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News: Paul & Fred have reached a settlement with Stardock!

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1  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming! on: December 03, 2017, 06:06:10 am
Well, this is a surprise... and from what it looks like, it's a surprise to Brad as well.

I would say that there were a few things I've seen in the SC:O marketing that I did think were a bit... presumptuous... but I'd assumed that they had been agreed on with FF&PR3 in the name of making the brand as a whole stronger for everyone. Apparently that isn't the case, since that's basically the third point that FF & PR3 made.

The key point, and one in which the two sides seem to be arguing past each other, is this:

"Stardock now seems to think that not only can they use our aliens, ships and narrative without our permission, but thinks that we cannot make a sequel to The Ur-Quan Masters without their permission -- this is where we got really, really angry."

Brad is basically saying "You have our permission, go ahead!", while FF and PR3 are saying they shouldn't NEED permission. This seems like a fairly technical point, but in the murky world of IP law and business, the distinction between permission being granted and not needing permission in the first place could actually be a literal gamebreaker for GotP. As supportive as Brad is, permission is something that can potentially be withdrawn, if something happens to Stardock that means that Brad is no longer in charge of Stardock's side of the IP - a hypothetical new holder of Stardock's side of the IP could, in theory, withdraw permission and issue a cease and desist on GotP, or even if FF & PR3's permission to make GotP is future-proofed, a hypothetical future owner of the Stardock side of the IP might be able to freeze FF & PR3 out of doing anything else with their universe afterwards. Such uncertainty in the status of the IP might be making it difficult for FF & PR3 to get investors and other backers for their project.

The other issues FF & PR3 raise are essentially symptoms of this: Stardock releasing Star Control 1, 2, and Kessari Quadrant without permission, and putting the Ur-Quan Masters and Kessari Quadrant universes in their diagram, is essentially demonstrating to potential backers that the exact status of the Ur-Quan Masters IP is not fully resolved, and therefore that the risk that a future holder of the Stardock side of the IP might pull the plug remains.

The cleanest resolution is probably for Stardock to formally transfer all rights to the Ur-Quan Masters universe (which includes Kessari Quadrant, since it uses IP from Ur-Quan Masters) to FF & PR3, while retaining the right to make Star Control games in universes unrelated to the Ur-Quan Masters universe (which might require removing references to the Androsynth in the backstory as well). This would have the effect of resolving the other points FF and PR3 raise in their favour, because after such a transfer, Stardock would not be able to publish the first three games or to include the Ur-Quan Masters universe on diagrams without having permission from FF & PR3 (although they might be able to ask for such permission as part of the agreement). It would probably still require some lawyers to make sure that the agreement actually says what both sides want it to say, but that could be more along the lines of hammering out the terms of an *alliance party* rather than great battles.
2  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: New Star Control - how to stay within the universe when making a new story on: November 13, 2017, 11:35:25 pm
From memory, the ones that emit mostly in the green are white to our eyes. For something to appear green, there needs to be something absorbing the red and blue ends of the spectrum (which chlorophyll does).

I'd question how much a 'brown dwarf' counts as a star... but yeah, for game purposes, you probably would want to count them. They can have a planetary system that might be mineable for resources, after all. Wouldn't expect them to be biologically rich, though!
3  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: November 12, 2017, 12:32:06 pm
Finally, I don't like your tone, Zelnik. It comes over as extremely aggressive.
This has not been called for, and is not helpful in your argumentation.
And what you've been screaming around actually made me slightly more curious about the upcoming Origins. Because now I want to play it to see how your rant fits with the game, and to make my own personal opinion.
(SC2 is a "Humanity-fuck yeah!" game too. And our speed of development may indeed be a real concern for others. Especially when you look at how we achieve it (through lack of respect for nun-Human requirements (e.g. tipping the current equilibrium of Earth's nature to be very unfavourable for many species))
In fact, it's pushed me to take that extra step and take the plunge myself, since I think that Stardock has been treating the franchise (and the original creators) with respect and that deserves support.

There's a certain amount of "it's changed so it sucks" whenever a franchise changes hands... and sometimes even when it DOESN'T, and the original creators experimented with something different. Stardock picked up the title at a time when FF and PR3 were not going to in the foreseeable future and where, if they didn't make a game, the franchise would remain fallow as it has since Kessari Quadrant. However, instead of stepping on the toes of the original creators, they chose to make a SC2-style game in an entirely different universe, leaving the original universe to FF and PR3 as and when they chose to do that (as they have recently announced that they will be).

It seems that you don't like the tone and plot of that universe. You are entitled to your opinion, but when Stardock has practically bent over backwards to keep space open for FF and PR3 to make Ghosts of the Precursors when another company might not have... I'm not going to condemn them if the story they DO tell makes use of different themes to SC2.
4  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: New Star Control - how to stay within the universe when making a new story on: November 12, 2017, 09:25:04 am
Actually, I felt that the Eternal Ones was a pretty good answer to the weird situation of the Precursors. They arose practically yesterday in terms of the history of the galaxy. Humans had discovered fire and domesticated the dog when they were flying around.

So it seems like they probably aren't the oldest critters. OR, they caused all the others to rise up, monolith-style, OR… something periodically sweeps the place clean.

And the Eternal Ones are that last answer.

It was just everything else about the story that was awful.
It's a theme that I've seen used elsewhere, too. The examples I've seen post-date Space Cows 3, but there may be older iterations I'm not aware of. It does make for an effective means of resolving Fermi's Paradox while still having enough starfaring races around at comparable tech levels to make things interesting.

The claim that the start of their name translated to "Eternal One" in every language, though, was... questionable to say the least.
5  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Star Constellations on: September 05, 2012, 04:11:57 am
Plus, IIRC, the arrangement of stars in realspace does not necessarily match their alignment in hyperspace. (Obviously there's SOME correlation, since Sirius is still close to Sol, but it's not 1:1).

Regarding the constellation names, I think that's just the system that Star Control uses. Other races simply use it when talking to humans because it's convenient (that, or the translation computer automatically converts it, except in the case of the Spathi "Bugsquirt" example). Certainly, with humans being relative newcomers in the sector of space, it's unlikely that significantly older spacefaring races are going to adopt Terran nomenclature.
6  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Would the Ur-Quan have had the Shofixti not supernova'd their sun? on: August 07, 2012, 12:19:32 am
The Allies and Germans each lost more troops than that in the Battle of the Somme alone. There's one major battle that official US troops were involved in (as distinguished from the volunteers with the French Foreign Legion and similar units), the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge with is mainly historically notable because US troops participated in it - Germany was already planning to sue for peace at the time, and US casualties were higher proportionally during the time they were fighting because they were a lot greener than the Allied troops that had been fighting for years. That the US was in the war certainly contributed psychologically, since the German leadership and troops on the ground both knew that they were going to be facing increasing numerical superiority as more US troops arrived, but peace happened before that became as significant as it would have if the war had extended to 1919. (There are actually some historians that think the US entering the war actually harmed the Allied war effort, since it meant that supplies that had been being sold to Britain and France were diverted to US preparations to fight instead, and those diversions happened well before US troops were ready to deploy)

The postwar borders had little to do with where the battle lines were drawn - in fact, by Armistice Day they were mostly still on the French side of the prewar border (part of the reason why the legend developed that the German army hadn't been beaten in the field and had instead been stabbed in the back by a Jewish conspiracy). To tell the truth, if the US had had more of a direct, tangible effect on the war, Germany would probably have been better off and World War 2 might have been avoided (or at least been a very different war) - President Wilson advocated being gentle with Germany where the French and to a lesser extent the British were inclined to be vicious, and Wilson's opinion basically got shrugged off on the basis that the US hadn't done the fighting so what would they know.
7  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Would the Ur-Quan have had the Shofixti not supernova'd their sun? on: August 01, 2012, 07:59:34 am
That does make for an interesting question, actually. 1914 Germany had more resources to play with, but 1917 Germany had a significant technology upgrade. My gut feeling is that said technology upgrade probably wouldn't be enough since that was a war mostly fought by the poor bleedin' infantry and most of the technology upgrades were elsewhere, but that feeling might be wrong.

Even so, while it bogged down for several years, when the end came it was pretty decisive (arguably similar to the actual Doctrinal Conflict, since IIRC that had been going for long enough for the battle thralls to get back up to mischief). The US entering the war probably had an influence there, but not a decisive role in terms of actual military engagements (although there were psychological effects on both the German troops and high command).
8  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Would the Ur-Quan have had the Shofixti not supernova'd their sun? on: July 26, 2012, 06:37:19 am
Neither subspecies would disrespect the traditions of the doctrinal war enough to stop before only a scant few Ur-Quan were left, or one of the subraces was eliminated entirely. So yes, they would have effectively exterminated each other had the Kzer-Za fleet been at full strength.
Really? The impression I've had of what happens in the scenario we actually see is that there are enough Kzer-Za left to represent a strong fleet, just one that's surrendered to the Kohr-Ah. So while it's not clear what it is, the two subspecies seem to have a victory condition apart from 'virtual extermination'. Especially since the reason for the Doctrinal War in the first place is that the Kzer-Za weren't sure enough they were right to wipe out the Kohr-Ah the first time around.

I don't recall any mention that without the Shofixti sun blowing up their sun the two would have been at exactly equal strength, just that it put the Kzer-Za at a decisive disadvantage - without it, the Kzer-Za might have been ahead. Even if they were exactly equally matched before the start of the conflict, odds are more likely that some fortune of war or inspired strategy is going to allow one side to gain an advantage well before it gets to a point of both sides remaining equally matched right down to the point of the last two ships picking off each other's captains.
9  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: things to know on: July 26, 2012, 06:19:46 am
Pretty much. My general point is that the design of the Flagship with external engine pods is something that, at first look, makes it look like it matches most closely with Kzer-Za and human ships, that also have external engine pods. Other features also show similarities to ships of extant races, like the bridge section looking similar to the bridge section on the Terminator. (As for module sections, I'd imagine that the Flagship's hyperspace capability is something you're not allowed to swap out, whether it's in the external engine pods or the main hull.)

From memory, the warp pod inventory item in the original did look like it was one of the external engine pods off the side of a Dread. Clearly, in actual SC canon other races have internal Hyperspace engines drives, I was just expressing that one could easily imagine, say, the Terminator as being from the same technology base as the Flagship if you assumed that the former lacked external engine pods because it wasn't intended for independant intersystem travel.
10  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: things to know on: July 04, 2012, 05:18:52 am
So the asymmetry could simply be the result of which weapon system is attached to what location? Serves as a decent explanation, and it is most commonly referred to as a 'battle platform' after all. I think there are other design differences there, though (engine pods versus lack of engine pods, and the more organic appearance of the Sa-Matra's hull... although that latter could be the result of having bubbles for smaller combat systems all over the hull) but it could certainly resolvs the most obvious difference.

I'm aware colour scheme is just fashion - my point was that the change of colour scheme is a pretty minor change, and apart from that Kzer-Za design aesthetics seem to be closer to human than anything else, and thus the difference in aesthetics between the Sa-Matra and the Flagship is unlikely to be the result of Kzer-Za modifications. Unless, of course, those modifications are adding massive new weapon systems that require too much space and power for even a Dreadnought to manage.
11  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: things to know on: July 02, 2012, 03:24:58 am
I don't think it's the result of Ur-Quan refitting because it doesn't fit Ur-Quan design styles either. Paint a Dreadnaught grey and blue instead of green and yellow and it could be the big brother of the Cruiser. Even the Marauder has similarities if you look at the 3DO videos - front hull section with primary armanent and (presumably) the bridge, rear hull section, engine pods (but said pods are above the hull rather than to the side, so they don't show up so clearly in the 2D version... and like the Avatar and the Terminator, it may even be an area where the versions just don't match). The Sa-Matra doesn't have a family resemblance to either - if anything, from appearance one would think the Flagship more closely related to a Dread.

The most viable countertheory, IMO, is that the factory recognised the resources it had to work with (ie mostly human technology and materials, although put to more advanced use than in the Cruiser) and produced the design it could within those constraints (a tug probably doesn't need the advanced and apparently semi-organic materials of a superbattleship). Still, I don't think it's all that farfetched to postulate that there were more than one species of Precursors - whether allies, rivals (setting the Third One aside, we still don't know why the Precursers disappeared) or simply separated by time.
12  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: A Noob's Super-Melee Questions. on: June 27, 2012, 06:13:42 am
If it's not in UQM, there's a video on Youtube that compiles all of them (try searching under "SC2 ship videos"). It tells you less than you'd know from taking the ship for a spin in SuperMelee, but if nothing else it's interesting from the perspective of seeing the official 3D representation of the ships (which doesn't always agree with the 2D representation or the fan-made 3D renders, especially in the Avatar's case).

Addendum: Here
13  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: things to know on: June 25, 2012, 03:28:13 am
Supercarriers and tugboats actually aren't that different, though. Yes, they are designed for very different purposes, but bridge and general hull design are fairly similar, radio antenna are similar-ish, neither of them have random tentacle-like appendages jutting out from the front or back, and generally you can tell by looking at them that they come from the same technological base. I'd also be inclined to say that a superdreadnaught would be a better analogy for the Sa-Matra than a supercarrier - the distinctive flat-top look of a carrier is a required function of its role, while we have no indication as yet that the Sa-Matra's role is one that requires a distinctive shape.

Now, to be fair, some limitations are imposed by the physics of wet-navy ships that won't apply in space, and the Precursors are going to have a wider range of technologies to build ships from than late 20th/early 21st century humans, but the result of an eyeballing of the general design features of the Sa-Matra and the Vindicator is pretty much that for any given feature on the Sa-Matra, the Vindicator has the opposite. The Vindacator has engine pods, the Sa-Matra doesn't. The Vindicator has a machined look, the Sa-Matra looks more like it was organically grown (in fact, it makes me think of the Vorlons from Babylon 5 except that the Vorlon ships were still symmetrical) apart from that round thing in the middle - and even that is very distinct from the rounded trianguloid appearance of the Flagship's bridge.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Flagship does look like something that could easily be mistaken for human design if seen leading a fleet of Cruisers - or Kzer-Za if painted green and leading a fleet of Dreadnaughts, and to varying degrees it could fit with various other races' ships as well (especially if you ignored SC canon and imagined that the Flagship was the Hyperspace-capable ship that brought others along with it, explaining why it had warp pods while Terminators, Scouts and so on don't). The Sa-Matra, however, only seems to have commonalities with one other ship in the game and, fittingly enough, that's the organic Mycon that are known to have been created by the Precursors.

One possible explanation is that the Flagship is designed to be built off a smaller infrastructure base than the Sa-Matra - including lacking the facilities or seed material to grow the ship from the possibly Mycon-like organic material that the Sa-Matra is built from. However, I don't think that the possibility that there were two or more races of Precursors can be ruled out when so many other periods in Star Control history have been marked by coalitions of races rather than a single race. Especially since we also have what would be a middle step in the progression, namely the glance we get of the Mark 2 from the ending sequences - which is described by TFB as being a cruiser where the Flagship is a tug. That should put the Mark 2 closer to the Sa-Matra than the Vindicator, but its appearance still looks to be closer to more conventional hull materials like the Flaghship rather than the organic appearance of the Sa-Matra. This can really have one of three explanations:

1) The Sa-Matra (and Mycon) were built by a different race of Precursors to the Vindicator and Mark 2.

2) The Vindicator and Mark 2 were designed in an earlier period in the Precursor's technological development, before they perfected the organic technology of the Sa-Matra and the Mycon.

3) The organic technology used for the Sa-Matra was reserved for only the biggest ships.
14  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: things to know on: June 22, 2012, 03:29:46 am
One ship design per race IS a bit of an artificial construct, after all. It's more likely that the races do each have multiple ship classes, but comparing between races the differences are small enough that treating a single ship as representative works. (Compare to Star Trek, for instance - there are design differences, sure, but most Federation ships we see have basically the same armanent and general characteristics.) When talking about Precursor ships when there are only a couple around, though, those differences matter.

That said, it's certainly true that the Sa-Matra looks like it was based on a very different design style to the Vindicator - the Sa-Matra is incredibly alien in design eveb if you assume that the in-game sprite is a side-view and that it is actually symmetric from the top-down view like most other vessels, while the Vindicator is still fairly close to human design styles even before you start adding modules. It's also unlikely that further work would have changed the shape of the bridge section (very different to that of the Sa-Matra). It's also worth noting that the Ur-Quan recognise it not just as a Precursor ship but specifically a Precursor service vessel - which implies that they've seen something reasonably similar before and thus can make a more specific identification than "Precursor ship".

If it wasn't for the difference in appearance, I'd hypothesise that the Sa-Matra was a warship while the Vindicator was an economic vessel (which, presumably, modern races have too, but with a couple of exceptions weren't worth putting in the game). With such a distinct difference in appearance suggesting different design aesthetics, though, I'd probably guess that there were actually multiple species of Precursors, and the Vindicator and Sa-Matra were designed by different species. (The Slylandro only knowing of one species could just be that it was only that species that talked to them, just like it was only the Ur-Quan that contacted them out of the Sentient Mileau.)
15  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: If you were to make a star control 2 remake what improvements would you make? on: June 15, 2012, 03:43:27 am
That was pretty much the effect I was going for, yes.  Grin
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