We want to start by saying that we never wanted to take this to the public. Two companies disputing should be handled between those two companies, which is what we tried to do in the first place. However, since Ocean Spark decided to make it public, we have no choice but to respond. We are not going to write a 43 page document. We are going to go straight into the facts and that is all.
The following image is from our contract with Ocean Spark.
Notice the word "original". This means that it must be created by Ocean Spark. This distinction will become important later on.
One of the claims against us is we didn't pay them. That just isn't true. We have paid them £10,000 GBP ($12,562 USD) which up until this incident was everything we owed them, and paid on time always. You can also see we paid other contractors, any of which will happily tell you they have been paid on time and in full.
The following are direct printouts from our two banks, JP Morgan Chase for Business in the US, and HSBC Bank plc. in the UK.
Chase (Scanned Fax)
The Marketplace Grass
It all started after Ocean Spark created some grass models for Oath. We started to receive this error message in Unreal Engine: (click to enlarge)
Which basically means a file is missing because it wasn't submitted with the model that used that texture file. When asked about it, they were quick to submit the missing file: (click to enlarge)
You can see by the file name that the file submitted was indeed the file that was missing in the previous screenshot.
Everything went back to normal for awhile until we randomly stumbled upon this Unreal Marketplace asset: https://www.unrealengine.com/marketplace/en-US/slug/stylized-foliage-pack-01
As you can see in the file screenshots above, the path to the file is "Game/StylizedFoliagePack/...which is the same name as the marketplace asset! Take a look at the screenshots in that marketplace link and then compare them to the image below.
This is a screenshot from inside Oath which shows the grass they sold to us: (click to enlarge)
This raised a big red flag for us. We contracted out a company to make things for Oath, not to purchase them from other people and pass them off as unique to Oath.
Their excuse is that they "accidentally" uploaded the wrong file. That just is not possible with Perforce and Unreal Engine. Anyone who knows Unreal should know why. Also, if they knew the grass had a missing texture, and they saw the name of the texture, they should have known it was the wrong one. Instead of fixing it, they uploaded it, because it wasn't a mistake - they knew what they were doing.
They proceeded to fill half the map with the grass. It just isn't possible for them to do that without noticing it was the "wrong texture".
They were also claiming the grass model is their own. However, if you look at these, you can clearly see they came from another project, not created by them. "Project Survival".
The "Missing" £4,000 GBP
After we discovered what they did, we told them to hold off on working. We said we found a problem, and need to audit every file they sent us. We didn't tell them why yet, because we wanted to make sure they didn't try to cover their tracks. During this "pause" period, we did indeed pause a £2,000 GBP payment to them because of course we are not going to pay them if all they do is buy from the marketplace and resell to us. At this point they have already breached the contract, because as shown above, this asset wasn't "original"; so in reality we didn't owe them anything. They turned the paused payment of £2,000 GBP to £4,000 GBP for no reason. Just to make their story more serious I guess.
They then soon realized what we were doing and that they messed up with the grass texture because if they didn't forget to submit it, we would probably never have known what was going on.
We kept it quiet for a week, going over every single texture, material, model and comparing it when the Marketplace to make sure nothing else was stolen. We are still not even done going over everything. We kept telling them to hold off until we finish, but they didn't.
They wanted a Discord meeting, we agreed. However, they then changed the original time. We said it should still be fine to do the call, but it wasn't. Ethan couldn't make it in time.
Once they realized, that is when they tried to get ahead of the story, and release a Youtube video claiming we are a scam, we didn't pay anyone, a sob story how they are going to lose their houses, etc. They wrote a huge document and spread it to every website and Youtuber they could find. Their plan was to paint us as the bad guys before we can get a chance to even say anything.
While this wouldn't have been a deal breaker on it's own, according to the Unreal Marketplace FAQs/ToS it is not allowed to resell purchased content from the marketplace. This put us as a company in jeopardy as we technically would be using assets from the marketplace that we didn't legally own since Ocean Spark couldn't legally sell it to us. This could mean legal trouble for us and/or being barred from using Unreal Engine.
Level Streaming/World Building
One of the things Ocean Spark claimed is we have no idea what we are doing because they had to setup level streaming. First off, anyone can setup level streaming, it's very simple to do. UE4 even has documentation on how easy it is you can see here: https://docs.unrealengine.com/en-US/Engine/LevelStreaming/index.html
The reason they set it up is because they were responsible for making the map. We gave them the Evervale map and said look, we trust you, so we are going to give you the artistic freedom to create the map as you see fit. It's true we don't have a document for the map that shows where every tree, grass, rock, etc. should be...We had our Evervale concept art and gave them the freedom to make the map off that.
A big part of an artist is their artistic judgement. Anyone can learn how to model, but some people just have an eye for what looks good. We trusted that with them. It also makes perfect sense for them to work on the map since they are making the assets...for the map. This way, they know what assets they need to make without wasting time in JIRA making tickets. The map had to be made from scratch with all new assets. This was simply done to speed up development time.
They also complained about world building, and how we had them to take that on too, and how it wasn't originally agreed upon....Helen was the one who asked us to help with the world.
Marketplace Assets/"Asset Flipping"
It's also been said that we are using Unreal Engine assets. We are. That was the point all along. We only raised about $115,000 USD - that is no where near enough to make a full blown, everything original MMORPG.
The plan from the start was to use the marketplace for what we need, pay artists for things we want original to Oath, release the game, then slowly over time when we are making money, update things as we go. That is how we can afford to make a big game with a little budget.
We don't see what the problem is here. Our entire Kickstarter video says that. No idea why this comes as a shock to some people.
All the code is our own (except 1 plugin we use). The only things we use from the marketplace are visual things such as some animations and particle effects.
"There is no game"
This one is the most outrageous and we are not sure why so many people think this is true. Of course there is a game!
Darien (A.K.A. "Cryy") Lawsuit
We thought for a long time on what to do here. Obviously, going a legal route is a last resort. Nobody wants to do it, it gets ugly, but sometimes it is necessary.
We have decided that in our case, it is one of the necessary times. You have to understand, we have spent 10s of 1,000s of dollars on this project, countless hours, countless headaches....all to be falsely tainted by someone who had no first hand knowledge of anything he spread, and who never even contacted us to ask for our side.
If Cryy would have asked for our story first, then released a video showing both sides and offering his opinion and not state what he thinks is fact or fiction, then all would be okay. However that isn't what he did. He spread the false accusations and lies from someone he had no reason to trust in the first place. This caused this whole thing to blow up over night. There are over 10 Reddit posts about this, multiple Youtube videos, news articles, blog posts....all because he ran with a fake story.
Youtubers need to understand the influence and power they have. They are like today's movie stars. Their words matter and can do real damage.
Cryy says "i reported on something i felt needed to be brought to light..." but the problem is it wasn't a report. It was spread as fact and that caused irreversible damage to our company and reputation.
Defamation means that somebody wrote/said something about you that is false, and caused damages to you. It is a pretty clear-cut case.
We also want to say that if we can resolve this with Cryy without court, that would be ideal.
The PayPal Extrinsic Studio Replies
This one is simple. That was an old company the CEO used years and years ago and has been closed for over 3 years now. It has nothing to do with Ready-Up or Oath. The reason people were getting that reply when filing a dispute in PayPal is simple: We reused the old company PayPal account. Opening a new business PayPal Account is annoying - getting verified, going through, manually accepting each payment, proving to PayPal what you are selling...it's a hassle. There wasn't any reason to make a new one and go through that when we had a perfectly good one already.
This message was set to auto-reply to any new cases that are opened. We simply forgot to change the message when we started using this account for Oath.
Turning off Discord
During an event such as this one, we want someone there at all times to be able to answer questions quickly. We also don't want massive arguments and misinformation being presented in our Discord server.
Stephen stayed up later to answer as much as he could, but since nobody would be online to watch Discord, we temporarily disabled it while we get a little rest.
I don't think anything we do or say will completely clear our name - some people will just listen to their hearts instead of their head. If Ocean Spark is telling the truth and this ruined their company, then that is on them. They should never have done what they did.
Their document and story is completely misleading. Everything is cut and taken out of context or just completely made up.
Our opinion is that their studio was dying anyway (How does 4k bankrupt a company?), so they sold some stuff they had already to us in a last ditch effort to make some money. Then when they realised it was over, tried ruining us and then closing their company down.
Ocean Spark now has deleted their entire online presence. They took off their website, twitter, everything. They say it's because they all got new jobs and their new jobs asked them to remove it. We all know it's because they are trying to cover up and distance themselves because of legal action.
We also want to make clear that we never accused them of wrong doing - not to them or the public. We wanted to check their work fully before bring it up to them, and we could have resolved it internally. However, they jumped the gun and went to the press before we even had a chance to finish the audit and speak to them.
We will be on discord if there are any questions anyone has. https://discord.gg/Oath