A not-so-mystery train.

In the 1990s, your humble correspondent spent some time working as Development Manager for legendary multi-platform game developers Sensible Software. During that time, Sensible created a game called Sensible Trainspotting, a fun simulation of the bizarre anorak's pastime to be given away for free on the coverdisk of games magazine Amiga Power. It was Sensible's last original game, and was intended as a little "thank-you" farewell gift to the company's many fans.

The game was very simple in operation - the player took the part of a trainspotter, watching as trains whizzed by on a number of platforms, and was required to "spot" the trains by clicking their number in a list of boxes against a time limit. (Clicking a box when the correct train wasn't onscreen resulted in a time penalty.)

In 2003, a company called "Demon Star" released a game called Train Tracking. In it, the player takes the part of a trainspotter, watching as trains whizz by on a number of platforms, and is required to "spot" the trains by clicking their number in a list of boxes against a time limit. (Clicking a box when the correct train isn't onscreen results in a time penalty.)

As a tribute, Train Tracking would be charming. It is, in every gameplay design and mechanical sense, a clear and exact copy of Sensible Trainspotting - only the graphics and presentation style have been altered. Sadly, however, Demon Star have no intention of paying any tribute to the game they're reprised. Their website presents the game as their own original work, going so far as to offer up a detailed "story" of how the game came into existence. Nowhere in this story, the game's documentation, the scrolling message on the title screen, the company's website or anywhere else is the blatant plagiarising of someone else's game acknowledged in even the slightest passing way.

When Sensible Software ceased trading at the end of the 90s, the company's intellectual property was bought by Codemasters Ltd, who now have sole rights to exploit that intellectual property, including Sensible Trainspotting. Demon Star have no rights to the game whatsoever. They certainly have no right to claim it as their own work, and no right to sell for money something which was created to be given away for free.

Attempts at communicating with Demon Star to resolve this situation were met with a wall of silence. So rather than call on Codemasters' lawyers to crush this ill-mannered infringement of IP, an over-reaction which would probably cause Demon Star to fold altogether, World Of Stuart is putting things right the simple way. Below is a link where the full, registered version of Train Tracking can be downloaded without payment of the $16 fee. World Of Stuart dares Demon Star to sue it over ownership of a game which Demon Star has no right to in the first place. Watch this space.

Download Train-Tracking full version (6.6MB)

Download Sensible Trainspotting (289KB, disk image for use with WinUAE Amiga emulator)

Comments? WoS Forum