River City Ransom: Underground

River City Ransom: Underground

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DC Conatus  [developer] Jul 18 @ 1:49pm
Why will we replace the music in River City Ransom: Underground?
Because we can’t spend another minute thinking about the false DMCA complaints filed against us and our YouTube and Twitch community.

Making River City Ransom: Underground required a tremendous amount of effort, of financial resources - from both the Kickstarter community and Conatus - and a leap of faith by the RCR licensor, Million Co. Ltd. and its successor, Arc System Works, Ltd. The game took nearly four years to make, four years that its many contributors dedicated themselves to its completion, gave up time with friends and family and made many other sacrifices, less quantifiable but equally important, to bring the game to life.

Like many Kickstarter projects, we started with optimism. We quickly learned that meeting the technical challenges of making a smooth, responsive, online, multiplayer fighting game with dynamic shadows, proper sorting and a mass of content (full campaign story, 500+ unique fighting moves, 120+ levels, 44 playable combatants, etc.) was a daunting task. One year into development we had to rewrite our game engine from scratch. It was never smooth sailing, though creative efforts rarely are.

I am incredibly proud that we finished the game, despite the challenges and setbacks. Because we had overrun our schedule and the initial crowdfunding budget by a large margin, the game has flaws. Whether they are bugs or balancing issues, nobody is more acutely aware of those flaws than we are, and we have read every bug report we've ever received. We always expected that we would continue to release frequent updates, to work toward a definitive version of the game. This was a labor of love.

Before Alex Mauer began her campaign, we were actively seeking outside funding to bring the game to the next level of polish and to publish it on major console platforms. We believe strongly that we are not far from reaching the game’s full potential.

I only bring these details to light to illustrate that when a game developer makes a game, there are going to be criticisms, from mild to harsh. That’s how developers and players engage each other. Whatever the result, it’s the creative process that’s important – to anyone who is brave enough to create something from nothing, and to anyone who is generous enough to purchase and play those creations. Which is why I am so alarmed that the contributions of so many people over many years (not just Conatus' efforts but the efforts of the creators of the entire Kunio-kun franchise, to which we are humbled to be associated) could be thrown into disarray so easily and so unjustly.

It is out of respect for those many creators that I have chosen to commission a new soundtrack to replace the music from RCR:U. I believe it’s the best chance that RCR:U has of achieving a "clean break" from any negative associations with Alex Mauer’s wrongful claim. My hope is that when the creators and I think about this game or the years of our lives that have gone into creating it, we see the game for what it is, a beautiful, if imperfect, realization of the vision and work of many, rather than the controversy that came after.

Let me make it absolutely clear – Alex Mauer’s claim that the game violates her copyright is false. She is a co-creator of the music, with Dino Lionetti and Rich Vreeland. Our written license agreement is with Rich, who subcontracted Alex and Dino. When Rich offered to pay Alex an equal share of the music fee for her contribution to the game soundtrack, she emailed back: “oh that's awesome man i'm all for it thanks!” Rich has shown us the documentation that Alex was paid in full.

Our lawyers advise us that there is no legal basis for Alex’s DMCA take-down claims. That’s undeniable by anyone except Alex. But being legally right is only half the story – as a practical matter, the costs of legal action would put console development plans on hold, perhaps indefinitely. We don’t have any interest in spending our time and our energy dealing with this matter further.

So, we’re swapping out the soundtrack. When it’s completed, we hope that it will delight you, and we hope that you keep taking a chance on independent games, on Kickstarter projects, and on all labors of love. They’re worth it.

Daniel