There Is No Silver Lining

By John Walker on March 2nd, 2010 at 1:01 pm.

They're going to bed, never to get up again.

Goodbye The Silver Lining. Our culture is formed by the sharing of ideas. Throughout history, for millennia, every piece of art, music, literature and entertainment has been the result of a worldwide collaboration. It’s been an astonishing act of creative evolution, the most vibrant and extraordinary gene pool of imagination and inspiration, from which all were free to draw and create. It has been exceptional, and in the last 50 to 100 years it has come to an end.

The tragedy of the abuse and misuse of intellectual property and copyright cannot be counted. After centuries of sharing, we have allowed a “MINE!” tag to be affixed to every thought, string of notes, doodle on a page, or merest whim. We have committed a grotesque cultural suicide. And the extent to which this has reached should be a parody. We have now allowed ourselves to be in the situation where art museums ban sketching – something that should surely make anyone whose understanding of art history goes beyond yesterday scream in fear. And it exists in our world of gaming in a similarly berserk form. And so it is that Activision has closed down work on not-for-profit fan creation The Silver Lining.

Sierra (also known as Sierra Online and Vivendi at various points in their existence) were famed for shutting down any fan projects based on their IP. Along with LucasArts, they have fired out many a cease & desist letter to many a just-for-fun fan project, in the name of defending their intellectual property (IP).

The rationale behind this is two part. First, due to the magical ways our sharing-preventing system works, if you are not seen to be actively defending your trademarks, you lose the exclusivity of the name. Secondly, it is believed by these companies that if outsiders use their IP then they are being stolen from. Zak McKracken, for instance, hasn’t been used by LucasArts since 1988. 22 years. But if anyone tries to create a game featuring him they will likely be hearing from their lawyers. LucasArts may want to sell the right to use Zak Mak to Telltale, for instance. If he’s let into the public domain this would be a revenue stream they’ve lost.

There’s an elegant solution. You create a deal with the fans, allowing them the rights to use your IP but with some strict conditions: They may not profit from your work, they may not identify the characters as their own, and so on. The creators are still in control, but they allow the fans to celebrate the work with original productions. It’s a compromise, and it’s a very acceptable one in the face of a larger sad situation.

Good sense tells you that fan appreciation is an advantage. If someone claims to have created Zak McKraken and is selling the game to fund their badger baiting, then it is understandable that a corporation would wish to put a stop to this – in their view this is money that should be theirs being given to someone else. But if you’ve a fan base who love your games, and that base wants to endorse your game through their own not-for-profit creations, that’s advertising. It’s people promoting your product for free. If your product’s for sale, it will introduce more people to your original game, and create a larger desire for more of the same.

In fact, it’s something publishers are paying for. Consider how much EA must be spending on the Dragon Age Journeys Flash games – they’re essentially the same, just not made by fans. A free-to-play tribute to the full game, played in an embedded web form, created purely as advertising. That’s the madness: these publishers know how valuable such things are.

Sierra/Vivendi made a deal with Phoenix Online Studios to allow them to make their King’s Quest tribute game, The Silver Lining. The studio asked that they not use the title “King’s Quest IX…”, since it’s not impossible that they’d make their own ninth game at some point, but gave them the go-ahead. Of course, not straight away.

Originally they received the traditional C&D letter from Vivendi, once the project was noticed. Four years into development. Their mistake was to release a trailer. This was followed by a swell of support from fans of the project, sending over a thousand emails to complain about the actions of the publisher, and encouraging an agreement with the fan developers to allow them to continue. And impressively, this worked. In late 2005 they were permitted to continue.

After a recent decision to manage the project by dividing it into chapters, the first release was due soon this year. It is no more. Because now Activision – current owners of Sierra/Vivendi IP – have issued a new Cease & Desist to the amateur developers, shutting the project down completely. And it’s a brutal act. Not just eight years of work immediately wiped out and all signs of the game removed from the internet, but Activision are even forcing them to close down their forums, deleting a decade’s discussions between the community.

Something has gone so horribly wrong. What did Activision possibly think they were going to lose from a property gained by buying Blizzard, that hasn’t released a new game in twelve years? I am unable to think of a way maintaining or updating the Vivendi agreement could have harmed the giant corporation. It doesn’t threaten their options to continue the series, and nor is their any recognisable argument that it would reduce sales. In fact, it may have quite the opposite effect.

Charles Cecil’s Revolution has found that allowing fan projects may have even helped their sales. (Declaration of interest here: I’ve done work for Revolution on the DS/Wii version of Broken Sword). Not only has Revolution released their earliest games, Lure of the Temptress and Beneath A Steel Sky as freeware, but they even went so far as to help the ScummVM team to make the games work on their emulator. Further, the company has encouraged a German fan project with Broken Sword 2.5, that tells a story between the events of the second and third Broken Sword games. This is a game that not only uses the game title, but even artwork and assets from Cecil’s originals.

So why does Cecil allow this? Is he not afraid of the same things that must be worrying publishers like Activision?

“I am aware that our approach is quite different to that of many other brand holders,” Cecil explains, making no comment specifically about the Activision situation, but speaking about his own experience. “In the short term it is easy to understand why rights are so closely guarded, but I have no doubt that Revolution has benefitted in the long term by our more open approach.”

He still wants limitations in place. For Broken Sword 2.5 “Uncle Charles” Cecil was aware that there was a line that couldn’t be crossed in terms of what they did with the game. “When we were approached by MindFactory who wanted to write Broken Sword 2.5, I was happy to support the project but on the proviso that it wasn’t sold.” He says this was because it crossed a line where it appeared the game was endorsed by Revolution, rather than being something inspired by them but created entirely separately as a tribute. Cecil adds, “Broken Sword 2.5 was a fun game, and was particularly impressive when you consider that it was created by enthusiasts.”

So what about earlier games? Why did he allow his earliest IP to be available to ScummVM? “Lure of the Temptress and Beneath a Steel Sky were written for MS-DOS – and when Windows stopped supporting DOS in the late ‘90s the games could no longer be played on then-current operating systems. So when ScummVM approached us to port the games, I saw no reason not to allow them to do so and we offered the games for free.”

It’s Cecil’s nonchalance about this, that to him it’s obviously what makes sense, that strikes the strongest contrast between his attitude and those experienced elsewhere. But did this do him any harm? Giving things away for free only a short time before it was realised that these old properties could be reinvented for the mobile market? It seems not, says Cecil. “In hindsight it was a smart move. It kept the brands vibrant and, being free, they were played by a very wide audience.”

And this, Cecil believes, offered advantages when it came to the iPhone release of Beneath A Steel Sky. “The iPhone with its touch interface offered the ideal platform to re-invent Beneath a Steel Sky – although, interestingly, a couple of people moaned that we were charging for the application. Plenty of people responded to point out how ludicrous that argument was. So the advantage of releasing the game through ScummVM was that it was kept the brand alive – the disadvantage was that some people then expected it to be permanently free.”

There does seem to be strong logic to suggest that keeping old brands alive and in the public consciousness is advantageous to owners of IP, especially when they haven’t been used or even sold for as much as decades. It seems counter-intuitive to stifle creativity inspired by a publisher’s products, and it’s certainly counter to the foundations of all culture.

We approached Activision for a comment, asking what their reasons were for closing down The Silver Lining, and whether they would ever allow a non-commercial license for a fan-made game based on their IP. Unfortunately after twenty four hours we were finally told, “No comment.”

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199 Comments »

  1. Dominic White says:

    This is right up there with Activision trying to sue Double Fine for moving to EA after they refused to publish Brutal Legend. It’s nonsensical, spiteful, and legally questionable, but they can get away with it because they have an enormous legal team and Bobby Kotick is bordering on megalomaniacal.

    Ubisofts DRM malarkey is offensive and stupid, but they at least have some kind of reason behind it. This is just Activision being spiteful and randomly violent to their customers/fans for no logical reason.

    Activision can go fuck themselves. They have become a genuinely evil company.

  2. Cinnamon says:

    I think that Charles Cecil’s attitude isn’t unusual from people who come from more of a programming background than a law or business background. It’s the same sort of attitude that lead John Carmack to open source Doom and lead to the writing of the GNU software licence. Something else that is lost in the waves of consolidation and rule of the mega publishers.

    • qrter says:

      And there’s the rub.

      Things like this remind me again how great a copyright system Creative Commons is – it allows the creator of any work to say what can and can’t be done with their work. You can say, for example, my work can be sampled by others to create work as long as those others refer to using my work and not profiting from their new work. That’s just one option, there are many more, from open to restrictive.

      And then I remember that the people who endorse Creative Commons generally are artists, people who don’t really expect to make a lot of money from their work. CC is wonderful for the artistic community, less interesting if you’re in the business of making cold, hard cash.

    • mandrill says:

      Trent Reznor famously released the entirety of his last NIN album (Ghosts) under a creatvie commons license, and made a shedload of cash, all into his own pocket because he cut out the middleman (the record industry). Its generally not the creators of the work that are overprotective of it, it is the publishers of said work.

      Cory Doctorow said it best I think. “As an author, I’m more afraid of obscurity than poverty” The same could be said for any artist, in any feild.

  3. Ffitz says:

    “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

    • archonsod says:

      Second thing we do. First thing we do is move all the stuff to a developing nation with lax copyright enforcement. And cheap hosting.

    • Flameberge says:

      Oi, not all lawyers help the big evil corporations stamp “MINE!” on everything!
      I, for instance, specialise in human rights. So, if you read the Daily Mail, I help keep terrorists out of prison so they can eat our babies and steal our jobs. Yay!

    • Ffitz says:

      Ah, the good old days when Activision were putting out things like Interstate ’76, Heavy Gear and MechWarrior. Where are they now?

    • Labbes says:

      Like a boss!

  4. Ragnar says:

    The answer is control. The bigger the corporation, the bigger their fear of losing control and thus they tighten the control even more.

  5. Mihai says:

    Oh, Activision…

    You guys are aware of the whole fucked up situation going down at Infinity Ward right now, yes? http://www.shacknews.com/laryn.x?story=62577&page=2

    • Tei says:

      Unfortunately due to these developments IW.Net and all connected systems will be shut down within 4-6 weeks. Regarding this halt to IW.Net, neither Infintiy Ward nor Activision are able to offer you any multiplayer platform for “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Currently only for the PC platform we will release a dedicated server software. On the Microsoft XBox 360 and Sony Playstation 3, players will have to revert to single player mode. We at Infinity Ward appreciate your confidence in our creativity and wish you all the best.”

      Seems bad news for these that think our petition for dedicated servers was stupid.
      I mean.. HAHA.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Is that real?

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      Oh, Helio.

    • Jockie says:

      Where’s that quoted from Tei? Sounds like a pretty suicidal move.

    • Dominic White says:

      Activision, without warning, marched a large security force into the Infinity Ward offices, and proceeded to remove two of the company heads for ‘Insubordination’.

      Activision aren’t operating like a games publisher. They’re acting like a paranoid military regieme.

      Holy fuck they’ve gone so far off the deep end it’s stopped being funny and has actually become genuinely scary. Imagine how freaked out the IW devs must have been when this large force of heavies just takes up residence apparently aren’t authorized to tell anyone the reason they’re there.

      I actually wouldn’t have been surprised if they just dragged the developers out into the street and shot them at this point. That’s how surreal this has gotten.

    • CMaster says:

      Thing is, a bunch of anonymous men storm the building and refuse to explain what they’re doing – I think I’d be calling the cops, to be honest. Suprised we didn’t hear about some insane standoff at the end of the day.

    • Boldoran says:

      Oh wow…

    • Tei says:

      Humm.. the complete quote I paste there seems false. :-/

  6. Psychopomp says:

    I think Activision wants me to hate them.

    • Wulf says:

      I’m convinced Activision-Blizzard (can we call them Actard, now?) wants everyone to hate them, but since I haven’t bought an Actard product in yonks, I’m just fine with hating them.

      What’s funny is that even when Electronic Arts were considered evil, they were never anywhere near as bad as this, nor was their DRM as insane as Ubisoft’s, and since then they’ve cleaned up their act and even went out of their way to produce some unusual games. Casting my gaze upon Actard, it feels wrong to have ever said a bad word about EA, but at least I did forgive them when they turned over a new leaf.

      I can’t see Actard doing anything of the sort any time soon, because they don’t really need to. They have all those chimps buying their games, then they have the grindmonkeys in World of Warcraft who’ll happily pay for their subscriptions and woefully overpriced expansions. Actard (apt name!) is a machine fuelled by stupidity, greased with the ichor of avarice, and allowed to function by the sloth-like apathy of the consumer.

      I haven’t bought an Actard product in a long time, and I doubt I ever shall again. My money is better served in the hands of smaller developers/companies, anyway.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Precisely as Wulf puts it. Don’t buy their products and make it abundantly clear why you don’t. That will get their attention.

      Otherwise, saying Activision is evil but rushing for their next game? Activision: Thank you for having preferred us.

    • Blackberries says:

      Yeah, the (quite potent) malaise I felt towards EA for a long time was based on far less outright evilness than this. Activision have taken all the worst industry-stifling behaviours EA were fond of, magnified them tenfold and thrown in blatant, unrepentant bastardry. All it will take is for them to follow Ubisoft’s lead in DRM and they’ll be about the most hated company in history.

    • Flameberge says:

      As Wulf implies, there is a bitter irony to this. When everyone hated EA for their constant stream of bland, uninspired, repetitive and mediocre products, they were king of the hill and made a bucketload of money. Since they’ve turned themselves around in a way that we, as gamers, applaud, they’ve started haemorrhaging money.

      It seems gamers in general are happy to complain about constantly having a publisher releasing inane sequels, but when that publisher starts trying to produce new IPs, new gaming experiences, the gaming public move over to the next big publisher that is producing the same-old same-old inane drivel that is “safe”. I think most gamers are scared of trying anything new. This is what Actard have worked out. This is why they have made enough money to coat the whole planet in a thin coat of silver dust if they so chose.

    • Nesetalis says:

      the problem of course is, blizzard releases good games. No matter what your feelings are on them, they are generally good games with a huge fanbase and careful design. pity Activision is such a horrid company

    • Flameberge says:

      @ Nesetalis

      Of course you are correct, and that is a very important distinction. When we (as gamers) take issue with “Activision” or “Activision Blizzard” we are directing our ire at the corporate entity that is Activision Blizzard, and the publisher that is Activision, not the developers working at, nor the studios of Blizzard.

      It’s a very odd dichotomy to have, that one of the most unlikeable corporations and publishers is joined at the hip to one of the very few almost-universally highly regarded, essentially PC-only developers that constantly produce well-rounded and excellent games.

    • drewski says:

      @ Flameberge – I see what you’re saying but, at the same time, that dichotomy only really exists because at some point in time, the owners of Blizzard took the money and ran.

      If they’d done a Valve etc. and stayed independant, we’d all be able to enjoy Blizzard games in peace.

    • Flameberge says:

      @ drewski

      That is indeed a fair point. I meant simply to draw a distinction between the different elements within the “Activision Blizzard” umbrella. It is indeed the case that despite my respect for Blizzard as developers I am highly reticent to purcahse any more of their games, despite how much I am looking forward to Diablo III, just due to the fact that they are a part of Activision, and Activision is a company that I have absolutely no respect for.

      I try not to jump on bandwagons of “zomg dis company is liek ebil!”, but from a reasonable open-minded position, Activision makes decisions that prioritises its bottom line over its consumers – which, while surely improving their share price in the short term, one would like to think in the long term, the fact they have no wish to harmonise their business model with their consumers would lead to some sort of backlash, as in nearly every other entertainment sector it would do. But gamers seem far too happy to consume the same regurgitated dross, over and over again, so I have my doubts, unfortunately.

    • Nesetalis says:

      it is difficult.. its like when you read a novel, and the second in the series is about to be released… do you refuse to read what your craving like a drug adict just because the people selling it are sleezy bastards? I still want the writer to get my money… I want him to keep making good books.. and I want to partake of those books..

      I will buy SC2 and Diablo III, and though I wish activision would fall off their high cliff they have positioned themselves on… they are less important to me than the individual developers who produce the games I so dearly love.

      In the history of gaming, there are no games i have played more than Diablo II, second to that is starcraft, and third to that is the original diablo… then the warcraft explosion comes in as a single huge mass behind it.

    • Flameberge says:

      Of course, I am not trying to tell people what to buy, and what not to buy; what I think is neccessary is that more gamers become more knowledgeable about the industry, rather than ignoring it entirely. The other problem is the sheer number of people who do whinge on forums, do join boycott groups, and then, like a whore on heroin, cannot control themselves and at the first instant the opportunity arises, grab their next hit, no matter the cost, and no matter which way the publisher will use and abuse their broken and bleeding form.

    • Nesetalis says:

      you do have a point, its all about knowledge.. know enough that when you do decide to take that next hit of heroin… you know exactly what its doing, and where your money is going.. :P

    • Wulf says:

      My bitterness is indeed toward corporate entities, I’ll make that clear now, before I continue. And I am very, very bitter at them. I’m even bitter at Blizzard because of the aforementioned, and it was the sorry state of their suit-encrusted types that had the company haemorrhaging its talent, but that talent went off to create ArenaNet and Runic, so good things did come out of it, because both Runic and ArenaNet are wonderful little developers, I love them and all the people within them.

      The thing is though, without them, there’s really not a lot of creativity left in Blizzard, so I don’t mind ignoring Actard published titles in favour of the beautiful little things that were spawned of their incompetence. Instead of buying the next Blizzard expansion, I’ll just buy Guild Wars 2, and so on. I admit I’m intrigued by StarCraft 2, and it’s most fascinated I’ve been about anything Blizzard in a long time, but then I have Dawn of War 2.

      I do understand though that not everyone is going to be in the same position that I am, so if you can’t ignore Blizzard titles, then just make the distinction between the developer and the publisher, for every developer that Actard screws over, promise not to buy the IP if you liked the IP. Simple as, right? The next Modern Warfare is going to be produced by the headless chicken that was Infinity Ward, just don’t buy it. I know you all really want to, but if it matters to you, don’t. Just don’t whine AND buy. Doing the whining and buying thing makes you no better than Actard.

      And if you’re going to make a statement, do what I do, with the money you’d save from not parking of and supping upon that IP, take that money and put it down on something that’s more worthy. I’m not saying that smaller companies/developers are pure and good, but every last damn one of them is a damn sight better in their attitude towards players than these big publishers are. And that’s how you make your point, you use your money to shape the industry. Words are nothing, actions are everything, and in a capitalist society like this one, the actions basically involve the movement of small, green pieces of paper. Instead of sliding them Actard’s way, stash them, save them, or put them somewhere else.

      But if you do decide to buy from Actard, then you should vocally support Actard in all their endeavours, too. Because to buy is to support, and words beyond that mean nothing.

      I also like Nesty’s last comment there, that was a laugh.

      I admit though, I feel sorry for someone in Actard: Their PR department. If I was working for Actard’s PR department I’d probably be hanging myself or slitting my wrists about now, because this is a PR disaster the likes of which the Internet has never seen, EVER. And it’s going to be their job, literally, as part of their job description, to make us like Activision-Blizzard again, them along with marketing. And even if they succeed in making people buy games, they’re going to feel so, so dirty.

      I feel sorry for them.

  7. Jannakar says:

    The revenue streams are becoming restless again. Re-education units are being dispatched to your sector. Please assume re-education posture.

    • Springy says:

      You kidding? The carpet burns on my knees and elbows still haven’t healed since the last time.

  8. Lewis says:

    Surely the obvious solution is to remove all references to the original IP, remodel the main character, and release the same game but have it led by Bobby Kotick?

  9. 12kill4 says:

    Somewhere, far away, a small box just popped up in the corner of Kotick’s vision: ‘become the most hated corporation on the internet’ achievement gained.

  10. Blackberries says:

    Okay. With this plus the Infinity Ward affair, Actvision are bordering on parody with how malificent they are.

    I mean, the report filed to do with the ‘insurbordination’ of and action against the IW chaps concludes: “We do not think this will affect the company”. To me, that’s chilling, and wouldn’t seem out of place in some dystopian sci-fi.

    Anyway.. RIP Silver Lining. And kudos to the debs. Here’s hoping for a respite, however unlikely.

  11. Stupid Fat Hobbit says:

    I think Activision is a pretty cool guy, eh kills fangames and doesnt afraid of anything.

  12. Mario Figueiredo says:

    IP holders will keep doing it because they have nothing to lose. Only to gain. Retaining full exclusivity to their IP is a wise choice from the business point of view. And I can’t argue against that.

    They only stop doing it when it becomes clear to them they have something to lose. As was the case with Silver Lining related “mass” protest mails. So as much as it pains me to say so, IP holders are right. And we are all wrong unless we boycott their other products or otherwise put the pressure on the IP holders to change their stance.

    The Industry is not just moved by those who create the products. As consumers we also have our obligations. In a free market society we the consumers determine what we get of the supermarket shelves. Lament and whining won’t change anything. Boycotts and petitions do.

    But… here we are. Discussing how annoying Activision is, but hurrying for the shelves when their next game is launched. So… Activision is right. They keep holding to their IP and selling like crazy, helping making the games industry one of the biggest entertainment industries on the planet. And any of us doing the whining are wrong.

    We are the ones screwing Silver Lining or King’s Quest memory. Not Activision. They are doing their job. We aren’t.

    • Risingson says:

      But then… why do they ask to close the forums?

    • Wulf says:

      I’m actually proud to say that this doesn’t apply to me, as I haven’t bought an Activision-Blizzard game since before they became Activision-Blizzard, I don’t have either of the Modern Warfare games, and there were a whole bunch of others I skipped out on too, some I wanted, some I didn’t.

      I’m taking a similar stance with Ubisoft and their DRM. I want Settlers 7, I want it quite a lot, but I haven’t bought it, I haven’t pirated it, and I can quite happily overlook it until they come to their senses. I wish there were more people like me, though, that much I can say for certain. And for every mainstream game I ignore thanks to the actions of suit-encrusted corporate types, I’ll buy an indie/small company game instead.

      If all gamers did that, then independent development would be booming, the more evil publishers would feel the choking hand of lost profits, and we might actually enter into some golden age of gaming.

      But you’re right about the average person, they’ll just buy the next mainstream game even if they are complaining about the publisher in question on some forum or other. Gamers usually don’t have standards, most of them are utter tramps, and they’ll whore themselves out to whomever is offering the next game they want. But there are a few of us out there who do have some virtues worth speaking of, even if we are in the minuscule minority.

      Just remember kids, the next time you buy an Activision-Blizzard game: Activision-Blizzard is the fatcat who’s just approached you, you – the two-dollar hooker on the corner, and he’s going to take you for all you’re worth and not really give you much in return.

    • drewski says:

      @ Mario Figueiredo – Whoa, speak for yourself there kiddo! I don’t own any recent Activision-Blizzard games, I think, certainly not any from the past two or three years. Maybe as far back as Tony Hawk 3…

      I have no intention of buying any soon, either. But, as with most things, the question is whether the majority of people are prepared to accept short term pain (in this case, the pain of not playing a video game they quite would like to play) in furthering a long term goal. And it seems that people are not, which is sad, but not surprising.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      @drewski

      Precisely. I don’t want to get personal, but how many people commenting on this thread do you think will buy SC2 or even Diablo III when they come out?

      I for one know for a fact there are some of us who do take a stance. Not only because I trust you and Wulf when you say you boycott their products, but also because I do it (and I’m hardly unique) and because I know a few others who are as adamant.

      But when it comes to ask those who complain to not buy Starcraft 2, what do you get in return?

      - “Yeah. I too agree Activision sucks. Why don’t we just boycott StarCarft 2?”
      - “Are you insane. That’s a great game!”

      And so as Wulf puts it, hypocrisy flourishes to avoid the cost of a little pain. (As if StarCraft 2 would define my life and there weren’t other games out there for me to play).

    • drewski says:

      @ Mario Figueiredo – your point is taken.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      @Risingson

      My guess, because the forums may include posts that breach their Activision rights over their IP purchase. Which can be devastating to the Silver Lining community because this has the potential to displace and tone down any protest attempts from the community. It was in Silver Lining forums that the former campaign started and grew momentum which eventually forced Sierra/Vivendi to allow Silver Lining to continue.

    • Wulf says:

      @Mario Figueiredo

      You make a lot of sense and say things that I agree with, and this is why I wish that Blizzard wasn’t part of the corporate Actard entity, because it’s the corporate side of things that we’re all so pissed off with here, isn’t it? Mainly, what we all really want to do is tar and feather Kotick, right? I wonder if he’s aware how many people out there hate him so specifically? But I digress. I can understand a person wanting to buy something to support Blizzard, and that’s a given.

      So we can allow for that, but if anyone here buys the Actard produced Modern Warfare 3, developed by Headless Chicken Studios, that’s it, we just won’t be on talking terms any more. Either that or come clean with your shameless and unabashed support of Actard, as I said elsewhere.

      Don’t forget though, Blizzard isn’t just Blizzard any more, ArenaNet and Runic both have the soul of old Blizzard, the one that we all absolutely loved, so if you’re looking for something Blizzardy to support then they’re there. And if the StarCraft chaps at Blizzard are paying attention: Leave, leave now, leave and create your own IP, people will love you for it. Or I will, at least.

      But yes, you’re right about me, I have no intention to buy Actard games. I am intrigued by the Blizzard games, but still, one just has to make a stand, as I said before, I want Settlers 7, but sometimes things are more important than just a bit of entertainment.

      If only I could mind-meld and lend my resolve to the rest of the gaming body.

  13. rocketman71 says:

    Activision are bastards, helmed by the biggest bastard of them all.

    That’s all that there is to it. And that’s why you should vote with your wallet.

    To me, after Kotick’s hellish actions and Ubi’s DRM, the game field is getting smaller by the day. I hope we’ll always have Valve and the indies, at least.

    • Wulf says:

      EA isn’t so bad either, really. The Mass Effect 2/Sims 3 DRM was tolerable, and much better than the Spore fiasco, but even the Spore fiasco was nothing on the macabre machinations of Ubisoft.

      So we’ll have Valve, EA, and the indies.

      Though I have to say, given what’s happening with independent development at the moment, I’m terribly excited about it. Especially with the situation regarding the Unreal/Unity devkits.

      I really do think that indie is where we’re going, we stand at the base of a very tall mountain, and one of these years we’ll reach the peak, we can barely see it now, but with every year providing new forms of self-empowerment for independent development, and the increasing ease to get their game out there without the need for a publishing contract, I can only imagine that a bright, shining future awaits for us at the perigee of our climb.

      Go indies!

    • disperse says:

      I took a look at Activision’s catalog to see what I should avoid purchasing and… it won’t be hard to do. I already bought VTM: Bloodlines during a Steam Sale and Guitar Hero III. Not being able to buy Guitar Hero World Tour at some point is a bit… ouch… and I may have one day checked out Diablo III on sale but other than that, Go to Hell Activision/Blizzard!

      (I can still play my copy of Mechwarrior 2, right?)

    • Wulf says:

      No one would hate you for playing your copy of Mechwarrior 2. It was created long before this mess was even the newborn devil on the shoulder of Kotick, so I think your safe.

      Besides, Mechwarrior 2 was by far and wide the best of the series.

      …is that controversial to say? I’m not sure. Have we all accepted that 2 was the best? 4 wasn’t bad, but 2 is my favourite.

    • Clovis says:

      Nice job pointing out the ridiculous hypocrisy in posts like these. John complains just because someone decided to protect their IP. This bunch of thieves took the basic names and history from King’s Quest and only added a new story, new graphics, built the game from scratch, and did so with permission from the company. Bastards. Serves them right.

      Ah, but see what happens when a website borrows all the articles from RPS word for word. RPS suddenly cries piracy! What did that website do to deserve such treatment?

      Yes, these are clearly very similar situations.

      (And don’t even think about making Rock, Paper, Shotgunnity 2: The Fangasm, or you’ll be sued into oblivion.)

  14. drewski says:

    We’re running out of publishers who aren’t evil here, people.

    • Dr. Derek Doctors, DFA says:

      Well, they’re publishers. They’re no more than risk-averse financial intermediaries whose entire business model revolves around trying to pay off three or four second-tier games with the proceeds of one top-tier one.

      A lot of ink has been spilled trying to describe VG finance in terms of Hollywood, but the model is more like record companies: they’ll pay your expenses, but the contracts will be onerous, your IP is their property (though the VG industry is actually far more destructive in this regard — maybe the governing model isn’t LA, it’s Nashville), and if you piss them off good luck working in this town again. And, one way or another, you *will* pay them off, even if they have to keep you on the books for the next five centuries.

      One key difference, I suppose, is that the union/guild system and informal power structures in Hollywood tend to protect the creative players from the finance guys.

      When a studio surrenders its IP to a publisher as part of distribution negotiations, it’s giving up its competitive advantage and consequently its leverage in future negotiations. Now that publishers seem to expect IP ownership as part of the deal, it may be too late to close that particular Pandora’s box, but it’s helping to kill the vitality of the industry.

    • Nesetalis says:

      you have a good point.. we need a publishing company that doesnt “own” the product, only publishes it for a percentage of the profit.

    • Dr. Derek Doctors, DFA says:

      Alternatively, maybe the old “closed shop” model — think Hollywood studios in the ’40s and ’50s — is an answer. The fact that Seropian’s Wideload, like Warren Spector, is now part of Disney, certainly suggests that there’s a trend towards that kind of consolidation. It’s not a panacea — ask the Ensemble folks who went through the last round of redundancies and shutdowns — but it might be better than the status quo.

  15. the_fanciest_of_pants says:

    This is why I support creative commons licensing so much. What’s the harm in allowing fans to modify and share your content if they ask nothing for it?

    Particularly some companies utter shunning of modding; hell with mods you need to OWN the original game to play the damn things, if anything the fans are just creating more reasons for customers to buy the game. It’s a real shame.

    Activision are truly shaping up to be a Jack-booted tyrannical publisher. Who’d have thought a few years ago that EA would seem like the good guys in comparison?

    • Wulf says:

      You’ll find that many small companies, independent developers, and open source projects completely agree with this notion, and many have said as much. In fact, if you look at Rohrer’s latest project, he’s even tossing in the source.

      Usually, creative people aren’t dickish, they’re protective, and I think that’s perfectly understandable, but not dicks. Something they create is their work, their brainchild, and they want to protect it, but the Creative Commons license allows them to do that without being overbearing. This is why there was a bloom of artists taking up the Creative Commons license on deviantART, and the artists citing this as the reason why.

      The thing is though is that a publisher needs to own their IP, as has been covered elsewhere here, and to do that they need to own all the assets, and this is why games are becoming less and less modifiable. There are games that still support mods, bless ‘em, but they’re most European developed, where the publishers aren’t completely obsessed with owning everything. But that’s where the problem comes from, is the aforementioned need for control, and that’s why we’re seeing less modding opportunities in big American and British games.

      But the smaller companies love modding, and this pleases me. I mean, if you look at the Runic forums, there are developers whoo post excitedly about mods for their own games and… that’s… that’s brilliant, isn’t it? That’s bloody fantastic! It makes the heart glad. This is just one of those reasons I support the little guy, and encourage other people to do so as well. Because big publishers embody a lot of things we don’t like by their very virtue, because they believe they have no choice other than to be evil, and they’re not brave enough to try being anything but, and they use EA’s new leaf turning as an excuse to be evil.

      But yes, to see mods embraced, we can’t look at big publishers. I really recommend reading the Decimator thread on the Runic forums though, it’ll just make you happy.

  16. malkav11 says:

    What always bugs me about situations like this – and other aggressive approaches to “IP protection”, is that usually the corporation in question isn’t doing a damn thing with their IP. Why, exactly, should they get to stomp out (free, nonprofit) fan developments like this when they have no apparent intention of actually -using- the IP themselves? I suppose the King’s Quest games are currently going up on GoG and I believe already are up on Steam, so in this particular instance I can’t complain about the other major way copyright laws screw consumers (e.g., “we haven’t made this game available for sale or free download for well over a decade and show no signs of ever doing so again, but no you can’t get it from someone else to play!”).

    • Risingson says:

      There you have. “The Silver Lining” could be considered as rival to those King’s Quest games. Someone could even say “why pay the originals when The Silver Lining is free and better!”.

    • Wulf says:

      With all due respect, that’s a ridiculous argument.

      The main reason that GoG came about is because people were looking for ways to legally buy older games instead of pirating them, there was a market there for that. And most of the people who give GoG their patronage are that audience. There wouldn’t be any sales lost because the kind of people that buy older games aren’t the kind of people that would ignore older games in favour of The Silver Lining, anyway.

      But that’s not the only reason that that’s a ludicrous argument, it’s even more so because of the law of sequels. I started out with Monkey Island II: LeChuck’s Revenge. What’d I do after completing that game? I went out and bought The Secret of Monkey Island! The Kings Quest series isn’t standalone, it’s a sequel, and I can tell you as someone who’s played the series that there are parts that you won’t get if y ou haven’t played the entire series.

      Now to wrap this all up, all they’d have to do is link to the relevant store pages, then The Silver Lining becomes a gigantic advertisement, they point out that you won’t get as much from it if you haven’t played the previous games, and that buying the previous games would support them, and the sort of people who actually buy games would be interested. So, au contraire, or OBJECTION!, your argument presents an inverse of what would happen in reality.

      What always happens if a new game is made for a series? It raises interest in the rest of the series. And the only thing that you could argue is that Activision would be foolhardy enough to support the same kind of nonsensical, illogical argument that you have. The Silver Lining could have been a gigantic “BUY KING’S QUEST GAMES!!” advertisement, it could easily have boosted sales where otherwise there wouldn’t have been any due to a lack of interest.

      And there, as you say, you have it.

  17. ljalkfjklajsf says:

    http://boards (dot) 4chan (dot) org/v/res/51175555

    Kotick appreciation thread. /v/ is “safe for work” as long as you don’t click any “Tali is my waifu” threads.
    Thought RPS fans might enjoy the kotick appreciation thread.

  18. Frosty says:

    Not sure it will do much good, but there’s a petition here:
    http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/savetsl/

  19. Andy_Panthro says:

    There are still 2-3 remakes in production that I know of (slightly different to these new games, but bear with me). King’s Quest IV, Space Quest II (due in the next few weeks) and an as yet unannounced project from AGDI. It always makes me sad to hear of project cancellations, and I completely agree with the main post on copyright/IP.

    Those at Infamous Adventures had this to say about the TSL c&d…
    http://www.infamous-adventures.com/forum/index.php?topic=3359.0

    Magic Mirror games have heard nothing from Activision/Vivendi…
    http://www.mmgames.org/KQ4/SMF/index.php?topic=524.0

    Here’s a similar thread from AGD Interactive (makers of KQ1, KQ2 and QfG2 remakes)
    http://www.agdiforums.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=14582

    A key point from the second one (AGDI) is a post by one of their programmers…
    “Given that Activisions statement on us was that we couldn’t start anything new, just finish what we were working on, I’m not surprised to hear this, though it’s very much a shame. I can’t think of a more anticlimactic way for a team to have years of work reach its conclusion.”

  20. Orange porcupine says:

    I think ’tis not the hypocrisy you imply. That site is theft for profit, not an homage.

  21. Rikard Peterson says:

    But if they’d made an original game instead of a fangame, they wouldn’t have had that problem. (And my interest in the game would have been bigger.)

    • Dr. Derek Doctors, DFA says:

      And, if I understand this correctly after poking around a bit, the game was actually intended to be sold as episodic content once the first two parts were out; basically, these guys made a KQ game on spec in the hopes that the publisher would pick them up. More hopes than smarts in this one, methinks.

  22. bill says:

    Why don’t more studios make use of these “non-commercial tribute licenses”?
    It’d seem to be the solution to all the problems, and they could even get the amateur developers to include their material “not an official king’s quest product, but activition are proud to support our fans. Go here for more information on official kings quest products: click”.
    Free advertising.

    I worry that the recent release of KQ on GOG is behind this… they’ve realised they can make money from it, so they’ve gone into legal defensive mode.

    • Dominic White says:

      “Why don’t more studios make use of these “non-commercial tribute licenses”?”

      Because they apparently aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, as our Benevolent Corporate Masters can revoke them and even force people to shut down their COMMUNITY (seriously, they ordered them to bring their FORUMS down, not just end the project, but actually to silence the dissenting voices in the process!) on a whim.

      And nobody can stand up against them.

    • drewski says:

      As I understand it, the community part is only shut down in as much as it deals directly with the project – it’s just that the creators of TSL don’t have the time or resources to seperate the project related from the off topic forms.

      It is possible that the non-project related stuff could come back, but they can’t leave all the project related stuff up whilst they sort through it without exposing themself to a lawsuit.

    • bill says:

      they should just make the forums private for now. so at least they can keep their community going.

      not that that solves the bigger issue.

  23. Orange porcupine says:

    Stupid reply button… Above was a response to Kleon777′s post

  24. plugmonkey says:

    God, between Activision’s antics and the BBC wanting to shutdown 6 Music, this is rapidly turning into Big Corporation World Misery Day.

    • bill says:

      well, they bbc are only shutting down 6 music because they know that murdoch and the conservatives are gunning for them… i doubt that they want to.

    • TeeJay says:

      @ bill

      “well, they bbc are only shutting down 6 music because they know that murdoch and the conservatives are gunning for them… i doubt that they want to.”

      I’ve just started a thread about bbc 6music on the forums: http://rockpapershotgun.com/rpsforum/topic.php?id=1936

      Everyone come and big-up (or slag off) 6 music (or come and ask “wtf is 6 music?”)!

      Get a head-start on the next ‘Sunday Papers’. :)

  25. Nesetalis says:

    lets see when the other shoe drops (valve turning evil) its bound to happen, they have all the tools in place to become bastards, it just takes a tiny shift in management and they could be worse than ubisoft.

    will it happen? who knows, but I dont like the scene that is currently playing out.

    some one should start a publishing company.. anyone who wasnt a bastard could compete in the current environment :P just need to allow the game writers to keep the rights to their games as long as you have full rights to publish.

    • Dr. Derek Doctors, DFA says:

      But if that’s so, why are the bastard publishers so successful, and everyone else out of business?

      It ain’t pretty, it ain’t right, but it’s business.

    • drewski says:

      From a business perspective, you do need a little more than that – publishing, especially publishing a new IP, is a huge risk, and you don’t want to be in a position where someone else gets to realise all the profit from your investment. For example, the original Call of Duty 4 would have been a massive risk and investment on Activision’s behalf – even though it was an existing IP – and the business model doesn’t work if you have the risk of Infinity Ward stumping off to EA for twice the cash as soon as the franchise becomes a mega-success.

      There are ways around that which don’t require giving up the rights to your IP though.

    • Fraser says:

      Slightly OT, but: the day Google goes evil is the day I seal myself into a bomb shelter and cower in paralysed fear.

    • Nesetalis says:

      of course your right, I was drastically simplifying. But there are ways through it. for one, the inability to revoke the rights you grant to the publisher… so even if the developer went another way, the publisher could keep releasing the game and making money… sharing none of it with the developer that separated.

      if they then sent the game to be published by EA.. then it becomes a fair fight :P who can produce the better service? the winner gets the most of the income while the loser shares none of its income with the errant developer.. and the developer themselves dont lose out because they still get a chunk from the biggest producer..

      just as an Idea atleast… but the way its currently working, is not working :P

    • drewski says:

      Again, I just don’t think it’s that easy – if Activision spend all the money to plant the tree, it’s inherently anti-productive to allow EA to pick the fruit. That model results in everyone just fighting to steal successful franchises off each other rather than ever investing in a new IP, because you can make more money in the short term off nicking someone else’s investment than making your own.

      Long term, you need to keep planting trees and that’s the philosophy behind IP law – give people the legal protection to invest in orchards, knowing that their fruit can’t be stolen by the farm next door.

      If you’ll pardon the tortured analogy.

  26. hoff says:

    What I don’t get is: What do they GET from this? I know that with the current copyright laws, you CAN shut them down. But what is there to gain? I mean, take Star Wars. Arguably the most profitable franchise of all time. What if they started to shut down every bit of fan fiction or user created movies? They would just make millions of fans make awful. Do they sell less “official” merchandise because of fan-created stuff? Hell no! They probably even raise awareness, they’re free advertising.

    It seems like the WORST form of the “because we can” attitude I can think of. Just makes them look awful.

    • Nick says:

      Well, I seem to recall they used to be a bit of a bastard about it, but that changed.

      There was a time when it was called Foxing too.. after many a lovely looking aliens mod got C&Dd.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      >> What I don’t get is: What do they GET from this? I know that with the current copyright laws, you CAN shut them down. But what is there to gain?

      Original IP holders are usually more lax when it comes to these situations. They usually already made a lot of money out of their work. But Non-original IP holders face a situation in which they spent a certain amount of money to purchase some intellectual property. It was an investment that usually is not compatible with anyone on the other side of the business system using said IP for themselves (even if for free).

      Furthermore, even when an IP is not being actively used, it is still a company asset. It’s a part of their capital and it has a concrete value that is meaningful to investors and markets. It can be explored in many ways, starting even by simply being there as a trophy of the company strength and health.

      So, there is a reason behind all this. It’s not just insanity. Of course, we as consumers do not and should not give a damn. The constant tension between consumers wishes and businesses is what drives our market. It’s what establishes prices and shapes behaviors (consumer behavior and business behavior).

      Meanwhile, we as consumers should be more interested in accessing these IPs and even create derivative works. So complaining against this move from Activision is not insanity either. I do question however the methods. The consumer powewr is in their decision to boycott and do bad publicity. Not in whining.

  27. Corporate Dog says:

    I blame Walt Disney’s Frozen Head.

    FUCK YOU Walt Disney’s Frozen Head! Steamboat Willie is teh suxxorz!

    • John Walker says:

      And based on the Keaton film Steamboat Bill Jr., in such a way that if someone “based” their film on Disney’s work, Disney would sue them. Oddly enough, Walt Disney understood the cultural sharing of ideas. But only if he was doing it.

    • Nick says:

      Its the wheel of prog-ress.

    • Clovis says:

      @John: I can’t find any evidence that Walt Disney himself held such strong copyright views. The litigation I could find all happened after he died. The company is definitely very litigious though.

  28. Fraser says:

    Activisionmay be motivated by more than a pointless paranoia about protecting IP; it could also be an expression of hostility towards the entire indie games culture. To the big-brand publisher, bedroom developers making and distributing games for free are competition: the more games consumers get for free, the less they’ll be willing to spend on Activision products, which drives up the cost of production required to make a game that will grab people’s attentions and prise open their wallets with sheer triple-A-ness.

    It certainly seems like a declaration of How Things Ought To Be Done from here.

    Creative Copyright licenses and one-off deals with amateur developers are all very well, but it often seems odd that they’re even necessary. It’s worth remembering that copyright is in no way a “natural law”, as many people regard it. Before the introduction of the printing press to Europe, people were encouraged to copy books and paintings; it was doing the creator a favour by popularising their ideas. The restrictions on copying that are the basis of modern current copyright laws came about in response to the post-printing-press situation: a small number of operators had access to highly expensive production equipment which was able to make many copies of a text at a low cost per copy. Now that the barriers to production and distribution have come down, it doesn’t make sense to continue to enforce the same stringent copyright laws that were designed to govern a few large publishing houses, rather than everyone with an internet connection.

  29. jackflash says:

    Don’t the fan developers have a license agreement from Vivendi? Activision couldn’t unilaterally terminate the license (unless the original agreement allowed them to, which the fan devs never should have agreed to).

  30. Cooper says:

    I’m gonna echo sentiments about programming and openess (The Doom / Quake GNU licenses are the obvious examples of this kind of ethos) that’s different to the legally minded.

    That being said, I can see why (some) fan projects are shut down (as explanation, not excuse). Some bodies of work are very, very closely tweaked, marketed and anything released about them is done very strategically. Nintendo and other Japanese firms seem to know more about this – about cultivating -exactly- the image of the ‘brand’ they want (consider the Final Fantasy series – or Pokemon) and so very closely guard that IP – as any fan project might upset the ‘branding’.

    But that’s only just about acceptable (who, in their right mind, would feel anything but pride at fans wanting to work on your characters in your world…) if the ‘brand’ is still out and about.

    Sure, there’s no clear cut point here – but at some point a ‘brand’ stops becoming recognisable but to a few who are very interested in it. At this stage it makes perfect sense to let fans get their hands on things – you’re getting the IP you’ve neglected looked after, cared for, for free…

  31. zipdrive says:

    What John said.
    Somewhat less coherently: Activision, you’re a bunch of thickly-walleted wankers.

  32. Ricc says:

    Frankly, that screenshot in the OP made me a little scared anyways. We don’t have to give those canines any more ideas, really. It’s just going to be a matter of time before they think that wearing clothes and walking on two legs sounds like a good idea and I don’t have to tell you what’s going to happen next, do I?

  33. Premium User Badge

    phlebas says:

    And now GOG’s weekly email arrives, with subject “Activision frenzy continues”. Nice.

    • Risingson says:

      Yes, I also laughed there. See the GOG forums too, with many members defending Activision interests. After all, TSL infringed copyright! And they though they could get away with it!

    • bill says:

      really?
      Most people on the GOG forums thought activision were assholes even before this… DRM issues and what have you. Most of them seem to think this makes them even bigger assholes.

  34. MadVillain says:

    These whiny fans and remake-developers can put a sock in it. Spend your time and talents making your own IP, something new and fairly original instead of blatantly copying someones work.

    Oh, and then you can see how you feel when someone rips off all your work.

    • Matthew says:

      How incredibly short-sighted. And inaccurate.

    • GetOutOfHereStalker says:

      Thank god you’re here with your stupid fucking opinions.

    • Nick says:

      @GetOutOfHereStalker: Thanks, I needed a laugh after hearing about 6 music.

    • Tei says:

      This MadVillain dude is a troll, but he is right. The better way to avoid this type of problems is to make your own shit. Modders and the like sould create his own universes (what the suits call IP). Is not that hard, and the quality could be even better, cause the general quality of games lore is really low (but the people talking about “IP” are not talking about quality, are talking about rights).

      Don’t make mods about movies. Don’t make games about books. These things are big NO NO.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      Totally with Tei, especially with Unity and the Unreal engine now free. If you are talented enough to mod, you are talented enough to make your own IP. Or at least change the names.

    • golden_worm says:

      Wait a minute, Kings Quest doesn’t “rip off” almost every fairy tale, fantasy cliché going? How much original Intellectual Property is there in this game?

      What it has is a Brand. The Fan-developers wanted to raise awareness of this brand and continue their affection for something many would have played as children.

      Activision seem to think this is a bad thing, not because it rips off their “hard work”, but because it is not under their control, and they can stop it. It will make others think twice before trying a similar homage to other IPs and avoids the kind of development that leads to, say, a “medal of honour” becoming a “call of duty” (i know, not quite the same but the original IP of those two games is very close in content).

      Its probally all just part of EAs evil masterplan, Activision are just their puppets to make them look “good”.

    • Corporate Dog says:

      @Tei: Or, just file the serial numbers off a property that you like. That process alone can yield some fairly creative output, and besides, even the big dogs do it:

    • Corporate Dog says:

      Rats. My last post should’ve had a link:

      http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/4/10/

  35. LionsPhil says:

    “It doesn’t threaten their options to continue the series, and nor is their any recognisable argument that it would reduce sales.”

    Right, because what Activision really want is for hypothetical Kings Quest IX to have to compete with the unnecessary risk that the fan game might be of above-mediocre quality or be mistaken for canon. Troll harder, Walker.

    • Nick says:

      Who is going to refuse to buy an official sequel after enjoying a fan game?

    • bill says:

      or they could use the fan project to advertise the new kings quest game, given that a lot of people don’t know such an old franchise.

    • Shih Tzu says:

      No! Not free advertising! The horror!

  36. terry says:

    This sucks, but it is pretty typical of Activision, who don’t even permit their 8-bit games to be distributed (they are, natch, just more inconveniently than others). I’d be tempted to just say fuck em and release it as creative commons, but this is why I am not in the legal profession.

    So I’m not buying any more Ubisoft or Activision games…. can’t wait to see who’s next!

  37. bleeters says:

    Because, obviously, development projects that aren’t churned out by multi-billion dollar corporations are all painfully mediocre.

    Good Lord, how do you people see your keyboard when you’re this short sighted?

    • LionsPhil says:

      That would be the point, yes. The adventure genre is dead; Activision don’t want to put effort into making another King’s Quest game, so they certainly don’t want fans raising expectations and closing off their option to knock out some intern project to ride on the coat-tails of nostalgia.

      Welcome to capitalist society, Activision has shareholders, they have a moral responsibility to protect the investment of those shareholders by making money. Pandering to whiny self-important PC gaming zealots on the Internet does not achieve this because frankly your opinions do not matter. (Nor do mine.)

      Strawman argument so you can disagree with me and feed good about winning Internet arguments: Clearly, Activision really closed the project down because all those dog-headed screenshots were making them nauseous by reminding them of Robert Williams’ furry fetish.

    • Risingson says:

      “The adventure genre is dead;” . Yes, and space games, and turn based strategy, and vertical shooters, and arcadey puzzles, and wargames, and… Wait, no. They are just less popular than arcades, rts (if you don’t include this in “arcades”), mmos (if you don’t..) and rpgs (again…). And that’s it. We are pc gamers: all the genres are alive with us around.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Spoiler: genres which are a rounding error away from zero don’t count for anything if you have employees to pay.

    • Risingson says:

      Then the people at Telltale must be all bots!

    • LionsPhil says:

      Indies doing a half-assed job have lower costs and are free to try things that make no sense as the only people who’ll get incinerated when they crash and burn are the developers themselves.

      It would be grossly unethical for Activision to try anything of the sort because they’d also screw over their shareholders.

    • Nesetalis says:

      the idea that many of these genras are ‘dead’ is silly.. the truth really is that no one has made games for them recently, usually due to IP conserns.. “but this game would be similar to X” and so they go on and make something ‘unique’ which might very well turn out to be crap :P alot of the older genras that arnt made anymore, id love to play, just upgrade the graphics and the physics, maybe a little procedural random generation and I’ll be happy!….

  38. bleeters says:

    Curse you, reply function! Or my inability to use the reply function correctly. Possibly both.

    Previous comment aimed at LionsPhill, mostly.

  39. undead dolphin hacker says:

    You poor naive fools, thinking petitions or “voting with your wallets” will do a goddamn thing.

    It’s not a democracy. There is no “voting.” They really don’t give two fucks what you think.

    Now, that attitude may bring Actibliztard crashing down, but Kotick and his turd-throwing monkeys, (to paraphrase and extend Schaeffer’s twitter), will continue slinging shit to the bitter end even as insolvency kicks in and the whole monster explodes and slowly dissolves like a final boss in some SNES game.

    • drewski says:

      Short of storming Activisions offices and lynching their management and burning down the building, there aren’t really any ways for consumers who actually care to influence the decisions of big businesses – there’s an inherent disparity of power and scale that makes direct action impossible.

      All you can really do is take action that make you morally accountable to yourself, which is the point.

  40. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    in terms of publishers becoming more or less “evil” Lucas Arts does seem to be turning the corner by working on some original games and letting Telltale get their hands on the Monkey Island franchise (a far cry from the bad old days of the Freelance Police cancellation).

    It does seem to largely depend on just who is in charge and where their philosophy on making cash/artistic freedom lies.

    • Sucram says:

      It’s difficult to keep track of who I’m meant to boycott and who I should like. We need an evilness vs time chart for all major publishers.

      It could be done like the stock market, I could check the latest quotes ‘Ubisoft gained 700 points of evility this week, rising to 2860′ etc. before making any purchases.

  41. MadVillain says:

    “Tei says: This MadVillain dude is a troll, but he is right. The better way to avoid this type of problems is to make your own shit. Modders and the like sould create his own universes (what the suits call IP).”

    I fail to see how my opinion is more trolling than yours, especially since we’re saying the same thing. Time and time again fans are trying to remake their games, and usually it ends exactly like this case did. It’s not like this is a first, and when it happens, the fan-devs acts so surprised, and whiny.

    So get on with it, spend your talents making new shit we all can end up enjoying, instead of being halted by legal issues.

    • Risingson says:

      What’s your opinion on fan fiction? And drawing your favourite characters?

    • LionsPhil says:

      “Troll” is Internet-speak for “someone or something I can’t form a rational argument against so will have to attempt to shout-down with ad-hominem attacks instead”.

    • Risingson says:

      Like you’re doing now against me, you say?

    • Ricc says:

      I haven’t been following this project, but their love for the original game might very well the main reason these guys got into game development. They are fans that took their love for an IP and turned it into something everybody can (could have) enjoy.

      Just saying “They should just have meade their own IP!” is not very smart, because exactly this type of group is were a lot of industry talent came from for a very long time: mods and fan projects. There were not enough educational institues back in the day and gaming wasn’t as mainstream as it is today. So what made (makes) a good developer. Love for the game.

      Activision should be thinking about endorsing / hiring these guys, instead of shutting them down. Worked out pretty well for some other studios…

    • MadVillain says:

      Risingson: I think it’s pretty obvious from my previous two posts here that I wouldn’t bother with spending my time on remaking the works of others. I prefer to create new and somewhat original works, although of course it’s hard not to be inspired by everything you’ve heard, read and watched, interacted with. We can’t start tabula rasa as it’s all etched in our brains. But each to his own, as long as it’s not a legal issue. I was part of a project similiar to TSL once, never again. It also got shut down, it was a System Shock inspired game using the Doom 3 engine, didn’t even share name with the original IP, but these waters are deadly.

      What I said in my original post was hardly an attack, I even let it be known that I thought these guys have talent. I’m sure they’d be able to create something else worth playing.

      Ricc: Same old story that is, sounds very familiar. Development studios still hire a lot of guys from the mod community, but you sure as hell got a better chance being picked up if you develop original IP.

    • Tei says:

      Cloning something existing is a popular option, but is not the only one. Most vet modders make his own stuff, and seems almost all indies create his own stuff too.

      MadVille:
      I labeled you as a troll because stuff like this “Oh, and then you can see how you feel when someone rips off all your work.”. These people have no intention to rip other people stuff, is a homage, these people sincerylly respect the original work. Saying is stealing is trollish. These people can’t dream of hiding the roots of his work: the original game. You are talking about a totally different of people.

      Homage != Steal.

  42. bleeters says:

    @LionsPhill again, as I will in all likelyhood utterly fail at replying correctly.

    Right. We know. What’s getting our backs up is precisely that: squashing an independant project on the off-chance it might hypothetically cost them sales further on down the line when/if they crap out some rehashed nostalgia cash in. This isn’t some “grr capitalism” Marx rally.

    EA was unpopular during their ‘churn out sequels with progressively larger numbers’ era not because we just outright resented them for making money, but because it highlighted a ‘profit at all costs’ mentality that vastly outstripped any apparent desire to be imaginative, or actually make your products worth buying. This is no different. Hell, it’s near tangible loathing on their part for their actual player base.

  43. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    I will never understand why corporations insist upon hating the people who love them.

    • LionsPhil says:

      This is because you have an inflated sense of self-worth.

      Activision are making money. This means they are doing their jobs correctly. What people on Internet commentboards think of them is irrelevant because those people are totally outnumbered by the people who will go out and buy the next Activision-Blizzard games.

      You cannot change this by shouting them down online, joining Facebook groups, signing online protests, or (lol!) “voting with your wallet”. Your choices are to rage impotently, or to shrug and move on.

  44. Uhm says:

    Never be a fan of anything or have any admiration or respect for anybody.

  45. Craig Stern says:

    “if you are not seen to be actively defending your trademarks, you lose the exclusivity of the name”

    I sincerely wish that people would stop spreading this canard. You can conceivably weaken your mark if, for example, a long period of time passes and the infringer does not create any consumer confusion, and you can also risk running afoul of equitable defenses like laches if you deliberately sit on your rights for too long, but you don’t just flat-out lose your trademark rights if you don’t enforce them. Your mark would have to turn generic for that, which takes a whole lot more than a few fan projects to accomplish.

  46. DarthBenedict says:

    Between the overblown whining and the utter inability to actually go through with their threats of forgoing the latest bloomfest, I’d say gamers must be the most enjoyable kind of spineless worm to stomp on with corporate jackboots.

    • LionsPhil says:

      @DarthBenedict: Eloquent and factual. You win the thread.

      Prepare to be bombarded with people calling you a troll.

    • Nesetalis says:

      I agree whole heartedly, now when is that damned Diablo III coming out >.>

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      LionsPhil: Stop being such a martyr. Whether you meant the arguments or not, you knew the response you’d get by posing them in a thread like this. Whining about it is undignified.

      KG

    • LionsPhil says:

      Whining? The comments on this article are hilarious.

      We’ve even got someone with a picture of ActiBlizzard’s CEO with an insult photoshopped on top! I bet he cries himself to sleep at night over that one.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      LionsPhil: We’re not talking about them. We’re talking about you. If you walk into a room full of people gnashing teeth, you have to expect a response. You knew you were going to be called a troll for it – and if you didn’t, you should have. If you pick a fight, you can’t pretend to be surprised by the response.

      KG

  47. Petethegoat says:

    I had a great idea to make a picture of Bobby Kotick, Jack Thompson, and Tim Langdell, with some sort of witty caption. Then I saw this on Kotaku;

    http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/comment/9/2009/09/ce5d084e769e3ca85ec94c57d6e7a6bb/original.jpg

  48. Flop says:

    The list of companies from which I will never again buy a game continues to grow. Which is ok for me, since most of the games that I find interesting these days are published by independents anyway.

  49. Clovis says:

    143 comments and counting on an Adventure Game story!!! Hooray!!! All us AG fans knew the day would come when they’d be popular again! Ok, now let’s see what this article is saying exactly …