Archangel Studios, developer of Soulslike Bleak Faith: Forsaken, has been accused of directly copying animations from FromSoftware‘s Elden Ring and Dark Souls titles, as well as using AI-generated art for in-game perks. The studio has issued a response claiming that it bought the animations from Epic Marketplace, and has admitted to the usage of AI art for the perks while promising new perk art to replace it soon.
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Assets from FromSoftware’s Dark Souls franchise and last year’s Elden Ring title can be extracted using DS Anim Studio, a tool created by community modder Meowmaritus. The modder, with video evidence comparing Bleak Faith: Forsaken’s combat animations to those of Elden Ring, has claimed that Archangel Studios directly or indirectly (through Epic Games’ Unreal Engine Marketplace) employed his software to plagiarize FromSoftware’s work for its game:
Saw this footage floating around. Bleak Faith: Forspoken is 100% using animations ripped directly 1:1 from Elden Ring.
I do NOT condone people using my DS Anim Studio software to aid in exporting animations to include in commercial products or sell them on Epic Games Store. pic.twitter.com/9JHGMeu9as
— Meowmaritus (@meowmaritus) March 12, 2023
Additionally, Archangel Studios was also called out on Twitter for the usage of AI-generated art for the in-game perk menu.
In a series of responses, the studio has claimed that it bought the animations from the Unreal Engine Marketplace, specifically from user PersiaNinja who had been offering the animations for sale “for years.” Additionally, Archangel Studios also claims that FromSoftware and the industry at large outsource animation work and buy assets due to various constraints, making its usage of external assets a non-issue:
Any animations not made in-house are from the Epic Marketplace and have been up there for years, rigged to an Epic Skeleton. We’ve heard this comment before, but you can buy the animations yourself if you want as they are publicly available and have been for a long time. Any other question or concern should be taken up with Epic themselves. We’re willing to rework things if there’s something amiss going on in the marketplace but we’ve received no notification from Epic and we too are their customers. The marketplace was used to fill in generic art and was still edited to fit in the general needs of the art direction – about 10% of the total game art is from there.
[…] People are also talking about stolen assets a lot so a few things to understand:
- We’re always been transparent about using the Epic Marketplace for animations that are good and fit our theme (the rest I made – we just needed more variety and I’m not an animator by trade, I had to learn for this game) – the link to the main one getting flack I will put at the end, you can buy it yourself, and try making Bleak Faith yourself too!
- The only other things from the Epic Marketplace that I use is for generic VFX that was a waste of time to make since I’d make things that looked virtually the same anyway, and things that are so generic (like some rocks) that didn’t require artistic direction. THE ENTIRE WORLD was built by hand. So about 10% of the art is outsourced, whereas AAA companies outsource about 70% of their art (since they have the budget, we don’t have that option and so any idea we have needs to be made in-house). Same goes for our trailers, you guys love them, and they are all made by 2 people. My brother and myself. ALL AAA companies outsource their promotional work to other companies. Keep that in mind as well. [link to asset listing]
Another additional thing, Rotoscoping is a technique in animation where you trace other movement (animations, videos, anything). If timings overlap in an animation on completely separate rigs, that’s not something you can copyright easily and mostly not worth trying to do. If you find animations that are similar, on completely separate rigs and skeletons, it’s more than likely rotoscoping is involved as a method of tracing. You can’t just trace a brand logo and use it as your own, but you can trace a lot of things and those things do become your own. A lot of anime you love rotoscopes famous scenes from film and media to similar effects.
While addressing feedback on controller support issues, Archangel Studios also responded to the claims of AI art usage for perks, admitting its error and promising to update the game with redone perk art:
We hear you about it, we're working on new icons currently. It was somewhat of an oversight but also a decision that came from an honest place. We value the feedback however and will have redone perk icons up today!
— Bleak Faith (@bleak_faith) March 11, 2023
For those who want to examine the game for its merits and flaws themselves, Bleak Faith: Forsaken can be picked up on Steam for $26.99 (10% off as an introductory sale). What do you feel about Archangel Studios’ practices and its alleged usage of FromSoftware assets? Let us know in the comments below.