The creators of a free fan-made Halo game for PC reckon they're safe from a shut down by Microsoft's lawyers.
Last month the student developers behind Project: Contingency, a Halo game built using CryEngine 3, released a tech demo showcasing their work - and it wasn't long before they took to their own forums to calm concern about a potential cease and desist from Microsoft's legal team.
Over on the Project: Contingency website, the creators insist their work falls under Microsoft's Game Content Usage Rules, which they claim means they're immune from a takedown.
"It is not endorsed by Microsoft and does not reflect the views or opinions of Microsoft or anyone officially involved in producing or managing Halo," reads the Project: Contingency site. "As such, it does not contribute to the official narrative of the fictional universe."
It continues: "Project Contingency is a free-to-play project, being developed by a group of volunteers. It is a free-to-play game, with absolutely no money being involved with it. We currently are not accepting donations."
Now, here's the confusing part. The developers say Project: Contingency is being built with custom assets and that there are "absolutely no ripped assets, no stolen assets, or anything along those lines".
But, elsewhere, they mention "Project: Contingency is created under Microsoft's Game Content Usage Rules using assets from Halo". I suspect the game doesn't use assets lifted from an actual Halo game, but the wording used here suggests otherwise.
At first glance, you'd think Project: Contingency probably doesn't have long to live, but the team behind it seem aware they're treading on thin ice, and have addressed "the scary possibility of a cease and desist".
"We are doing everything in our power to ensure this does not happen," they say. "Project: Contingency is free-to-play, and always will be, there is no money involved. PERIOD. All the assets being used in Project: Contingency are made by us, and only us. There are absolutely no ripped/stolen assets."
They go on to say that one of the developers spoke with 343 Industries' Frank O'Connor and Jessica Shea at the recent Rooster Teeth Expo about the project, and "they both confirmed that we should be safe from a cease and desist so long as we follow the Halo Terms of Service".
So, what do Microsoft's Game Content Usage Rules stipulate?
If you create something new in the Halo universe, you automatically grant Microsoft a royalty-free worldwide license to use, modify and distribute your work. So, in this case, if Microsoft gives Project: Contingency its blessing, it can do with it what it wants without having to pay its creators a penny. Microsoft wouldn't even have to gain approval or give credit.
"This means that if you add to the game universe or expand on the story told in the game with 'lost chapters' or back story or anything like that, distribution of your story or idea may appear in a future game without any compensation to you," Microsoft says.
"(Sorry, but our lawyers tell us we need to do this in order to avoid frivolous lawsuits getting in the way of making more great games.) It also means we can put your Item on a Microsoft site or property like Halo Waypoint if we want to."
At the time of publication, Project: Contingency's fate is in Microsoft's hands.