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Facing down copyright claims, Doom roguelike fan game goes open-source (correction)

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It’s just DRL now

ChaosForge

Rights holder ZeniMax Media slapped DoomRL, a popular fan game based on the classic first-person shooter, with a cease-and-desist order earlier this week, but co-creator Kornel Kisielewicz chose to keep the game available online. To do so, DoomRL — now called DRL — has gone open-source.

ZeniMax Media took issue with DoomRL, as Kisielewicz revealed to fans earlier this week. He shared a letter from the company’s legal team, asking that all references to the Doom property be removed from the fan project.

After weighing whether to ignore or comply with the takedown request, Kisielewicz decided to strip the Doom branding from the game and open it up to other players. The designer told Polygon this week that this was “always the plan” for the free roguelike version of Doom, which has been in development for several years.

“Originally I was going to do it at the end of the Jupiter Hell Kickstarter, as a thank you to the fans, but with the need to respond to ZeniMax’s letter I’ve had to move that forwards,” he said.

Jupiter Hell is a spiritual successor to DoomRL using original assets. It’s also in development from ChaosForge, Kisielewicz and his co-designer’s production team. That game is now the team’s priority, which is part of why the newly christened DRL is now a community effort.

Jupiter Hell has been occupying most of my time for several years now, and work on it will only crank up from here,” Kisielewicz said. “Open-sourcing DRL lets me rely on community support much more strongly. It also gives the community the chance to fork or expand or mod it as they see fit, and I look forward to seeing what creativity they can produce.”

Despite ZeniMax Media’s efforts, DoomRL isn’t quite dead; Kisielewicz remains in charge of its development, and open-sourcing could renew its appeal to the mod-happy Doom fanbase. Developer id Software made the original Doom’s source code widely available as well, which is why it’s a popular choice with modders.

DRL is up for download on the DoomRL webpage, and Jupiter Hell is accepting new Kickstarter backers for the next five days. They’ve raised just under $59,000, with a goal of $75,899.

Correction: DRL is a full-fledged game, not a modification of the Doom code. The story and headline have been amended to reflect this.