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DoomRL creator says ZeniMax threatened legal action

Creator of Doom-inspired rogue-like told to remove trademark-infringing content from site

Update: In order to escape legal proceedings from Zenimax, DoomRL's creator Kornel Kisielewicz has decided to make the game open-source.

The move is in-keeping with the philosophy of Doom developer id Software, which frequently makes its Doom games open-source. Kisielewicz adds that the current cease and desist was targeted at the website, and not the game.

He wrote on Reddit: "I realized that if I push it OS now, I can still push it in it's original state. Even if I have to change it later as a result of a game-targeted C&D, the original source, and hence the original game will still be out there somewhere. You can't stop the signal."

Kisielewicz claims he had already been planning to make DoomRL open source, but Zenimax's move has forced him to move faster.

Original Story: Few games have benefitted as much from the tinkering and remixing of its fan communities as Doom, but it appears ZeniMax Media is only willing to let that goodwill go so far. Yesterday, the creator of DoomRL, a free top-down roguelike game heavily inspired by the first-person shooter, reported that ZeniMax Media had threatened legal action against him for unauthorized use of its trademarks.

Kornel Kisielewicz posted an image of Zenimax's letter on Twitter, which demands that all of its trademarks be removed from the game's website, including any media, key words, or meta tags on the page. While that would allow the possibility of re-working the game with non-infringing content to keep it accessible in some form, Kisielewicz balked at the idea, considering such a task would involve a lot of work, as well as the removal of sprite-work that had been contributed to the game by Spelunky designer Dereky Yu.

"12 years modders/fangames kept Doom alive in gamer hearts, kept people waiting for a good Doom to come," Kisielewicz said on Twitter. "This is the day. You're welcome, Z."

In other tweets, Kisielewicz said he is just trying to get the word out about the situation, no doubt hoping that ZeniMax would reconsider its action.

"We'll fight, but chances are slim," Kisielewicz said in another post. "DoomRL is illegal."

Versions of DoomRL have been available for more than a decade, but ZeniMax may have chosen to finally crack down on it as Kisielewicz recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for a spiritual successor to it called Jupiter Hell that would be a commercial project.

As of this writing, ZeniMax representatives had not responded to a request for comment.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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