Hey, do you remember Tempest? Probably not, but TxK Developer Llamasoft sure does; made by many of the same individuals that created Tempest 2000, Vita exclusive TxK scratched an itch that few games have done since. In fact, the game did well enough that the developer had begun working on PS4 and PC ports for the game, with the latter featuring VR support! That was, until Atari decided to bully the developer regarding TxK – namely, stating that TxK was a violation of the Tempest copyright. From Llamasoft’s official forums;
Basically most of it came down to “looks like Tempest 2000”, and it included such gems as:
– in order to create TxK I must have had access to, and stolen secrets from, Atari’s source code, in order to steal the work of the other people who worked on Tempest 2000. (I *wrote* the source code for Tempest 2000, and didn’t need to refer to it at all to create TxK, even if I still had it. The only other people who worked on the game were Joby Woods who did bitmaps (TxK has no bitmaps apart from one 64×64 graduated dot) and the Imagitec musicians (TxK has neither a modplayer nor any of Imagitec’s music). So I stole my own work out of my own brain I guess.
– The soundtrack to TxK sounds identical to the soundtrack of Tempest 2000. (In fact the TxK soundtrack is entirely original and highly acclaimed; it won a Develop award and went to #1 on Bandcamp).
– The player ship can jump. Apparently Atari owns jumping.
– There is an AI Droid in TxK. Yes there is, and there has been an AI Droid in almost every game I’ve made since Llamatron. Which I made 3 years before Tempest 2000. The AI Droid is a staple of my design style.
– I deliberately set out to cash in on Atari’s copyrighted Tempest name (by giving my game a deliberately obscure name of TxK).
Furthermore, the developer goes on to mention that Atari had in the past created a port of Tempest 2000 that deviated enough from the developers original version so that they wouldn’t receive royalties;
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were actually some kind of precedent set that determined how different a game had to be to be considered a different game legally? Well, it just so happens there is, and it involves Tempest 2000 and Atari! Do you remember there was a Playstation port of Tempest 2000 called “Tempest X”? I always wondered why the name was changed, and other little aspects of the gameplay were altered. years later I managed to chat online with the guy who did the port, and he told me that the changes were made “to reduce the royalty burden”.
How so? Well, my original arrangement with Atari was that I was to receive a royalty on any ports of Tempest 2000. “Tempest X” was made exactly enough different that it would be legally considered a different game, cutting me out of any royalties.
Now Tempest X:
– was derived from my source code;
– had exactly the same soundtrack;
– used the same kind of powerup progression as Tempest 2000;
– had a changed name, some extra background effects, and some different web shapes;
– but was close enough to Tempest 2000 that *Tempest 2000 was available as a hidden unlockable by entering a specific word into the highscore table*.
(Furry friends will be amused to hear that that word was “yiff”).
Yet now “Atari” claim that TxK is in fact *closer* legally to Tempest 2000 than Tempest X was.
Overall, it’s looking like the current actions are more than a little scummy on Atari’s side. Now, everything that was in development regarding TxK is canceled – Llamasoft cannot afford to fight their case in court – and the original title will shortly be pulled from the PSN, though no one knows when specifically.
We’ll keep you updated as the situation matures.