We learned last year that Installation 01 [official site], a multiplayer-only fan remake of the early Halo games, was in the works, when they announced that they were aiming for a Halo 3 style of play. They've also been following Microsoft’s own legal rules for fan projects, said the team behind it, in the hope they’d avoid the SHUT IT DOWN message these projects often get from cross-looking men in suits. Well, it looks like their careful tip-toeing around those rules paid off, at least for now. They’ve been told by 343 Industries that the fan game is “not under imminent legal threat” so long as they keep abiding by those rules.
For some background: those rules basically state that so long as the team doesn’t rip any of the actual assets from the games it is making tribute to (in other words, so long as models and environments and code are crafted by their own hands) and there’s no commercial gain from it then they’re allowed to create their own project. The team felt confident they were following those rules, but the fickle whims of The Company could have meant an easy shut down order regardless.
But the Installation 01 team kept some kind of consistent contact with their corporate muses, they say in a recent update, in the form of sending progress reports and receiving thank yous in return. And recently they held a call, in which the legal peeps at 343 said they could continue their work “provided we remain non-commercial in nature and scope, and continue to follow Microsoft’s Game Content Usage Rules to the letter”. Which is as close to a distant, brotherly nod as you will get from the suit men.
That means the completed game won’t be sold in any form (as was originally planned) nor will the team accept any donations for their work. In other words: so long as everything stays free and they keep making their own helmets and warthog wheels from scratch, Installation 01 won’t be shut down, as the project’s manager Church explains in the recent update.
“We are now able to say with certainty that Installation 01 will never be accepting donations. We also will not be selling i01 or Halo related merchandise. This is to keep a respectful distance between us and Microsoft’s intellectual property... Through ongoing communication with 343 Industries we hope that we, as a fan project, can continue to be a positive driving force within the Halo community.”
As ever, this remains an act of tolerance on the part of The Company. They still have the ability to send cease and desist order whenever they want. But for now it looks like they’ve given the team some assurance that won’t happen.
Edit: The original headline said "Halo fan game Installation 01 gets ‘OK’ from Microsoft" but we've changed that to "343 Industries"