Former Ubisoft developer accuses Shadow of Mordor of using code from Assassin's Creed

"I spent two years staring at AC2. I know it when I see it."

While many viewers commented that the Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor video shown above bore a striking stylistic resemblance to Assassin's Creed, a former Ubisoft developer took those accusations one step further. In a series of Twitter posts today, Charles Randall, claimed that Shadow of Mordor was using code he worked on for Assassin's Creed II.

Randall is credited as a team lead in AI fight systems and senior gameplay programmer at Ubisoft Toronto according to his LinkedIn profile. His work on Assassin's Creed II focused primarily on combat.

Writing "Check it out guys! I apparently made a Middle Earth game" and linking to the Shadow of Mordor walkthrough video above, Randall followed up with the comment, "I know I don't have any legal rights to what I did on Assassin's Creed 2 but I sure hope I get a special thanks on that Middle Earth game." In the same thread, he clarified to another Twitter user, "I'm fine with it if people know what it is. But if they think they are going to sneak this under the radar... SO MUCH NOPE."

In another series of tweets, Randall wrote, "Seriously, can someone tell me how Assassin's Creed 2 code and assets are in this Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor game?" and, "Watch the video. That's AC2 stuff in there. Code/anim for sure." When another user claimed the battles bore more in common with Batman: Arkahm series than Assassins' Creed, Randall wrote, "I spent two years staring at AC2. I know it when I see it."

Despite the criticisms, Randall expressed his appreciation for Shadow of Mordor as well. "For the record though, that Middle Earth game looks pretty damn awesome. And I love AC2 so it's kind of a double win."

Representatives from Ubisoft had no official comment on the potential controversy. We've reached out to Warner Bros. Interactive (the publisher behind Shadow of Mordor) for further clarification, but have yet to receive a reply.

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344 comments
simon1812
simon1812

All I see is a b!tch with a bad case of b#tthurt.

therealone717
therealone717

Would someone please stroke his EGO for the sake of everyone?  Obviously he needs it.  We get it dude, you are talented.  I'm sure you have a ton of money for the games you've made.  Can we move on now?  

loudangryjerk
loudangryjerk

its not nearly buggy enough to have used AC code....

Scarab83
Scarab83

So basically his reasoning is "he can tell by the pixels"?


I agree the game takes a lot of direction from AC and Arkham games, but you can't just outright accuse someone of stealing code without more evidence than that.

xavroche
xavroche

Meh Bioshock ripped off COD which ripped off Battlefield which ripped off HALO which ripped off Half Life which ripped off Quake which ripped off Goldeneye which ripped off Duke Nukem which ripped off Doom which ripped off Wolfenstein which ripped off Maze War. Bioshock and Maze War are essentially the same games.


How dare all these punks steal concepts, ideas and even code. Let's sue everyone.

dannistampe
dannistampe

if i had an penny for eath time some ubisoft assosiate was whining.

I would buy the damn company and close it down...

SingletreeAve
SingletreeAve

Shadow of Mordor is a blatant AC ripoff skinned with LOTR.  What's sad is they also stole the lame bits, like unimaginative linear missions, clunky combat controls, imprecise movement, and generally shallow gameplay offset by impressive cut-scenes and fantastic art direction.  They could have done something special with this game, but instead chose to imitate a financial leviathan, and the end result is more brain-dead fodder catering to the lowest common denominator of the gaming masses.

Metalnoid
Metalnoid

We already know that is a mod from AC

grin89
grin89

the beauty of pre alpha.

medafaded
medafaded

I love Shadow of Mordor, but the dark ranger? Come on that looked like Edizo from From AC2, and AC 3 once you get all the armor. But whatever, all great art works starts from one person, and gets copied, or used again, its normal check out history buddy!. "Good artists copy, but great artists steal"  Picasso 

matthewlee101
matthewlee101

The bigger story here should be that ac 127 plays the same as ac 2. Hmmm

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

Warner stole or borrowed code from Ubisoft? Is that even possible?

macca366
macca366

That sneaking and the climbing animations looked directly ripped from AC, either that or very very closely copied. Obviously heavily inspired by it either way. But.. I almost don't care at all... This looks like a good LOTR game! I want it! I'm glad this little controversy brought it to my attention

Rage56
Rage56

I don't like the idea of people possibly stealing code or the work of others. The game itself may have potential and I am thinking I will want to pick it up in the future. Hopefully this will get resolved.

roganth
roganth

The Shadow of Mordor phone app has been openly reporting many articles about these accusations.  I hope they thank Randall for all this extra publicity.

Adenosine
Adenosine

After watching the video, I do agree that the animations for the hero character seem like they've been lifted from the Assassin's Creed games. Just look at the walk. Look at the run. Look at how the character climbs and navigates walls and edges. I do think those animations have been re-purposed. 


About other gameplay elements like this game's version of "Eagle Vision" and "Apple of Eden", I think the fighting system is more like what Batman games have. It looks like it's going to be fun.


wexorian
wexorian

All codes are borrowed , and he won't be able to sue em because code would been modified

croxus
croxus

Stolen code from Assassin's Creed he says??

Who would have guess that??

Gears189
Gears189

I can see the similarities especially at the beginning of the video and during the fight scenes but that shouldn't matter.  The game has other interesting ideas going for it like the rival system(if it actually works) and the wrath has possibilities(besides eagle vision).  If people are pissed off about SoM (yeah, already came up with a acronym for it(stick that were the sun don't shine)) then they need a history lesson in video games.  Most great games rip of ideas that have worked previously for past games like CoD ripped off Medal of Honor just adding the ability to look down the sights of your gun.  The there is Forza ripping of Grand Tourismo but Forza added that stupid line that told you when to brake and visually reminded you outside to inside to outside.  SoM is just doing the same thing every past game has down and I'm not saying it will be a great game either.  Mostly just pointing out what should be obvious.

wizardboyus
wizardboyus

...ac combat sux ballz, shadow of mordor actually makes combat scenarios look exciting...and ac completely fails in that department

BetaVulgaris
BetaVulgaris

I don't about the codes, but it does look very AC. Climbing, balancing on a ledge and air assassinations look just like AC, only with not so smooth and realistic animations. And there even is eagle vision!

ps3gamer1234
ps3gamer1234

Lord of the Rings Conquest was a fun game.

FBohler
FBohler

I couldn't bother less if they stole the code from Assassin's Creed. Ubisoft can sue them and get royalties % from sales if it's true, simple as that!

Demanufactur3
Demanufactur3

It clearly contains aspects "borrowed" from assassins creed.

However, this looks very interesting indeed. May actually be worth buying.

Darth_Ultima
Darth_Ultima

So apparently Ubisoft developers think they own the intellectual property to climbing walls and running up behind people and stabbing them in the back.  Parkour fans look out Ubisoft is going to sue you.  Seriously just because the animations look similar does not mean the code that brings those animations to life are stolen.  Games copy each others style all the time without stealing each others code.  If that was not the case John Carmack would be the richest mofo in gaming because he could sue anybody making games about shooting guns from a first person perspective.  To me it looks like this game 'steals' aka draws inspiration more from Batman then it does AC.

Edge15
Edge15

Being a programmer myself, I can understand Randall's feelings on the code. But also knowing that the games use two different engines means that the code is most likely not the same code. I know I get inspired by other people's work at times and will attempt to emulate it, but that doesn't mean that I'm stealing it if it is implemented in a different manner. That is how intellectual property works in most of computer science. The code itself is what gets copyrighted, not the end results. All I know is that I am looking forward to Shadow of Mordor and I can't wait. You'd think that AC fans would actually appreciate a possible fantasy world like this instead of calling it "a shameless ripoff". Especially Middle Earth, which is so steeped in lore and detail that this game has true potential.


I almost think that Randall is shamelessly drawing attention to himself for publicity. Claiming something like that without proof can really hurt one's reputation.

serginho_scp
serginho_scp

I saw the video of the game and without knowing anything else about the game I immediately searched google for news about "ubisoft + shadow of mordor".. I think that says it all.
what a scandalous and absolutely nonsense ripoff.

three6click
three6click

I hope noone gets in trouble....I want to play this eventually...probably in 2015

al1972
al1972

3 words. Assassins creed ripoff. 


And Oh...Dark Souls 2 will be GOTY 2014. 

koospetoors
koospetoors

If you actually bothered to play the game you would've noticed it actually has very little to do with AC and more akin to the Arkham Batman games. Please pack up all your lies and leave, thank you

Kickable
Kickable

@medafaded those are some pretty flimsy similarities to shout ripoff over. it looks like ranger armor, which was around since before AC series, with a little extra metal over it.

edward_footlong
edward_footlong

@macca366

At first I thought his comments were at least somewhat unwarranted; however be it copied or stolen the point this developer is making is that even if the underlying code "speaking from my own naivety" is by some miracle not the same..what we are seeing is irrefutably replicated, and it cannot be coincidence. 

  Aspects of gameplay, combat, and many continuous animations..i.e as you said 'climbing', are almost completely the same.  Even in extremely similar games confined under a very specific genre, animations at the very least appear noticeably different even when comparing two same motions; simply because its so unlikely two different developers approached the motions of a character model the same way.


I've been gaming awhile; and I've never seen something so uncannily similar between two different titles...I was convinced this was in some way a ubisoft effort when they first started leaking footage of SoM.

edward_footlong
edward_footlong

@wizardboyus

I don't think it looks any more exciting AC's combat - there might be a splash of Arkham but that's not exactly the perfect storm of excitement; that's more like: "Press Start, Hit X Forever."

I might sound negative, but really I didn't mind Arkham, where it excelled further than creed was the breadth of options you had separate from the x button, however the x button was still viable.


I'm exaggerating a bit, its more along the lines of counter/attack/kill streak with a single button - exciting combat for me isn't always bullet time medieval combat/zack snyder style, I like having to think.

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

@wizardboyus  What I was going to say. AC combat SUCKED huge balls from the beginning... 

benelori
benelori

@Darth_Ultima 


Didn't he just say that he knows that he doesn't have a claim over the "stolen" code?

sammoth
sammoth

@Edge15 This is what I been saying about this. He has no proof and acts like he never borrowed ideas. All programmers borrow or replicate code that looks the same. This has been going on for years. To make accusations without facts is just dub on Randall's part.

SingletreeAve
SingletreeAve

@koospetoors Excuse me?  I have actually completed the game, and that is my assessment. How much have you actually played?  Everything I hate about AC game flashing back while playing it.  The combat is deeper than AC and Batman-esque but not implemented nearly as cleanly.  I can't count the number of times the game switched targets on me in the middle of a fight... beat I guy up. go for the finishing move, and... lunge away from the target and attack some random dude in the opposite direction instead.  And good luck trying to jump up on  wall when surrounded by foes, or just in general for that matter. It works some of the time, maybe.  The challenge lies primarily in the fact that controls often have a mind of their own.  Batman always seems to attack the intended target.  Anway, I'm not sure how you can see it's more akin to Batman when gadgets are a huge part of that game.  As is navigating three-dimensional space during combat.  Something this game does quite poorly.

medafaded
medafaded

@Kickable @medafaded Did you even read the rest of what I said? Its not flimsy at all, since this is my observation, and that was the first thing that came to my mind before this article was even published. 


sammoth
sammoth

@benelori@Darth_Ultima He doesn't even know if it's stolen. It's just an accusation. A bad one but, he should gather evidence before running his mouth.

sabbaticusprime
sabbaticusprime

@SingletreeAve @koospetoors I'm no "fanboy" but I have to say I disagree with most of what you have said.  This isn't just my opinion either.  There is no issue with jumping onto a wall whatsoever.  I actually wondered why it was so easy to jump onto a wall when surrounded by enemies.

The combat is "clean" as can be and not clunky in the slightest.  The camera moves a little when you execute certain moves and you attack who the camera is looking at.  Plenty of youtube videos to back up this fact.

The controls are very precise.  I have not had one issue with executing a command other than when I accidentally hit the wrong key.  You made the point again about switching targets so I will just say again, that I've had little issue with it other than when two targets are right next to one another.  Luckily they give you about 5 different ways to disperse the enemies.  You can pin one in place with an arrow to the legs, and let the rest chase you then roll or run back to the one you wish to attack.  You can teleport directly to your intended target after entering a precision aiming mode complete with slow motion.  You can push them all back with the group stun attack to single out the one you want.  You can just jump-stun every target until you get to the one you want.   Or you can just actually aim the camera at your intended target which works 90% of the time and only fails when groups cluster in one spot which is what all the other tricks I mentioned are for.

Navigating 3D space?  I assume you mean vertical space.  This game, again has no issues with climbing.  It is easier than AC almost to a fault.  You can teleport to your hearts content.  There are plenty of advantageous heights to traverse.

As for gadgets, you get a bow, throwing knives, wraith vision (detective mode), you can poison grog, and you get bestial mounts.  Not exactly Splinter Cell level of gadgetry but it is far from terrible.


koospetoors
koospetoors

@SingletreeAve @koospetoors Nearing a good thirty hours now and almost done wrapping up all the artifacts, weapon legend side missions and so in the sea of Nurn area. Trust me, I've played enough.


The only truly AC thing about it is the fact that you can do a bit of parkour and how those lines stretched out between buildings look awfully similar to the ones in AC2, but that's where it stops.


Also, you just suck at the combat system and blame it for being sucky. I wont say its deep because it isn't, but it has some depth and is indeed functional. You definitely must be just smacking your controller around for it to act as sporadic as that because I never had Talion attacking someone opposite from where I was aiming, a few times taking out the guy next to my intended target yes, but never as bad as you have it. And neither do other people who I've talked to that is playing or has finished the game.


And seriously? the challenge lies in controls? You clearly haven't faced high level orc captains yet or got surrounded by berserker or shield orcs, because one of the good features about the game is that most of the time when you die its because you didn't plan your attack right or just simply weren't good enough, which further adds to the whole nemesis system, you grow to loathe that one orc because he is just simply better than you.


And gadgets or not, it is still more akin to Batman than AC, because of the way Talion handles and the combat system. It may not have the metroidvania-esque open world thing going for it but regardless, it IS more like Batman than AC, which is the point I'm trying to make here to refute the fact that you are pointing it out as an AC clone, which is completely false.


And drop that high and mighty act of yours, " brain-dead fodder catering to the lowest common denominator of the gaming masses" please don't make me vomit, if anything it seems you are part of that denominator because all I'm seeing here is someone who's saying the game sucks because he lacks the ability to play it right.

Kickable
Kickable

@medafaded @Kickable yea i read all of it, you or I getting a 'hunch' still isn't fact. if that's enough for you, go for it lol

SingletreeAve
SingletreeAve

@koospetoors @SingletreeAve Whatever.  I still say it's a relatively shallow, repetitive game, that did not live up to it's full potential, and chose to conform to proven formulas for financial success instead.

I survived plenty of "tough" battles against warchiefs and other advanced enemies.  To the point where I ran around the area inciting as many foes as possible to make it interesting.  I didn't die that often, but found the controls to be inconsistent and not terribly precise or responsive.  Maybe I did it wrong, but the combat felt way more like enhanced AC than Batman.


Anyway combat isn't my biggest issue with the game, as it is actually much better than AC.  I think the world is amazing, but the game fails to utilize it to its potential and quickly becomes repetitive and boring.  I call it an AC clone because it follows the formula of running around an open world, collecting things, and doing bland missions and challenges, followed by an impressive cut-scene to drive the story.  The main story missions are essentially a tutorial framed by a story that eventually degrades into a QTE-ridden final "boss fight".

The parkour element gives movement through the world an AC feel, where Talion is running and climbing, as opposed to Batman who grapples and soars.  Maybe AC clone is too harsh, but I see a lot of copying of proven design elements that I dislike personally, and a lot of missed potential to do create something truly original and epic.

medafaded
medafaded

@Kickable @medafaded Make sense much? W.T.F are you talking about? Hunch? You can easily google it. Thanks for the input, don't quit your day job! 

Kickable
Kickable

@medafaded you got a hunch that they got the entire idea from AC armor instead of it just being a coincidence.  it's stupid to claim ripoff on such general similarities even if they look alike.

medafaded
medafaded

@Kickable @medafaded NOOOOOooooooo, try again! I believe it is a total coincidence also, but the gameplay is identical, and so is the dark ranger, that is where I get my general similarities. You know what they say about people who assume things, they look like an ASS themselves. Maybe thats why your so kickable!