Kickstarter Funded Ron Paul: The Road To Revolution Is A Mess Of Stolen Ideas

We normally try to avoid political discussion down at the We Got This Covered bunker (mostly over a horrible disagreement that currently has us at war with a hyper-intelligent race of ferrets), but every so often, something comes up that we have to touch upon.

Kickstarter has been a hot bed for video games ever since Double Fine was able to fully fund its project a few weeks back. In this most recent case, programmer Daniel Williams turned to the masses to fuel his dream project, a Ron Paul video game. While this at its surface is a somewhat admirable thing, somebody that invested in a candidate and thinks he found a format to help him, the true story is much more diabolical. The truth is that Daniel is simply a guy who likes Ron Paul and has access to a basic tutorial on game creation. He was just lucky enough to convince people to give him nearly $10,000. One way to look at this is that Paul supporters are getting a nice taste of the “free market” they support; a shoddy product with work ripped off from others.

The official mission statement for Williams’ Ron Paul: The Road To Revolution Kickstarter stated that

The Road to REVOLution is a sidescrolling platformer action/adventure game, reminiscent of console classics like Super Mario Brothers and Sonic the Hedgehog. You play the role of Ron Paul and make your way across all 50 states collecting Gold (sound money) and Delegates. The game is full of original artwork and gameplay mechanics. Indie Game Development at its finest, the game is designed, programmed, conceived, and produced by me, D.S. Williams.

The reason that this is a big deal is that Williams isn’t filling those promises remotely. Since Williams was polite (read: foolish) enough to have open directories on his server, allowing anyone to access his source code, the Internet wanted to see exactly where all that money had been going. The results were a bit less than impressive. In fact, they’re embarrassing.

Williams has been following this tutorial,taking him through how to create a video game step-by-step. Now, before you rush to defend him, this isn’t someone trying to learn how to program. This isn’t even someone just seeing if he can put it together. This is someone who sold a product on the basis of creating something new, when in fact he is essentially copying and pasting directly from a tutorial. Williams is blatantly attempting to pass off everything he’s taking from other people as his own work (without having the courtesy of removing the original author’s watermarks.) Maybe I just don’t understand the free market, but this screams theft to me.

But wait! There’s more!

Not only is the coding ripped off other people, but the “original artwork” is also stolen. Looking at the screenshot below. It’s outright obvious to anyone paying attention.

The mob scene itself has been directly lifted from Earthbound (although he did at least have the artistic vision to give them signs.) The Ron Paul sprite is a badly recolored Walugi sprite from the sprite sheet conveniently left among the source code, which ironically enough reads, “100% custom made by NO Body (NO Body the Dragon) and this time GIVE CREDIT.” I suppose Williams couldn’t be bothered with that. And, to complete the trifecta of intellectual property theft, the monster is a recolored Monstar from Braid.

Williams has been quick to defend himself, claiming that this is a rough draft, however that excuse doesn’t hold water. While I will accept that the Earthbound mob is probably a place holder, the other sprites have had an impressive amount of work done in order to cover up the theft. At this point, if he were to be switching out stolen property for his own intellectual ideas, he would essentially be rewriting the entire game.

David Williams has done something with this project that I haven’t been able to do for months: prove that Ron Paul supporters will buy into anything with his name on it regardless of whether or not they understand it. As a final sign off, I’m going to quote Williams one more time:

“Indie Gaming, I hope, will thrive in the face of dull, spiritless, cloned, big-budget games.”

I couldn’t have said it any better.

Special thanks to our friends at Something Awful for their awesome investigative journalism.

Comments (42)

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  1. Really?  Poor research and some openly hostile framing language is “journalism” for you?  You should read the comments here, where the facts of the case are brought to light w/o your gross bias:

    http://www.complex.com/video-games/2012/04/10000-ron-paul-kickstarter-game-dev-appears-to-have-stolen-art-from-nintendo

    > our friends at Something Awful for their awesome investigative journalism.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.  These are the same folks that create a childporn channel on reddit and then complain that reddit admins won’t do anything about it.  Classy friends you’ve got there, and such awesome journalists.  😛

    1. Lulwatsays:

      Please.  There’s no defense for someone blatantly stealing work and claiming it as his own. Even if they were “placeholder” (which your fooling yourself if you think they are) he still attempted to sell a product using stolen materials.  In any other case that’s considered fraud.

      And nice straw man argument there at the end.  I suppose when you can’t win by logic, resort to logical fallacies.  

    2. WalrusPopsays:

      YA GUYS! HE SAID HE’S COMPLETELY LEGITAMATE! HE WOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO SAY THAT IF HE WAS A SCAMMER, RIGHT?

  2. RonPaulSuckssays:

    I could have sworn there was already a game showing exactly how awesome libertarianism is.  Ohh yeah, it’s callled BioShock

    1. DanielSparkPlugTanuresays:

      I suspect BioShock had based his world on the vision of Ayn Rand, who was an objectivist (having herself created the philosophy of objectivism) and HATED, absolutely HATED libertarians, with all her gut. She hated us more than she hated socialists, just to give you an idea.

      I never played the game, but I hear that in the city of rapture any religious symbol was banned. That alone disqualifies it from anything remotely close to being libertarian – We believe you are free to believe what you want.

      Oh, and, of course, just because something went wrong inside the head of a game designer it doesn’t mean it would go wrong in real life. Since there have been no objectivist societies in the world, we can’t be sure they would indeed fail or not.

      But, as Peter Bagge has said, even though Ayn Rand may have some distorted ideas about the world, “To her eternal credit, she never once advocated the use of physical force to impose her ideas on anyone, something which cannot be said about her most vociferous critics”. http://reason.com/archives/2009/11/10/will-everyone-please-stop-frea

      1. RavensBreath472says:

        Actually, we have had objectivist societies.  They’ve failed miserably because of the human condition.  How naive do you have to be to think that if given the chance everyone will always work for the betterment of each other or even do the right thing?  The reason people steal lie and cheat is because they know it will get them exactly what they want.  Hell, look at 4chan!  No accountability to anyone else but they hardly work to help anyone do they.  They do what’s best for them and that’s it.

      2. DanielSparkPlugTanuresays:

        “How naive do you have to be to think that if given the chance everyone will always work for the betterment of each other or even do the right thing?”

        How naive do you have to be to think that people who work for the government are not subject to those exact same human flaws? Or do you think politicians are not humans? Maybe they are a super-race of morally superior angels, huh?

        What you are essentially saying is: “People are not trustworthy. They are petty and selfish. Therefore we need to take a small group of the very same selfish and petty people I’m against and give them absolute powers to stop other people from being selfish. But since they will be elected, they will stop being human and won’t have these flaws when they take office. And just to be sure, we’ll put some other people in charge of overseeing the people who control us. They will be appointed, so they will have even less human flaws.”

        I mean, seriously, you realize how ridiculous that logic is? I understand how people can think that the government is a good idea at first, but when you back away, forget right, left and all the other bullshit, government is just a gang who claim ownership over everyone in their turf.

        But you are given the illusion that they are all right because you voted for them. Yes, because you wouldn’t trust your money to someone you know for your entire life, but you would trust it to someone who seemed slick on the TV.

      3. Lulwatsays:

        In before “You think the election system really works!  Wake up sheeple!”

        These people are elected to do the job, yes.  If they don’t do the job, we can elect other people to do the job.  Yes, I trust someone who has dedicated their lives to fields more than I trust someone down the street.  Yes, I KNOW that the only reason some people act without malice is out of fear of the reprisals, but you’re answer is apparently to fire the entire police department during a crime wave.

      4. Abc ... easy as 123says:

        Check out the YouTube video entitled Ron Paul vs. the #HONESTMISTAKE for an eye-opening experience.

      5. DanielSparkPlugTanuresays:

        You can elect other people AFTER FOUR YEARS. How come this logic doesn’t enter your statist head??? If you elect a guy who is a complete crook, you’re stuck with him for FOUR YEARS. I mean, seriously, what the hell??? And there is no way in the world you can know a guy is trustworthy just because they said “oh yeah, I’m dedicated to it”. Seriously, I mean, you seem like an intelligent guy, I don’t think you really believe this. And in my example, I didn’t say “someone down the street”, I said someone you’ve known YOUR ENTIRE LIFE. If a friend came up to you and said “give me a third of your money because I will give it to a bunch of charities and shit” would you do it??? You call this “conspiracy theory”? This is goddamn common sense! Apparently, if you don’t take everything everyone on the TV tells you at face value, you’re a conspiracy theorist. Well, the TV is not wonder woman’s lasso, a magic “lie eliminator” box. Next thing you’re going to tell me is that reality shows are not manipulated.

        You’ve been convinced by your government to hate on your brothers and sisters and blame everything on them, who don’t have 0,001% of the power the state has over your life. This is NOT a crime wave. Citizens are NOT criminals, not until it’s proven otherwise. But you are more inclined to give the government the benefit of the doubt at all times, not your fellow citizens! WTF???

        As I’ve said before, and I feel I have to insist on this: THE GOVERNMENT IS MADE OF PEOPLE. If you think “people” are malicious without fear of reprisals, well guess what: THERE’S NO REPRISALS FOR POLITICIANS! They can be as evil as they want, as long as they don’t go too overboard. And guess what? If you’re rich enough to have a politician in your pocket, then you don’t have to worry about any reprisals either!

        The philosophy of Statism is the philosophy of HATE. Hate everyone but your government, because we “dedicated our lives to it”.

        I mean, I hate to be redundant here, but apparently I’m having difficulty getting my points across. First of: How do you KNOW they are trustworthy if you don’t know THEM. You trust anyone with a diploma, is that it? If a doctor tells you you have to suck his dick to cure your throat cancer, would you do it? A diploma is just A PAPER. It doesn’t make anyone more ethical, more charitable, more altruistic. It just means that person had perseverance enough to go through college. And a lot of politicians don’t even have that!

        You tell me not to call you a sheep, but you have to meet me halfway here. The fact that you dismiss anyone who calls you a sheep as a tin-foil hat wearing conspiracy nut doesn’t make you less of one.

      6. DanielSparkPlugTanuresays:

        And I want to know from you what are those Objectivist societies that we’ve had.

        Because I can give you two examples of libertarian societies that worked beautifully: Medieval Iceland and Colonial Pennsylvania.

    2. Referring to a game of pure sci-fi fiction to prove a rhetorical point. Clever.

      I could write a book/make a movie/produce a video game based on a premise of a wonderful utopia where all of libertarian values work out beautifully. But it would be as purely irrelevant as Rapture is, because it too would be a work of fiction.

  3. DanielSparkPlugTanuresays:

    In a free market, you might get robbed for 10.000 dollars – which you voluntarily spent, assuming all the risks there is with such spending. In a statist society, you get robbed for 16 trillion that you were forced to pay or go to jail. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

    1. Pinillasays:

      Man, you got robbed for 16 trillion?  You must be loaded!  Or else, you know, grossly distorting facts in order to make yourself sound better. Hell, I’m a Paul supporter and even I can tell you that you’re argument is absolute bullshit.

      1. DanielSparkPlugTanuresays:

        I didn’t, because I’m not american, but you did. That 16 trillion that the Federal Reserve loaned to foreign banks came from the pockets of the American taxpayer. If it had stayed in your pocket, it would be circulating among private businesses and citizens and making the economy healthier and more prosper.

        Obviously, no one was robbed for 16 trillion individually. But no one was robbed of 10.000 dollars individually either when they donated to this game. The people who did this article imply that the donors who financed this game were robbed, because they aren’t getting their money’s worth. By their EXACT SAME LOGIC, the taxpayer was also robbed by the Fed, in a much worse way: At least the people who donated to this game did so voluntarily.

      2. Lulwatsays:

        I don’t think you understand of how this works.  In fact, I’m fairly sure of it.  The 16 trillion “debt” isn’t a standard debt, and the vast majority of it is owned by Americans.  The Fed hasn’t been robbing anyone, in fact it is one of the few things standing in the way of the disastrous outcome that  you are convinced is happening.  Ending the fed would be disastrous to the financial sector and assuming that a gold-standard would be better is pure ignorance.  You only need to look at bit-coins to understand that.

        Asperger’s-based fiat currency is a terrible idea.

      3. DanielSparkPlugTanuresays:

        When someone knocks at your door and says you have to pay them money or they will cause you physical harm, what’s that called?

      4. Lulwatsays:

        This isn’t extortion, this is paying for the use of public items.  Streets, schools, post office, funding for hospitals.  

        When someone takes services and doesn’t pay for them, what do you call them?

      5. Abc ... easy as 123says:

        Very little of the above has anything to do with expenditures at the federal level. The city, county, and state governments pay for “streets” and tend to only receive federal funds in relation to isolated projects, such as perhaps an overpass over an interstate highway. Schools are primarily paid for via local property taxes and other fees (I’m sure it varies a bit by state). Post offices perhaps, although most I’ve seen are 30 or more years old and we pay user fees for services. Hospitals were primarily built by private foundations, charities, churches, etc. with the occasional county or state hospital. Maybe there were some grants, unless you’re counting Medicare/Medicaid as hospital funding.

      6. Abc ... easy as 123says:

        I neglected to mention how we send highway funds to the federal government and receive pennies on the dollar in return with plenty of strings attached. Very little ever gets done while hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on decades of environmental impact studies and endless redesigns long before any Earth is moved. There’s an obvious necessity in both, but much of it is unnecessary bureaucracy ensuring its own self-preservation.

      7. Lulwatsays:

        I won’t argue that there is bloating in the system, however that doesn’t mean that the system is fundamentally flawed, but you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  

      8. Abc ... easy as 123says:

        I think the problem is that many people argue incessantly against reasonable actions that are akin to removing said baby from said bathwater and drying said baby. There’s resistance to any sort of change, even when the system is stagnant or obviously broken, because there’s rampant fear that any change could break something fundamentally. This is precisely why we were supposed to have a governmental model in which a very narrowly defined set of functions were to be handled at the federal level while the majority of functions were to be handled at the state level. The states were supposed to be evolutionary engines that could test various methods of administration until the fittest methodologies were identified and were selected for their fitness by other states that had implemented less efficient or otherwise less desirable solutions. By greatly stretching (or violating) the meaning of the Constituion in order to implement federal laws in all sorts of areas, simply for the sake of uniformity or conformity, we have lost much of our ability to grow and develop and have instead become quite stagnant. This can be just as detrimental legally as it can be genetically. In addition, many have thrown common sense by the wayside, and have forgotten that there need not be a law for every little thing simply because one does not yt exist. The Tenth Amendment has been largely corrupted to mean “State’s Rights” when it was as much about reserving rights to We The People as it was about The Several States. This demonstrated a foundational belief that the people themselves were equally capable of handling matters on their own without any legal guidance whatsoever at the state or federal level. This implies that laws should only be implemented for some compelling reason. This concept is in desperate need of rediscovery and reclamation.

      9. Lulwatsays:

        You automatically assume I’m against the idea because I fear change or the unknown, but the truth is much more simple.   We’ve seen what happens when we leave total rights up to the states, citizens are left behind.  The basic idea always goes back to “If they’re not happy they’re free to leave.  Vote with their feet” which is asinine. Leaving the rights up to the states has failed horrendously every single time.  The reason we have laws is because people have proven to not act responsibly without them.  If it wasn’t for government intervention, segregation would still run rampant, if not slavery itself.  Your talking points here are leading you away from Libertarianism and straight into Neo-Confederaism. 

      10. Abc ... easy as 123says:

        (commenting here to avoid a super-tight column)

        I speculated to that effect in another comment, but I wasn’t
        auto-assuming in this thread. This was more intended as a discussion of
        aspects of the overall problem and was not necessarily directed at you.

        Only a
        small handful of isolated topics have ever been cited to justify opting for federal
        solutions, but they don’t justify abandoning the entire scheme simply
        because a few exceptions have been identified. Also, the exceptions should ideally be
        implemented the right way (if the constitutional grounds are shaky), i.e. via an amendment. The Constitution was intended to be a cage in which to place the federal animal and was intended to place limitations on its power far more than it was ever intended to be a grant thereof. Allowing the federal animal to unlatch the door to its enclosure whenever it feels like stretching its legs can create extra-legal scenarios that are incompatible to a nation founded upon the rule of law.

        The Framers were students of history and I firmly believe they did what they did in an attempt to help us to avoid repeating history. I think we’ve strayed too far from the blueprint and are beginning to do precisely that.

      11. DanielSparkPlugTanuresays:

        I didn’t ASK for any streets, so I shouldn’t have to PAY for them. I only use them because they were already here and, if I’m not mistaken, they have already been paid for.

        Do you get it? Is it clear enough? You shouldn’t have to PAY for something you didn’t BUY. That is the EXACT logic of the Mafia: We’re giving you protection, so you have to pay us.

      12. Lulwatsays:

        Oh I get it, you’re an idiot.  You use the streets daily, you’re paying for their upkeep.  You use them to transport goods that you purchase, to get to work, to allow customers to get to whatever it is you provide.  You’re out of your damn mind if you think you’re not using them and therefore need to pay for them.  

      13. DanielSparkPlugTanuresays:

        I didn’t say I don’t USE them. I believe I stated very clearly that I DO use them, but only because they were already put there without my consent. I’m PAYING for something I didn’t BUY. Is that so hard to come across? If someone comes up to you, hands you a TV and says you have to pay for it, whether you want it or not, is that right?

        Of course, that’s not a good analogy because the State not only forces us to pay for the streets it builds, it also has monopoly over the market, so they can set the prices, and even if you WANTED to you couldn’t voluntarily use your money to build a street using the services of someone who is better and cheaper than the government. Since the government overprices and half-asses everything it has monopoly over, that would seem like an option we should have.

      14. DanielSparkPlugTanuresays:

        As for the fed being the only thing between you and calamity: Yes. The people who run the Fed are all only worried about your well-being. They run an entire economy, have access to trillions of dollars, and yet they don’t get tempted to let the poor burn while their rich friends prosper. Sure.

        And libertarians are the naive ones…

      15. Lulwatsays:

        Ahh yes, “sheeple logic”  and invoking conspiracy theories.  How many stereotypes are you trying to fit right now?

      16. Abc ... easy as 123says:

        Your entire premise is that the Fed is saving us from disaster (this was also the justification for its creation) and yet the facts prove otherwise. If you chart economic activity before and after the Fed you see that the recessions and depressions increased in frequency and in some cases severity on the Fed’s watch. The Great Depression happened on the Fed’s watch.

        You can claim the sky will fall if we abandon this 100-year failed experiment but I seriously doubt it. I think it’s indicative of either an irrational fear of change, a difficulty with thinking beyond the boundaries of the present paradigm, or both. Economics is not an exact science and it’s difficult to justify a failed system by arguing that an alternative might also fail. The same changed variables that often underpin such an argument also tend to invalidate it. There’s no way of knowing for sure because an alternative has never been tried within the present economic climate.

        Counterpoints against “the gold standard” are also primarily inapplicable or otherwise incorrect. Paul has stated that he would like to see a basket of inherently valuable commodities backing the currency, not gold alone.

  4. Jo Easomsays:

    Ahh yes, probably best you leave politics out of it if you are going to try to insult a group of people while reporting on this topic… suggesting that all Ron Paul supporters support copyright theft via the free market is alarmist and stupid. Very snide article, rather hateful.

    1. Lulwatsays:

      Did you actually read the article or did you stop half way through.  Outside of one side remark about the free market, the politics weren’t mentioned again.  What the author did do is point out that Williams stole the majority of his “work” and is passing it off as his own while collecting a sizable paycheck from people who will blindly throw money at anything that has anything remotely to do with Ron Paul. There should be hate here towards him, and I think it’s fully justified.

    2. RavensBreath472says:

      Yes, it’s hateful to call someone out for being a thief and to laugh at morons who support him since he’s doing something that benefits their side.  Come off your high horse.

  5. TommyOsays:

    Bullshit article! The guy is in the process of building the game…with still 75% of the work left to do. It would seem that now is a little early to judge just how much his backers have been ripped off – LOL! This smells of another lame velvet glove smack in the face to a Ron Paul supporter. 

    1. Lulwatsays:

      Even if I assume you’re right and only 25% of the game has been written, that 25% is all ripped off materials.  It’s been stolen from other people.  But then again, you’ve already decided that this article is a jab at Ron Paul as opposed to being assed to read it and notice it’s an attack on a developer who’s essentially selling stolen goods.  

    2. Little early? If this was a game about Obama would you say the same? I really doubt that. The level of latitude would never been give to someone who is another political camp. Not by the idiots swarming this article.

  6. Abc ... easy as 123says:

    You’ve obviously been spoiled by Kickstarter projects that are far beyond the initial stage, that are for games with sizable teams, and/or that attempt to perpetuate existing franchises that publishers have lost interest in. Such projects automatically arrive on-scene with considerable content available to reference. We’re talking about one guy that got an idea, decided to go for it, needed to get started immediately for his project to be in a state of readiness before the window of peak relevance had closed, and quickly cobbled together a teaser to spark interest. Backers are providing the funds necessary to allow the idea to be fully realized, not purchasing the teaser as this article implies.

    1. Lulwatsays:

      So the fact that he is using stolen sprites that he spent no small amount of time retexturizing in order to hide his theft and is blatantly selling code used in a tutorial is perfectly ok because it’s just one guy?  This isn’t someone using placeholder graphics and moving on, this is someone who STOLE other people’s work, edited it to look like it was his original work and then sold the idea.  Stop defending a thief.

      1. Abc ... easy as 123says:

        I suppose you would’ve preferred him to leave Waluigi looking like Waluigi? That makes sense. Then it would’ve been the same irrational uproar with a slightly different flavor. Obviously he had to rework the graphics to get the point across. He has openly stated that the gameplay currently on display was created primarily for testing game physics and other mechanics (and giving people a basic idea of where he’s going from a very early “this is subject to change” perspective) rather than saying that the gameplay currently on display was created primarily to showcase his amazing game art and ability to code a game engine in a handful of days. Hint: He has openly stated that much of the Kickstarter funds are intended to finance outside work on developing much of the game art.

        As for his use of a tutorial, what’s your point? Everyone has to start somewhere with an unfamiliar platform. As he said in a recent interview: “I’m not sure what the world thinks of programmers, but we’re not The Matrix. None of us are born knowing every API ever written. The tutorial
        mentioned is specific to the game engine that I’m using. I tried several
        game engines before I decided on MelonJS, and I had to learn each of
        them in order to make that decision.”

        This makes sense. Are you a programmer? I’m a hands-on kind of guy, but when first getting started with a new language or engine I like to keep a tutorial handy (if there is one), if for nothing else so I can scan it to get a basic idea of how things work and can reference it if I get into an area of the code I’m not familiar with yet and have any trouble wrapping my head around it. I also like to simply tinker and figure things out (hacking in the original sense). This is undoubtedly what’s going on here.

        In the final analysis, if you think a game can’t be considered original if it’s been built on a game engine then few games anymore are original by your definition. Whether it’s The Unreal Engine, Unity3d, Gamebryo, id Tech, or something else, many games are built on third-party engines so that developers can focus much more on content and mechanics. If you think conceptualizing and/or prototyping a new project while using borrowed content without permission constitutes theft then you’ve undoubtedly been an unwilling participant in the same because this is often a part of the creative process for everything from games to movies to music. A movie concept might be pitched to a studio exec as “[Insert a sentence or two about the story here]. Just think of it as [Well-Known Movie X] meets [Well-Known Movie Y] with a touch of [Well-Known Movie Z].” They don’t cut a check to the producers of X, Y, and Z at any stage of the process, even though all three may be on everyone’s minds and may even come up in conversation at varying times throughout the entire production.

      2. Wow. The cognitive dissonance is strong in this one.

  7. “One way to look at this is that Paul supporters are getting a nice taste of the “free market” they support; a shoddy product with work ripped off from others.”

    This sentence could apply equally well to the Ron Paul platformer game or to this very website.

    Lucky that, along with the dreck, the free market also delivers a load of awesome shit too.

  8. aberdeensays:

    So about how this DID turn out to be a total scam…

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