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November 17, 2019, 11:48:24 am
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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: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: November 23, 2018, 03:19:46 am
Brad's response to that was something along the lines of "This is an amazing post."

Keep in mind Stardock's response to being outed for some of their more insidious actions on this very forum.

Stardock privately said, in May, that "the UQM forum may need to go away".
Stardock sent letters asking this community to acknowledge that Stardock owns the "Ur Quan Masters" Trademark.
Which would give them authority to revoke the domain name.
Stardock then sends multiple letters, adding deadlines, and more stringent language.
After this community refused, Stardock privately shares that refusal with his supporters, and suggests again that "this vile little community will be eliminated".

When the duplicity is revealed, his reaction?

Greetings!

I appreciate you bringing this up as it allows us to clear the air on this topic.

If you think he really means to add clarity to the topic, and he really appreciates being outed by this community, then I want to tell you about a Nigerian prince who could use your help.

Look closer. Stardock is jumping into the forums for PR. For their own self interest. Their actions tell you the real story.

For your story about GC2... I don't have any context for why Stardock jumped into your thread and called it "an amazing post". But in hindsight, you might ask yourself if his motive was to actually do anything meaningful based on your criticism, or if his motive was to stem any further criticism, and turn the commentary into "wow, it seems like they're really listening".

If I've learned anything in the past year, Stardock hears us, but they are most assuredly not listening.

Wow, that's actually disturbing.  Silencing all criticism is every dictator's wet dream.  That sort of thinking is incredibly destructive as it shows a dogmatic rejection of any possibility that one might oneself be in the wrong, as well as a desire to stop others from expressing their opinions.

On the other hand: I don't know how to feel about F&Ps GoFundMe legal defense campaign.
Maybe someone can enlighten me here: I thought that if you have to spend $X on a court battle, and you win, isn't it pretty much a given that the loser can then be sued to pay for the court costs?
If yes, are F&P going to do that so that they can pay their supporters back in the event that they win?  Or are they just going to keep the money?  Or not bother recouping it (after all, it's someone else's money...)?
2  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: April 17, 2018, 01:37:06 am
You know what my personal take-away from all this is?

If you're like me, and love writing stories and hold them dear to your heart, don't get involved with any commercial deal that requires you to sign any IP rights over to anyone, regardless of how ironclad you think the resulting agreement might be.

Because somewhere down the line someone with more money, lawyers and time than you may want to claim rights to the stuff you created and use your creations without your permission or control.  Whether you're in the right or not is almost irrelevant, because in either case you'll still have to walk through fire and brimstone to try and protect what you thought was yours.

Oh, and trademark everything you possibly can.  Not sure how a small individual person trying to sell their stories is going to do that but it sounds like you'll need to do it anyway.

And here I thought I was making some progress on trusting to work with others without them interfering in the creative aspects of my work...

(@Frogboy, don't get me wrong, this isn't an indictment of you trying to protect what you believe to be your rights - real life rarely has an actual villain, just different people taking different approaches to what they believe to be right.  I'm just talking about how I could see something like this whole legal wrangle affecting me personally in the future)
3  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: April 12, 2018, 09:23:28 am
I don’t share your appraisal of the value of the lore.

Baldur’s Gate was an RPG but if it were sold, the value is in the trademark.

Brands are valuable. Awareness is valuable.

If there was a huge fan base of the SC2 related lore, you might have an argument. But there wasn’t.

I realize $300,000 is a lot for an individual. But that’s less than a typical launch trailer.  

I think it's hard to appraise the actual value of something like lore.  On the open market it's really only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it.
In terms of whether it brings in an audience or not though, that's more difficult.

Personally, the story (ie, lore) of a game is very important to me, but it depends on the game in question.

Some games stand by the virtue of their fun factor alone, and the lore doesn't really matter to the experience.  Many action games are like this, and heavily multiplayer-focussed RTS and shooters will be similar.  Doom was a great game due to its technology and fun factor, not due to a brilliant story.  Star Control 1 in many ways was like this as well - it was most fun playing it 2 player with my brother, but I would not be recommending the single player to anyone.

I didn't love Star Control 2's single player game for its space exploration, combat engine or dialogue system - none of those were particularly spectacular in themsleves.  What kept me going was the well-written story and interesting characters.  I was always keen to see what the next encounter or quest would bring, because my experience with them throughout mean that I could expect them to be well-written and enjoyable.

If it was poorly written or uninteresting, I would not have kept playing, and wouldn't be recommending it so strongly to other people on those very same merits today.

For a good example of a lore-less game see No Man's Sky.  Giant universe to explore!  Heaps of creatures to meet!  And yet... where's the guiding hand of an actual skillful writer to make any of it meaningful?

You've made games in the past were lore in incidental to the gameplay, but if you're planning on making a story-driven single player game, well-written lore is incredibly valuable to the player experience, and as a result, to the reputation of the game.  I'd be very concerned if you cannot see that.
4  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Syreen Diurnal Cycle on: April 11, 2018, 07:39:17 am
When I wrote the line, I REALLY wanted a 30 hour day myself, because working 12-14 hour days on SC2 was leaving me with very little time with my wife and kids, not to mention no time for D&D and other fun hobbies. I also really love sleep.  So I added a 30 hour day to the description of Syra to make it feel more like a paradise (at least to me).

Haha, ok.  Well, my patch was to restore the original PC version of the line, since it also bring the time in-line with the actual rotational period of Syra in the game.  So I'm afraid it's a 21 hour day in my patch.

It can still be paradise.  You only have to wait 14 hours before the Syreen feel it's time for... well, what they said.

While I'm at it: what did you think of my take on the Melorme, and Katie's take on the Syreen?  You can find them here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWt2wj7pFU8 - Melnorme
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2oQDA31zsc - Syreen
5  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: April 09, 2018, 07:02:15 am
When I think 'Ur-Quan' I think enormous green predatory catepillar aliens, with a horrifying and tragic tortured past, their damaged psyche driving them to almost compulsively enslave all life around them, too blinded by their own past trauma to see the pain they are causing to other sentient species.  I see imposing, enormous green ships with devestating fusion blasts and swarms of tiny fighters inexorably punching through the Alliance's defences.

I just want to say that I like the way you wrote this, I really imagined what you said. You are a writer? If you are not, you should write a book about The Ur-Quan Masters.

Thank you!  Stories are important to me.  I have a Masters in Media Studies and I write stories and design games as a hobby.  I've designed and written a full-custom mod for Warcraft 3 (you can find the manual/lorebook here: http://www.warpstormstudios.com/tothebitterend/Files/TTBEManual.pdf), have spent many years contributing to a fantasy/sci tandem story, and I'm currently writing a gamebook.

None based on UQM I'm afraid...
6  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: April 09, 2018, 05:13:42 am
I think the fans have expectations of the roles different aliens will have.  

Most fans would expect a visual update after 25 years. That doesn’t make them “morons”.

Did fans accept the Klingons in Star Trek the motion picture? Yes. The only thing they have in common with the TOS is the name. It doesn’t make the fans “morons”.

There have been heaps of attempts by fans - and series creators - to reconcile those differences in a narrative way.  They notice this - and feel the need to reconcile it - precisely because they are not morons.  It bothers them unless they can find an explanation.

Certain allowances are also made for technology (which audiences do understand to an extent).  If I play Warcraft 3 I don't expect the Orcs to be pixellated 2D sprites.  I do however expect them to be green and burly.  If they're not, there had better be some sort of narrative reason why they changed, otherwise I'll start to wonder why they suddenly changed.

Looking at your GalCiv pictures, I would be wondering that exact thing about the design changes.

I can't see why the artists changed the Arcean Empire to a big green mostly human dude from what looks (in the admittedly small and pixellated picture) like some sort of green bug man.  There's no reason you couldn't have done a big green bug man, but with better graphics.  Personally it would have bothered me, and make me wonder why the artists didn't just stick to the original design.

But I write stories and as such am pretty OCD about things like internal consistency, continuity and so on.  Not everyone may share my view.
7  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: April 09, 2018, 04:30:00 am
I think people associate names very strongly.  That's why trademarks are so valuable.

In Galactic Civilizations we redesigned the aliens when we made the Windows version as we had much better visual capabilities by then.  Nobody cared that the Arceans and Drengin looked different.  The fans cared that the Arceans and Drengin were in the game.

The Orz, Spathi, Ur-Quan are all very strongly associated with the Star Control brand.  It's not circumventing anyone's copyright.

It is interesting how passionately you are willing to defend what appears to me to be naked maliciousness in trying to cancel the Star Control trademark while simultaneously condemning something that most fans of STAR CONTROL would want: The Orz, Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. in new Star Control games.  I also find it pretty amazing that you describe what happened as Stardock using its trademark against Paul and Fred. Wow.

The fact that you think that simply using the NAME Ur-Quan somehow equates to actually having 'the ur-quan in new star control games' shows a disappointing lack of understanding.

When I think 'Ur-Quan' I think enormous green predatory catepillar aliens, with a horrifying and tragic tortured past, their damaged psyche driving them to almost compulsively enslave all life around them, too blinded by their own past trauma to see the pain they are causing to other sentient species.  I see imposing, enormous green ships with devastating fusion blasts and swarms of tiny fighters inexorably punching through the Alliance's defences.

You say Ur-Quan, that's what I see, and chances are this is the Ur-Quan you cannot use.  And if you put something else in the game and call it Ur-Quan and I'd wonder if you think I'm some kind of moron.

But hey, maybe you're right!  Maybe people are morons.  Yours wouldn't be the first marketing strategy predicated on that assumption.

The truth is that I'm not even convinced F&P can pull off a narrative sequel to SC2 story either.  To capture that nebulous "right feel" without outright recreating what has gone before is hard enough even if it's the same creators in the same time period - let alone after such a long time has elapsed.  People often feel the need to explain every mystery and fill in every blank, forgetting that it was those mysteries and blanks that made the original universe feel so much larger and more alive.

Personally I think the path you took with Origins - coming up with your own original aliens and plot - is probably the better one for you to follow rather than trying to shoehorn in names without the associated characteristics.

(Also, after 2 minutes of googling: https://forums.galciv3.com/456357/request-give-us-the-old-altarians)
8  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: April 09, 2018, 03:54:01 am
If we didn't want Paul and Fred to continue their story, we would have had the Ur-Quan and Spathi and so on in Star Control: Origins from the start.  

No. Trademarks do not include characters, stories, UI, themes, sounds, impressions.  

Copyright can cover some of these things, like characters, stories, music.  Stardock has no rights to the specific characters in Star Control II or the story or the music.

Brad, this is from some time ago, but the above two comments - both on the same page - show one of the sources of the major problems that prevent an amicable settlement between yourselves and F&P.

In the second statement, you say that Stardock has "no rights to the specific characters in Star Control II or the story or the music".

In your first statement, you talk as if it is only through your generosity/kindness that they aren't included in Star Control: Origins.  You said "If WE didn't want", as if it were an option.

Those two positions are contradictory (unless, of course, you're advocating knowingly infringing on F&Ps copyright?).  It's statements like your first one that F&P fear the most: that you don't respect or acknowledge their 'ownership' of the Star Control/Star Control 2 story/characters, that somehow you think you have a say over their future - in effect, statements like your first one make it sound like you believe you have rights to their IP.  A number of Stardock's actions seem to reflect a view that you do in fact somehow own that IP (ie, the various trademark filings make for those characters/story elements - why would you trademark them if you believe the IP was owned by someone else?).

And regardless of anything else that may be happening and/or they may have done to you, on the copyright ownership of the stories/characters I still believe F&P are legally in the right.

There's no contradiction here.  Trademarks and copyrights are different things.  

It was out of generosity that we didn't include the Spathi, Ur-Quan, etc. in the new games.  They have no special rights to aliens with those names, only copyrights to the parts they can show they created.

For four years, we took lumps for not having Ur-Quan and Spathi and Orz in the Star Control reboot.  People on this very forum have said "Why even call it Star Control if you won't have the Orz or Syreen?".  That's how strongly people associate those names with the Star Control brand. So yes, it was extremely generous that we didn't include aliens with those names.

But as soon as they decided to try to cancel the Star Control trademark (and I've seen some interpretation that their intention is actually to simply claim it for themselves), essentially, an attempt to kill our project, I didn't see any reason to keep doing them any favors.  

Future Star Control games will have the Spathi, Ur-Quan, etc.  They will not contain anything that would violate any copyrights that Paul and Fred may have.  Our Spathi and Orz and such will be expressed very differently due to being in an obviously different universe.  

They are welcome to oppose those trademarks just as they were welcome to try to cancel our Star Control trademark.  We will provide generous licensing terms for the use of our marks to encourage new games in what we refer to as the Ur-Quan universe though those terms will be less generous depending on their level of opposition.

@Soul Reaver:  The distinctive test has nothing to do with the name. It is a test for the character (character names are not protected by copyright).  

Oh, I realize that.  Unfortunately that might well backfire on you if you decide to go ahead with trademarking those names and then using a varient of the alien that doesn't infringe on copyright.

You could quite concievably make a gregarious purple slug alien species and call it your newly-trademarked 'Ur-Quan' by name, and include it in your games.
However, there are likely to be two main types of people interested in your Star Control games: new customers, and old fans.
The new customers will not care whether the slugs are called Ur-Quan or Ugurz, so there's no benefit to you here.
The old fans however may find it somewhat offensive that you're trying to 'pass off' the purple slug by the name of Ur-Quan (which, naturally, they associate with the older games - including an open-source release called 'The Ur-Quan Masters').  There's no benefit to you here either, and possibly only detriment.  The customers aren't stupid, they won't associate your purple slug with the Ur-Quan they knew and loved just becuase you slapped the same name on it.

Naturally the differences between the designs may end up being more minor (just enough to skirt the copyright), but in either case it's likely to feel 'off' to old fans of the series (much like SC3 did to a lot of old fans back then).

So the only real gain I could see for you is getting revenge on F&P.  Which, fankly, wouldn't really result in any material gain for you or the fans either.
9  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: UQM Ship Scales: Question for Paul and/or Fred on: April 09, 2018, 02:14:26 am
You said Kzer-Za but I'm pretty sure you meant Kohr-Ah? Kzer-Za are the green ones who take slaves.

Correct, I buggered that up.  Have edited it now.
10  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: April 09, 2018, 02:13:32 am
Those two positions are contradictory

Not necessarily.  A recent discussion here suggested that race names are not subject to copyright.  If this is correct, then I think he could put creatures called Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC:O...as long as he didn't make them similar enough to the Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC2 for a court to say that he was copying creative elements protected by Paul's copyright.

There's an interesting Forbes article here about the trademark vs copyright:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/oliverherzfeld/2012/11/08/protecting-fictional-characters-could-you-legally-write-a-new-harry-potter-novel/#53eb3e5e2230

I'd say an number of the aliens in Star Control 2 pass the 'distinctive' test pretty well (The Ur-Quan among them).  Some of the other, lesser developed or intentionally more 'generic' aliens (eg, Syreen) perhaps less so.
11  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: April 09, 2018, 01:40:41 am
If we didn't want Paul and Fred to continue their story, we would have had the Ur-Quan and Spathi and so on in Star Control: Origins from the start.  

No. Trademarks do not include characters, stories, UI, themes, sounds, impressions.  

Copyright can cover some of these things, like characters, stories, music.  Stardock has no rights to the specific characters in Star Control II or the story or the music.

Brad, this is from some time ago, but the above two comments - both on the same page - show one of the sources of the major problems that prevent an amicable settlement between yourselves and F&P.

In the second statement, you say that Stardock has "no rights to the specific characters in Star Control II or the story or the music".

In your first statement, you talk as if it is only through your generosity/kindness that they aren't included in Star Control: Origins.  You said "If WE didn't want", as if it were an option.

Those two positions are contradictory (unless, of course, you're advocating knowingly infringing on F&Ps copyright?).  It's statements like your first one that F&P fear the most: that you don't respect or acknowledge their 'ownership' of the Star Control/Star Control 2 story/characters, that somehow you think you have a say over their future - in effect, statements like your first one make it sound like you believe you have rights to their IP.  A number of Stardock's actions seem to reflect a view that you do in fact somehow own that IP (ie, the various trademark filings make for those characters/story elements - why would you trademark them if you believe the IP was owned by someone else?).

And regardless of anything else that may be happening and/or they may have done to you, on the copyright ownership of the stories/characters I still believe F&P are legally in the right.
12  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: UQM Ship Scales: Question for Paul and/or Fred on: April 09, 2018, 12:27:32 am
Re the Ur-Quan fighter craft:
A number of factors make me think they would be at the most 50% the size of the Shofixti:

- They have only a single crew member on-board
- They are so fragile that meteors destroy them (ie, basically no hull armour/mass)
- They actually have a limited fuel reserve (need to return to Dreadnought or they die)

All of those suggest that they are missing a large number of 'basic' systems that even the tiny Shofixti scout has.  I think they literally are just a pilot seat, basic thruster system (with small fuel/life support tanks), encased in paper-thin hull and with a tiny swivelling laser gun, and not much else.  I'd be inclined to think this is all to make the fighters smaller, so the Dreadnought can carry more of them.

As for the Khor-Ah:
I imagine the crew would be some sort of organic robot - basically bioenginnered, obedient, faceless clones with no real ability to dream or aspire.  Their thinking ability is limited to the thinking they do to fulfill whatever task they are given.  The Syreen call works on them because even though they don't have higher brain functions, they do still have a BRAIN, and if their brain tells them "I have to go to that ship over there now, time to put on that suit and step out of the airlock" they'll do it (much like they'd follow the orders of their Kohr-Ah keepers under normal circumstances).
13  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: April 05, 2018, 06:48:26 am
Did Rose just accuse me of having 3 aliases? Who are these alias’s I have? I have enough trouble just having time to post as myself.

I think he thinks you use 3 different names on (at least) 3 different forums.  Which I don't see a problem with since I can't always get/use the username I want on a forum either.

His statement does seem to be more around the fact that you discuss the whole thing in public (in multiple places) yourself as well, with your own spin on it, so the publicity isn't just an F&P thing.  I personally don't have a problem with people discussing stuff in public, I feel the more people are able to get their side of the story out in a dialogue the more likely it is others will understand them (if not necessarily agree with them).

EDIT: I kind of wish F&P would show up here and join the discussion as well.  There'd be plenty of things I'd like to ask them too.
14  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: April 05, 2018, 05:07:52 am
Reading the email trial carefully I think I have a stronger position than Elestan against F&Ps relative lack of communication/cooperation when it became clear your legal position on the 1988 agreement was very different from theirs.  Their statement of "there is little sense to debate legalities" was counterproductive since that was in fact at the heart of the issue for them (and also you in a way).

Just to note, I agree with this part too, but I'd said it in my earlier post, so I didn't repeat it.

I was just saying that personally I think my view on this is more dim than yours.  I see it as a pretty huge mistake on F&Ps part.
15  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: April 05, 2018, 04:38:56 am
If I were in this situation, I would have recognized that there was a major difference in understanding by In any case, I think my next move in their shoes would have been to get a lawyer, and have the lawyer send you a very clearly worded email with a physical registered mail copy, explaining all the reasons why the 1988 agreement had terminated, and requesting a formal reply with your justification for thinking the agreement was still valid.  I would not have tried to stop you from using 'Super-Melee', though, as I've stated previously.

Let's presume, for the sake of argument their lawyer convinced us that the 1988 agreement was no longer valid and Stardock took the games down from Steam.

Now what?  Stardock, in addition to changing the name Super-Melee to Fleet Battles has abided by their wishes and removed the game from Steam at which point it had probably made maybe $2k. What would have been reasonable to expect in return from Paul and Fred?  Our big beta announcement has been disrupted.  We are having to compete against our own brand.  And remember: They think they have the right to call their game the "true" sequel as well as a direct sequel to Star Control II. That is, as far as I know, their current position.  They don't even want Star Control: Origins to be associated with...Star Control even though we have the trademark.

So you've spent millions on a new game to relaunch the franchise and a third-party has used your mark to announce their new game, claiming it's the true sequel, taking all the oxygen out of the room. And, as you know, some people have begun to demand refunds because they thought Star Control: Origins was the only sequel being made.  So what's your next move?  It's still October 2017.

Also, Elestan, seriously, enough with your legal theories. You aren't a lawyer. You have no idea what you're talking about. Have you ever even been in litigation in your entire life? Jesus.  It's like reading a kid who has no idea how to program suggesting how to get graphics on the screen.  

What Elestan has said is very similar to a lot of the things I was about to say about the same topic.

Reading the email trail carefully I think I have a stronger position than Elestan against F&Ps relative lack of communication/cooperation when it became clear your legal position on the 1988 agreement was very different from theirs.  Their statement of "there is little sense to debate legalities" was counterproductive since that was in fact at the heart of the issue for them (and also you in a way).

I still believe that F&Ps position regarding much of the IP is correct (specifically, storyline, ship designs and alien-race related stuff), but their lack of information sharing on it mean that you never had the evidence that would have been needed to see that.  Similarly, that lack of information sharing is also to blame for them potentially overstepping their own bounds as well (ie, using the Star Control name in the marketing).

The request to change things in your game is where I (if I was you) would have employed a lawyer to clarify the agreement (probably one different from the one that seemed to think the 1988 agreement was still valid, because I seriously believe that is a very mistaken interpretation and needs a second opinion).  Then shared those findings with F&P and told them that this was going to be your going interpetation of each team's rights unless their lawyers can find a counter argument (and silence on the matter would be taken as agreement).

Clarifying that agreement in understandable terms is at the heart of the matter, and is something that should have happened before F&P asked for any IP-related changes or you fired return shots for lost sales/trademark infrigement.

Everyone would know what they own, what they can do and what they can't, and there won't be any ambiguity or excuses of "but I thought that..." from anyone.

As it stands, you're making moves on things that most likely (but possibly not) are the legal intellectual property of F&P.  And F&P are making moves on things that are most likely (but possibly not) things that they have no legal right to take action on/with.  And everyone still doesn't know for sure.

Asking for something 'in return' from F&P may not have been necessary (or wise).  You could instead say "Hold! What you are doing to us is wrong! Why do you do this thing?" while pointing to the (now mutually agreed) position that they can't use the name Star Control in their marketing.

I do agree that if after all that they continued using the Star Control name, even after both sides have agreed that they aren't allowed to, then the lawyers need to come out.
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