missing cover art
Cancelled portsIn January 1996, Crack dot Com contracted Reflex Entertainment to do the SEGA Saturn and Sony PSX versions of Abuse. In May 1996, Crack learned that Sony would not allow a PSX version of Abuse because it wasn't 3D and it was a port.
Changed plotThe game's plot (shown in the opening screen) was changed at some point. Originally, the player was to take the role of a special agent infiltrating a base in order to stop an alien invasion by "the ants". The 1.x shareware version still features this back story, whereas the retail game and 2.x shareware both have the new "mutants in prison" plot. The original story's text is:
The Ants were fearless, efficient killers. The Unified Underground's only opening was that the Ant defense systems were designed by engineers too arrogant to consider the threat of an individual. It was enough to justify the covert Abuse Missions.
On August 31, 2021, eight bytes were zeroed in a computer, and Nick Vrenna's identity was erased. A suit of armor cradling his smoking auto rifle stood in shadows appreciating the stench coming from the first retired Ant of the day. The armored soul feared the effort would end up as pathetic as the Terran Surrender Terms, but humanity had nothing else.
Copyright infringementThe iPhone version caused quite a stir when Stephane Portha released the ported game using the title Alien Abuse on March 17, 2009. The original development studio Crack dot Com released all the shareware bits of Abuse to the public domain when it went out of business, but kept ownership of the Abuse trademark, the registered levels, and Bobby Prince kept ownership of the sound effects.
Unable to come to any sort of agreement with Portha and unable to get Apple to take down the game, despite a DMCA notice, one of the original developers, Dave Taylor went out and had the game ported to have an official version of the game available using the name Abuse Classic. It was released in August 2009. Soon after, Alien Abuse was pulled, either by the original developer or by Apple.
DevelopmentThe game was largely written in C, but it also featured a Lisp interpreter. Most of the character logic and AI was written in Lisp, and it was possible to write mods simply by defining new game characters and game characteristics in Lisp code. Early shareware versions included a complete Breakout clone example game (somewhat misleadingly titled "Pong"). Regrettably, there were many changes between versions, and mods for 1.x shareware versions don't necessarily work without changes in 2.x retail version.
Macintosh versionThe main improvement from the Macintosh version over DOS and Linux versions was that it had better graphics; the entire thing was worked to work perfectly in 640x480 resolution, as opposed to the VGA 320x200 used by the DOS version. (The DOS and Linux versions can be made to run on higher resolutions, but the game itself isn't scaled to those resolutions!)
Level editorThe game has a built-in level editor, and you can make levels for the shareware version. An interesting feature is that it can be made to work in sync with the actual game engine. If enabled at the command line, the editor is accessible at any part of the game which allows you to test flags and triggers in real time for your latest creation, or alternatively, modify parts of the game's included levels on the fly (ie: can't find the key for that pesky door?? Then remove it!)
We chose Abuse for our first game name because the game involved knowing full well that pressing the buttons in all those rooms was going to bring down hoards of howlers, but you would do it anyway, abusing yourself. It also went well with Crack. An alternate name considered was "Them."
ReferencesCrack dot Com must have been Nine Inch Nails fans -- the clear namesake for protagonist Nick Vrenna is onetime NIN drummer Chris Vrenna.
Source code releaseOn Jul 12, 1997, Crack dot Com announced the release of the game's source code to the public domain alongside the shareware game data. Registered version levels were not released because the game was still sold at the time. Crack dot Com could also not make the game's sound effects public because they were owned by Bobby Prince.
While the code and most data assets of Abuse became public domain, the title remained a trademark held by Jonathan Clark and Dave Taylor. Using the title (e.g. to create a derivative game called Abuse 2) without licensing it from the original developers is thus not allowed.
Additional information contributed by Arson Winter, B.L. Stryker, Pseudo_Intellectual, Roger Wilco, Sciere, WWWWolf and Zovni