Yesssss: No One Lives Forever Finally Getting Re-Released

By Nathan Grayson on May 2nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm.

'Hey, get off me!' the mime did not say.

Yes yes yes thank goodness hooray finally oh gosh woooo wheeeee yeah excellent fantastic wonderful groovy there should be a parade.

No One Lives Forever, the excellent tongue-in-cheek spy series from Monolith whose rights mysteriously went missing, is very likely about to get an online re-release. Finally. So, where in the world has Carmen Sandiego Cate Archer been hiding all this time? Well, it looks like Night Dive Studios – they of the System Shock 2 and Humongous Entertainment re-releases – got ahold of the series, though they’re not committing to anything just yet.

Siliconera discovered that Night Dive has filed trademarks for No One Lives Forever, The Operative, Contract J.A.C.K., and A Spy in H.A.R.M.’s Way, which seems to suggest it also has the rights to back up those trademarks. Night Dive itself isn’t quite ready to discuss future plans, but things sound damn promising:

“At this time we are unable to comment on future plans. I would like to add that our team has a great fondness for these games and our hope is that they will one day be re-released.”

Given that they’re currently in the process of taking steps to make it happen, I imagine that day will come sooner rather than later. Night Dive is a young company, but its track record is solid. So now, hopefully, all that’s left to do is wait. And then? Well, speaking personally, I plan to install NOLF and NOLF 2 on so many things. I wonder if GOG will work with my toaster.

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102 Comments »

  1. Uglycat says:

    Please be as good as I think I remember it.

    • Flakfizer says:

      Please be full of hay …

    • NooklearToaster says:

      It is, I replay the original every year or so and it so, so is. This is amazing news.

    • povu says:

      I played the first game last year, for the first time.It’s still good. The graphics are dated but its cartoony aesthetic really helps with that.

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      The first time I played this game I neither finished it, nor fully appreciated it’s genius. Yet years later, I still can recall my ill advised attempts to interrogate one of the henchmen for information and the voice of the the near blind/hard of hearing American diplomat swearing his eternal spite onto some unfortunate bistro.

    • Hahaha says:

      Is meh nowdays and those fucking ninjas

  2. Premium User Badge

    Matchstick says:

    YAY !!!

    Best gaming news I’ve heard in ages.

    • waltC says:

      Even better–I have both original games and am happy to report that both run wonderfully under Win8.1.1×64…! I had put these games away because somewhere down the line (Vistax64?) I had a very difficult time getting them to run at all–so I was very pleased to see that both run splendidly with the latest hardware and Windows OS…! I just checked to make sure: they are both running with *no compatibility mode* set at all! That is, under straight Win8.1.1×64 memory management and file compatibility! They now run *better* than they ever did for me originally–much better, in fact!

  3. Ansob says:

    Excellent. Now, please do Tron 2.0 next.

    • Lobotomist says:

      Completely agree.

      NOLF was a damn masterpiece that needs to be re-released. But TRON 2.0 was easily better than the slap in the face of fans, movie Disney released.

    • baozi says:

      Yes please!

    • TheTingler says:

      Unlikely since Disney own the licence and they’ve basically scrubbed it out of existence.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      I was just thinking about Tron 2.0 yesterday, and how it played with the genre conventions. I particularly enjoyed the complexity that appeared later in the game. I particularly enjoyed fights that had viruses, where they’d infect my programs and I’d have to fight them with weapons in the game-world while desperately scrubbing viral infection from the corrupted sectors in my own memory before my armour and weapons started to go offline. One that was worth playing to completion.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Let’s see… yep, never uninstalled it. ;)

    • Stardreamer says:

      Another one of my all-time favourite games. It wasn’t perfect but that doesn’t matter – it’s amazing anyway.

  4. Scumbag says:

    Joy!

  5. Armante says:

    Yay!

    Also, SOMEONE please bring back Xwing Space Combat, preferably in HD with Rift support. Thank you.

    • pepperfez says:

      I believe Disney has declared that game not to have existed. Your memories of it are legally incorrect now.

  6. Colej_uk says:

    Fantastic news!

  7. Premium User Badge

    basilisk says:

    Those guys are amazing.

  8. PsychoWedge says:

    woa, I had given up on this already… this just made my day, I think!

  9. John Connor says:

    Do they own the rights to System Shock? Could they license it to somebody to make a new one?

  10. LionsPhil says:

    The question again rises: if you buy this, who gets the money, and have they done anything to deserve it?

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      Night Dive gets the money. They deserve it because they made the game legally available again?

      • roryok says:

        They deserve it because they made the game legally available again?

        People seem to forget that games like this are, and have always been “legally available” on ebay and amazon. All you need is a DVD drive. Even if you don’t have one, all you need is access to one for just a few minutes, in order to make a disc image.

        In my opinion this is a better way to own the game, as you get a physical box to put on your shelf and fondly admire, even when not playing the game.

        • Philomelle says:

          Except there are only four copies on Amazon that aren’t bootlegs and they run from 30 to 280 dollars.

        • BlueTemplar says:

          BTW, isn’t making such disk images illegal in the US due to the DMCA? Or does that only apply if the DVD itself is protected against copying?

          • CaspianRoach says:

            I’m not an expert on american law, but I’m fairly certain that you absolutely can make disk images for personal use if you don’t intend to distribute it/sell it/rent it.

        • Premium User Badge

          Chuckaluphagus says:

          I’ve purchased a used copy of NOLF (box, manual and everything) and tried to get it running on both modern Windows (7, 64-bit) and with WINE on Linux. The first was a complete failure, and the second functioned but there were lots of problems with video and audio. The game dates back to that point in the late ’90s when 3D graphics on a PC wasn’t really standardized yet, and NOLF’s early version of the Lithtech engine doesn’t play well with current OpenGL or DirectX.

          If Night Dive wants to refurbish the games and make them more functional for today’s systems, I do not object to them being paid for that work.

          Edit: I made a mistake – I just saw that NOLF came out in 2000. I’m surprised that it runs so poorly, then, as a lot of other games from even before then are much easier to get running these days.

          • Phoibos Delphi says:

            You should try the rebuilt Installer for NOLF offered here, worked for me!

            http://www.play-old-pc-games.com/2012/05/23/no-one-lives-forever/

          • harmlos says:

            I have the “Game of the Year” edition of NOLF (that I bought many years ago), which installs and works just fine on Windows 7 64 Bit.

          • Premium User Badge

            Chuckaluphagus says:

            Thank you, Phoibos Delphi. I don’t believe that page existed the last time I tried to play NOLF, or at least I never found it. I followed the instructions and the game installed and plays perfectly. The help is very much appreciated.

        • jgthespy says:

          Oh wow it’s been years since I’ve last heard that argument. I didn’t even notice that people stopped making it.

          I joke but the NOLFs are two of about 10 discs that survived The Great Physical Media Purge of 2008. There are few games that hold up as well or hold such a strong place in my heart. They still play better and entertain more than all of the boring, humorless, arab genocide/space marine FPSes that have come out since.

        • MadTinkerer says:

          NO, you DON’T just need a DVD drive, you need a computer with a version of windows that the game was made for, or you need to hunt down the info to make the game in question work with Win7 (because Win8 does not exist), and multiply this by the literal thousands of old games in your collection and you definitely don’t have enough disk space on all those old hard disks to have everything installed at the same time…

          …or just buy some games on GoG and have them all installed on your current laptop’s hard drive that’s measured in freaking terabytes and they all just work…

          AND THAT’S WHY COMPANIES THAT UPDATE OLD GAMES FOR GOG DESERVE THE MONEY.

          • Antonius says:

            THE CAPS AND BOLD MAKE IT TRUE!

            Kidding. Actually completely agree with your statement.
            We need more companies like Night Dive and GoG to bring great games back into conciousness.

            Individually modelled and accurately rendered drops of sweat on the protagonists’ forehead mean nothing if the story and gameplay are Lucas-level revisionist P.o.S’s.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      You could ask the same thing about buying a cheap paperback edition of a Dickens novel.

      They are being paid for keeping the work of art in/returning it to legitimate distribution channels and with it the public cultural consciousness, which I personally perceive as added value, and will be happy to remunerate them for it. Of course none of the money will make it to the original development team, because said team might as well be as dead as Dickens now.

      • BlueTemplar says:

        Bad analogy, the works of Dickens are in the public domain, any distribution channel including torrents is legal.

        • Premium User Badge

          basilisk says:

          Which is why I specifically talk about purchasing a paperback, you see, and paying for something I know I could have for free. I know the analogy is flawed, but the trains of thought are not dissimilar: I am not really paying for the work of art itself, but rather for the service that delivers it to me.

    • El_Emmental says:

      Night Dive gets the money, but I don’t think they’re spending it.

      Night Dive is made of video game industry veterans, and as you could see in the news, they worked on re-releasing System Shock 2 (among other titles, like some Wizardry ones).

      By submitting a trademark application for NOLF, they’re forcing the actual rights-holder (if there’s any) to come out of the woodwork and block that trademark application. Like you saw with the Scrolls case, a trademark holder has to defend its trademark otherwise it loses it.

      That’s why they said ““At this time we are unable to comment on future plans. I would like to add that our team has a great fondness for these games and our hope is that they will one day be re-released.” and haven’t said a word regarding a sequel or a HD remake or even a re-release. They’re lighting a Cate Archer signal in the sky, and waiting for a sign.

      The plan of Night Dive was carefully crafted by industry veterans (including lawyers), and they’re very likely stockpiling the sales’ money (minus administration cost) until they’re 99% sure they won’t risk a lawsuit where they would have to pay back all the sales’ money to the original rights-holder.

      The main idea isn’t making profits over dead people or long gone studios, it’s paying a skeleton-devteam that will port these games to modern OSs (pun intended :P), a bunch of office people to get the game published (and kept up-to-date) on several platforms, lawyers and business experts to do long-term investigations (doing night dives into abysses of legal papers…) regarding old titles (like SS2 or NOFL).

      By buying the games they re-released, you’re basically funding gaming archiving, so you can legally and easily play old classics, without having to wait from 95 to 120 years for the copyright to dies out.

      It’s similar to what GoG initially did with distribution (contacting known rights-holders) – here Night Dive is doing that with publishing (retrieving publishing rights or taking the risk of publishing without a perfectly solid certificate).
      => technically, you don’t “need” their service – you can always pirate old games and wrap DosBox around it – but legally and in terms of gaming history, they’re doing a vital work.

      • Pazguato says:

        Thanks for the insightful information! Much more informed than the RSP article it seems.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Interesting (if speculative) answer, thanks.

        • El_Emmental says:

          Exactly, we do not have any access to what is actually and exactly happening behind these doors, my post is mostly speculative (using the available information on IP laws, Night Dive public activity and how old games rights get lost through M&As).

          It’s quite understandable that we don’t know much about it, as it could greatly increase the legal risks of re-releasing such titles: if potential rights-holders, who are far from sure that they actually hold these rights, knew Night Dive doesn’t have a solid claim on the game XYZ, they could attack them without hesitating. Or if a rights-holder *think* they own the right and are currently negotiating with other companies, and get Night Dive to publish the game in the meantime, it’s better to keep the situation private to prevent external abusive IP trolls from blocking the re-release.

      • bill says:

        Hmm. That’s a very interesting idea. Sounds like a clever strategy, if the lawyers don’t eat them for breakfast.

        I hope it works for them.

    • Shuck says:

      “The question again rises: if you buy this, who gets the money, and have they done anything to deserve it?”
      That’s a question that could be asked of any studio-made game release, and the answers are, almost always: a publisher (and not necessarily the original one), because they plunked down some cash for the rights. It’s a rare event that the original studio (much less the original developers) get money from sales, even on first release. With re-releases there’s pretty much no chance that the original dev studio is seeing any proceeds, even in the unlikely event they still exist. With games that require some work to get them running under modern machines, there’s a small amount of money going to the tiny team doing the update work as well.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Sure, but at least with intial releases the publisher that took on the risk of funding the game’s development gets a return.

        Fourteen-odd years of IP shell games down the line, that link is somewhat more tenuous.

        • bill says:

          But at some point they plunked down the cash to buy the license (or the publisher holding the license). So the original publisher got some value from the license that they sold.

          I don’t really see it as an issue. At least not one that’s specific to games.

        • The Random One says:

          That’s exactly why I think Night Dive deserves the money it’d get from NOLF more than Activision deserves the money it gets from King’s Quest.

  11. BlueTemplar says:

    It’s been (almost) 14 years since NOLF1 was released. It should be (almost) in the public domain now, code source and all…

    • PlKupo says:

      Funny you should mention that! The source code for both NOLF and NOLF2 has been available for a long time. Not many big budget commercial games have their source code available, but these are an exception.

      • BlueTemplar says:

        That’s great! I would like to know who was responsible for this decision, so that I can show some appreciation? We need this to become the rule so that video games are conserved for posterity…

        • kalirion says:

          Note that the source code being released does not mean all the assets are also “free”. Models, textures, maps, etc … those are rarely made available by large studios.

    • Premium User Badge

      Chuckaluphagus says:

      Sadly, I’m not aware of any country in the world where copyright is only 14 years. With current copyright statutes and international intellectual property treaties, No One Lives Forever probably won’t enter the public domain until 2090.

      • pepperfez says:

        And, of course, with the current status quo regarding amending those treaties and regulations, it’ll be closer to 3090.

  12. Premium User Badge

    lowprices says:

    I love the idea the rights to NOLF have just been sort of lost, and then found by some other company.

    *A small office building, people are working at computers.*

    Person 1: Hey Chris, you’ve got something stuck to your shoe.

    Person 2: Ugh, how long has that been there?

    *He pulls the paper off his shoe and looks at it. It reads: WHOSOEVER WIELDS THIS BIT OF PAPER, SHOULD HE BE WORTHY, SHALL HOLD THE POWER OF THOR. ALSO THE RIGHTS TO NO ONE LIVES FOREVER, I GUESS.*

    Person 2: Huh. Guys? I’ve got a suggestion for what our next game could be.

    • Optimaximal says:

      It’s basically how the games themselves would have handled such a thing…

  13. derbefrier says:

    Never played this game so uhh what makes this game so awesome? I love me some old school shooters but for some reason I completely missed this one.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      Two reasons – it’s highly stylised, very funny and full of swinging sixties charms, and it’s also a damn good shooter/stealth hybrid that I’d say does a better job combining both aspects than, say, Deus Ex (though it’s not an “immersive sim” by any means).

      Here’s wot one John Walker thought of it:
      http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/no-one-lives-forever-retrospective

      • Geebs says:

        Before anybody gets their hopes up too much: I thought the stealth in NOLF was utterly rancid, so your mileage may vary. It might be better than Invisible War, though.

        • Turkey says:

          It’s on par with most shooters from that era. They didn’t use shadows which makes first person sneaking a chore.

          You can blast your way through most of the games, though. So they’re still worth playing.

        • Jason Moyer says:

          Stealth in Invisible War worked better than it did in the original DX.

          And the 2 primary NOLF games are among the best games ever made. The original is, at the very least, in my top 10. The sequel was also great, but the stealth was weird and the enemy respawning in certain areas grew tiresome. The original is basically perfect on all levels.

        • malkav11 says:

          I never got past the tutorial in the first NOLF because not only was the stealth janky, if you were detected you instantly failed the mission (at least in the tutorial). Fuck that noise. NOLF 2 was brilliant, though, and failing stealth there just meant more shooting people and less listening to hilarious conversations, which was a pity but much preferable to instafails.

    • bstard says:

      The music, the over the top bosses, the shooting feel, the rithm. It’s just what a shooter should be. I guess the looks will be dated now. I’ll pass, not gonna touch this again and risk my precious memories.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      What makes this game awesome:

    • Colej_uk says:

      It’s the closest you can get to playing through a classic bond movie, and it’s got a great sense of humour to go along with it. The scenarios it puts you in and the locations you visit throughout the game are equally awesome and hilarious.

  14. Premium User Badge

    frymaster says:

    This one totally passed me by at the time, so I’m pretty damned interested.

    SImilarly, I didn’t get Deus Ex until it was on budget because I didn’t think it looked interesting. That’s how useless I was at understanding vidya games before RPS came along :D

  15. baozi says:

    Hooo. Unexpected news! But good. So good.

  16. Winged Nazgul says:

    /littlekidfistpump.jpg

    YES!!!!!!!1

  17. GallonOfAlan says:

    Played through both NOLF and NOLF 2 again a couple of years ago. NOLF 2 is still a lot of fun. NOLF has not aged well at all IMO.

    • Turkey says:

      NOLF 2 plays better, but I feel like the first one did a better job with the ’60s spy cheese.

    • harmlos says:

      I disagree. NOLF is still as much fun as it always was. True, the graphics are hopelessly outdated, but the game doesn’t look hideous. And as Turkey says, while NOLF2 is the better game mechanically (except for the infinite respawn enemies), NOLF has the better plot and atmosphere.

      • Premium User Badge

        Thirith says:

        The second NOLF, while more streamlined and polished, also struck me as the less interesting one, mainly because it’s so damn eager to please everyone. I loved how the first managed to find moments of genuine pathos in its silly ’60s craziness.

        • West Side Wonder says:

          I agree with you 100%. The first NOLF pushed the envelope a bit on the ’60s sexist stereotypes, and the game was better because of it. NOLF2 played it a little more conservatively and failed to hit the same level of awesomeness.

  18. DanMan says:

    This is showing some wrinkles already. A remake would be more interesting.

  19. unimural says:

    Oh, Mr Grayson. You mean mean creature. That’s not a very accurate, or nice title this post brandishes.

    I will not, good sirs and madams, be getting my hopes up prematurely. There’s still a discouraging number of ways our dreams can fail.

    • Premium User Badge

      thedosbox says:

      I’m just happy that there’s some hope this will turn out well. It was certainly enough to make up for a shitty Friday.

  20. HisDivineOrder says:

    Two of my all time favorite games, I particularly loved NOLF2. Finally. I figured this series would NEVER get released because of Fox publishing them and WB-owned Monolith (mostly defunct now anyway) developing them.

    I’d love a release on Steam of both. I even have the discs and I’d rebuy as long as the price isn’t obscene.

  21. Tiltowait says:

    Whenever I see Monolith I think of the original Blood game. I had a lot of fun with that one. Nothing has ever been made like that again.

  22. Westy says:

    Oh blimey, superb!

    Thanks for making my Friday.
    One of the best games ever, and having lost my disks somewhere I just need to play it!

    +1 for Tron 2.0 as well. I managed to track down a copy a few years ago and play it again… still has that breaking bug though that means you have to restart.

  23. Dances to Podcasts says:

    OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG

  24. GapToothedGipsy says:

    Logged in to say how very excited I am. Would love to see NOLF2 though, re-installed it fairly recently, it stands up well as a game, but it was a bit of a fight to get it running in widescreen nicely, and the menus were funky even then.

  25. mbp says:

    I got a bout of nostalgia for Kate Archer about a year ago and installed NOLF2 from my disk copy. The good news is that it installed and played perfectly on Windows 7-64. It also looked pretty good too for such an old game and the game-play was as much fun as I remembered.

  26. LetSam says:

    Excellent! Now all that’s left to make me a 100% happy retro camper is to see re-releases of AvP 2 and the Blade Runner adventure.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Terra Nova and Metal Fatigue.

      Someone re-releases those I suspect I will literally never need to buy another game again.

  27. Premium User Badge

    Devan says:

    This is the best gaming news I’ve heard in a long time. I have physical copies of both games but would probably buy a re-release depending on how significant the polish changes are. Just the fact that the IP seems to have a respectable owner is reason for excitement.

  28. slabgar says:

    Hot diggity dog!

  29. captain nemo says:

    The Gods are smiling – I just bought ‘Jagged Alliance Gold’ from Steam, and now a NOLF return is announced ?
    Modern life, sometimes, manages not to be rubbish

  30. CandyMan says:

    I’m down with this….

  31. Gilead says:

    Bought a CD version of NOLF 2 from Amazon a couple of weeks ago because I’d given up hope of this series getting a nicely compatible digital re-release. Clearly the universe noticed the purchase and decided to mess with me.

    I’m therefore now thinking of buying used copies of Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer and G-Police in the hope that the same thing will happen again.

  32. gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

    Oh AWESOME! I still have both NOLFs and Contrack JACK on CD. I played NOLF a year back, and tried to play NOLF2, but the infinitely respawning guards in Siberia got too frustrating. Once I got to the India level with the bananas and the wanted posters, I was burned out on patience and stealth and went the opposite way, installed Quake 1, and ran through slipgates mad shooting without thought instead.

  33. bl4ckrider says:

    Funny how much love such an old game still gets (mine as well) and that no one has had the idea to rerelease it earlier.

  34. Jalan says:

    News of the year. No need to write about anything else, as it is likely to be downhill from here. My wallet can barely handle the anticipation.