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May 27, 2022, 01:46:49 am
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News: Paul & Fred have reached a settlement with Stardock!

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91  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: July 17, 2018, 12:57:29 am
If Stardock wants to shut the UQM forum down because it has started hostile action then it will do so, regardless of your "free speech".

First of all, I'm pretty sure Stardock is a U.S. based company. Secondly, they absolutely do not have the right to spontaneously take down a website that voices any kind of opinion about them.

Code:
The company that holds the trademark to the name "The Ur-Quan Masters" can not shut down, at will, a website forum calling itself "The Ur-Quan Masters Forum"...

Say that out loud.

I read it and it says "can not," though I don't have any reason to think that code is credible anyway since you haven't shown where you got it from.  

But even if it said it could, all that would mean is that the name of the site would have to be changed and that's it. Stardock can't legally hack the servers the site is hosted on and force it to shut down, they can only request that the owner takes the name down, and that's if the name isn't changed in the event that they could request it. Beyond that, they could request that the server host takes the site down if they have more legitimate grounds. I've seen crease and desist letters before, they can't permanently shut down a website at will, they can only ask for content to be removed, such as well, mainly just the banner of this site. Otherwise there's not much else here that can be construed as explicitly representing the UQM franchise.

Take a look at this site here https://www.codforums.com/

Activision is way bigger than these guys, but the fans can still use that name for fan site with the franchise's images as long as it's "codforums" and not explicitly "Call of Duty"
92  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Can I use a different coding platform under the UQM2 Name on: July 17, 2018, 12:56:20 am
Like if I were to start inserting SCO ships or aliens into the MegaMod, then Brad would have words to say to me.
But see, some of the SCO ships and races probably coincide with some of the UQM ships and races. Stardock supposedly claims they own the rights to everything UQM when they bought content at the bankruptcy auction, and that affects any kind of UQM sequel.  

Safest way to go about it is if you have a UQM alien in your fan sequel, say, a Supox. Just slap the Creative Commons license in a text file and keep it with the game.
So again that seems to contradict what was stated earlier. You're saying by choosing to put *more* UQM races in that it will decrease the likelihood it infringes on the license?
93  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: July 17, 2018, 12:05:25 am
If Stardock wants to shut the UQM forum down because it has started hostile action then it will do so, regardless of your "free speech".

First of all, I'm pretty sure Stardock is a U.S. based company. Secondly, they absolutely do not have the right to spontaneously take down a website that voices any kind of opinion about them. They can request a cease and desist if they think any of the site's content infringes on their intellectual rights, and the only thing that would possibly do that is p6014, but they can't arbitrarily take away content and websites. If they could, they wouldn't even be in a legal dispute with Fred and Paul.

So moving on, it wasn't hard to find Activision's Skylanders forums here https://community.activision.com/t5/Skylanders/ct-p/skylanders-forums
These can be scoped out to get a sense for how strong Skylander's fan base is, how much they like Toys for Bob. Since these fans are already interested in a sci-fi game, if it's enough, we can beseech that community about fundraising the legal defense fund, so that's one step.
94  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Can I use a different coding platform under the UQM2 Name on: July 16, 2018, 11:57:48 pm
I don't care about SCO, I'm strictly focused on UQM and a supposed UQM 2. However, since it seems that SCO plays a role in determining who has the rights to what, I should know more about it.

If all of the art and coding for a..."proxy SC3" was created entirely from scratch, but the designs of the races and ships bared an exact resemblance and the title had some similarity to UQM, is that still acceptable under the GNU license? If anything it would only be intellectual aspect would be carried over, as in the inspiration is derived from UQM, but the actual content of the game wouldn't include anything from original UQM at all, it would all be new.

Perhaps an entirely different title is used like Star Explorer or Star Battle which are cliche, but if it's just a proxy it's not as important.
95  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Can I use a different coding platform under the UQM2 Name on: July 16, 2018, 11:39:16 pm
I could remake UQM in its entirety in SCO and I technically would only have to provide the CC license because the code doesn't carry over.
When you say the "code doesn't carry over," it seems to be like you're contradicting what you said earlier. Could a completely new coding platform in fact be used to make an updated version of the game, as long as it is under the same license?
96  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: July 16, 2018, 11:37:46 pm
Is it organized bias or is it just the fan base voicing their concerns like they always have, just in a more pronounced way?

I suppose though the best focus right now is for F&P to attract new members for their defense funding. p6014 would have helped with this as it would have brought the series into the contemporary spotlight for new members to take interest in. There's also Patreon but it would take work for them to set that up, it's not something I could do on their behalf since it requires the personal touch of the actual writers/artists. So like I suggested elsewhere, making a revamped game isn't a bad idea since it hasn't actually been decided yet whether the original content is no longer under the GNU license.

In a more pressing issue, we should also think about a way to bring their fundraising to light on other platforms besides some random website that won't even appear in the 50th page of a google search. For this we have reddit, imgur, buzzfeed, quora, 4chan, facebook and more, and then every game blog that's given SC2 a positive review has a chance of being interested in writing an article to attract attention. Toys for Bob is also a subsidiary of Activision, and we have some access to Activision's player base as well and maybe point out F&P they also made Skylanders.

Without something to actually give the public besides a 20+ year old game (and until a revamped version is completed), the only way to get people interested is to show how Stardock possibly abused the creative rights of an acclaimed, smaller group of writers because that's what will speak to the public more than "we're fans of this 25 year old game, you should be too..."
97  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: July 16, 2018, 11:19:12 pm
But to what end?
As long as the game exists in a worse state than it would have with F&P.

You may think it's clever saying, "We'll get people who played SCO but haven't left reviews" but how will you even know?
By asking people to review it, by playing the game for yourself, by contacting game blogs, by discussing it on reddit and bringing up posts on imgur. The actual review sites are where you need to argue the integrity of the reviews. But places like reddit and imgur, it's acceptable to post your own opinionated piece about how you think a larger company that lacks artistic integrity is taking away the rights from creative writers and ruining an already damaged franchise. Marketing is about momentum, not position, so what matters at what speed the campaign is attracting attention, not how much it's attracted in the past. It's a double edged sword because on one hand, it gives the option to make a statement at any moment, but on the other hand, the workload needs to be maintained.

Then you're talking about influencing game blogs that have reviewed SCII/UQM in the past.
The fans of SC2 aren't only on these forums, most people who have played the game agree it's one of the top sci fi games ever. All you would be asking them to do is to review SCO and compare it with the quality of content in UQM which is entirely up to their discretion. Since so many are already confident P&F are better for the job, we can expect that the majority of blogs who review it will reach the same conclusion.

If the answer to the first question is, "To hurt Stardock" then you need to plan that shit somewhere else before you get this place in some real trouble.
No, it's not illegal in any remote way, shape or form to voice a personal opinion about a company based on facts, nor to contact game blogs, nor to ask people to leave honest reviews.
98  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: July 16, 2018, 10:14:24 pm
I don't know about many of you, but actively inciting a review-bomb on this forum should be a bannable offense.

Again, in case you ignored it the first two times, it's not a review bomb as long as you're actually using the testimony of people who actually didn't enjoy the game. 99% of people never leave a review, so all that would be happening is bringing people's negative experiences to light and game blogs will give their own assessment independent of whatever we might want from them. So to find relevant blogs, we would have to find those that have already reviewed UQM which can then make the comparison to SCO and determine which has a better storyline. As for mentioning the boycott, if you actually play the game and are actually disappointed with it, then there's nothing wrong with pointing that out as a solution. It would also be fine to just voice your opinion on reddit and see what the response is.
99  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / Starbase Café / Re: SC3 release, UQM-style might happen, according to Frogboy on: July 16, 2018, 05:40:38 pm
Thanks, I'll get in touch.
100  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: My take on Stardock on: July 16, 2018, 05:35:30 pm
usually instigated by somebody who has a vested interest in a certain outcome.
You mean like the people who would actually play the game?

Public boycotts of Star Control Origins points to Paul and Fred
On it's own, no, it doesn't in any way without direct evidence of such, and I don't see them here telling anyone to boycott SCO. It seems like you're underestimating just how subtle such a tactic would be because you don't even need to call for a boycott to make Stardock look bad, you can simply mention how they may have took the rights away from the original creators since that is to be disputed. The public tends to support the underdog and especially original creators, so any flaw someone deems with SCO can be attributed to an abuse of a large company that chose short term profits over the quality of the game.

Why is this game company advertising completely unrelated utility apps right next to their games? That's clearly not what they should be focusing on as a game company. Successful game companies aren't afraid of putting all their eggs in one basket because they know their focus on games is what pays off on a gaming platform, so the fact that they're blatantly advertising those apps suggests they lack the confidence that they will make the best games and are mitigating losses from that. I don't think a single game of theirs has made the top 10 for any year, and that's after 25 years. Their best game is probably Sins of the Solar Empire and that's already 10 years old.
Another side note... Legal battles like this are not uncommon, we generally don't see much of them as most people don't immediately publicly blog about it and tend to keep it under wraps until the court case has been settled in one fashion or another or they just bury it.

That's only if people settle out of court, which is almost always the first solution legal parties attempt. I'm sure they tried, but they couldn't come to an agreement right away so the case when to court. Actual court cases tend to be subject to public outcry especially if it's an open court, but settlements are done in a private room.
101  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Can I use a different coding platform under the UQM2 Name on: July 16, 2018, 05:21:52 pm
blah, blah, blah boycott Stardock, shtick. But their engine is bar none going to be the best you're ever going to get when it comes to doing anything remotely better than using UQM to do a fan sequel.
That doesn't follow. The UQM engine is only 25 years old and somehow you think only one company in the entire world has the capability to make something better? I can create a model of physical and population dynamics that no tenured professor in the world knows how to wholly model, and I know that because I asked the experts in their respective fields who said they don't know and there are no published works which address them. Do I need that much precision? Unlikely, but I've seen the games Stardock releases and they is not particularly impressive because they care more about adhering to genre than exploring something new for the user, so there's more than one way to be effective.

Wait til SCO is released, read the reviews, don't let nostalgia keep your balls in a vice.
That point is moot. Nostalgia isn't what determines which party is going to write a better game, which to me seems obvious.

It sounded like he was intending his game to be under the proper open-source licenses, which (I believe) would mean that a DMCA from P&F would not be possible.  The risks would be either copyright action from Stardock (if the legal case went in its favor), or trademark action from either or both of them over the name.
Once assets are created, anything can be done with them. They don't need to be released under a GNU, though it would be ideal. Like I said, more than once, F&P can take control of the assets once their dispute is settled either way, and there are only risks if I take 0 precautions. There are a number of creative ways I can attribute such a project to UQM without mentioning it directly, aside from using similar races and ships. At the very least, no one can copywrite the concept of a planet, so the foundation of the exploration can still be created regardless.

Hence you can create your own remix of stuff so long as the remix or extension is licensed the same as the source materials used.  

Protection of titles fall into trademark territory.  As with what many fan projects have done before, just use a title that can't deemed as having a "likelihood of confusion" against another mark.  That's all you have to do.  It avoids so much right there.  If you don't, once the current legal battle is settled, there will be a company with the legal grounds to demand an injunction from the courts and halt use of conflicting, similar titles.  And willingly branding a product under that mark can be seen as intent to infringe and deceive, which does not help anyone's case.  This is would be lining up for a textbook trademark infringement:  https://tmep.uspto.gov/RDMS/TFSR/current#/current/sec-07400cca-6bf9-4569-a845-7eca77832d20.html   And probably a summary judgement would be requested (and probably granted), hence it would never go to trial.  Trademarks are ruled primarily by first to file basis unless they are challenged with a prior use before the filing date.

I'm glad to see my suspicions were warranted, thank you.
102  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Can I use a different coding platform under the UQM2 Name on: July 16, 2018, 11:04:42 am
And Stardock is contesting a lot more than just the use of "Star Control".  Some of Stardock's claims would, if upheld, invalidate Paul's release of UQM under those free licenses, and pull the whole thing back under All Rights Reserved, which would also invalidate every sub-project that came out of UQM, including P6014.  I personally think those claims are unlikely to succeed, but I'm not a lawyer.
That's good to know, thank you. However, what about revamping images to create a more up-to-date look for all of the races? I did notice in p6014 that there were some modifications to the art, but I'm talking about representing the image of a race from 2D to 3D.
If Stardock establishes that it still had an exclusive license to the SC2 copyrights, then making any derivative work from the original artwork would be illegal.  It would be as if the GPL release never happened.

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If they want to sue me, they have to first decide who actually has the right to sue me and then start a whole new case, and that's if I don't take any precautions like changing the name.

Actually, no.  If you use something that either of them thinks is covered by their trademark, then they can decide to sue you whether or not they've resolved the current litigation.  You could raise questions about the validity and ownership of that trademark in your defense, but you'd first have to cough up thousands of dollars in legal fees just to draw up the paperwork to respond, or else you'd fairly quickly lose by default.  Legal fights aren't always 'fair' in the ways we might like them to be.
Yes, legal fights aren't always fair, trying to bleed out opponents with legal fees instead of making an objective determination is a common strategy of large companies. But, I've won disputes by bogging down the system down before, Stardock would be the one spending thousands of dollars per day on legal fees because their the ones paying for a team of lawyers. I already know what to research to keep them occupied and it's not hard for me to sustain myself with the passive income of my business. That's beside the fact that they do have to prove ownership in order to win a case against for infringing on their rights or there's no point in them trying as obviously the result has drastic consequences, which can't be done until their matter is resolved, which is already beside two other major points below.

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Stardock has the most to lose from having someone else usurp their role in any kind of SC3. Whether I succeed with such a project or botch it, it will affect them negatively by either shortening the shelf life by the time they complete it or by giving their project a bad name.

Do you really think Stardock cares about their reputation with the old SC crowd, given the degree to which they've dragged it through the mud with their legal tactics?
What makes you think their reputation only exists among the SC crowd? If someone publicly voices a negative opinion of Stardock or any of their games, anyone with internet can see it, and I haven't seen an actual coordinated effort here to "drag Stardock's reputation through the mud" anyway. There's plenty of games new players avoid because of the low ratings. In fact, when I tell people I still play GalCiv, they say something or make a face analogous to "ew," so it wouldn't be difficult to use such a strategy as Stardock's fanbase is niche. I don't know what it is about Stardock, but there's just always something subpar about it, I only play it over Sid Miere's because I like sci fi, which is exactly my point. Other people? Well, they like GTA or Skyrim or COD which all seem more well done.
If it was more like EA Games which is larger which has published lots of more universally appealing and highly rated games, that would be quite a difficult endeavor, it would require a lot more luck and finding a major mistake of theirs to capitalize on for any chance and that's why Spore 2 hasn't been made despite the opriginal Thrive team's attempt to threaten beating them to the punch years ago. But, this is all if we couldn't manage to settle out of court too, they would likely find it more profitable to settle for a few provisions than waste all that time and money over what would then become an open source ripoff, and even then, they would probably just settle for me changing the cosmetics of the project, not it's functionality.
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I think my bottom line is that jumping into this mess while it's in litigation is like diving into a pit with two rabid VUX beasts and a dozen buried land mines.  Summary judgement is next March, and the trial is next June; I'd wait until then to see what happens.  Until then, you don't even know who you would need to ask for permission to do anything.  You can't even count on the GPL-ed stuff, because if Stardock were to win completely, UQM's GPL release would have been illegal.

If I was actually involving myself in any way with either of those parties, your analogy would have remote relevance. But, I'm not, I would be making my own project and researching what needs to be done to avoid legal conflicts, and even in the event that there is one, they wouldn't be able to do anything about it for a couple years.

See above.  There's no way to be certain of avoiding legal conflicts when the IP is under active litigation this way, and the existence of the litigation makes it more likely that someone will decide to sue you sooner rather than later.
You're right that there's no way to be certain so long as I use exact the names. However, whether or not derived works infringe on anyone's rights is to be determined by who ultimately gets those rights. Like I said p6014 used alternative art and had no trouble during its run, so similarly, you have to own something before you can argue someone stole it from you, and then you have to find out about it, and something tells me a cavalier CEO isn't going to be spending their time browsing old forums of a dying game. They can start a case against such a project, but unless they win this dispute, they won't finish the next. All that aside, I can shell the project with an LLC, and since the game would be open source, there would be no profit to be lost. It would be like if Adobe tried to sue GIMP, assuming Stardock doesn't win.

But if you feel like taking your chances, don't let me stop you...
That was never a dilemma for me. Like I said, I'm doing research to see where the limits are, this site is only one means of investigating.
103  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Can I use a different coding platform under the UQM2 Name on: July 16, 2018, 07:40:19 am
You do know that it was Paul and Fred's announcement last October that they were finally starting work on a sequel that set off the whole legal fight, right?  It just seems like odd timing to decide that you've run out of patience after the original creators of the game finally said that they're going to make a sequel.
They're saying the same things they've been saying for years, like just before they went off to develop Skylanders "we want to, but let's wait and see while we take care of something else". It's not official until they set a release date.

It seems like you have some misconceptions, so I will say I certainly don't want impose my own story-line or design over theirs anyway. If they say Ur-Quan are now purple, then I make them purple, if they say Vux intruders shoot potatoes, I make a potato, add the texture, animate it and explode it with a particle engine, and that's really the kind of support they expect when you see how they easily they garnered support from fans.
But, if they continue to say nothing, I will take matters into my own hands until they decide to become involved. There's several possible routes for this, obviously starting smaller will create a more achievable goal that avoids the mistakes many independent projects fail from and create the least risk of conflicting story-lines and mechanics when the dispute is settled.
 
The smaller initial version of the game can be either:
-Planet/space exploration based focused on generating a large region to explore and species interactions and detailed planets and stars to investigate, which would more likely be a revamp of the current games with some projections of species interactions, but not too much. We can infer plots that continue on from UQM like the Ur-Quan being forced to accept peace for a time after losing the Samatra, and that the Orz have some ulterior motive. It also doesn't seem realistic that literally every single Thraddash and Illwrath was eliminated, so the possibility of integrating those races exists. If we also focus on the exploration based version, we can also have multiple interaction and plot options depending on where the player left off in SC2, whether the Pkunk got destroyed by the Yehat or however many races were conquered by the Kor-Ah before you finished the game, like in Mass Effect, if it is possible to port such data into a newer platform.  

-Multiplayer and AI versus match based, focusing the most on getting players into ship v. ship matches with many customizations and incentives for playing. It's not the most sophisticated, but it's the most fun.

-Creature creation and civilization based, from the view of individual members of individual worlds, like managing worlds to reasonable success which admittedly would probably be the largest undertaking unless simplified to the level of GalCiv.

All of these appeal to different demographics and it would likely take too long for a small team to integrate all three aspects, so a tough decision will need to be made.


I think you mean Atari (after it bought Accolade).  Unless the information we've gotten is really wrong, Activision has never owned any of the rights to "Star Control".

I did mean Atari, I decided to forget the company that made that fired them and it worked.


Be careful about what you assume the GPL covers.  Names are generally protected by trademark, not copyright, so the GPL does not necessarily control or permit their use (the extent of this is likely to be a subject of the lawsuit).  The images and animations should be usable under CC-BY-NC-SA.


And Stardock is contesting a lot more than just the use of "Star Control".  Some of Stardock's claims would, if upheld, invalidate Paul's release of UQM under those free licenses, and pull the whole thing back under All Rights Reserved, which would also invalidate every sub-project that came out of UQM, including P6014.  I personally think those claims are unlikely to succeed, but I'm not a lawyer.

That's good to know, thank you. However, what about revamping images to create a more up-to-date look for all of the races? I did notice in p6014 that there were some modifications to the art, but I'm talking about representing the image of a race from 2D to 3D.


I don't see how starting a new project would "pressure" either of them into doing anything any faster.

They're the ones in a dispute over ownership, not me. If they want to sue me, they have to first decide who actually has the right to sue me and then start a whole new case, and that's if I don't take any precautions like changing the name.
Stardock has the most to lose from having someone else usurp their role in any kind of SC3. Whether I succeed with such a project or botch it, it will affect them negatively by either shortening the shelf life by the time they complete it or by giving their project a bad name. Large companies tend to stick to in house development, so if assets are created, P&F have the most to gain since they would have access to all open source material my team creates to fit whatever storyline they like. I like Stardock, but they shouldn't be screwing around with the SC series, that's what "Atari" did and it didn't go well for them.

I think my bottom line is that jumping into this mess while it's in litigation is like diving into a pit with two rabid VUX beasts and a dozen buried land mines.  Summary judgement is next March, and the trial is next June; I'd wait until then to see what happens.  Until then, you don't even know who you would need to ask for permission to do anything.  You can't even count on the GPL-ed stuff, because if Stardock were to win completely, UQM's GPL release would have been illegal.

If I was actually involving myself in any way with either of those parties, your analogy would have remote relevance. But, I'm not, I would be making my own project and researching what needs to be done to avoid legal conflicts, and even in the event that there is one, they wouldn't be able to do anything about it for a couple years.
104  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / Starbase Café / Re: SC3 release, UQM-style might happen, according to Frogboy on: July 16, 2018, 05:21:39 am
If someone is already making an SC3 then I wouldn't need to do all that work myself. Is there a more direct channel I could communicate with you through about this?
105  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Can I use a different coding platform under the UQM2 Name on: July 16, 2018, 05:04:00 am
Just because George R.R. Martin is taking forever to write the next "Song of Ice and Fire" book doesn't mean that fans can jump in and write it for him.
George R.R. Martin didn't release the intellectual rights to his books under a GNU license, and he also isn't going to take 20+ years to write the next one. The spirit of the GNU is to make software accessible and free, which was the intention with UQM. Perhaps I won't call it that then, initially, unless the team is contacted by either party. The capacity to make the game has existed for all these years, but all major parties have failed to act upon it for no good reason, so they may have given up on any serious idea for a real SC3.

Do you know if it is legal for me to still use the character names? I know that the rights to the names were likely owned by Activision before ownership was transferred, but then again, the character names, their images and animations are within a game that is released under a GNU license, and it's the right to call a project by its specific "SC" name that is being disputed.

I am still interested in an ETA if there is one, because if they will take a long time to settle, it will be enough to create a project that would pressure them into either settling or probably better yet, collaborating. If it will be settled soon however, such as before SCO is released, then I should likely wait to see what announcements are made, though fans have a long history of being told to wait with little payoff.
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