Shadow of Mordor Accused of Actually Using Assassin's Creed Assets

Shadow of Mordor Accused of Actually Using Assassin's Creed Assets

mesom___talion

Today's gameplay debut of Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor turned a lot of heads, including one former Assassin's Creed developer who thinks it looks awfully familiar.

Judging by today's debut video, the gameplay of Monolith Productions' Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor clearly draws a lot of inspiration from the Assassin's Creed series. The eight minutes of pre-alpha footage showed protagonist Talion running, jumping, climbing, and air-assassinating in a manner that's nearly identical to the gameplay of Ubisoft's series. Granted, there's nothing wrong with mimicking a successful game series, especially with Shadow of Mordor's other, more original mechanics - except this might not be mere inspiration. Charles Randall, a former developer at Ubisoft who worked on Assassin's Creed II, claims that Shadow of Mordor is literally using his code.

"Check it out, guys!" Randall joked as he linked the trailer in a tweet. "I apparently made a Middle Earth game!" A few tweets later, it was clear that Randall recognized his own work in Talion's controls. He worked on the combat and air assassinations in Assassin's Creed II, and although the combat looks more like Batman than Assassin's Creed, he's convinced. "Watch the video," he says. "That's AC2 stuff in there. Code/anim for sure."

Randall admits that he doesn't have legal rights to his work on Assassin's Creed II, since it's all property of Ubisoft, so he can't do anything but "hope [he gets] a special thanks" in the credits. That said, there's been no word from Ubisoft on whether they've licensed their engine to Monolith Productions, or whether it is the same code at all. We'll keep an eye out for official statements from either company.

Source: Twitter, via IGN

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Join the crowd, you're not the only one tired of seeing reused AC assets in every game...

Yeah, unless he can prove that they actually copied code... more importantly, where would they copy it from?

I dunno, it just seems like this guy is jumping his gun. Yes. Someone else made a game where you run around and jump. Saying that the animations are the same is the kicker. Yes, let's make it so when you run and jump... you run and jump? Clearly, if anyone makes an animation that looks like someone running and jumping, they are copying our code!

Dr.Awkward:
Join the crowd, you're not the only one tired of seeing reused AC assets in every game...

Ba Dum Tish

after watching the gameplay demo, yea it looks a hell of a lot like AC even some of the movements look identical. As to whether or not they have stolen assets I can't say, but it looks like they have actually added more features then the last 3 AC games combined so I think its fine, lots of games take ideas and styles from other games like cover based shooting from gears of war for instance

Hey guys maybe if we say it's much more like Ass creed more than enough times it really will be!, Ubisoft will then proceed to suing those guys and then we'll get jack shit for a game!/ sarcasm.

Next thing you know the original inventor of the car/wheel would have said "jeez can you believe those guys using my car/wheel assets in that movie", just because you think there's some of your "code" in that other game doesn't mean it's automatically proven and true, even if he is joking it's such a random non funny type of joke, like the awkward guy trying to make non friends laugh at the mall and gets ignored kind of joke.

I'm actually interested in this game but to see it bogged down and named "copycat" so damn early annoys me, we've hardly had original innovative game ideas for years if you want to go to that far.

Looking at the game, the movement of Talon look almost the same as the Assassin Creed Games. Particularly the climbing and the crawling on the "wires of unknown purpose".

The air assassinations somewhat look like AC2, but the combat just screams Arkham series. Either way I don't care. I love LOTR and Assassin's Creed so this game is a big bunch of awesome for me. I might even break my rule after Rome 2 and pre-order it... MIGHT!

Yeah, I don't get it. It seems to me he thinks a game-style can be owned or something. He gives no evidence (unless I missed it) of any coding examples, only that it "looks" like the same game/animations. And if that sort of thing can be copyrighted then someone needs to be handing out a lawsuit for all those CoD/MoH/FPS clones which all seem to use the same run/shoot/reload/die animations or all these survival/Minecraft clones which have everyone chop at rocks with a pickaxe.

If he's talking only about the coding itself then he needs evidence. Do these 2 games even use the same engine/programming language?

Uh, I'm pretty sure they'd need the AC engine for that. If anything I get more of an Arkham feel from it. Does look pretty neat due to the Nemesis system.

Uummm don't like it don't work for a commission work royalties only.

I only know the basics of programming, so, for any Escapists out there who are in the know... Is it possible for one to actually 'recognize' their code from a gameplay video like that? What is happening specifically that makes this guy say, "Yup, I did that."

Thanks

EdwardOrchard:
I only know the basics of programming, so, for any Escapists out there who are in the know... Is it possible for one to actually 'recognize' their code from a gameplay video like that? What is happening specifically that makes this guy say, "Yup, I did that."

Thanks

Well it's not the code they recognize but all the movement and interactions seem to be one for one with Assassins Creed, that doesn't happen unless someone is using the same code.

You know, SCE Santa Monica was a good sport about it when Dante's Inferno all but ripped animations and other themes from God of War.

But whatever. I can see why someone who's entire legacy boils down to being a mere code monkey for one a fucking Screed game would leave a gigantic chip on your shoulder. Not everyone can become the next Suda51/Hideo Kojima/Keiji Inafune/Peter Molyneux/Notch/David Jaffe/Tim Schafer/Cliff Bleszinski/Warren Spector/American Mcgee/whoever the fuck is the current "name" in gaming these days.

Mr.K.:

Well it's not the code they recognize but all the movement and interactions seem to be one for one with Assassins Creed, that doesn't happen unless someone is using the same code.

That last bit is bullshit, when you know what your doing creating animations that look like another animation is pretty easy.
Sure it's a bit cheap to copy from assassins creed so blatanly, but that, by no means, means that they are using the same code.
They could be, but it's in no way prove that they do.

Yeah, that looked an awful lot like Assassin's Creed, and I have to say that it turned me off of the game (so tired of sneaking around). Then I saw the combat, and I became interested again. I will keep my hopes up, but within reason. The trailer is promising a lot and I'm not sure if they can deliver.
But yeah, I would not be surprised if some piece of AC code or something related to that found its way into this game. The questions though are how did that happened and what, if anything, is Ubisoft going to do about it.

Kuala BangoDango:
Yeah, I don't get it. It seems to me he thinks a game-style can be owned or something. He gives no evidence (unless I missed it) of any coding examples, only that it "looks" like the same game/animations. And if that sort of thing can be copyrighted then someone needs to be handing out a lawsuit for all those CoD/MoH/FPS clones which all seem to use the same run/shoot/reload/die animations or all these survival/Minecraft clones which have everyone chop at rocks with a pickaxe.

If he's talking only about the coding itself then he needs evidence. Do these 2 games even use the same engine/programming language?

Both dance and coding can be copyrighted, so it would not be a stretch for Ubisoft to claim those assets as copyrighted if they could prove a link between the assets.

Basic features to a genre (such as the pick ax used for mining or the presence of a gang in a organized crime game) are not copyrightable in the same way because they are essentially necessary for a story in the genre.

EDIT: OT: Looking at the gameplay demo, yeah, the similarities are strikingly similar, and if Ubisoft could prove a definitive link between the ACII and LotR:SoM code (such as a common programmer or access to the assets), then they would have a good case in US courts.

People in this thread seem so aggressive and against the guy. I don't think he is planning to bring up a law suit against them or anything, he just found it funny and pointed it out. I would do it with my friends if I noticed it, i'd just be all like "Hey look they are using the exact same animations as that other game, how lazy XD".

He tweeted it so he probably just saw it as saying out loud to some friends as a joke. Most people seem to forget how public something like Twitter can be. It was just a joke, I found it funny at least.

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that you are going to find a lot of games with code pieces in them that are exactly the same. Coding is a game of logic and creating a piece of code that makes a gun fire or triggers a specific animation or starts a timer or triggers a move or pretty much anything will come down to a limited number of permutations. It is entirely likely that 2 programmers will come up with the exact same code for an action or series of actions. This becomes even more prevalent when considering that when you program you are trying to limit the hardware footprint of any given action (or at least you should). Interestingly enough the two "pieces" of code might actually look entirely different when looked at side by side but as you go through the different objects, pointers and what have you, they are virtually identical.

In other words: Yes he may have spotted something that is actually a carbon copy of something he made several years ago but that does not mean it was copied. More than on person can invent calculus.

From another point of view though monolith might have licensed the engine used for AC so if Charles Randall did in fact work on that chances are he will be in the credits either directly or indirectly as I am pretty sure the deal will include a requirement to show that they used that engine.

This is so obviously the Assassin's Creed's Anvil (or AnvilNext) engine. There's no way that they didn't get the "Okay" from Ubisoft; blatantly using someone else's engine without their consent would never fly.

Edit: some are stating that this game uses the LithTech engine. Personally, I'd be surprised; everything about this resembles Anvil to a considerable degree.

Two things. Firstly, a lot of people seem to think this guy's getting uppity because SoM is 'similar', or has 'copied the style'. I'm pretty sure a professional, industry animator who spends his entire day going through movements of 3D models frame by frame to ensure it looks smooth without being a resource hug is going to recognise the subtleties of nuances of a specific animation he probably spent weeks on. This isn't about Talion having a similar pose to Ezio while hanging off a ledge, it's about how when he shimmies across which bone moves first, how much it moves and how long the transtion takes.

If the guy says its his work, I'm inclined to believe him.

Second thing, however, is that tag on the footage that says 'pre-alpha'. I've already seen people getting cynical about that, hell I'm one of them to an extent. Some of those assets (mostly the character models and a few particle effects/shaders) look way too good for even a beta stage. But animations are definitely one of those things that could get worked on as the game is developed. Maybe they cribbed the AC2 animations as a placeholder so they could get some of their models in motion and show off the nifty features they've got coded, rather than try and build interest with an interview or press release while they go about re-animating things.

Just a theory, mind, but I think a lot of people are jumping to conclusions. In both directions, at that.

Oh I hope there's not some big investigation into this that halts development because of this comment. I think Shadow of Mordor looks great, and if it gets cancelled because of some lawsuit I'm going to be pissed.

Those animations are definitely from AC2.

For people saying "oh 2 people can come up with the same code blah blah." Yes that's true for code - but you don't get the same animations unless you take someone elses rig WITH THE ANIMATION DATA and just fire it into another engine.

I could take something from Blender into Maya and say "hey look I made an animation" then some guy could take my Maya scene and throw it unto Unity and say "hey look I totally never stole this, I made it legit! It just looks the same because uhh...err..."

So yeah, even if they say they never licensed/took/'conveniently borrowed' or whatever, those are definitely copied animations either from saved out animation data or they've just taken the whole rig + data and shoved it on a new character and tidied up the weight painting so the new model deforms accurately enough to whatever magical rig they got their hands on.

PS: I study computer animation and even I knew instantly where those animations were from/'based on' without reading the article before viewing the video.

AndrewC:
Those animations are definitely from AC2.

For people saying "oh 2 people can come up with the same code blah blah." Yes that's true for code - but you don't get the same animations unless you take someone elses rig WITH THE ANIMATION DATA and just fire it into another engine.

I could take something from Blender into Maya and say "hey look I made an animation" then some guy could take my Maya scene and throw it unto Unity and say "hey look I totally never stole this, I made it legit! It just looks the same because uhh...err..."

So yeah, even if they say they never licensed/took/'conveniently borrowed' or whatever, those are definitely copied animations either from saved out animation data or they've just taken the whole rig + data and shoved it on a new character and tidied up the weight painting so the new model deforms accurately enough to whatever magical rig they got their hands on.

PS: I study computer animation and even I knew instantly where those animations were from/'based on' without reading the article before viewing the video.

You don't need to study animation to see that's no coincidence...

Mr.K.:

EdwardOrchard:
I only know the basics of programming, so, for any Escapists out there who are in the know... Is it possible for one to actually 'recognize' their code from a gameplay video like that? What is happening specifically that makes this guy say, "Yup, I did that."

Thanks

Well it's not the code they recognize but all the movement and interactions seem to be one for one with Assassins Creed, that doesn't happen unless someone is using the same code.

Not necessarily.

For one thing, animations and visuals are almost completely separate from code. Generally, the code will just reference animation and art files. Those are usually created in separate programs and then linked in the IDE the developers are using the write the code.

That's why the article keeps talking about "assets," which is generally used to refer to those files separate from the code.

Secondly, it's entirely possible for two programs to do the same thing but have completely different code.

Mostly though, they're talking about the animations. You can't compare code from a video, but yeah, the animations look REALLY similar. Close enough for them to possibly be the same ones.

However, as the article points out, for all we know Ubisoft gave them the assets. The guy who sent the tweet doesn't work for Ubisoft anymore.

It would actually be a pretty good idea to straight up rip off the 'Screed engine if Ubisoft allowed it. That way the navigation mechanics would be mostly done leaving you with all the time in the world to work on the original stuff, like the Nemesis system or whatever else.

Floppertje:

AndrewC:
Those animations are definitely from AC2.

For people saying "oh 2 people can come up with the same code blah blah." Yes that's true for code - but you don't get the same animations unless you take someone elses rig WITH THE ANIMATION DATA and just fire it into another engine.

I could take something from Blender into Maya and say "hey look I made an animation" then some guy could take my Maya scene and throw it unto Unity and say "hey look I totally never stole this, I made it legit! It just looks the same because uhh...err..."

So yeah, even if they say they never licensed/took/'conveniently borrowed' or whatever, those are definitely copied animations either from saved out animation data or they've just taken the whole rig + data and shoved it on a new character and tidied up the weight painting so the new model deforms accurately enough to whatever magical rig they got their hands on.

PS: I study computer animation and even I knew instantly where those animations were from/'based on' without reading the article before viewing the video.

You don't need to study animation to see that's no coincidence...

I never said you had to. I'd rather just pitch my two cents given I know about the subject area.

Lil_Rimmy:
Yeah, unless he can prove that they actually copied code... more importantly, where would they copy it from?

I dunno, it just seems like this guy is jumping his gun. Yes. Someone else made a game where you run around and jump. Saying that the animations are the same is the kicker. Yes, let's make it so when you run and jump... you run and jump? Clearly, if anyone makes an animation that looks like someone running and jumping, they are copying our code!

I think what bothers him is that the freeclimbing movements are pretty much identical. If you showed me just the freeclimbing and told me it was a reskin of AC, I wouldn't have a hard time believing you.

I hope that if they did use the code, the engine was licenced from Ubisoft. The game looks pretty awesome and fuck knows there hasn't been many good LOTR games... well, not even recently, ever. The only thing I didn't like in their video is the occasional QTE sequence, but I'm guessing these are used sparingly for boss fights, so I could handle overlooking that if the rest of the game's as good as it looks.

Vrach:
The only thing I didn't like in their video is the occasional QTE sequence, but I'm guessing these are used sparingly for boss fights, so I could handle overlooking that if the rest of the game's as good as it looks.

I think they were contextual. They seemed to occur when Talion was on low health, and the enemy was dealing the "killing blow" so it could be a sort of second chance mechanic for combat. Which wouldn't be such a terrible thing really, Contextual QTEs are a lot less offensive than the surprise insta-death in a cutscene QTE.

Simple Bluff:

Vrach:
The only thing I didn't like in their video is the occasional QTE sequence, but I'm guessing these are used sparingly for boss fights, so I could handle overlooking that if the rest of the game's as good as it looks.

I think they were contextual. They seemed to occur when Talion was on low health, and the enemy was dealing the "killing blow" so it could be a sort of second chance mechanic for combat. Which wouldn't be such a terrible thing really, Contextual QTEs are a lot less offensive than the surprise insta-death in a cutscene QTE.

Yep, that's what I'm hoping. I hate QTEs with the burning passion of a thousand suns, but I don't mind them much used sparingly in this way (or at all if done right, like ME2's conversation cutscene interrupts)

The climbing in the first few minutes of the trailer looked almost identical to AC's climbing animations. Then again, how much differently can you make a burly guy in his thirties climb a tower?

Lil_Rimmy:
Yeah, unless he can prove that they actually copied code... more importantly, where would they copy it from?

I wouldn't be surprised at all if any number of people who've left Ubisoft since AC2 were working for this other developer. Actually, given the number of people who worked on AC2, I'd be more surprised if no one who worked on it worked there.

I dunno, it just seems like this guy is jumping his gun. Yes. Someone else made a game where you run around and jump. Saying that the animations are the same is the kicker. Yes, let's make it so when you run and jump... you run and jump? Clearly, if anyone makes an animation that looks like someone running and jumping, they are copying our code!

The guy isn't talking about animations which do something similar, or may have some passing similarity. He's talking about lifting them verbatim from AC2 with no differences at all. And if they did lift animations and actual code from AC2, they would be breaking the law unless they had permission to do so first, so from Ubisoft's point of view it's a good business move to determine if it's true.

Bah, my first thought was actually the Arkham games when I saw this, and it looks good. I think he needs to chill out.
This game is set in an entirely different universe, and is way more engaging (on the surface) than assassin's creed.

 

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