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.
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,
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
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?