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'What's it like to have your indie game stolen?'


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No journalist, friend or decent human being wants to ask that question, especially not to an 18-year-old first-time developer who recently saw success as a student finalist in IGF 2012. Unfortunately, today we asked Mattia Traverso that very thing about his game One and One Story, after the events unfolded live on his Twitter feed: Traverso alerted the community that One and One Story had been counterfieted with "THEY STOLE MY GAME" and a succession of five tweets that included seven capitalized f-bombs.

One and One Story hadn't been cloned or copied, but it was completely stolen -- code, graphics and all. The group that stole it implemented a few unused assets that were hidden in the game file, Traverso told Joystiq, and its version has completely broken animations and stretched graphics.

"It's kind of hilarious," Traverso said hours after his initial discovery. But when he first got the Google Alert and tracked down the stolen game to the App Store this morning, Traverso didn't find anything about the situation amusing.

"I panicked. I didn't know what to do, so I screamed on Twitter," he said.

His screaming didn't go unnoticed and it drew the attention of other indies, including Canabalt's Adam Saltsman. Saltsman instructed Traverso to fill out a DMCA takedown, and two hours after his discovery Traverso was able to breathe a little easier.

"Adam Atomic helped with the DMCA with an incredible kindness," he said. "It was fantastic to see once again the indie community unite as one just to help a fellow!"

Traverso tracked the nefarious uploaders to a team in Vietnam, which is apparently large enough that "they should work on original games," Traverso said. The group, AFOLI JSC, does make original games, it appears, but it has also created Pikachu Ultimate and Pikachu Ultimate HD, which features a shockingly familiar yellow rodent.

Still, Traverso doesn't care if the AFOLI JSC is penalized for its actions; he just wants his game back.

"The only thing I want is the game off the App Store," Traverso said. "They don't need to be punished."

In fact, Traverso just wants all of the hype to settle down so it doesn't push more people to purchase the fake version of One and One Story -- if anyone was even buying it in the first place.

"The clone wasn't probably selling -- the reviews seem fake -- so with all this buzz, we could have made the situation worse," Traverso said. "I'm pretty anxious since all this cover up spread the clone a lot, but maybe, if Apple does something about it, this could also help the original game."

Indeed it could. We had the opportunity to see One and One Story at GDC, and were summarily impressed with its graphics, Braid-esque puzzle mechanics and hauntingly romantic story. Play it for yourself -- the real version, we promise -- for free right here.

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