Kumo's developer has reported a strange notice of legal action from Tequila Works. According to him, he's being accused of stealing the Kumo trees from one of Tequila Works' games.
"So due to some trees, Kumo's development has halted and may end up having to fight some legal actions over [Tequila Works] claiming that I have stolen assets from their game [RIME,]" the developer said on Twitter. "After nearly 3 years of development and 10 years in the industry[,] I have NEVER been so insulted!"
Check out these images of the Kumo trees and RIME trees for yourself:
ResetEra took to discussing the topic, engaging in a fierce debate over whether or not these trees are indeed stolen assets or not. At the time of writing, most of the comments seem to agree that these are in fact different trees entirely. Many more comments are simply joking on the subject, of course.
I've yet to find anyone in the discussion who agrees that the trees are the same. However, several users point out that Kumo is, at the minimum, inspired by the art style of RIME. While there is an argument for that, emulating (but not directly copying) the art style of an entertainment product is not illegal. Furthermore, several people point out that RIME itself was inspired by Ico.
What Will the Kumo Trees Lawsuit Mean for Development?
As Kumo's developer Takes art studio has stated, he's had to temporarily halt development to deal with this legal action. If a case actually goes to court, it could potentially eat up hundreds or thousands of hours of time for both parties.
Naturally, this may mean that we could see some kind of delay for Kumo's release date which has already missed its Q1 2020 window.
It is sad to see but I cannot deal with the stress this whole game has put me through any longer— Kumo (@Talesartstudio) May 5, 2020
It is not fair on my family
Kumo will return sometime in the future
for now Development is closed completely#gamedev #indiedev #ue4 #UnrealEngine pic.twitter.com/vib2mXpWTy
Kumo Developer Tales art studio Releases Statement
Update: Tales art studio has released a statement on the game's official Twitter.
Let's sit down and have a chat.
As you all know today[,] there was a major issue happening with Kumo and unfortunately that is not the only problem that has arrived during this development time[...]
I'm not going to sugar coat it, I am not going to pretend like I am the victim or giving up on the project[.]
But unfortunately[,] Kumo is going to be going away for a little while he has gone to farm to play with other atmospheric games and will return sometime in the future[.]
6 Months? 1 year? I do not know, but when it does it will be a whole new experience, same character and same story.
But all of this is causing [too] many [issues] to my family and my friends and myself as well[.]
I will not be closing the twitter/email or discord[;] I will still interact with everyone and keep you updated whenever it is necessary.
If you see this as me giving up and finding an easy way out, then I am sorry but that is not the case[.] I simply need to step away and come back as a new developer and bring Kumo with me a whole new style[.]
Thank you for this amazing year.
Tequila Works: 'We Have Not Taken Any Legal Action'
Update #2: We have now heard back from Tequila Works. According to Térence Mosca, the studio hasn't initiated any legal action on the Kumo trees. However, it has asked Tales art studio to modify their design.
Here is Tequila Works' statement to TechRaptor:
I want to assess that we have not taken any legal action against anyone. We have only contacted the developer of Kumo as we saw close similarities in the assets of his game, specifically the trees. We thought that this must have been an oversight or mistake so we have been asking for them to be modified.
We've also reached out to Tales art studio on this matter and will update this piece when we receive a reply. In the meantime, you can add Kumo to your wishlist on Steam and you can buy RIME for $29.99 or your regional equivalent.
Are these trees the same or are they different? Who is in the right here? Let us know in the comments below!