Development of a Warframe-inspired tabletop RPG is halted thanks to toxic fans

    
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A particularly toxic sect of the Warframe community has ensured that a tabletop RPG intended as a love letter to the game will never see the light of day. The entire sordid story is outlined in a Dicebreaker interview with Spencer Campbell, the indie developer behind the TTRPG Frame and a fan of the multiplayer game that inspired his creation.

Campbell’s project initially seemed to gain a great deal of support when it launched its Kickstarter campaign, but initial reaction from some members of the game’s community on Reddit, private messages sent to Campbell via Reddit and Twitter, and messages posted to Campbell’s Discord became more and more threatening. “Fan projects are one thing, what you’re doing is stealing all of Warframe’s lore, modifying assets, and slapping a new label on it to turn a quick profit. You’ll quickly find that this community isn’t one to support blatant plagiarism, and I doubt DE is either,” reads a copy from a now-deleted post on the Warframe subreddit.

Eventually, the dogpiling from Warframe fans got bad enough to incite panic about the game’s prospects from a legal standpoint, despite the fact that Frame didn’t utilize developer-made assets like code, 3-D models, or art assets and instead was designed to mimic the overall flow of Warframe’s gameplay design while using original artwork created by a hired illustrator. Regardless, the harassment campaign was enough to cause Campbell to shut down the project.

Dicebreaker reached out to developer Digital Extremes about the story but had not heard back by the time the piece went to print. As far as Frame’s future, the game is going back to the drawing board to divest itself from any references to Warframe whatsoever. Sadder still, the damage by the game’s community has been done, with Campbell stating, “I have no intention of ever going anywhere near the Warframe community, in the near future or ever again.”

source: Dicebreaker
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traja

I don’t know the background here but it is definitely irresponsible to crowdfund a project that you ought to know might run into serious issues with copyright law. It’s not enough that you don’t use the same name or copy art assets, even just using the likeness of the Frames or other unique art assets is enough to award you with a lawsuit.

Still I find it weird that some people take it upon themselves to defend the copyright of corporations despite having no stake in that property. They have lawyers for that.

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Metalbamboo

I used to be somewhat into warframe, and i know the toxic side of the community, I basically got drowned in it the second I went to certain parts of reddit, I think the extreme fanboys can, and have gone too far, and after spending time researching this topic, it seems like the most likely case with the art was thet were placeholders, and the whole thing got stamped out by the toxic fanboys before it had a chance, I agree with thr points divinity has said, and believe this fan game should have had a chance to become unique and cool, they are called place holders because they hold they place of others, and I would have lived to see this game and what it did unique after some time maturing.

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Chris Tschirgi

Attacking someone’s idea is not the same as attacking that person. I have yet to see an example of this guy being attacked. When you invite the public to fund your idea b/c you dont have the money yourself, you should expect your idea will be thoroughly investigated so you better be sure of what you are presenting. Lets not pretend asking for other people’s money is a harmless and victimless endeavor.

The only way the guys idea works is if he copies Warframe top to bottom. Why didnt he ask DE if he could do that? Start a KS to pay for the licensing fee from DE or something. To not get DE’s thoughts on this though is kinda shady though. And if im a white knight for pointing that out, then you’re a white night if you point me out. See how that works?

Also, The thought that it should only be DE to have a problem is absurd when a guy is asking for other people’s money. Well…kinda….i do agree with the idea of letting people stick up for themselves, but this guy is asking for other people’s money so…

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Chris Tschirgi

All i wanted to say was thank you to this website for still including a comments section. Despite what the author of this article may (or may not) think, even a bombardment of disagreement is not harassment. I respect the opinion of anyone that knows they are not always right.

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Trent “Twist” West

White knights are stupid. How does one justify attacking people over intellectual property when it’s not their’s either. Bring it to the attention of DE, but don’t act like the Guardian Angel of something you’re only a fan of.

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Chris Tschirgi

So if DE told them not to make the game you would be ok with that? Or would you still complain that the community “white knighted” to DE and got this guys game canceled? I would want to agree with you, b/c i do get your point and because i do believe that people should allow the offended to speak for themselves and stop being offended FOR others, but that’s exactly what you are doing. After reading this article and the reddit page, show me please one example of harassment or someone attacking him. Attacking someone’s idea is mot the same as attacking that person. This fact seems to get lost in today’s cyber pseudo reality

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Knecht_Rootrecht

That is a very one sided article. I was not even aware this tabletop project existed, but having checked out its kickstarter, it is a bit too similar. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thegilaboy/light-frame/description

Right at the top you can see a frame that is an obvious blend of the Warframes Excalibur and Mag Prime. If you scroll down a bit there is another frame that looks like the normal Mag variant.

The whole thing would probably have been fine if the developers had showed a bit more creativity of their own in the artwork and didn’t make too many obvious references to Warframe.

It wouldn’t surprise me if they received an actual C&D and decided to save face by publicly blaming ‘toxic fans’ while stashing what remains of the KS money into their own pockets.

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Knecht_Rootrecht

and there is more, the ship of the proposed cover art is very similar to the Nightwave landing craft. Check the pictures of the landing craft from the wiki: https://warframe.fandom.com/wiki/Landing_Craft#Nightwave

Tell me its not looking very similar, actually it is the Nightwave with the nose of the Mantis.

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Matharak

DE does not own a copyright or trademark when it comes to science fictional space ships. If you want to try that claim then Microsoft should get Warframe canceled since the nightwave ship looks completely identical to a covenant ship from the Halo series, but with a slight modification to the top.

Yes, the guy can have a simple, if a bit similar, ship design if he wanted to. It does not take harassment to help a guy understand he should get a clear okay with DE or not on the character art (which is the only issue that was there. Everything else was fine).

Heck, all fans should have done is give that feedback and not threaten or harass the guy. If anything leave DE to handle it. Where as the fans acting as if they are DE’s attorneys or know what they are talking about. When clearly they don’t if they have to resort to threats and harassment. Similar also doesn’t mean direct copy. By the way the ship actually looks more like a silly arcade style ship than the Nightwave ship. If you had eyes, you would know that instead of being desperate in defending those who threatened and harassed the guy, who is the actual victim.

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Knecht_Rootrecht

It is not like copyrighting the idea of a space ship but in this particular case the wings and hulls of landing crafts of Warframes were used for someone elses commercial product. Also Halo ships and Warframe ships are not quite so similar like the artwork in the failed KS and Warframe.

I am not a lawyer either but this is too much of a blatant copy and the guy absolutely doesn’t deserve any pity for his failed project.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

You can’t “stash what remains” of KS money on a canceled Kickstarter. They don’t charge unless they fund and complete.

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Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

What’s one-sided? Homeboy MAY have been toeing the line too close, but that’s entirely up to DE to handle. But this report is more on the harassment he faced, backed up by other members of the team. If he had a C&D letter, that’s an iron-clad case.

It’s not as if DE is even very litigious when it comes to this, they largely seem to be pretty supportive of fan creations based off of Warframe.

The only lack of a side I see in this article is the lack of sympathetic support for the folks who harassed Campbell and his team, and honestly that’s not a side I imagine many folks have much interest in reading.

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Knecht_Rootrecht

He also doesn’t need you defending him from the ‘fanbois’ and he is certainly not the victim. This whole article reeks of someone made a very obvious and stupid mistake and now whines and blames someone else.

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Greaterdivinity

Naw dog, I’ll always call out shit sections of a community that harass someone. Don’t care about the game, and rarely care about the victim (unless they’re like…a fuckin Nazi, in which case fuck Nazi’s and I literally don’t care), I’m just tired of advanced level assholery on the internet.

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Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

Fanbois ruin everything

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Dug From The Earth

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MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Never played warframe, and this makes me even less interested.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

It’s not the game’s fault that some of the people playing it are apparently sociopathic assholes.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Yes, but why would you willingly associate with those types? Easier to just avoid.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

Because it’s pretty easy for me to not associate with any types while playing it? I mostly play it solo, and in the rare cases where I do team (and it’s not with someone I already know) there’s an automatic matchmaking system. I click on the node I want to finish, if anyone else is trying to do that one they get added to the team. It’s rare for anyone to talk, because trying to text chat during a fairly frantic horde shooter is kind of just asking for a passing Grineer to stick a gun in your ear.

The sociopaths aren’t even visible unless you go to the Reddit threads. (They mostly don’t exist on the official forums, because the moderators stamp them out with extreme prejudice.)

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moondog548

What makes you think this is more representative of Warframe’s community than any other game’s?

Leo
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Leo

This isn’t quite the whole story. The art used in the campaign was literally very simple modification to existing Warframes. On the kickstarter link there you can see the Warframe Mag (just some very basic modifications). The hired illustrator said they were asked to basically copy three frames. I wish I could find that picture of that was shown.

Even someone asked him on Twitter ‘Is this just Warframe?’ and his response was something like ‘No, but yes. You know?’ I do believe the final product was going to have it’s own art but the presentation is what made some people roll their eyes.

How he was treated is of course something else, that I am not disputing.

PlasmaJohn
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PlasmaJohn

If it quacks like an infringement suit…

While I don’t condone harassment I also don’t support clear cut (spirit of the law) infringement. For all intents and purposes this was a commercial effort.

He would have been lucky to get hit with a C&D but far more likely the game would have been tied up in legal limbo for years while those that Kickstarted it would have been left with nothing until it resolves.

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wjowski

Then that’s between the Kickstarter devs and DE, not a shrieking horde of fanboys.

Leo
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Leo

I am not disagreeing, I just felt it’s good to give context. Toxic fandom is such a big circle, so setting up what the inciting thing was is what I wanted to do. I feel like that should have been addressed in this retrospective, so that other people could understand.

Also stolen, plagiarized, and copied art is one of those things that just really really sets me off. I do some doodles, I know many artists, and follow more on social media. This kind of stuff is so rampant and not cared about that it also tipped me towards making this post.