First and foremost, no, this game does not involve Nintendo, Sega, or Creative Assembly at all. Hyrule: Total War is a fan-made, total-conversion mod for Medieval II: Total War based on The Legend of Zelda series. A recent attempt to put the mod through Steam’s Greenlight program not only didn’t involve the owners of The Legend of Zelda or Total War, but it didn’t even involve the creator of the mod. Someone going by the name WolfDampf posted the mod to Greenlight claiming to have the creator’s permission and that the mod would be available for free. Firstly, mods are supposed to be posted to the Workshop while Greenlight is for games hoping to be released on the store page. Second, the mod’s creator, known as UndyingNephalim, denied the claim that WolfDampf had permission from him to post the mod to Greenlight. A DMCA takedown notice has already been filed against WolfDampf’s Greenlight entry and it has no chance of going through.
This isn’t the first time that someone has pulled a stunt like this on Greenlight. A user called sundry foot tried the same with Cartoon Fighters, a game built off of the open-source fighting game engine MUGEN that compiles various fighters designed for the engine by various different users based on various different copyrighted characters, including characters from The Simpsons, Dragonball Z, and even The Legend of Zelda‘s Link. It is debatable whether or not sundry foot had any involvement in developing any of the characters or the stages used in the game for MUGEN‘s engine, was not even responsible for compiling all of the content into a single game, and he certainly did not have legal rights to use any of the content for commercial release. There have also been countless attempts to put Minecraft through Greenlight by numerous individuals with no affiliation to Mojang or Microsoft.
Valve provides no oversight of their own to their Greenlight program, making the only barrier for entry a $100 fee. As a result, attempts of this nature by either scammers or those who simply don’t understand what Greenlight is actually for are shockingly commonplace. Fortunately, several users have taken upon themselves to police Greenlight for these fiascoes and none of the attempts listed above gained any traction as a result. However, there have been cases of copyright infringement slipping through Greenlight in the past. One example is Spartans vs. Zombies Defense, which used the depiction of Leonidas from the film 300 and audio clips from the same movie without legal consent from the copyright holders. Not only did it make it through Greenlight, it was even featured under the Popular New Releases section before Valve finally caught on and pulled the title off their service.
Many are concerned that this recent fiasco may lead Nintendo to send a cease-and-desist against the original mod. Hyrule: Total War is already a famous fan-project and it’s likely that Nintendo has already heard about it without feeling the need to step in. However, this incident may force Nintendo’s hand simply as a matter of protecting their intellectual property. Some have suspected that this may have even been WolfDampf’s intention from the beginning as the project has drawn backlash from other Zelda fans in the past. It would be a tragedy if seven years worth of dedication and passion were to all go to waste because of something that the creator had no part in or control over.
What are your thoughts on this recent Greenlight incident? Does Valve need to take a more active role in what appears on Greenlight and has a chance of making it onto their store front? On a lighter note, how awesome is the idea of a Legend of Zelda RTS? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.