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Humble Gaming Responds To Arena 9 Art Tracing Allegations

Humble Gaming has provided Slide To Play with a statement regarding allegations of art tracing in their recently announced game, Arena 9.

Last week, images provided to us of Arena 9 character art were identified as being derivative of illustrations by famed video game character artist “Falcoon”. Humble Gaming’s full statement can be found below, followed by some of the additional art provided by them with the statement, and commentary from Slide To Play Editor in Chief Andrew Podolsky.

Humble Gaming (HG) and particularly their Chief Operations Officer (NOT their Chief Artist as it has been reported) humbly likes to thank eagle eyed readers of Slide To Play in quickly and steadfastly picking up the similarities between the sample screenshots of art contained in the upcoming Arena 9 game and the previous work of Falcoon, a very reputable, hugely popular but sometimes misunderstood artist. In Fact, Falcoon is so misunderstood that there are alleged reports of him being MIA post his final stint on King of Fighters in 2007.

HG design studios are located in various parts of Asia Pacific but the screenshots in question were designed, drawn and completed by artists in the PRC under the direction of Jeff Lyndon. It is important to note that Jeff Lyndon is not an artist and though may claim credit for ‘direction’ of the screen shots in question, NEVER actually drew ANY of the art. The miscommunication to any editor(s) of Slide To Play may have stemmed from the words draw versus direct. As it is HG policy to address any miscommunication based on our longstanding values in the Asian heritage, we humbly regret any angst caused by the reporting that Jeff Lyndon drew the art.

With respect to the art having ‘Falcoonisque’ qualities, HG intended to draw a pack of cards which are titled ‘A Tribute to Falcoon; – the Asian Legend’. In fact, any strong similarities to Falcoon were necessitated by the fact that it is a TRIBUTE to him and his work. HG artists hope that this Tribute may finally have the added impetus of reminding all those who have branded Falcoon as an artist ‘without any real artistic taste or skill’ to be brought back from his alleged MIA status and continue his good work.

Falcoon is a legend admired by so many in Asia that HG artists wish to pay Tribute and homage to his work to date but lest it be so quickly overlooked, HG artists felt one could not be true to his work without adding HG own style of color, angular shots and most notably bringing out a different style of ‘sexiness’ to Falcoon’s original art by redesigning them to look more ‘hip, sexy and groovy’.

Instead of dwelling on the issue of art tracing, HG would like to think it is the perfect Tribute to Falcoon and that he would come out of the woodwork and comment on the Tribute paid to him. HG assure all readers and any people who object vehemently to alleged art tracing that should Falcoon disapprove of the new generation of art, we will certainly replace the Tribute To Falcoon package by other readily available art.

Kindly note that HG does not wish to profit from the A Tribute to Falcoon; – the Asian Legend pack and is to provide the Tribute pack containing this art free of charge and hope you can encourage your readers not to allege that HG wishes to seek monetary returns by infringing copyright.

Meanwhile, HG offers Slide To Play an exclusive sneak peek on the detailed VARIETY of art that will be contained in Arena 9, hopefully, giving your readers an opportunity to fully appreciate the vast style of art to grace Arena 9 and to conclude how HG artists are qualified to produce original art of different depths versatility and styles and like other PRC based gaming companies, does not engage in alleged art tracing. The sneak peak is contained in the attached folder. In fact, one is intrigued and would like to hear from your readers on how it is possible to pay Tribute to A legend without drawing or further accentuating a legend’s art without the new production not containing any striking similarities of the legend’s original art?

Jeff Lyndon who can be contacted at will personally entertain constructive comments

Andrew here, with some thoughts. Humble Gaming’s lengthy statement seems to boil down to two key points: First, that Slide To Play was in error when we said that Jeff Lyndon drew the art himself. While it was our recollection at the Arena 9 demo that Jeff Lyndon took personal credit for the art, we are now told that he merely directed the art, and that the traced art came from an artist who worked in China.

If Slide To Play is ever in error, we will always seek to immediately correct the record for the sake of our readers. We have updated the original preview with a link to Humble Gaming’s above statement, since the question of who claimed credit for the art during our interview is now in dispute.

Second, and more importantly, Humble Gaming now claims that the traced art was part of a free “Falcoon Tribute Pack”. This information was not relayed to us during the demo of Arena 9, or in subsequent emails where we received the art assets to post on our site. It was only revealed after the evidence of art tracing surfaced.

We have no way of proving that this was not always Humble Gaming’s plan for the art. Perhaps the art was always meant to be attributed to Falcoon, or perhaps not. Only Humble Gaming truly knows for sure.

In the above statement, Humble Gaming has confirmed to us that the art was traced, but suggests that giving it away for free will protect them from any lawsuits for copyright infringement. This is a matter for the courts to decide, if the copyright holders wish to become involved.

It is my personal belief that original work is to be celebrated. Whether it’s written, drawn, or coded, original works are to be protected. When someone copy-pastes text and puts their name at the top, or traces a piece of artwork and signs their own name at the bottom, that’s plagiarism. Plagiarism is a combination of stealing and lying, and should not be tolerated in a marketplace of original ideas.

We have laws to protect intellectual property, like Falcoon’s artwork, for a reason. It’s so that credit can be given where it’s due.

One of my many duties at Slide To Play is to use this website to recognize original art, specifically game apps and the art contained therein. This also includes calling out instances of intellectual property theft. For the benefit of our readers, who buy these games to support art in gaming, we can think of no higher calling.

A special thanks to our readers Beto and Shidoshi for helping to identify the original Falcoon artwork in Arena 9’s art. We couldn’t have broken this story without your help.

Slide To Play will continue to follow this story as it develops.

More stories on Arena 9

Art Tracing Alleged In Arena 9

Eagle-eyed readers and fans of the work of SNK King of Fighters artist “Falcoon” have identified a number of striking similarities between character art from Humble Gaming’s upcoming card battle game Arena 9, and character art from other games.

Jeff Lyndon, who took credit for the artwork when we spoke to him for our WWDC preview, has been contacted for comment and is currently en-route to Hong Kong. We will provide you with his response, and Humble Gaming’s response, as soon as we can.

Meanwhile, consider the evidence: On the left are images from Falcoon, and on the right are images from Arena 9. Full-sized images are available below each image.


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Falcoon (NSFW)

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Arena 9 Hands-On Preview

Jeff Lyndon, who co-created Anna Montana for CDE Humble Gaming and was a guest on our podcast, wants to redefine card-battle games on the iPhone. They’re often overly complex, which can scare away new players before they have a chance to enjoy the subtle strategies or absorbing artwork. Arena 9, his latest game, is simple enough to learn in a few minutes, but potentially addictive enough to fuel an obsessive online community.

Arena 9 takes its inspiration from the card-battle minigame in Final Fantasy VIII. You are given a 3×3 grid, and you and your opponent take turns placing cards on the board. Each card, besides containing a beautifully drawn character, has four numbers around the outside (or A for Ace, the highest level). If you place a card next to a lower number along the edge, you’ll ‘convert’ that enemy card to your side. The goal is to have the most cards on your side by the end of the game.

Things start to get very tricky when you move beyond the simple numbers game. Cards have an elemental charge, so you can get a bonus for placing them on certain squares, or overturn an enemy card by surrounding it by an opposing elemental energy. You can also steal enemy cards if two of the sides add up to the same number, or by having the same number on two sides.

Even with these extra rules, it’s still a bit easier to jump into than a game like Urban Rivals, said Lyndon. The game is mostly designed for online play, but you can also play an offline version that leaves out the bonus points that can be used to buy expansion packs. And while Arena 9 will be free to start, eventually you’ll have to pay a buck to level up to a higher rank and seek out a greater challenge.

Arena 9 will have about 70 cards to start, and we were really impressed with the art. [We originally reported that Lyndon claimed credit for drawing the art, which Humble Gaming tells us is incorrect. Some of the art has also apparently been traced from the work of the artist “Falcoon”. Read here for more.] Sexy heroines and crazed monsters make up a cast of both sci-fi and fantasy characters.

Arena 9 seems to have that combination of beautiful artwork, online play, and a low barrier of entry that could make it a successful collectible card game. You can download a starter pack and try for yourself when the game hits the App Store at the end of June.

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