TxK is one of the best shooters of recent years. Jeff Minter is a legend in British gaming, and absolutely delivered the goods in what we described as "a thing of exquisite beauty" in our 9/10 Vita review.
So we were delighted to hear that Minter was working on PS4, PC, Android and Oculus versions... but no longer, as the shambling mess that once was Atari have decided to stop destroying classic gaming franchises for long enough to block the game on legal grounds.
Minter is "beyond disgusted," and frankly so are we.
"So yeah all the stuff we had ready or near ready will now never see the light of day.No TxK PC, PS4, Oculus, GearVR, Android. Thank "Atari"," tweeted Minter.
Atari in inverted comments, of course, seeing as the company that exists today is Atari in name only, and tend to just shovel out horrible reboots of once-great games.
“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.”
So why are they blocking it? Because it "looks like Tempest 2000." A game Minter actually developed and then iterated on the basic concept through future games. Here's an excerpt from a new forum post on the matter:
Basically most of it came down to "looks like Tempest 2000", and it included such gems as:
- - in order to create TxK I must have had access to, and stolen secrets from, Atari's source code, in order to steal the work of the other people who worked on Tempest 2000. (I *wrote* the source code for Tempest 2000, and didn't need to refer to it at all to create TxK, even if I still had it. The only other people who worked on the game were Joby Woods who did bitmaps (TxK has no bitmaps apart from one 64x64 graduated dot) and the Imagitec musicians (TxK has neither a modplayer nor any of Imagitec's music). So I stole my own work out of my own brain I guess.
- The soundtrack to TxK sounds identical to the soundtrack of Tempest 2000. (In fact the TxK soundtrack is entirely original and highly acclaimed; it won a Develop award and went to #1 on Bandcamp).
- The player ship can jump. Apparently Atari owns jumping.
- There is an AI Droid in TxK. Yes there is, and there has been an AI Droid in almost every game I've made since Llamatron. Which I made 3 years before Tempest 2000. The AI Droid is a staple of my design style.
- I deliberately set out to cash in on Atari's copyrighted Tempest name (by giving my game a deliberately obscure name of TxK).
- I deliberately set out to cash in on Atari's stellar reputation by associating my game with their illustrious name. (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. 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.
So there it is, at least, from Minter's side of the story.
We hope that Atari will see sense, but given that these legal threats have apparetly been ongoing for some time, we doubt it. It's all too easy for companies to steamroll smaller developers and sadly the same will likely happen here.
All together now: boooooooooo.