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A Dutch Company Says it Owns the Patent on No Man's Sky's Procedural Generation Algorithm

| 21 Jul 2016 14:35
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No Man's Sky could be facing another legal battle - this time over the algorithm used in the game's procedural generation system.

No Man's Sky is getting closer to launching, but if an article in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf is accurate, it may be facing another legal problem. The article was translated by a NeoGAF user, and concerns the procedural generation system used in the game.

Apparently the game uses something called the "Superformula," a mathmatical algorithm that was invented and patented by Johan Gielis, the Chief Research Officer of a company called Genicap. During an interview with Business Insider, Hello Games co-founder Sean Murray described the game's procedural generation system, and confirmed that the game uses the so-called "Superformula."

The interview says, "When Murray and the rest of the team plugged the Superformula into the game, it worked. Things that didn't have natural variety all of a sudden took on varied but still possible shapes. It was what they needed, or at least a major part of it."

While there's no confirmation that the final game uses the "Superformula," or that the convoluted maze that is patent law would even apply, the De Telegraaf quotes an attorney who felt that it could be a problem.

Genicap spokesperson Jeroen Sparrow told the newspaper that "We don't want to stop the launch, but if the formula is used we'll need to have a talk." He also said that the company had not received a response to their attempts to contact Hello Games, and neither Sony nor Hello Games has spoken on the matter. However, it may be that rather than a court battle, Genicap will seek a dialogue and advice, as Sparrow said that his company is working on its own game and "it would be great if we could trade knowledge with Hello Games."

This could spell trouble for Hello Games, or it could be nothing more than background noise from a patent troll. We'll have to wait and see how it shakes out. Assuming no delays come from it, No Man's Sky is set to launch August 9 on PC and PS4.

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