Doom-inspired roguelike becomes DRL and goes open-source following Zenimax's legal warnings | PCGamesN

Doom-inspired roguelike becomes DRL and goes open-source following Zenimax's legal warnings


Update December 8, 2016: After receiving warnings of legal action from Zenimax the creator of DoomRL has rebranded the roguelike as DRL and made it open source.

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Zenimax initially ordered co-creator Kornel Kisielewicz to take down all Zenimax-owned trademarks used in the game and website. That explains why the website now features almost no references to Doom, or DoomRL. The game’s source-code has also been made available to the public via Github, which Kisielewicz addressed on Twitter: “I planned to release the source code of DoomRL as a ‘thank you’ after a successful Jupiter Hell Kickstarter, but ZeniMax forced my hand.”

Original story December 3, 2016: ZeniMax have threatened legal action against the creator of DoomRL - a free roguelike fan game based on Doom that was released 12 years ago - for unauthorised use of their trademarks. It's looking likely that the game will have to be taken down after all this time.

Creator Kornel Kisielewicz took to Twitter to show the letter from ZeniMax, who demand that all of their trademarks be removed from the game's website, including any key words, media or meta tags. Here's the tweet:

While it's possible the game could be reworked, Kisielewicz says doing so would be a substantial undertaking. "The whole thing isn't that easy," he said in a tweet. "Replace monster names? Sprites?" Spelunky creator Derek Yu even helped create some of those sprites.

The free game actually predates ZeniMax acquiring id Software by over six years, and the letter stings even more since Brutal Doom 64 - a fan mod - was just honoured at The Game Awards, with the blessing of the company. Still, it looks like Kisielewicz is powerless to do anything, unless public outcry makes ZeniMax reconsider their stance, of course.

"We'll fight, but chances are slim," Kisielewicz said in another post. "DoomRL is illegal."

It's confusing why ZeniMax chose to wait until now to do anything, though some are wondering if it's linked to Kisielewicz's recently launched Kickstarter - Jupiter Hell, a spiritual successor to DoomRL, albeit without the tie to the brand. This means money is now involved, even if it's not directly from DoomRL - the Kickstarter for Jupiter Hell is being promoted on the DoomRL site, after all.

We've reached out to a ZeniMax representative for comment and will update if we hear back. 

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BraveToaster avatarTovias avatarhfm avatarhuldu avatarpanbient avatar
Tovias Avatar
1 Year ago

Zenimax is scummy, where is the confusion?

hfm Avatar
1 Year ago

As a company you have to protect your IP or you run the risk of future battles being extremely difficult to win. It's just the way it is. There's a junkload of employees relying on paychecks from Zenimax and they have a responsibility to protect them.

huldu Avatar
1 Year ago

I couldn't agree more. This was just a blatant copy and when money is involved(in any way) that's where the real problem is. They could probably have flown under the radar if they weren't trying to piggyback their "other" game on doomrl.

BraveToaster Avatar
1 Year ago


panbient Avatar
1 Year ago

I figure the timing is just unfortunate. Legal matters are very rarely anything but excruciatingly slow and the majority of major publishers have some sort of regular check to protect the integrity of their IP. If they let this slide they screw themselves when someone else does it in the future. This is very basic entrepreneurship - on par with legal name checks prior to registering trademarks and / or copyrights. It should not come as any surprise to anyone trying to run any sort of business venture no matter the scale or subject.

As for the Doom 64 angle, I'm thinking the corporate approval is due to the fact that it's literally a port they don't have to pay, for while DoomRL borrows from all over the franchise to build itself. One is use, the other is infringement. It sucks that this might be the end of DoomRL - I quite enjoyed it. But I'm not surprised they're going to get lawyer-ed to death.