Wed. Nov 30th, 2022
Halo-inspired fan game gets conditional thumbs up from Microsoft

If you write about the game industry for a while you end up writing about fangame projects that have been discontinued with depressing frequency by the original publishers. Everyone from Square Enix to Blizzard to Nintendo (especially Nintendo) has been sending quit letters to passionate fans about games based on the companies’ popular properties. The companies often mention the need to protect their legal copyrights on characters and related works.

So it’s nice when we can occasionally write about a fangame that actually gets some tacit approval from the developer of the original title. That’s what happens with Installation 01a Halo fan game project is being built in Unity to bring the classic feel of halo 2 and halo 3 for Windows, Mac and Linux players. Apparently the team behind that game has worked out an arrangement to continue development without any legal issues from the Halomakers at 343 Industries or its parent company Microsoft.

The Installation 01 team wrote in a community update this week that they have “maintained a level of contact with 343 Industries over the past few months,” which eventually culminated in a meet-and-greet to discuss details of the project and its legal status. After what the team calls an “incredibly informative and very positive” phone call, they say: “We are assured that Installation 01 is not under immediate legal threat, provided we remain non-commercial in nature and scope and follow Microsoft’s rules for using game content to the letter.”

Those Microsoft game content usage rules explain relatively clearly what fans can and can’t do when creating “derivative works” based on Microsoft published games (the rules seem to be written with online video in mind, but they don’t work). may also apply to fan games). Basically, the usage rules prevent creators from making money from Microsoft’s IP address, using Microsoft characters to create “offensive” content, and using graphics and sounds straight from the original games. Also, “you can’t reverse engineer our games to access the assets or otherwise do things the games don’t normally allow.”

The Installation 01 developers have long said that they have used those published rules to guide the development of the game since its inception in 2013. They note on their About page that “all Installation 01the assets were either created from scratch or obtained through the Unity Asset Store”, although that might not offer much legal defense if those “assets” are close enough to the ones in Microsoft’s game,

The key to 343’s laissez-faire attitude seems to be the lack of monetary reward for the project. After the talks, the team now says it’s “not going to sell” i01 or Halo related merchandise” and that it “will never accept donations”. i01 team says it wants to “maintain a respectful distance between us and Microsoft’s intellectual property.” For now, that means keeping everything completely non-commercial.

The Installation 01 team is also clear that their situation does not mean that every non-commercial Halo fan project now has the green light. Other efforts would have to be approved by 343 and Microsoft on a case-by-case basis, and the i01 team says, “the 343 reps have also informed us that they simply don’t have the time or bandwidth to deal with every other fan project.” as much as they’d like to.” (A Microsoft representative was not immediately available to respond to a request for comment from Ars.)

In any case, it’s nice to know that there are still a few cases where game makers are willing to work with some of their most passionate fans to enable the creation of new amateur games based on popular features. We hope other game makers can find a way to let go of the legal reins a bit and make similar arrangements with the players so inspired by their content.

By akfire1

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