UPDATE: An ESRB representative has emailed TechRaptor stating that Fur Fun‘s E rating was indeed not legitimate and it has been removed from the Steam store page as of February 23rd. The original article continues below.
UPDATE 2/CORRECTION: In the original article we reported that Kewpie – Jazzy, the name Fur Fun was known as while it had its Kickstarter campaign, plagiarized significant portions of the Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter page. We had used a plagiarism checker to run the Kewpie – Jazzy page against its database, and it brought back a link to a Kickstarter campaign. One of our staff members mistakenly took that to be the Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter when in fact that was just the Kewpie – Jazzy Kickstarter page. While at first glance the two do some to be extremely close copies to one another, it is due to Kewpie – Jazzy definitely laying out their information in the exact same way as Yooka-Laylee’s page. Beyond the structure, however, there were just a few instances of some word for word sentences lifted from the page and a lot of the headers for sections were extremely similar and some exactly the same. We can definitely say that there is no doubt that Kewpie – Jazzy looked to Yooka-Laylee for its Kickstarter, and did copy some things from it, but to call it near identical would be incorrect. The article has been updated below to reflect this change.
UPDATE 3: Mellow_Online1 has uncovered a plausible explanation as to why Dalas was initially taking down videos of Fur Fun. Information regarding this reasoning has been integrated into the article below.
UPDATE 4: OtherEhm has provided additional verification via Twitter regarding the Banjo Kazooie music assets that were in an earlier build of Fur Fun. The songs have finally been removed from the latest build, but this seems to prove that they were indeed being used in the game.
I asked @Mildew00 to check for the BK songs in his latest build of FF yesterday and he confirmed that they're gone now.
— Ehm (@OtherEhm) February 26, 2017
In addition, Dalas hosted a brief AMA session on Reddit concerning Fur Fun yesterday that Mellow_Online1 and several others took part in. During the event, Dalas defended his EULA restrictions on reviewers, stated that the false ESRB and PEGI ratings were a mistake from someone on the development team, and denied that Banjo Kazooie assets were in Fur Fun at all. The account related to the AMA and the answers were deleted, but TechRaptor has secured an archive of the page thanks to Mellow, which can be found here.
There was a grand total of 4,207 games that released on Steam in 2016. Every month, more and more games are added to that pile, far more than any gaming website can cover properly. This means that less ambitious games can fly under the radar and take advantage of Steam’s trading card system to get some quick cash before fading from consciousness without leaving a mark. The developers at Dalas Games are determined instead to leave an imprint on the Steam marketplace with their 3D platformer Fur Fun, but I doubt it will be the type of impact that they desire. Fur Fun‘s story is a long tale, starting with a Kickstarter gone south and ending in an Early Access controversy that is still ongoing. Alongside fellow Greenlight spelunker Mellow_Online1 (who contributes the excellent Greenwatch series to TechRaptor), I have attempted to piece it together as best I can as both an example of what happens on Steam in 2017 and a way to give Grant Kirkhope a little piece of mind. All will make sense in time, so let’s dig in and see why so many eyes are focused on this particular game.
Fur Fun started life on Kickstarter under the name Kewpie – Jazzy back in September of last year. The game follows in the footsteps of titles like Yooka-Laylee and Clive ‘N’ Wrench, attempting to bring the Bird and Bear gameplay of Banjo-Kazooie to a modern audience. As first reported by Cliqist and Informed Pixel, Kewpie – Jazzy did more than draw inspiration from its fellow retro throwbacks. In fact, the creators of the crowdfunding campaign copied Yooka-Laylee‘s page structure to the point that they do look near identical. The page does copy some sentences word for word and many of the header titles are very similar or exactly the same, but it is not as though the page was copy and pasted with a few key words and turns of phrase changed (here is Yooka-Laylee‘s page as it was on August 26th, 2016 and Kewpie – Jazzy‘s as it was on September 20th, the date Cliqist reported on it). Regardless, they did take some things from the page. After the reporting, the Spanish team that was then called DokyCamp made alterations to the page and reached out to Cliqist, giving a statement that was shared in a follow-up piece:
“At first we structured our Kickstarter inspired by Yooka-Layle because we think that Playtonic did a awesome job to present the Project. So we tought it was a good idea to present Kewpie-Jazzy in a similar way. Some of the text were placeholders that were there untill our English corrector changed it.”
I reached out to several former associates of Dalas from the days of the Kewpie-Jazzy Kickstarter, and that led me to Adrián González, the 2D artist from the crowdfunding campaign who has seemingly gone a significant amount of time without compensation for his work. As Fur Fun has made some waves in the gaming community over the past few days, he tweeted out that he wasn’t aware that the game had been released in any form. After talking with him with the help of our resident Spanish translator, he had this to say regarding his work:
… they ordered some illustrations for the game from me of the cat, the parrot and a background. They ordered those from me around summer of 2016 or thereabouts. It was about €150. The characters didn’t cost me much, but the background did and he still hasn’t paid me for the work. A drawing isn’t just three lines and you’re finished, no. A drawing takes work and your time. I invested a lot of my time so I would like to be paid for this work.
Skipping ahead a bit, Fur Fun also had trouble with its composer Rasmusic. After contributing tunes for the game, Rasmusic distanced themselves from the team after not receiving payment for their work. A few days ago, this was indeed worked out, with lead developer Dalas paying and breaking ties with the composer.
I will not be working with the Fur-Fun team anymore.
— Rasmusic (@rasmusicsongs) February 19, 2017
Who is this Dalas you might ask? Well, in addition to being the development lead of Fur Fun, Dalas is a successful YouTuber in his home country, racking up more than four million subscribers on his main channel and two million on his video games focused channel. I can’t really do a deep dive into the man’s content due to the language barrier between us, but he has the type of content you’d expect from a YouTuber at that level of success. Scrolling through his thumbnails will give you meme-esque reaction faces, Minecraft- character heads transplanted onto bikini models, and one video that seems to be a Portal parody of the 2 Girls 1 Cup craze. He has also published several videos promoting Fur Fun on his channel, one of which you can see below.
I spoke with several other people who know Dalas personally in this way, and the general reaction I got from our conversations didn’t paint the greatest picture of the man. He has a reputation of rude and toxic behavior in the YouTube circles he runs in, and that has extended out to Fur Fun‘s emergence on Steam, at least in its earliest days. One user (Suiadan on Steam) chatted with me in detail about his experience testing the game alongside a friend who knew Dalas before launch:
Dalas contacted him and told him he’d give him two steam keys so that we could give him feedback. We tried out the game and it was completely unplayable, full of bugs and what can I say? My PC is a decent one (I can play Overwatch, Final Fantasy 14, for honor…) but for me it was a pain in the ass. It was bugged all the freaking time.
Dalas had asked Suiadan and his friend for their feedback, and they gave it via a negative review on Steam’s store page after launch. Then things turned sour:
So we wrote down a review inside the thread tab in steam (a negative one, of course) and Dalas decided to ban my friend from that tab and revoked our keys. Both of them.
Dalas banned both users from the game’s Steam discussion board and removed their reviews, claiming that they were “offensive.” This is just one example, and I’ve collected countless other instances of Dalas’ team attempting to censor criticism of the game and banning users from the game’s forums, including Mellow_Online1. After looking into the game’s EULA, it was determined that the document specifically bans monetized videos and streams of the game, and this is most likely the reason that the videos were hit with copyright takedowns initially. How this EULA agreement would hold up against Fair Use laws will have to be seen if these type of takedowns continue.
— Mellow_Online1 (@MellowOnline1) February 24, 2017
In the days that followed, the team seemingly had a slight change of heart. Some of these negative reviews and videos have returned, and the game currently sits at a “Mixed” rating. Despite this, Mellow_Online1 and several others are still banned from the game’s community page.
— Mellow_Online1 (@MellowOnline1) February 19, 2017
Of course, beyond all the drama regarding the developers, the game’s real problems lie with its content. The game itself is clearly a work in progress, which is fine since it’s in Early Access. As seen in the second part of the video below (used with gracious permission by creators xGhostBoyx and Mildew0), the game features bizarre controls, vehicle sections (and an entire level) reminiscent of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, and a side character who inexplicably looks like Timon from The Lion King. If this were an early alpha, this could all be forgiven, but the game’s Early Access page states that the final build will be ready in a few months and that “The game is almost ready!”
Another big issue is what was uploaded alongside the game’s files. A week after launch, OtherEhm (one of the administrators of The Cutting Room Floor) dug into the installation folder and found several assets ripped from Banjo-Kazooie, the game that so clearly inspired this one’s development. It’s unclear if these assets are used in the final product being sold on the storefront, but even just shipping a game with these files included is not OK in the slightest.
— Ehm (@OtherEhm) February 19, 2017
Back in the days of the Kickstarter, the composer of the game was originally listed as Grant Kirkhope, better known as the Rare legend behind the soundtracks of both Banjo-Kazooie and Yooka-Laylee. This was eventually fixed, but the developers of Fur Fun have continuously pushed that they had a “Rare legend” working on the game and outright stated several times on Twitter that Kirkhope had indeed planned to work on the project, which explains why these assets remained in the shipping game. I reached out to Kirkhope personally via Twitter and he gave us the following specific confirmation that he was never involved in this game’s development. He later clarified to another user that he only had “brief exchanges” with the developers, but nothing beyond that.
I didn't write anything for that project
— Grant Kirkhope (@grantkirkhope) February 20, 2017
Beyond that, the game’s Steam store page sports an “E” rating, which I found odd considering the language and jokes found in some of the gameplay footage and trailers I had seen. After looking through the ESRB’s online database, I can find no record that Fur Fun has been rated by the ESRB. The game’s U.K. store page also shows a rating, and Mellow_Online1 was unable to find anything about the game on PEGI’s website. We have reached out to both organizations with this information and will update this article if and when we receive a response concerning that validity of these ratings.
As it stands, that’s the complete story of Fur Fun. I have attempted several times to reach out to Dalas to get his side of the story for this article, but he has so far refused to talk with me. I’d be more than happy to speak with him regarding his game in the future and supplement this piece with his side of the story. Still, while this case may be extreme, it is but one of many tales that you can find if you dig deep enough into Steam’s vast library. With the new “Direct” program soon replacing Greenlight, and Valve itself wanting to pivot to an even more open Steam store, stories like this may become even more common than they are now. Until then, it’s at least good to know that there are plenty of honest gamers out there to help us root out these stories and shine a light on the darkest corners of Steam’s store.
Special Thanks to Mellow_Online1, Robert Grosso, John Quilty, Andrew Otton, and Connor Foss in helping me research this story.