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News: Celebrating 30 years of Star Control 2 - The Ur-Quan Masters

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31  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: June 10, 2019, 10:22:27 pm
A "Patent/Trademark report" is now listed as the latest document on the case's docket on CourtListener, though it's not available for download yet. That document may tell us a lot about the terms of the settlement.

And Stardock has just resumed selling the classic Star Control games on Steam.
32  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: June 09, 2019, 04:14:49 am
And... the Dogar and Kazon blog has just been wiped clean, save for a new post (with a new picture, by the way, which wasn't featured in SC2). The new post is extremely ambiguous, and tells the fans to expect an announcement on E3.

What I can assume so far based on the post is:
- GotP has been canceled, and a new project will be announced in its stead (or GotP has just been renamed).
- Stardock may have got a license to the SC1/SC2 copyrights, and F&P/Frungy may have got a license to the Star Control trademark (or some other trademarks, if they also went to Stardock).

Brad Wardell has also announced a sequel to SCO due in 2020.

In any case, we'll know what exactly all of this means for SC and UQM next week.
33  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: June 08, 2019, 12:12:14 pm
I'd laugh if that were the case (giving up all copyrights). Not because I think that's what they deserve, but because it's ridiculous.

Yeah, and since Stardock has always presented this as primarily a trademark case, I imagine they'd deny they ever wanted the SC1/SC2 copyrights. However, I wonder what the situation will be with the trademarks to "The Ur-Quan Masters", "Super-Melee", and the SC1/SC2 alien names, and Stardock's attempts to associate the SCO universe with that of SC1/SC2 (since they claimed that their ownership of the Star Control trademark gave them the right to claim that these two universes are part of the same multiverse).
34  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: June 08, 2019, 06:59:28 am
Anyone wanna place bets about what the terms were, before the terms leak?

Pretty much betting on status quo. Copyrights in SC1 and SC2 safe with P&F. Trademark and original copyrightable elements of SC3 with Stardock. Stardock withdraws all Trademark applications for the SC2 alien names. Stardock doesn't sell the classic games on Steam or GOG.

This is exactly the outcome I'm hoping for. Let's hope that's what it is, and not F&P giving up everything.
35  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: June 04, 2019, 10:00:46 am
Ugh, I kind of expected that to happen. I wonder what makes the parties want to stall things like that.

Also, if Stardock does file its 4th amended complaint, wouldn't that mean that the settlement negotiations have failed, at least for the time being?

Although, that may be exactly the reason for extending the deadline. If the settlement talks succeed, there would be no need to file an amended complaint.

Or, as the stipulation suggests, the parties actually need to file their amended pleadings before settlement negotiations can continue.

Oh well, if they are going to settle after all, then a few more days of waiting would be more than worth it. After all, we all want things to be done right. And the settlement talks having been resumed and apparently being quite successful is the best news we've had in a long while.
36  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: May 26, 2019, 08:25:32 pm
The most recent document on CourtListener says that the parties are close to settling the case. Let's hope that this is true, and that the terms of the settlement will be closer to what F&P originally proposed than what Stardock proposed.
37  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: February 04, 2019, 06:09:06 pm
Where is the separating line between an idea and an expression?

The Ultronomicon page on this lawsuit quotes this passage on this very topic:
At one end of the spectrum, scenes a faire – the stock scenes and hackneyed character types that "naturally flow from a common theme" – are considered "ideas," and therefore are not copyrightable. But as plots become more intricately detailed and characters become more idiosyncratic, they at some point cross the line into "expression" and are protected by copyright.

So we can see that while there is no sharp, clear line between ideas and expression, there is nonetheless a line. And I personally don't think that simply coloring hyperspace red is copyrightable - the expression has to be more specific than that (Babylon 5 has red hyperspace, and yet F&P aren't suing them, even though someone on the SCO forums sarcastically suggested that they might do that). Now, red hyperspace with holes in space with stars at the center, and blinking points of light is definitely closer to F&P's expression, although, once again, we all agree that it's up to the court to decide whether Stardock has really crossed the line here.
38  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: February 04, 2019, 03:08:46 pm
I've just read Brad's post....

"ideas not copyrightable"?..

Actually, when dance moves are copyrightable (Fortnite cases), certain expressions (ideas) certainly are.That's what books, films, and images are about.

I think that when Brad talks about "ideas", he doesn't mean expressions as they are defined by copyright law. Rather, he seems to mean more generic things such as tropes, styles and genres, screen layouts, etc. Of course, that's where Brad accuses F&P of trying to claim a copyright on generic ideas, and unfortunately F&P's chart in the Injunction Junction post can be easily (mis)understood as doing that. I think I posted what I thought of one of F&P's earlier filings before, where I also had an impression that F&P tried to claim copyright to generic ideas. I mean, even if Stardock based many of their game's ideas on SC2, so what? As long as they've put enough of their own creative spin on those ideas, and don't outright copy expressions (visual appearances, stories, copyrightable setting elements) from SC2, they should be safe. Of course, the appearance of hyperspace, the mineral categorization, and the ZFP do seem very problematic, and there may be copyright infringement there.
39  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: February 03, 2019, 11:19:41 pm
Ah, I see Brad eventually falls into his usual pattern of resorting to personal insults.  Keep a thick skin, don't take his bait, and let us know if this becomes another example of him banning people for politely disputing the Stardock position.

I agree that bringing up the 1988 agreement was irrelevant to the topic, though, as the initial point Brad made was that (according to him) F&P's arguments in the Injunction Junction post don't hold water, and that their DMCA notices serve no purpose but to harm Stardock for no good reason. Whether you agree with that or not, this argument is separate from the issue of who owns the copyright to SC1 and SC2, which is most likely our greatest concern here. As I've said before, I firmly believe that the copyright to SC1 and SC2 belongs to F&P, but I'd prefer that SCO is not found infringing on F&P's copyright (even though I brought up some examples before where I personally find infringement to be very likely - but then again, it's just a random SC2/UQM fan's opinion).

As for the substance of Brad's arguments, yeah, we've already discussed that. I also don't think that F&P claim that they own the concept of hyperspace or the color red, but rather that they own an expression of hyperspace that consists of space permeated by red light that is full of dancing lights and holes in space leading to star systems (and traveling ships). Whether that already constitutes copyrightable expression or that expression should be much more specific (like the shape and the content of the holes, the shape and the size of the lights, which are different between SC2 and SCO), I'm not qualified to answer.

And of course there is the question of whether there was any point in F&P serving the DMCA notice against SCO. From what I've read about the DMCA takedown process, it's typically used before litigation. Now that litigation is already underway, what purpose would the takedown serve? On the other hand, the judge did deny an injunction against F&P serving DMCA notices, so at least she thinks that there may be a point for F&P to serve these notices, and she is definitely more qualified to decide whether there is any point in the takedown than I am.
40  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Making the Galaxy embrace Juffo-Wup on: January 31, 2019, 03:07:52 pm
The game can be paused at any time, and you can still give orders when the game is paused, so micromanagement shouldn't be an issue.
41  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Making the Galaxy embrace Juffo-Wup on: January 31, 2019, 12:20:26 pm
Is Stellaris somewhat similar to Master of Orion?
Looks like a tremendously enlarged version of it...

IF I ever get time to play again, I might have to test this game...

Stellaris is in the same genre as Master of Orion, but it has some really cool mechanics (events, war declaration, ethics, policies and edicts...) that really make this game seem (to me) like a breath of fresh air compared to Civ and MoO. For example, when you declare war, you must issue demands to the enemy empire that it will have to comply with if you win (from annexing some of its systems or even the entire empire to setting up a new regime more in line with your own policies, to just "humiliating" the enemy). The empires' rulers are not immortal like in Civ or MoO (unless you have a Gestalt Consciousness), but instead one ruler succeeds another. The succession may be hereditary (if you have Imperial authority), or the successor may be named through oligarchic or democratic elections.

Be warned, though, that Stellaris is not turn-based, but real-time with adjustable speed. This isn't much of a problem in single-player mode, but multiplayer must be a pain.

There are other games by Paradox that have mechanics similar to Stellaris, such as Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis.
42  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: I started Ur-Quan Masters HD! (need help) on: January 28, 2019, 12:12:45 pm
But venturing into urquan space is designed to be dangerous for the neophyte.

Not just for the neophyte either. Ur-Quan ships spawn at such a rate in HyperSpace that it's very much possible for a player of any skill to be trapped in a swarm of Ur-Quan fleets with only a small chance of escaping, and even that is provided  You cannot just destroy all the Ur-Quan ships no matter how good you are, because they spawn more quickly than you destroy them.
43  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: January 27, 2019, 05:59:17 pm
This is almost exactly one of the statements Brad Wardell likes to chant and it is the impression that gets sown into you, the more time you spend on Stardock's forums.  But so too was Brad's legal theory crafting, which in the court of law is increasingly getting exposed as the BS it seemed to be outside of the Stardock echo chamber.

And if Brad Wardell knows GotP is vaporware (as he likes to claim) why did he sue them for a competing product he believes never will exist?  Is it not more likely to assume that, after only more than a year since GotP's announcement, its development has been successfully thwarted by Brad's lawsuit against it and the tremendous resource drain it takes to resist this in court?

It is very convenient for him to make a claim against them that he is simultaneously preventing them from disproving.

To his credit, I don't recall Brad Wardell ever (explicitly) claiming that GotP is vaporware (though the only Stardock source I check regularly is the official SCO website - I don't follow Brad on Twitter or anywhere else). And I agree that Stardock's legal actions only make sense if GotP isn't vaporware (okay, maybe some trademark infringement claims make sense either way - or don't, if they are about the SC1/SC2 alien names).

The vaporware claim is mostly made by the more rabid Stardock fans. And it's very depressing to see how these people, who seem to be SC2/UQM fans as much as we are here, hate F&P with such a passion that I don't think anyone here hates Stardock as much. Brad himself is more restrained in his comments against F&P than these people are (though I guess it's partly because the more aggressive comments get people banned here).
44  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: January 27, 2019, 12:04:48 am
(And whether HyperSpace is copyrightable may depend on the jury.
But I don't remember anything approximately the age of SC2 to have a red-shifted background when flying FTL....
But then, I also only played StarFlight for less than half an hour, so never came that far...)

Starflight has a black background for interstellar space.

Babylon 5 has red hyperspace (which has already prompted mocking comments on the SCO forums that B5 is going to get sued next). I admit that B5's hyperspace made me think of SC2 when I first saw it, but it's still very different from SC2's hyperspace in many ways (no "holes in space" or other visible markers of any kind, very different visual effects, a much more eerie atmosphere than in SC2).
45  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: January 26, 2019, 09:35:36 pm
Stardock should have not acquired parts of the Star Control IP without at least first consulting with the owners of its other parts (P&F) and coming to an understanding with them (or not) before money had been put down.  Having failed to do such basic research into the situation before acquisition, they should have demanded a refund from what was left of Atari (if it claimed the Trademark was still valid at the auction) or just eaten the (still relatively small) loss.

Stardock could then have made its own story driven exploration-action-strategy game in a space setting, heavily modernizing concepts from Star Control 2, the Starflight games, and at least half a dozen more recent sources of inspiration.  The characters and setting could be reused from previous Stardock games or be completely new.  Such an unhindered game would have been much more free to innovate, because it would not be attracting very specifically gamers with an expectation that it must feel like SC2 in hard to define ways or be a direct sequel. And yet the game could still have attracted such gamers, sans their challenging expectations, by advertising the game as being  " the same genre as Starflight, Star Control 2, Wing Commander: Privateer and other awesome space adventure games from the golden age, but with some modern twists!"

I don't think that Stardock acts the way it does out of ignorance. It has managed to maintain a very peaceful relationship with F&P for four years after Stardock's acquisition of the SC trademark and the SC3 copyright, and for all that time Brad Wardell demonstrated that he knew exactly what each side owned. He still seems to have made a very risky gamble, though – based on what I have seen in early SCO trailers, it seems that he had already incorporated elements from SC2 into SCO that were likely protected by copyright at an early stage of development (though founders should know more on this topic than I do), and he hoped F&P would license their copyright to Stardock so that he could use that copyrighted material legitimately. That gamble didn't pay off.

That said, the Injunction Junction post has made it quite clear that a win-win solution is no longer possible. There seems to be no scenario where both SCO and GotP would remain on the market, since both sides have made it quite clear that they aren't interested in allowing the competing game to be sold, as I'm not sure if all copyright issues that SCO currently has can be remedied with a patch (though of course we can still hope for the best). And I guess this is why so many people are siding with Stardock – after all, they have actually made a new Star Control game, while F&P have shown nothing. And nobody can be sure that GotP is going to be better than SCO until GotP actually gets made.

Of course, none of this means that the court is any more likely to decide the case in Stardock's favor. And if it really finds SCO infringing, then SCO lives on borrowed time.
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