Descent fan reimagining Sol Contingency shut down by Interplay


If you had a PC in the ‘90s you probably remember Descent. It was a fully 3D first-person shooter which preceded Quake, and it holds a special place in many a ‘90s PC owner’s heart. While not as iconic as some of its contemporaries, there’s still a sizable fanbase out there: enough at least to warrant the development of Sol Contingency, a fanmade “reimagining” of the Descent universe. Problem is, now Descent IP owner Interplay has decided it doesn’t want the tribute developed.

Sol Contingency project lead Maximillian Schulz has received a cease and desist notice from Interplay Entertainment, which he has posted on the Sol Contingency website. The letter follows previous contact with an unspecified “daughter company” of Interplay, which Schulz hoped would result in Sol Contingency becoming an “officially sanctioned Descent game”. Following the sister company’s contact with Schulz it went silent, until the arrival of the C&D letter last month.

“We responded to their C&D by proposing negotiations with them, giving them 14 days,” Schulz wrote on the project’s website. “It has been three weeks and we’ve yet to hear from them. We don’t expect to. We sent another message to the guys from the daughter company I mentioned and their response was, in one sentence, that Interplay had to decide on the matter and they wouldn’t be able to help us.”

Schulz was preparing to release the game’s Proving Grounds demo later this month, and while that won't happen now it’s likely to emerge once the game has been tweaked to remove all references to Descent.

“Interplay may own the rights to Descent, but they do not own the rights to 6DoF (6 degrees of freedom), to first-person shooters, or to a type of gameplay within creepy and claustrophobic environments,” Schulz wrote. “We realized that everything they own the rights to is, at the end of it all, purely cosmetic”

“While we are very sad to see these iconic archetypes go, we will come up with new robots, a new plot, a new ship, new levels, and perhaps a few new weapons and names to differentiate our game just enough from the trademarked assets Interplay is so dearly holding on to. We still want to make a game that *feels* and *plays* how we all want, so none of the gameplay will change. The core experience in Proving Grounds’ multiplayer will be identical to what you have seen from us so far.”

Schulz added that while plans to completely remake Descent 1 have been abandoned, the project won’t come to a halt as a result of Interplay’s “incompetent and unprofessional behavior”. With the shedding of the Descent association, Schulz will take the project to Kickstarter once the Proving Ground demo has been released.

Here's how the game looked as of May:

Shaun Prescott

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.