Adam’s Indie Corner: Indie Cloning Like A Boss
Today is a glorious day because after much consideration, thinking, procrastination, Diablo III, Torchlight II and trolling random strangers on Facebook; I decided to take this column in a wholly different direction. I felt that the previous series of columns were lacking direction, and so I’ve decided to change this space up a bit. From now on, the column will be dedicated to ramblings about all things indie. I hope you enjoy your stay in Adam’s Indie Corner. You may not leave alive. That was a joke, just kidding (maybe not…).
So let’s talk ‘indie’. I’ve been playing Torchlight II lately with Timothy, the uber ‘terminator-interdimensional-thingamajig’, and yes I just combined three words with hyphenation. Besides the comparisons to Diablo III which are quite garish in my opinion. I’m learning much more from playing the game which has a more stringent focus on the impact of skill trees, stat choices than Blizzard’s latest release. Which in all honesty, offers more freedom in your character builds without the implications of actually having to pay for making bad stat and skill selections later on in the game; yet, in this respect Torchlight II on the surface has more stringent build directives when it comes down to the gritty.
Many people probably throw around the odd word or two that Torchlight II is a straight-up Diablo clone. However, it takes a totally different direction and offers a variety of altered improvements to the established Diablo formula (which many games copy) and has forged an identity for itself, which can be read about here. The game has evolved to become something greater than a mere clone.
But what is cloning exactly? Cloning is the act of copying a game in both aesthetics and gameplay, without due credit to the original creator, publishing and selling said copy for a profit. Cloning is a prevalent practice in the indie dev community and is the dark side of online stores, like the Apple store and even Android releases are guilty of this to some extent. You just have to look at the devs behind GameLoft who outright clone popular games for maximum profit. Or the myriad of clones building on the gameplay mechanics established by Angry Birds, with slight visual differences and few varied soundtrack choices by the devs.
Cloning as with everything else is a prime example of showing how trends in game design work. This especially runs rampant in the indie scene because of a lack of funding to hire lawyers to defend indie dev studios from copyright infringement in regards to intellectual property rights. Intellectual property law is its own kettle of fish, and is complex and would mean high costs for a struggling indie dev studio. This is because they don’t have the backing of a huge publisher like EA and Activision who would sue the pants off a development studio whom cloned one of their games.
A way many of the indie studios combat the allure of inferior clones of their games is to offer sales of their games on download services like Steam. Most notably, in the special indie bundles at ridiculously low prices, and other download services like PSN and Xbox Live have started to offer indie titles at competitive prices. But the scourge of cloning is still ever present like some omnipotent goblin with the creative skill of a monkey and the morals of a dictator. That might be a bit harsh. But you get the picture, and this is the struggle for many up and coming indie developers.