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

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Author Topic: My take on Stardock  (Read 61309 times)
Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #210 on: March 27, 2018, 05:33:03 am »

Paul and Fred offered something that on the surface is very close to the public position Stardock had been taking for months (if not years) -- Paul and Fred get to make a game with their copyrighted characters and stories, and Stardock gets to make a new game called Star Control in a new universe. Two games with a negotiated border between them.

I'll add that I think we need to be sure to read P&F's proposal from Stardock's perspective.  Brad has stated that he wants to be sure this legal explosion can't happen again, and P&F's proposal, while more reasonable than Stardock's, doesn't accomplish that.  Asking Paul to permanently waive any right to sue over the more subjective aspects of his copyright on SC2 is a pretty reasonable ask, and I think that there is language that could be written to codify that arrangement.  However, Brad's current position appears to be that he's not interested in a deal at all.  That could be posturing, of course, but for now, we've got to assume no deal will be forthcoming.

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But considering that Paul and Fred received no reply to their initial offer, I can't say that they were uncooperative. They might be perfectly willing to figure out some basic problem solving, that would allow some freedom of similarity in UI and gameplay, as well as clearly giving up their right to sue Stardock over Galactic Civ races.  Of course, we can't know for sure how cooperative Paul and Fred would be, since Stardock has said they think the courtroom is the right forum to settle this. Their settlement offer makes zero effort at constructive problem solving, and instead offers Paul and Fred pay Stardock for the privilege of exile from the entire space game genre.

And that's the root of Brad's current image problem.  The formal settlement proposals make him look positively malign, relative to P&F, and we currently have no way of vetting his claims that it was the other way around in the earlier informal talks.  When you combine that with him being the one walking away from the negotiating table, it doesn't make him look very good.

I do wonder a bit whether Brad's lawyer screwed up.  I was initially misled by the Rule 408 talk, but Brad's lawyer should have been aware that these settlement proposals could easily go public, and either gotten an actual court order of confidentiality, or a side contract with P&F to keep the proposals secret.  Lacking either of those, he should have realized that settlement demands that draconian would have a likelihood of being leaked, exposing Stardock to some serious public relations risk.
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Krulle
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #211 on: March 27, 2018, 09:00:09 am »

Well, the settlement offers being public will make a harsher jury selection:
the attorney of Stardock must make sure, that no jury member has been reading online about these issues and may therefore be aware of the settlement offers...
That is what Rule 408 is about.
The jury is not allowed to be influenced by the content of such offers, and the image they portray, so that the jury can find an unbiased decision.

But then, how many people asked for jury duty play these kind of games?
And of those who actually do play, how many do look into the "behind the curtains" happenings of old games and/or games-in-development?
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Frogboy
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #212 on: March 27, 2018, 01:59:59 pm »

@E
Why would anyone want to negotiate with people who have demonstrated that they will twist and misrepresent every discussion and post it to the public?

You keep acting like we have some of requirement to play along with Paul and Fredís antics.  I can assure you, we do not. And we will not. Any IP attorney can tell you how this case is likely to go.

We are working to make the best new Star Control game we can. We arenít going to feed the Paul and Fred circus further.
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SirPrimalform
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #213 on: March 27, 2018, 02:22:46 pm »

@E
Why would anyone want to negotiate with people who have demonstrated that they will twist and misrepresent every discussion and post it to the public?

You keep acting like we have some of requirement to play along with Paul and Fredís antics.  I can assure you, we do not. And we will not. Any IP attorney can tell you how this case is likely to go.

We are working to make the best new Star Control game we can. We arenít going to feed the Paul and Fred circus further.


They didn't twist your settlement offer, it really was horrible and while theirs is not perfect, it's an improvement. Why not counter with something based on theirs but with what you see as necessary modifications? You know, iterate, haggle. Get rid of the bits that you think would prevent you releasing Origins. I get that everyone is pissed off with each other, but you (all) need to put that aside.

The true fans want to see both games and I suspect you will alienate a lot of them if you prevent Ghosts being made (even if it's through a justified win in court). I personally wouldn't be at all happy with any "winner takes all" scenario no matter which way it goes.
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Frogboy
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #214 on: March 27, 2018, 02:58:38 pm »

You just ignored the substance of their offer.

But for the sake of argument, letís say the settlement offer they released that they represent as our entire proposal was true, they could have negotiated it privately rather than escalating their PR war.  If they wanted to actually negotiate something, they could have iterated on both settlements privately.  They chose not to. 

And because theyíve been so disengenuous between what they publicly state and privately demand, we just donít have any trust that they are capable of actually behaving with any sense of good faith.   We arenít interested in discussing settlements with them any further. The court is the better venue at this point.  And that is the last Iím saying on that.
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SirPrimalform
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #215 on: March 27, 2018, 03:23:59 pm »

You just ignored the substance of their offer.

But for the sake of argument, letís say the settlement offer they released that they represent as our entire proposal was true, they could have negotiated it privately rather than escalating their PR war.  If they wanted to actually negotiate something, they could have iterated on both settlements privately.  They chose not to.  

I get that, and I'm not particularly supportive of the public way they've handled this. Be the grown up, keep trying to fix this.

And because theyíve been so disengenuous between what they publicly state and privately demand, we just donít have any trust that they are capable of actually behaving with any sense of good faith.   We arenít interested in discussing settlements with them any further. The court is the better venue at this point.  And that is the last Iím saying on that.

Well that is incredibly sad to hear. If it goes to court, I feel that one game or the other is going to get screwed.
If you win I think it will bite you in the ass, perhaps not financially, but you'll burn some bridges with the fans.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 03:25:53 pm by SirPrimalform » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #216 on: March 27, 2018, 03:29:27 pm »

The true fans want to see both games and I suspect you will alienate a lot of them if you prevent Ghosts being made (even if it's through a justified win in court). I personally wouldn't be at all happy with any "winner takes all" scenario no matter which way it goes.

If only they had something to show for Ghosts... You do realize that there might not even be a single line of code for Ghosts? What if there weren't even an intent to write it. Have you ever assumed that possibility like you assumed a lot of other things?
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Krulle
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #217 on: March 27, 2018, 03:39:37 pm »

Well, their first announcement isn't that old yet.
And it said they just got permission to start working on it.

If they even started fleshing out the ideas they've been collecting, it would be about what I expect the state of the project is.

And they way the original announcement was launched, I sincerely believe that they had/have all intentions to work on the game.
But then, this shit started blowing in all aspects, and they perceived their copyright to be touched.
And had to delve through all documentation they retained to defend what they perceived to be illegally used by someone else.

Of course this doesn't speed up things.
If you have to go through old e-mails, old folders, old lockers,... instead of working on your project, that of course slows down the project.
And writing the code is one of the last things you start doing when programming.


Well, the stars have finally aligned -- we are now working on a direct sequel to The Ur-Quan Masters, called Ghosts of the Precursorsô.  

This is a passion project for us and we have committed to dedicating some of our own time to creating a true sequel.  We are early, early in development,

On top of that, it's only a "side project", which gets only a part of their time. For the rest they'll still be doing TfB management...


[further edit]: I've read rumours about FF and PR3 only announcing now, because they want a piece of the cake Stardock seems to be baking, and never had the intention of actually getting a game done, since the week I read their announcement.
Why then such a big PR fuss? (really, all kind of gaming and non-gaming sites republished an edited version of their announcement, even something like "Christian today")
And if it was all about setting up a court case to get some cake, I'm pretty sure they would've been far more careful in their announcement, and not make a possible target of themselves.

Yes, they may have very little to show so far, besides some general ideas.
But I find enoughr easons to excuse that.
And also not everyone does keep close contact to possible clients before publishing the final version.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 03:54:12 pm by Krulle » Logged
Deus Siddis
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #218 on: March 27, 2018, 04:41:08 pm »

For almost my entire adult life, Paul and Fred were my heroes.  Fred the god coder and Paul who was not a one-hit wonder but imagined hit after hit.  Mail Order Monsters.  Archon. and of course Star Control.

The most embarrassing thing, in hindsight,is that I major part of my motivation was for them to be pleased with what we had created.  I really thought that if we showed them how good Star Control: Origins was, that they might leave Activision and I would build a studio around them to create games around their imaginations.  That is the, apparently, delusion I operated on for 5 years.

Wow, I want to live in the universe where that is what happened.

Everyone mutually appreciative and working together in one studio rather than naming each other in a lawsuit. Sad
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Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #219 on: March 27, 2018, 05:06:25 pm »

Why would anyone want to negotiate with people who have demonstrated that they will twist and misrepresent every discussion and post it to the public?

Negotiations between parties that don't trust each other happens all the time; if you feel someone is misrepresenting what you say, I think you respond with more transparency.  I know that you have said that P&F were unreasonably demanding at earlier stages of the dispute, while you were very reasonable.  I'm open to that possibility, but you haven't shown any interest in getting that information out, which only strengthens suspicions that the unrevealed information would not support your statements.

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You keep acting like we have some of requirement to play along with Paul and Fredís antics.  I can assure you, we do not. And we will not.

Obviously, you are not legally obligated to try to settle the suit.  But demonstrating a serious, good-faith effort to settle the dispute makes a difference in the hearts and minds of all of your fans, customers, potential customers, and current employees who are following the suit.  Making a bona-fide offer to settle on something close to reasonable terms is what determines whether people judge your motivations for the suit as righteous self-interest, or aggressive bullying.  Currently, the documents we have been able to see do not show Stardock making such an effort.  If your proposals are anywhere close to as reasonable as the ones you've said you've made in the past, they will do nothing but help you at this point.
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Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #220 on: March 27, 2018, 05:29:08 pm »

But for the sake of argument, letís say the settlement offer they released that they represent as our entire proposal was true, they could have negotiated it privately rather than escalating their PR war.  If they wanted to actually negotiate something, they could have iterated on both settlements privately.  They chose not to.

I'm sorry, but the evidence currently available makes it impossible for Stardock to credibly claim that it lost interest in negotiations as a result of P&F's leaks.  Stardock's proposal was so one-sided that it clearly demonstrated that Stardock had no interest in settling when it was written at the start of negotiations - before any leaks had occurred.  And P&F did counter-propose; their document was dated after yours.  My understanding (and please correct me if I'm wrong) is that Stardock refused to counter-propose further, effectively ending negotiations, and at that point P&F leaked the documents.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 05:33:10 pm by Elestan » Logged
PRH
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #221 on: March 27, 2018, 06:11:06 pm »

I think we may be overlooking one point of contention that Fred and Paul brought up in one of their older posts here:
https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/blog/2017/12/1/there-were-many-great-battles-and-some-of-them-involved-lawyers

Check out this thread on the SCO forums:
https://forums.starcontrol.com/488067/star-control-the-multiverse-thread

Admittedly, the thread was only started on March 17, when Brad claims Fred and Paul had already crossed the point of no return with him and Stardock, but Brad has previously referred multiple times to the "Star Control multiverse", and SCO being the "prequel" or "alternate history" of the SC "multiverse", so it seems it has been Stardock's plan all along. Simply put, SCO is not just a space adventure game that happens to share many gameplay mechanics with SC2. It is, quite literally, an alternate version of the same SC universe we have known from the classic games, and the Ilwrath, Chenjesu, Yehat, etc. are all present in all instances of this universe, including the Scryve universe that is coming out with Origins. Sadly, this kind of setup makes any kind of "win-win" solution impossible, regardless of how either side feels about the other.
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Krulle
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #222 on: March 27, 2018, 07:00:36 pm »

the multiverse I always took as a reason why the "new Star Control" will not feature the races and lore (=Reiche's Retained Rights, RRR)...
If the Taalo have not been destroyed by the Ur-Quan, then the whole sector will likely look very different....

But indeed, that alone is "leaning" on RRR, and the goodwill of that story, despite actually stating that these races will not appear.

I liked the idea, alsobecause it would easily allow Star Trek, Star Wars, and other universes to be skinned over the same engine and star positions.

Anyway, those things are nice, but I play games for the story unfolding within....

Although later I also loved SC2 for the gigantic pre-story, which was partly only in th handbook/manual.
Until recently, I feared FF and PR could be proven to be good predictors (small war)...
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Frogboy
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #223 on: March 27, 2018, 11:25:29 pm »

@Elestan:

The question isn't whether we will settle or not.  The issue is that we won't be offering settlements because we clearly can't trust them not to misrepresent them (you have no idea what the discussions were before the first settlement offer was sent to please stop acting like you have even remotely the full picture).  

Paul and Fred are welcome to send over anything they'd like and they can trust us that we won't abuse their trust by leaking them to the public.

Any settlement would have to cover these basics:

1. Prevent any chance of this nonsense from ever happening again.  We don't want, 3 years from now, to be dealing with Dogar posts complaining that the Tywom Juggernaut is too similar to some ship they made or demanding that we take features out of our games.  If Star Control: Origins becomes a sensation, we don't want to be getting threatening letters demanding that we better pay up because they think they have some right to some element of our games.

2. Recognize the damage they have caused and the confusion they have caused and compensate us for that.  We've lost months of marketing time and good will because of the confusion they created in the market (you yourself saw that guy's Reddit post, and yea, that's devastating to their case).  And I'm not even getting into the public circus of the lawsuit itself.  It will take market experts to determine how much in sales this has caused but I would guess probably around 5% at least.  

3. Recognize that we own the Star Control trademark and that means that yes, we will be associating it with the classic games.  Star Control: Origins is just as much of a Star Control game as any other Star Control game.  

4. Cease associating any future games with Star Control.  That means no calling their game a sequel to it and it also means they need to come up with a different game title because Ghosts is already too associated with it.  I don't think think many people would object to them picking a different title.

5. Do not attempt any action that tries to block us from supporting the Ur-Quan Masters communities or any other well established Star Control related communities.

If you look through the settlement offer Stardock sent, even though the lawyers were harsh about it (and yes, it was approved by Stardock but it did not involve apologies or demanding they never use certain words or involve them surrendering anything) it was designed to address the 5 points above.  

They are welcome to submit their own ideas and like I said, we won't betray their trust like they did ours.  But we are done sending them settlement offers.

BTW, if they lose in court, they have to pay our attorney fees.  I'm not sure if their attorneys have walked them through that.  This is one of the few types of litigation where that is a factor to consider.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 11:27:20 pm by Frogboy » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #224 on: March 27, 2018, 11:57:56 pm »

4. Cease associating any future games with Star Control.  That means no calling their game a sequel to it and it also means they need to come up with a different game title because Ghosts is already too associated with it.  I don't think think many people would object to them picking a different title.

If it were only about picking a different title, I certainly wouldn't object. But seriously, what should they call it if it is objectively a direct continuation of the story from The Ur-Quan Masters? How is that not a sequel? And besides, if we interpret "cease associating any future games with Star Control" as broadly as possible, and especially since you're now trademarking "The Ur-Quan Masters", "Spathi", "Syreen", and so on, what does that mean if not permanently barring Fred and Paul from developing a sequel to UQM? That's a far cry from simply having them pick a different title for their game.

Your other conditions seem reasonable enough, though.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2018, 12:19:05 am by PRH » Logged
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