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Author Topic: http://www.atari.com/us/starcontrol/  (Read 11393 times)
ptx
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http://www.atari.com/us/starcontrol/
« on: March 21, 2008, 04:25:25 pm »

What's going on there? Just a little promotional game? The patent specimens have screen shots of it too...
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Re: http://www.atari.com/us/starcontrol/
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2008, 05:30:37 pm »

I found some background information from the developers. Combining the fact that this was a rush job (4 days from Atari requesting it to delivery!) with the recent renewal of the "Star Control" trademark, I suspect this is Atari legal manoeuvring to avoid losing the trademark.

As for the game itself, while the gameplay resembles Star Control melee closely, it ignores anything that could be construed as TFB IP. Given Accolade's attempts to get rid of TFB's ideas from Star Control (see SC3 and the cancelled StarCon), and the "Star Control Preview" bit in the title, there is also a distinct possibility that Atari is planning to revive or reimagine Star Control without TFB, but aren't willing to commit quite yet.

Edit: It seems Star Control is only one of many games on Atari Play, a bunch of official Atari retro remakes. The rest at least seem to be reasonably accurate remakes (or possibly even emulations; haven't looked that closely).
« Last Edit: March 21, 2008, 05:47:09 pm by Novus » Logged

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Re: http://www.atari.com/us/starcontrol/
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2008, 07:03:01 pm »

I am 99% convinced that this indeed a ploy to keep the trademark safe from abandonment claims.
Commisioning it to be created in 4 days, "pretty lenient requirements", putting it on a site with "classic games" without even the slightest attempt to make it look or feel like the original, there is little room for doubt that they just wanted to have "something" there.

And there's no sign that they're seriously planning on making use of the trademark; you don't go damaging a brand formerly used by big computer games by associating it with a 2-day rushjob if you're intending to use it for real later.

Given that, maybe TFB may still stand a chance of challenging Atari's trademark, but it hasn't gotten any better.

I do wonder why the rush. Does Atari suddenly have any reason to expect a challenge in the very near future? Has anyone from TFB contacted them about the trademark? Or did they just suddenly found out that they still had that trademark lying around and realised that it still has value?
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Re: http://www.atari.com/us/starcontrol/
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2008, 02:08:46 pm »

I am 99% convinced that this indeed a ploy to keep the trademark safe from abandonment claims.
Commisioning it to be created in 4 days, "pretty lenient requirements", putting it on a site with "classic games" without even the slightest attempt to make it look or feel like the original, there is little room for doubt that they just wanted to have "something" there.
The contrast between a rushed Flash game that only vaguely resembles the original (Star Control) and a Java-based emulation of the original (the Missile Command applet seems to spend much of its time doing low-level bit manipulation on a 64 KB memory dump, and the rest, that I haven't examined in detail, all look very much like the originals) is quite clear.

In any case, examining the trademark documents is quite interesting, in particular the "Combined Declaration of Use In Commerce & Application For Renewal of Registration of A Mark Under Sections 8 & 9" of Tuesday 2007-09-18. As ptx mentioned, the specimens used to demonstrate "use in commerce" are, in fact, this particular Flash game (or to be exact, a printout of the webpage showing the title screen of the game!) that, according to HTTP header info on the Flash file, was last modified on the server on 2007-09-21. This looks a lot like the game was written over the weekend so that Atari's legal department could prove on Tuesday that they are using the trademark, after which the game was "released" by adding it to Atari Play.
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Re: http://www.atari.com/us/starcontrol/
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2008, 06:21:07 pm »

So what? That's why this project is called the Ur-Quan Masters. I mean, Atari has done enough to drag "Star Control" through the mud, not limited to this little stunt, that an official sequel by TFB could be named "Fwiffo's Revenge" and be just as successful. Possibly more so with a title like that.

Still, it's a decidedly puerile move on Atari's part.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2008, 06:54:39 pm by guesst » Logged

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Re: http://www.atari.com/us/starcontrol/
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2008, 08:42:25 pm »

I tried it. It was bad. A little better than E.T., I guess. Not as good as SC3. I wouldn't hold it against the contractor, due to the time constraint, though it seems kind of numbskulled of them to make a new game in a language they had never used, in two days. But I wasn't there. Maybe flash is just really good for putting out crappy games like that really fast even if you don't know what you're doing, but too limited to use for anything serious.
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Re: http://www.atari.com/us/starcontrol/
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2008, 09:46:38 pm »

Given the ridiculous time limit imposed by Atari on Iocaine, I'm surprised the game is playable at all. I suspect Flash just happens to make it easy to do things like this, but pulling this off in two days of development is still impressive. Actually, come to think of it, it does remind me quite a lot of Star Control... on the ZX Spectrum. With prettier graphics.
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Re: http://www.atari.com/us/starcontrol/
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2008, 03:05:35 am »

I was reading the Iocaine Studios Blog and someone mentioned the REAL Star Control, and when someone asked about the 4-day deadline, they replied with a "confidentiality agreement"

Quote from: PylonHead
Your game Star Control seem reminiscent of some other star craft battling game. I think it was called... Star Control Smiley.
I would be interested in what the circumstances of the, "We need a game in 4 days" request was. I mean, that's kind of a crazy thing to ask for.

Quote from: KungFuMonkey
It was certainly unusual, but sadly I can't get into the details due to a confidentiality contract

I'm glad that they aren't giving up on their goals and they seem like very nice people.  I just hope that the Star Control universe does not become butchered by their "Not Control".
« Last Edit: March 23, 2008, 03:07:52 am by Anthony » Logged

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Re: http://www.atari.com/us/starcontrol/
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2008, 03:38:55 pm »

I wonder what would've happened if they had missed the deadline... I might have... on purpose. Ooops.

Gameplay could've been more even with just 2 days. There are speedcoding contests where people crank out very impressive stuff in 48hrs. However, the interface around this game is pretty polished, something which is usually not the case with speed coded games afaik.


On a sidenote, I'm not really worried about Atari or TfB doing a terrible Star Control sequel. What I'm worried about is a moderately bad/good one which isn't as easy to dismiss as say, CD-i Zelda or SC3 was. 
« Last Edit: March 23, 2008, 03:40:59 pm by Arne » Logged
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Re: http://www.atari.com/us/starcontrol/
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2008, 08:41:32 pm »

Nice game, especially for what 2-4 days work. Clearly it was just somethin to keep the trademark. Would have been nice to have seen asteroids or planets too.
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Re: http://www.atari.com/us/starcontrol/
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2008, 09:26:20 pm »

As dire as this action might be, the game itself isn't horrid. It's bland, sure, but within a 4 day deadline it is still impressive, albeit more could have been added to it than what is currently in (also, sound samples are glitchy). Atari have never been very good with developers, ever since their 2600 days, when they wouldn't credit individual programmers on games. I wonder what TfB think on this matter.

Hell, it might actually boost the chances of them making a comeback, what with them trying to keep control over the name. Someone is bound to write about this eventually. Infact it might be a good idea to inform the Kotaku staff about this, they'd sure as hell post about this on their blog (they did so with the Iranian properganda posters).
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Re: http://www.atari.com/us/starcontrol/
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2008, 11:09:14 pm »

I have actually mailed with PR3 about this. He found it extremely *weak sauce*.

He also asked what the fan base thinks, but in the context of his mail I'm not sure what part exactly he's asking us about.

I'll post more once I have received a reply on my request for clarification.

Some other things. Here's Atari's "Code of Ethics". Really.

And here's a theory I had about why Atari would do this: It's possible that someone was only interested in the short-term numbers on their quarterly results. And removing the trademark from their assets would produce bigger negative numbers than the cost of making a little something which they hope would qualify as "use" of the trademark.
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Re: http://www.atari.com/us/starcontrol/
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2008, 11:49:51 pm »

He also asked what the fan base thinks, but in the context of his mail I'm not sure what part exactly he's asking us about.

As much as I'd like to say "BLACKLIST ATARI", games with their logo stamped across them tend to come from smaller developers. I like The Witcher. If a sequel came out, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
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Re: http://www.atari.com/us/starcontrol/
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2008, 02:58:45 pm »

Some other things. Here's Atari's "Code of Ethics". Really.

I expected there to be a point to this link. Yup, it looks like a corporate code of ethics. No mention of things like this, nor would I expect there to be. Corporate codes of ethics are to protect the corporation from embarrassment or litigation due to actions taken on the initiative of its employees; they are not there to tie the corporation's hands back from squeezing every last little bit of juice out of the legal system.
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Re: http://www.atari.com/us/starcontrol/
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2008, 03:18:14 pm »

Must there be a point beyond having a bit of a laugh a bit at something which in this context reads like a work of satire?
« Last Edit: March 24, 2008, 03:20:03 pm by meep-eep » Logged

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