The planned PS4, PC and Android releases of Llamasoft's shooter TxK will not be released following a copyright claim from Atari.
TxK's creator Jeff Minter has said that he's been forced the cancel the games following pressure from Atari, which seemingly has claimed a copyright violation alleging that the game too closely resembles Atari property Tempest.
Minter worked on Atari's 1994 version of Tempest for the Jaguar, as well as 2007 release Space Giraffe, which like TxK was familiar in structure to Tempest.
So yeah all the stuff we had ready or near ready will now never see the light of day,” Minter said on Twitter. No TxK PC, PS4, Oculus, GearVR, Android. Thank ‘Atari'.
It's achingly sad because I *loved* Atari. Getting to work there, and creating one of their last great games, was such a joy for me. The old icons fall, it seems: Atari become copyright trolls, Nintendo now going F2P it seems...
I got my dad into games using a VCS, and on his last ever holiday I was so happy to be able to show him round the ‘bunker on Borregas'. And I was there when it died, and that too was a terribly sad time. But I could never have imagined one day being savaged by its undead corpse, my own seminal work turned against me. I am beyond disgusted.”
This has been going on behind the scenes for a while now. I'd kept it on the down low all this time because I had hoped we could maybe work something out, maybe ‘Atari' would commission an officially licensed version from us; we made it clear we'd be willing to negotiate about that sort of thing.
I even thought maybe they might be interested in my doing updated versions of some of the other Atari IP. After all I do have a track record of doing decent reworkings of old games like theirs and I would have really enjoyed a crack at some of those old things.
However they never gave an inch and just continued with threats and bullying. Specifically they had their lawyers present a number of legal accusations about a variety of things; we consulted a lawyer who told us that if we wanted to fight against it then it'd be expensive because we'd need to address separately each of the things they were accusing me of.
The accusations were addressed not only to Llamasoft as a company but also directed at me personally.”
Atari accused Minter of stealing Atari's source code for Tempest 2000 – a game that he coded, although he adds that not only would he have no need to address it, but he also no longer has access to it. The company also said that TxK stole Tempest's soundtrack, even though it features an original Develop Award-winning score.
They were also upset that the player's ship can jump (Apparently Atari owns jumping,” Minter lamented) and claimed that he deliberately set out to cash in on Tempest's reputation (I never mentioned Atari at all as the last thing I really wanted was for Llamasoft to be associated with the undead Atari responsible for turning Star Raiders into a fucking slot machine.”)
All abject bollocks, but set up legally so as to be expensive for anyone to contest,” he added. Even just going back and forth a few times with letters responding to their threats ended up running up a couple of grand in legal bills, and there is simply no way on God's earth I can afford any kind of a legal battle.
I think they thought I was somehow making loads and loads of money on the Vita version of TxK, I guess because it did garner excellent reviews and a bit of positive press. But the Vita isn't a massive market, TxK made back it's development advance and a bit more and that was it. They kept hassling us and eventually I sent them sales statements so that they could see for themselves that we weren't getting super rich out of it.
Even after having shown them that, they are still trying to insist that I remove from sale Vita TxK (even though it's plainly at the end of its run now and only brings in a trickle these days) and sign papers basically saying I can never make a Tempest style game ever again. So no chance of releasing the ports.”
The plot thickens, with the accusation that the PlayStation port of Tempest 2000, called Tempest X, had its name altered so it would legally be considered a different game, thus blocking Minter from receiving any royalties.
However, Tempest X was derived from Minter's source code and used the same soundtrack, along with a host of other similarities.