Update: Spidermin Games has responded to our request for an explanation.
After a three-week hiatus due to a copyright complaint, Kickstarter has canceled the crowdfunding campaign for Spidermind Games. Elite: Dangerous pen-and-paper RPG. The campaign page will be back online from 21:45 GMT.
The complainant appears to have been a person named Chris Jordan who filed the complaint on behalf of Ian Bell Elite Rights LLP. Ian Bell is the co-creator of the original 1984 space combat and trading simulator Elite. Bell and partner David Braben then split up elite, with Bell pursuing other interests, while Braben continued to develop the Elite series (Braben was also instrumental in the development of the Raspberry Pi).
At one point, Ian Bell would be his part of the… Elite copyright to Chris Jordan. In an email to Spidermin Games obtained by Ars, Jordan doesn’t seem happy with the fact that the Elite: Dangerous RPG does not credit Bell. “I’m sorry to see you commercially exploit that one man’s work without whom” Elite would never have existed without permission, credit or even mention,” Jordan wrote. “Since you say you’re a Elite player and fan, I take it your omission is not through sheer ignorance.”
Although Jordan filed the complaint on behalf of the Ian Bell Elite Rights LLP entity, there is no evidence that Bell had any involvement or knowledge of the takedown of the RPG campaign.
In the three weeks that the Elite: Dangerous The RPG campaign has stalled, Ars has contacted Chris Jordan and Ian Bell several times for comment. Neither responded.
Spidermind gave the following statement to Ars:
Spidermind Games is in the incredibly fortunate position of being licensed by the creators of the iconic MMO Elite Dangerous to create a role-playing game in the same galaxy that millions of online players enjoy. Seeking funding for this project, Spidermin Games launched a call to: Elite Dangerous fans and RPG-ers to make this game possible through a Kickstarter campaign.
For reasons known only to themselves, three people, with no connection to Frontier Developments, Spidermind Games or Elite Dangerous, decided to try to derail this project by making allegations of copyright infringement. Upon receiving this allegation, Kickstarter suspended our campaign and gave the plaintiffs 10 business days to prove their allegations and file a lawsuit against us.
Since that first e-mail, no contact has been received with these persons. To force the issue, Spidermin Games even made their own demands directly to the complaining party and challenged them to provide evidence of this alleged infringement. Nothing has been returned.
In the intervening 3-week period, the campaign has lost a handful of donors and around £3,500 in potential pledges, but it’s unclear, with four days left on the clock, whether there will be a return of any of these donors. The most damaging aspect to Spidermind Games was the fact that we had to stop; stop production, stop commissions and stop the many talented people who have worked so hard to make this project possible. To their credit, some of our team told us that they would continue anyway, because of their belief in the quality of the game. Our thanks go to them and to all our donors who have kept the faith.
I am already greatly encouraged by the many comments we have had about our recovery and we are grateful for all the support.
Now that the campaign has been reinstated, Kickstarter is letting it run for the time it had left to run when it was frozen — about five days. This is standard practice: “If we can recover a project that was hidden due to a copyright dispute, we ‘un-pause’ the countdown and it continues normally,” a Kickstarter spokesperson explained when Ars contacted the company for remark.
The project had already passed its funding limit when it was frozen, raising £65,407 (about $81,700) with a goal of £45,000 (about $56,200).
Revelation: The author of this piece is a financier of the Elite: Dangerous RPG Kickstarter.