Vasiljev's Fan Fiction


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#1 ChronoLegion

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 07:07 PM

I recently read Vladimir Vasiljev's book called (surprise, surprise!) "UFO: Enemy Unknown".

Obviously, it's a fan fiction, except it's fairly long (or short, depending on how fast you can read).

It pretty much describes the events in the game, except with a much more personal view, since it's mostly told from the soldiers' points of view (not first person though), starting from the "first eight" to arrive at base "Europe" and ending with two of those same "eight" planning their retirement in the epilogue after the Cydonia mission. I don't remember how it is in the game, but in the book, all of those soldiers get a base pay of $40,000/month. Needless to say, nobody refused the offer.

I read some feedback on the book before reading it, and apparently a lot of people don't like it because it sticks too close to the game and might not be understandable to someone who's never even heard of the game.

Since I played (and beat) the game multiple times, I did not find the book disappointing. There were a few things added, of course, like a completely new race that is not a part of the five that are attacking Earth. In fact, they could've been allies of humans if not for... I'll just let you read the book to find out.

Funny fact from the book: the three armors from the game are known in the book as "Eggshell", "Eggshell-2", and "Eggshell-3" (from weakest to strongest, respectively). Apparently, some egghead on the base has a poor sense of humor.

Another big difference (not a bad one, if I do say so) is that tanks are not automatic in the book. They are, in fact, controlled from an operator in the Skyranger/Lightning/Avenger.

There are people from all over the globe in the project (same as the game), except, since the book was written in Russian, most of them (even non-Russians) use Russian curses and general expressions in their speech.

Some people might not like the book because they already might know how it ends (anyone who beat the first game does).



Another XCOM fanfiction that I've read is called "Commander-in-Chief" (author's name escapes me at the moment). This one is much more loosely based on the game, since the events take place more than 100 years from now, when major changes took place in world politics. After yet another civil war, Russia becomes one of the dominant nations in the world (about the same level as USSR was but not as forceful), while United States gets split up into North and South (I don't think slavery is the problem this time). This is just a backstory to the novel, which once again describes the fight of a multinational military organization against an alien menace. This time, the aliens are squids and they seem to like human blood (has nothing to do with vampirism; they just like the taste). Their true purpose on Earth won't be discovered until 3/4 of the way into the novel, so I won't give it away. In fact, combat missions don't actually take up much space in the book. There's plenty of intrigue, corruption, politics, and other stuff that we're used to seeing around us every day. Hell, there are even several fairly detailed sex scenes in the book. The leader of the organization (it's not called XCOM or anything like that) is a Russian general who lost his legs and family in a civil war. He runs it completely from his apartment through a virtual reality helmet. He also attends UN meetings like that, as weel as accompany his troops on missions, remotely controlling a tank. Alien power source is still "elerium", except that human laser weapons also require it to run (this actually makes more sense than a lifetime battery).


As far as I know, both of these books have not been translated from Russian into any other language. If someone knows otherwise, don't hesitate to tell me. I know at least one of Vasiljev's books that's been translated into English. Not a bad translation.

If anyone wants more details on the books, either reply to this thread or send me an email.

#2 FullAuto

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 08:23 PM

Interesting.  Most I've seen of it is some cover art, actually.  Always wondered why it didn't get a full European release.

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#3 Slaughter

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 11:26 AM

Interesting. Would like to read them if they were translated. Thanks for the heads up, and welcome to the boards!


#4 ChronoLegion

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 07:24 PM

FullAuto, on 7th September 2005, 4:23pm, said:

Interesting.  Most I've seen of it is some cover art, actually.  Always wondered why it didn't get a full European release.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Maybe the owner of the XCom license (whoever it was at the time) blocked the release. I live in the US right now, and it was pretty hard for me to find a copy. I eventually found one at an online library (http://lib.aldebaran.ru/).

Also, the book kinda got mixed reviews from the readers. Some (mostly game fans) thought it was great, while others thought it was too technical in some areas and not clear enough in others.

I thought the author did a great job describing the experiences of certain key members of XCom from the soldiers' point of view, as opposed to the commander's PoV one gets in the game.

Here's the (rough) translation of the annotation of the book (the stuff that's written on the back cover): "Hard to believe that, in the very beginning, there were only eight of them. Eight tough, reckless guys, who couldn't care less who to fight - terrorists, mafia, or... aliens. And then - a war hell, warships, combat robots, secret labs and hangars. And - ruthless conquerors from space, who for thousands of years have been subduing thousands of inhabited worlds. All moves have long been calculated, every enemy action anticipated. A little more - and a new planet will join their stellar empire. But humans, as we know, learns to fight frighteningly fast... The enemy is unknown?! So what?"

The book only focuses on the First Alien War, not even mentioning the tachyon signal from Cydonia to T'leth. In fact, at the end of the book, the entire organization was disbanded (which is contrary to the official XCom timeline).

Unfortunately, there are several subplots in the book that are never continued. There is one that I especially would've loved to see more. I won't say what it is so as not to spoil the book for anyone willing to read it (and/or learn Russian to do so).

Here's another quote: "The saucer has landed near a small village; in the distance, behind the close night horizon, one could see the lights of Göteborg.
...
Pyr jumped off the gangway and moved diagonally to a nearby larger house; the house looked like it had two stories.
The first floor was made of old German bricks and, probably, even remembered Hitler's occupation."

Forgive once again my rough translation. There are people much more qualified at translating texts without losing vital imagery and other important literary devices.

Slaughter, on 8th September 2005, 7:26am, said:

Interesting. Would like to read them if they were translated. Thanks for the heads up, and welcome to the boards!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Unfortunately, I doubt they will be translated. Very few of modern Russian literature gets translated. For one thing, it's very difficult to try to translate it to retain the original spirit of the book, while making it understandable for someone from a totally different culture. While this book (and many other Vasiljev's books) don't contain very much cultural-specific information, I still doubt someone would bother translating it and trying to sell it where the market is already flooded with similar-themed literature.

The other book I mentioned - "Commander-in-Chief" - definitely would not be translated. Mostly because it displays the United States in a not very favorable light (or rather, what's left of the US).

So, if you really want to read those books, your best course of action would be to try to learn Russian.

Thanks for the welcome! :D

#5 FullAuto

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 07:41 PM

Seems odd, that they would block the release in other countries.  Surely it just means more money for them?  As for the mixed reviews, I doubt that mattered, so did the other X-Com novel by Diane Whatshername.
Oh well.
Shame, I like Russian literature, Tolstoy and Dostoesky are the nuts.

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#6 ChronoLegion

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 10:59 PM

FullAuto, on 14th September 2005, 3:41pm, said:

Seems odd, that they would block the release in other countries.  Surely it just means more money for them?  As for the mixed reviews, I doubt that mattered, so did the other X-Com novel by Diane Whatshername.
Oh well.
Shame, I like Russian literature, Tolstoy and Dostoesky are the nuts.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Or perhaps they simply did not believe there would be enough fans in Europe or US to justify a translation.

There was one of Vasiljev's books, though, that was translated into English. "Death or Glory". It was the first of a series of four novels describing humanity's struggle in a hostile galaxy and a twist of fate that radically changes the balance of power in the galaxy in humanity's favor. Unfortunately, so far I haven't been able to find a complete copy of the translation. All I found were a few chapters.

Just in case you're wondering, the other three were called "Black Relay" (a sci-fi horror novel), "Heritage of Giants" (the name doesn't sound as cheesy in Russian, and "No One but Us" (the slogan of space commandos).

Just tell me if you would like to know more about these books. I read all of them but "Black Relay". Can't find it anywhere; besides, I'm not a horror fan.

Hmm. Do you remember Diane's last name? Wonder if this novel was any good.

My reading is mainly focused on sci-fi. Russian sci-fi (especially modern) is considered by many to be great. Especially famous are the Strugatski brothers, several of whose books had movies (bad ones) made from them. Another famous sci-fi/fantasy writer is Lukjanenko, he wrote three of the four "Night Watch" series and wrote the script for the "Night Watch" movie (in case you somehow heard of it), which Tarantino loved. Can't say I share his opinion.

As a side note, Lukjanenko also wrote a trilogy (more like two-and-a-half-logy) loosely based on the game Master of Orion: "Line of Dreams", "Emperors of Illusions", and "Shadows of Dreams".

#7 FullAuto

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 11:10 PM

Diane Duane,  I think it is.  The book is titled "UFO Defense - A Novel."
I have heard of the NightWatch film and I CANNOT wait to see it!   :D

I suppose you might have a point, but quite a few people bought the game, and they should have figured on quite a few of those buying the book.  Oh well.  Hears hoping more X-Com games and books get released.

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#8 Hobbes

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 11:45 PM

FullAuto, on 14th September 2005, 7:41pm, said:

Seems odd, that they would block the release in other countries.  Surely it just means more money for them?  As for the mixed reviews, I doubt that mattered, so did the other X-Com novel by Diane Whatshername.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Because it's fan fiction and the Russian publishing house didn't knew/cared about the copyright?
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#9 FullAuto

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 12:06 AM

Uh....sorry, I must be missing something.  If the Russians didn't care or know about the copyright, why didn't they release it in other countries?

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#10 Hobbes

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 01:58 AM

FullAuto, on 15th September 2005, 12:06am, said:

Uh....sorry, I must be missing something. If the Russians didn't care or know about the copyright, why didn't they release it in other countries?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Because in those countries the publishers care/know about copyright law. The fact that in Russia there were no criminal charges brought by the copyright violation doesn't mean that the same wouldn't happen in the US or Germany for instance. The legal system on those countries wouldn't care if the novel has been already published in Russia: if there's effective national legislation for copyright protection then any publishing house wouldn't want to risk being prosecuted by US or German courts.

Another example: the imitations of well known brands and pirate DVDs that are sold everywhere in China (and that the US keeps pressing the Chinese government to act against it). In China the government/legal system doesn't/can't crack down the manufacture/sale of such merchandise, even if it is protected by their own copyright laws. But if you brought those goods to the UK and sold them in stores then you would get busted and pay a large fine.
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#11 FullAuto

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 03:43 AM

Ah, right, sorry I thought it was a Microprose-endorsed story.  Still, it could be published over here now, Atari obviously doesn't give a toss about the copyright.

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#12 ChronoLegion

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 08:42 PM

FullAuto, on 14th September 2005, 11:43pm, said:

Ah, right, sorry I thought it was a Microprose-endorsed story.  Still, it could be published over here now, Atari obviously doesn't give a toss about the copyright.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I seriously doubt Vasiljev would bother asking their permission. While there are copyright laws in Russia that are supposed to be enforced by the government, the government is too busy trying to solve its own numerous problems. They have no time or money to try to enforce the rights of a company halfway across the world.

Atari might not care, but I doubt anyone would try to risk it.

Hobbes, on 14th September 2005, 9:58pm, said:

Another example: the imitations of well known brands and pirate DVDs that are sold everywhere in China (and that the US keeps pressing the Chinese government to act against it). In China the government/legal system doesn't/can't crack down the manufacture/sale of such merchandise, even if it is protected by their own copyright laws. But if you brought those goods to the UK and sold them in stores then you would get busted and pay a large fine.

Actually, Russia had the same problem. Lately, though, they had considerable success in exterminating software piracy. That is why Russian gaming companies are actually becoming more and more successful. In case someone doesn't know, Nival - the company that created the Silent Storm series and is working on HoMM5 - was, until recently, Russian. It has since been bought by a US company for $10 million.

FullAuto, on 14th September 2005, 7:10pm, said:

Diane Duane, I think it is. The book is titled "UFO Defense - A Novel."
I have heard of the NightWatch film and I CANNOT wait to see it! 

I suppose you might have a point, but quite a few people bought the game, and they should have figured on quite a few of those buying the book.

Thanks. I'll try to find the book.

I assume you haven't read any Night Watch books. "Night Watch" (first) and "Twilight Watch" (third) were written by Lukjanenko. "Day Watch" (second) was written by Lukjanenko and Vasiljev. And "Face of Dark Palmira" (fourth) was written by Vasiljev alone, with Lukjanenko's permission, of course. The script for the first and second movies was written by Lukjanenko, in which he radically changed the storyline of the book(s). Personally, I thought the movie was over-hyped in a true Hollywood fashion. However, from what I've read, Tarantino appeared to like the movie and even met with the director of "Night Watch" trying to work out a deal for the filming of the third movie.

#13 FullAuto

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 10:37 PM

Nice.
I think the main thing is, if someone published an X-Com book, Atari would have to sue FilePlanet as well, as they're offering X-Com for download.  You can't selectively enforce a law.

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#14 Hobbes

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 12:31 AM

FullAuto, on 15th September 2005, 10:37pm, said:

Nice.
I think the main thing is, if someone published an X-Com book, Atari would have to sue FilePlanet as well, as they're offering X-Com for download.  You can't selectively enforce a law.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I am not a law expert but I will try to explain this as best as I can.

Consider murder or robbery. In those cases the authorities enforce the law (or try to) it is on the public interest to punish and dissuade people from committing such actions. But those crimes are in a higher 'level' than others since they involve the physical integrity of the party that suffers the offence. However, many of those crimes are only brought into court after the harmed party presents a criminal complain to the police or the attorney general. The authorities don't know everything that happens on the street and they can only enforce the law if they are alerted by someone to the fact that a crime has been committed.
Now, the same principle applies to copyright issues: if Atari presents a criminal complaint regarding the usage of trademarks by unauthorized persons/companies, then the authorities have to investigate but they are not expected to punish everyone that is committing a felony, only those that they detect in the course of their investigations and that can be proven in a court that they committed a crime. It would be nearly impossible to detect all offenses.
This doesn't mean that they are selectively enforcing the law (either Atari or the police), only that they are placing criminal charges on those who they know (and can prove) that broke the law. I think you are confusing another legal term, generability, which concerns the fact that everyone is bound by the law and obliged  to follow it, the law must be as general as possible and not made to suit particular situations (which doesn't always happen), to prevent it from being subjective.

And there's another thing: criminal vs. civil law. Although in many cases a criminal charge is followed by a civil lawsuit (to demand monetary compensation from losses) those are separate universes. If Atari put a civil lawsuit against Fileplanet but not against a book, they would be in their rights to do so. Atari might decide that it is in their favor to have X-COM on Fileplanet but not to have it printed as a book. They are the copyright owners, and they have the right to decide what usage of the trademark suits them.
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#15 FullAuto

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 07:05 AM

Yes, but in your defence you could merely say that Atari have waived their copyright, by not enforcing it.  You could make a very good case around the fact that Atari is picking on you, because in all probability you would be a fairly unknown writer being published by a small independent, and so Atari consider it 'safe' to pick on you but not FilePlanet, who might have some lawyers handy.
Selective enforcement is a legitimate defence in both UK and US law, I'm not so sure about the rest of the world.  It won't work 100% of the time, but Atari are quite clearly taking the piss in this instance, and I suspect if someone did publish something and Atari sued, they would be laughed out of court.
Selective enforcement of a law, any law, be it civil or criminal, is wrong.  Breach of copyright is breach of law.  If Atari pick on one person, but don't pick on another, ESPECIALLY when the latter breached copyright before the former, they have shot themselves in the foot and they will not have much of a case.
How long has X-Com been available for download?   :D

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#16 Hobbes

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 11:29 AM

One is always learning :D

I've made a web search concerning selective enforcement and you're right.....but my points raised concerning the complaints are also valid. Using selective enforcement is not illegal per se, only if there's evidence of a conscious and discriminatory prosecution. But the burden of proof falls upon the defendant (in this case Fileplanet or the writer). To win you'd have to prove that Atari knew beforehand that they were aware about Fileplanet before going placing the lawsuit against a writer/publisher.

Unfortunately, to prove could be rather complicated, and a publisher might decide to simply duck the whole thing to avoid future problems.
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#17 FullAuto

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 04:06 PM

Well, the fact that selective enforcement is actually taking place is a big chunk of proof in itself that conscious discrimination is happening.  Easily remedied by sending Atari an email about FilePlanet before you publish, and watching them do nothing (prior planning hey?).  But quite frankly, I think Atari know about FilePlanet, how could they not?  I'm sure they have at least one person periodically checking the net for such things, and claiming 'Oh gee, it never turned up in my search results' is going to get him done for bloody perjury.
You're quite right, the burden of proof is on the defendant in this case, and most likely a publisher wouldn't agree to publish such a work, but if they did and you were sued, you'd have a good chance of getting off scot-free.

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#18 Hobbes

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 07:01 PM

But an even bigger challenge would be to convince a publisher to print the book, since it is available online for free. In short, too many problems (legal, etc.) to overcome and I like the idea of it being available to everyone online, especially to the X-COM community. I wrote it because of my love to the original game and my belief that things that aren't done for money have a special nature of their own. And that's enough for me :D
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#19 ChronoLegion

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 01:40 PM

Hobbes, on 16th September 2005, 3:01pm, said:

But an even bigger challenge would be to convince a publisher to print the book, since it is available online for free. In short, too many problems (legal, etc.) to overcome and I like the idea of it being available to everyone online, especially to the X-COM community. I wrote it because of my love to the original game and my belief that things that aren't done for money have a special nature of their own. And that's enough for me :D

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


It's true that if the book is available online for free not many people would agree to publish it. But not always. For example, there is a Russian author who has almost all of his book text available on his own website for free. Guess what? People still buy the books. For one thing, not everybody owns a computer over there. And two, most people prefer reading from a book than a computer screen, or even a printout.

Yes, computers are much more common in the US and Europe, but I'm sure people there still don't like reading from a computer screen.

As for the selective enforcement, I'm no lawyer, but does anyone have a doubt that a big corporation like Atari (or whoever owns the name) has no idea what is happening to its property on such a popular website as Fileplanet? These big corporations monitor the Internet for any such thing. I'm sure you've heard of the big crackdown on the mod community for the past few months. Hell, the Starcraft mod for C&C Generals was forcibly shut down by Blizzard, even though the mod was not even being developed in the US. The point is, if these big companies can track down independent mod developers, they sure as hell know if their games are being freely distributed online (and I don't mean filesharing).

Another thing, XCom has long since passed into its Abandonware phase. I realize that there's no legal support for Abandonware, but, in my opinion, if a company stops supporting a game, and it is barely sold anywhere, then they shouldn't really complain that people try to get it any way they can. Just because they abandoned it, doesn't mean everyone else has to. Plus, once again, the game is freely available on *link removed*, and HotU is one of those Abandonware websites that actually cares about what the legal owners of the copyrights say. If Atari wanted XCom out of there, it would be gone. Also, I'm pretty sure it's too late to try to revive the series, at least by something that will be sold in stores. I don't even want to talk about UFO: Aftermath without supporting my opinion with several very strong words. ;)

Btw, I just bought Diane Duane's XCom novel on Half.com for $2.

Question: Is it legal to buy a game from, say, a Russian software website and have it sent to the US? And I mean a game developed and produced in the US but, perhaps, translated by a Russian company without the copyright owner's permission. Or even with.
The reason I'm asking is that there are several websites where you can order games from Russia to US for a lot cheaper than they cost (or will cost) here. One of those websites even has Nival's Hammer & Sickle (Russian version) that is yet to be released in the Western world. My only problems at this point is figuring out how to pay for it (I'm not giving them my credit card numbers) and figuring out whether I can trust them to send the stuff over here. If I can figure those things out, then I am definitely ordering the original Hammer & Sickle and Night Watch games. Both games are based on the Silent Storm engine with its fully-destructable environments.

[Edit by Zombie: removed link.]

#20 Hobbes

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 04:38 PM

ChronoLegion, on 20th September 2005, 1:40pm, said:

It's true that if the book is available online for free not many people would agree to publish it. But not always. For example, there is a Russian author who has almost all of his book text available on his own website for free. Guess what? People still buy the books. For one thing, not everybody owns a computer over there. And two, most people prefer reading from a book than a computer screen, or even a printout.

Yes, computers are much more common in the US and Europe, but I'm sure people there still don't like reading from a computer screen.

As for the selective enforcement, I'm no lawyer, but does anyone have a doubt that a big corporation like Atari (or whoever owns the name) has no idea what is happening to its property on such a popular website as Fileplanet? These big corporations monitor the Internet for any such thing. I'm sure you've heard of the big crackdown on the mod community for the past few months. Hell, the Starcraft mod for C&C Generals was forcibly shut down by Blizzard, even though the mod was not even being developed in the US. The point is, if these big companies can track down independent mod developers, they sure as hell know if their games are being freely distributed online (and I don't mean filesharing).

Another thing, XCom has long since passed into its Abandonware phase. I realize that there's no legal support for Abandonware, but, in my opinion, if a company stops supporting a game, and it is barely sold anywhere, then they shouldn't really complain that people try to get it any way they can. Just because they abandoned it, doesn't mean everyone else has to. Plus, once again, the game is freely available on *, and HotU is one of those Abandonware websites that actually cares about what the legal owners of the copyrights say. If Atari wanted XCom out of there, it would be gone. Also, I'm pretty sure it's too late to try to revive the series, at least by something that will be sold in stores. I don't even want to talk about UFO: Aftermath without supporting my opinion with several very strong words. :D

Concerning Atari, my educated guess (which is what all opinions regarding this matter on these forums are) is that they've stopped paying any attention to X-Com (and probably never did on the first place). Cracking on mod communities was something that happened to X-Com at least once, when it was a propriety of Hasbro. And I've wondered several times if Atari wouldn't be cracking down on projects like UFO2000 if they cared about the series.
The idea here is, they don't care and it doesn't matter if they know about Fileplanet or not. If they do know, then they've decided that it doesn't harm them right now, if they don't know then they won't look into it unless they have a strong intention of reviving the series.
But whole idea of a game being abandonware is a bogus term invented by game fans. That term has no legal standing (i.e. there's nothing in copyright laws about abandonware) and a judge would simply ignore it if someone claimed it on a court. Atari has every legal right to complain and sue sites/publishers/etc. that use the X-Com trademark without its implicit permission and will have that right as long as the copyright holds, which is usually 75 years since its original publication.
Who knows? Maybe some of us will still be playing the game by then ;)
Terrain Pack - 44 new terrains for the original game, using OpenXcom

My X-COM Fan Fictions: The Unknown Menace, Abyssal, Eulogy




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