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Reading Unreal level formats (EPIC: legality?)

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    Reading Unreal level formats (EPIC: legality?)

    I'm writing my own engine from scratch, and I was working on the requisite Quake 3 level viewer to test things out with. Then I thought, wouldn't it be interesting to read Unreal levels too, and finally give people a way to resolve those age-old Quake vs. Unreal debates?

    Well, I found this page, which describes the format, and wrote a level reader class for it. The result?

    (This is NOT Photoshopped, I can show code if you need proof.)

    Now one question remains for Epic... is it legal for me to parse the various Unreal formats into my own engine, and make a game out of it?

    The engine reads the data straight out of your retail UT/UT2k3 folder with no modifications (so you need to buy a copy to run this, stealing from Epic would be lame), so no copyrighted content is ever distributed. I didn't reverse engineer the .exe files or anything, just used the info from that site. The game would be free, since commercial exploitation would (or at least should...) be a big no no here.

    I just want to know if this is legal to do, because if it isn't, I'll promptly get rid of the Unreal stuff and stick to open-sourced games (like Q1/2, Doom, etc.) for the experiment. I don't want to waste my time on something that can't be done, and I don't want to hurt Epic, because I want them to keep making great games (UT2k4 rocks!).

    You better send this directly to Epic, the forum isn't the best way to reach epic, specially not for this kind of stuff.

    But I can tell you one thing, Epic won't like it that you re-use their art in your game.



      epic set their houses on fire and sent mob hitmen after their children... dont let this be you


        The contents/data of a file can only be copyrighted/protected, the structure can not. So it is not illegal to release a files structure. It is illegal to take the data stored in those structures, if the copyright prohibits it.

        So if you created that map using the data in the UT map file, then that would be a copyright violation since you are using data that is under Epic's copyright.


          This is a little different from that, in that it does all "conversion" at run time, not on disk. However, I thought about it last night, and there's problems even disregarding the legality question:

          Hypothetical Scenario #1: The game, for some reason, becomes popular. Company Foo was using the Unreal engine, sees this one has the ability to read the format, and converts over to it. Epic loses a license sale.

          Hypothetical Scenario #2: Mod developer writes a total conversion for UT, sees this engine can do Unreal stuff, and converts over to it. Mod no longer needs UT to run. Epic loses sales. We've all seen how valuable the Counter-Strike mod was to Half-Life.

          Talk about biting the hand that feeds you, reminds me of some of the practices Microsoft did back in the day that people hate so much. Just not ethical.

          People have tried this sort of thing over and over again by redistributing content in another format, which is obviously wrong. At first I thought it might work out if no distribution was involved, but it doesn't. Oh well, guess there's just no way to do a game like this, even if it would be fun.

          Time to go play some Onslaught while I figure out which technical demo idea to work towards first.


            So you actually need a copy of UT to use this?

            If the person is required to have a legal copy of UT, then I don't know if that breaks the license agreement. I'm sure it does though in some clause. In this case, I don't think Epic would go out of their way to get you since you are forcing people to buy UT in order to use your application.

            If you take the map ( or texture, sound,etc ) , that came with UT, and redistribute it with your application that 100% breaks the license agreement.

            The safe bet is not to use any of UT maps, textures, sounds, etc. I'm pretty sure you can still use the editor to make your own map, using your own content, and not be limited by the software license. However you never know if there is a license agreement on UnrealED that states that all works, it generates, can only run under UT.

            BTW: Pretty cool stuff you got there. You could always try to use


              Yeah, it would require a legal copy of UT to run.

              I read the UnrealEd license, and yes, they do have a clause that says "your mods (refers to levels and any other content created with UnrealEd) must only work with the full, registered copy of the Software, not independently or with any other software". So basically only UT. I'm sure this kind of thing applies to the content provided with the game as well. And anyway, any ability to play UT levels violates this clause right here, since people would obviously want to play custom levels with it.

              That Crystal engine looks pretty good, I'll have to check it out. Of course, part of the reason I'm writing one is to get some good experience with game dev, and the best way to learn these things is to try and actually code the stuff.