Australian indie developer Ballistic Interactive have been diligently working on their horror RPG Hellhunter for a couple years now, but from now on the game will be called HellSign. The change was necessary after Ballistic discovered that longtime UK studio Rebellion Developments trademarked the name "hell hunter" back in January 2017.
Ballistic's Pete Skyking is taking it pretty well. Ballistic considers Rebellion their heroes and inspiration, and Skyking said that when they worked with Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley, "...Jason was awesome. He not only personally replied to us, but handled it like a boss! He was open to working something out and helping us through the situation - but unfortunately, at the end of the day, as indies operating out of our savings our only two options were to change our name, or cut content. Needless to say, we had to change the name."
Now that any legal wranglings are taken care of, Ballistic is focused on finishing the newly-christened HellSign. The game is due out on Steam later this year. Check out the teaser below.
Supernatural RPG forced into name change after Sniper Elite and Alien vs Predator developer registers new trademark - but Ballistic Interactive full of praise for Rebellion
27 FEBRUARY 2018 -- Australian indie developers Ballistic Interactive have today announced via a new trailer that, due to a trademarking issue, their supernatural roleplaying game Hellhunter will now be known as HellSign.
An investigative action RPG that pits you against the horrors of the afterlife in smalltown Australia, the game has engendered a dedicated community of eager fans since it was unveiled in 2016 - and has been placed on almost 10,000 whislists since its Steam page launched last year.
The name change comes after the studio discovered that their childhood heroes Rebellion Developments - creators of Alien vs Predator and Sniper Elite - had trademarked the phrase 'hell hunter' in January 2017.
Ballistic Interactive's Pete Skyking said: "We looked into trademarks early in development. But as we were on a small indie budget, and found that many successful indie games didn't have a trademark on launch, we decided to take the risk and instead put the money toward making a better game. Unfortunately, when we finally did decide to trademark, we found that 'hell hunter' had been trademarked by Rebellion. We took legal advice and were told this would be a problem."
However, despite being forced into a name change, Skyking is keen to sing Rebellion's praises - after their small team reached out to Rebellion, and ended up talking to Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley directly about the matter.
Skyking said: "Given the sticky situation, Jason was awesome. He not only personally replied to us, but handled it like a boss! He was open to working something out and helping us through the situation - but unfortunately, at the end of the day, as indies operating out of our savings our only two options were to change our name, or cut content. Needless to say, we had to change the name."
Alex Tutty, head of the Computer Games Department at London law firm Sheridans, said: "My advice to indies would be to perform a search on the trademark registers - they're all online. Do it as soon as you think of a name. Then do it before you release. If you've got a really good name, and you want a line in the sand, look at getting a registered trademark in a respected but cheap territory - we've done it for lots of studios in the UK, and you can go through the whole process for around £500 including legal fees."
With this episode behind them, Ballistic Interactive are now focused on finishing development on HellSign, which is due to release via Steam later in 2018. "Most of all, we want to thank our community for the constant support and kind words," he added. "You are the reason we are still moving forward towards making the best game we can - and we can't wait for you to enjoy it!"
HellSign is a supernatural investigative hunting RPG, where you assume the role of a freelance hunter building his career towards uncovering the ultimate terror.
However, the identity and characteristics of your target aren't revealed. Players must investigate to determine which tools to use in an ultimate showdown - all the while being hunted themselves!
Woken up with the vague memory of having died the night before in a drug-induced state of delirium while on a dangerous job. There is a fresh brand upon your skin, a brand you do not remember, but which causes you great unease.
You find yourself following a bloody track where strange sightings have been recorded, from spectral women beckoning people into the fog, to spiders as large as wolves... Australia is a dangerous place to live in.
Tricks of the trade - Start your journey with a flickering torch, rusty gun and a whole lot of guts. Complete jobs to develop your skills and learn more about the monsters that haunt the night. Develop your character and build your arsenal through a detailed RPG and job system. Become an elite hunter and get your revenge.
Choose your contracts - There are all manner of creatures prowling the streets, from ghosts to hellhounds, monstrous spiders and demons. Which order you take your contracts is up to you, but each monster you slay brings you closer to unearthing the dark truth.
Hunt, or be hunted - How you clear the town is up to you. You can go in guns blazing and let your shotgun do the talking, or you can plan and research your targets to use their weaknesses against them.
Study your prey - As a hunter, knowledge is one of your greatest weapons. By reading your environment and uncovering the weaknesses of the creatures you're hunting, you can make it a little easier to slay them. The Cryptonomicon is your hunter guidebook, tracking the creatures you’ve slain and the clues you’ve collected.
Use your tools - From shotguns and booby traps, to silver nitrate rounds and high tech gadgets - there are many tools in your arsenal that can help you fight the darkness. Choosing what to bring with you, and when to use it can be the difference between victory and a grizzly defeat.
About Ballistic Interactive
Co-founded in 2015 by Ariel Chai and Pete Skyking, Ballistic Interactive is a small indie game studio based in Australia. Having previously forged a career working for other companies in the games industry, the pair have spent the past three years working on their own game, HellSign.