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News: Paul Reiche and Fred Ford want to continue the story they started when they created Star Control II — The Ur-Quan Masters. «Happy days and jubilation!» «But wait!» «There is something wrong here... something which makes my sheath retract and my talons ooze.» «Please, Captain, we need your help!»

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Author Topic: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming!  (Read 7126 times)
vok3
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Re: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming!
« Reply #75 on: February 27, 2018, 11:53:58 pm »

For anybody who isn't reading the Dogar and Kazon blog or PNF,

https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/blog/2018/2/27/report-from-planet-surface

and that email chain is indeed pretty convincing.  That would seem to be the evidence Stardock claimed they needed.  Well, they have it now.
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Frogboy
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Re: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming!
« Reply #76 on: February 28, 2018, 03:53:09 am »

Indeed it seems Atari didn't feel they had the rights to distribute the classic games from what I read there.  I don't know the whole story but I'm just reading what you read.

However, far more importantly, it establishes that they understood that the trademark was in full force.

As most of you know, the distribution of the DOS games on Steam and GOG are not central to the case (has anyone here actually bought a copy from either?).  We had offered to voluntarily remove the titles from distribution in exchange for ceasing representing Ghosts as being related to Star Control.  They refused. 

You might feel that they should just be able to ride on the renewed interest of Star Control due to Stardock's considerable efforts because of your admiration.  I can't argue with how you feel.  For decades we waited for a new Star Control game.  None came.  Stardock acquired the rights and has invested millions of dollars to create it and from 2013 on I have been here to answer your questions and listen to your feedback.   I still am happy at the idea that Paul and Fred want to return to their universe.  But this isn't the way to do it.

Stardock isn't married to the distribution of the DOS games.  When Stardock asked them to explain why it didn't have the rights to distribute the games even though this had previously been discussed 4 years  prior they didn't provide any basis for the sudden change in attitude.  Now they've posted this email that seems to indicate that Atari didn't think they had the rights to distribute but also negotiates a new agreement for distribution and acknowledges the trademark.

Let's assume that the lawyers come back and agree to take the DOS games down.  Now what? This doesn't help them at all with Stardock's complaint regarding Ghosts of the Precursors representing itself as being associated with Star Control. 
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rosepatel
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Re: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming!
« Reply #77 on: February 28, 2018, 04:02:30 am »

You spent millions of dollars developing a game with none of the original Star Control characters, setting, or story.

Regardless of this lawsuit, you'll still be able to put out a game with none of the original Star Control characters, setting, or story.

Honest question, no sarcasm. Why do you even want to call it a Star Control game?
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vok3
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Re: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming!
« Reply #78 on: February 28, 2018, 04:18:09 am »

I actually did buy SC3 off GOG the very day they said they wanted the games taken down.  (It's actually not that bad.  It's not a suitable sequel and there's some mind-bendingly stupid design choices in it, but some fun stuff too.) (edit: just realized I bought SC1 and 2 off GOG some years earlier, too.  I still have the original SC2 floppy install disks, as well as a later copy I bought on CD, but GOG's convenience factor is high)

From my reading of all this, their objections to Stardock's actions do seem to turn on Stardock selling and distributing the games on Stardock's terms instead of theirs.  I am of course no lawyer but reading through their suit it looks like that was the action that made them decide Stardock was deliberately overstepping boundaries rather than pushing annoyingly hard for cooperation.  That in turn makes the DMCA takedown understandable, and the DMCA takedown looked like the trigger for Stardock's suit.  I am not sure how the trademark claim justifies the lawsuit.  Are they not allowed to even mention the fact that they worked on the product? I am not asking you to say yes or no, I'm not trying to trap you - just that this is the sort of question that springs to mind.  People can and will talk about their past projects as a way of establishing credibility for future ones.  Chris Roberts for example talked a LOT about Wing Commander in pitching Star Citizen.  In that case of course his total inability to deliver has made it increasingly clear that there was a lot more to Wing Commander than just Roberts himself, but I haven't seen EA make any noises about trademark lawsuits.  If EA Legal doesn't have a problem with such behavior, I'm curious why Stardock Legal does.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2018, 04:29:42 am by vok3 » Logged
CelticMinstrel
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Re: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming!
« Reply #79 on: February 28, 2018, 04:25:44 am »

(has anyone here actually bought a copy from either?)
Although I didn't buy a copy from GoG, I had strongly contemplated waiting for a sale when I could get the whole series at half price. (Or at the very least, half price on SC1+2, just so I could say I own a copy of SC1.) So, in other words, removing them from the GoG store deprives me of that option. (And for the record, I'm not going to get a copy on Steam, regardless of who gets royalties from it. For classic games at least, I prefer GoG.)
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Frogboy
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Re: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming!
« Reply #80 on: February 28, 2018, 04:47:41 am »

Quote
Honest question, no sarcasm. Why do you even want to call it a Star Control game?

The reason is that we wanted to create a very specific game.

How many games these days actually brag about "randomly generated quests"?  How many of you now wince that that sort of thing?

At its core, what does Star Control mean to you? Honestly?  To me, back in Fall of 1992 what it meant to me is that I was playing a game, for the first time ever, where I felt like I was captain of a ship going on adventures with hand crafted stories.

Did you ever play Pirates? I always felt like that game came...so close...to being the perfect story telling game.  But Star Control did it (for it's time).

Now, let's fast forward to 2012.  

We wanted to make a game that is your story.  Your adventures.  You are the Captain.  You are going out there, exploring, having adventures.  But not random adventures.  Not adventures where you kill 9 space goblins to get 10 warp cells.  You are going on adventures that will change the universe in some subtle way and lead the way to more engaging stories.

Now, look back. What games have done that?  Mass Effect?  Almost.  But their engine stifled it (imo of course).  People like me...maybe  like you want something more free form.

We had experience at the battle part. As some of you know, Stardock developed a MMO super-melee style game.  It was called Stellar Frontier.  64 players fighting space war style battles.  It was great.  Now, we wanted to combine that with adventure.  With story telling.

Then in 2013, we saw that Star Control was available.  My favorite game of all time.  I had been hanging out here for years. Had signed a petition to see if Activision would let Paul and Fred make a new game to no avail.  

So we acquired Star Control, we offered it to Paul and Fred at our cost if it would help them make a new game even if they wanted to have nothing to do with us. They said that Activision wouldn't let them.  

They *asked* us if we made a new one not to use their characters and lore because they wanted to revisit their universe as a retirement project "someday".  I think this is in line with what you guys have heard to, no?  So we agreed.  Not because we couldn't use the aliens but because we wanted to leave things open for them because we're huge fans and our goal with the trademark was to instantly convey to casual players what kind of game this was: a story-driven adventure game.  

We didn't consider that much of a sacrifice.  Ask yourselves, how would you even go about it in a world with SC3? How do you undo space cows? It's just so messy.  Only Paul and Fred could clean that up was our thinking at the time.  Let them return someday to their story.   We offered to help them when that day came whether we were involved or not.

Now, not using the aliens and lore diminishes the value.  If the cost had been a lot higher, it wouldn't be worth it.  But for $300k or so? Yea, that's a no-brainer to have a game that has the brand recognition.  It would cost far more than that to make a new game from scratch and have to explain "it's like Star Control" over and over.  

And so we went forth and made a new universe and kept Paul and Fred up to date because, frankly, as you guys have gathered, we are super fans of theirs (even if the lawyers are not).  

But then, after a quarter century,  but only a few years after we had started, after we've spent millions of dollars, Paul and Fred, not retired but rather on the eve of our beta release, decide to come out and announce they are making a sequel to Star Control lI?  Not a sequel to Ur-Quan Masters.  Star Control.  After we had offered to transfer it to them at our cost.   Now, after all these years, right when we're starting our marketing ramp-up they decide they want to compete with us and do so by associating their game with Star Control.  Not just associating but literally calling it the true sequel to Star Control.  

I realize there is going to be an inherent bias for Paul and Fred here.  I can't blame you.  I was the super-fan who bought the IP and I know how I felt about them. But, how can you guys seriously ignore what they've done? Most of you are probably my age or older.  How can you reconcile their actions?  We just wanted to make a new Star Control game.  We even avoided use of the old lore and settings even though, like I said, the lawyers said we could out of respect.  

There are so many ways all of this could have been avoided.  Frankly, and I know their IP attorney will read this, if they had had the attorney they now have, none of this would probably have happened.  Now they have a top-notch IP attorney (this is a good thing).  They got bad legal advice and here we are.  People who should be friends now acting as opponents.

« Last Edit: February 28, 2018, 04:49:20 am by Frogboy » Logged
rosepatel
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Re: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming!
« Reply #81 on: February 28, 2018, 05:21:24 am »

Quote
Now, not using the aliens and lore diminishes the value.  If the cost had been a lot higher, it wouldn't be worth it.  But for $300k or so? Yea, that's a no-brainer to have a game that has the brand recognition.  It would cost far more than that to make a new game from scratch and have to explain "it's like Star Control" over and over.  

Do you understand that the biggest damage to your value hasn't been anything that Paul or Fred have said, but words that you (not to mention your company's litigators) have repeated?

I've seen your team try to make the George Lucas analogy. Imagine how quickly the audience would turn on Disney if they said they said George Lucas may not have created any of the characters in Star Wars? If they attacked George Lucas for trying to associate himself with creating Star Wars? (The analogy breaks down if Lucas kept the copyright in the original Star Wars movies and sold the Trademark. Which is why it's a poor legal argument when your team raises it. But the analogy holds much more water when you focus on perception, and not law.)

Your lawyers might tell you that the goodwill is vested in the Trademark, but after a saga of more than two decades, most of the fans weren't here talking about how much they loved Trademark-holder Accolade or Trademark-holder Atari. The goodwill is 90-99% vested with Paul and Fred. That's why nearly any project needs to have their blessing -- which you seemed to say you had from them for a few years, and evidently isn't the case. Having them decline your every offer isn't a "blessing". That's another dangerous overreach you made that has costed you, now that the truth has come out.

I can honestly tell you with the best of my expertise -- you already know the copyrights are vested in Paul and Fred, and there's increasing evidence that the licenses you acquired from Atari expired at least a few years ago, if not longer. I don't honestly know how the Trademark dispute will go. But even if it works in your favor, you don't need the goodwill from the Trademark. You need the goodwill from Paul and Fred, and all the press coverage that comes with it.

Your best course of action is to apologize and ask them what they want.

You currently have a game with all the great things you just described -- and the worst thing that could happen to you is that you don't call it Star Control. That's not so bad. Every penny of your development would still count, assuming you didn't accidentally put any of the original characters or story in there. You paid 300k for brand recognition, and like you said, it would cost a lot more to market it. You probably got at least half of that value just from the announcements alone.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2018, 05:25:59 am by rosepatel » Logged
Frogboy
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Re: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming!
« Reply #82 on: February 28, 2018, 05:23:06 am »

I have read your posts and am not surprised that you hold those views.
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rosepatel
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Re: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming!
« Reply #83 on: February 28, 2018, 05:36:38 am »

I'm trying to be as fair and factual as possible. If they rejected Accolade's Star Control 3, what do you think they'd say about your game if you keep your current legalistic tact?

I'm sure you're trying to calculate right now how much it matters.
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Frogboy
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Re: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming!
« Reply #84 on: February 28, 2018, 05:39:00 am »

I'm trying to be as fair and factual as possible. If they rejected Accolade's Star Control 3, what do you think they'd say about your game if you keep your current legalistic tact?

I'm sure you're trying to calculate right now how much it matters.

At this stage, sadly, it has a value of 0 to us.  And that makes me sad.
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rosepatel
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Re: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming!
« Reply #85 on: February 28, 2018, 05:41:35 am »

Needless to say, it shows that's how little it matters to you.

The community is reacting appropriately.
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Kaiser
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Re: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming!
« Reply #86 on: February 28, 2018, 05:50:59 am »

Fred and Paul's PR firm doesn't represent the community with their 3-day-old account.
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Re: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming!
« Reply #87 on: February 28, 2018, 05:52:13 am »

Needless to say, it shows that's how little it matters to you.

The community is reacting appropriately.

Speak for yourself.
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rosepatel
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Re: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming!
« Reply #88 on: February 28, 2018, 05:55:34 am »

I don't claim to speak for everyone, and I'm not even speaking for myself at this point. I'm pointing out the undeniable damage as a consequence of this dispute. Regardless of how much damage, it's there.
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Re: NEWS: Ghosts of the Precursors is coming!
« Reply #89 on: February 28, 2018, 06:15:51 am »

I'm pointing out the undeniable damage as a consequence of this dispute.

Which Paul & Fred purposefully aired out into the public to their advantage. Or so they think.
Time will tell, but if they lose they're going to regret that decision.

Because remember, Stardock's suit against P&F isn't about the IP, it's about P&F associating themselves and their new game with the Star Control mark.

All the lawyers have to do is ask the jury, "What do you think of when you picture Ghosts of the Precursors?" and if they say "Star Control" P&F have lost.

EDIT:

As an aside.

Could you guys keep this legal shit to one specific thread?
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