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'J. S. Joust' developer responds to cloning allegations

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"That said, the definition of 'derivative' is elusive."

joust
joust

The developer behind this year's Independent Games Festival-winning Johann Sebastian Joust issued an official statement this evening addressing allegations that the game was cloned by UK studio, UsTwo.

The developer behind this year's Independent Games Festival-winning Johann Sebastian Joust issued an official statement this evening addressing allegations that the game was cloned by UK studio, UsTwo.

"To be clear, we've never given anyone permission to make a derivative version of any of our commercial products – existing or forthcoming," the statement from Die Gute Fabrik read.

"That said, the definition of 'derivative' is elusive. We generally don't believe that game mechanics themselves can or should be copyrighted or otherwise protected."

The studio acknowledged that all games draw inspiration from other games and was very open about the influence playground games had on J. S. Joust. The statement said, legal issues aside, it is up to developers themselves to decide what crosses a line and ventures into cloning territory.

The studio said it has never asked any studio to pull any of its products and, instead of focusing on which games may or may not have cloned J. S. Joust, it is more productive to focus on making the best games possible.

"That said, we do hope the community will continue to push back against cloning as a general development practice," the statement read.

"We encourage everyone to help build awareness about these issues. Even a minimalistic game like J.S. Joust has a lot of thought and hard work behind it!"

The alleged cloned game, Papa Quash, was removed from the App Store yesterday.

Update: Douglas Wilson, the designer of Johann Sebastian Joust, reached out to us to further explain the initial inquiry sent to him by Pepper.

"Sam Pepper did email me back in January," Wilson said. "However, I never gave him 'permission' to develop Papa Quash. In his emails, he told me about his general plans to make a motion control game, which he indicated was different from J.S. Joust. He never provided a well-formulated game/design, and as such, there simply was nothing to 'approve.'

"I did tell him that, as long as he was making a different game, I didn't foresee any issues. I also encouraged him to explore the landscape of motion control game design in general."

Though Papa Quash has disappeared from the App Store, Wilson says that's not a direct result of pressure from Die Gute Fabrik.

"I spoke with Steve Bittan from Ustwo last night," Wilson said, "and I made it clear that the determination was theirs (and potentially Sam Pepper's) to make as to whether the game is 'different' enough (separate from legal obligations regarding copyrights, trademarks, patents, and other intellectual property rights).

"I don't harbor any animosity towards Ustwo or Sam Pepper," he added.