One week after it countersued Bethesda Softworks over the Fallout massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Interplay has fired another shot over its former ally's bow. To bolster its contention that it is actively working on an MMORPG set in the postnuclear role-playing game's universe, the company released the first concept art for the game, code-named Project V13.
Project V13 lead system designer Chris Taylor*, an original Fallout developer who was rehired in September 2008, posted four concept art paintings on the official Interplay forums (registration required)."Keep in mind that this is concept art. It's not finalized art, but it will give you a feel for what we are aiming for with V13," cautioned Taylor.
The four shots show that Interplay and Earthrise developer Masthead, which is codeveloping Project V13, are departing somewhat from the original Fallout's aesthetic. The "Survivor" image shows a surprisingly well-groomed wasteland wanderer sporting three weapons--two energy pistols in his hands and a shotgun of sorts on his back. The other three shots show various parts of the apres-apocalyptic landscape, including a desert, a factory, and an airplane junkyard.
The release of the Project V13 shots is the latest chapter in the increasingly ugly legal battle between Bethesda and Interplay. In September, the Fallout 3 developer-publisher filed suit against the formerly major publisher that released the first Fallout games in the late 1990s.
The suit stemmed from a 2007 deal that saw Bethesda buy the Fallout IP outright and then license the rights to make a Fallout-branded MMORPG back to Interplay. Bethesda claims Interplay violated that deal by deceptively selling the original Fallout games as the "Fallout Trilogy" and misleading customers that it contained Fallout 3.
Bethesda also accused Interplay of not raising the MMORPG funding required by the contract. After announcing its intention to terminate the MMORPG deal in April, Bethesda pointed to a June 30 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that revealed that Interplay only had $2.54 million in debt and only $16,000 in cash assets. That figure was far short of the $30 million required by the agreement.
In its countersuit, Interplay accused Bethesda of 10 counts of breach of contract, including violating the terms of the trademark licensing agreement (TLA) and asset purchase agreement (APA) entered into in 2007. It is seeking to retain limited licensing rights for Fallout, including those for a planned pen-and-paper RPG, or to have the 2007 agreement nullified and have the entire Fallout IP return to Interplay.
*Not to be confused with Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor.