You know that hugely important “superformula” Sean Murray over at Hello Games keeps talking about? Well, a Dutch company who apparently holds the patent on said superformula is claiming that the No Man’s Sky developers don’t have permission to use it.
The report was picked up and subsequently translated over on NeoGaf.
The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported yesterday that Genicap, the company that owns the patent on the “superformula” No Man’s Sky relies on to create it’s 18 quintillion planets (yes you read that correctly) claims that Hello Games hasn’t paid them for the use of this formula.
“We haven’t provided a license to Hello Games,” Genicap’s Jeroen Sparrow told The Telegraaf. “We certainly don’t want to stop the launch, but if the formula is used we’ll need to have a talk.” He also noted, “We tried to contact them but didn’t get any response.”
Hello Games’ Sean Murray acknowledged last year in an interview with The New Yorker that without the use of a formula published in 2003 by Belgian plant geneticist Johan Gielis they were struggling to get the results they wanted from the game.
It was only when they plugged this formula into the game were they able to achieve the unique procedural generation the game has since become known for. Since then Murray has referred to it as his “Superequation”.
There are a few oddities in this claim, however. Genicap are themselves in the process of developing a game based on the formula and said that “it would be great if we could trade knowledge with Hello Games.”
As well as this the man, Johan Gielis, who published the formula is, in fact, the Chief Research Officer at Genicap and a member of the board.
No Man’s Sky has faced a slew of problems recently. Between delays that ended in death-threats and a legal battle with Sky UK Ltd over the use of the word Sky in the game’s title.
At the moment it’s not clear whether or not these claims have any validity to them or not, what with Genicap not having seen any of the games source code. As well as this, the formula itself is based on a much older equation dating back to 1818 so it’s possible the superformula actually used in the game’s code is a variant of this and not the formula owned by the Dutch company.
We won’t know anything until Sony or Hello Games releases a statement and that may not ever happen. The world of patent law and patent trolling is a wild and confusing place so we’ll keep you updated as news emerges.
No Man’s Sky will be released in Ireland on the 10th of August.