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 Ghosts of the Precursors (!!!) + Star Control: Origins 
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TL;DR:
This post talks about Ghosts of the Precursors
The next post talks about Star Control: Origins
This post also introduces the legal storm that is brewing this minute.


It's still early days but fans of Star Control 2, a.k.a. one of the greatest games of all time, now have something to get genuinely hyped about. Even better, it's exactly what they'd ask for:

Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III are making a direct sequel to Star Control 2.

They're calling it Ghosts of the Precursors. Yes, the original creators of Star Control 2. Yes, a direct SC2 sequel with all the SC2 familiars. No, nothing from Star Control 3.

From their blog: https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/blog/2017/10/6/launch-fighters
Quote:
OCTOBER 09, 2017

It was almost exactly 25 years ago that we released The Ur-Quan Masters for DOS PCs. We poured our hearts into the game, blending our love for classic science fiction, Spacewar!-style action gameplay and our own quirky sense of humor. We had tons of help from many talented friends and collaborators, but even so getting the game across the finish line was a herculean effort -- both the exciting, hydra-fighting kind, as well as the exhausting stable-cleaning kind. Pretty much ever since then, fans have been politely asking us to create a sequel, sometimes begging for a sequel, even threatening us if we don’t make a sequel. Our answer was always, “We really want to do this, we just need to wait until the time is right” -- kind of like Cthulhu awakening, but less end-of-the-worldy. Well, the stars have finally aligned -- we are now working on a direct sequel to The Ur-Quan Masters, called Ghosts of the Precursors™.

This is a passion project for us and we have committed to dedicating some of our own time to creating a true sequel. We are early, early in development, but rest assured, the game will include genuine Ur-Quan, Precursors, Super-Melee, Umgah, VUX, Supox, THE ULTRON!, Druuge, Arilou Lalee'lay, Orz, Androsynth, Rainbow Worlds, Ilwrath, Syreen, Mmrnmhrm, Yehat, Shofixti, Spathi (including the ever-terrified Fwiffo), Umgah, Melmorme, Chmmr, Earthlings, Mycon, THE MARK II!, Slylandro, Utwig, Thraddash, Zoq-Fot-Pik, VUX Beast, Pkunk, the Keel-Verezy, and of course all new alien races to discover, befriend ...and/or be annigilate... I mean annihigate.. Damn! Well, you get the idea.


:D

I'm unclear on how the IP rights work but it turns out Activision simply gave them permission to make it. From Stardock CEO Brad Wardell: https://forums.stardock.net/485378/
Quote:
October 9, 2017 7:15:00 PMfrom Star Control ForumsStar Control Forums
Four years ago Stardock acquired Atari's rights to Star Control. I soon got to meet my hero, Paul Reiche. He was, more than anyone else, the person who inspired me to become a game developer over 20 years ago.

Over the past 4 years, we have communicated regarding the progress of Star Control: Origins. He asked us not to try to make a sequel to Star Control 2 and said that he hoped one day to be able to return to the universe he and Fred Ford created.

Recently, Paul told me the good news: Activision was going to let him do a true sequel to their Ur-Quan story.

Today, they posted the news publicly: https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/

It's still very early but they will have all the characters from Star Control 2 plus new ones. It's going to be called Ghosts of the Precursors.

For 4 years, people asked me why we weren't going to touch the Star Control 2 story. Now you know.


Awesome right?

Unfortunately this has suddenly revealed itself to be a small emotional rollercoaster, God dammit.

Yesterday this update appeared on FF&PR's blog:
Quote:
DECEMBER 01, 2017

Unfortunately there appears to be a growing legal conflict between us and Stardock. We started out confused at what Stardock said and did. We tried to be reasonable and settle the problem quietly, but now after months of debate we are flat out mad! First, a little background information on just our side of the story:

In 2013, Stardock bought a limited set of Atari’s assets at a bankruptcy auction -- primarily the name and trademark Star Control® and certain original aspects of Star Control III, like the space cows. It’s our opinion that Atari’s rights to publish our earlier games terminated over a decade before the auction and we contend that Stardock has zero rights to our games, including any code and other IP we created.

As far as we can currently tell, we have no relationship with Stardock that lets them sell the three earlier Star Control games without our permission, either bundled with their other products or separately. That permission has not been given.

Despite what Stardock's Brad Wardell has recently said, including in this Ars Technica article, our games’ universe has absolutely no connection, hyper-dimensional or otherwise, with Star Control®: Origins. (Note: We really don’t like other people putting our names in their diagrams without asking us first.)

Stardock now seems to think that not only can they use our aliens, ships and narrative without our permission, but thinks that we cannot make a sequel to The Ur-Quan Masters without their permission -- this is where we got really, really angry.

When we started Ghosts of the Precursors™ we were looking forward to spending our time on fun, creative work, not fighting a legal battle to protect ourselves and our work. We have nothing but respect for the talented, passionate developers working on Star Control: Origins, but we apparently have a BIG problem right now with Stardock’s management. We’ve been waiting 25 years to make Ghosts of the Precursors for our fans and we certainly won’t let this stop us. Go! Go! Go!



So that's the story with Ghosts of the Precursors. It's sounding like a long way off, likely no chance of seeing it in 2018, if it even gets out of this new legal garbage. For me it's a bigger deal than Sonic Mania; the only difference being that with Mania, the entire community was filled with locked-in confidence the moment Taxman's name appeared on the project. If Ghosts of the Precursors gave off signs of similar confidence I would be in some kind of hype-mode overdrive.


But hang on, what is Star Control: Origins then? That's for the next post.

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Last edited by Deef on 05 Dec 2017 11:50 pm, edited 7 times in total.



03 Dec 2017 12:19 am
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Star Control: Origins is now available on Steam in a closed beta. As mentioned above, it's being made by Stardock, who acquired the rights from Atari four years ago.



It doesn't look bad, there's even a SC2-looking starmap in there so that's a great sign, but I can be nit-picky.
* it appears to be targeting a young audience a bit much
* planet lander experience is a big upgrade and I'm not sure about the idea of fitting that into a game where the structure of 4 gameplay styles was already pretty solid. Landers used to be the part where you're calmly gathering and growing, relaxing. Now it looks quite involved and intense.

I bought the beta and gave it a try (melee mode and ship customisation only), but impressions aren't great. There are some pretty glaring half-technical, half-design problems, such as:
* little to no hit indication, really bad
* keyboard jamming worse than SC1
* asteroid interaction is a fugly mistake
* awkward death explosions

The short version is that overall this is more WIP than beta, with issues I would have expected to be prototyped once and corrected immediately. This in a game that was initially planned for release around now. The fact that instead we have a beta with such a small amount of the game in a not-great state... isn't too promising.

The beta also comes with ship customisation, and says that planet customisation, and even universe customisation, are on the way.

Ship customisation wasn't special. Choose weapons that already exist on the other ships, and design the ships' looks to be anything from a heap of random parts. There's no meaning to the visuals so I found that kind of pointless, and wonder why they threw so many development resources at it. Probably microtransactions on the way? Hard to say, but I'm not a big fan of customisation when it's little more than marketing filler. It becomes a distraction from, or excuse for, other more important parts of the game.

Oh, and apart from the Earthling Cruiser, there are no old ships making a return (which makes sense).
The game opens with a reeeally nice mix of SC2's hyperspace theme at least. That was my favourite bit and gave me more hope than anything else.

It's not really a closed beta either, anyone can join it. What's more, the joining process is an embarrassing mess of incorrect instructions you can see, and correct instructions you can't, hidden out of view in a text area with no scroll bar that doesn't listen to the mousewheel. Click and drag text; that's what you need to do to play it. If you buy the Origins beta, PM me if you get stuck.

So anyway, SC:O kinda looks good, but not so much when you look closer. The mess of the battles in the beta doesn't make me want to play it again, so I'll probably Steam refund it.

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03 Dec 2017 12:19 am
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And the CEO of Stardock has posted this on their forums: https://forums.starcontrol.com/485378/page/2/#3697138

Quote:
Reply #27
Frogboy
CEO - The Chief Executive Officer of Stardock
December 1, 2017 6:56:02 PM from Star Control Forums


I read that this evening too. I am not sure what to make of it.

Given that we are the ones who have helped publicize Ghosts, it should be self-evident that we support their project.

It should also be pretty well known to the community that they signed a fairly onerous agreement with Accolade many years ago.

We have nothing but respect for Paul and Fred and are sorry to see them put our mutual fans at odds over their misunderstandings with their former partner.

As has been stated on numerous occasions, we will not use the Ur-Quan related IP without Paul and Fred's approval and involvement.

We are, frankly, mystified why we're being brought into this.

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03 Dec 2017 04:33 am
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Oh well at least we got new x-com games.

Why don't they just avoid the SCuniverse altogether and just reboot it under a whole new name?

The guy behind the castlevania ARPG games is doing that with Bloodstained. If the goal is to just target existing fans of the old games I get it. But reboot sounds a lot safer. You know the only reason the Terminator movies after 2 suck bad is because James Cameron had lost control over his creation. No reason why that wouldn't apply to gaming as well. Reboot it is my advice.
Look at what the SJWs and evil feminists did to Mark Hamill's character in Star Wars Force Awakens. They literally just kicked the character to the curb and ignored what the fans wanted: ie more of a story about what happened to Luke after Episode 6 when the empire was defeated. He is the most important and iconic character from original trilogy and they just treated him as a side character of no significance and this pissed off the fans. Never allow political groups to hijack your thing that you loved and grew up with. They nhave no interest in you as fans but just want to use a popular thing as a vehicle to push a political agenda and I won't be watching any future SW without Gearge Lucas at the helm of things even though I didn't think his kiddy prequel trilogy with Jar Jar Binks character was all that amazing lol

All the creators have to do is create something similar-sounding enough to the original created things and they can start worrying about the game being in spirit to the old more than whether they have to fight legally over control over the universe. Dragon Age Origins and Pillars of Eternity are recent examples of spiritual Baldur's Gate reboots. As are the new Megaman X reboots under the Azure Striker Gunvolt name, and the new Monster Boy games as the replacement to the old Wonderboy games under Sega control.

Compete with them and own everything you make and start again is the best option. Fans will follow where the creators go. (look at the hype from fanboys for star citzen made by the Wing Commander guy) The internet has allowed them to connect to the creators and act as free ads (through word of mouth) to new people who were not around when the original games were big.



Edit: also as a sidenote when characters that are popular get replaced by SJW versions in comics and popular movies (eg the next IronMan in the new avengers movie from the marvel cinematic universe is going to go with the black woman character in the SJW Marvel comics series which comic readers hate) that is the time for fans/nerds to stop monetarily supporting the new character and only support the character they prefer by following the original creator's IP if a case ever arises that the original creator is being blocked from ever touching the IP again for political reasons or just greed reasons.

By going independent you OWN that IP and characters and can do what you want and what fans say they want which allows it to continue to exist when a hostile takeover happen and the UN hijacks the creation and shoves down communist propaganda into all the universe. LOL

Learn from Star Wars Force Awakens, (sucked after they made it a female power fantasy story with invincible characters who don't require skill) Terminator post-Terminator 2 (sucked when Cameron lost legal control over the universe and sequels were mere cash ins) Ghostbusters 2016 (sucked when feminists felt a need to shit on our childhoods and place anti-male sexism in there to turn off boys to science) and to a lesser extent Mad Max Fury Road (when Max isn't even the main character anymore and seems like a side character that supports the other one without having a story of his own)

By learning from these mistakes, (new people ripping control from the original creators of the IP and not letting anyone touch it) you can give the fans what they want and free yourself from the legal nonsense and live stress free. (probably less money than if you had the name of the original series, but more satisfaction in your work because nobody can tell you what to do. That's important for maintaining quality in the long run because bad games can ruin the reputation of the franchise. If your name is attached to a bad game, the newer fans will think you are over-rated game developer because they were not around in the old days. They will not be as forgiving as the older crowd who played older games. You must be able to give a good first impression or you wil end up like the Sean Murray from No Man's Sky fame where people are making fun of him on youtube because he had to backflip on promises. Will a new fan of your work give second chance when there are so many other games competing for their attention? Most likely not because they have no emotional attachment to past games like the older long time fans do. Just like Angry Videogame Nerd has no attachment to the new 2016 version of Ghostbusters because it's not the one he grew up with and so he refused to even review that.

You will run into problems like the bad campy Batman movies where gays decided to put nipples on his costume and turn fans off to ever trusting it again until the Nolan Batman movies where it went serious. By starting over again under new title, you have complete control over everything from that point on (and the people making the bad star control games will have to take responsibility for the game if it flops rather than you because your name is no longer attached to the series any longer) which is why I think reboot is preferable. When the hollywood Watchmen movie had come out Alan Moore demanded to have his name removed from the credits because he was smart enough to know that if they are not going to respect the original author's intent in his work of art, then they shouldn't put his name on anything that wasn't really their creation. (also if the movie is bad it won't affect him because he isn't involved) And a change in the work is a new work under his thinking because when hollywood tries to change your stuff, it means it's no longer yours is it?
By like Alan Moore. Care about artist/creator integrity and fans of your work will snub the hijacked series to follow you.(assuming they get quality in the reboot)
If it wasn't for Obsidian getting screwed over by Bethesda for Fallout New Vegas would we have had indie kickstarter RPG like Pillars of Eternity and Tyranny? They are better off now because fans can get pure unfiltered games from the creators. It means better quality. (fans also benefit by having a bit of input too) Sure they don't get to touch Fallout anymore but look at the games they make now?

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03 Dec 2017 07:59 am
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Stardock CEO responded in a new thread on their own forums.
https://forums.starcontrol.com/486284

And FF&PR have posted more on their blog.
https://dogarandkazon.squarespace.com/

And then Stardock CEO (Brad Wardell) posted some more in their forums.

So I can't really write a play-by-play since it's too live. My own replies are actually getting ninja'd by the company CEO. And I have to say it's odd for a CEO to just be bouncing around a forum thread when it's a legal matter like this one.

The comments are definitely getting messy from both parties (not just the fans also commenting). So here are some bullets:

* Stardock are saying "Make your game, we have no problem with that, but don't call it a sequel to Starcon 2. You're calling it a sequel to Starcon 2". I actually haven't seen FF&PR doing that. I did that, but FF&PR have always described Ghosts as a sequel to The Ur-Quan Masters.
* FF&PR are stating pretty clearly that Stardock have no right to be selling SC1, 2, or even 3.
* For those just joining, FF&PR weren't involved in the making of SC3, but some of their lore is in it.
* FF&PR have actually taken SC1, 2 and 3 off GOG.com! In explaining why they did, they also deliver a pretty strong case that they can. They have been collecting from sales of SC1, 2, and 3 on GOG.com for years, and this is after they already went through a battle in which Atari acknowledged that FF&PR owned the games and corrected their (Atari's) mistakes.
* Interestingly, until today, Star Control 1, 2, and 3 were briefly available on Steam and GOG.com at the same time.... from 2 different companies.
* FF&PR say this debate has been going on for months in private. Stardock says it's the first they've heard of it.


So yeah, getting messy. There's a veneer of good will hovering above this, from Stardock's side in particular. But at the same time there's definitely some disagreement about who owns what. Stardock definitely owns the trademark "Star Control". FF&PR, I think, own the lore and the copyrighted content of SC1 and 2. FF&PR acknowledge that Stardock own some of the content of SC3, just to make things more messy. I don't know how FF&PR are so confidently saying they own SC3, except they've been selling it since 2011.

So with the mess, the good will won't hold up too much longer I think. Brad has expressed being insulted. FF&PR are the ones making the strong moves, with terms like "really, really angry". And I won't be surprised if the thread on Stardock's forums doesn't last another 3 or 4 hours.

It's interesting though. I just don't want to trade in any part of Ghosts in the future for "interesting" now. I want my SC2 sequel, hardcore.

NiGHTS 2 - Ruined by the wrong vision
Sonic Mania - Hurt by too many revisits
Ghosts of the Precursors - ???

For me, these are the big 3.

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06 Dec 2017 12:45 am
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