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S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Using Unlicensed Assets From Doom 3? 108

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-a-serious-charge dept.
segafreak writes "ShackNews reports that S.T.A.L.K.E.R.:Shadow of Chernobyl may contain unlicensed assets from other commercial games such as Doom 3 and Half Life 2. Though this has yet to be confirmed by any of the developers involved, if true this would be somewhat worrying. 'Responding to inquiries made by Shacknews, id Software CEO Todd Hollshead stated: I've seen a post on a web forum that claims DOOM3 assets are used in another game, but we've been working hard on Enemy Territory: Quake Wars as well as our own internal project and have not had the time to fully investigate or otherwise verify that the claim is true. Only from what I've seen on the Web, it's concerning. However, it may turn out to be nothing.'"
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S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Using Unlicensed Assets From Doom 3?

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  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @01:13PM (#18678079) Homepage Journal
    OMG, that could be true. I'm pretty sure S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has brown walls too!
  • Specifically... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ACS Solver (1068112)
    It seems that Half-Life 2's normal maps and water are used. For those too lazy to read TFA. Wouldn't it be ironical if the reason Stalker finally turned from vapourware into a real product is that they "borrowed" HL2 and D3 assets...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CAIMLAS (41445)
      No, it would not be 'ironical'. It would be 'ironic'. Ironical is not a word.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by squiggleslash (241428)

      Wouldn't it be ironical if the reason Stalker finally turned from vapourware into a real product is that they "borrowed" HL2 and D3 assets..

      Indeedy. Or it could be even more ironicalized, and a totally ironicalizational version of "Duke Nukem Forever" could be made using stolen components.

    • by grumbel (592662)
      I kind of doubt it that they "borrowed" the asserts to get release ready. I would assume that they used them as placeholder early on, which is a very common thing, and then forgot to replace them in the end before release. Its not like any of the asserts is some artistic masterpiece that would be impossible to recreate in a day or two.
      • by neongrau (1032968)
        not "asserts"

        it's "asses"! so i guess they borrowed their "bump-maps"

        *scnr*
      • by blincoln (592401)
        I would assume that they used them as placeholder early on, which is a very common thing

        Why would any developer take that kind of high-risk chance? Maybe I'm missing something obvious here, but using crappy "sketch" textures would prevent this kind of huge potential legal issue *and* make it very obvious which textures still needed to be replaced before release.
        • by grumbel (592662)
          Given how long Stalker was in development I kind of doubt that they had everything well planed from the beginning, normally of course you would keep foreign data very well separated from your own and only use in very early in engine prototyping to begin with, but then in all those years things might have gotten a bit wild and uncoordinated and things ended up where they didn't belong.
  • I say let the corporate execs fight this out the new-fashioned way...

    An in-game cage match.
  • by vr0p (1073844)
    From the linked screenshots, the alleged borrowed assets appear to be shaders or bumpmaps and such. That is, tools for the map developer that the gamer doesn't "see" per se. Perhaps, like sound effects, companies license the use of such "tools"? I know I've heard the same gunshot noise in 500 movies and video games, and that crazy death scream...
    • by User 956 (568564)
      I know I've heard the same gunshot noise in 500 movies and video games, and that crazy death scream...

      Yeah, good ol' Wilhelm Scream has been in every single movie since 1977. I think he even put out a new wave album in the '80s.
      • I know I've heard the same gunshot noise in 500 movies and video games,

        There's an infamous ricochet sound that's appeared in dozens of movies. I once went to a talk by an audio guy from Lucasfilm who showed a collection of about thirty short clips from movies made over several decades, all with the same ricochet sound. It was recorded in the 1940s, used heavily during the Western movie and TV boom of the 1950s, and picked up from old Westerns in later years.

        • by brunascle (994197)
          there's also one of a semi honking a horn as it passes the camera. i've heard it in probably at least 15 different places.
        • by ROBOKATZ (211768)
          I notice this a lot. It's most noticeable if the sound is in a video game where you hear it over and over, and then on TV or in a movie. The absolute WORST has to be the "128 and central.." police radio chatter. In every police show and movie ever made. And Sim City.
          • by mikael (484)
            If you watch reruns of the "CHiPs" series, many of the "journeys" between home and police headquarters simply involving driving round three or four times round the same street block.
        • by blincoln (592401) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @04:24PM (#18681285) Homepage Journal
          There's an infamous ricochet sound that's appeared in dozens of movies.

          According to one of my music/audio professors back at University, the reason for that is that it's very, very difficult to get a real ricochet to happen (I assume this is qualified by "...in a way that's safe for the shooter and audio engineer."). I seem to remember something about the people who recorded it having someone shoot thousands of rounds to get a handful of ricochets on tape.
          • by loraksus (171574)
            Fire a .22 from a rifle at a shallow angle towards a 1/4" deep puddle on top of mud/dirt and you'll get the bullet whizzing about 9 times out of 10. Too steep and you'll just get a splash and the mud eats the bullet. Not really any way to be too shallow.

            When the bullet hits the water at the right angle, you don't get much of a splash, but the impact destabilizes the round enough for it to start spinning rapidly.
        • by EvilIdler (21087)
          The most annoying re-used sound effect must be the metal door.
          It's being used for damn near every door opening AND closing in
          games and movies, whether appropriate or not.
        • by Jackmn (895532)
          On the topic of reused sounds, there's a sound for a futuristic mechanical sliding door that I've heard in several movies (and two games).
      • 2 sounds I first heard in doom 1 makes its way into numerous movies.

        BFG swish sound as the ball of plasma explodes is used often with fire shots.

        Door opening sound seems to be used often. the clang of the heavy doors seems ot show up everywhere.
    • by brunascle (994197)
      but, from TFA:

      the original filenames from the Doom 3 folders remained the same--for example, a file with the Doom-esque name "lights_impflash.dds," referring to one of the game's enemies, was visually modified in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. folder but retained the filename.
      i doubt one of those media licensing companies would have referenced the Imp when creating the files. unless, perhaps, they were originally commissioned by id and its original intended use was in Doom.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dunezone (899268)
      I swear Ive heard that damn door opening sound from Doom in so many different places, home, work, school, etc.
      • by ROBOKATZ (211768)
        Heh, ever watch 'Modern Marvels'? You'll hear it in the intro and every time they go to commercial. Some of the Imp noises also seem really common. I remember some creature on 'Earth 2' made the same noises as the Imps, for example.
      • by Kelbear (870538)
        It's also the alien UFO door sound in X-COM by Microprose.
      • by penp (1072374)
        Strangely enough, in World of Warcraft some animals have the same dying noise as Imps from the original Doom (go kill a Giraffe in The Barrens and you'll see what I'm talking about).
        • by Ailure (853833)
          I think the death imp sounds in doom is the sound of a camel slightly modified.

          I wouldn't be surprised if it was at least.
    • by freshmayka (1043432) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @01:48PM (#18678757)
      Commercial businesses provide a ton of licensable and even public domain content for developers to use. It's like stock photography but for things that game developers need like textures, bump maps, sound effects, etc.

      It's also possible being that HL2 and Doom3 are highly moddable games that an individual on the STALKER team borrowed assets because they needed quick place holders but then they forgot to replace them - or it's also possible the assets they borrowed are in the public domain.

      Still, I've seen this getting a lot of coverage on the web and some people even insulting the developers saying things like "only russians steal". It's quite ridiculous considering the artists clearly spent thousands of hours designing unique assets for this title. It's like harping on three or four words used in a novel that also appear somewhere else.

      Even if this was flat out stealing assets from one game to use in another, it appears to me not unlike stealing a high-hat from one song to complete your song. It's such a small piece of the artists work that it seems silly to consider it a stolen asset used to get rich quick - so sue the crap out of them. What is more likely is the asset was just "the right one" and the artist used what worked best in that situation.

      Still, if the files in question are actually (c) to a specific company, I still think it's unlikely they'd take much legal recourse over it. It'd be hard to prove it has caused major damages or that it's been the sole reason STALKER is making money.

      oh and for reference, I understand what it's like to have your violated. my music is all over russian mp3 websites being sold and I don't see a penny. But hey it's getting out there! :D
      • by Ford Prefect (8777) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @01:56PM (#18678879) Homepage

        Still, I've seen this getting a lot of coverage on the web and some people even insulting the developers saying things like "only russians steal".

        Yeah. GSC is Ukrainian!
      • some people even insulting the developers saying things like "only russians steal".

        Russians, and the team that gave us Duke Nukem [dosclassics.com]. They even stole graphics from Hi-Tech Excretions' horrible PC port of Mega Man, for gawd's sake!

        Perhaps that's the real reason DNF is taking forever -- the team is actually creating their own graphics resources this time around.
      • I don't think anyone can doubt that the Stalker team created a lot of unique art. But the problem lies with creating precedents. If GDC stole some HL2/Doom3 assets, it doesn't matter if they're just some small shaders - if Valve/iD let it slide, they're basically setting a precedent.
        • by BJH (11355)
          So what? Copyright isn't like trademarks - you can pick and choose which infringements you want to prosecute, and it in no way reduces your rights to any other copyrighted works you own.
    • by Ford Prefect (8777) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @01:53PM (#18678845) Homepage

      From the linked screenshots, the alleged borrowed assets appear to be shaders or bumpmaps and such.

      The du/dv and normal maps for Half-Life 2's water definitely aren't shaders - they're inputs for shaders, but don't themselves contain a single line of program code. As with Doom 3's light textures, they're definitely artwork - while the player indeed won't 'see' them as they appear in the games' datafiles, they're quite distinctive and do contribute to the original games' artistic directions.

      It would be quite strange to licence such textures from third-parties. They're not photographically sourced, so no big photo libraries would carry them - and in the case of the light textures, anyone halfway competent with Photoshop could make some decent facsimiles from scratch fairly quickly. It makes sense to buy sound libraries (to save shooting guns, breaking objects and releasing monsters in a clean and tidy office) and photo references (need to find some rusty old machines, tumble-down buildings etc.) - but not 128x128 pixel blobs of light.

      I suspect the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. graphics programmers were independently implementing some fairly similar engine features to Doom 3 and Source, and to test their work 'borrowed' the shader input textures from the games they were emulating. Then, through forgetfulness, miscommunication or deceit, the original placeholders got left in the game.

      I can't see it as being an attempt to save time or money during development - the screenshots I've seen contain some vastly more difficult and impressive map, character and prop texturing, so their artists are definitely more than capable of knocking together some quick light textures. Maybe a programmer did the original borrowing, and nobody on the art team realised where these new textures were actually from?

      Moral of the story, though - don't use other people's stuff as placeholders. You might forget!
    • There a sound of a metal door creaking and then closing that is also universal, from games to movies I always hear it.. Any movie where a metal door opens or closes will use this sound.

        i wonder where it originated...

      There was also a movie that used the background music from Warcraft3, but i forget the name of the movie offhand...
  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @01:23PM (#18678275)
    While the Mapcore post that first made the alert was made on April 1st, I have remained skeptical mostly because of the very generic nature of the naming systems. How easily could two different companies come up with nearly identical images called "grate7" or "fanblade." I dabble in texture making a little and, for me atleast, all water normal maps turn out nearly the same, so I don't think I see the HL2 connection. We do know the developers are fans of HL2, though, as they refer to it directly in the game [gamespy.com]. I am significantly less skeptical about the Doom3 connection, however, once I noticed a certain file entitled "hellgate1"
    • Those of us intimately familiar with Doom3's assets know that the pictures floating around with this story do contain Doom 3 image maps.
  • They should have embroidered the images with a few footnotes in order to avoid prosecution under the incomprehensibly tortuous DMCA laws.
    A later and wilier developer should send the images backwards in time through a temporal warp, and then successfully sue id Software for infringement of the same laws.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What could have happened, judging by the images, is that both teams used the same 3rd-party procedural texture generation tool (or public domain source code) and both kept the default "seed" for the random number generator rather than plugging in a new number.
    • First, no, that isn't what happened. While it's possible that most of the images cited could be create procedurally, an experienced video game artist will tell you that it would take far less time to generate most of those image maps in photoshop. Tablet input is very fast, and far more intuitive than tweaking algorithms to produce base shapes, then seeding more complicated algorithms to overlay multiple varying patterns.

      Second, is there some organization of procedural texture trolls out there or somethin
  • by RexRhino (769423) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @01:48PM (#18678755)
    I know I haven't been able to sleep since I heard this story! S.T.A.L.K.E.R., might have (may have, even), used some highly generic normal-mapping textures that the user doesn't really see, from other games!!! God damn that is worrying!

    Think of enourmous damage that has been done to the Half Life and Doom franchise by such a thing! I was looking forward to the next Doom game, but it is all ruined for me now.

    The next thing you know, people will be sampling a half second loop from other people's songs, adding other musical elements over it, and turning it into a new piece of music! And children will be encouraged to cut pictures out from magazines, and glue them on another piece of paper to create a new piece of artwork... IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS EVEN!!

    Won't someone think of the childre... er, the big multinational corporations!!!
    • Oh game developers will sample another game all the time. Thing is, the game developers that do that are modders. They usually don't charge people for their work, and always cite the sampled game developers in credits.
    • Missed the point (Score:1, Redundant)

      by thepotoo (829391)
      Wow. Way to completely miss the point of this. Imagine if you were a developer working for id, and these were your texture (which you'd spent months of your life working on) which had been "borrowed". Without giving you credit, no less.

      Or, say this was an indy developer they had copied textures from. Would you still say the same thing then?

      The point I'm trying to make here is that the Doom 3 engine is available, and id wants people to use it. They also need to make money to continue developing games,

  • Stock content. You don't honestly believe that every game shop has it's own team rendering water and grabbing those renders, transfering them into displacement maps and putting them on to each puddle individually, do you?
    There are dev-shops and kits for specifically this purpose. You buy trees and procedurals by the dozen. It's perfectly likely that both teams bought the same stock water procedurals. F.e. I bet the horses in LOTR and 300 are all from the very same rig.
    No news here. Move on.
    • by KDR_11k (778916)
      I'd say that's unlikely. Doom 3 was the game to pioneer normalmapping IIRC (in development, other games were released using it between the initial announcement and the final release of Doom 3) so it's pretty unlikely that there was much stock content around before then. Also some files were pretty specific. Why does STALKER have files named imp shot or hellgate?
  • able to finish the game that fast.

    No wait, you said S.T.A.L.K.E.R. ...
  • Steal Textures And Later Kreate and Eventually Resell?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Steal Textures And Later Kreate and Eventually Resell?
      You started out well... But unfortunately with one "and" used in the acronym and another not-used... It kinda killed it for me.

      Perhaps: Steal Textures, Abduct Lightmaps, Keep Extracted Resources?
  • Come on, judging by how quickly this game went from development to the shelves, was there ever any doubt they must have stolen a lot of code?

    [ducks]

    • by TempeTerra (83076)
      Pish. Whoever modded the parent Flamebait probably doesn't know that the game was in development for a long time - it was previewed, with playable code I think, then disappeared from the games industry rader for a while. At the time I thought it had done a DNF.
    • by CaseM (746707)
      Sadly, some ignorant mods out there got a hold of you. Great joke!
  • This story is several days old now. I heard a rumor on Gamespot PC forums that the textures were open source, but I haven't found a link to confirm...
    • by Tim Browse (9263)

      Aren't all textures open source?

      Or do you mean they were distributed in ASCII ppm format? :-)

      • Open source in this case means that the textures are part of a library that is available for anyone to legally use. 'Open source' doesn't always refer to source code.
        • by Don_dumb (927108)

          Open source in this case means that the textures are part of a library that is available for anyone to legally use. 'Open source' doesn't always refer to source code.
          Isn't that really termed 'public domain', let us not over use the words 'open source', lest they lose all meaning.
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zhe Mappel (607548) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @03:03PM (#18680019)
    S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is the mod that makes Doom 3 fun!
  • How completely unfair to the developers and investors of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. to be publicly accused of using code/assets from other products, but not have the accusations substantiated! Even if they're found innocent, this bad press has already done the damage.

    If I was Game World/THQ, I'd be pissed!
    • by iainl (136759)
      The accusations _are_ substantiated. If you read the article, Doom 3 and Stalker contain lightmap files that have the same filenames and look identical. Looks pretty open and shut to me, particularly when some of the filenames are specific references to the creatures and objects they were used for by id.
  • The flashlight texture in D3 and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. are the same.
  • Several years ago, a game came out about 9 months after one I'd worked on, with some of their map tiles being identical to the ones in our game. After a bit of discussion with the other company, it turned out they'd outsourced most of their art development, and all the copied tiles came from one of the art houses "best" artists. A bit of digging revealed that this guy was making a fine living, by copying graphics from other games and tweaking them. He'd done it to dozens of games before we caught him. He go

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