The creator of hell-inspired roguelike DoomRL [official site] has changed the game’s name to DRL and shared its source code with the world after receiving a legal warning from ZeniMax, the owners of the Doom trademark, late last week. The letter had demanded the removal of “all ZeniMax trademarks from meta tags, keywords, media, and other visible or concealed text that are connected to [the] website”. And that’s why the website now looks like this.
The co-creator, Kornel Kisielewicz, also put the code for the roguelike on Github. He had already wanted to make the game open source, he said, and meant to do this after finishing fundraising for his current project (a fancier-looking spiritual successor to DoomRL called Jupiter Hell) but ZeniMax’s legal finger-wagging compelled him to do it sooner.
“I planned to release the source code of DoomRL as a ‘thank you’ after a successful Jupiter Hell Kichatarter [sic], but ZeniMax forced my hand.”
Meanwhile, the follow-up, which is carefully avoiding using a certain name while also being obviously inspired by a certain name, has six days left to reach its £60,000 goal. It has raised over £44,000 at the time I wrote this delicious sentence. On the Kickstarter page, the word “Doom” has been starred out to read “D**m”.
Doom itself has a clear history of being shareware and free to any sucker that picked up its guns, which gives the decision to open sourceify DoomRL – excuse me, DRL – a nice sense of poetic justice. ZeniMax’s letter, while unsurprising for a corporate juggernaut, is still demoralising when you consider that history. Although, as Adam pointed out, it was not the most demanding of cease and desist messages. There was no demand to remove the game itself and Jupiter Hell has been left alone.