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ABOUT Digital Homicides

Let´s clean up Steam (Direct)!

Hey there, fellow gamer!

⇒ Have you ever been banned or censored by a Homicidal developer?

⇒ Are you tired of a game that isn't worth its Assets?
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Digital Homicides is a dedicated consumer-advocacy group and censorship safe haven. Although being highly critical of the state of Steam as a whole we primarily focus on Greenlight which is likely where you were invited from. The scope of problems are not limited to Greenlight but is often the source, with a broken and abused voting system. Here rational discussion and free-speech is preserved from the hands of certain censoring charlatan developers. No matter what you believe your opinion is welcomed here. That being said we have a basic set of rules to follow.

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SteamWatch - Hunt Down the Freeman
Pre-Release

Getting back to the topic at hand, the allegations of asset theft seems to have stemmed from a Twitter account called LambdaGen, a Half-Life community Twitter page. LambdaGen was reached out to by an ex-Royal Rudius Entertainment developer, who I would later get in contact with myself.

In the statement, the employee talks about how the original demo of Hunt Down the Freeman contained stolen content. Some examples given included stealing guns from Firearms Source[www.firearms-source.com] and maps from the community workshop for Garry's Mod. The ex-developer added that they told the project leader Berkan Denizyaran to halt the project to remove stolen content, with Berkan allegedly saying that the content was simply a placeholder to be changed later on in the development, also adding Berkan had stated that he had received permission to use these assets indefinitely. The developer went on to state that allegedly, according to him and some members of the Steam community, stolen content is still present in the screenshots of Hunt Down the Freeman from games like Black Mesa.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/4000/Garrys_Mod/

http://store.steampowered.com/app/362890/Black_Mesa/

The ex-developer also talks about the disorganized style of the company with Berkan bringing on anyone that would be willing to work on the game almost with no questions asked.

LambdaGen, the Twitter user that posted this also added his own note at the end of the post, stating that they had contacted developers of Firearms Source and the developer had told him that Hunt Down the Freeman did not get permission to use their assets. LambdaGen also contacted Crowbar Collective, the developers of Black Mesa and they had apparently said that they can't find any of their content present in the current version of the game, however, the source believed that assets had been used in older versions of Hunt Down the Freeman. LambdaGen added a final note saying that he has spoken to others in the source engine community, and they believed that they spotted content in Hunt Down the Freeman from games such as Insurgency,
SMod
, No More Room in Hell, and also allegedly from the modding site GameBanana[gamebanana.com].

http://store.steampowered.com/app/222880/Insurgency/

http://store.steampowered.com/app/224260/No_More_Room_in_Hell/

Shortly after these allegations were made, Royal Rudius Entertainment went to Twitter to make their own statement on the allegations.

The statement includes Royal Rudius admitting that other assets from other games were used in the demo of the game, which they did get permissions for, but the content was stripped for the final version. Hunt Down the Freeman originated as a demo, gameplay of which can be found on YouTube, this was the version which had only 3 men working on it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqV5fyfb9mE

This demo was launched back in 2016, however the director for the game has told me that the game has developed so much since then, it's almost a completely different project.

After reading through all of this, I decided to get in contact with the director at Royal Rudius Entertainment, Berkan Denizyaran, regarding everything that has unfolded and I conducted an interview with him. The director originally wanted this to be a voice interview, however when I brought up the intent to record the interview either to release it as that or to make it easier for me to produce a transcript, he then changed his mind and requested a text interview, the text interview is as follows:

Mellow: So, first question, how long have you been part of the development of HDTF?

Berkan Denizyaran: Well, fist I has this idea when I was a film student in Los Angeles, I started turning idea to concept to trailer, then trailer to demo then the full game, over 2 and half year period, but actual game in been a developmentof 1 and half year

Mellow: How many people do you currently have on the project?

Berkan: Around 60 developers + 40 with freelancers and voice actors and we are around 7 people in our physical Los Angeles office

Mellow: So 107 in total?

Berkan: Around 100, little less little more

Mellow: When making HDTF, did you have any inspiration when making it?

Berkan: Yes, well half life was the game I been playing as a child, I was waiting internet cafe to open every morning so I could play, but one day when I saw HL2 in one do those computers and it changed my life forever. It blew my mind. Show me the video game not for what they are but what they could be. And I will make more games in my lifetime. But I wanted to start with Half Life out of respect I have for it.

Mellow: How did the development process of HDTF go? Any complications or unexpected issues arise during it?

Berkan: Development process has been really smooth and fast with dedication, the game has been working on every second, since we had developers all around the world. Some of us even named the development process " the project that never sleeps" and if we never had any big problems that I can recall, we just had so many people with us that if there was a problem there were always someone know how to solve it.

Mellow: With regards to the allegations that have sprouted with regards to the game allegedly containing stolen content, what is it that you would personally say towards that? Seeing as how some developers have expressed you never got permission from them for when you used their assets even in the beta of the game when it was stated in a statement issued by Royal Rudius Entertainment that they had compensated the asset creators and had gotten their permission?

Berkan: Well, the all the allagations came from the same sources, and circles. It just that some people trying to take the attention to somewhere else. We debugged every single allegation we had, at this point it just becoming a slander.
And again, Royal Rudius Entertainment has nothing to with game's past, and they made sure we own all the assets in the game. I mean there is logically not even 1 reason why we would steal assets? We have the men power, and financial to buy or make any asset we want.

Mellow: Is it okay if I can ask, how many people were involved with just the beta version of HDTF? And looking at how you explained the origins of the game, I'm guessing that you're part of the original team as well, correct?

Berkan: Sure, and it wansnt a beta, it was a demo for the trailer, and it's not the original team, every single person on that demo was dispatched, and when Royal Rudius Entertainment came in, we redesign the game, rewrite the story and everything, it become a different thing. But only with same name. And there was only couple people we actually bring back to the project but even that, we bring them half way thru development of actual game

Mellow: So how many people worked on the demo alongside you?

Berkan: I would say 2

Mellow: So a pretty closed area for development and easy to manage?

Berkan: Well, I am very familiar with managing people and teams along with my previous experiences, the biggest challenge for me was the time, because there were people all around the world and project has been worked for 24 hours I always had to change my sleep schedule. An average day I would spend 14 hours on the development and 6 hours sleep. Buy I'm not complaining, if I had to do it, I would do it again. I love my job.

Mellow: I think you might have misunderstood my question, I was asking if when you were working on the demo was it easy to manage the project and oversee everything?

Berkan: Oh. Yeah it was easy.

Mellow: So, it has been said by the company that assets were used from outside sources during the game's beta when they were being used as placeholders and that they were compensated, were you the one in charge of the compensation and acquisition of the assets?

Berkan: Yes it was me, I also got permission from ever developer for the assets we used

It was at this point where Berkan sent me a link to a Google Docs sheet, including some pretty interesting pieces of evidence. Inside the document, it included a variety[gyazo.com] of[gyazo.com] e-mails[gyazo.com] and conversations Berkan had had with different asset creators, showcasing in multiple instances where Royal Rudius did reach out to the creators. Berkan gave me permission to include some of them in this post. I have covered up the e-mail addresses, however.

The interview continues with one final question:

Mellow: One last thing, a number of people also pointed me towards a tweet made by one of the developers that was made in response to Twitter user LambdaGen, was just wondering if you stand by what was said and see it as something professional? (linking to the Dan22Dev tweet)

Berkan: People makes memes everyday now, I think some of the developers see the situtation now just ridiculus and stopped taking those accusations seriously after every time we proved them wrong and they keep accusing. I dont have time to go over 100 people and tell them not to make fun or memes about something, I personally found it pretty funny, but proffesional ? Cannot blame our developers on this because they did not approched proffesionally.

I also reached out to Colossal is Crazy with regards to the allegations, since he was the easiest to get a hold of out of them all, and he got back with the blunt response of:

Originally posted by Colossal is Crazy:
they haven't stolen any community content

The allegations of stolen content and further deception did not stop after the statement though. Twitter user LandyRS, who used to be a voice actor for Hunt Down the Freeman came out with a series of tweets further slamming Hunt Down the Freeman and Royal Rudius Entertainment.

In the tweets, Landy goes on to reiterate the points regarding the stolen assets, alongside stating that Royal Rudius Entertainment was going on to censor people talking about the allegations.

Next, LambdaGen, the user that these allegations originated from, came out with another tweet.

LambdaGen had reached out to the developers of the mod GMod Tower[www.gmtower.org] and the developers had apparently found their assets being used in older versions of the game and that Royal Rudius Entertainment had not sought out permission to use them.

This tweet resulted in a couple of people working for or affiliated with Royal Rudius Entertainment to respond. Firstly, Dan22Dev, who is currently one of the active developers for Hunt Down the Freeman responded by creating a fake tweet from LambdaGen and basically making a mockery of the situation (this has since been deleted, but an archive can be found here[archive.is].)

Afterwards, B1ACKM3SA, who is currently the community manager for Hunt Down the Freeman responded to Lambda talking about threads in the discussions talking about the tweets disappearing, stating this.

Then, around a week later, one of the last public developments of the stolen asset allegations came from a Twitter user called kawoofish, who was one of the three people that worked on the original 2016 demo. Kawoofish tweeted the following.

In the statement, Kawoofish goes on to say that the inclusion of GMod Tower assets in the 2016 demo of Hunt Down the Freeman was his fault and was him accidentally bundling the assets in a data transfer when he was sending off some of his maps he had created for the game.  He also stresses throughout the statement that Royal Rudius Entertainment is not affiliated with the 2016 demo of Hunt Down the Freeman, and describes the demo and the game currently on Steam as "two separate entities with the same name."

Where the game stood at that point was a confusing stage of limbo with regards to the game's release. The game was originally due out February 2nd however, a series of announcements were issued on the game's announcements page repeatedly talking about the release date being pushed back by one week. This has occurred on four separate occasions with the release date being pushed back to February 8th, February 15th, February 21st and finally, February 24th. The first announcement stated the delay was due to them wanting to decrease the file sizes in the game, as apparently the file sizes were totaled up to be over 60GB. The second announcement stated that there was a second delay due to the game being "unfinished." The third is due to Valve apparently telling them they need time to playtest and review the game before allowing them to sell it. The fourth one, no real reason seemed to have been given.

https://steamcommunity.com/games/723390/announcements/detail/2620403281216275842

https://steamcommunity.com/games/723390/announcements/detail/1672396103792203442

Post-Release

The game finally saw a release on February 24th, 2018 to overwhelmingly negative reviews due to the game being borderline unfinished, due to the cutscenes in the game being missing from the final build, alongside glitches and what players seemed to think overall as being a bad gaming experience. The game did receive a patch on the day of the launch to fix some of the issues the build had, but the damage to the overall review score still has yet to improve with negative reviews continuing to come in with people criticising most aspects of the game.

As if the negative reviews and disastrous launch day weren't bad enough, players started to root around further in the game files and ended up coming up with some results, which in turn enhanced the allegations of stolen assets further. There is currently an active discussion thread on the game's Steam community hub listing assets taken from other games as they come to light. Some of the assets the thread point to include, but are not limited to a number of Left 4 Dead 2 files[i.redditmedia.com], multiple Valve game VPK files[imgur.com] and a car model[imgur.com] from the game S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl.

Next, I decided to get in contact with Lambda Generations on Twitter to see about getting in contact with the ex-employee from Royal Rudius Entertainment in which most of this stemmed from, and Lambda Generations kindly gave me contact details of the employee and I had a small talk with the employee (who wishes to remain anonymous) a bit more about the allegations, seeing as how the game has now been released. I mainly focused on getting a bit more broader context with regards to his time at RRE and his input on HDTF.

Here is the statement that the ex-employee gave me with some of the identifiable information cut out:

Originally posted by Ex-Employee:
I want to preface this by saying that the project lead, Berkan, is one of the nicest people I've ever done work for. Genuinely lovely, and I don't think he had any bad intentions for anyone or for the project as a whole. He really does believe in Hunt Down The Freeman, and I’m sad to see the finished product come out as broken and unfinished as it did. I worked on the initial pitch demo for HDTF, before RRE was properly founded. As far as I’m aware, no one had full access to the project while working, except for the project lead. This wasn’t ideal, but was workable for a small-scale, 2-3 map project. Berkan said at the time that all content in the demo was either custom, purchased, or had full permission to use. After the demo came out, someone who'd also worked on the demo said that the guns were from Firearms: Source, though it turned out not to be the case and they just looked really similar. The demo was almost entirely constructed from recycled Garry's Mod maps and was pretty dreadful overall; it even included a load of content from one of the mappers’ Garry’s Mod directories from other mods without permission (though this was an accident, and the assets weren’t actually in use anywhere). I was honestly shocked at how bad it was. Berkan still had confidence, even when the majority of those who worked on the demo left the project and the community at large utterly ripped it to shreds. From then on, I’ve had no direct impact on the project. I’d heard things and spoken to members of the team here and there since then, such as issues getting access to the Source Engine licensee repositories (which is why HDTF’s final release is running on an unmodified Source SDK 2013 Base).

From what I've heard and seen of the final game's development, it was mostly contractors commissioned to make small assets or levels, or assets purchased and incorporated into the game, exactly the same as demo albeit at a bigger scale. People would work on an asset, send it to Berkan over Discord or something, and it’d be integrated in. The quality was very spotty, which is to be expected when development is distributed quite like that without some proper management (I don’t think the world’s best manager could plan this project entirely over Discord and Skype, there needed to be some real distributed project planning accessible to the team). The accusations of content theft proved to be basically untrue, which was great to see; I’d honestly expected something to slip in from one or two sources given how many freelancers worked on this.

The contact also added when I questioned them on the legitimacy on repackaging some of the files that came with the source engine, they said:

Originally posted by Ex-Employee:
On the subject of the final game’s use of Valve assets, at least to my knowledge of Source Engine license agreements, there’s basically free reign to use their content – code from any game, any models, sounds or textures. The only restriction, and they’re strict on this, is that no voice material or music from a Valve game can be used (I assume it’s a union issue – note how Prospekt replaced the Combine Overwatch voice due to the same restriction). RRE hasn’t followed good practice by just including what they’d used, instead including many games content in its near entirety. By doing this, they’ve accidentally included all the voice acting and music from HL2 and the episodes, which is likely in breach of their contract even if it’s not actually being used. I’m not sure if Valve have okayed them just including the game content like this, as they have at least repackaged everything themselves, but it seems silly not to cull your game down before ship (HDTF takes up over 50GB and it really doesn’t need to).

So with that all being said, the individual in which these allegations originated from is now declining the assets appearing in the build that's on Steam. The only thing that they have questions regarding now is with regards to the repackaged VOs and music from Half-Life 2, but according to him, the rest of the files actually do fall under the Source engine agreement.  In addition to this, they also talk about how some of the stolen assets seem to in fact be assets from Source engine games that just look really similar to other games that are made outside of the agreement. Ratchet3789 was able to find the same car[imgur.com] that people were alleging were from Stalker[i.imgur.com] in the Left 4 Dead 2 SDK files.

After getting this information, I decided to reach out to some other developers that work with the Source engine to get more validity on the claims that the ex-employee made about the usage of the files. Zombie Panic Team, developer of Zombie Panic! Source got back to my inquiry saying:

Originally posted by Zombie Panic Team:
As Community-Made Mods, they are allowed to use any HL2 or SDK Base assets for no commercial use. We are a total standalone modification game, where we use a couple of CS:GO's and L4D2's assets there and there - freely. Although, if any developer wishes to sell their game on Steam, they are required to complete an additional agreement for distributing a paid Source Engine product on Steam. Following by a fee to be paid for the tools being used (RAD, Havok, etc). Speaking of Valve's assets being used in another paid product, maybe they did some agreement with Valve on the release.

When I reached out to Berkan to inquire if he could possibly issue  a receipt of some sorts for the Source engine license, he stated:

Originally posted by Berkan:
We can show the receipt, but we prefer not to since its between us and valve. And I really don't think we even have to since you cannot be in the steam store unless you license the engine.

Not really wanting to pressure him for the receipt if it was something he'd rather not give, I decided to leave it at that.

The others that did get back to me all said something along these lines. In addition to me contacting them, the developers issued this tweet confirming none of their assets were included in Hunt Down the Freeman.

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3,840 Comments
LotarWc2 Apr 12 @ 7:52pm 
Mellow, can you spread the word about abuse from a said developer?
Noodle Apr 12 @ 11:28am 
The developers behind the game The Pirate's Fate has been abusing me for sometime, banning me from their discussion pages for criticism was just the first step, they then mass reported my critical artwork posted of their game to steam which got my account content banned for 10 days. Today, the tenth day I log in to see another picture was banned adding even more time. They are reporting one picture at a time to draw out the longest possible ban time possible on my account.

According to steam even if your artwork uploaded to a game does not violate the global guidelines (which one does not) a developer, for their particular game, can add any rule they want to that to justify auto-banning your content. So you can get globally banned for one developer throwing a hissy fit. Steam is a great place to be everybody.
shade00 Apr 4 @ 2:01pm 
ah i had feeling was that, but normally you hit the difficulty button which changes the settings on that button or another menu or something right.
not a very complex menu x.x
Tryyton Apr 4 @ 1:48pm 
change the difficulty between easily, normally and difficult when i remember right.
shade00 Apr 4 @ 1:41pm 
question, what does the easily button even do?