The Unofficial Talisman Computer Game

"I think it's possible that your version of Talisman is heads and tails better than the board game version." - independent review

In the summer of 2008 I began to implement an electronic version of the classic boardgame Talisman - the magical quest game.  This project was intended as a programming exercise in BBC BASIC for Windows, however during the winter I published the game on the web with disclaimers refuting any involvement with the copyright owners - Games Workshop - and clearly indicated that the project was 'unofficial' and 'not endorsed' by GW.

In October 2009 I recieved a 'cease and desist' order from GW (you can read it below) and removed the game from all sites that I control (including this one).  Although the game was a rather ropey attempt at programming a large project, it was well recieved by Talisman fans. You can read some of the original comments below.

Here is a video of the game in progress:




This is the 'cease and desist' order from GW legal department:


Our Ref: Legal/RS/GLS/10709


5 October 2009
By Email: superdecade@hotmail.com

Dear Sir

Re: Infringement of Games Workshop Limited’s Intellectual Property Rights

Games Workshop Limited (“GW”) has for some time been engaged in the business of designing, manufacturing and marketing: hobby board games; war games; models; miniatures; and associated products and in the course of this business has acquired and registered a large number of copyrights and other intellectual property rights.

The webpage http://www.students.ncl.ac.uk/t.g.street/talisman/talisman.html for which we believe you are responsible has recently been bought to our attention. Having checked your website it is apparent that your product is based entirely upon the Talisman game which is owned and controlled by GW and its official licensee. Therefore it is our belief that the placement of your game on the internet constitutes an infringement of GW’s intellectual property rights. Specifically, your activities have given rise to two causes of action, namely passing off and breach of copyright.

Passing Off:

GW has built up a successful and distinguishable brand over the last twenty five years and clearly has a longstanding and loyal support base, which has attracted much goodwill to the brand. Whether intentional or not and despite the presence of disclaimers, your conversion of the Talisman game into an electronic format clearly gives rise to the possibility that people may think that there is some connection between your product and GW. This is because having used the word Talisman since 1983 it has effectively become a ‘badge of origin’ for the GW brand. It is for this reason that GW will not tolerate your activities as they could lead to both confusion in the mind of the consumer and a loss to GW.

Copyright:

As you may be aware copyright is a right that vests in the creator as soon as the material in question is created, in this case the materials used to create the original Talisman game. Having used the Talisman name and created the game in the 1980s GW owns the copyright in the board and the characters that comprise the game thereby making it an offence for others to use these images in the course of business, or to create products that are based in whole (or in substantial part), or adapted/derived from the Talisman game. Therefore your unauthorised use of GW’s copyright by offering the game to the public is a primary infringement of GW’s copyright and contrary to s.16(2) of the Copyright Design & Patents Act 1988.

We take this opportunity to emphasise how seriously GW considers breaches of its intellectual property rights. It is the policy of GW to always enforce its rights against any party infringing its intellectual property rights by means of appropriate legal proceedings. However, in the present circumstances we may be prepared to refrain from taking such proceedings against you if we receive from you within fourteen (14) days of the date of this letter your written undertakings, in a form acceptable to us, that you will:

1. immediately cease and desist from any activity which infringes GW’s intellectual property rights and remove the Talisman game from your site and any others that you control; and
2. confirm by return that you will not infringe GW’s intellectual property rights at any time in the future.

In the event that we do not receive undertakings in respect of the above from you within 14 days of the date of this letter, we shall have no option but to commence formal proceedings against you without prejudice to any other of our rights and, if necessary, forthwith and without further notice. In the meantime, all our rights are reserved including seeking injunctive relief, delivery or destruction of infringing materials you hold in relation to the game, damages, costs and interests.

We accordingly look forward to hearing from you. If you are in any doubt as to the content of this letter we recommend that you seek independent legal advice.

Yours faithfully

Group Legal - Games Workshop Group plc
For and on behalf of Games Workshop Limited
robbie.shneerson@games-workshop.co.uk


Here are some of the hundreds of positive comments I recieved from Talisman fans around the world:


"Just wanted to thank you for your obvious hard work in translating an awesome game to the computer."

"The game really captures the essence of the original and compliments it rather than plagiarizes."

"So much easier to set up and play using the program...now my son and I can play anytime! Well done!"

"Just to let you know your Talisman game got me through a nightshift the other night."

"A loyal video game adaptation."

"Playing your game.  Its neat.  Music is a little funny, but then I am running Vista."

"My two sons (aged 6 and 8 years) have dug out my Talisman 2nd edition which I purchased in the mid to late 80's and are getting right into it. They actually searched the internet and found your site and got me to download your PC version.  They really love it."

"I downloaded it last week and spent hours
playing it with my cousins. It's much faster than the actual board
game, and setting it up is much smoother than in reality, and we took
advantage of both those features when my cousins' mother declared the
huge table that we needed to play the game off-limits. The interface
and presentation are simple, but since I grew up on 8-bit games
myself, and we were familiar with the physical version of the game, it
did not take away from our fun."

"Thank you very much for sharing this with the rest of the world!"

"It's as addictive as the boardgame... even more so... thanks a lot."

"I like the way you think!"