Descent 4 was a planned fourth installment in the Descent series published by the re-emerging publisher, Interplay Entertainment. While the game has had a troubled development history, Interplay Entertainment recently confirmed that they have plans for developing the game after raising funds for the development of an MMO based on the Fallout franchise. The game was cancelled in favor of developing a fantasy role-playing game.
Development of Descent 4 was officially cancelled in 2000 as revealed by a PlanetDescent interview conducted on September 11, 2000. Some speculation was made that Red Faction, a new project at Volition, was Descent 4, since Red Faction's main character was named Parker and some of the plot points for Red Faction were very similar to Descent as was mentioned in the PlanetDescent interview, but Mike Kulas, then-president of Volition Inc., denied that Red Faction was Descent 4, although he admitted that technologies that were in development for Descent 4 were being used in Red Faction. PlanetDescent also asked if there was to be a Descent 4 developed by Volition after Red Faction in the then-foreseeable future. Mr. Kulas stated that it seemed very unlikely that they would work on a Descent sequel. This could possibly be because in 2000, Volition left Interplay Entertainment to be part of THQ.[not in citation given]
Descent 4 announcements
On November 13, 2007, GameSpot reported that Interplay has announced that it will restart its in-house development studio and has plans to develop a Descent sequel (likely to be Descent 4) amongst other classic Interplay IPs if Interplay can secure financing for any possible sequels.
On March 31, 2008, Interplay Entertainment released their quarterly report which highlighted their development plans for possible sequels:
- "We have sold “Fallout” to a third party and have obtained the License Back to allow us to create, develop and exploit a “Fallout” MMOG. We are planning to exploit the License Back of “Fallout” MMOG and are reviewing the avenues for securing financing of at least $30 million to fund its production."
- "The Company is now focused on a two-pronged growth strategy. While the Company is working to secure funding for the development of a MMOG based on the popular “Fallout” franchise, the Company is at the same time exploring ways to leverage its portfolio of gaming properties through sequels and various development and publishing arrangements. The Company is planning, if the Company can obtain financing, to develop sequels to some of the most successful games, including Earthworm Jim, Dark Alliance, Descent and MDK. The Company has reinitiated its in-house game development studio, and has hired game developers. Initial funding for these steps will mainly derive from the remaining proceeds from the sale of “Fallout” and license arrangements that the Company enters into."
On March 13, 2008 Interplay Entertainment updated their website, inserting a background image highlighting some of the games in the company's roster. The picture included the trademarked blue shield orb known from the Descent series, offering further confirmation the Descent franchise is one of the IPs the company is focusing on.
On September 22, 2008, the company re-opened its website. The site's discussion board includes the official Descent forum.
As of October 21, 2008, Interplay has re-registered the Descent trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Several third party developers to date have expressed interest in developing their own sequel to a franchise they felt was prematurely abandoned. These third party developers eventually ran into licensing issues or were issued cease-and-desist orders by the trademark holders.
Starting in 2003, Highoctane Software was developing their own Descent-like game, named Core Decision. In late 2006 the application development house, Highoctane Software, established a separate studio for game development called Uplink Studios and the project was transferred for development under that division. Core Decision was initially to be released in October 2006, and was speculated to be based on the Doom 3 engine. While this has proven to be false, the actual development engine has not yet been disclosed. As of writing, development is still underway, although no new release date has been announced.
Descent 4: Invasion
After Descent 4 was initially cancelled, Midnight Squadron Design Studios commenced development of a sequel based on the open-source Unreal 3D engine in 2000. The game was to be called Descent 4: Invasion and it was to be distributed online after completion. The developers received permission to develop the sequel, provided the completed game was to be released at no profit.
In early 2001 the development was transferred to Orbital Design Studios, although the rights and permission were still held by Midnight Squadron Design Studios. After April 2001, Orbital Design was issued a cease-and-desist order by THQ, who were then in possession of the rights to the Descent IP.
Open Descent Foundation
The Open Descent Foundation (ODF) was founded in early 2007 in response to recognizing the problems associated with closed source programming and proprietary tools. Thus all members of the ODF must accept the ideology of open source. The ODF releases all member projects under their umbrella name. Projects are based on both Windows and Linux.
To date, ODF has released several tools for all versions of Descent. Its main project is to create a 6DoF game to give to the Descent and Forsaken communities. The last 6DoF project to be released was Descent 3. Many technological advances have been made since then, thus making the idea of a Descent 4 ever more desirable as Descent3's engine is becoming more and more outdated.
- Interplay Releases 2007 Earnings; New Web Site Launch Imminent. Fox Business.
- Orry, James (2008-04-09). Interplay confirms plans for MDK and Decent sequels. videogamer.com. Retrieved on 2008-07-17
- Interplay's Quarter Report 3/31/08. Interplay Entertainment.
- PlanetDescent's September 11th, 2000 Interview with Volition President Mike Kulas.
- Sinclair, Brendan (2007-11-13). "Interplay restarting dev studio - Company says it will make new installments of Earthworm Jim, Descent, MDK, Dark Alliance if it can get the money.". GameSpot. http://www.gamespot.com/news/6182846.html?tag=result;title;0. Retrieved 2007-11-17.
- Interplay's official Descent forum.
- USPTO entry for the Descent game trademark (2008).
- "Dispelling myths on Descent BB". Descent BB. 2008-05-22. http://www.descentbb.net/viewtopic.php?t=9059. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
- "Open Descent Foundation mission statement". Open Descent Foundation. 2008-05-22. http://www.odf-online.org/homepage/about_us.php. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
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