Definitely Not Space Hulk: Alien Assault

By Kieron Gillen on September 30th, 2009 at 2:40 pm.

Not Space Marines and Not Genestealers not locked in mortal combat in not a Space Hulk.

You may remember a fine pretty-much-complete PC translation of the boardgame Space Hulk. You may then remember that the lawyers Cease-and-desisted ‘em. You may then remember them trying to get permission from THQ. You may remember them saying that THQ has given permission as an April Fool’s joke, in an impressive example of a sense of humour failure. And you may remember them deciding to file-off the serial numbers on Space Hulk by inserting their own fiction and re-do the game. Well, maybe you do – I stopped following it after the April Fool’s gag. Anyway, they’ve finished and released it, now renamed Alien Assault and… well, this is an impressively bad job of filing off the serial numbers. If you want a PC Space-Hulk boardgame version, I’d go get it quickly, because frankly God knows how long it’ll be up.

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94 Comments »

  1. BooleanBob says:

    Lordy, I can’t stand April Fool’s, but even I had to crack a smile at some of the stroppy behaviour in that original comments thread when people realised the jig was up.

    Thanks for being the bigger man and giving this some sweet publcitoxygen, Kieron. From my outrageously narrow perspective, getting my chuckles and thinly-veiled gaming ‘homage’ entirely at the expense of others, this has been an hugely profitable post.

  2. Metalfish says:

    /Downloads before lawyers can fill their forms in

  3. Gurrah says:

    GW really are a bunch of c*cks. Every time someone tries to use their licenses to make something only a crazy fan would do, they forbid it. I do love Warhammer, but the way they ‘guard’ their IPs is ridiculous.

    • ChaosSmurf says:

      I remember in the original Dawn of War I was part of a mod team who were going to make an army of squirrels, the special moves of which would include biting the cock off of Space Marine Force Commanders. We weren’t allowed.

  4. sexyresults says:

    Downloading this now. Side note I can’t believe people got so shitty about that April fools joke.

  5. Super Bladesman says:

    I don’t know what this is but I’m downloading it just to feel the wind of possible naughtiness in my hair. That, and it might be good.

  6. RogB says:

    great!
    my first priority will be to replace the ‘replacement non licensed’ marines with proper 40k ones, and change all names and logos back! :)

    (for personal use, of course – though i’d be happy enough to send a set to anyone wanting the edits)

  7. shon says:

    What amused me is that the random ad on the download page is a link to “Find a lawyer now!”

  8. Ging says:

    The April Fools was, well, foolish on their behalf – but I’ve grabbed this anyhow as you know, it’s space hulk I can play without having to tidy up afterwards (and besides, no one but me gets to touch my new shiny version of Space Hulk!)

  9. Lu-Tze says:

    I’m amazed they can’t use the same loophole that FUMBBL seems to get away with, ie. disclaiming that you can only use it if you own an original boxed copy of the tabletop game.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Lu-Tze: When it’s single player only, that seems a little thin.

      KG

    • Lu-Tze says:

      I guess that they are offering a different experience using someone else’s IP and rules does muddy the waters of that route a bit (which is already fairly dirty). Still, the lack of multiplayer is disappointing; I immediately assumed this would be a faithful reproduction of the full 2 player affair.

    • Gutter says:

      I think that they did it more to showcase their alien AI techniques than anything else.

      I least thats the answer I remember them giving when asked about multiplayer…

  10. Acidburns says:

    I made sure to grab their first release for the short while it was out heh. Still I can’t see GW letting it slide especially if all the rules and missions are the same…

  11. Hypocee says:

    Well…one-and-a-quarter to one-and-a-half-player affair, really.

  12. CaseytheBrash says:

    Little bitter about the April Fool’s thing. A lot bitter, perhaps. But, I’m always happy to have some Space Hulk. And let’s face it, Games-Workshop will probably gain from this if anything. They have pretty bad judgment when it comes to whoring out their IP but I doubt anyone had this game in development, in this form or state at least. It does make me want to buy terminators though…

  13. Hybrid196 says:

    /does the same

  14. Hybrid196 says:

    hmm ^ that was supposed to be in response to Metalfish

  15. gulag says:

    If they’d been smart/further-sighted, GW would have snapped those guys up to do a Flash promo/demo of the new edition of Space Hulk.

  16. Legionary says:

    I found I had to run it in compatability mode for Windows 98 to get it to run, as an FYI for other RPS readers.

  17. Clovis says:

    Hmm.. as long as they do a good job of changing the names of things and the graphics they should be fine. You cannot own a copyright on rules. KG, you seem to indicate that the story is not original enough though, right? That would be a problem.

    Even if they did everything perfectly, it won’t stop a big corporation from suing you if you. You will have to pay a lawyer a lot of money to have a chance of not losing the case. So, in the end, it doesn’t matter that you cannot copyright rules. You must simply obey your corporate overlords, or have your life financially ruined. Maybe you’ll do that as some kind of “civil disobedience”, but unfortunately nobody cares, so that won’t help.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      “You cannot own a copyright on rules”

      Which is yet another reason why IP law as it currently exists is stupid beyond belief. If copyright law is designed to a) allow creators to profit from their own inventions, and b) promote innovations, why the hell shouldn’t game rules and for that matter mechanics be copyrightable? For Christ’s sake, the UK courts have held that football fixture lists are copyrightable. Why is a physical method of game control patentable but not a GUI design? It’s so arbitrary.

    • Clovis says:

      A GUI design is, more or less, covered under copyright law. I imagine it is a very complex thing to sort out though. For example, I think Xerox could have succesfully sued Apple about their GUI, but they waited to long or something.

      How is it bad that you can’t copyright (which last 120 years) game rules? It would be crazy if you could. Essentially all RPGs would be paying royalties to D&D forever. Rules are not an “expressive art”, they are just rules. You can’t copyright knowledge or instructions. Should someone own a copyright on how to hang a door? Sure, they can copyright their wonderful description of how to hang a door, but not the actual knowledge of how to do so. I know a lot of effort goes into making really good, balanced rules, but the concept is too closely tied to other things that would be insane to consider IP.

      I think lists of sports data is interesting. Simply taking someone else’s compiled research and reprinting it is a problem. The arrangement and compling of the data is more than just data itself (especially since Englan has a “sweat of the brow” rule or whatever). However, no laws should stop a second person from doing that same research and then selling that same data. Sorry, a sports team does not “own” a list of the names of their players.

  18. Sam C. says:

    I saw the same ad, I had a chuckle.

  19. Gutter says:

    What strike me as funny is that, faced with the decision of changing the name of their game, they went with something as bland and generic as “Alien Assault”

  20. Masaq says:

    It seems to run badly at a high res. Anyone else had any problems?

  21. jameskond says:

    Wait, why can’t I download it? that link is like not working, this isn’t some bullshit only a few countries can download it shit right? :P

  22. Durns says:

    If they don’t guard their IPs, they lose them. Crappy law, but its the law that has to be followed

  23. Mort says:

    Problem I had was that it looks bloody ugly at high res and I cant read the text, but at default res it’s too small to read properly. On a 24″ 1920 lcd.
    So buggered really. Hopefully it’ll get fixed.

    oh also it’s bastard hard.

  24. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    Having never played Space Hulk before, this is amazing. The sound isn’t very good (and thanks for the compatibility mode tip, Legionary).

  25. RaptorRed says:

    Im so glad this works perfectly in wine its great fun to play *cough*spacehulk*cough* again but Mort’s right its bastard hard.

  26. Matzerath says:

    Goody! Goody! Goody!

  27. Alex Bakke says:

    To be honest, I’m not quite sure why everyone got so riled up about the April Fools joke.

    The first rule of April Fools when surfing a website, is you check the date posted.

    • Matzerath says:

      Yes – basically, if your April Fool’s Joke managed to actually dupe a few people, and then said person/people are forever pissed-off about it, then you had a successful April Fool’s joke.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Matzerath: The sort of RPS agreed April Fools definition of April Fool is “It has to be a joke”. If it’s not funny, and believing it is not intrinsically a bit foolish, it’s not particularly interesting. In fact, it’s just lying.

      Doing a gag-free lie about the very thing they’re getting support for, frankly, is stupid.

      KG

  28. Pl4t0 says:

    This game is awesome, for a 2d representation of a 20-year-old board game.

  29. Lack_26 says:

    Well I've played the game and can safely say that it's really good, far more tense than many other games with all their flash modern graphics.

  30. RogB says:

    heh, looks like the layouts of the sprites are roughly the same as the previously pulled 1.0 version of space hulk. tomorrow lunchtime cut+pasting in photoshop should be enough to turn it back into THE TRUE GAME

  31. Hulk Hogan says:

    Sadly not everyone can be lucky as the devs who did the pc version o Bloodbowl.

    :((((

    *cuts wrists with chainsword*

  32. Wilson says:

    It seems pretty cool, but it is hard to do well. Reading Keiron’s older posts about the game, some of the problems he mentioned have been fixed (undoing moves, move and fire) but the ability to save command APs to unjam guns would be great. I thought these guys were meant to be elite marines, but they suck at aiming and their guns jam constantly :)
    I guess the aliens (stealers?) are dodging and all, but it looks pretty lame when the grunts miss an alien twice point blank, then get killed next round when their gun jams before they even shoot the next attackers once.
    Not sure I’ll go back to it much, unless I realize I’ve been missing some basic essential tactics or something that explains the constant slaughter of my soldiers.

  33. Gazaraz says:

    I played the board game about a week ago (as I heard it being mentioned on here) and was hugely impressed with it as such I was bloody confused when I found you can’t unjam during the alien’s turn. Also the lack of multiplayer is a big problem hopefully they’ll add this in later version if the law doesn’t take em’ down first…

  34. drewski says:

    Having something They don’t want me to have is an irresistable temptation.

  35. Hybrid196 says:

    Here’s my experience with the game so far:
    /checks out a square room with only one exit. “All clear!” /clicks end turn. / gets killed from behind.
    It’s a very good game though, I just need to relearn everything.

  36. Wilson says:

    All right, I’m getting better. Having multiple people covering each other seems pretty vital, and still results in a couple of casualties on a relatively easy level. Still, not a game for the easily irritated.

  37. Railick says:

    I remember playing the Space Hulk computer game when I was younger and thinking "Is this a freaking joke?!?!?!" Like a gene stealer comes running down the hall way my gun is blasting it the entire time and nothing happens ,I die

    Anyone know if there is a Warhammer 40K or Warhammer Fantasy battle online game like fumbbl or this?

  38. Radiant says:

    Why isn’t this a web based game!?
    You could do a cracking version of this online with very little over head [or even an iphone app].

    The one thing I would say to people [my little brother] asking for a 3d fps whizz bang version is is that the the thing with board games is that 80 percent of the excitement is in your head.
    Sort of like the way a book is better then the film because it shows you less; the rest you fill in with your imagination.

    I would like a little bit more information on what is going on [with dice rolls and modifiers] but so far Alien Assault is pretty lovely.

    Btw how does the board game work? Surely you know where everything is already as it’s there on the board right?

  39. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    I think they have blip counters which conceal how many excitingly-mandibled horrors are heading towards you.

  40. Railick says:

    From what I've seen the board isn't fully layed out when the game first starts. I'm not sure how it works but it seems they lay down corridors while you're playing (maybe they roll a dice to decide which peace comes next, I dunno) Each game is suposed to be unique.

  41. Psychopomp says:

    This, and X-Com are the only strategy game to ever make me feel doomed, helpless, and scared.

  42. Player2 says:

    Quite a fun game here, though there are two things that really irk me. First and foremost, gun jamming. I’m quite happy that it’s there, as is provides an abnormally that can cause everything to go to bad very quickly. The problem is that it happens far to often, and it quickly makes strategy obsolete. When I have 3 people lined up to bottleneck the aliens as they swarm from the nearby ventilation shaft, it makes my eye twitch when all three jam, and the first little blighter comes out to nibble on my marines helmeted face. He lived, luckily, but then the following turn after my lads had unjammed their guns and resumed overwatch position, the same thing happened. This time Dryfus’s helmet was split open along with his head. It wouldn’t bug me so much if this happened once in a blue moon, but it seems to happen nearly every game (usually with only 2 marines) and ends up costing me that expert that I worked so hard to get.

    If your still with me after that wall of text, my second gripe is that theirs no multi-player. But really, that’s just be being greedy. I’d very much like to command a group of troops alongside my partners team in an attempt to last for “x” number of waves of aliens, coming from all sides and truly flooding the area. If this doesn’t get crushed under EA’s mighty iron spiked boot, I’d be glad to pay a few bucks for a multiplayer version.

    • Hybrid196 says:

      Maybe if we could see the dice rolls it would be less of a surprise. That still wouldn’t reduce the occurrences of it happening though, just make it easier to understand. And i agree, a multiplayer version would be great. Maybe even have one person control the aliens against two or three squads.

  43. sigma83 says:

    Site doesn’t work for me. Does anyone know of any mirrors, or perhaps a rapidshare upload? I REALLY REALLY REALLY DESIRE SPACE HULK. MY OWN SEARCH FOR MIRRORS IS USELESS

  44. Andy says:

    I was doing great, really enjoying myself, had a near perfect strategy down.

    Then my guns kept jamming and it all went to shit :(

  45. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    I don’t think I’ve seen *three* guns jam. But I think the difficulty is part of it’s charm. Like X-Com, there’s a bit of bowel-gnawing fear going in to a mission – that everything’s going to go tits up at precisely the wrong point.

    But things like that moment you realize your chain gunner has only one burst left and he has four bogies in front of him and no AP’s to reload are outweighed by the moments when it all comes together – like when I got my chain gunner to go full auto on a whole 3×3 room full of the monsters. Or how you have one marine beat a fighting retreat down a one lane corridor, watching the backs of the flamer guy who needs to burn up some useless junk.

    If you don’t get immersed into how precious and fragile the marines ultimately are, it becomes way too easy. If your gun jammed once in twenty shots, all you’d need to do is set up a kill zone or two and have your other grunts leisurely stroll through the other objectives.

  46. NegativeZero says:

    What serendipitous timing, I’ve just gotten back to my desk after a lunchtime session of Space Hulk…

  47. Spacewalk says:

    Who’s the only guy in the world who forgot about weapon jams? This guy, right here.

  48. Matzerath says:

    Man, this little indie rip-off game of dubious legality really delivers that special X-com feeling.

  49. GreatUncleBaal says:

    Was lucky enough to play the new Space Hulk special edition at a mate’s the other night, which has rekindled my love for this game. Alien Assault is a pretty good stab, but Games Workshop really, REALLY need to pull their fingers out and get cracking on a PC remake. The old ones were flawed in some ways but still lovely.

  50. Heliocentric says:

    Space hulk gets on my tits, whole campaigns wiped out by a fistful of ones.

    Sure you are playing the odds, but some missions you cannot plan around misfortune no matter what, at some points it becomes ludo where the best move is the only note (which
    isn’t stupid).

    Yeah, I know the same is true of bloodbowl or even *swoon* necromunda, but in those games you design your force and select how you want to interface with your environment. I can set up my heavy guns in the open, or place my main brawlers behind some disposable units.

    But spacehulk often eliminates any kind of choices. Fucking Ludo Spacehulk.

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