Author Topic: Q: Acquiring a game's license...  (Read 1071 times)

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Offline JGZinv

  • 211
  • The Last Dual! Guardian
    • The FringeSpace Conversion Mod
Q: Acquiring a game's license...
Basically I'm looking for feedback on if I should pursue trying to obtain the Tachyon the Fringe license from Novalogic,
figured with the whole FS2/V/etc mess this is probably the most relevant place to seek advice.
I'd put this in the FringeSpace section, but I don't think it'll be as visible there, and some of what is discussed could
apply to other games or what not as well.

So....   backstory.

Early 1999 far as I can tell, a few of the devs from the F22 lighting and other Novalogic flight combat sims were together
talking about what they'd like to make and came up with a "napkin idea" for Tachyon. They took it to NL and got budget funding.
In the latter / middle of development NL said it had to get out the door, and halted the creation of the game, and shipped it unfinished, with
a lot of bugs and other problems. At the time the devs were not happy with how the company was changing (or something like that)
and the few that did stay, tried to make patches for the worst of the bugs. Tachyon took off and gained a larger audience than anyone
had anticipated. After about 2.5 years, NL pretty much stopped supporting Tachyon. In 2007 or 08, they changed server hosting companies
and lost their own 32 player server maps in the process. So they can't host games online, although there's a lobby with broken graphics.

A bit after they lost the maps, NL put out a "patch" that essentially updated all of the old NL games. The patch flatly stated that player hosted
games would no longer be possible for Tachyon (and only tach out of everything) - IE no NL server and no player servers = no multiplayer. So for
all intents and purposes, NL officially quit supporting multiplayer. Essentially the problem was that they updated the lobby address so you could
find the lobby, but not the built in game files so the exe could connect - that I fixed with help from other modders and made a mod pack out of it,
restoring multiplayer.

Also worthy of note is around 2007 NL started selling it's old games via downloadable copies, first through GameTap, then others. The first downloadable
version was corrupted (not that I could pin it down) somewhere in the audio and video assets, and of course the multiplayer wasn't fixed by default.
So I ended up helping a lot of people with that.

More recently, NL seems to have made a newer downloadable version, and that is what was put on Steam, sold through their site directly, and some other
places that basically redirect back to themselves. That one seems to work, and while I don't know about hosting games, it can at least join already established
servers.

As for NL itself, I've heard that people within the company are aware of the FringeSpace project (as of a few years back), several of the now-detatched developers are aware
of us as well. The advice I was given was that NL's lead man (assuming that's John Garcia, now CEO) is a very money minded individual. Long as we're not bringing in
funding, they shouldn't have reason to bother us. 6 years going so far and they haven't contacted us.


Getting to the point....

On a whim I tried to look up what information there might be concerning Tachyon in the US patent, trademark, and copyright archives.  Interestingly enough I can't
find anything for Tachyon except the trademark, which is for "Tachyon" - not even Tachyon the Fringe, or any other characters/related content as they were listed
on the retail box in 2000. The trademark license has been reduced over the years as well, or at least the context may have changed as new definitions were created since '99.
http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/index.jsp   
Search Marks > Basic Search > Change Search type to Serial > #  75629560

Based on what I can find out about trademark renewal periods, the mark should expire in April of 2012, although there's a period before that you can renew it in.
Far as I can tell, NL doesn't even list Tachyon as copyright anymore on the sites it's sold at. They do have a patent attorney that started entry level and is now
one of the highest ranking members on a dozen or so important trademark/copyright associations & agencies.


So here's what I'm thinking -

Novalogic isn't in the best of shape, although they have DeltaForce Angel's Falls in the works and what may be a new F22 game (new trademark this year) planned.
I'm not a person with money to throw around, and I doubt we could scrounge up much even if I asked the fanbase to donate to the cause of getting Tach's license.

Instead of going the traditional route - how about we assume support of Tachyon?

Basically what we'd need is for them to hand over the lobby code so we can setup a lobby of our own, we're already running the only servers. I'm already providing
support for the files and bugs people have. NL doesn't appear to have any interest in Tachyon beyond selling their old catalog to make seed money. At $10 a pop, and
as few people as we see, being the main community hub, it can't be selling well. The lobby goes down at least a few times a year, I think we could do better on our own.

While it'd be nice if we could get some of the old tools or information on the game assets, I doubt I could negotiate that as part of the package. Companies like to keep their
internal design assets under lock and key, even if it is 12 years out of date already.

But I guess what I'm saying is that in exchange for allowing them to keep selling Tachyon as they like, we'd take over the support, the server operation, and license.
Essentially we're removing regular expenses from an IP they don't have an interest in expanding, while they can keep making money off the dead horse.

I do have a potential contact, being the former community support manager, and server operator. He'd probably at least hear the idea out.



So there it is, how far from crazy am I....    should I give it a shot and rock the boat, or just leave well enough alone and keep doing what we're doing?
True power comes not from strength, but from the soul and imagination.
Max to PCS2 to FS2 SCP Guide
The FringeSpace Conversion Mod

 

Offline Bobboau

  • Just a MODern kinda guy
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  • 213
Re: Q: Acquiring a game's license...
do you have a million dollars to blow? no? well then you don't even need to ask the question because you cannot afford to. and they are not going to just give it to you.
Bobboau, bringing you products that work... in theory
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Offline JGZinv

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Re: Q: Acquiring a game's license...
Somehow I doubt you read more than the opening paragraph.

I'm not asking for it to be given away, I would be taking over their costs of support and maintaining the game outside of sales.
Something that is a ongoing expenditure for them, including a renewal fee for the trademark that's coming up. Plus they would retain
the rights to keep selling it as they have been. There's a fair bit of difference there from approaching a company and saying "hey noobs
you're not using this anymore, can we have it? k thx bye."

Novalogic isn't  :v-old: or THQ, or even Interplay... though they might be closest to the latter.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2011, 05:14:23 pm by JGZinv »
True power comes not from strength, but from the soul and imagination.
Max to PCS2 to FS2 SCP Guide
The FringeSpace Conversion Mod

 

Offline -Sara-

  • 29
Re: Q: Acquiring a game's license...
The best way to get an expansive license is probably to set up a registered company (this can be as little as 5 capable friends), who can prove they can make a working game which meets present day standards. You then try to find an investor (company or individual) who believe they are making a good investment by lending you money to get that license. They would probably own the license themselves but allow you to produce said title as long as you meet demands and a level of constant quality. In case of not meeting such dynamic prerequisites they may pull you off the project and hire a new team, or even sell the license on. Technically, but purely hypothetically, a registered HLP team could probably convince an investor to buy the FS license for example but they'd have to first release some interesting titles. On a small scale probably some brief but popular X-Box live stuff or such. Something which'd take years. Or if being able to work with a new engine, making test-case prototypes, the plethora of good campaigns and mods may be a convincing factor.

In reality though, it's a long way and you're often screwed or coarsed into joining a larger team if such an investor is of opinion that a different team, but with you and your resources added, would provide a more succesful title. And most likely it just won't happen in these economically uncertain times.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2011, 08:10:37 pm by -Sara- »
Currently playing: real life.

"Paying bills, working, this game called real life is so much fun!" - Said nobody ever.

 

Offline JGZinv

  • 211
  • The Last Dual! Guardian
    • The FringeSpace Conversion Mod
Re: Q: Acquiring a game's license...
That's another perspective, but not necessarily am I looking at getting the license or trademark for the purposes
of turning it around and marketing a mod/game/ip for profit. Even if say I were planning to take Tachyon 2 and turn it into
a retail title, we might as well start over again from scratch. There's just too many things that would require change
to suit a difference in goals. FringeSpace is what I've poured time and blood into, I can't see leaving it.

The acquisition of a license as I see it, would help us mod-wise in a few areas:

1. provides legitimacy.
2. allows the original devs to speak (more) freely.
3. it further directs the fans/players to one location.
4. may lead to other knowledge being available, or future opportunities.

The support side of things I already handle, so an increase in requests, or a new cost for say lobby hosting, doesn't
bother me. What it gets us is more control over the situation. If the lobby goes down for 2 weeks, it doesn't matter if we
have servers hosted on our own or not - you can't reach or find them. NL has never been particularly talkative when it came
to support, so the players are left wondering if things have been shut down for good.
True power comes not from strength, but from the soul and imagination.
Max to PCS2 to FS2 SCP Guide
The FringeSpace Conversion Mod

 

Offline -Sara-

  • 29
Re: Q: Acquiring a game's license...
I see where you're going, but unless you expect a high chance of being issued a cease and desist order, are those other points crucial to it's succes? Being 'endorsed' to do this mod by giving those people an open and honest presentation of whatever marvel you are making might go a long way also, some risk taken ofcourse going open.
Currently playing: real life.

"Paying bills, working, this game called real life is so much fun!" - Said nobody ever.

 

Offline Davros

  • 29
Re: Q: Acquiring a game's license...
Go for it JGZinv
you should talk to the free allegiance people theyve been through it
http://www.freeallegiance.org/

  

Offline JGZinv

  • 211
  • The Last Dual! Guardian
    • The FringeSpace Conversion Mod
Re: Q: Acquiring a game's license...
@ Sara   Not sure on the C&D.... I would have thought that if they wanted to stomp us flat they could have at any point in the last 6 years.
Of course we've not released anything FS, but me and other people have put out mods and re enabled multiplayer.

I'm not sure how to explain it, but I'm not really into getting the license for FringeSpace. It's... helpful I guess, but it's not as though we desire
NL's approval. We've gotten the blessing so to speak of people we respect concerning Tach already. This is more for the players / fans and getting
the IP out from under NL, who isn't doing anything with it. Least with it in our hands, we can use it to open some doors.

Even if NL started talks then demanded we C&D, granted that'd be a huge blow to us in terms of assets. But we could still continue, just without the
ties to Tachyon. If anything, it'd be a blow to NL as well since all they have left is the Delta Force community, and they are heavy into modding the games.
How well is it going to look if they axe a 6 year fan project, that was trying to remove operating costs from them?  Not good.  They'll still continue on of course,
but it won't help their sales any. 

Tachyon is dead to them, the people that gave birth to it moved away, and I'm not even employed to say they'd get much if they wanted to sue me. Where's
the benefit to conflict over this? There isn't one. Why flex muscle over a project that has, if anything, helped sell their downloadable copies.


@Davros  I'll take a look at that, I've heard of what when on there, but not taken a detailed glance at the underlying events.
True power comes not from strength, but from the soul and imagination.
Max to PCS2 to FS2 SCP Guide
The FringeSpace Conversion Mod