Why You Can’t Make A Game About Montreal’s Metro

By Alec Meer on February 19th, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

Not of Montreal

A thing modders often do: recreate real-world locations in the form of custom videogame levels. Virtual tourism! Everyone wins!

Turns out that can land you with a five-figure fine and a cease and desist order from a government department.

This is what one Diego Liatis (now that is a good name) faced after creating a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive map based on a Montreal metro station. Let’s have a look at the level which caused so much bother:

Clearly, lives, reputation and society itself are all endangered. Liatis was denied permission to make the map when he asked the Société de transport de Montreal if they were cool with it, but took it upon himself to make it anyway, reasoning that it was a public space. Alas, they flipped out and threatened a $50,000 fine, claiming that “they feared the game could create panic among the city’s public transit users”, Liatis told Le Journal De Montreal (via The Escapist). So it’s all a bit ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator caused 9/11′, basically.

As Liatis points out, if someone with dark intentions decided they wanted to make Berri-Uqam station a target then they could, er, go and have a look around Berri-Uqam station. But rarely has common sense prevented authorities from making sweeping generalisations about videogames.

As it stands, the map hasn’t been made public, and likely won’t be unless Montreal’s transport bosses get a grip.

, .

108 Comments »

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  1. Tei says:

    More moral panic from people that don’t understand fiction creations.
    Anyway the first wrong was asking for permission. I would not ask for permission to write a porn novel in the White House.
    Imagination is freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

    Maybe the modder can arrange a reunion with the people responsable, make a crude map, and publish that online, so we can make a hostage map with these people workplace.

    • Supahewok says:

      Just make it about John F. Kennedy or Bill Clinton. Or both. They can’t deny that.

      • beetle says:

        JFK/Slick Willy slash fic. mmmhmm.

        (Jackie walks into the oval office, catches John hurridly zipping up his pants, there is a mysterious shape behind a still-fluttering curtain)
        Jackie: I don’t understand why do you keep doing this!
        John: I choose to him and the other guys, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

      • Scumbag says:

        Oddly enough I can imagine a loony republican taking this concept and using it as cold hard facts once an election is coming up.

    • Checksumfail says:

      It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission – Grace Hopper

  2. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Does this mean I will never play the game where I get to run over everyone in Basildon with a humvee?
    Life is not fair.,

  3. crazydog says:

    I was going to make a Counter-Strike 1.6 map of my high school back in the day…someone else had a similar idea a few years ago and this happened.

    • QualityJeverage says:

      I think a lot of gamers probably had that thought. I certainly did, completely innocently. It had nothing to do with wanting to shoot up my school, I just thought it might make for a genuinely cool, neatly designed map, and frankly I still think that’s true when I think about it.

      You’ll catch me jumping off a bridge before trying to open that can of worms though.

    • Supahewok says:

      Hah, that was my high school. Was a pretty big deal around then. Still had kids occasionally bring it up, years down the road, with teachers. Was interesting, I remember a friend asking my Chemistry teacher how she had felt about it at the time. (by that, I mean he asked something like 3 or 4 years after the event) She said that it really creeped her out. I’m sure several others felt that way, too. Kinda understandable with older men and women, especially right after a big scare like the Virginia Tech shooting.

      Anyway, wanted to say that this was nothing new, but ya beat me to it.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      I started making a map of my school in Quake.
      Then after a couple of rooms I got bored and gave up.

    • Koozer says:

      I started making my school in Timesplitters 2, before I ran out of map space. :(

    • Reapy says:

      Had my school and my dad’s office in doom2. Glad we didn’t have internet back then. In my dad’s office the reaction was to play on it at lunch. Sure was cool when the internet wasn’t scaaaaaaryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

      • redlupine says:

        Hey now, that would be invaluable training should the workplace ever become a hive ground for fireball chucking goatmen, pink bull demons, and giant living fireballs.

    • Fumarole says:

      The boy’s mother arrived and gave police permission to search her son’s bedroom. The police found nothing illegal in the student’s bedroom, but confiscated five decorative swords in the search.

      Sword ownership rights have been under heavy fire since they were determined to be the leading cause of death during the Siege of Acre in the third crusade.

      Whew, that was a close one!

    • P4p3Rc1iP says:

      Heh, I actually did it with teachers applauding me for it!

      http://www.l4dmaps.com/details.php?file=15017

      Perhaps it’s because zombies are less “serious” then terrorists?

      • Corrupt_Tiki says:

        More like CS:GO is a murder simulator. It trains people how to shoot real weapons, and teaches them how to aim real weapons, so with a real-life map, you could tactically plan an assault, and run it through various simulations to find which tactics are most successful.

  4. Hoaxfish says:

    I can see their point of view, but now I want a game where you can ride the subway trains around.

  5. djbriandamage says:

    Funny that games like Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed, both games about murder, were not only made in Montreal but were funded in part by the provincial government.

  6. Premium User Badge

    darkChozo says:

    *insert joke about mass murderer running around bunny hopping with knife in hand here*

    • Pindie says:

      Insert joke about mass murderer jumping over stair rail and breaking his legs.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Insert joke about mass murderer not paying attention to train schedules and getting hit while bunny hopping with a knife on the tracks

  7. akhaddd says:

    We do not have a freedom of speech policy here. If we find your post offensive, or just don’t like it, it may get deleted. Complaining about it won’t change anything.

    • Ayslia says:

      That is not the same thing at all. This is a private space; a metro is a public space. I’m sure that if Mr Liatis was modeling based off a private business and the owner complained, RPS would be on the owner’s side or at least neutral about it.

      • hewhosayszonk says:

        Honestly, even the public vs private thing doesn’t feel all that relevant to me when we’re discussing simulcra… I don’t think RPS would have a problem with someone making a game level based on this website. For that matter I wouldn’t have a problem with someone making a map based on a place I lived or worked any more than I would have a problem with someone photographing or recording the place.

  8. CaspianRoach says:

    …this map is pretty horrid. Get a sniper rifle and you win since it’s a long open tunnel with no debris around.

  9. Yosharian says:

    Ehmmm, I can kinda see their point of view, making counterstrike maps out of real places is a tad dodgy if you think about it…

    • GSGregory says:

      Of a public space that everyone knows about?

      • Kasab says:

        Yesterday I felt like bombing a metro station. My plan was originally to case the joint by going to the actual, tangible location and licking the actual, tangible slime from its actual, tangible walls, but then I discovered someone had made a Counter Strike map of the place and decided that’d be more efficient. Of course, when I went to go plant my bombs I found that the place was a bit different- namely, I was asked for my ticket, and there were people who didn’t have guns in addition to ones who did. I was a bit confused, so I went home to a warm lemon drink and my screaming case fans.

  10. x1501 says:

    Not funny. Some of us still remember Crysis 2 and the mass exodus of panicked gamers from the city of New York that followed.

    • JFS says:

      Many of them died on the road to Seattle, as it was clogged with people fleeing from zombies. IIRC they called that road “The Organ Trail” or something like that.

  11. manveruppd says:

    This is insane! TGhere’ve been user-created maps of real locations since Quakeworld, nobody ever made such a ludicrous suggestions about them until now! If I were a qualified lawyer in Canada I would offer to represent that guy pro bono on principle.

    • transientmind says:

      You should offer to represent him as an unqualified non-lawyer not currently in canada.
      I’m sure your journey and courtroom embarrassment – properly edited – would make for a pretty awesome vid-Doc series.

      • hewhosayszonk says:

        Or else make a violent video game about it!

      • Dozer says:

        Ooh, he could make a sequel based in the courthouse! mini-rpg where you must evade the fine, or much the court and get jailed.bonus points for getting the original lawyers and judge to voice-act.

  12. mollemannen says:

    i read in another article that they were afraid of the political backlash. if people start complaining and such. it’s ridiculous of course.

    • P.Funk says:

      Yea, with a mayor that has just resigned amid allegations of ties to construction contracts and kickbacks from the mafia.. this… ths is gonna be some bigger blowback… yea…

  13. Premium User Badge

    Gundato says:

    Honestly, I think this falls into the “common sense”/”good taste” category. Yes, it is REALLY stupid. But, at the same time, it is one of those things that you don’t really need to do and that can have REALLY bad repercussions.

    Likely: A shooting occurs in a similar location (or even this location), this provides fuel for the fire of the media
    Less likely: People post youtube videos of “kill videos” or whatever they are called set in a location like this. Someone finds out, they feel really uncomfortable. Can of worms
    Highly unlikely but plausible: Evil Terrorist Organization 12 uses this as a training tool. Yes, they can easily go to the subway themselves, but that brings attention and they can’t really do “dry runs”. Whereas in a game, they can. Its the same reason that real military groups actually use models and recreations when planning.

    Is it stupid that people are making a big deal out of someone making a map? Yes. Is it stupid that people would make this in the first place? Yes. So what say we minimize the stupid?

    Its the same as making terroristic threats online/at an airport. Yes, we know you are joking. Hell, the feds probably know you are joking. But they have to investigate anyway (on the off chance you AREN’T joking), and that wastes time and resources that can be spent planting baggies of drugs on crimi-err, doing fed stuff. :p. Yes, freedom of speech and all that jazz: But do you really NEED to make those threats? Is it really THAT funny? Probably not.

    Or, if you prefer something less charged: Making racist jokes/posting pictures of “partying” on the facebook. Yes, it is your “right” to do all that crap and I am sure you and your friends find it funny/”cool”. But think about how others are going to interpret that, and think carefully.

    Same here. As a learning tool, making a place you know is a great thing to do. But do you really have to share that with other people? Common sense and the like.

    • x1501 says:

      I’m curious, do you feel similarly uncomfortable about hundreds of blockbuster movies like Die Hard, Fight Club, The Sum of All Fears, Dark Knight, Traitor, James Bond, or Unthinkable using real-life locations in the same fashion?

      And what about books? Ever read the ending to Stephen King’s 1982 novel The Running Man? I don’t see anyone blaming King for 9/11. Do you?

      • tnzk says:

        Unless you’re exclusively watching Michael Mann crime capers, movies don’t provide a good example of how to achieve your gun-toting goal.

        Woe to the person who thinks they can take out several SAS troopers with a well placed shot to a gas tank.

        Video games are a lot different, and in fact, games are used in the military for training purposes. Like the original poster you replied to said, it’s all a matter of taste/common sense.

        • x1501 says:

          [M]ovies don’t provide a good example of how to achieve your gun-toting goal.

          And video games accurately do? Yes, I’m sure that spending quality time in a game like Counter Strike has all the difference to create a competent regular bomb-disposal and hostage-rescuing expert. Just like spending enough time training with Karateka, getting your archeology lessons through World of Warcraft, and honing your dating skills through GTA IV will eventually turn you into a mean, lean, Indiana Jones-like fighting machine who always gets to win every fight and get all the ladies.

        • Premium User Badge

          liquidsoap89 says:

          This might hold a bit of merit if the level was a 1:1 perfect recreation of the station, but surely creative liberties would have been taken. I know most user levels tend to be bigger than their real life counterpart, and this one in particular looks to be missing a lot of the little bitties that make things look interesting/are almost always located everywhere.

          And given the state of the video game industry right now (the popular part of it anyways), video games are trying incredibly hard to be just like the action movies.

    • Archonsod says:

      I’d suggest anyone who felt uncomfortable due to the location being used in a game was a pathetic bawbag who shouldn’t be allowed unsupervised on the streets in the first place, and it’s pointless to worry about terrorists using it as a simulator when the building plans are available for free to the public in the first place.

    • Grygus says:

      You should rethink your whole approach. Your plan isn’t to minimize the stupid; it is to flee from it except where you are explicitly legitimizing it. Pretending that all opinions are equal is intellectual sloth. These people hold uneducated opinions, and letting them make decisions based on those opinions is going to be suboptimal.

      Event: There is a shooting someplace, and there is no Counter Strike map of it, because there are no Counter Strike maps of anywhere realistic; your idea is implemented with perfection.

      Result: There is a shooting someplace. People die.

      You accomplished nothing of note, except cutting off a perfectly natural starting point for beginning mappers. Art and social commentary suffer, and the people you’re trying to shut up simply blame something else, because they do NOT have a point; they have a reaction, and that doesn’t require logic.

    • Thants says:

      Counterpoint: Many games have had maps based on real locations and no harm has ever actually come from it.

  14. ScubaMonster says:

    “Liatis was denied permission to make the map when he asked the Société de transport de Montreal if they were cool with it” – Well that was his first mistake. Had he not even bothered to mention it, I seriously doubt they ever would have found out about this map. He probably should have just uploaded the map under an unknown user name.

    At the very least, he should have made it a generic subway after they said no and just not associate it with the real location. You can’t get sued for making a subway map of a fictional subway location.

    • GSGregory says:

      I was thinking about suggesting that as well. That is what I would of done.

  15. trjp says:

    Whilst nowhere near as silly, I’ve been told that a local group who set-out to model the Tyne and Wear Metro ran into some issues and were discouraged from doing it.

    I believe the Tyne and Wear Metro may be unique in the UK in having a blanket ban on any form of photography or filming anywhere on the network – be that trains, platforms, bridges or whatever.

    It was this which was invoked to discourage modders from filming the train’s journey (for landscape/scale/timing purposes) as well as trackside stuff, stations etc. etc.

    It’s one of those things where you should be able to challenge it with a “why does this rule exist?” thing.

    The case here is just stupid tho, I thought Canadians were supposed to be the smarter nation on that continent?

    • Premium User Badge

      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      And yet…

      • trjp says:

        and the mod exists too

        I’m pretty sure TWMetro comes up in those privacy discussions a lot when it comes to having odd rules – trainspotters are probably a pain-in-the-neck to train companies but actually putting notices-up banning them is mildly bonkers…

  16. Rath says:

    This is nothing new, nor is it exclusive to Canada. When I was in university (UK), any department involving design, animation or photography was instructed to remind students that we were specifically prohibited from photographing, making a video recording, or graphically representing in any way the docks on the edge of the city as it was a criminal offense. Aiding and abetting terrorism offenses, etc.

    • Grygus says:

      This is how you can tell that terrorism works.

    • trjp says:

      It’s worth noting that whilst that’s not true (taking pictures in any public place of anyone/thing which should reasonably expect to be photographed is quite legal) the UK Police are bizarrely aggressive towards people with cameras.

      In London you run a serious risk of being detained for taking pictures of anything other than the really obvious landmarks, for example.

      The Police are often keen to tell people that filming the Police at work is illegal – which it isn’t.

      and then there’s filming council meetings but that’s FAR too topical :)

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        Agree it’s bizarre, but over on the other side the US has similar patterns of authoritarianism.

      • Rath says:

        We were told it was something to do with the navy utilising the docks in question, so I’m not sure it qualified as a public space.

  17. tciecka says:

    This post reminded me of an old DOOM wad.

    The time: August/September of 1994
    The place: Trinity College, Cambridge
    The guilty parties: Steve McCrea, Simon Wall, & Elias Papavassilopoulos

    http://www.doomworld.com/idgames/index.php?id=791

  18. int says:

    Only one answer fits.

    The subway is a front for a secret military base. I’m onto you Canada!

  19. Snuffy the Evil says:

    Terrorists win.

  20. El_Emmental says:

    With all the stupid people in the world, and the popularity of CS:GO, the mapper should have went for a fictional metro station (slightly similar to the real-life one) in my opinion.

    Any kid can spawn a bunch of civilians/hostages on the map, or even make a mini-gamemode (each killed civilian gives money, civilians try to run to exits, but flee from players – very basic AI scripting). Now add a custom “bomb” (= explosion area + explosion sound + smoke effect) and environment cries after detonation, and you’ve got your terrorist attack “game”. Some people are stupid enough to make that “for laughs”.

    Using fictional locations help people relativize their fears and consider it as “fiction”. Out of respect for the people living or passing through these locations frequently, you don’t freak them out with your hobby.

    Doing that with big monuments is okay as long as the context shows it’s a fiction, but doing that in a mundane subway station will only get a “oh, neat” feeling from the local gamers, while the thousands of people using that subway station will have a very uncanny feeling, having their everyday life put into a life-threatening context frequently, just for entertainment.

    Also, not everyone know, nor have to know, what CS:GO is about and how it’s “far from realism, without the crowd, only cops vs bad guys”. People have the right of not knowing what your hobby is about and not being excessively disturbed by it.

    With books it’s down to the reader’s imagination, with movies it’s only a couple of scene, in a specific story, watched once every 6 months at worst ; while with games like CS:GO, it’s everyday, without any context/story, clearly visible and relatable for everyone (visual fidelity).

    I’m not for putting in jail or over-fining teenagers making their school (or metro station) in a level editor, but I’m against using heavily-frequented real-life locations in life-threatening situations in “realistic” current-era games, without any permissions from the public authorities.

    • Premium User Badge

      liquidsoap89 says:

      A person could just as easily simulate their terrorism fantasies in a custom CSGO map as they could by watching any number of terrorism scenes from movies played on repeat.

      VLC Player has a feature to set a start point and end point in a video, it simply plays that clip, and then repeats. A person could edit together a video featuring all the possible clips from movies that they could ever want, and watch it over and over again. This is essentially the same as what you propose a person could do in CSGO. And really, if they are capable of coding like the examples you’ve provided, than it’s possible that they would also be capable of simply making these environments themselves.

      Obligatory “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” quote. Environment modders don’t make terrorists, the terrorism fantasisers make terrorists.

      • Premium User Badge

        liquidsoap89 says:

        Oh, and you make it sound easy to write scripts like that… I envy your abilities (honestly)!

        • El_Emmental says:

          Of course it’s not easy, but once you’ve got a map, a community of 50 players, you’ll rapidly find someone learning programming who will try to make a cheap attempt at scripting that – after a few weeks, you’ll get your first beta.

          It doesn’t need to be perfect – and with a bored teenager finally finding an interesting challenge, hours after hours the mini-mod will finally be stable enough to launch and somewhat work half the time. That’s enough to make the headlines and/or become popular (for a few days).

      • El_Emmental says:

        Who said modders are making terrorists ?! Who said it’s about letting people enjoy their terrorism fantasies ?

        We’re only talking about not making the local, real people who go through/live in these locations feel threatened/disturbed by someone’s else hobby.

        Like you don’t play airsoft with replicas in public spaces, you don’t play current-era life-threatening visual-fidelity games in well-known highly-frequented places, especially when the gameplay/immersion benefits from that are minimal (“oh, it’s like that station, neat”).

        VLC player… yes you can watch the same scene again and again. How many people actually do watch the same scene of the same movie once a day, for 2-3 years ? Now compare that to people who routinely boot up CS:S/CS:GO and play their usual mapcycle everyday.

        And the movie scene will be put in a context, inside the story of the movie, allowing people to relativize its impact on their perception of the real-life location – CS:GO won’t have any of that, it’s just two teams (cops vs bad guys) shooting at each others.

        “And really, if they are capable of coding like the examples you’ve provided, than it’s possible that they would also be capable of simply making these environments themselves.”

        Yes, and my point is still the same: you don’t use highly frequented real-life locations in that very specific case of a current-era, life-threatening/violent, game with a certain amount of visual fidelity, because the distanciation (perceiving it as complete fiction) is much more difficult for external people.

        If it’s a map, a TC mod or an entire game (wrote in your own engine or not), it’s still the same.

    • El Mariachi says:

      Why is it incumbent on the modder to avoid making skittish overreactive people uncomfortable? Their comfort is not his responsibility. Why doesn’t the onus lie with the panicky unreasonable authorities to avoid making him uncomfortable and/or impoverished?

      • El_Emmental says:

        Please define “skittish overreactive people” and ““panicky unreasonable authorities”.

        Terrorists attacks in public transport are a real threat (it even happened in London in 2005, if you watched the news – 2004 in Madrid). Same with public shootings happening on the american continent.

        Even if some governments and lobbies are exploiting (a lot) these terrorism-related threats to gain more power/money, it doesn’t make the actual threats disappear: terrorism groups exist, they get funded by here and there by various superpowers, and the misery in third world countries allow them to build a “legitimacy” marketing base and recruit people around the world.

        Simply because you’re “not being fooled” by the propaganda on the television, newspaper, radio and websites doesn’t make wars, weapons and bombs suddenly disappear.

        With that in mind, you can’t blame people who use public transports on a regular basis be more sensitive regarding their safety (and their feeling of safety) there. Being in a small and crowded environment is already stressful, you don’t need to add the uncanny feeling of being in danger. If that map was about a less-crowded location it wouldn’t be a problem.

        Regarding the authorities, they have the duty of providing a safe environment and a feeling of safety for their citizens/users – it’s their main, most important job.

        That map, as it’s set in a current-era game with a certain visual fidelity and mainly features life-threatening situations, is associating these public locations with such violence and danger. It means that the authorities have to, especially since it’s hardly a breach of freedom of expression (nb: freedom/liberties aren’t unlimited, otherwise I would be able to be a total dickwad around you, and you would be forced to endure it in silence), make sure the right of feeling safe in that public place is respected, and ask the mapper to not publish that map (= stop making it, or rework it so it’s clearly fiction).

        Simply because you played CS:GO before and perfectly know it’s just fiction doesn’t mean everyone have to share the exact opinion – people have the right of having their own feeling, perception and opinion of a situation.

        If their feeling of safety (vital for a healthy life – I have yet to see someone enjoy paranoia) is threatened by a custom map design choice, since the mapper can easily rework that map/not publish it, the rights of the users of that public transport should be protected (in my opinion).

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          Yeah because people get on the subway and say, “Man I sure feel safe now that that CS map was banned! The subway is so much safer now!”

          Instead of looking at domestic entertainment they should look at their foreign policy if they want to actually seem like they’re handling problems with terrorism.

  21. Fumarole says:

    Squandered opportunity to use the phrase n00b tube.

  22. ldelporte says:

    I bet they’d be okay if someone decided to film a violent movie there.

  23. b0rsuk says:

    I don’t know the details, but it sounds like they overreacted.

    Still, this *is* a sensitive topic. Metro stations are a common terrorist goal, and this map helps potential terrorists to train before the action. My point – it’s not important that it’s *a* metro station, but an *exact* copy of a *real* station. I wouldn’t have an issue with a made up station. And when one day something snaps in some madman’s head, he will know exactly where to go.

  24. Milky1985 says:

    So i guess the City of London is going to be sueing Ubisoft as zombie U lets you wonder around the subway stations while being attacked by zombies and that could be used as training.

    Useful training for knowing how to get away from londoners on a friday night tbh

  25. Hardmood says:

    omg…how low can u go?

    maybe theres no void which is deep enough

  26. buxcador says:

    Pundit: Oh, no! I need to react to a question!

    -Pundit switches the button on his chest- “MAXIMUN… IDIOCY” tells the voice on his head.

    Pundit: Challenge… Accepted! -trollface-

  27. wererogue says:

    What is that person doing? Doesn’t she know that there is an electrified rail for each metro track?

  28. Premium User Badge

    Nathan says:

    I wonder if they’d have complained so vehemently if he wasn’t using their (trademarked) logos all over the place.

  29. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    I wanted to go bomb a subway but luckily there’s a video game simulation so I didn’t have to

  30. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    So this map needs to leak out to get the proper Streisand effect on