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Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers

Ragnarok Game has filed a legal complaint against Nine Realms (Human Head), Chris Rinehart, Ben Gokey, and Paul MacArthur over the circumstances surrounding the recent launch of Rune II, the closure of Human Head Studios, and subsequent actions from the former principals of Human Head (thanks Gamasutra). They are demanding a jury trial over their accusations of Breach of Contract, Fraudulent Concealment, Conversion, Fraudulent Misrepresentation, Negligent Representation, and Unfair Business Practices. Here's a portion of the complaint leveling some damning accusations:
8. Despite earlier assurances from Human Head that it would not do anything to damage the Rune II launch or Ragnarok, less than 24 hours after the launch, Human Head publicly announced its acquisition by Bethesda Ragnarok's competitor. Human Head did not inform Ragnarok at any time that Human Head was seeking an acquisition partner or otherwise looking to make a corporate change. Whether because of malice or greed or a nefarious attempt to regain the valuable Rune intellectual property, or all of the above, there can be no question that Human Head timed the announcement to maximize damage to Ragnarok and Rune II.

9. In summary: (a) Human Head entered into a long-term agreement with Ragnarok the whole goal of which was to launch Rune II and to provide the necessary support for its commercial success, (b) Human Head accepted millions of dollars in payment, but failed to perform, (c) instead of curing its deficient work, Human Head secretly conspired to abandon Ragnarok and the Rune II community in an apparent attempt to defraud and harm Ragnarok and the game, and (d) Human Head timed the unveiling of its plan to cause maximum damage.

10. But Human Head's fraud and malice did not stop there. Human Head's Principals -- Ben Gokey, Christopher Rhinehart, and Paul MacArthur - tried one last stunt to damage Ragnarok, Rune II, and the Rune II community. They held hostage certain game code and property that unequivocally belonged to Ragnarok, refusing to transfer the property absent additional payments for work that had never been completed.

11. By this time, Ragnarok had learned its lesson. Ragnarok refused to be blackmailed and pay the ransom, repeatedly requesting the return of its property. What did Ben Gokey, Christopher Rhinehart, and Paul MacArthur do? They made unauthorized alterations to the code and attempted (unsuccessfully) to make public the unauthorized changes. Of course, since Human Head no longer existed, Gokey, Rhinehart, and MacArthur were not altering the code on behalf of
Human Head. Regardless, alter the code they did.
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20. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 6, 2019, 00:55 The Magician
 
While Human Head has had some pretty questionable practices in dealings with publishers in the past, I have significant doubts of any of this being intentionally malicious. They probably saw the end of the work they were being paid for coming, and needed more money to come in.

I'm quite familiar with many of the people who worked at HH, and I'm glad they all continue to have jobs.
 
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19. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 5, 2019, 19:20 chickenboo
 
I'd really like to hear Human Head Studios version of events.  
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18. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 5, 2019, 15:46 Sepharo
 
Orogogus wrote on Dec 5, 2019, 12:22:
Darks wrote on Dec 5, 2019, 11:47:
Sepharo wrote on Dec 5, 2019, 01:06:
It's shitty but I don't think this Ragnarok has anything on Human Head.
All the stuff they're mad about doesn't actually seem to be in their contract, and the few things they can find to complain about in the contract (numbered milestones) they make a big deal about them not being complete, yet they ended up paying for them anyway.

Ragnarok believed Human Head when it said it was highly motivated to go above and beyond the terms of the contract.

Put it in the contract dumb dumbs.

http://www.bgrfirm.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Ragnarok_Game_v_Nine_Realms_Complaint.pdf

Do you seriously think they didn't have this in a contract? Your delusional if you thin that. They were the primary backers on this game, you can bet your ass they did.

By definition, "going above and beyond the terms of the contract" isn't in the contract.

That seemed obvious to me
 
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17. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 5, 2019, 12:22 Orogogus
 
Darks wrote on Dec 5, 2019, 11:47:
Sepharo wrote on Dec 5, 2019, 01:06:
It's shitty but I don't think this Ragnarok has anything on Human Head.
All the stuff they're mad about doesn't actually seem to be in their contract, and the few things they can find to complain about in the contract (numbered milestones) they make a big deal about them not being complete, yet they ended up paying for them anyway.

Ragnarok believed Human Head when it said it was highly motivated to go above and beyond the terms of the contract.

Put it in the contract dumb dumbs.

http://www.bgrfirm.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Ragnarok_Game_v_Nine_Realms_Complaint.pdf

Do you seriously think they didn't have this in a contract? Your delusional if you thin that. They were the primary backers on this game, you can bet your ass they did.

By definition, "going above and beyond the terms of the contract" isn't in the contract.
 
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16. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 5, 2019, 11:47 Darks
 
Sepharo wrote on Dec 5, 2019, 01:06:
It's shitty but I don't think this Ragnarok has anything on Human Head.
All the stuff they're mad about doesn't actually seem to be in their contract, and the few things they can find to complain about in the contract (numbered milestones) they make a big deal about them not being complete, yet they ended up paying for them anyway.

Ragnarok believed Human Head when it said it was highly motivated to go above and beyond the terms of the contract.

Put it in the contract dumb dumbs.

http://www.bgrfirm.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Ragnarok_Game_v_Nine_Realms_Complaint.pdf

Do you seriously think they didn't have this in a contract? Your delusional if you thin that. They were the primary backers on this game, you can bet your ass they did.
 
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15. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 5, 2019, 10:11 Burrito of Peace
 
This reads like a playground slap fight.  
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14. No subject Dec 5, 2019, 09:20 007Bistromath
 
Dash wrote on Dec 5, 2019, 02:34:
Just seems weird seeing a Studio pulling this kind of shit, as opposed to a Publisher. We almost expect this kind of terrible practice from, like, EA or Activision, but seeing it reversed feels peculiar.
I guess Gearbox is a trendsetter now.
 
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13. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 5, 2019, 08:38 Acleacius
 
Spektr wrote on Dec 5, 2019, 05:34:
Interesting that Bethesda is involved in this shite. It's not like those guys need to improve their public image in the gaming community...
Got to agree, if bethesda is involved with buying out a developer, dark shit is happening.

Remember bethesda are the one's who canceled Prey 2 by HH which by most accounts looked like a great game, because HH refused to be bought out.
They tried to buy Obsidian around FNV, then got id and Arkane before each of their next respective sequels shipped, iirc.
 
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12. Re: Skyrim Creation Club Launches with Survival Mode Dec 5, 2019, 07:58 Kajetan
 
Veinman wrote on Dec 4, 2019, 23:14:
I hope something gets worked out. I got a new PC, and Rune 2 works pretty well for me now. It's a fun game.
So, you are the one who's playing it?
 
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11. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 5, 2019, 05:34 Spektr
 
Interesting that Bethesda is involved in this shite. It's not like those guys need to improve their public image in the gaming community...  
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10. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 5, 2019, 02:34 Dash
 
...Not sure what to think on this one, and still don't completely understand what is going on with it. Wasn't really following it, only had a cursory flicker of interest for Rune 2, because I liked the first one.

Just seems weird seeing a Studio pulling this kind of shit, as opposed to a Publisher. We almost expect this kind of terrible practice from, like, EA or Activision, but seeing it reversed feels peculiar.
 
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9. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 5, 2019, 01:49 Orogogus
 
The complaint says that in addition to the 3 named principals, they're also suing 20 "Does," whose names they don't know. Are they suing all the ex-employees who went to Bethesda? It's hard to imagine that working.

Also, like Creston says, that introduction section reads like an angry message board post. Most of the file looks like it was written by a lawyer, but that intro is super cringey.
 
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8. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 5, 2019, 01:06 Sepharo
 
It's shitty but I don't think this Ragnarok has anything on Human Head.
All the stuff they're mad about doesn't actually seem to be in their contract, and the few things they can find to complain about in the contract (numbered milestones) they make a big deal about them not being complete, yet they ended up paying for them anyway.

Ragnarok believed Human Head when it said it was highly motivated to go above and beyond the terms of the contract.

Put it in the contract dumb dumbs.

http://www.bgrfirm.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Ragnarok_Game_v_Nine_Realms_Complaint.pdf
 
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7. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 5, 2019, 00:13 eRe4s3r
 
The best part is not quoted in this article blurb

As part of its long-term contract, Human Head was not only contractually committed to support Rune II's launch, but also to support the game beyond its launch, in exchange for a $110,000 fee to be paid by Ragnarok. Merely 5 days prior to the launch of Rune II, however, Human Head told Ragnarok Human Head was shutting its doors and terminating all of its employees...

Basically, the developer knew they were shutting down at that point, and kept it silent. Man is that scummy.

And classy, really classy.
 
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6. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 4, 2019, 23:14 Veinman
 
I hope something gets worked out. I got a new PC, and Rune 2 works pretty well for me now. It's a fun game.  
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5. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 4, 2019, 20:56 Kxmode
 
Thor's brother has always been terrible at playing the piano. He can't quite hit the low key.  
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4. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 4, 2019, 20:12 aka_STEVE
 
After hearing these guys did this immediately after launch & were in new jobs within days all seemed pretty shady .....

I was wondering when this type of action would be taken,.. by the publisher or employees. Pretty obvious they had this planned for awhile and kept it secret, leaving others holding the bag. - A steaming, bug ridden bag of crap at that-
 
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3. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 4, 2019, 19:22 Darks
 
I'm so disappointed in those guys at HH. I've know Chris for a long time. I cant believe they are trying to pull this and left the Ragnarok team holding the bag like this. This is something I would never have thought he would do. They jumped ship faster the rats fleeing a burning Viking ship.

SMH!!
 
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2. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 4, 2019, 19:15 Creston
 
"You see, your Honor, we're the publishers. WE are supposed to be the only ones that get to cancel a developer studio at will and fire people two days before Christmas. Developers shouldn't be able to decide to close their studio and open up a new one without our say-so! Anarchy would reign! WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!"


Also, this entire legal complaint reads like it was written by a twelve year old after his first Drama class.
 
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1. Re: Rune II Publisher Sues RUNE II Developers Dec 4, 2019, 19:10 Bill Borre
 
I guess behind-the-scenes stuff like this is part of the reason I've never been overly fond of sequels. You never know if the game they were shooting for actually made it to the shelves.  
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