Trademarks can be a tricky business, as Australian indie developers, Ballistic Interactive discovered after attempting to trademark their game’s name – Hellhunter – only to discover game development giant Rebellion has beaten them to the punch, forcing them to rename to HellSign.
Announced via a new teaser trailer which you can watch below, Ballistic Interactive let their fans and the wider world know that their supernatural roleplaying game Hellhunter will now be known as HellSign, due to a trademark filed in January 2017. The 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 [Rebellion CEO] 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!
Awoken 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 on 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 is 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.
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 has spent the past three years working on their own game, HellSign.