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

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Author Topic: My take on Stardock  (Read 62392 times)
lostsoul
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #450 on: April 11, 2018, 06:43:23 am »

they should just make the game anyways...make all their glorious plans within the game...give all the races, places generic names...release modding tools...let the modders fill in the correct names...problem solved...maybe.
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Krulle
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #451 on: April 11, 2018, 09:14:49 am »

Krulle, thank you for giving me a hint of what svs must be feeling.

I cannot possibly see how your first argument is right. The announcement was definitely marketing.
Interesting, as I have not yet seen anywhere that the product will be sold.
I know, this is fa fetched, but I already once wrote I'd love to know the scope of the intended GotP project...

Marketing is also a very broad concept.
Advertisement and marketing are different, for the purpose of law. And the cited passage goes about advertisement, not marketing.
Nit-picking. But that will the lawyers be doing in the end.

TBH...

I think it's a stretch to assume that P&F are going to spend hundreds of hours creating a "true sequel" to Star Control 2 only to give it away for free. I mean, I suppose technically you can make the argument that they announced a brand new game after 25 years, immediately associated it with the beloved previous game that they had indeed sold, and that isn't definitive proof that they're planning on charging money (in some fashion or another) for the next game...

...but I'd consider that to be a bit of a reach just IMHO.
I fully agreee, that it would be a long stretch, and I am pretty sure that there is US case-law which indicates that what FF and PR3 did can be considered to be advertisement.
But there is no game to market yet, not even an "early subscriptor" or "kick starting money collection" going on or announced for the near future.
Just that a game is in its "very early development status".

@lostsoul: if the intention is clear, and the amendment gets hosted on their site, they'll be infringing copyrights.
But who really cares. The UQM fanbase is small, and most players of SC:Origins willl never have played UQM, and are too young to have fond memories of it.
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PRH
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #452 on: April 11, 2018, 02:13:57 pm »

But who really cares. The UQM fanbase is small, and most players of SC:Origins willl never have played UQM, and are too young to have fond memories of it.

You know who cares. We do, the hardcore fans. And while it's hardly news that most game developers do not consider the hardcore fans their main target audience, I find it utterly disgusting that Brad Wardell is willing to disregard our wishes so openly (even if he and Stardock are going to give us exactly what we want gameplay-wise - building your own ships and planets is awesome!). My personal opinion is that the Ur-Quan, Spathi, etc. should follow the UQM lore as closely as possible, and should only be present as part of the Ur-Quan story, or not at all. I won't accept any substitutes. No cranky humanoids called the Ur-Quan, please. As other posters have pointed out, it was already bad enough in GalCiv, but, unless I'm mistaken, GalCiv didn't have a long detailed story associated with each race, while SC2/UQM does.

And worse yet, Fred and Paul bear a huge part of the blame for this, because they didn't buy back the rights to the Star Control franchise when they had the chance...
« Last Edit: April 11, 2018, 02:28:33 pm by PRH » Logged
Deus Siddis
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #453 on: April 11, 2018, 04:14:46 pm »

And worse yet, Fred and Paul bear a huge part of the blame for this, because they didn't buy back the rights to the Star Control franchise when they had the chance...

Well you are talking about a third of a million dollars of their personal money. Buying it with TfB funds would likely require activision's approval and invite their continued intervention in the project.

And what would they be buying for all that money anyway? Just the name of the game? If the rest of the rights passed back to them due to lack of sales in the pre-GOG days as it currently mostly seems, then that is indeed quite a hefty price.
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PRH
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #454 on: April 11, 2018, 05:03:19 pm »

And what would they be buying for all that money anyway? Just the name of the game? If the rest of the rights passed back to them due to lack of sales in the pre-GOG days as it currently mostly seems, then that is indeed quite a hefty price.

Well, Brad seems to be convinced that Stardock is entitled to trademark "The Ur-Quan Masters", "Spathi", "Syreen" and the rest just because they own the Star Control trademark, and thus to restrict Fred and Paul's use of their own copyrighted work. He also believes that the 1988 agreement is still fully in effect, and is determined to prove it in court. And just see what lengths Stardock goes to just to convince the fans that Origins is a real continuation of the classic Star Control series, not an independent work that just happens to bear the Star Control name. If F&P had the Star Control trademark, none of this would have happened.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2018, 05:06:42 pm by PRH » Logged
Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #455 on: April 11, 2018, 05:07:47 pm »

And worse yet, Fred and Paul bear a huge part of the blame for this, because they didn't buy back the rights to the Star Control franchise when they had the chance...

I can't blame them for turning it down if Stardock overbid based on the erroneous assumption that it was buying the exclusive publishing rights.  With hindsight, I would put their mistake further back:  I think that they should have clearly publicized their ownership of the copyright and publishing rights prior to the Atari auction to ensure that nobody would think those rights were being sold.  That wouldn't have cost them anything, and it would have prevented any later misunderstandings.  It also would have probably depressed the price, such that if Stardock had still bought the trademark, selling it back to them "at cost" might have only been $100k instead of $300k-$400k.
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Talonious
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #456 on: April 11, 2018, 10:32:03 pm »

Is there publicly available information about P&F's net worth? I realize that's a bit of an impolite and insensitive question, but I'm curious as to just how big a financial investment/risk it would have been for them to acquire the rights to SC when Stardock offered to sell them at cost. I have not gotten the impression that they are particularly wealthy.

Certainly the money angle from the opposite side is not immaterial to all this. Per Frogboy, Stardock has spent $7M making SCO.
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Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #457 on: April 11, 2018, 10:53:39 pm »

Is there publicly available information about P&F's net worth? I realize that's a bit of an impolite and insensitive question, but I'm curious as to just how big a financial investment/risk it would have been for them to acquire the rights to SC when Stardock offered to sell them at cost. I have not gotten the impression that they are particularly wealthy.

They're private citizens, so I doubt there is much information to be had.  Obviously, Skylanders has been known to be pretty successful, but that money gets split a lot of ways, so Toys4Bob would have only gotten a small piece of it, and P&F would have only personally gotten a piece of that piece.  It's also important to note that this offer came in 2013, so they'd only been doing Skylanders for a few years.

I would guess that at least part of the timing of their GotP announcement was down to when they finally decided that they had built up enough money to be able to hire the team they're going to need, and do without income themselves for several years while they made the new game.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2018, 11:07:39 pm by Elestan » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #458 on: April 12, 2018, 01:04:16 am »

And worse yet, Fred and Paul bear a huge part of the blame for this, because they didn't buy back the rights to the Star Control franchise when they had the chance...

I can't blame them for turning it down if Stardock overbid based on the erroneous assumption that it was buying the exclusive publishing rights.  With hindsight, I would put their mistake further back:  I think that they should have clearly publicized their ownership of the copyright and publishing rights prior to the Atari auction to ensure that nobody would think those rights were being sold.  That wouldn't have cost them anything, and it would have prevented any later misunderstandings.  It also would have probably depressed the price, such that if Stardock had still bought the trademark, selling it back to them "at cost" might have only been $100k instead of $300k-$400k.

The trademark was worth $300,000 easily all by itself. We spent twice as much on the marketing of Ashes of the Singularity.   That was what we cared about.  If the publishing of the DOS games had been considered valuable they would have gone up on Steam in 2013 instead of as part of the 25th anniversary.  The DOS games probably generate $20k per year gross.
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Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #459 on: April 12, 2018, 01:43:23 am »

I can't blame them for turning it down if Stardock overbid based on the erroneous assumption that it was buying the exclusive publishing rights.
If the publishing of the DOS games had been considered valuable they would have gone up on Steam in 2013 instead of as part of the 25th anniversary.  The DOS games probably generate $20k per year gross.

I wasn't referring to the publishing rights for the past games, but rather to the forward-looking publishing rights to Paul's copyrighted material, which are needed to make new games in the UQM universe.  I presume that you think (or thought) that you had acquired those rights, based on what you said in your email to him last October:
Quote from: Brad Wardell
At present, we do have a license to your IP to use per the original agreement in all future sequels in perpetuity...

Would you really have bid $300k for just the trademark if you knew that you would have to set any new games in an entirely different universe?
« Last Edit: April 12, 2018, 02:09:25 am by Elestan » Logged
Frogboy
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #460 on: April 12, 2018, 03:12:16 am »

I can't blame them for turning it down if Stardock overbid based on the erroneous assumption that it was buying the exclusive publishing rights.
If the publishing of the DOS games had been considered valuable they would have gone up on Steam in 2013 instead of as part of the 25th anniversary.  The DOS games probably generate $20k per year gross.

I wasn't referring to the publishing rights for the past games, but rather to the forward-looking publishing rights to Paul's copyrighted material, which are needed to make new games in the UQM universe.  I presume that you think (or thought) that you had acquired those rights, based on what you said in your email to him last October:
Quote from: Brad Wardell
At present, we do have a license to your IP to use per the original agreement in all future sequels in perpetuity...

Would you really have bid $300k for just the trademark if you knew that you would have to set any new games in an entirely different universe?

Absolutely.  $300k is about what a trade show presence costs.  Wargaming spent $2 million on the Master of Orion IP and that has no universe or lore of any note.  They spent nearly that much on Total Annihilation, which again, is basically a trademark.  Stardock, at the same auction, bid $1.9 million on Master of Orion which as mentioned, mostly was the trademark.
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Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #461 on: April 12, 2018, 04:37:59 am »

Would you really have bid $300k for just the trademark if you knew that you would have to set any new games in an entirely different universe?

Absolutely.  $300k is about what a trade show presence costs.  Wargaming spent $2 million on the Master of Orion IP and that has no universe or lore of any note.  They spent nearly that much on Total Annihilation, which again, is basically a trademark.  Stardock, at the same auction, bid $1.9 million on Master of Orion which as mentioned, mostly was the trademark.

Right; with MOO, there isn't really a lot to it other than the trademark; maybe a bit of racial art and concept that would fall under copyright, but really, as part of a pure strategy game, the MOO races are just templates of racial stats.  There's not really a story to any of them - even their personalities can vary from game-to-game, and the dialog is all canned boilerplate*.  But SC2, being an RPG, is much more about your interactions with characters in the setting, which means the creative (copyrightable) aspects of the races play a much more prominent role.  IMHO, most of the value of SC2 lies not in the name's trademark, but rather in the setting's copyright (as the UQM project demonstrates).

* Not to give the impression that I don't like MOO; on the contrary, MOO, MOM, and SC2 stand as my three favorite games of all time.  BTW, do you happen to know who ended up with the rights to MOM?  I presume you would have used them by now if you'd gotten them.
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Frogboy
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #462 on: April 12, 2018, 06:03:36 am »

I donít share your appraisal of the value of the lore.

Baldurís 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 wasnít.

I realize $300,000 is a lot for an individual. But thatís less than a typical launch trailer. 
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Soul Reaver
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #463 on: April 12, 2018, 09:23:28 am »

I donít share your appraisal of the value of the lore.

Baldurís 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 wasnít.

I realize $300,000 is a lot for an individual. But thatís 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.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2018, 10:44:21 pm by Soul Reaver » Logged

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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #464 on: April 12, 2018, 06:51:47 pm »

I would have to chime in with agreement to Soul Reaver's post on the value of the lore and the narrative to a single player RPG.

When you get right down to it, a lot of the parts of Star Control 2 aren't particularly sophisticated from a gameplay perspective and the graphics certainly haven't aged that well either. (Although mods certainly help!) And yet, it remains one of my favorite games of all-time and I can still pick it right back up and play it again even today despite how old it is.

That's because of the amazing and tragic story of the two Ur-Quan races. It's because of the mystery of the Arilou's interest in earth and their tampering. It's because of the amazing selflessness of the Chenjesu and the Mmrnmhrm to essentially sacrifice their entire races in order to create a stronger one that was capable of liberating and defending the rest of the Alliance of Free Stars. It because of the bravery of the Shofixti and their heroic last stand, and the guilt of the Yehat eventually driving them to overthrow a dynasty that had lasted for thousands of years as corrupt. It's because of the pure malevolence of the Dynarri contrasting with the nobility of the Taalo, or the hilarious black humor of the prank the Umgah played on the Spathi to trick them into becoming battle thralls and so many other things that I could keep on listing.

These are the things that have survived the test of time and make the game so memorable and still so fun to play 25 years later. Don't get me wrong. I love me some Super Melee once in a while, but it's the lore that made Star Control 2 one of the best games of all time for me.

The value of an RPG to me is not the name, or, put differently, the brand GETS its value in the first place from the lore. It is why people were originally disappointed when they learned that Origins wasn't going to have the alien races that they knew and liked but were mollified by the idea that there would be all new races that would be well fleshed out and a part of an interesting new universe with it's own deep storyline and history.

It's also why the RPG genre is my absolute favorite. All of my favorite RPGs of all time usually come down - for me at least - to how good the characters in the game are and how well written and interesting the story is. The interactions with both really are, more than anything, the core gameplay of the RPG genre for me personally. The "playing a role" bit becomes much more fun when the rest of the setting feels "real" and compelling. When I was Commander Shepard playing Mass Effect I cared about the fate of my crew because of how real they felt. I did all the extra loyalty missions because I wanted to maximize the chances of keeping all of them alive. If the characters and story are interesting, then things such as "does the game have real time with pause or turn based combat" still matter to me and I still have my preferences, but they matter much less.

I think this is where RPGs differ from the Strategy game genre, which I also enjoy but not to the same extent and not for the same reasons.

There the other gameplay factors are so more important than the lore IMHO for a good Strategy game. Are the races/factions well balanced with different strengths and weaknesses that make for a fun variety to play? Are there multiple ways you can achieve victory to keep the experience from going stale? Does the map generator create fair maps that don't give anyone a huge advantage to start with? Things like that are more important to the core experience of a good Strategy game than each race/faction having a deep and compelling back story. Granted, I still find strategy games more compelling and fun if they DO have a good story campaign to them, but it isn't as important as it is in the RPG genre where I largely view it as essential.

I think in a franchise like, say, Sid Meier's Civilization series the value is indeed in the trademark more than the lore because the trademark is associated with decades of well made, well balanced, and fun to play strategy games. Indeed the Civilization series doesn't even have any lore to speak of. I don't think that's true for a franchise like Star Control.
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