In search of... Abrams Tank. Hovertank 3d port

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Blacklion62
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In search of... Abrams Tank. Hovertank 3d port

Post by Blacklion62 »

Any leads are appreciated. I can't find this anywhere.

Thank you,

James
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Re: In search of... Abrams Tank. Hovertank 3d port

Post by K1n9_Duk3 »

I vaguely remember a Hovertank "clone" created by "Hard Disk Publishing" that was sold on Steam for a while. I have only seen screenshots or maybe a video of it, but never actually played the thing. The person running "Hard Disk Publishing" is "Javier M. Chavez", the guy who bought the rights to Keen Dreams back in 2014, and he has a bad reputation. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I think he was banned from Steam and his games were removed.

Simply searching for "Hard Disk Publishing" brought up this reddit link, which also has some disussion about the Abrams Tank game.

I also found this video on youtube.

After watching this video, I have to say that the graphics are not what I thought I remembered. I thought the graphics were a much move obvious ripoff of the original graphics, but they're not quite as copyright-infringing as I thought. It's still mostly an asset flip and you can see the resemblance between the new and old sprite graphics in-game, but I guess they tried. It also looks like the game code has indeed been ported to Windows(?) and isn't just being run via DOSBox.

A little bit about the history of all this, in case you didn't already know this:

As far as I know, Flat Rock Software used to own most of the the back catalogue of Softdisk Publishing, who published Hovertank, Keen Dreams and many other games by id Software back in the early 90s. Flat Rock started selling the rights to those games in 2013/2014. Javier bought the rights to Keen Dreams after a more or less successful crowdfunding campaign and the Keen Dreams source code was released to the public in late 2014. Flat Rock released the source code to Hovertank 3D and the entire Catacomb series to the public in earlier in 2014. Javier later tried to raise about $10,000 via crowdfunding to buy the rights to the Catacomb series, but failed. The rights to the Catacomb series appear to have been sold, since a company named "Catacomb Games" is now listed as the publisher of those games on GOG and even the original source code on github is now in the hands of Catacomb Games instead of Flat Rock Software. Flat Rock might also have sold the rights to the Dangerous Dave series to John Romero, since GOG lists John Romero as the publisher now. I thinks it used to list Flat Rock Software as the publisher before, but I'm not sure.

I think the fact that the Hovertank source repository on github is still owned by Flat Rock means that Flat Rock Software still owns the Hovertank IP. I'm not sure if anything related to the Abrams Tank version still exists. Technically, the source code for it should exist somewhere, since it's obviously based on the GPL'ed source code and the GPL says that any derived works must be released to the public under the terms of the GPL as well. Maybe Javier got a license to use the code in a non-GPL way, I don't know.

There appears to be at least one SDL-port of Hovertank on github, but it's just the source code, not something that you could just download and play.
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Re: In search of... Abrams Tank. Hovertank 3d port

Post by Arno »

K1n9_Duk3 wrote: Tue Feb 09, 2021 1:13 A little bit about the history of all this, in case you didn't already know this:
That was quite an interesting bit of history, thanks for sharing!
I noticed some open ends in your story. I don't have all the answers, but I decided to register just to add a few pieces of the puzzle.

Flat Rock no longer owns Hovertank 3D, despite that the source code still remains on their Github page. They sold the Hovertank 3D rights to Havoc in 2014. I got that info from a thread on the DieHard Wolfers forum. Apparently Havoc was planning on publishing Hovertank 3D with a Windows port, but unfortunately that didn't happen (yet).
You're correct that Javier was obliged to publish the Abrams Tank source code under the GPL license. In that same thread on the DieHard Wolfers forum, Javier a.k.a wolfwhips claimed that he did publish the source code of Abrams Tank. He didn't provide an URL, though. It could be that it isn't a legal requirement anymore to have the source code published, since Abrams Tank itself is no longer distributed.

Flat Rock sold the Catacomb series to jayschwa in 2017. He created the website catacomb.games and is planning on modernizing the original code base.

Finally, it's interesting that John Romero is now listed as the publisher of Dangerous Dave on GOG. In an interview from last year (around 2:00 into the interview) he revealed that he's working on a Big Box version of Dangerous Dave, so it would indeed make sense that he acquired the rights to prepare for that release.
That makes me wonder if Flat Rock still exists as a business, as I suspect that they've sold all their titles by now.
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Re: In search of... Abrams Tank. Hovertank 3d port

Post by K1n9_Duk3 »

Interesting. Thanks for sharing that information. And also: welcome to the PCKF.
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Re: In search of... Abrams Tank. Hovertank 3d port

Post by Multimania »

I have a copy of this, though I confess to never having actually played it.

It seems to be based on this C# port of Hovertank 3d, based on these strings in the 'abramstank.exe' executable:

Code: Select all

1993-2014 Flat Rock Software, 
2014 Andy Stewart.
Hovertank3DdotNet_WinForms
$C# port of Hovertank 3-D (WinForms).
The CONFIG.HOV file is also a text file with config options in that port's format. (It begins "Hovertank3D.Config").

I don't think there's anywhere you can still buy a copy of it though, and I've never seen the source code for it.
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Re: In search of... Abrams Tank. Hovertank 3d port

Post by NY00123 »

Going to add more information as well, but first of all:

I might not post here a lot, but welcome to the PCKF, Arno! (I assume that you're Arno of Doomworld i.e., the developer of the CatacombGL port.)

I'll begin with a bit of information about Flat Rock Software, more relevant as of 2017 and later. I originally learnt about this, as well as a following related occurrence, from Blzut3.

So, this will probably be a shock for some readers, but Richard Mandel of Flat Rock Software passed away in 2017. An obituary may currently be found here: https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/daily ... =186023403

As for the ownership of Softdisk titles differing from Keen Dreams, this is what I learnt:
- Havoc bought the Hovertank rights, as mentioned earlier. Additionally, based on old ECWolf IRC chat messages, he bought the rights to Shadow Knights.
- John Romero bought the Dangerous Dave IP. I learnt this at the time from the late Richard, and John also confirmed this here: https://twitter.com/romero/status/1172844067648167937
- Finally, remaining rights were acquired by Piko Interactive from Richard's son: https://twitter.com/Pikointeractive/sta ... 8588813315
Last edited by NY00123 on Sun Feb 21, 2021 18:38, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: In search of... Abrams Tank. Hovertank 3d port

Post by Arno »

Thanks all for the warm welcome!
NY00123 is right, I post as Arno at Doomworld.

It's nice to know that all the Softdisk / Flat Rock games found new owners.
I'm sorry to hear that Richard Mandel passed away. I haven't interacted with him personally, but I'm grateful for the positive impact that he had on the Catacomb series. Richard introduced the Catacomb series to a wider audience by bringing the Catacombs Pack to GOG. He also approved the GPL release of the Hovertank and Catacomb source code, which proved to be a major driver for source ports. He will not be forgotten. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, NY00123.
Last edited by Arno on Sat Feb 20, 2021 14:13, edited 1 time in total.
Blacklion62
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Re: In search of... Abrams Tank. Hovertank 3d port

Post by Blacklion62 »

Thank you all for the responses... ans history.

BlackLion
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