It’s been a dramatic week in the world of sim racing. Rennsport, the sim racing game currently in development by German startup Competition Company GmbH, is under fire after allegedly using code from rFactor 2 without permission.
The controversy led to Studio 397 and Competition Company releasing formal statements addressing the torrid situation.
Update: Rennsport admits physics are not built from scratch
In a new blog post, Competition Company has attempted to clarify Rennsport's physics technology after rFactor 2 physics code was discovered in the closed beta.
"All content and libraries used for the production, release and development of Rennsport are commissioned, licensed appropriately or created by us," the post reads.
Competition Company goes on to explain that a license was acquired to use Image Space Incorporated's physics technology, known as ISI Technology: "When we started the development of Rennsport, our goals were to build something from the ground up. That originally meant custom-made physics, tyre models, graphics and sound."
"Initially, we experimented in many ways and came to the conclusion that for some aspects, we require a baseline to accelerate development. We turned to an industry leader: Image Space Inc. to fully acquire a licence to use their physics processing system (known as “ISI Technology”) to act as that baseline."
What isn't clear is when the license was acquired and which isiMotor engine Rennsport uses.
Image Space Incorporated is the original developer of rFactor and rFactor 2. Both games utilised the isiMotor2 physics engine and tyre model. This off-the-shelf engine can be licensed for use in other games. First used in the original rFactor, it has underpinned several racing simulations including Project CARS, Need for Speed Shift, and the original Automobilista. rFactor 2 was later updated to the current isiMotor2.5 engine.
In 2016, ISI was acquired by Studio 397, which owns exclusive rights to the current isiMotor2.5 engine powering rFactor 2 and Le Mans Ultimate. Studio 397 is now owned by Motorsport Games, which "has not issued a license for rFactor 2 technology to any game developer” according to their statement earlier this week. Despite this, the code discovered in the beta is believed to be sourced from isiMotor 2.5.
This revelation also contradicts claims that Rennsport's physics technology is "built from scratch." "The whole simulation code is a custom-built engine," Rennsport said in a Q&A last year when asked if the game code is bespoke.
Instead, Rennsport uses an off-the-shelf physics engine as a foundation combined with other software such as Unreal Engine: "When we say custom-made, we do mean something that is created by our internal teams, but we’ve also been careful in building a platform which is modular so we can use external software libraries and technologies to combine that competence with our own," Rennsport explains in the blog post.
"Since the implementation of ISI’s physics processing; parts of ISI have been or will be tweaked, refined and changed to make it what we believe, eventually, to be the best possible racing experience. There already exist 100% custom additions on top of our licenced engine: collisions, contact points and damage models are but a few."
The plot thickens.
Original story below
Rennsport allegedly uses rFactor 2 code
It all kicked off when forum user haunetal1990 shared what appears to be lines of code from rFactor 2 within the Rennsport closed beta on the official rFactor 2 forum. Several lines of code are provided, and the similarities are undeniable.
Specifically, the duplicate code was allegedly found in the physics data, implying that Rennsport is using unlicensed rFactor 2 code.
“Motorsport Games has not issued a license for rFactor 2 technology to any game developer”
If rFactor 2’s code was taken without permission, this situation could have legal repercussions. Responding to the allegations, Studio 397 and Motorsport Games shared a statement on rFactor 2’s X (formerly known as Twitter) page last night clarifying that rFactor 2’s technology isn’t licensed to other developers.
“Motorsport Games has not issued a license for rFactor 2 technology to any game developer at this time nor are we aware of licenses issued by Studio 397, a wholly owned subsidiary of Motorsport Games, prior to our acquisition of the game, development team and attached technology," the statement reads.
"Studio 397 is, under the terms of previous agreements, the sole owner of the relevant various technologies for entertainment uses.”
“We are aware that prior to our acquisition of Studio 397, the original creator of the underlying software as used in rFactor 1, had licensed that foundational technology to various developers. No element from rFactor 2, be that code or assets, may be used without the express written permission of Studio 397.”
Rennsport responds to rFactor 2 allegations
“I want to address some of the rumours and accusations that have been circulating in our community recently. We are proud to say that all content and libraries used for the production of Rennsport are created by us, commissioned, or licensed appropriately,” he wrote.
“Rennsport as an ecosystem is designed to be modular, where best-in-class solutions are available we would be remiss to avoid them. This is why we use Unreal Engine and some of our in-game content is licensed on commission, such as laser scans for our tracks and several parts of our ecosystem. Our current technical direction is to first improve what we can with state-of-the-art technology and if we find fundamental limitations, we rewrite it.”
In a lengthy blog post, the CEO adds “there are also cases where we have intentionally chosen compatibility” and "some code that resembles other software,” citing examples of third-party software that Rennsport uses such as Unreal Engine, MoTeC Telemetry and FMOD.
“Creating a really good product requires using really good technologies, not all good technology is technology that you create,” he added. This contradicts claims on the official website that Rennsport’s simulation technology is “built from scratch.”
“When we do physics implementations in the game, we work closely with the different car manufacturers and their car-specific data to ensure that every car in Rennsport feels unique and represents its real-life counterpart.”
Crucially, the statement doesn’t clarify if Rennsport’s physics engine is bespoke or based on rFactor 2.
Hopefully, we’ll get some clarification soon because these allegations cast doubt over Rennsport’s authenticity. Otherwise, this sim racing scandal could ruin Rennsport’s reputation before the racing simulation has reached the starting line.
Rennsport is currently in closed beta, with a full release planned in December.
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