Timothy de Groote
Hyperion Entertainment CVBA (formerly Hyperion Entertainment VOF) is a Belgian software company which in its early years focused in porting Windows games to Amiga OS, Linux and Mac OS. In 2001, they accepted a contract by Amiga Incorporated to develop AmigaOS 4 and mainly discontinued their porting business to pursue this development. AmigaOS 4 runs on the AmigaOne systems, Commodore Amiga systems with a Phase5 PowerUP accelerator board, Pegasos II systems and Sam440/Sam460 systems.
Hyperion Entertainment was founded in February 1999, in their own words, "After Belgian lawyer Benjamin Hermans wondered why no one had ever tried to license PC games to do Amiga ports." Hyperion does not maintain programmer staff but sub-contracts software programmers for projects as necessary. Hans-Joerg Frieden, who had previously worked on ports of the games Descent and Abuse as well as the Warp3D library, was contracted to be Hyperion's main developer. For the next few years, Hyperion would port several game titles to the Amiga and later Linux and the Macintosh, starting with Heretic II.
The port of Heretic II was generally well received by the Amiga press, but had weak sales. Following this, Hyperion set out to target a broader range of platforms: Amiga, Linux, and Mac OS. They also approached Monolith Productions to port their Lithtech engine, culminating in their port of Shogo: Mobile Armor Division in 2001. The game had not sold as well as had been hoped, most notably on Linux, despite becoming a best seller on Tux Games. Hyperion put some of the blame for weak sales on lack of publication by its then-publisher Titan Computer (a claim bitterly contested by Titan) and also stated that Linux users were likely to dual boot with Windows to play easily available games rather than purchase more expensive specialised versions years after release. In any case, Hyperion then mainly discontinued licensing and porting games as it was not profitable as Hermans had claimed. A Linux port of Gorky 17 contracted by Hyperion to Steffen Haeusser was published by Linux Game Publishing in 2006. They also marketed a commercial Amiga port of Quake II, which was already available as source code under the GNU Public License. Descent: FreeSpace – The Great War in 2010 was ported to AmigaOS 4 by Peter Gordon, around ten years after it was ported to AmigaOS 3 by Hyperion Entertainment contractors.
In 2001 Hyperion announced that, after licensing the rights from Amiga, Inc, it would be working on the long-awaited successor to AmigaOS 3.9, and to this end concentrated most of its effort on the development of AmigaOS 4. Hyperion claimed and still claim that it is based upon AmigaOS 3.1 source code, and to a lesser extent certain AmigaOS 3.9 sources. A quick port of 68k AmigaOS to PowerPC was originally planned, with new features added as development continued. Ben Hermans, writing on Amiga forum Ann.lu, claimed that these sources, along with the source of the PPC kernel WarpOS would be sufficient to provide a version to users within a year, making his now-infamous "change some flags and recompile" comment.
The first Managing Partner of Hyperion, Benjamin Hermans, in the period between announcement and release of AmigaOS 4, ignited a great deal of community controversy by repeatedly claiming that MorphOS, an AmigaOS-like competitor (which had been released in complete form in 2003), was illegal, and had on several occasions threatened to take legal action against it either on the grounds that it was parasitic competition to AmigaOS 4, or even that it was actually based on stolen AmigaOS source code. No evidence to support either claim ever became public, neither did any legal action against MorphOS take place, although neither prevented such views being repeated commonly in public Amiga forums and mailing lists and even accepted as fact by some. This situation was inflamed by ex-Commodore engineer Dave Haynie, who backed up Herman's claims: "If you have seen the Amiga source code, you cannot produce a legally separate work-alike", though again without any direct evidence.
Evert Carton took over the Managing Partner position after Benjamin Hermans stepped down in mid-2003, for unstated reasons.
In 2007, Hyperion were sued by Amiga Incorporated for trademark infringement in the Washington Western District Court in Seattle, US. Amiga, Inc. sued Hyperion for breach of contract, trademark violation and copyright infringement concerning the development and marketing of AmigaOS 4.0, stating that Hyperion had continued to develop and market AmigaOS 4 without paying agreed royalties and had continued to do so even after warned to cease and desist.
Hyperion launched a counter action, claiming fraud in Amiga, Inc. handling of Amiga intellectual properties and debts, including the use of debt-holding shell companies, by shifting responsibility between these shell companies. They also claimed that Amiga, Inc. had failed to uphold their part of the contract and had been untruthful in correspondence; and that they had failed to deliver the AmigaOS 3.1 source that AmigaOS 4 was developed from, forcing Hyperion to find it elsewhere. In defiance of that ongoing legal dispute, in late September 2007 Hyperion published, distributed and marketed a standalone version of AmigaOS 4 for classic Amiga, an action Amiga, Inc. claimed as illegal.
On May 29, 2007, the new Managing Partner stated under oath - without further evidence - that the open-source AmigaOS reimplementation AROS was "probably illegal", as documented on page 27 of court documents related to the Amiga-Hyperion court case.
On 30 September 2009, Hyperion and Amiga, Inc reached settlement. Hyperion were granted an exclusive right to develop and market AmigaOS 4 and subsequent versions with the name AmigaOS. However, the "Amiga" trademark remained with Amiga, Inc. and was then also sold to other parties, including Commodore USA and iContain. This meant that "Amiga" branded hardware could and would be sold without AmigaOS 4.
On April 24, 2011 Evert Carton announced stepping down as the managing partner of Hyperion. Since the departure of Evert Carton, the current management of Hyperion was again Benjamin Hermans. Mr. Hermans was replaced after March 2015.
Insolvency Declaration of 2015
On January 27, 2015, Hyperion Entertainment was declared insolvent. Ben Hermans has claimed that this was an administrative mistake by a third party and that the company would appeal the insolvency decision. The declarion was overturned on 2 April 2015 and the company posted clarification on its website. Shortly after the insolvency was annulled, Benjamin Hermans was replaced as leading the company.
Hyperion's game ports include these: Heretic II, Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, Gorky 17, Quake II, SiN and Descent: FreeSpace – The Great War. On their official website, Hyperion also claimed to have acquired the license to port Worms Armageddon, but it was never released by Hyperion, as neither was an Amiga port of SiN they also claimed to have been working on.
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- "Ben Hermans on ANN.lu, challenged on suing MorphOS. Let's find out.".
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- Hyperion's official statement
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- Archived March 6, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
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- AmigaOS Official website
- Hyperion Entertainment website
- Company Blog
- Company Forum
- 2000 interview with Hyperion's Hans-Joerg Frieden at the Wayback Machine (archived August 19, 2011)
- "2001 interview with Hyperion's Ben Hermans". Archived from the original on October 10, 2008. Retrieved October 10, 2008.
- "2000 interview with Hyperion's Thomas Frieden". Archived from the original on October 10, 2008. Retrieved October 10, 2008.