Studio Wildcard and Snail Games filed a DMCA request to remove Myth of Empires from Steam earlier this month. They are the developers and publishers of Ark: Survival Evolved. They claimed that Myth of Empires’ source code was actually derived from Ark’s source code, which an ex-Snail Games employee had stolen prior to starting his own studio.
Angela Game, developer of Myth Of Empires, vigorously denied any wrongdoing and the matter ended up in court. On December 9, Angela Game filed a complaint against Snail Games and Studio Wildcard, again denying any wrongdoing and requesting an injunction against the DMCA takedown request–essentially, a court order that it be lifted.
Snail Games filed evidence to support its claim. A preliminary analysis revealed hundreds of class, variable and function names shared between the two games. The filing states that such names are “not copyrightable and not subject to copyright controls.”
The filing also claims that Myth of Empires was not built using stolen source code. It states that the allegations that it was and its subsequent removal form Steam have “caused or threatened to cause irreparable damage” to Angela Game.
Snail Games, Studio Wildcard and Angela Game filed a detailed reply earlier this week. They stated that Angela Game “has not come anywhere close to justifying any relief in any form” and re-alleging, in much greater detail, what it calls the “brazen theft by Snail USA’s intellectual property”.
The filing says that Angela’s misconduct started in November 2018 when Yang Li Ping (an employee of Snail USA in China (Snail Game) requested and was granted access to Ark’s source codes–for apparently legitimate reasons.” He secretly copied the source code and left Angela a few months later.”
Yang wasn’t the only one involved in this venture, according to the suit. “Of the 82 names that appear in the screen credits of Angela’s video, 60 are ex-employees at Snail Game.” According to the filing, Angela Game claimed that she has been “frantically modifying code” of Myth of Empires since the DMCA request was made in order to remove evidence of copying.
Snail also responded with declarations by Jeremy Stieglitz (Studio Wildcard cofounder), Jim Shun Tsai (Snail Games USA CEO) and Bastian Suter (BattlEye CEO), further explaining the process through which Snail Games, Studio Wildcard and BattlEye discovered, and then analyzed the similarities between these games. Stieglitz called the initial similarities between Myth of Empire’s executable and Ark: Survival Evolved’s executable “shocking” and stated that they had found “hundreds more of these reflected header matches since their initial analysis.” We find more of these matches every day that we spend analysing MoE’s “table of contents.”
Tsai stated that Studio Wildcard had taken great care to keep Ark: Survival Evolved’s source codes secret. This is presumably to suggest that Angela Game was unable to obtain them.
Tsai stated that all employees at Wildcard, Snail USA and Snail Games had signed nondisclosure agreements pledging to keep technical secrets like software confidential and not give it to any third parties. The source code was also kept on a server accessible only by employees with login credentials.
Suter, who is the CEO of BattlEye Innovations and whose BattlEye anticheat technology can be found in games such as Fortnite, Destiny 2, Rainbow Six Siege and Destiny 2, among others, including Ark: Survival Evolved, makes the most interesting statement. Suter said that he was aware of the issue after reading it on PC Gamer. He decided to investigate it further and found “immediately convincing evidence” in Myth of Empires proving that Ark source code (or related Wildcard game) had been copied.
Suter explained that “Myth of Empires” executable contained unique strings that BattlEye integration codes used. These strings are also present in Ark. There are a few minor changes to those strings but they mostly consist of changing “BattlEye” to “BatEye” in nearly all BattlEye references throughout the game.
This is important because BattlEye integration codes are created by developers of individual games and not BattlEye. Each game’s code is unique.
Suter stated that “some of the BattlEye strings that we found in Myth of Empires are extremely rare and use the exact same format, capitalization and even typos (‘receive’ instead of’receive) left no doubt that the BattlEye Integration code for Ark was copied and used as a base for Myth of Empires.”
Suter stated that his conclusion was confirmed by Stieglitz when he shared his findings with him. Studio Wildcard also shared his findings of the identical BattlEye-related codes in Myth of Empires.
Snail and Wildcard filed a variety of documents. They demand that Myth of Empires source code and all documentation be preserved. A third party can also compare Ark: Survival Evolved and Myth of Empires source codes. This is a highly frontloaded argument. The filing is only to request Angela Game’s injunction be denied. However, Snail & Wildcard also display the meat and bones.
Myth of Empires is currently not available on Steam. However, development continues: Angela Game stated that Angela Game announced that the studio was preparing to launch an auto-ban program that will hopefully reduce cheating. The studio is also dealing with hacking attacks on the game and is currently working to track down the source.