Copyright Dilemma Again For No Man’s Sky


No Man’s Sky is out of the woods yet.

No Man’s Sky development team has ensnared itself into an inconvenience again as apparently the algorithm the team has used to build its in-game world (or universe if we’re talking about the full-scale video game world) has already been patented by someone else.

It is, as of now, unknown whether this copyright issue will affect the game’s release date (or the development studio itself) or not.

This may come as a surprise to the Hello Games (team of people who are responsible for the development of No Man’s Sky) studio as earlier this month the studio had announced  “going gold” milestone in their endeavor to complete the game’s development process.

No Man’s Sky is expected to release for PlayStation 4 and the PC. There have been no announcements of when the game will be launched for the Xbox One gaming platform.

There is no telling how this copyright issue would affect the development team, especially given the fact that the studio was preparing for the much-awaited launch of their game, No Man’s Sky, sometime in the next month.

It looks like Hello Games developers will have to endure one more trial before they are able to finally launch their most ambitious project yet and let the sales rake in some much-needed revenue.

That trial comes in the form of an objection by a company based in Netherlands. The company has expressed its reservations on the use of their “secret formula”, which they claim Hello Games developers have used in their latest, yet unreleased, video game.


No Man’s Sky will have virtually an unlimited number of planets for players to explore.

The Company based in Netherlands have said that Hello Games studio should have at least approved the use of the secret formulae before they started to utilize the formula for the development of their No Man’s Sky procedurally generated world.

The reports have revealed that professor Johan Gielis, who works at the University of Antwerp, came up with the super formula about fifteen years ago.

Knowing well the potential of his formula, the professor proceeded to patent it in the European Union. The patent date is believed to be somewhere in 2002.

The patent was also made in the United States of America in 2009. That means that No Man’s Sky team has a massive hurdle in its attempt to release the game.

The secret formula is believed to be astonishingly capable as it is able to develop and design massive landscapes without using much computer resources.

Some have labeled the secret formula’s ability to come up with landscapes using limited hardware resources as “cheap” because it uses so little processing power when compared to other methods of producing landscapes.

You might wonder now, how has this formula helped Hello Games in developing No Man’s Sky?

Well, as most of you know by now, No Man’s Sky is a game that allows you to traverse the universe and visit planets (which are believed to be numbered in billions upon billions of planets) along the way as you try to reach the center of the universe.


No Man’s Sky will also feature planets with advanced civilizations

To achieve that in the game without spending ten years on programming it, Hello Games needed to come up with a piece of code that allowed them to quickly and easily generate planet landscapes.

That task, is where (in the game’s development process) this super formula made its biggest impact.   

But No Man’s Sky development team isn’t the only one that has taken advantage of the super formula. Some other 3D modelers have also utilized the aforementioned formula but haven’t received any objection statements from the Dutch company.

The game’s development team, to its credit, has not denied the use of the super formula. In fact, one of the most senior figures at Hello Games Sean Murray has openly admitted the fact that No Man’s Sky benefited tremendously from the secret formula.

A year ago The New Yorker reported, in a feature article, details of how Hello Games’ Sean Murray used professor Gielis’s formula.

The report stated that Hello Games’ Sean Murray used to map out the terrain of a test planet by simply typing out the formula while sitting in front of his computer.

He also said that the super formula is rare in the sense that it is truly a reliable code.

But a new report from Ars Technica has uncovered that professor Gielis along with Genicap (the professor’s corporation) has now criticized the use of the super formula in No Man’s Sky without their consent or any sort of involvement.

People who work in the patent industry are fully aware the improbability of patenting a secret formula because of its convoluted nature but Genicap has cleverly patented the applications of their secret formula.

That gives professor Gielis and Genicap a lot of leverage in their complaint against No Man’s Sky.

The patent in question doesn’t cover the whole video game design but does envelope the use of the formula in graphic programs such as CAD programs, FEA (Finite Element Analysis) programs, and wave generation software among other programs.

The patent also covers these programs being used for 2D and 3D applications.

However, judging by the statement given by Genicap to Eurogamer it seems highly unlikely that the professor wants to cause trouble.

The statement, that came out, said that Genicap would like to negotiate some terms with Hello Games with regards to the studio’s new game No Man’s Sky.

Genicap also stated that the use of their super formula in the aforementioned game gives them great pride especially the professor Gielis who came up with the formula more than a decade ago.


No Man’s Sky is currently in trouble for using a super formula code developed by someone else.

Eurogamer also reported that Genicap would now like to exchange information with Hello Games on how it used their secret formula to develop No Man’s Sky, a game they believe, with start a new era in the gaming industry.

The statement from Genicap also explained that if it is confirmed that No Man’s Sky development team made extensive use of their formula then they have to start proceedings to get the studio team on the table to discuss the situation.

Genicap claims that it tried to reach out to the game’s development team but didn’t hear back probably because the studio at the moment  was super busy building up to the final launch of the game.

In the final stages of their statement, Genicap said that they as a corporation hope that the people No Man’s Sky would be able to resolve this issue in an amicable way.

Industry experts are of the opinion that Genicap would have a tough time laying a claim on the game’s code and it would be even harder coming out with a victory in the US.

But as far as Hello Games are concerned, an act as little as filing a claim could seriously dent the studios hope of launching the game on time without problems.

Patent claims are notorious for eating up millions of dollars from the parties involved before any sort of resolution.

Hello Games head figure, Sean Murray has yet to comment on the incidence but Hello Games is expected to come out with a response sooner or later.

As far as financial considerations as concerned, it is highly unlikely that Genicap is aiming to be awarded some form of compensation before an official launch of the game.

Skeptics have raised concerns about No Man’s Sky video game’s massive ambition without much variety in content and a high price of $60 per copy. These concerns could definitely affect game sales if and when the game is finally  is released.


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