Forgotten Hope vs. Army Rage
Update (September 25, 2012)
As of today, Yacuba Games LTD has still not complied to remove our material. Both the Army Rage website and the Yacuba corporate website readily and prominently display our creations. Army Rage remains on-line and distributed. The infringement continues...
Five months ago, we were contacted by Eurogamer.net who wished to write about the situation. Before publishing their article, they contacted Yacuba Games to get their side of the story. Yacuba however responded with legal threats against Eurogamer, and for now, the article is on hold. Eurogamer showed confidence however that they have the upper hand in this, quote, "legal tangle".
"The article's been held up because we've gotten into a legal tangle with Yacuba. We're sure of our ground and we've taken legal counsel [...]"
We still hold hope the article will see the light of day, sooner or later. We can only commend Eurogamer's persistence.
In contrast, Yacuba hasn't made the slightest legal threat against our team whatsoever. Perhaps this tells something about how they judge their chances in a court of law.
I wrote to Thirteen1, an on-line games magazine after they published a review of Army Rage, that was prominently referred to by Yacuba in their marketing campaign. I got this response from Daniel Allen, Editor-in-Chief:
"[...] I'm surprised Yacuba are going about their business like nothing is wrong with these (clearly very well founded) accusations levelled against them. As you pointed out in the article, we certainly meant no disrespect towards Forgotten Hope with our praising of Army Rage. We genuinely had no idea. [...]"
Unfortunately, nothing has materialized as of yet.
Update (July 23, 2012)
Yacuba Games LTD
Yacuba CEO Delzar Khalaf has apparently decided to "play it rough", and has ended all correspondence with us, after I [Remdul] declined to meet him in person. As of present, our requests to remove ALL of our material from "Army Rage" have been met with denial and disregard.
We have probed Mr Delzar Khalaf's conscience, but we can only conclude he has none.
Somewhat good news: a number of mirrors distributing Army Rage voluntarily removed the title after we notified them. However, on a majority of of those sites, new versions of Army Rage (still containing infringing materials) have reappeared, apparently re-uploaded there by Yacuba.
Not only has Yacuba refused to remove our assets, recent updates of Army Rage have actually added new content copied from our games. Yacuba presents: "Willys Jeep" and "Volkswagen Kubel", both originally made by Jim "Rad" Rogers for Forgotten Hope 1 & 2. We take special offense with these, as Rad is no longer alive to defend his works.
And further attempts have been made to - quite literally - cover up our artwork, without truly replacing them (2 examples):
Texture from Forgotten Hope 2 (left), the copied (middle) and later obfuscated texture in "Army Rage" (right). Even if a texture is entirely replaced, the 3d model geometry onto which the texture is projected is still subject to copyright, as it likewise is a product of artistic effort.
FH2 gun sight texture (left), a very poor attempt to hide it (right).
A compassionate anonymous employee at Tuyasoft contacted us, with the claim that they [Tuyasoft] are furiously working to 'replace' Forgotten Hope content after being notified by Delzar Khalaf himself - to the point that they have downloaded our games and comparing assets one by one. Our thanks to FH community member "Harrier" for passing this on!
"In the past few weeks we've been working overtime all the nights to handle this problem. For several nights we didn't sleep. We really hope this thing did not happen, but indeed it is our problem. We did a mistake that we were not careful enough to check the stuff from our outsourcer during the early stage of the game development. We find this problem only when FH dev team contacted us, we extracted the whole art stuff to make comparison with FH's that we found indeed lots of the stuff were took from FH2 by our third-party outsourcer. (We did not have art team in our early stage of game development so we asked a outsourcer to do the art work for us) but now the outsourcer already does not exist, so we must be responsible for the problem. Our art team has to replace most of the art stuff, they have to re-make lots of new models or textures. Now we have replaced most of the problematic content, but in order to avoid missing any stuff, we are doing comparison for every stuff with FH2. The leader of our company and the project team of the game would like to fly to Europe or America to say sorry and explain the whole thing to FH dev members face to face."
We're not sure if this means they are covering it up (as evident of recent Army Rage updates), or truly removing it and replacing it with new, original material. Either way, this directly challenges Delzar Khalaf's repeated assurance that his product is free of infringing materials.
A response from China-based Tuyasoft remains unanswered. Language barrier may be a problem here.
Apparently a Chinese version of Army Rage, titled "Final Battle" was taken down, its website is no longer in a functional state. We know little about "Final Battle", but it appeared to consist of the same content as Army Rage. It was also developed by Tuyasoft.
Call to Action
We also asked our community to take part in a relatively low profile awareness campaign, in an attempt to trigger a public response from Yacuba, and to warn its customers that Army Rage may prove to be an unsound investment. This news made its round quickly in the Battlefield gaming community.
Instead of a press release claiming their innocence (or an apology), Yacuba responded with censorship, starting with flagging YouTube comments posted by our fans and developers, and later deleting and editing posts on various Army Rage related channels. Curiously, a thread on the Army Rage official forum has survived, which contains both denial and an admission that some infringing material was removed.
Some of the arguments that have been made against us (possibly by Yacuba sock puppets) claim: "the game is just similar". Well obviously, if you copy such a large amount of content, indeed, it will look very similar!
But we do not dispute 'similarity'. Although there are some things in Army Rage that are clearly inspired by Forgotten Hope (yet not blatantly copied); we are perfectly OK with that. Forgotten Hope itself was inspired by numerous WW2 games that preceded it.
As they say, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". Claiming authorship over our works however is not, which is what Yacuba Games LTD is doing; this is where we find offense.
I have uploaded my extractor program, so you can verify for yourself that Army Rage infringes on content from a number of games. You can download it here (includes full source code): ArmyRageEx.zip (14.5 KB)
Note that this is a primitive proof-of-concept tool to be used at your own discretion. Technical note: should your
operating system refuse to
run this program, you can download and copy these files and place
them in the "Army Rage Extractor" executable directory.
It has recently come to our [Forgotten Hope developer team] attention that a game titled "Army Rage" has been released, which consists largely of a vast quantity of Forgotten Hope (FH) material, without our permission, as well as material taken from a number of other popular, commercial titles. Army Rage was developed by "Tuyasoft", based in Beijing, China. The publisher is Yacuba Games LTD, and based in Sofia, Bulgaria. According to the corporate website, its CEO is "Delzar Khalaf".
The affected titles, from which material was copied, include:
- Forgotten Hope (a Battlefield 1942 mod)
- Forgotten Hope 2 (a Battlefield 2 mod)
- Battlefield 1942, developer DICE, publisher EA
- Battlefield 2, developer DICE, publisher EA
- Day of Defeat: Source, by Valve Software
If assets from your game/mod are also used in Army Rage, please contact us (martijn AT bytehazard DOT com),
and we'll add it to the list.
Some relevant links:
- www.armyrage.com - Army Rage official website
- yacuba.com - Yacuba corporate website
- www.facebook.com/yacubagames - Yacuba Face Book page
- twitter.com/yacubagames - Yacuba Twitter page
- www.youtube.com/yacubagames - Yacuba YouTube page
- www.tuyasoft.com - Tuyasoft corporate website
- email@example.com - Yacuba
- firstname.lastname@example.org - Tuyasoft
Unfortunately, this is not the first time we've had to take action. We have previously shut down another publisher/developer from China, see here.
Much, but not all, of our copied assets in "Army Rage" have been altered. Some of these changes seem to be for technical reasons, perhaps to hide their origins, but likely also to erase the signatures many of our artists put in their works. Some assets seem only vaguely similar at first, but when compared side-by-side, clearly recognizable as being derived from FH material. Keep in mind that the examples displayed on this page cover only a small fraction of infringing material, and we suspect that more material was taken from other commercial games that we have not yet identified.
If you recognize any material in "Army Rage" from games/mods other than those listed above, please let us know!
First, some of the more obvious stuff:
Screenshot of "Army Rage".
Tank sight from Forgotten Hope 2, created by FH developer Rad.
Screenshot of "Army Rage".
The same car from Forgotten Hope 1 and Forgotten Hope 2.
Screenshot from "Army Rage".
The same sky texture in Forgotten Hope 2.
Screenshot from "Army Rage" trailer video.
The same landing boat from Battlefield 1942.
Screenshot from "Army Rage".
The same sand bags model and texture in Day of Defeat: Source.
And here are some annotated random screenshots from "Army Rage" found on the web,
showing that in a typical in-game situation, almost everything on-screen consists
of infringing material:
Screenshot from "Army Rage".
Screenshot from "Army Rage".
Growing increasingly suspicious, I (Remdul) decided to download and install Army Rage, and reverse-engineer the resource files of the game, which contain the assets. It then became obvious that almost all prominent hand-weapons and many vehicles in Army Rage were taken from FH2. Here are some textures compared side by side. Note that the similar layouts give away that the 3d model geometry was copied as well.
Tank threads texture from "Army Rage".
Original texture created by FH developer Rad.
Tiger tank texture from "Army Rage".
Tiger tank texture created by FH2 artist Toddel.
Panzer IV texture from "Army Rage".
Panzer IV texture from Forgotten Hope 2.
BAR weapon texture from from "Army Rage".
BAR weapon texture by FH2 artist Seth_Soldier.
Bazooka texture from "Army Rage".
FH2 Bazooka texture created by myself and CTZ.
Pistol texture from "Army Rage".
FH2 texture created by myself and PointBlank.
Stick grenade texture from "Army Rage".
Stick grenade texture created by FH2 developer Knoffhoff.
This one is particularly revealing as it is unaltered and still contains
the signature of Forgotten Hope 1 developer Armin Ace. Note the date.
Texture extracted from "Army Rage".
Not unexpectedly, also most sounds were copied from our mod. This actually triggered the first reports from within our community that there was something wrong about "Army Rage". Here's a typical "Army Rage" gameplay video we found on YouTube:
Player-uploaded "Army Rage" video.
Player-uploaded "Forgotten Hope 2" video.
Most notably, ambient environment sounds, weapon sounds, impact sounds, footstep sounds, vehicle sounds were copied from FH2 without changes. To take one example, I (Remdul) personally mixed the Bazooka rocket launch sound, it is unique and could not have come from your typical royalty free sound effects library DVD. Most of the sounds in FH2 that originated from such libraries have been hand edited and tweaked by our sound engineers.
The massive amount of material taken from our mod and several commercial games leads us to the conclusion that Army Rage contains very few truly original content, besides the superficial changes made to hide the origins of the material.
Forgotten Hope is a free mod, our developers are all volunteers and put a lot of time and effort into making a fun game, at the cost of time spend with our families and financial wellbeing (and occasionally our sanity!). We support and share material and knowledge with other mods, even rival mods. On numerous occasions, we have helped talent to find jobs in the games industry. We encourage others to play with our material and be creative, because that is what mods are all about.
However, we expect anyone who redistributes our material to obtain permission if used outside our mod.
We are dismayed to see that there continue to be persons claiming ownership and selling our content for personal monetary gain.
And in case you are wondering, the Forgotten Hope team has always obtained permission from
the Battlefield series developers to use their material. In fact, some of our team members are employed by DICE/EA, have contributed
to Battlefield titles, patches, and have even developed tools currently in use by DICE/EA.
Forgotten Hope developer
martijn AT bytehazard DOT com
Some further technical details relating to the game/company websites...From the Yacuba corporate website:
Yacuba Games Limited (”Yacuba”), a company incorporated under the laws of Malta with its registered office at Villa Seminia 8, Sir Temi Zammit Avenue, Ta' Xbiex, XBX1011 Malta. Yacuba’s main trading address is Villa Seminia 8, Sir Temi Zammit Avenue, Ta' Xbiex, XBX1011 Malta. Yacuba is regulated by Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA). Yacuba is a limited company.WHOIS information on "yacuba.com":
This domain is registered by: Host.bg Domain Name: YACUBA.COM Registrant: Delzar Halaf Delzar Halaf (email@example.com) ul. Banat 5 Sofiya Sofija,1407 BG Tel. +359.894302602 Creation Date: 02-Jun-2011 Expiration Date: 02-Jun-2012 Domain servers in listed order: ns14.zoneedit.com ns3.zoneedit.com Administrative Contact: Delzar Halaf Delzar Halaf (firstname.lastname@example.org) ul. Banat 5 Sofiya Sofija,1407 BG Tel. +359.894302602 Technical Contact: Delzar Halaf Delzar Halaf (email@example.com) ul. Banat 5 Sofiya Sofija,1407 BG Tel. +359.894302602 Status:LOCKED -------------------------------------------------- Host.bg - leading Bulgarian hosting provider. --------------------------------------------------WHOIS information on "yacuba.com":
This domain is registered by: Host.bg Domain Name: ARMYRAGE.COM Registrant: Delzar Halaf Delzar Halaf (firstname.lastname@example.org) ul. Persenk, bl. 119 Sofiya Sofija,1164 BG Tel. +359.894302602 Creation Date: 27-Sep-2011 Expiration Date: 27-Sep-2012 Domain servers in listed order: ns13.zoneedit.com ns14.zoneedit.com Administrative Contact: Delzar Halaf Delzar Halaf (email@example.com) ul. Persenk, bl. 119 Sofiya Sofija,1164 BG Tel. +359.894302602 Technical Contact: Delzar Halaf Delzar Halaf (firstname.lastname@example.org) ul. Persenk, bl. 119 Sofiya Sofija,1164 BG Tel. +359.894302602 Status:LOCKED -------------------------------------------------- Host.bg - leading Bulgarian hosting provider. --------------------------------------------------
Other domains registered to a Delzar Halaf from Sofia, Bulgaria:
droccad.com khanratnik.com sisizar.comWHOIS information on "tuyasoft.com":
Domain Name ..................... TUYASOFT.COM Name Server ..................... dns7.hichina.com dns8.hichina.com Registrant ID ................... hc614678163-cn Registrant Name ................. cheng zhang Registrant Organization ......... BeiJing Dauber Software Co.,Ltd. Registrant Address .............. 1002 Room Shangdu SOHO nanta Dongdaqiao Road 8# Chaoyang Beijing Registrant City ................. beijingshi Registrant Province/State ....... beijing Registrant Postal Code .......... 100020 Registrant Country Code ......... CN Registrant Email ................ Billing ID ...................... hichina001-cn Billing Name .................... hichina Billing Organization ............ HiChina Web Solutions Limited Billing Address ................. 3/F., HiChina Mansion No.27 Gulouwai Avenue Dongcheng District Billing City .................... Beijing Billing Province/State .......... Beijing Billing Postal Code ............. 100011 Billing Country Code ............ CN Billing Email ................... Administrative ID ............... hc492714735-cn Administrative Name ............. cheng zhang Administrative Organization ..... BeiJing Dauber Software Co.,Ltd. Administrative Address .......... 1002 Room Shangdu SOHO nanta Dongdaqiao Road 8# Chaoyang Beijing Administrative City ............. beijingshi Administrative Province/State ... beijing Administrative Postal Code ...... 100020 Administrative Country Code ..... CN Administrative Email ............ Technical ID .................... hc549536013-cn Technical Name .................. cheng zhang Technical Organization .......... BeiJing Dauber Software Co.,Ltd. Technical Address ............... 1002 Room Shangdu SOHO nanta Dongdaqiao Road 8# Chaoyang Beijing Technical City .................. beijingshi Technical Province/State ........ beijing Technical Postal Code ........... 100020 Technical Country Code .......... CN Technical Email ................. Expiration Date ................. 2015-02-25 01:44:51 For complete domain details go to:http://whois.hichina.com/whois/domain/TUYASOFT.COM
Please keep in mind that these details may be inaccurate, and that any individuals listed may be unwitting or uninvolved persons (i.e. victim of identity theft).
The ArmyRage.com website is hosted in The Netherlands, IP address: 188.8.131.52, which is a server controlled by LeaseWeb.