Limbo Of The Lost – An Astonishing Tale

By John Walker on June 12th, 2008 at 12:08 pm.

Recognise it from anywhere?

A quite remarkable story has emerged about a PC adventure game from Majestic Studios called Limbo Of The Lost. It has, it is alleged, entirely lifted locations and art from at least five other games, apparently proven in a number of screenshots posted by GamePlasma yesterday. Oblivion seems the main target, along with Thief 3 and others. Because, hey, who bought those games? But this is a larger story of peculiarity.

The development of Limbo Of The Lost has been talked about for over a decade, the first announcement of its release finally appearing in 2006 when signed to G2 Games. The press release oddly chose to boast that it had been in development for more than ten years. A lot more than ten years if the following statement is true.

“Originally created as a graphical/text adventure game for the Atari ST and then a traditional point & click game for the Amiga CD32/A1600.”

Not too sure there were many text adventures for the ST kicking around in 1996. Nevermind that the A1600 wasn’t an Amiga model at all.

Is this your skeleton?

Skip ahead two years and the game has released the vaguest of releases via G2 at some point in 2008. According to Adventure Gamers,

“The game’s European release through G2 Games late last year resulted only in a few copies available through eBay or from a small Asian retailer, casting doubt about the legitimacy of the release.”

By 7th May, US publisher Tri Synergy announced that they would be publishing the game in N. America (including the feature, “Immersive (being there) sound effects”). As recently as the 5th June a teaser trailer was released, then swiftly replaced due to failing to meet ESRB regulations with this one:

After watching this, it’s not possible to ignore last year’s “behind the scenes” trailer developers Majestic Studios put up:

Um, isn’t that Poser? And I’m not quite sure you can claim your pencil sketches are an “all star cast”. But the most stand-out part of this surely being the name of one of the characters, “Cranny Faggot”. What? Sure, we get the spoonerism. But WHAT?

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

You may wonder why we’ve not linked to Majestic Studio’s website. Well, that would be because it’s on GeoCities. It’s like there can be nothing about this story that isn’t brilliant. Anyway, it’s either been whipped down, or overloaded by the attention the plagiarism accusations have brought, and you can fail to look at here.

Right, so the best bit. The screenshots. We don’t want to take anything from GamePlasma, and their fantastic discovery, and they deserve the hits they’ll be getting for this story. So head over there to see the full selection. But below is my favourite.

Limbo Of The Lost
:
brilliant design!

Oblivion:
Bethesda - how could you copy them? Ten years they spent on that!

It gets better. Neogaf posters have been spotting loads more, including scenes that appear to be from Silent Hill 4, Painkiller and Return To Castle Wolfenstein, and screen decor from Diablo 2, while at Just Adventure someone has claimed spoken dialogue has been lifted from Rune. A JA poster also spotted this story about the motley crew behind the game.

RPS readers reckon they’ve spotted more similarities, including further Thief 3 nabs, Pirates of the Caribbean game FMV, and bits from Crysis, Spawn, BioShock, UT2004, and Baldur’s Gate, although we can’t verify any of them yet. Collect them all!

My favourite is the Thief 3 inspiration, linked in this GR thread:

Thief 3:
Thief 3

Limbo Of The Lost:
Limbo

Note the addition of the skulls on the shelf. The skulls from Diablo 2.

Tri Synergy have responded, issuing a press release stating:

“Tri Synergy is just as shocked as everyone else is by the recent screenshot comparisons. At no point during our dealings with Majestic Studios up until the point that the comparison was first publicly made by a third party did we have any knowledge of these similarities. Additionally, Tri Synergy will discontinue distribution of Limbo of the Lost in both retail and online outlets.”

It’s impossible to imagine more won’t show up. We’re trying to get a copy to see what we can find. If you want to play at home, I’ve put all 76 available screenshots here, as a 20Mb zip.

For now, let’s finish with this quote from an interview with Majestic, as spotted by QT3.

Gordon: So have any more recent games influenced your current project?
Steve: The project is more influenced by film and literature rather than other games, we want the experience to be as original as possible and as such we have made a calculated effort to keep away from other games in the genre. Limbo of the Lost is an experience first and foremost, secondly wrapped up in a game media and genre.

Thanks to Michael for being the first to tip us off to this.

EDIT: I can confirm that it’s a real game – no hoax – and that it is a point and click adventure, with a loosely animated character superimposed on static screenshots.

ANOTHER EDIT: Courtesy of RPS reader Joachim, here’s a preview of Limbo of the Lost from the June 1995 issue of The One. Page 1 and Page 2.

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229 Comments »

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  1. Chaz says:

    This has got to be the best games story I’ve read in years, I love it :)

  2. Ryan Lodata says:

    I will tell you one thing. It is rather funny seeing all the comments and the dissection of this from all the gamers out there. I mean, copying the Spawn movie, comeone!

  3. Donald Duck says:

    More on this story on my blog –
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/?p=1903#more-1903

  4. Demikaze (Michael) says:

    http://bestbooksonthenet.amazonwebstore.com/Limbo-of-the-Lost-Revised-and/M/B000GE5320.htm?utm_campaign=froogle&utm_medium=organic&utm_source=froogle
    Apparently, even the story (well, at least the very opening) is a direct rip-off of this book…

    http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showthread.php?t=60823&page=2
    And according to penny arcade, they even ‘re-appropriated’ a picture of a Wraith from Lord of the Rings…
    I love it.

  5. weegosan says:

    when outsourcing goes bad!

  6. Fat Zombie says:

    What I love is that not only did these guys rip images from games, they even ripped backgrounds from addons!

    This one here? This is a rip of a screenshot from an addon-level for UT2004, HelmzDeep. This, in turn, is a custom map based on the fictional keep of the same name.

    Wow. That’s so many levels of plagiarism, it hurts my thinkey-cells.

  7. cyrenic says:

    @Donald Duck

    You win this thread.

  8. Erlam says:

    Those guys are either long gone, or about to be so poor they can’t even be sued. This is just.. it made my day.

  9. tackle says:

    When will this be made into a movie?

  10. Donald Duck says:

    I won? I won? I won? Did I win? What did I win? If it’s not cake I don’t want it.

  11. Mike says:

    Sorry I haven’t read all the comments so I may be repeating but someone else on another forum thinks they might have nicked the title of their game! This is insane, and easily the funniest news of the month…

    http://bestbooksonthenet.amazonwebstore.com/Limbo-of-the-Lost-Revised-and/M/B000GE5320.htm?utm_campaign=froogle&utm_medium=organic&utm_source=froogle

  12. Paul Moloney says:

    When I realized what Donald Duck did, Coke came out my nose (the fizzy sort).

    Well done, sir.

    In the Just Adventures forum, a reviewer of the game writes:

    “this is amazing……….! i am completely dumbfounded……….

    i have written a small text to add to my review of the game… i hope randy reads and approves it asap so it can go up right away ”

    How. Did. She. Not. Notice?

    I think this will all be great advertising for Wintermute, actually (I’m downloading it right now.) They could add the tag line “If these three losers can publish a game with it, anyone can!”.

    P.

  13. Little Green Man says:

    Oh god that is very, very stupid. You’ve got to wonder whether they just never thought that SOMEONE might notice. Utter stupidity.

  14. Talisker says:

    Are these the same Steve Bovises?

    http://www.kentmessenger.co.uk/paper/default.asp?article_id=9644&slide_id=1&newspage=2&searchkeyword=&searchpage=1

    http://pokerdb.thehendonmob.com/player.php?a=g&n=24257

    If the poker guy has lost a lot of weight over the past three years, he could well be the guy in the middle of the article pic.

  15. James G says:

    There is some fantastic irony on the LotL wikipedia page:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limbo_of_the_Lost

    If you look at the discussion, all the images have been flagged up as requiring ‘Fair use Rationale’

  16. Gap Gen says:

    Shall we all go on Amazon and plagiarise other reviews to post as reviews for this?

  17. Second says:

    At this link you can find a preview of the original game – sadly not the one fluffy bunny has access to, but a few others :D

    What a mind-boggling thing! What happened to the pub pals from Kent? :D

  18. Noc says:

    I’ve a challenge for you folks, that involves a sneaking suspicion of mine:

    See how many of these background images you can find on Google. Part of me is half-convinced that this HAS to be the result of someone building game content out of a Google Image search.

  19. fluffy bunny says:

    Second & John: I can scan it later tonight. I’m not at home ATM.

  20. Frans Coehoorn says:

    Limbo of the Lost, or LOL for short.

  21. terry says:

    Winner of the award for “Least Convincing Vapourware” (after MMORPG Dawn (baby tossing catapults!) and DN Forever (George Broussard!), I can smell it.

  22. Forth says:

    It’s not *stealing* per se, it’s…er…sampling and remixing. Obviously.

    Next up – Lego Doom Raider, The Zelda Scrolls and Lula: The Deus Sexy Empire.

  23. fuggles says:

    hehe… look at this! The game came out in Europe and the lead guy created a duplicate account to first praise the game and then to slap down someone on a forum, using himself as backup
    http://www.gameboomers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=233736&fpart=1

    He then went onto another website pretending to be his own daughter and saying how great the game is
    http://justadventure.com/yabb/YaBB.pl?num=1196172821/0

  24. John Walker says:

    I love that this comment thread has become emblematic of the game. People who posted the comments first, quickly sue the people who repeated them!

  25. eyemessiah says:

    Wow, crazier than Languatron!

    Can anyone else hear the siege tank deploying (or undeploying?) just before the Tri-Syn logo?

  26. Optimaximal says:

    I swear even the Majestic Games logo is stolen from some art book somewhere.

  27. Jerrot says:

    Well, no, the Wintermute Engine Forum site was not hacked, we just are torn between laughing about so much stupidity and being worried about what “MAJESTIC STUDIOS” has done to the adventure scene and to other smaller developer teams, who do their best to create some game and have to fight hard for a publisher contract. We also welcome all those guests on the site, but it’s a pity that such a sad topic is the origin, which puts the engine into a light that it simply doesn’t deserve.

    So – yes, we are having a little fun out of desperation. ;-)

    No more to say, I’m still somewhere between speechless and angry and sad.

  28. Hermit says:

    Pretty sure Optimaximal is spot on about the logo too. Funnily enough, we used to have an Amiga500, and a very similar tiger picture was included as one of the default/example pieces in an art program we got with it (The name of which I can’t recall, sadly). Maybe harking back to the roots of this little cowboy dev outfit? :p
    Edit: In fact, looking at the image again I’m sure we had an artbook in one of our old art classrooms which had that image on the front cover. Again, can’t recall the name (Though it was a good ten years ago or so)

  29. fluffy bunny says:

    OMG, that GameBoomers thread is insane! I mean, ignoring the fact that the developer is using a fake forum personality to back up his arguments, he is actually complaining that the reviewer, who completed the game, helped other people out when they were stuck. Yes.

    (start reading on page four for the most interesting stuff)

    Edit (priceless):

    “I for one do not like stategy guides or hint books or walkthroughs as they do kill the gameplay created by the game no matter what the genre. In fact we as developers would turn down any offer from PRIMA GUIDES for a guide book even though it would create revenue for us.”

    I wonder if Prima Guides ever got in touch with them? :-p

  30. John Walker says:

    What’s more insane is the reviewer instructing people to “run not walk” to get the game.

  31. Someyoungguy says:

    How do they get the models and animations to look so real?

  32. fluffy bunny says:

    John: You should have the scans now, btw. I also found a preview in an issue of Amiga Action , but it’s not that good TBH, and there are already a couple of previews from other mags online. But if you want it let me know.

  33. Nimic says:

    This is easily the funniest development in the history of that which has been developed.

  34. rei says:

    This is amazing.

    Call me naive, but I don’t think anyone can be stupid enough to think they would get away with something as blatant as that for very long. If they did this for money (why else?) they must’ve realized there would be economic repercussions. The only explanation I can think of is that they in fact used stolen identities and their only contact with the publisher was a prepaid mobile number and a P.O. box. They must’ve thought they’d milk the publisher for as much money as possible, and at the first sign of anyone figuring them out they’d split never to be heard from again.

    I won’t be surprised if the next time we hear from these guys it’ll be the real owners of their identities.

    (caveat: I didn’t feel like reading all 130 comments, so if someone already said the exact same thing please don’t sue me :()

  35. Indagator says:

    My emotions have run the gamut on this one – disbelief that anyone would be that brazen/foolish, glee at the impending calamity they brought upon themselves with their blatant plagiarism and forum antics. And now I’m just sad. They’ve destroyed any chance of ever getting this game (or any other) published.

    The thing that brought it home for me was the preview from 1995. This game has been in development for more than a decade. It might even be closer to 20 years, judging by the various interview comments. The developers spent something like a third of their lives trying to get this published, and now all that effort is gone.

    It probably would have been a mildly competent adventure game and been popular enough in those circles, judging from the reviewer on the GameBoomers thread, if they’d just shelled out a little money for some starving student to whip up some textures for them. Instead, they over reached and it cost them everything, right at their moment of triumph.

    It’s like a greek tragedy, hubris and all.

  36. Cooper says:

    Anyone else smell a meme being fermented?

  37. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    One of the first posts developer(kit-basher) SBOVIS made on the Wintermute forum to recruit some people for his project contained this line: “Only serious people need apply.”

    Right…
    Well I guess he was serious about ripping stuff out of other games. I wonder if he got much success in recruiting new pirates.

  38. AbyssUK says:

    on a certain site named after sea going plunderers there appears to be a Limbo.of.the.Lost.Bonus.DVD… now that must be funny

  39. Paul Moloney says:

    “on a certain site named after sea going plunderers there appears to be a Limbo.of.the.Lost.Bonus.DVD… now that must be funny”

    I’m sure the God of Anti-Piracy would allow anyone to “procure” that, considering it merely a venial sin. In penance, buy 2 full-price games this month. Now go and sin no more, child.

    P.

  40. Ian says:

    Is there any truth to the rumor that the final boss is a turtle like dragon monster named “Bowser”?

  41. James says:

    Ian: I’ll let you know, once I get past the final area:

    http://comma8comma1.co.uk/tmp/lotl.jpg

  42. eyemessiah says:

    Seriously, no one can hear the siege tank?

  43. Ubernutz says:

    I just found out that these guys live in the same town as me, about 15 minutes walk away. I feel like getting some answers.

  44. Gap Gen says:

    Actually, sharing sound effects is pretty common. Although usually they ask first, I’d guess.

  45. mooey poo says:

    @Indagator:

    “The developers spent something like a third of their lives trying to get this published, and now all that effort is gone.”

    No, they probably spent a third of their lives taking drugs paid for by the advances for the game, then realised they ought to put something out.

    Hopefully Duke Nuke ‘Em won’t be like this.

  46. changeling says:

    this will seem really obscure, but in the making of video, i swear that anyone who’s read the Edge Chronicles might recognise the “Keep of Lost Souls” as one Sanctaphrax. they need to find some… *gasp* Individuality?

  47. Frymaster says:

    “Actually, sharing sound effects is pretty common. Although usually they ask first, I’d guess”

    Not so much that as everyone buys their sound effects from the same people. The noise familiar to many people as “door in doom shutting” or “demon in doom noticing you” appear EVERYWHERE. I seem to remember the effect in Magic Carpet when you sped up was the same as an Imp throwing a fireball at you in Doom, as well

  48. Nick says:

    Yeah, you’ll regularly hear certain bear or horse sound effects in games and even TV/Films as well, I believe you can pay for general libraries of sounds and stuff.