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Who Controls Star Control?

There is a bit of a feud underway between Stardock Entertainment and Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III, the development team also known as Toys for Bob and apparently Dogar and Kazon (thanks Rollory). The two entities are currently arguing over the rights to sell prior games in the Star Control space action/strategy series and to make new ones. Stardock is the undisputed owner of the Star Control name, but that seems to be the only aspect of all this that is not in dispute. Last year Stardock announced plans for a new installment called Star Control: Origins. Meanwhile, a few weeks ago (almost exactly a year after Stardock's news) Ford and Reiche announced their own a new game in the series called Ghosts of the Precursors. We initially called this an unofficial sequel, and they quickly wrote to correct us that this was very much an official to Star Control II -- The Ur-Quan Masters, except that they could not use the Star Control name. This seemed a little confusing, and the new dispute helps explain why. A post on the Dogar And Kazon questions what aspects of the IP besides the name actually belong to Stardock and whether they are allowed to sell the previous games in the series. A Stardock response calls the post "disturbing and unanticipated," says Stardock does have rights to sell the older games, and denies allegations they are using characters from Star Control II. Here are the posts reflecting the conflicting viewpoints. First up are Fred and Paul:

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!

Here's the response from Stardock's Brad Wardell:

We are disappointed that Paul and Fred, two people we have a great deal of respect and admiration for, have chosen to imply that we are somehow preventing them from working on their new game.

Stardock has been nothing but supportive of their new project and wish them the best. I personally made the post here on StarControl.com in support of it.

With regards to their contentions:

First, as many people know, the classic Star Control games have been available for sale long before Stardock acquired the rights from Atari four years ago. For the entirety of the time we have held the rights, they have been getting paid for those sales. If they had an objection to the games being sold this is something that could and should have been addressed before we were ever involved.

Second, we have stated, repeatedly and consistently for over four years that we are not using any of the aliens from the classic series. As we have stated, our position is that, to the best of our knowledge, the classic alien IP is owned by them.

We have also discussed, at length, why it wasn't commercially viable for us to attempt to continue or retell the Ur-Quan story. 25 years is just too long of a gap. This is one of the reasons why we have been so excited about Paul and Fred's project. Their game frees us to introduce new characters and a new story into the new Star Control while allowing fans of the classic series a way to continue the classic story. This strikes us as a win-win situation.

Lastly, when we acquired Star Control from Atari in 2013, many assets were transferred to us including the various publishing agreements to the Star Control franchise. The short version is that the classic IP is messy. We understand that this makes them "really really angry" but we weren't a party to that agreement. All we can do is try to put something together that releases them from the restrictions placed on their IP that they agreed to and transfer any and all rights and responsibilities to them. We want them to make Ghosts but we don't want any liability or association with it.

Given the disturbing and unanticipated post by Paul and Fred, we are persuaded more than ever that a clear and irrefutable document that makes it clear that we are not associated or involved with their new game is needed.

We have nothing but respect and admiration for Paul and Fred and wish them well in their new project.

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47 Replies. 3 pages. Viewing page 2.
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27. No subject Dec 4, 2017, 13:28 Mashiki Amiketo
 
Creston wrote on Dec 4, 2017, 11:10:

That case was dismissed with prejudice. Iow, it's 99.9999% likely that she made all that shit up in an effort to extort money from her previous employer.

If you base all your decisions regarding stardock on that, you have a supremely sad world view. Let's hope for your sake nobody ever makes a false sexual harassment claim against Chris Roberts, hmm?
It's funny just how much the lie that Wardell sexually harassed someone is still making the rounds. The thing you forgot was: Not only was it dismissed with prejudice against the complainant, but she stole and destroyed corporate information belonging to Stardock. And the judge required her to write a public apology for the false claim. She's lucky she wasn't criminally prosecuted for that stunt and for the destruction of property. I believe Wardell's own words were something close to "the sooner she's out of the lives of our employees the better we'll all be."

It wasin't 99.9999% that she made it up. She 100% made it up. Ordering a claimant to publicly apologize is almost unheard of, and is considered a "confession of guilt." Meaning Wardell could have filed civil and criminally against her, and she'd be 100% screwed.

But it's the same old bullshit, "what about those special snowflake women who need all that protection!" You mean like the female developer who along with her husband were effectively run out of every "help girls get into tech" program because they refused to bow to feminist dogma, and that same group then started spreading lies in order to ruin her reputation. Oh and for some of the reasons they wanted to all "boys who need help or wanted to learn to code" into the programs, along with socially disadvantaged people. The group FYI was and is backed by google. Enjoy the next lawsuit on thins because it's gonna be really good fun.

Oh, and to the various people who said hur-dur-dur that list a few weeks back was bullshit. Are you enjoying it now? Because there's more to come. I'd also suggest some of you avoid looking at your childhood idols when the next group drops.
 
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26. Re: Evening Mobilization Dec 4, 2017, 13:27 Orogogus
 
Parallax Abstraction wrote on Dec 4, 2017, 10:06:
The case wasn't settled, it was dismissed with prejudice. Meaning that she lost due to lack of evidence.

As far as I can tell, it was dismissed as part of a settlement, although the sources lead back to Kotaku. Do you have a source that says there was no settlement and that the case actually went through to its conclusion?
 
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25. Re: Who Controls Star Control? Dec 4, 2017, 12:31 RedEye9
 
Creston wrote on Dec 4, 2017, 11:10:
Let's hope for your sake nobody ever makes a false sexual harassment claim against Chris Roberts, hmm?
Sexual Harassment Claim against CR in 3-2-1.
 
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24. Re: Who Controls Star Control? Dec 4, 2017, 12:14 Nailbender
 
ForgedReality wrote on Dec 4, 2017, 10:52:
Fuck, man! I only ever cared about Ghosts of the Precursors, not that other dumb looking one with the Star Control name. Now it's not even gonna happen. Loevely. Fuck you, humanity. I'm moving to Zeta Vulpecula.

Be sure not to miss any Rainbow World you pass by! Auric Worlds are great as well.
(But seriously, you're absolutely right. I would try the new Stardock game when it comes out, but the new Ghosts game is obviously the real deal. The situation is seriously fucked up.)
 
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23. Re: Who Controls Star Control? Dec 4, 2017, 11:10 Creston
 
theyarecomingforyou wrote on Dec 4, 2017, 06:47:
It's worth noting that Brad Wardell is famous for sexually harassing a female employee, sending her a 'sexual purity test', making unwanted sexual contact, telling sexist and vulgar jokes and violating her private life. When she filed a lawsuit he then manufactured a counter-suit to destroy her credibility. It ended with a behind the scenes settlement that involved the woman publicly apologising but it's pretty obvious he paid her off.

Unsurprisingly for someone obsessed with sexual purity he is also a devout conservative famous for boycotting UPS after they withdrew advertising from Fox News due to Glenn Beck making racist and derogatory remarks about Obama.

Put simply he's a bit of an arsehole and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if the allegations made by the original developers are entirely true.

That case was dismissed with prejudice. Iow, it's 99.9999% likely that she made all that shit up in an effort to extort money from her previous employer.

If you base all your decisions regarding stardock on that, you have a supremely sad world view. Let's hope for your sake nobody ever makes a false sexual harassment claim against Chris Roberts, hmm?
 
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22. Re: Who Controls Star Control? Dec 4, 2017, 11:06 Creston
 
Ignoring all the dislike for Brad Wardell, Stardock seems to be going quite far out of their way to be accommodating to Paul and Fred here. I'm not sure why these guys are mad at them. They're letting you make your game, they're letting you use your aliens, they've said they're not going to put ANY of that stuff in their own game, except the name. And yet they still bitch?

If you guys signed a shitty publishing agreement with Atari (which seems 100% likely, because ALL publishing agreements made by Atari were shitty), that's not Stardock's fault.

Also, I'd recommend just calling Brad and getting things hashed out and put to paper, rather than waste your time and your probably limited resources on a legal battle.
 
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21. Re: Who Controls Star Control? Dec 4, 2017, 10:52 ForgedReality
 
Fuck, man! I only ever cared about Ghosts of the Precursors, not that other dumb looking one with the Star Control name. Now it's not even gonna happen. Loevely. Fuck you, humanity. I'm moving to Zeta Vulpecula.  
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20. Re: Evening Mobilization Dec 4, 2017, 10:38 Prez
 
Not sure I'd go so far as calling Wardell an "awful person", but he definitely has had a problem with opening his mouth when keeping it shut would have been a FAR better option. And yeah, the sexual harassment charge was BS.  
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19. Re: Evening Mobilization Dec 4, 2017, 10:25 Beamer
 
Yeah, I think Brad is an somewhat awful person, but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt on that case.  
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18. Re: Evening Mobilization Dec 4, 2017, 10:06 Parallax Abstraction
 
theyarecomingforyou wrote on Dec 4, 2017, 06:47:
It's worth noting that Brad Wardell is famous for sexually harassing a female employee, sending her a 'sexual purity test', making unwanted sexual contact, telling sexist and vulgar jokes and violating her private life. When she filed a lawsuit he then manufactured a counter-suit to destroy her credibility. It ended with a behind the scenes settlement that involved the woman publicly apologising but it's pretty obvious he paid her off.

Unsurprisingly for someone obsessed with sexual purity he is also a devout conservative famous for boycotting UPS after they withdrew advertising from Fox News due to Glenn Beck making racist and derogatory remarks about Obama.

Put simply he's a bit of an arsehole and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if the allegations made by the original developers are entirely true.

The case wasn't settled, it was dismissed with prejudice. Meaning that she lost due to lack of evidence. A number of other Stardock employees also came forward to say her claims was baseless. By all accounts, she lied to try to destroy someone who didn't advance her in the company at the pace she wanted. But of course, the ethics-bereft the games press that don't believe in due process parroted the lies because it made for good clicks. Several of the so-called "journalists" who spread that garbage have since apologised for getting it wrong. Most of them haven't though because hey, admitting you're wrong is a weakness to them and most of the games press wouldn't know what journalism is if it bit them in the ass.

And while I very much disagree with Brad Wardell's political views, if you're going to boycott every company that employs someone who dares to disagree with you, you should probably find another hobby because nearly every game has someone of that sort involved.
 
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17. Re: Who Controls Star Control? Dec 4, 2017, 08:12 Numinar
 
theyarecomingforyou wrote on Dec 4, 2017, 06:47:
It's worth noting that Brad Wardell is famous for sexually harassing a female employee, sending her a 'sexual purity test', making unwanted sexual contact, telling sexist and vulgar jokes and violating her private life. When she filed a lawsuit he then manufactured a counter-suit to destroy her credibility. It ended with a behind the scenes settlement that involved the woman publicly apologising but it's pretty obvious he paid her off.

Unsurprisingly for someone obsessed with sexual purity he is also a devout conservative famous for boycotting UPS after they withdrew advertising from Fox News due to Glenn Beck making racist and derogatory remarks about Obama.

Put simply he's a bit of an arsehole and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if the allegations made by the original developers are entirely true.

It fucking sucks. These women stay quiet as making a complaint no matter how vaild makes you poisonous to litigation phobic corporations who find it easier to keep the lecherous creeps they employ or answer to happy than handle complaints properly. You take the money because your chances of getting another job are greatly reduced so unless you are independently wealthy there is no profit in sticking to your guns.

Though who knows, maybe she was gold digging through litigation and he in an innocent conservative wanker? Seems less likely and certainly not profitable long term.

 
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16. Re: Who Controls Star Control? Dec 4, 2017, 06:47 theyarecomingforyou
 
It's worth noting that Brad Wardell is famous for sexually harassing a female employee, sending her a 'sexual purity test', making unwanted sexual contact, telling sexist and vulgar jokes and violating her private life. When she filed a lawsuit he then manufactured a counter-suit to destroy her credibility. It ended with a behind the scenes settlement that involved the woman publicly apologising but it's pretty obvious he paid her off.

Unsurprisingly for someone obsessed with sexual purity he is also a devout conservative famous for boycotting UPS after they withdrew advertising from Fox News due to Glenn Beck making racist and derogatory remarks about Obama.

Put simply he's a bit of an arsehole and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if the allegations made by the original developers are entirely true.
 
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15. Re: Who Controls Star Control? Dec 4, 2017, 06:44 Rigs
 
rawbelly wrote on Dec 3, 2017, 21:11:
Kick me in the face Rigs. I thought you were joking. Then I Googled. Sheesh.

I'm gonna put my Groupy tabs into Sets. That'll be somthin.

Giggle


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14. Re: Who Controls Star Control? Dec 4, 2017, 03:48 Numinar
 
jdreyer wrote on Dec 4, 2017, 01:37:
Cutter wrote on Dec 3, 2017, 17:21:
Sounds like Atari screwed both of them. Regarless. If Stardock owns the name and TM there's sweet FA they can do about it except stop being whiny bitches and just make an homage with a different name. If it's good they'll make oodles of money regardless so who cares. Most gamers today will have never heard of Star Control to begin with so it's really not that big a loss.


The problem with losing the Star Control name is that you lose all those sales to nostalgic middle-aged men who will buy it even if they'll never play it. That's at least half your sales right there.

Nope! I didn’t fall for MOO remake (or SC3, MOO3) and I won’t fall for this. Gotta earn my loyalty again. And most old people are even more suspicious than me of nostalgia fishing.
 
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13. Re: Who Controls Star Control? Dec 4, 2017, 03:45 Numinar
 
The only way to settle this is for both parties to launch into space, Stardock gets all of the galaxy spinward, Paul and Fred get it all antispin and can sell their respective games in within their domain. When they meet again in a million years they can battle to decide who owns it all and give one scrappy, upstart race a slim chance to build a confederacy/alliance/federation and save the galaxy from this impending Armageddon of internet shitposting.  
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12. Re: Who Controls Star Control? Dec 4, 2017, 01:37 jdreyer
 
Cutter wrote on Dec 3, 2017, 17:21:
Sounds like Atari screwed both of them. Regarless. If Stardock owns the name and TM there's sweet FA they can do about it except stop being whiny bitches and just make an homage with a different name. If it's good they'll make oodles of money regardless so who cares. Most gamers today will have never heard of Star Control to begin with so it's really not that big a loss.


The problem with losing the Star Control name is that you lose all those sales to nostalgic middle-aged men who will buy it even if they'll never play it. That's at least half your sales right there.
 
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11. Re: Who Controls Star Control? Dec 3, 2017, 22:51 ShadowofWard
 
Ghosts of the Precursors is THE game i have been waiting 25 Plus years for. Everyone has their favorite ever game and Star Control 2 is it for me. As far as i care Paul and Fred are the Precursors, theirs is the only game i want to play in the universe they created. Stardock can be ignored.  
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10. Re: Who Controls Star Control? Dec 3, 2017, 21:14 eRe4s3r
 
In the end a inferior game will be made, no doubt ;(  
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9. Re: Who Controls Star Control? Dec 3, 2017, 21:11 rawbelly
 
Kick me in the face Rigs. I thought you were joking. Then I Googled. Sheesh.

I'm gonna put my Groupy tabs into Sets. That'll be somthin.


 
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8. Re: Who Controls Star Control? Dec 3, 2017, 20:08 Warskull
 
Cutter wrote on Dec 3, 2017, 17:21:
Sounds like Atari screwed both of them. Regarless. If Stardock owns the name and TM there's sweet FA they can do about it except stop being whiny bitches and just make an homage with a different name. If it's good they'll make oodles of money regardless so who cares. Most gamers today will have never heard of Star Control to begin with so it's really not that big a loss.


That's the thing, Atari only owned the name and the new aliens from Star Control 3. They literally sold the Starcontrol name and Star Control 3's rights to Stardock.

So Paul and Fred can make their own sequel to Star Control II, they just can't call it Star Control. They can however use anything inside the actual game.

What they don't like is:

1. Stardock selling Star Control 1 and Star Control 2.
2. Stardock implying that they gave Paul and Fred the rights to make their game. They did not need to request permission from Stardock.
3. Stardock implying that they are connected to Star Control: Origins for marketing purposes.
 
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