A fan-made recreation of the Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation has been pulled offline following a cease and desist.
Stage-9 was a two-year-old fan project that let users explore a virtual recreation of the Enterprise-D, the spaceship made famous by The Next Generation tv show.
The hugely-detailed virtual recreation was built using the Unreal game engine, and was available on PC as well as virtual reality headsets Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. You can freely roam the ship, travel to the various decks, enter rooms, interact with objects and even fire a phaser. Stage-9 looked like this:
In a video update, the head of the project, who goes by the name "Scragnog", explained he had no choice but to can Stage-9 after lawyers from CBS refused to budge on their cease and desist.
Throughout the project, the developers made it clear Stage-9 was not an officially-licensed endeavour with no affiliation with CBS or Paramount. Money was not involved, either. "We were just fans creating fan art," Scragnog said. "I thought we'd made that pretty clear."
In 2017, a year after work on Stage-9 began, Ubisoft released Star Trek Bridge Crew, a game that lets players work at a station on the bridge of the Enterprise. This year, the game saw an Enterprise-D DLC.
"Internally this was an exciting development, but at the same time it concerned us," Scragnog said. The team took a break from issuing updates to the game while, in the background, it worked on what would have been the 11th update for Stage-9 and explored the possibility of pitching the project to CBS as a potentially officially-licensed piece of software.
"Throughout all of this we knew it could end at any point," Scragnog said.
Then, on 12th September, the cease and desist letter from CBS' lawyers arrived. The decision was made to put all of the Stage-9 public-facing channels into lockdown while the team tried to convince CBS to change its mind. They suggested tweaking the project to ditch the inclusion of VR, ditch the use of the Enterprise-D specifically and even change the name, but CBS insisted Stage-9 end.
And so now, it has.
Scragnog's video is an emotional goodbye to Stage-9, which clearly meant a lot to him, and there are plenty of thank yous to the people who helped make it happen. There's some understandable anger directed at CBS in there, too. CBS and Paramount have issued guidelines for fans making Star Trek fan films, insisting "CBS and Paramount Pictures will not object to, or take legal action against, Star Trek fan productions that are non-professional and amateur", as long as they meet the guidelines.
It seems for Stage-9, the rules were a little different.