Star Control: Origins Is Available for Purchase on Steam

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by cageymaru, Jan 21, 2019.

  1. cageymaru

    cageymaru [H]ard as it Gets

    Messages:
    19,812
    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2003
    Star Control: Origins is available for purchase on Steam again after being forced off the digital storefront late last year by a DMCA take down notice from members of the original Star Control development team. Stardock, the developer of Star Control: Origins, is currently being sued by the original Star Control development team comprised of Reiche and Ford for copyright infringement. The game hasn't been restored to GOG.com yet. Stardock CEO Brad Wardell didn't get into the details of how or why the title was restored to Steam.

    When asked whether the game would also return to GOG, Wardell said: "Nothing I can discuss publicly unfortunately. Other than to say that the dispute is Stardock/GOG/Valve on one side and Reiche and Ford on the other."
     
    Q-BZ likes this.
  2. HVAC

    HVAC n00b

    Messages:
    47
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    The lawsuit is apparently over copyright regarding the usage of alien race names and likenesses (as a basic example) from SC 1 and 2. Stardock bought trademark rights to ... something (SC 1 and 2 only?) (when it purchased another game distributor's assets) and had been in negotiation with Reiche and Ford regarding the non-trademark based IP, but for some reason, decided to go ahead with SC:O without express permission to use names and likenesses. (My own understanding and IANAL.)

    I don't know what the article graphic has to do with the lawsuit. Those are possibly Stardock's "see where we don't infringe" presentation points, but IMO they don't bear on Reiche and Ford's complaint.

    See also Leonard French's YouTube channel for an analysis/reading of the pertinent arguments.
     
    Lakados likes this.
  3. Legendary Gamer

    Legendary Gamer Gawd

    Messages:
    530
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2012
    Hopefully stardock didn't get screwed, theyre one of the few independent publishing companies out there thats left. I don't like all their stuff, but Sins if a solar empire has provided me with hundreds if not thousands of hours of enjoyment between mods and base game expansions.
     
    DuronBurgerMan and Neapolitan6th like this.
  4. Lakados

    Lakados [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,622
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2014
    Stardock fucked up on this one, they got permission originally from Reiche and Ford saying that they would not use any names, races, designs, or places, coming from Star Control 1 or 2 and basically stated that they were making a new game from the ground up under the Star Control name. Then when fans got upset over this they slowly backtracked and added in copyrighted materials back into the game. The promotion packs that they released back in the beta were all struck down from GOG and Steam and Stardock couldn't fight those and they were pulled but then they put that content into the released game....

    I think Stardock was hoping they could tie them up in court long enough to get the game out make their money and get a precedent set so they could do sequels safely, it doesn't seem to be going that way for them.
     
    trandoanhung1991 likes this.
  5. admiralperpetual

    admiralperpetual Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    415
    Joined:
    May 7, 2015
  6. maxius

    maxius 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,369
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2001
    there is likely a court date coming in to decide the status of the dmca as the 14 day window passed more here https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/512 "(C) replaces the removed material and ceases disabling access to it not less than 10, nor more than 14, business days following receipt of the counter notice, unless its designated agent first receives notice from the person who submitted the notification under subsection (c)(1)(C) that such person has filed an action seeking a court order to restrain the subscriber from engaging in infringing activity relating to the material on the service provider’s system or network."

    here is a good rundown of this entire saga http://crimsoncorporation.org/
     
  7. Legendary Gamer

    Legendary Gamer Gawd

    Messages:
    530
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2012
    It's ok. It amused me for 20+ hours but I really didn't get heavily invested .
     
  8. maxius

    maxius 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,369
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2001
  9. kju1

    kju1 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,032
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2002
    If by got permission you mean bought a license... What I heard is that they bought the license from Activision for all of that stuff as long as they continued to make royalty payments. The IP owners claimed that payments had lapsed prior to Stardock buying the license so it was invalid...my question: If it was invalid why did you accept Stardocks royalty payments?
     
    Armenius and Lakados like this.
  10. Pyro411

    Pyro411 [H]Lite

    Messages:
    90
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2009
    I quite enjoyed the game and have about 170hrs into the game, however yes I am a Lifetime Founder and had access to the Alpha + Beta.

    TBH it's a really good solid game, but like most Stardock games I've played it only really starts to shine once a few patches/dlc hit it.

    Sadly the rabbit hole goes very deep on this one, so far that Alice would stop chasing the rabbit to see how far the hole goes... and no matter where you look for info on it, you'll come up short of a full picture of what happened, how it's gotten to here, and where it's going.

    For example Lakados likely comes from the UQM forums / Starcontrol subreddit which both have a high level of Pro Paul & Fred / Anti Stardock mindset to them... more info could be found at the Starcontrol forum / StarControlOfficial however those are directly from Stardock so yes it does have a Pro Stardock Bias but is nowhere near as toxic as the other subreddit, and then there's a 6 mile long post on QuartertoThree plus numerous videos on it floating about on youtube from various places.

    The timeline as I remember it.

    Brad reached out to see if Paul & Fred were willing to work together on a sequel - given a no
    Brad offered to sell P&F the Trademark, Star control III original copyrights, distribution rights, etc that they picked up at the Atari Auction at cost - given a no
    Brad asked if they could use the Star Control II ships within Fleet battles -- given an undesirable answer and scrapped the plans
    Stardock had published a promotional Star Control Origins picture at some point with Wymdoo on the bridge and two ships from Star Control II hanging like fuzzy dice from a rearview mirror -- after backlash from P&F and a few vocal members of UQM, /r/StarControl it was removed and never made it to the Alpha
    About 7-10 days prior to the public fleet battle beta came out Fred & Paul launched their DogarandKazon Squarespace blog and announced to the world that they were going to start working on a "True Sequel to Star Control II" which could have been timed better and worded better. -- Stardock was a bit miffed that P&F knowingly stomped on their announcement as P&F knew of the public beta announcement ahead of time. Also Paul and Fred had potentially violated Stardock's Trademark with the original post, but they also spread other people's posts about it as well as used Stardock Trademarked materials to promote it.

    This is where the crazy parts come in...
    Stardock requested P&F to update their posts / remove Trademarked materials as to not cause Trademark confusion / dilution... this escalates and legal teams get involved
    Paul & Fred get Star Control I / II / III removed from Steam/GOG -- I believe via DMCA which Stardock countered as they had the Atari Contract to distribute those games and then took the games down shortly after they were re-posted since they weren't bringing in enough money for the hassle they brought. -- Sorry my memory is fuzzy since this happened in 2017
    More lawyers got involved from the Paul & Fred side, this time over copyrighted materials in 2017 and complaints over the free Chenjesu & Arilou DLCs "Desktop Wallpaper and Soundtrack"
    Around April of 2018 Paul and Fred finish getting most of the copyrights assigned to them as a number of individuals from the original team owned them and not Paul or Fred. -- Do note: A vast majority of the music in Star Control II is owned by the original composers Dan & Riku who now work for Stardock.
    Lots and lots of legal back & forth as well as escalations both publicly and privately
    Stardock filed a Primary injunction so Fred & Paul couldn't DMCA Star Control Origins on launch day Sept 20 2018
    The judge rules against the injunction as Stardock couldn't meet the high bar required at the end of December 2018 -- Many parties knew this was going to happen
    Paul and Fred immediately DMCA Star Control Origins while sending certified letters to at least GoG but possibly Steam as well while having had made them party to the suit I believe back in November 2018.
    Star Control Origins has been reposted on Steam.

    If you go looking for a far more detailed recap of what happened, beware there would be a TON of back and forth between those who state IANAL, and others who say they're impartial but their bias shows plain as day...

    It is a mess, a HUGE mess, and I have a feeling it's just going to keep getting messier and messier until the judge finally rules on things I believe on Oct 17th 2019.

    For the smiles, an image I picked up along the way.
    updatedchart.png
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
    tungt88, Armenius, NoOther and 2 others like this.
  11. Ranulfo

    Ranulfo [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,561
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2006
    Its hard to have much sympathy for Paul and Fred when they gave out the source code to the public in 2002 for SC2 and supported the remake and HD remasters of it. Why if they cared so much about copyright and the trademark they didn't assert those rights legally when they found out Stardock had bought them from Atari/Inforgrames/Accolade?
     
    tungt88 and Armenius like this.
  12. Pyro411

    Pyro411 [H]Lite

    Messages:
    90
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2009
    Honestly I would highly suggest the MegaMod project over the HD remix as it's constantly being updated still. https://github.com/Serosis/UQM-MegaMod/releases

    I can honestly see both sides to it, they gave Star Control II to the fans, and worked with many who had since that point became industry giants. However yes if somebody wound up porting UQM to be a big mod on Star Control Origins while maintaining the same open source license and then they attacked the fan who created that, oh man there would be a major storm brewing from that.

    Funny stuff though, rumor has it, when Toys for Bob was doing the Spyro HD release there were rumors that one of the original artists was going to go after them for copyright infringement... What I'm learning from this whole debacle is that copyright/trademark laws can get complex and messy, especially when contracts don't specifically assign every copyright which is why we don't see more beloved childhood classics seeing new light via developers today.
     
  13. kju1

    kju1 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,032
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2002
    Yeah in the end only the lawyers will profit.
     
    Pyro411 likes this.
  14. Inglix_the_Mad

    Inglix_the_Mad Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    332
    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2004
    ^This^

    Right here is why copyright should be returned to what it was originally intended to be: very limited. Copyright was never intended to provide a revenue stream, in perpetuity, to the content creator. No, the idea of copyright was to provide a means to compensate the creator as an incentive to create new works by creating very temporary exclusivity. The utter ridiculous bullshiat we have now (75 years, AFTER!!! the death of the artist! I won't get into "works for hire") where you have people who didn't create a dang thing (kids and grandkids) collecting royalty payments is an affront to why copyright was created. This is also proof why Jefferson was correct in his fears of allowing copyright in the US in his time.

    Stifling the creation of new works based on the old material, that the "creators" haven't gotten off their backsides to actually do anything new with for over a decade mind you, is not serving any real interest. Well, other than lazy f**ks suing people for money they didn't actually earn. FFS this is almost as bad, maybe two steps above, a patent troll lawsuit filed in a certain Texas court district.
     
  15. Lakados

    Lakados [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,622
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2014
    They didn't make royalty payments, royalty payments stopped a good number of years before Stardock even bought it, they only thing Stardock bought was the name Star Control, they do not have any permission to use any of the content as that license was lost before they purchased it. There are long email chains between Stardock and the original team where they are refusing Stardock permission to use their content and Stardock then saying that they would not use any of the copyrighted materials. When Stardock announced that they would not use the copyrighted materials there was fan lash back and they slowly crept it back in. During the Beta the launched 2 packs both using infringing IP both those packs were later forced out of Steam and GOG, they then tried to change up a few minor details but then included both those packs in the launched game along with other materials to please the fans. Stardock is going to get slapped around on this and they deserve to be.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
    defaultluser likes this.
  16. KD5ZXG

    KD5ZXG Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    409
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2017
    You can't own the color red. Therefore all compositions that include it cannot be owned.
    "We don't have holes in space", I've payed your game and its AI pilot is a hole in space.
     
  17. DuronBurgerMan

    DuronBurgerMan [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,309
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2017
    Love Sins of a Solar Empire. Though multithread support is still atrocious - if any game ever could benefit from craploads of cores if written better... it'd be this one.
     
  18. DuronBurgerMan

    DuronBurgerMan [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,309
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2017
    I don't think Stardock deserves this. I get that there are legal arguments way above my pay grade - I make no comment on those except to say the lawyers will profit immensely from it all.

    Rather, Stardock bought SOMETHING. Stardock offered to sell that SOMETHING back to the original creators for no profit whatsoever. Brad was clearly trying to do right, IMHO. I've had some dealings with Brad personally, and he's always struck me as a stand-up guy. My reasons are thus probably personal, but I believe his intentions were good and honest.

    Whether he's right in a technical and legal sense... I dunno. The law is a patchwork of BS when it comes to IP, IMHO. We could argue it to death. Lawyers could argue it to death. But Brad and the rest of Stardock don't deserve to be dumped on because of messy IP law.
     
  19. Legendary Gamer

    Legendary Gamer Gawd

    Messages:
    530
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2012
    I agree, this game is a throwback to single threaded 32 bit applications. Be sure to look for the mods out there that tweak the launch exe file. It allows the game to use up to 4GB of virtual memory as opposed to just 2. Games will run a lot longer before crashing. I think sins of a galactic empire includes the executable patch program.

    I would kill for an x64 multi threaded version of the game that simply allowed you to Port all the existing mods to. I Just like I would kill for Keberos to release SOTS in a similar fashion (there's a exe patch for this game as well, lookup NTCore ).
     
    DuronBurgerMan likes this.
  20. Lakados

    Lakados [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,622
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2014
    Stardock Bought a name, they are more than OK to use that name, they didn't buy the content. IF they had stuck to their end of the deal and written a new game with a new story starting from the ground up then everything would be fine. But Stardock didn't do that, they played the nostalgia card and included other peoples IP, other people who flatly said NO you cant use our stuff. They tried once to sneak it it and GOG and Steam pulled their stuff from the stores then too. The original creators have their own game coming out that does use that IP so they are more than in their right to refuse it to others. Stardock should have rebooted the franchise with all new aliens with all new ships with original names and races and art and sound, they could have done great things, but they didn't and now the game is in this mess and I am stuck holding off on buying it until it clears up. Because I am not feeling like buying a game just to have it shelved in a few months.
     
    defaultluser likes this.
  21. Legendary Gamer

    Legendary Gamer Gawd

    Messages:
    530
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2012
    The entire thing reminds me of Battletech vs Harmony Gold (Robotech). If they can prove that those two coders dont own exclusive rights to the way space games commonly refer to tech in said games, theyve got a pretty good shot at getting the case either dismissed or coming to some sort of agreement like HBS did with Harmony Gold in their most recent legal encounter.
     
  22. Legendary Gamer

    Legendary Gamer Gawd

    Messages:
    530
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2012
    If stardock can prove that their game is deravitive enough, the case might just get thrown out. Similarities between the original "owners" of the IP would have come out with something regardless. They would have just waited longer and then pulled something out of their asses.

    If the game was opened back up on steam I have to imagine something good happened in their court case though neither party can comment openly about it.

    I'm not a lawyer, this sure as hell isn't legal advice ;)
     
    Lakados likes this.
  23. Neapolitan6th

    Neapolitan6th Gawd

    Messages:
    1,022
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2016
    I just want Sins of a Solar Empire 2 to release. Come on Stardock, take my money.
     
    Lakados and DuronBurgerMan like this.
  24. Lakados

    Lakados [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,622
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2014
    That would normally be the case if they hadn't done stuff like use the racial names, ship designs, system names, planet names, and likenesses of at least 2 of the more popular races from Star Control 2 which ownership is pretty clear on they even used SC2 artwork in their promotional materials. In the re release they have arbitrarily changed the names of some of the races (apparently) but some of the artwork remains so they are going to have to pull that back. It's back up now on Steam because Stardock apparently swamped the courts with enough paperwork that it will take a few months to clear it all up at the end of which it will likely be pulled again but until that paperwork is sorted it pauses? the DMCA request which allows them to put it back.

    Either way the Judges statements regarding Stardocks actions on this are pretty clear cut that he thinks they messed up big and that this whole thing is a mess of their own making.

    So while I am really tempted to get it now, I don't think I will bother with the seasons pass, because I am not sure it will stick around that long.

    *Edit*
    Apparently if they waited much longer then "Ghosts of the Precursors" would have launched or be close to launching which is their sequel to "The Urquan Masters" which is their stuff taking place in the SC2 universe, just not using the SC name as they know they don't own that.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
  25. Legendary Gamer

    Legendary Gamer Gawd

    Messages:
    530
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2012
    Well that's really a giant bucket of suck... (because it will screw them for other releases likely after wasting dev time on this one) I mean, I bought it and played it. It was ok, worth some laughs with some stuff getting a bit repetitive after 20 hours and the fuel thing really pissing me off which gated my ability to travel without having some bizarre alien show up and tow me all the way back to earth. If I could transfer the game license to you I would, I think they only let "friends and family" play? Let me know, you can have it. I'm not likely to revisit the title.
     
  26. Inglix_the_Mad

    Inglix_the_Mad Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    332
    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2004
    "Ghosts of the Precursors" will be released at the same time as the Infinium Phantom. They are only "creating it" because they needed something, anything, to provide a publicly acceptable reason for their rent-seeking behavior. They know they waited too long to sue for the royalties they didn't get from Atari. Activision has little, if any, interest in funding that game's development, and TfB is a wholly-owned subsidiary. Even if it broke all previous records for the series, it wouldn't amount to 1/100th a new CoD game. Heck their legal costs GoFundMe cash grab topped out at less than US$50k which shows how much people believe in the two of them.

    Finally, if they really believed Atari should've lost the rights, then it was up to them to file that prior to the bankruptcy in 2013. Once Atari went into bankruptcy, they could've filed as a creditor but it doesn't look like they did that either, and thus gave up the right to all those delinquent payments if there wasn't enough to cover overall debts. When Stardock bought the IP from bankruptcy, TfB (or Paul/Fred) could've filed for a contract addendum (this happens all the time after IP assets are purchased) post sale re-establishing the contract terms with the new party. Basically it's just a way to ensure that the name on contract changes, the contract remains in force, and puts people on notice as it were. However there does not seem to be a filing for that either. You can't even argue that's expensive, it's a filing fee and 3 hours of legal time, as no judge would've entertained a motion to question it much less quash it.

    So, for all your legal pronouncements it's quite possible TfB (and Paul, and Fred) might've f**ked themselves out of a lot of money. My guess is they wanted to extort Stardock for more money as the SC:O game got closer to completion, since that would ensure maximum investment by Stardock. Then there would be a high likelihood Stardock would capitulate, and pay, hoping to recoup the money they already put into the game plus some profit. They (TfB, Paul, Fred) have no more interest in creating a new SC game themselves than they did after selling it out to Accolade. This is nothing more than rent-seeking behavior at it's ugliest.
     
    Ranulfo likes this.
  27. maxius

    maxius 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,369
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2001
    Let me be clear Brad started the legal fight Paul and Fred Responded in kind. someone needs to do some reading on the subject http://crimsoncorporation.org/ as the above is completely misinformed.
     
  28. Inglix_the_Mad

    Inglix_the_Mad Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    332
    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2004
    So what you're telling me is:

    that (TfB / Paul / Fred) sued Atari prior to the bankruptcy sale for their money (according to my lawyer friend, it is not showing up in L-N) to be listed as a creditor?

    that (TfB / Paul / Fred) filed for a contract addendum (according to my lawyer friend, it is not showing up in L-N) post asset sale?

    that (Activision / TfB / Paul / Fred) will be able to show active development for GotP (at the very least prior to the current legal mess) including actual development dollars?

    You're barking up the wrong tree with me mate. I think the current copyright system (a la Disney and Mickey farking Mouse) is an utter travesty and contrary to what copyright was intended. Per the people who thought copyright would be a good idea (prior to all the term expansions) copyright was intended to be limited exclusivity to sell as an incentive to create new works. Copyright was not intended to keep something exclusive for 75 years after the author's death. That would mean (Paul / Fred) could theoretically have their grandchildren rent-seeking anything related to Star Control when they created absolutely nothing of value.

    Of course that depends on the terms of the bankruptcy sale and failure to challenge subsequent terms of sale. This also depends on believing (TfB / Paul / Fred / Alex Ness) that another SC game is just around the corner even though they've failed to deliver.
     
  29. maxius

    maxius 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,369
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2001
    you dont know how to read do you? To note paul and fred are busy running toys for bob and developing games for activision that is their day job. the 1988 agreement paul and fred own the entire urquan universe totally and completely. the only thing they did not own was the name star control and original assets that were created for star control 3 but they dont need either to finish their story. this entire bag of shit was started cause brad of stardock wanted to work with paul and fred and likely use the urquan universe. Pual and fred said nope and this begain the saga of bradly saying multiple times that he was not going to infringe on paul and freds work and their urquan universe. obviously we know how that went and the game was promoted and released with infringing content in it that was brads call. then he decided he was going to try to legally steal the urquan universe from paul and fred and try to defame and discredit them as the series creators. F*ck Brad.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2019