games on other platforms and see 'Splosion Man. They start developing a clone of it. Months later Twisted Pixel wants to expand to other consoles/markets and make a proposal to Capcom. Capcom knows that MaXplsion is in development already so refuse the offer instead of doing the right thing by canceling the project and making a deal with Twisted Pixel.
As usual, the small developer is left in the cold. While legally Capcom did nothing wrong, they did behave poorly. The only real thing that can be done is to buy 'Splosion Man while avoiding MaXplosion. Ultimately, though, people have to realize that the game industry is made up of derivatives of older games. There really are very few new ideas out there. Most of those ideas, however, come from the small independent developers so it is important to support them.