Sarien.net, the Sierra fan site that was taken down last week thanks to Activision, is back in business with big plans for the future - thanks to Activision.
After flying under the radar for close to two years with buggy but functional versions of Space Quest, Police Quest and Leisure Suit Larry that could be played through a browser, Sarien.net finally felt the sting of Activision's legal department last week. The publisher claimed that although it "appreciates the dedication" of site founder Martin Kool, it was nonetheless obligated to issue a cease-and-desist to the unauthorized development and distribution of the games.
Kool, for his part, was cool; in fact, as he explained in a detailed history of Sarien.net on his blog, Activision's response was almost a relief. "In a way, running Sarien like this - and I'm referring to its legal status - has always been a thorn in my eye. A sort of necessary evil," he said. "So, the Cease and Desist would finally put that to rest, officially, and give me time to move on." The only thing surprising about the letter, he added, was how long it took Activison to get around to sending it.
But that wasn't the end of the story. He asked Activision about the possibility of continuing the site in some other capacity and received a rather surprising response. "The next day I received a kind reply from Activision's law firm, and I actually do mean 'kind,' as I found the original C&D letter to be quite a friendly letter of which I understood and agreed to everything therein," Kool continued. "This new letter I received contained a proposal."
The proposal from Activision gives Kool official authorization to publish the first game in any Sierra adventure series on Sarien.net, along with links to Steam and other distributors that offer the full game collections for sale. The games on the site will be in "multiplayer HTML5 form" but the iPad versions, which appear to be what finally forced Activision to make a move, are out. So is Leisure Suit Larry, which is apparently now the property of CodeMasters; Activision said it couldn't tell Kool what to do with that franchise, but given all that's happened he's decided not to go ahead with the game until he gets an official green light.
"I have several plans for Sarien but first I'll restore it to what is was and provide the games as agreed upon with Activision. A redesign is scheduled, and new functionality will be added that I blogged about before," Kool said. "I see a lot of cool things happening to Sarien.net, my company and myself in the future. Stuff that involves HTML5, Apple, retro games and publishing. 2011 will be a great year."