Who wrote Tempest 2000? Jeff Minter or "Atari"?

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    Well this is interesting. Jeff Minter’s Playstation Vita game, TxK, follows up on a game he programmed at Atari for the Atari Jaguar, Tempest 2000. Now “Atari” – not the same company Minter worked for in the ’90s – claims that it created Tempest 2000 and can legally block TxK. [LINK]

    British game developer Jeff Minter has accused Atari of blocking the release of his shooter TxK on a raft of platforms, including PC and PlayStation 4. TxK is a follow-on from cult Atari Jaguar shooter Tempest 2000, which Minter created in 1994 while working for Atari. Tempest 2000 was a remake of Dave Theurer’s 1981 arcade game classic, Tempest.

    TxK, which Minter calls a “distantly related sequel” to Tempest 2000, launched on PlayStation Vita to critical acclaim in February 2014. Martin Robinson wrote in his 9/10 review: “All you need to know right now is that TxK is Minter at his finest, and it’s absolutely mint.” Sony supported the project, and even featured it as a PlayStation Plus title for September 2014. TxK ended up as one of Eurogamer’s Games of 2014.

    Despite the fact Minter is the creator of Tempest 2000, it appears the Atari of today – the company behind the upcoming RollerCoaster Tycoon World and a fitness mobile game – has taken issue with TxK expanding its audience.

    In a series of tweets the clearly upset Minter accused Atari of becoming a “copyright troll”, and said TxK for the PC, PS4, Oculus Rift, GearVR and Android platforms “will now never see the light of day”.

    According to Minter, Atari claimed he “must have stolen Atari secrets from the original creators to make TxK”, and the soundtrack was “indistinguishable” from the soundtrack of Tempest 2000.

    Minter also pointed to a number of Tempest clones already available on the App Store and Google Play store. Cyclone 2000, for example, even describes itself as an “Android clone of the Atari Jaguar game Tempest 2000, originally made by the brilliant Jeff Minter. Try now for a nice retro game feeling”.

    Where this leaves Minter, his development company Llamasoft and TxK remains to be seen. We’ve contacted both Minter and Atari for comment. At the time of publication TxK remains on sale on the PlayStation Store.

    Chances are, no one at the current iteration of Atari even realizes Minter is the guy who did Tempest 2000 for them. 🙄

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    This is one of those things that absolutely sucks, mostly because Atari (the way I understand it) is legally in the right. Despite the fact that Minter wrote the original, “Atari” owns the rights. It also doesn’t matter that “Atari,” in its current incarnation, has nothing to do with the Atari that existed when Minter released Tempest 2000. When the new corporation bought the name, they bought the rights to the old library. Sad and sucky, but true.

    When I resigned from my position as a federal contractor I had to sign a document acknowledging that anything I had created on work time belonged to the company. Obviously their intention is the ability to retain the ownership of any programs, scripts, documentation and training materials I generated while working there, but if you read the letter of the law, it also means they probably own several grey-area hacking tools along with the vast majority of my first book, Commodork. Shhhhh…

    This is not a first for Atari. A couple of years ago they went after Peter Hirschberg (former owner of Luna City Arcade) for releasing Vector Tanks, a Battlezone clone for iOS.

    I wish Atari would settle for adding advertisements in these games (“Like this game? Try the original on Atari Anthology or the Atari Flashback!” and let them publish them instead of fighting their own user base.

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