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

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1  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Do the VUX have chromatophores? (Color changing skin) on: February 27, 2019, 01:40:02 am
Not likely but we already saw a green and a purple variant.

Though would it be more or less likely that the VUX develop their sensitivity to aesthetics in case they do have chromatophores?

I mean, when you're stuck with that... utterly repulsive shade you call "pink"... you have to assume a species sacrifices some sense of aesthetics just for the ability to tolerate the... *urk* sheer ugliness of it's fellow citizens. Anyone with a true aesthetic would have to seclude themselves in a cabin and avoid mirrors. (/vux)
2  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Paul and Fred discuss SC2's development on: October 24, 2018, 11:46:30 pm
This is focused on SC1/2, not the lawsuit or Ghosts.

I don't think you can really separate them at this point. This is a pretty heavy "P&F were the creators of SC1/2" article and interview.

Arstechnica kind of goes out on a limb a little bit even covering it. For a lawsuit of this magnitude, there's been remarkably little coverage. Very few websites seem to want to touch it with a ten foot pole. Youtube personalities too have shied away.

It's only an issue if they advertise themselves as the creators in the context of advertising or promoting Ghosts, where it ostensibly creates formal confusion between "I helped write the game code and setting" vs "I was the publisher". I don't think anyone watching this would be confused and think they were a publisher. And Stardock can't prevent them from talking about their previous work in an objective, biographical sense - they can only stop them from leveraging that as promotion for their new game.

(I'm not saying Stardock is right, merely that this doesn't even cross the line that Stardock themselves has drawn in the sand)
3  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 22, 2018, 10:10:23 pm
> Is their any way to estimate the sales figures of SCO?

Steam Spy ostensibly gives us a sales estimate: That it still says 20-50K copies sold a couple weeks later makes me think the game is either not doing well, or Steam Spy isn't that reliable. You can also infer some from other Steam stats (time played, # of simultaneous players, etc.), but those show a fairly similar picture right now. Based on # of reviews, Steam is the majority of sales compared to GOG.

This is, obviously, all a very crude estimate. Thus far, Stardock has not released any official sales numbers.


There's a new filing serving a summons against GOG and Valve, so it seems like they are actually getting dragged in to court. I'm wondering if that will end up delaying things? If so, it seems P&F are not at all shy about the idea of a long, protracted legal battle, which is reassuring.
4  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 20, 2018, 09:14:33 am
One thing I haven't seen commented on:

Exhibit 8 is the "Bill of Sale" from the bankruptcy, and lists the 1988 agreement without an expiration date. Until 2017, it's not unreasonable for Stardock to have assumed they really did have publishing rights.

In 2013, Stardock even mentions having those publishing rights:

I can see how they might have been blindsided by the claims they couldn't sell the classics (doubly so since they were available on GOG). They spent 4 years thinking they'd offer a bundle as a cool PR move, and suddenly they're being attacked in public and contending with DMCA notices.

Mind you, this isn't intended to defend their current behavior. But I do think that the initial seed of disagreement was fairly reasonable.
5  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 16, 2018, 04:53:27 pm
Paul and Fred are going to have to prove every scrap of copyrighted material is under their control to prove the open source license is valid either now or when possibly when released as open source.  -- Yes ugly stuff, and no matter how much we scream on walls it'll come down to the court to determine everything.

Is that actually the case? I would think the license is presumed valid until a copyright holder makes a claim against it. Since Stardock doesn't have any claim to the copyrights, and none of the original authors have ever opposed the project, it doesn't seem like there's any need for the court to make a ruling on that issue. It's not the business of the courts to go around enforcing other people's copyrights unprompted.

The trademark issue seems much more relevant, but it still seems like this mostly works against Stardock: if the trademarks are valid, UQM's use of them for 16 years seems like grounds to invalidate the trademark for failure to defend it. Even if P&F had "unclean hands" when they created the UQM, the current maintainers don't.

(I'm not a lawyer; feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.)
6  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 01, 2018, 10:17:23 pm
So in the recent court filings, Stardock claims that without Steam or GOG, it's impossible to launch their games:

Steam and GOG provide the only delivery mechanism for Origins, and if removed from those platforms, access to the game would be eliminated entirely.

- (Page 5, Line 20)

Third, Defendants claim even if Origins is removed from Steam and GOG (due to their
DMCA notices) then Stardock will still be able to sell its game from its own website. This is
completely incorrect. Stardock relies on Steam and GOG, not only to distribute but to launch and
operate its games as well. (...)  The Steam and GOG sites do not provide
mere download services; they provide the entire installation infrastructure.
- same doc, Page 18, Lines 18-22

There is no version of Origins, in other words, that is not dependent on the
online delivery mechanisms provided by Steam or GOG. Origins is developed to be accessed and
played through the infrastructure provided by Steam and GOG.
- same doc, Page 19, Lines 5-7

At first this struck me as perfectly reasonable: you can't launch a Steam game without Steam, right?

Then it struck me as a bit odd that they couldn't make a minor tweak to bypass this - surely their programmers aren't all firing up development copies via Steam?

Then I remembered that GOG is DRM free, and none of the GOG installers I have requires using Gog Galaxy... they're just a stand-alone file that will install the game. This is, in fact, an advertised feature of GOG.

So... presumably there's a stand-alone installer, the same one being sold on GOG, that Stardock could offer for sale on their own website?

(I have not purchased the game on GOG - I mostly use it for old DOS games - so I can't confirm that my understanding of how GOG works is accurate in this case)
7  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: September 26, 2018, 03:18:20 am
It gets extra weird because Stardock is claiming that the "Star Control" mark includes "anything the public connects with  Star Control", so (again, according to Stardock), Paul & Fred can't have any aliens called "Orz" or "Arilou" in a space-adventure game, because it would confuse the public.

Stardock also claims that the 1988 agreement is somehow still in effect, despite a clause that terminated it after 3 years without sales, and terminate again upon bankruptcy actions, and a third clause that required Paul & Fred to sign off on any reassignment of the license.
8  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock on: September 25, 2018, 11:47:30 pm
My role is to deliver documents back and forth. If Serge wanted to modify it and send it back I would have forwarded his changes to the appropriate people and they’d evaluate.

Serge did indeed send you a counter proposal, but the email thread ends without any Stardock response to it:

Fortunately, there is a way to alleviate those concerns, and show the
fans that you would not act in bad faith against the community.

What I am suggesting is that you unilaterally grant a full and
non-revocable license to whatever necessary intellectual property rights
you hold to the community. It is my understanding that it is in fact not
required to have the licensee assert that the licensor actually has the
rights they are licensing; you could instead say 'to the degree that we
own ...'.

You could probably just publish such a license grant on Stardock's
website, and it would put a few minds at ease.

Please consider it. After all, with your new game on the way, some
positive attention is always welcome.
9  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock on: September 24, 2018, 10:10:06 pm
Finally I do not work for Paul and Freds PR firm as Brad has so often accused people of doing with low comment totals.

Just a tangent, but the PR firm was only active for about a month, February to March 2018. Court records included all the email correspondence, which makes it pretty easy to tell when they were active. Anyone who is still complaining about the PR firm is a good six months out of date Smiley
10  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock on: September 23, 2018, 11:56:04 pm
I think that was the end of the chain, correct? We’ve not threatened or interfered with this or any other fan community nor do we plan to.

This exchange, as you know, was two months ago.  I received your response and forwarded it on to BizDev and that was the end of it.

It feels weird that this was the end of it - is there a reason you can't take the original agreement, drop the "3. Ownership" clause, and rewrite "5. Termination" to merely terminate the license instead of prohibiting even legal / "fair use" of the mark? I can't come up with a quick rewrite of "6. No Sublicensing", but I'd assume there's some common wording for assigning it to the project as a whole / allowing people to pass it down to their replacement if they leave the project.
11  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock on: September 23, 2018, 11:48:54 pm
Just reading through the license agreements, and seeing if anything hasn't already been called out.

From v1:

"Licensee shall not (...) take any action to (...) detract from the value of the Mark.

It seems this would prohibit saying negative things about Stardock / boycotting SC:O?

Upon any such termination, Licensee shall immediately discontinue any use of the Mark, and shall take whatever action that Licensor directs with respect
to the disposition of any branding or other materials that bears the Mark

So, if the license gets revoked, the project is actually in a worse position than it started? Right now, there seems to be agreement on both sides that a license isn't necessary for the UQM, but a terminated license would still force them to stop using materials that they don't need a license to?


From v2:

v1 only claimed the UQM trademark, while this version instead specifies "including but not limited to the following marks: STAR CONTROL, THE UR-QUAN MASTERS, alien names, spaceship names, character designs and/or spaceship designs (collectively the “Marks”) "

Should it at any time be determined that Licensee at any time established any rights to the Marks prior to the Effective Date of this Agreement, Licensee hereby agrees to assign and does assign any and all of its right, title and interest in and to said Marks and all goodwill associated therewith

Seriously Brad? This is the version that adds protections for the UQM?

It may only be terminated if there is a change in control of the project or if there is a violation of section 2 of this license.

A step up from "terminated at any cause", but section 2 is broad enough that I don't see a practical difference.
12  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: September 23, 2018, 02:49:22 am
Meanwhile, Brad's recent declaration claims that the 1988 agreement was meaningless from the very beginning, since Paul never owned anything in SC1 or SC2 to begin with, as all rights to SC1 and SC2 apparently belonged to Accolade.

A decades-old conspiracy is finally unraveled!

I've been finding it fascinating that his legal defense seems to boil down to "Paul & Fred never actually had the copyrights", and how much emphasis he places on "there wasn't a written agreement", while completely ignoring the existence of verbal agreements, and the more recent written copyright assignment.

Like, even if all of this is true? Stardock still doesn't own any of that material.

Also amused that they said "oh woe, the defendants refused our offer to preview the game", but it turns out their offer was to let the lawyers review the game for 2 days, on the condition that they then produce a COMPLETE list of all infringements, and promise not to take any legal action against the game until Stardock has had time to decide on and implement any fixes they felt were necessary to resolve this.

So, P&F still aren't allowed to review the game; the lawyers would be attesting that there's no other infringement they missed in those two day (since it's a complete list); Stardock can take it's sweet time dealing with all of this; and Stardock isn't even obliged to do anything beyond "decide" that the issues are spurious and don't need fixing.

Also some hilarious bits about how they couldn't give P&F a pre-release copy because apparently none of the software involved can run without GOG or Steam? Are we really supposed to believe that Stardock's internal development process requires the programmers, QA, etc. to use steam to launch the game while working on it?

Some very beautiful colorful language, though!

To quote Stardock's lawyers: "We hope your clients understand that they are playing with fire here and that the weight of the entire video game industry is about to be dropped on them. There have of course been previous epic copyright disputes between video game producers (the most recent involving Fortnite) and no one has ever pulled a DMCA stunt like the one your clients have engaged in already and have made clear they intend to continue to engage in."
13  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: September 19, 2018, 02:56:39 am
My own, much less legally savvy summary of the whole situation:

I'm not trying to speak for the community, but the Stardock Q+A has an obvious bias, and the UQM wiki has tried to remain neutral. I wanted a resource I could point people at to give a solid summary of why I've found Stardock's behavior so shameful, and why I won't be buying Star Control: Origins.
14  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: September 10, 2018, 07:49:38 am
Just remember these arguments, however, when the time comes for discussing the matter of whether having Melnorme in a game might cause a liklelynood or confusion in a consumer to think that game is connected with Star Control.  I know I will.

For someone that continues to insist you're not trying to block production of Ghosts Of The Precursors, you spend an awful lot of time sinisterly hinting about how you're going to twist our words and use them to block production of Ghosts Of The Precursors
15  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Making a video to help spread the word about the Frungy Fund and Stardocks greed on: August 01, 2018, 04:03:24 am
Really, the most confusing part was all the times Stardock said that Paul and Fred was somehow consulting on Origins, and it turns out they hadn't traded more than a few emails.

Wait, did he really? I know he insinuated that they were "in talks" with Paul and Fred, but I never saw anything concrete. I'd always had the impression that they wanted P&F to join them, and were hopeful that they might come around, but never anything that would have indicated an actual collaboration had started.
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