DoomRL, which puts a roguelike spin on the classic FPS Doom, is threatened with legal action from ZeniMax Media over the use of ZeniMax-owned trademarks.
Given the role of Doom as one of the most important video games of all time, it's no surprise that the classic first-person shooter has been the influence for plenty of memorable fan projects of the years. One of these is DoomRL, a traditional roguelike game based on the id Software title. DoomRL has gained itself something of a cult following for its intriguing take on the shooter, but unfortunately this has come at the cost of attracting the attention of ZeniMax Media.
ZeniMax, which is the parent company of Bethesda and owner of id Software and its properties, has now threatened the roguelike Doom's co-creator Kornel Kisielewicz with legal action. According to the company, Kisielewicz is using ZeniMax trademarks with regards to DoomRL's website to try and attract users, and is requesting that such trademarks are removed. ZeniMax has advised that this relates to meta tags, keywords, media, and other text.
Kisielewicz was given notice of this potential legal action by ZeniMax, and promptly shared it on Twitter for fans of DoomRL to see. "We demand you immediately remove all Zenimax trademarks from meta tags, keywords, media, and other visible or concealed set are are connected to your website," said the statement. "Further legal action may be pursued if this situation is not immediately resolved."
Although this may seem like a lengthy but relatively easy fix at first glance, it may not be as simple as some might think. Although removing meta tags and trademarked properties from the game's site may not be strenuous, DoomRL's ties to ZeniMax's property are much stronger than that, including in-game sprites that may fit ZeniMax's legal action threat. In short, this could be enough to end the existence DoomRL outright.
Kisielewicz has already been working on a successor for DoomRL, so that roguelike gameplay will see a return should the Doom-themed project be removed. The developer's next game, dubbed Jupiter Hell, has been up for Kickstarter funding, and is over halfway to its goal at this moment in time. Hopefully, Kisielewicz will be able to move on to fully develop this game, free of any trademark issues.
It's been a tough few months for fan games, with both Pokemon Uranium and Another Metroid 2 Remake shut down after Nintendo notices and subsequently dropped from The Game Awards. Fan games have always crossed a difficult boundary for rights holders, as they use copyrighted items but within the framework of fandom. Unfortunately for Kisielewicz, it seems that ZeniMax has felt the need to protect its property with regards to DoomRL.