The Good, the Bad, & the IP
11/10/2014, 23:33 UTC
Fellow Descent and SolC fans,
Today is a day of big news. We would have loved to make you fly the Pyro by the end of the month. It could have worked out so beautifully…
Unfortunately Interplay had other ideas and sent us a Cease and Desist order.
We have been deeply honored by the support we have received from you all and we believe that the best relationship we can have with you is that of honesty and transparency. So in keeping with that we want to tell you what has happened, what we have done, and what we want to do next. So sit down and prepare for a nice read, or wait for our YouTube screencast that’s coming later.
Below this post you see the complete document Interplay sent to us (personal information is blurred out). This C&D was sent as a PDF by Interplay’s in-house “counsellor” (lawyer) directly to me, the project lead. For some backstory: I had been contacted by a daughter company of Interplay over a year ago, parallel to the development of SolC, and we were in talks trying to work out whether we could make Sol Contingency an officially sanctioned Descent game. I want to emphasize here that *they* contacted *me* about this. They even asked for and received a working copy of a functional internal build of SolC. We never made this public because things never actually got down to concrete business propositions and we really weren’t holding our breath for that. After all, SolC has been our passion project from the start and money was never our primary objective. So we trotted along, figuring that Interplay would come back if they were interested – maybe once Proving Grounds was released.
And back they came, but not the way we had hoped.
We responded to their C&D by proposing negotiations with them, giving them 14 days. It has been three weeks and we’ve yet to hear from them. We don’t expect to. We sent another message to the guys from the daughter company I mentioned and their response was, in one sentence, that Interplay had to decide on the matter and they wouldn’t be able to help us. Don’t worry if this seems illogical to you, we were equally baffled. But the question remained, what do we do? Unable to get the ball rolling in any other direction, we had several internal discussions and ultimately decided that we cannot risk a release of Proving Grounds that is in violation of Interplay’s C&D – even as a fan project, even if Interplay does nothing with the Descent IP, they can still make life hard for us if we don’t abide by their demands.
But this is not the end of SolC.
Interplay may own the rights to Descent, but they do not own the rights to 6DoF, to first-person shooters, or to a type of gameplay within creepy and claustrophobic environments. We realized that everything they own the rights to is, at the end of it all, purely cosmetic. As such, we have decided to reface Sol Contingency and remove the Descent assets – the Pyro will be replaced by another ship, the robots from Descent won’t make a return, and PTMC is no longer part of our single-player story. While we are very sad to see these iconic archetypes go, we will come up with new robots, a new plot, a new ship, new levels, and perhaps a few new weapons and names to differentiate our game just enough from the trademarked assets Interplay is so dearly holding on to. We still want to make a game that *feels* and *plays* how we all want, so none of the gameplay will change. The core experience in Proving Grounds’ multiplayer will be identical to what you have seen from us so far.
Personally I’m very disappointed that we have no choice on this since I wanted to remake Descent 1; the game that defined 6DoF. However, we will not be shut down by Interplay’s incompetent and unprofessional behavior. We are declaring independence here and now, making our own game that fans can enjoy, develop, and support directly with us. We don’t need Interplay to make Sol Contingency as great as Descent was. Our goal has always been to develop a great preview / tech demo / early access version of Sol Contingency to get people playing 6DoF again and showing you that we have what it takes. We won’t go over Interplay’s head, no, we will stand on their shoulders and give you all a true spiritual successor to the game we all know and love.
As consequence of all this, the release of Proving Grounds might not make it in October. We have to rework some assets and redesign others from scratch to separate it from Interplay’s IP. We will have to cut some corners to get the game ready fast and we are at a point where we don’t want fancy visuals to further delay what we already have: a solid 6DoF FPS game. As such, please don’t expect final quality of the new models or textures as they will be placeholders used to get us away from the Descent IP while not losing too much time. For the full game after Proving Grounds, we will make proper quality replacement assets.
And speaking of the full game, many of you have asked us about Kickstarter and crowdfunding in general. While we were unable to go ahead with that in the past because the IP situation was unclear, now that we are splitting from the Descent brand, we are very happy to say that we will be able to pursue such avenues once we go ahead with the full game. You will see a crowdfunding campaign go up for that after the release of Proving Grounds.
Interplay might have given us the boot but we hope you, the ones that truly matter, are still with us. We hope you can help us bring 6DoF back. Please spread the word about what happened here by sharing this post, telling other Descent/6DoF fans, and keep an eye out as we make changes to our website and media section.
For the SolC team
Max – SolC lead
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