Orion Removed from Steam by DMCA; More Than Meets the Eye?

ORION was removed from Steam yesterday. The dinosaur themed FPS game was taken down due to a DMCA notice by Activision. Which claimed that various gun models were stolen from the Call of the Duty series.

But is the takedown justified?

Well, that’s where it gets tricky. On the one hand, the game’s developers say it was a false or incorrect notice. They claim the similarities are coincidental at best, with the following quote about the take down:

I had to guess on weapons as no specific assets or images were provided to me, nor was I contacted by Steam/Valve or Activision prior to having the game removed from Steam.

And based on these comparison images, they’d be right:

orion compare 1

orion compare 2

However, over on Reddit, people did a bit more sleuthing. And while the comparison images do seem to be very different, these more ‘accurate’ ones show a lot more similarities between the game’s weapons and those in the Call of Duty series:


As you can see, the top section of one of the guns is virtually identical. As is the sight view from one of the other weapons in the game. These seem like more than a coincidence.

And there are lots more examples of comparisons. Bits of various Call of Duty guns seem to been used in the models for the ones in Orion. Seems the company likes taking existing models and tweaking small parts in order to call them their ‘own’.

Which seems to be a trend here. The Orion series has been quite controversial over the last few years. With lots of cases involving questionable behaviour on the devs part.

Like the case involving a T-Rex from Primal Carnage. They took the model, redid the head and replaced textures. That was enough for them to act as if it was ‘new’.

The various issues involving working conditions. Employees talk of ridiculous hours, cheapskate behaviour and all kinds of other issues there.

Or heck, the plagiarised achievement icons from Orion: Dino Beatdown. There’s part of the Turok box art. An image from an online contest. Heck, there’s even one from someone’s DeviantArt page! It’s pretty shocking really:

View post on imgur.com

Based on the comparisons provided by the company, you’d be right to believe it was a wrongful take down. But based on the community found examples of questionably reused resources, it seems like Activision may have had a point and the game may well have used stolen resources from their Call of Duty games.

It’s a prime example of how what seems like a simple news story can actually turn out a fair bit more complex than initially imagined, especially when those involved might be trying to bend the truth a little.

Unfortunately, that part seems to have not reached certain people on the internet and social media. The evidence says it’s not a David vs Goliath case. But on the internet, simple narratives win, and that one has taken hold.

As a result, we have a petition to overturn the takedown notice:

To overturn the DCMA request by Activision on ORION, and allow it back on steam.

There are comments on social media about how ‘evil’ Activision is for doing this.

Heck, even Trek Industries themselves seems to trying to start up a few hashtags to make this look like a case of unfairness against them. Such as:


But it’s not as simple as that. ORION’s takedown was due to stolen content, and there is clear evidence for that.


Developer claims Valve removed its game from Steam at Activision’s behest – Gamasutra

Rockstar Shutting Down Channels about GTA Glitches?

Are you a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series?

Do you run a YouTube channel about it? Perhaps featuring videos of glitches in the game?

Well if so, you should apparently be very cautious when it comes to showing bugs in GTA V or GTA Online. This is because various YouTube accounts about the game have been hit with copyright strikes by Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games.

For example, GoldenGunsGames had various videos showing you how to use glitches in GTA V. As a result, his account was hit with multiple copyright strikes in a matter of weeks. Here’s one of the videos that was taken down:


And another popular YouTuber (RazorGamesHD) warned about this on Twitter:

So yeah, it’s gotten bad over there.

But do you know what’s worse?

How absolutely shortsighted this decision by Rockstar/Take-Two is. Why? Because of two things really.

First up, most people who look for glitches in games don’t look for them to ‘cheat’, they look for them because it’s fun. Because it’s interesting to find bugs in games and do things the developers may not have intended you to. Or heck, because it helps when speedrunning the game, like with Really_Tall and his videos about Mario & Luigi Paper Jam.

So shutting down these accounts and attacking their videos is damaging whatever glitch scene the GTA series has. Rockstar and Take-Two have basically shut down the game’s speedrunning community.

It also doesn’t really help the ‘problem’. I mean okay, let’s assume Rockstar and co were really determined to stop people using unpatched glitches to cheat in their games.

Guess what? Removing videos doesn’t do this.

Instead, they just go underground. So what could have been common knowledge and patched really quickly now becomes known only by hardcore fans on exclusive gaming forums and social media sites. The end result?

The bugs they seem to dislike so much never get patched, because no one’s stupid enough to post about them publically or get their YouTube account struck down to do the same. They might even become valuable enough that people start selling them to those that want to use them to ‘cheat’. So now not only don’t the company know about the bugs, they end up funding a black market for them.

The real solution is to leave videos with glitches alone, and offer a bug bounty for anyone who reports bugs that people can use to cheat at the game. That’s sort of what sites like Facebook, Twitter, Twitch and GitHub do. You get paid money for reporting bugs and exploits, with rewards of up to around $40,000 if it’s serious enough. That’s a much better way to fix glitches in GTA Online or the likes, offer people an incentive to report any important ones and leave people’s YouTube accounts alone.

Either way, don’t post videos about GTA glitches on YouTube, unless you want them taken down. It’s unfortunate, but that’s what’s happening at the moment.


YouTube Channels Showing GTA 5 Glitches Get Shutdown By Rockstar

Mighty No 9 Not Looking So Mighty After All

At least in the review score sense anyway, since the critics reviews that came out today have mostly slammed the game as a below average Mega Man clone that doesn’t hit the heights of its beloved predecessors.

For starters, the reviews are saying that the graphics haven’t exactly improved very much after the notorious ‘pizza explosions’ went viral on social media. IGN says the flat lighting and sickly colour palette don’t help its generic ‘Saturday Morning Cartoon’ art style, Gamespot describes the aesthetics as a ‘compromised’ effort and Game Informer says the graphics look ‘pedestrian’. Hardly words of praise for a game this hyped up.

There have also been complaints about the sound direction (especially the repeated voice acting) and the writing, with a few reviews outright calling the story awful.

But these aren’t too important here. Oh sure, classic Mega Man definitely looked nicer than this. And the stories weren’t quite as panned in the eight bit days as they are now. Yet even with stuff like Mega Man 8’s abysmal voice acting, the gameplay has tended to make up for it. If Mighty No 9 can nail that, it could be great?


Well, apparently not.

Unfortunately, the critics have been just as scathing towards the game’s core design. So what are the issues here?

Well, a few reviewers are saying that the special weapons aren’t very good. That you won’t use hardly any of them and that it’s easier just to blast everything away with the standard blaster. IGN mentions the electrodes and tank treads (from No 3 and No 4 respectively) as examples of weapons that never really come in useful. In other words, a standard problem with a lot of Mega Man esque games.

But then comes the weird part.

Basically, about 50% of critics seem to be saying the game is mindless and easy. That you can just blow through it with no thought and the basic weapon. That seems to be IGN’s view, and to some degree, one echoed by the Destructoid review.

On the other hand, quite a few reviewers seem to think the game is too hard. For example, Games Radar mentions slippery ice sections in Cryo’s levels, and says the area requires precise air dashes above insta-kill spikes. And well, the Jimquisition take on the game actually compares it to games like Dark Souls and comments that some boss fights ‘might be functionally impossible to survive’ if you’re not quick enough at mashing the A button.

Heck, the Eurogamer review says it’s a game perfect for YouTube screamers and people who want to get frustrated at the game on camera. Okay then, whatever you say!

It’s an interesting divide in opinions really. Is the game easy and mindless? Difficult and frustrating? Are the boss battles the one awkward part? Does the lives system take away from the game? Reviewers can’t seem t agree here, yet they all seem to come to roughly the same conclusion in regards to how (average) the title is.

Either way, it’s been getting mediocre reviews.

Still, there is a bright side here…

The Online Reactions

Cause the reactions online are arguably even more interesting than the actual reviews! For example, one common joke that popped up a few times was calling the game ‘Mighty No 5.9’, after some of the review scores it was getting:

mediocre no 5.6

Or this amusing Miyamoto reaction picture that shows a snarky take on the ‘a delayed game is eventually good’ comment he made about a decade ago:

Miyamoto No 9

And talking of snarky comments, the people behind Steamworld Heist certainly made a few take thats towards their indie ‘competitor’:

Seriously though, ‘in a time of poorly received robot games and communities saddened by delayed releases’? Gee, wonder what game that could be referring too? It’s almost as hilariously blunt as Laylee’s comment about vehicle sections at the end of the Yooka-Laylee trailer…

Still, at least a few people see a silver lining. Namely, that this shows how popular Mega Man is despite Capcom trying to leave the series out to die. You’re right, maybe the millions of dollars raised on Kickstarter and the game’s hype might encourage Capcom to actually doing something interesting with the series again. Like, releasing a 2D platformer better than Mighty No 9.

So that’s Mighty No 9. It showed promise, it had a decent pedigree behind it, but if the reviews are to believed, it blew it all with questionable level design and dated aesthetics. If it’s lucky the sales might be good enough for a (hopefully better) sequel though.

What do you think of Mighty No 9 and what it’s turned out to be? Is it disappointing that the Mega Man spiritual successor turned out to get such a negative reaction from the critics?

Crash Bandicoot is coming to Skylanders

It’s been a while since Crash Bandicoot has had a video game appearance. Once popular in the days of the Playstation 1, the character hasn’t got a new console since all the way back in 2008. Even his mobile app appearances petered out in 2010 or so.

But now, Crash might be making a comeback. For example, like his counterpart Spyro, he’s now been confirmed as a playable character in the Skylanders series. He’ll be making his debut in the franchise in Skylanders: Imaginators in 2016.

Here’s a picture of his figure for the game:

Crash Bandicoot figure

As well as a video showing him in action:

It’s not gone down too well with some fans.

But before you get too annoyed just yet, there’s a bit more positive news for Crash Bandicoot fans.

Namely, the original trilogy is getting remastered! Yes, in 2017 we’re getting Crash Bandicoot Trilogy Remastered, with redone versions of the first few games in the series! They’ll be made by Vicarious Visions (the company behind the GBA games and Crash Nitro Kart), and released on the Playstation 4.

So while everyone looks at Activision’s Skylanders version of the character and sighs a bit, the original games are at least getting some attention. Hopefully this will open the way to a full reboot or continuation of the series in the near future.

What do you think of Crash Bandicoot Trilogy Remastered? Or his appearance in Skylanders?

Fallout 4 Mods Being Stolen for Xbox One

Recently, the Xbox One version of Fallout 4 gained support for mods. But while this is generally a good thing (since console players can now enjoy some of the cool add ons and new content previously used by owners of the PC version), it’s also brought over some drama.

Namely, people are stealing mods from the PC version and uploading them for the Xbox One version. Without permission from the original creators.
They’re doing this by using the Xbox One mod creation kit to recreate popular mods, and them uploading them under their own name. What’s worse, some people are even trying to profit off this, by asking for donations for mods they didn’t actually make.

Some more details (and examples) are given in this Reddit topic. Like this instance where the Xbox One ‘Spawn Items’ mod includes a copy of the NCR Veteran Ranger armour mod, which was included without the permission of its creators. Or a compilation pack which includes many of DDProduction83’s works (as uploaded by someone who hated his guts and wanted to spite him over his ‘elitist mind-set’).

There’s even a huge list of cases here, in case you thought it was a localised issue:

[PSA]Stolen Mods Beginning to Get Out of Hand

This sort of thing has gotten so bad that apparently, some mod authors are using Fallout 4 Script Extender on their work as a sort of cheap DRM equivalent in order to stop them being ported to the Xbox One version without the permission. Or in at least one case, deliberately messing up the save files of people who use their mods on the Xbox One version without their permission:

Still, there is a sort of bright side here. Namely, Bethesda has at least responded to the complaints, and urged anyone who’s mods were stolen to send a DMCA notification to their copyright abuse email address. There’s a topic about it on their forums here:

How to officially file a complaint notice if all or part of your Mod is uploaded to Bethesda.net without your permission – Bethesda Forums

So with all that said, what can I say about the situation? Well, it obviously sucks for anyone making mods of the game that people are stealing their work. And hey, people taking everything you’ve been working on, claiming they own it and taking donations is an extremely sleazy practice up there only with the repro selling guys in the retro scene. Hopefully this sort of thing will stop quickly enough, as the thieves are gradually banned from the community and the mod scene for the Xbox One version develops a bit more of its own identity.

But I’m also not a huge fan of trying to mess around with save files and DRM and what not, especially given that it goes completely against what the modding world is meant to be about.

After all, if Bethesda themselves did the same thing, you wouldn’t really have any mods for the Fallout games, for The Elder Scrolls, etc. Call out the plagiarists and scumbags, but don’t try and screw over players who inadvertently use their stolen versions of your mods in the process. Some of them might not understand that the random internet person asking for donations isn’t actually the creator of the mod in question.

Still, what do you think? Are you disappointed that so much thievery has been going on in the Fallout 4 modding scene since the Xbox One version got the ability to use mods about a week ago? What do you think about some of the counter measures and stuff?

The script extender doesn’t work because it requires a second program file to be run alongside the game, and modifies the executable files on disc. This is obviously impossible on a locked down console like the Xbox One, so any mods using it won’t work. It’s obviously not meant as DRM, but it sometimes being used as such.