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Scavenge. Build. Fight. Survive. Introducing ROAM, an online co-op action game set in a procedurally generated world.
Scavenge. Build. Fight. Survive. Introducing ROAM, an online co-op action game set in a procedurally generated world.
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3,526 backers pledged $102,518 to help bring this project to life.

How to Steal?

Posted by ROAM (Creator)

How to steal?

It is a sad day in the gaming industry, once again, and I am writing as both a whistleblower and a pissed off indie developer. Recently it was brought to my attention that 505games has released a product called “How to Survive”. How to Survive is a top down shooter that controls like a FPS (WASD moves your lower half, mouse moves upper) where you play in a coop game to survive against an onslaught of zombies. You can craft, theres a skill tree, and you must drink water/eat food to survive. NPCs, bases, and a shockingly similar art style. Sound familiar?

Here I was sipping on coffee, about to get started working on Roam, and I receive a message from a Kickstarter backer. They had shown me a link to this game called How to Survive. I watched the trailer and as soon as 505games popped up it sounded familiar. I did some digging in my inbox and found that 505games had indeed contacted me about a Roam publishing deal. I couldnt believe it.

I am not foolish. There are tons of zombie games out on the market and a lot borrow ideas from each other. Until I saw the original email that 505 had sent I thought this could just be another coincidence. It is not a coincidence. This particular theft is blatant and 505games took advantage of the situation knowing full well what they were doing. This shows how much respect they have towards the industry and their fans.

You might be thinking, “Ryan, this happens all the time in video games. People take and borrow ideas all the time!” and you are right. However, it is rare that a company will contact an indie developer to offer a publishing deal and when it’s refused hire another company to deliberately rip off the game idea and design to the core.

Here is a copy of the email sent by 505games on January 30th, 2013 from an Evan Icenbice, Sr. Producer.


Received: Wed, 30 Jan 2013 16:41:00 -0800 (PST)

Hi Ryan,

I came across your Kickstarter on Monday and after sharing the link with a few others at work…I’m happy to say we are all very excited about the game! I was especially sold after I watched the prototype video where you demonstrated the building and defending – I’ve been looking for a game with a good “build ‘n defend” mode for a while now!

Anyways… the reason I’m reaching out is to see if you would like to explore the option of eventually putting this title out on XBLA/PSN. If this is something that you would be interested in exploring – please let me know and we can discuss further. If not, no worries as you will still get my money on Kickstarter J

BTW- we are about to launch Terraria out on XBLA/PSN and have also signed a few deals with other dev groups similar to yours(ala Kickstarter), so we would love to discuss how those projects were treated.



Sr. Producer



The most upsetting part about all of this is that 505games is an established company. They have many titles released under their belt. We are just trying to get our foot through the door into the industry and these guys are trying to slam it shut. Due to the nature of Kickstarter I had to post all of Roam’s design ideas online to get funded. I threw everything I had into this. I put everything on the line for this project and took a huge risk. I moved across the country for this game. My partner is at risk. It isn’t fair that 505games thinks they can do this. They shouldn’t get to reap the rewards off of my risk.

How to Survive is getting torn apart by critics. It feels rushed and aspects of its design are unfinished. I wonder why it feels rushed…

By the way, there is no record in the backer report on Kickstarter of Evan Icenbice supporting Roam as he claims in his email.

I do not mind friendly competition. When it is blatantly obvious that they stole Roam from us and didnt even try to distinguish itself is when it is crossing the line.

I do not want the stigma that Roam is associated with How to Survive and I certainly don’t want people to think Roam has stolen anything from How to Survive. I also want to know what you guys think and what course of action we should take with this issue, as you all funded the project and I respect your thoughts. That is the purpose of this writing.

Thanks everyone.

If you care to research further, compare the original Kickstarter page including the prototype video.



chris dickson, Tony Coculuzzi, and 34 more people like this update.


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    1. Marcin Wolny on

      Guys - read next 2 updates before commenting.

    2. Veav on

      A lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. How To Survive does not look like Roam from any angle - hell, it looks more like Path of Exile + Dead Island than what we've seen of Roam. Relax, play it or don't, continue development.

    3. Marcio Araujo on

      505 lost some major points with me

    4. Peter Jacob on

      Not much for it but to shame them and move on.

    5. Anthony Bonome on

      This just means that they liked the idea enough to steal it. Their game getting slammed just means you bringing the idea to market polished and well presented will be that much better received. I don't think this is going to hurt ROAM at all. Look at DayZ and World War Z or whatever you call it now.

    6. Arcady Damashov on

      Hey guys! I know the way you feel right now, but Eric Leslie might be right. 505 Games could reach some other developers who were working in the similar direction as well. So after you refused their offer, they just made a deal with guys from EKO, who actually had gotten a grant to develop How To Survive in 2011, according to this site .

      Even if you had had the idea of Roam long before that, it would be hard to prove that they stole it from you.

      Just focus on the game, and show us Roam in all its awesomeness and glory ;)

    7. Eric Leslie on

      I certainly don't think anybody can say that they *didn't*, for sure, steal your ideas, but honestly I think it's just as likely that 505 Games reached out to a lot of people working on zombie games at the same time, and that you were one of them, and that you said no and somebody else said yes. It seems really unlikely to me that How To Survive got put together from scratch in less than 9 months, and the elements of the game - co-op play, survival mechanics, crafting, attribute leveling - are honestly in damn near everything these days. It doesn't have base building or randomization, which are two of ROAM's biggest features.

      I can see being really aggravated by this, but I don't think there's much chance of ROAM being harmed, nor do I think there's a terribly solid case for accusing them of infringement. The story's already blowing up, so maybe it's too late, but I wouldn't spend a lot of resources going down this road.

    8. ostrich160 on

      Is it completely unfair? Yes, but unfortunately thats the way of the games industry, if it was a fair industry, critics basically wouldnt exist seeing as developers put a hell of a lot of time into games and tearing them to shreds after all that is very harsh, but it is needed. Of course thats not the point of the discussion here, but the fact is they could get a product like yours out and they could do it quicker. I wont be buying that game over yours because its bad business practice, but many people wont see it that way. I know its a harsh thing to say, but it happens.

    9. Stephen "Stoibs" D

      Hmmm, picked up How to Survive the other day, Finding it actually pretty fun despite what the reviewers say...
      Have to admit - I didn't even make the connection at all until reading this update - honestly it was just yet another of the 100's of top down zombie games that exist and/or I've backed both here and on indieGogo in my mind...
      With knowledge *now* that 505 actually had interest in this it does make the whole thing a bit convenient I suppose.

      Oh well, just keep releasing some kick ass footage and maybe an early Demo, perhaps something on Halloween.
      Be sure to also include an Npc killed off in a Brutal method named Kovac.

    10. Domenic Iannello on

      The Evilavatar posted an article for the "How To Survive" game, and I made sure I left a comment linking back to this page. I hope Evilavatar reads my comment, and responds accordingly. More people should know about this, and not waste their time and money on that drivel 505 Games calls a game!

    11. Jordan Zammit on

      We should set up a petition to get the game removed from steam, this is insanely unfair and seems utterly illegal!!

    12. nils on

      Meh. Ideas are cheap. It's also OK to use ideas unless you patent them. Now if they used any of your art assets or anything like that, then yeah, theft would be the right word.

      Unless you haven't noticed: We're in a zombie media deluge right now...

      Seriously, if you have nothing better to do.... :)

    13. Adam Wassil on

      Luckily, How to Survive is critically lauded as trash, and the user score is even lower than the critic's on Metacritic. Let the chumps have their game, I say, and drink up their tears when the whopping 1-up comes from on high - the ROAM on-high, that is.

    14. McMarius11 on

      you habe the advantage of multiplatform ;) and your game is way more polished!!! so keep it up cant wait to play it <3

    15. Jeffrey on

      I think you should just keep going with the project, learn from HTS' failings, and get some darn good marketing together to keep faith in the product! Polish that bby til it shines!

      In other words, show them who has the better game! 8D

    16. Richie Bisso

      1. People can be gross. Feel bad for them and move on.
      2. Imitation is the best form of flattery. Be happy that you had ideas that people covet and, again, move on.
      3. Always be positive. Negativity or anger will creep into your game and make it less than it should be.
      4. Remember that we always have your back.

      Now get back to work and make our badass game!!!! :D

    17. John Bernhard Horn on

      For shame, 505games! For shame Eicenbice!

      Roam looks much better anyhow.. just focus on making it the best it can be!

    18. Aerouge

      Well... if you are 100% sure about this, why not get in contact with the guys @Kotaku and other sites?

      But please keep in mind, that making these claims you are doing here can bite you in the arse. Ask Matthew Inman from TheOatmeal about this ... he got sued for (correctly) stating that another site ripped off his IP. He came out on top of this, but with the law-system as it is, there is no guarantee that it will work for you as well.

      Also... if you play the "those guys stole my IP and made a terrible game out of it" card, it can also leave a smudge on your IP in the way "Hey this bad game was based on "THIS" design, why should a game based on the same design be any better?".

      So I would say, keep cool, feel honored that your ideas are good enough for other people to steal, and produce the best game you can. Do you want to be remembered for making an awesome game, or for starting yet another IP lawsuit. Leave this crap for apple / samsung.

    19. Ben R Vesco on

      Make ROAM and make it awesome. I still want to play it. Rip off? How many times has Wolfenstein 3D been copied over the last 20 years? No matter how many high quality (or low quality) FPS games exist, there's always a market for new, high quality, fun FPS titles. The same is true in your genre. Make your game, make it fun, people will buy it and love it. Nobody said, "Half life is just a copy of quake with some stupid story layered on top."

    20. Jalister on

      How to Survive was on my watchlist. I did notice similarities between the two games, and was waiting for reviews. With the reviews in, and this update, I don't see myself getting that game. Roam is the game I want.

      Make the better game, and you should benefit from that. You may want to contact a lawyer just to protect yourself, in case they decide to become the aggressor.

    21. leigh wicks on

      having just played the game i hope that roam is nothing like this game!
      graphics poor , controls clunky , missions boring and repetitive , zombie killing very very lame and very very easy

    22. Missing avatar

      winchung chia chang on

      you should talk to youre lawyer and see if you have a case and from it you can get more adverticement and more funding for the game

    23. Paulo Campos on

      I think u should finish Roam the proper way, and u will get the rewards from ur labor. Regardless of them stepping over u for ur idea. A good game will overshadow a shitty one anyday.

      I dont think its too serious. Just keep doing the good work u have been doing and all will fall into place

    24. Missing avatar

      Lokai on

      If you wanted to make this just for us backers, so we could discuss, then why did you not make this update private? This is already posted on Reddit and legal issues are going to be coming your way now whether you want them to or not.

      I do think they are very similar, but that's about as far as that goes and I sincerely doubt they stole your design ideas since How To Survive seems to be fundamentally rather different. Like others have been saying, a lot of these features and ideas are common place for zombie games these days. It would be very hard to prove that they stole the ideas. But, none of that matters now since this is a public post that is going public.

    25. Andrew Wang on

      See what worked and didn't work in their game, and learn from it, and move on. It sucks that they are stealing your ideas, but don't waste time dwelling on it - in legal battles, only the lawyers win. Then quickly get back to focusing on ROAM, and show 'em how it's really done!

      As a fellow indie developer, I can imagine that you've been pouring your blood, sweat and tears into ROAM, and sacrificing your firstborn for the game. I know there's only so much endurance before burn-out starts to set in, and the subconscious tries to grab things to use as an excuse to be distracted, to give you a break from the real work. Don't let that happen. Don't let 505's soon-fading sideshow stand in the way or take up your valuable and limited time before burnout sets in.

      When you do need a distraction, take a deep breath and read these comments from us, your fans - we love you and believe in you!

    26. MikeHumphreys on

      Rip-off artists suck. I'd suggest consulting with a copyright/intellectual property lawyer. You may have a strong enough case to go after them legally. If you have an IP attorney who will work on contingency (they get a percentage of the award or settlement), then it won't hurt you financially while you finish your ROAM game.

      At the very least, maybe the lawyer can tell you how to promote ROAM as "the game another company wanted to buy before it was launched".

    27. Missing avatar

      Silver on

      I think someone would make fast money with a half breed game in the actual Zombie Game hype. In How to Survive you have 4 Islands with a playtime of 4-6 hours overall for 10 Euros, thats a joke in my eyes. I will wait for ROAM because you do a great job and have the more interesting game in my opinion. I know it feels like a kick in the nuts that they steal your idea but they don't make a good job. So take your time, be proud what you have done so far and will do in the future. I believe in you :)

    28. Missing avatar

      Stuart Case on

      Well it can't hurt to see a lawyer just for some guidance, even though I doubt anything can be done legally. This is more of a moral grey area kind of situation and the folks behind the "other" game clearly have different morals to most other decent people. As others have said, all you can really do is ensure Roam is the much better quality game as I have no doubt it will be when it gets shipped. I am happily spreading the word about Roam and I will ensure that when people start to ask me which of the two games is the one they should go with they will get the right answer!

    29. Dallas Bowland on

      All you have to do is make sure you make the better game. It's frustrating now but hind sight is always 20/20 and if you put your best foot forward people will notice an How to Survive will just be "that other zombie survival game" to those who can see the passion and dedication in your project.

    30. Missing avatar

      TerryBD on

      I would say put your energy into creating ROAM. They may have created something similar in concept, but it's looking like a cheap knockoff from everything I see. I don't know if it's possible or not, but I would make sure you check with any lawyers you have if there's anything they might do to prevent you from being able to publish, as they're first to market. I'm not a game developer, so I don't know if that's possible or not.

    31. Missing avatar

      Sascha Hubert on

      Dont be sad, i gonna play both :-)
      More Zombie Games = More Fun ;-)

    32. Missing avatar

      Boomix on

      Keep on developing we are all awaiting your game. Also looking at bugs that game has I am curious to know how they got to deploy it on Steam. Apparently characters move on their own if you plug in x-box controller. Besides animation on that game makes characters look like they are fighting underwater.

    33. David "DaveAzoicer" Linder on

      While it is a really rude thing to do. ROAM is far superior if it have half the content that you've already made money to do.
      I got it because it seemed like an interesting game to play while I wait for ROAM. And... I was disappointed. It is fun and all. But there is nothing compared to what ROAM is said to be.
      All it is, is a mindless zombie slaughter game. There's not much surviving, AT ALL. All you do is kill zombies. And gathering herbs and items that you mix together for better gear or healing. It's not that impressive.
      As I said. If ROAM have any of the base building, scavenge and survival stuff that we've seen in the videos. No one will ever remember How to Survive.

    34. Are Nybakk on

      I would consult a lawyer.

    35. Missing avatar

      ddbelyea on

      "I do not want the stigma that Roam is associated with How to Survive"

      I'm pretty sure that by making this update you have ensured that Roam will be associated with How to Survive.

      I agree with others that have said this kind of update is not what we want to see. Sure it sucks that you got scooped, but it happens in every line of work, you just have to roll with the punches and make your product/idea/whatever uniquely yours. You will never get to make a product in a vacuum, and if you have a unique idea there is always someone who will try to take that.

      I guess you could try to sue, but I think it would be a difficult case and would make you (and the ROAM dev. team) seem a bit petty.

      Anyways, that's just my 2cents. I honestly don't think How to Survive will compete with ROAM at all. There will be enough time between them that people will forget about how to survive as another in a sea of unoriginal zombie shooters.

    36. ROAM Creator on

      Working with kickstarter to remove his contact information. I meant to do that but completely forgot before posting and it is too late to edit.

    37. Michael House on

      I noticed the similarities when How to Survive came out. However, even just comparing the Roam alpha video with the release video of How to Survive, I would prefer Roam.

      I would have preferred not to see an update like this at all. I'd rather you're working on finishing your game, than caught up in the drama about this. I would just remove this update (at least remove the contact info from your included email). It's only going to cause more drama and detract from the creation of Roam.

    38. Jonathan Rudd on

      How to Survive recently came to my attention and I wasn't particularly impressed. Roam, however DID impress me and I'm still excited to see what you come up with.

      I have faith in you that you will show the community how it's done and put other similar titles to shame.

      Do your best and I'm sure it will show in the end result.

      Remember: "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad."

    39. Missing avatar

      D. Kuijer on

      I agree with what most of the backers are saying: just do your own thing, ignore the rest of the world (and 505 especially) and make ROAM the fantastic game that we all know it will be!

    40. Joe

      I agree that it looks very suspicious, but I agree with the comments below on just ignore and press onwards. As an Indie developer you don't have the time and resources to start a fight over this right now, but keep all and any evidence you may have in case they try to say you copied them.

      It looks like Eko makes nothing but craptastic games anyway. Just show them how a real developer gets things done. As a backer of ROAM, I well make sure to never purchase anything from 505Game and defend ROAM on any social sites I visit.

    41. Missing avatar

      Marshall on

      While the two games looks similar I did notice that no where in their video did they have anything about constructing your base, randomly generated worlds, or multiplayer, the three features I'm most excited about in Roam. Those three things, assuming they aren't in How To Survive, should distance the games from one another enough to be very different experiences.
      What I suggest to you, Ryan, is get the game, play it and learn from what they did. Why not, right? They stole your ideas, so steal 'em right back. Improve on any small innovation they may have somehow come up with, or if nothing else, see where they went wrong so you don't find yourself in the same situations. Or, if you're still worried about it, see in what other ways Roam can be distanced from How To Survive. You have to know your enemy more than you know your friends sometimes...

    42. Kyle on

      I'm sure others have said something similar already - but I think you should ignore it, and move along... Just make a better game, you will have the last laugh. Don't get involved in petty fights and quarrels that won't get you anywhere. Shrug it off, and feel proud that you have designed something WORTH copying... What's that saying? "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"

      Let it go - and just concentrate and focus on YOUR game. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing. You don't have the time, energy, or MONEY to worry about doing anything about it anyway.

      Let it go...

      Looking forward to ROAM!

    43. Ethan on

      You know, when I looked at that game a couple of days ago I thought it looked really familiar. I think you need to go talk to a lawyer about this. Get their perspective.

    44. TS42 on

      “Ryan, this happens all the time in video games. People take and borrow ideas all the time!”
      That is the point. So is it realy important? From which games have you stolen all the features?
      I think it is absolutley not that important.

      What you shoul do? ... it's very easy! Make your game. Make your game better than the other ones. And if they are faster, because the have more time/money/worker/experience, than learn from them, look at what they did not so good, and make it better. Your idea and look&feel of Roam is better than what the other survival game(s) looks like.

      Competition is good for business. Use that as motivation.

      Regards, a fan and backer

    45. ROAM Creator on

      I am not asking you guys to post this anywhere or do anything that would defame How to Survive. The purpose of this update is to see what your guys' thoughts are on the issue since you guys are the investors in the project.

    46. Missing avatar

      Muush on

      How to Survive got awful reviews. The way Roam will succeed, is simple, just make a good game. Fulfill your vision. And an Infinite mode wouldn't hurt.
      Personal opinion time:
      I saw How to survive and it has so many terrible ideas. It was more Diablo-esque-arcadey-slaying than it was tense-zombie-survival. So there's my grain of salt. I'm hoping Roam will have more tension found in rouge-likes than "LOOK AT ALL THIS FUN" superficial games like Diablo 3 had.

    47. Missing avatar

      Daniel Smith on

      honestly if you do decide to take legal action i would be cautious, things like this can go either way, theres enough differances between them that they could easily get away with it and i wouldnt want to see any delays in ROAM as im greatly looking forward to giving away my other copys and getting togeather with friends to build sweet bases ;)

    48. George Vosper on

      Oh my, I should have contacted you guys earlier. I have seen this game all over steam and at first I thought it was a ROAM ripoff. I am so sorry to hear your ideas were copied not only by a company, but a company who at first wanted to work with you. I find it quite disgusting...

    49. Connor Jameson Brummett on

      Just took a look at this "How to Survive". Well, I do see some resemblances, but, they do not have base building, which is one of the most important bits to me. They also got really bad reviews, they seemed to have screwed up somewhere (according to IGN). I say you keep working on ROAM and make it the best you can. I've been itching to play it for 11 months now. My friends who backed for the four-pack with me are in total agreement with what I just said.

    50. Nathan Cronauer on

      Word to the wise. Do not let this slow you down. If you can take legal action without effecting the launch of the game, do it. But if it slows down your Alpha/beta releases you will have your own backers turning on you even though you are heeding their advice, keeping them up to date.
      I have backed a game and they pushed their release back twice. The forums are ugly, hype is dying. Don't go down the same road. Keep everything on track. I have spoken about your game to many people. Screw HTS.