A couple of years ago, a group of dedicated fans announced that they were giving Knights of the Old Republic a remake in Unreal Engine 4. Two years on, the Apeiron project has been shut down after the developers received a cease and desist from LucasFilm.
It would have been interesting to see how far this progressed when Disney wasn't in control of the Star Wars universe. Either way, that hasn't stopped a group of fans from trying to rebuild one of the most iconic RPGs of all time — and perhaps Bioware's finest work — in Unreal Engine 4.
The letter from Rhonda T. Hjort, deputy chief counsel at LucasFilm, was posted on Twitter by the Aperion developers. It's largely your typical C&D letter from a lawyer, although there is at least some acknowledgement of the passion behind the project.
It's with a great sadness that I'm posting today; I recently received a letter from Lucasfilm instructing Poem to end production on Apeiron. After a few days, I've exhausted my options to keep it afloat; we knew this day was a possibility. I'm sorry and may the force be with you pic.twitter.com/OCRmMIjwGT
— Apeiron Game (@apeiron_kotor) October 11, 2018
The fact that the KOTOR logo is front and centre on the Aperion probably didn't help, although there's no guarantee that Lucasfilm/Lucasarts wouldn't have taken action anyway. There's not much wiggle room when it comes to defending copyright and IP in the United States, and the Apeiron devs noted themselves that "we knew this day was a possibility".
Apeiron was pitched as a total conversion that required the purchase of the original KOTOR. The developers pledged to add extra features beyond giving KOTOR a UE4-inspired coat of paint, including first-person cameras, more customisation options, an overhauled inventory system, while maintaining the game's original spirit.
— Apeiron Game (@apeiron_kotor) August 6, 2018
— Apeiron Game (@apeiron_kotor) July 3, 2018
Someone posted in the Discord the first tweet of Tatooine, so I made a side-by-side to show how far we've come with planet design. Ugh, it's like looking at pictures of me in middle school. #Apeiron pic.twitter.com/ceFbRXaPi6
— Apeiron Game (@apeiron_kotor) June 21, 2018
— Apeiron Game (@apeiron_kotor) June 11, 2018
— Apeiron Game (@apeiron_kotor) June 3, 2018
For fans who have been begging for some kind of KOTOR revival - particularly given the last few Bioware games, which have drifted further and further away from the more traditional RPG upbringings - it's saddening news. It's not unexpected, mind you. But it also highlights the very real risk that modders take when embarking on grand projects like this: if you don't own the IP, and you don't acquire prior approval, it's very possible that years of work can be shut down in a single email.