Hello, everyone. Welcome to Deadlystream.
The past few months have been eventful. The one topic that has out-shined all the others is a little project called “Apeiron” (A Greek word for "unlimited," or "infinite"). This controversial project will be the main topic of today’s post. So YES, I have heard about it. You can stop telling me about it now. As always, leave a comment to let me know what you think of this.
What is Apeiron?
To start off with we need to explain exactly WHAT Kotor: Apeiron actually is. Kotor Apeiron describes itself as a “Kotor Reboot”. The description on the site also uses the words “remake” and “remaster”. Put simply, this intrepid group of developers known as “Poem Studios” are planning to remake the original Knights of the Old Republic from the ground up.
In this case the plan is to develop the game in a fully modern game engine, with HD graphics, updated gameplay and much, much more. Using the Unreal Engine (Think of games like Arkham City and Bioshock Infinite) the team will need to rebuild every planet, weapon, character and… well everything. Needless to say, this is most certainly a massive undertaking that is likely an order of magnitude above even TSLRCM.
Sounds great! A brand new Kotor remake all for free!
Well, not really. I know there are a lot of people who are very excited about this project but it important to realize that there are some very obvious problems with this remake.
What are the problems with Apeiron?
The problems with Apeiron that I am going to discuss come in 3 main categories.
This is the biggest problem with all fan project s (and modding projects) the developers bite off far more than they can chew, over-promise and under deliver. Projects like this rarely pan out; they often require years and years of work to get right and even then can often have many limitations and problems. A clear example of this is the many attempts to restore content to KOTOR 2. While we now have TSLRCM there were several failed attempts before this to create a mod that restored many of the lost files from the game. These projects were big, but not nearly as massive as recreating an entire game in a new engine.
A project this big will take a long time and a lot of people. This all costs money. Since the developers cannot take donations for this project. Having, ostensibly, a full time job while also developing an entire game with a limited team can lead to burnout.
Even if this project somehow manages to keep on track with its massive scale and delivers what it has promised this might not be enough. One of the main complaints from the many veterans of the Kotor community (the people STILL playing or STILL modding to this day) is that the project looks nothing like Kotor. I would have to agree with this, it looks like a Sci-Fi FPS and not the RPG that many people fell in love with. There have been concerns as to how the combat (particularly the melee combat) would transfer over to a new engine. One also needs to look at the models used in the current demos. Many of them look like pre-made models (that may not be used with the proper permissions).
Overall, this won’t be a problem for everyone, but if you want to see more issues people have with the direction, then just take a look at THIS THREAD.
This is the big one.
The law is complicated. So I did a lot of research and talked to a few experts to see just where exactly this project falls in terms of legality.
I emailed Ryan Morris (the video game attorney), known for his crusade against Candy Crush creators King and its attempts to crackdown on usage of the word ‘Candy’ in video game titles & for leading the charge against the Fine Brothers attempts to trademark the word "React". He is a real attorney who specializes in IP and in particular video games (esports). He was kind enough to confirm some previous research I had compiled together and gave me a straight answer on the exact nature of this project , in terms of the law. He had this to say on the topic:
“Fan projects are not "okay" or "absolutely" legal. They are quite the opposite, and there's a near zero percent chance this project sees the light of day. It's frustrating seeing people like this saying they want to take donations, yet basing their entire backing on nonsensical legal beliefs. For example, Black Mesa Source is a game made by a client of mine who has a license to make it.”
Ryan put it in fairly plain words that he thinks this project will be taken down, and soon. The contrasts sharply with the initial disclaimer for the project that stated it was 100% legal. The developers of Apeiron are at the very least ignorant of how the law works. This lack of understanding is the biggest threat to this project.
To put it frankly- this project is not legal. The developers are violating the Trademarks for Star Wars and Knights of the Old Republic. They are also violating the copyright for the game. Disney/EA has every single legal right to take the game down.
While Ryan is an expert I felt he was being mildly disingenuous with his criticisms. While it is true that Black Mesa was done with permission, this permission was gotten AFTER the project had started. This is something that is technically still possible, but I still think the project will be taken down.
Still not convinced the project will be taken down?
This isn’t even the first time something like this has happened.
A few years back there was a project called Kotor: Remastered. It originally was a retexture/remodeling project that morphed over time into an attempt to port Kotor over to the Unity Engine. Unsurprisingly, the project was given a takedown notice and ceased production.
So there is very good evidence that this project will be taken down. In fact many people, Ryan Morris included, seem to think that a takedown is INEVITABLE. But it gets even more complicated than that.
While the law is clear on this project, until the rights holders (Disney/EA/Lucasarts) actually issue a takedown notice this project will continue. There is also a (slim) possibility that the developers will get permission to release their project (with some specific restrictions).
Overall I could talk about this for several more pages. I have already written and rewritten this section at least ten times, so I will leave it at that. Here is some further reading on the legality of fan projects if you are still unsure of my analysis.
Other things of note
This topic took a lot of time to research and write. I actually had an article 2-3 times longer but cut it down so that people would bother reading it. Due to all the writing I had less time to round up links for you to enjoy but here are a few great ones.
The Kotor subreddit is creating a compendium of fixes, tips, suggestions and general support questions. If you want to help with this or NEED help, check it out.
Want 100% compatible mod builds for kotor 1 and 2? HERE
Sith Holocron is looking for help with a project. Read about it here.
You can of course check out my Youtube channel. I am live-streaming mod testing every Friday. Watch my Twitter and Deadlystream Status for updates.
If you like SWTOR, Shoelace has been playing it over on my channel as well. You can watch it here.
Sith Holocron also has a SWTOR LP. Check it out on his channel.
Here is a great list of other videomakers for Kotor stuff. I am sure you will like at least a few of them.
Anyways, that is all I have today. Thanks for reading. As always, I have been Xuul. Have an excellent day.
*I reached out to the Aperion Team who declined to comment*