It’s no longer a surprise when big videogame developers take escalating legal action against fan coders. Nintendo, for example, has a long history of stomping on projects on the basis they infringe intellectual property rights.
From Nintendo’s perspective, there’s nothing to discuss. It enjoys the full support of the law when it decides to protect its intellectual property rights, game over. From the side of fans who love Nintendo’s work so much that they spend years of their lives paying tribute to its work, it tends to feel a bit different.
The same is true for people who decide to fix bugs in games like GTA by giving them a major overhaul, completely free of charge. At a moment’s notice, they can find themselves being sued, with much of the gaming community looking on, asking: “Really?”
On a Scale of One to Petty, Things Can Get Worse
Mike Dailly is the designer of Lemmings, a game that appeared in most Commodore Amiga owners’ collections during the early 90s. The game was created by DMA Design, which began as a four-man development team featuring Dailly and former classmates David Jones, Russell Kay, and Steve Hammond.
DMA Design is known today as Rockstar North, a brand synonymous with Grand Theft Auto, one of the most famous game series of all time. GTA’s roots reach all the way back to the game’s first iteration in 1997, which was developed by DMA Design and powered by Mike Dailly’s graphics engine.
A quarter of a century is not only a huge slice of videogame history, it’s a culturally significant period deserving of preservation. Unfathomably, however, it seems that Rockstar has decided that pieces of that history should be erased from Dailly’s YouTube channel, even though it relates directly to his work on the original GTA.
Rockstar Strikes GTA Prototype Videos
Dailly isn’t known for sugarcoating his opinions, so when Rockstar targeted videos on his channel, it was only a matter of time before he made that public. On Sunday he took to Twitter and did just that.
“I see Rockstar are going full fuckers mode again, issuing copyright strikes to any GTA video they can find – including both my prototype videos. So now they’re trying to block all release of anyone’s work on a game – and any old development footage,” he wrote.
Dailly’s YouTube channel is a step back in time with a future twist, perfect for those who love videogame history but want to drive the artform forward. There’s even a video of DMA Design’s 1993 Christmas party and a tour of their offices.
Anyone wanting to see the GTA prototype videos will, of course, be disappointed. The videos are relatively easy to find elsewhere using basic search skills but, those happy to see how Dailly’s uploads used to appear on YouTube, a screenshot should suffice.
Dailly says that Rockstar’s complaints to YouTube carried an explanation for the takedowns. According to them, Dailly did not obtain permission from Rockstar to post development footage. Busted.
Friction Between Rockstar and Coding Veteran
The GTA prototype videos posted by Dailly were part of a series of similar posts related to the early development of GTA. But last evening Dailly decided he must resign history to history, adding that all of his posts had been deleted and he wouldn’t be posting any further information.
“For those asking – yes, I’ve now removed all GTA dev stuff. Only direct examples of my own work are left – work that was never used in GTA, but ‘inspired’ parts of its evolution. You can thank Rocksuck,” he added.
While there’s no reason to think he’ll go back on his word, Dailly isn’t easily silenced. An hour later he tweeted what appears to be the front cover of GTA game design recommendations report, adding that it would never see the light of day.