Fan remakes and reimaginings are labours of love living on a knife-edge, potentially blooming into a glorious monument to their adoration but knowing that one single letter from the owner could shut everything down at any moment. Sol Contingency has received that letter. It was to be a shiny "reimagining" of Parallax's splendid six-degrees-of-freedom space shooter Descent in the UDK, but owners Interplay have stopped that. The team say they'll continue, changing enough to make Sol Contingency their own thing.
But this wasn't all unrequited love; at one point, Interplay were interested in making Sol Contingency an official Descent game.
Sol Contingency project lead Max explains:
I had been contacted by a daughter company of Interplay over a year ago, parallel to the development of SolC, and we were in talks trying to work out whether we could make Sol Contingency an officially sanctioned Descent game. I want to emphasize here that *they* contacted *me* about this. They even asked for and received a working copy of a functional internal build of SolC. We never made this public because things never actually got down to concrete business propositions and we really weren't holding our breath for that. After all, SolC has been our passion project from the start and money was never our primary objective. So we trotted along, figuring that Interplay would come back if they were interested – maybe once Proving Grounds was released.
And back they came, but not the way we had hoped.
Interplay issued a cease & desist order, which the blog post includes with a few sections blurred. Interplay say that as they hadn't yet struck a formal agreement, the team referring to Descent, showing off screenshots and story bits inspired by Descent, and their website preparefordescent.com wouldn't fly. Copyright and trademark law require companies to fiercely defend their properties or risk losing them, but doing this to a group of fans you're talking with is a bit of a Dear John letter.
The SolC team are planning to make new levels and enemies to replace their Descent bits. Max sez:
While we are very sad to see these iconic archetypes go, we will come up with new robots, a new plot, a new ship, new levels, and perhaps a few new weapons and names to differentiate our game just enough from the trademarked assets Interplay is so dearly holding on to. We still want to make a game that *feels* and *plays* how we all want, so none of the gameplay will change.
Here's a look at an early multiplayer test, with unfinished art and assets, from back in May: