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theory: Microsoft tells fans to cease development of Halo mod
Posted on Sunday, September 10 @ 14:56:55 CEST by julian

Art Games
Halogen
, an RTS 'mod' of Halo, had been in development for 3 years when it received a letter from Microsoft that creating the game, using ideas and designs from the Halo universe, infringes on the intellectual property of Bungie's original game.

From the Halogen site.

Hours ago, we finally recieved the words we've been dreading since the mod started to get noticed. Microsoft has decided that we are infringing on the intellectual property of Bungie Studios and has asked us to stop development on Halogen.

I was going to write a big sappy letter here, but what's the point. So..that's it then, I guess.


This case with Halogen is a fuzzy one, as it appears that no original art or code from Halo itself is being used in the project - it's not a 'mod' of Halo at all. 'IP' - in the sense of actual data - isn't being mis-used here. In Microsoft's eyes the project is like an illegal 'cover' of Halo; they are treating Halogen just as RIAA would a piece of music that had a tune or motif borrowed from another pop-song without paying royalties. Furthermore, it's somehow out of the question that the IP of Halogen and Halo could be considered separate, but compatible, as is the case with Counter Strike and Half-Life (despite CS needing Half-Life to run at all). Put simply, if it were truly a mod, and required the original game to run, would Halogen be seen as a breach? Probably not. It'd be supported as a value-adding extension of the original game. So, it appears that the real contest here is over re-use, or appropriation, of ideas from the Halo universe in an independent project.

This is a dangerous kind of generalism applied to 'property' we'd all rather not see as artists working with games; can a mythos, style or design fall under the duress of copyright? If so, then how much of the formal aesthetic, 'narrative' and conceptual content of a game are we free to manipulate, reference and develop upon?

In literature or cinema the act of openly referencing or deriving from an existing work, in the production of a new work, is known as an 'adaptation of', an 'inspiration upon' or even a 'tribute to' the original work. It'd be a shame if we as modders weren't allowed the same room within our medium.

The Halogen site may not be up for long, so the project link above may soon become dead. Article edited 10-09-06 for clarity on Halogen's status as a 'mod' of Halo.


 
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