The Only Way to Win is...

So what the Dickens is going on?!  Well before we get to the details, let's step backwards in time a couple of months -- to a psycho-history-ish meeting where we and our lawyers were analyzing the various win and lose scenarios for the litigation most of you know so well.  What amazed us was that the distinction between the most likely winning and losing scenarios was probably going to be relatively small.  Worse yet, the negatives in all cases (loss of time, money, sanity, not to mention further fan community strife) were predicted to grow dramatically over the next few months. As a fan of WARGAMES (starring a young Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy), I remembered WOPR's wisdom.  After calculating every Global Thermonuclear War scenario the super-computer concluded that, "The only way to win is not to play the game."  This seemed like a worthy approach.  Now we'd tried court-managed settlement with no progress and private mediation was also proving to be as elusive as the Questing Beast.  So we decided to throw a bit of a Hail Mary pass and just call Brad Wardell directly -- something he'd actually suggested more than a year earlier -- but first, we needed to find some kind of common ground which turned out to be... bees.  Yes, bees.

Seriously.  Bees?


I (Paul) have a life-long dream of learning every Medieval villager skill.  Raising bees has always been on my list, so that I could make mead (wine) from honey.  I decided to cut out the middle-man (middle bug?) and just buy honey, but my desire to raise bees remained.  So when we called Brad Wardell my first sentence was something like, "Before I start talking about settling our legal conflict, I'd like to talk about bees."  The conversation about bees, honey, mead, and bee stings went on for quite a while before we moved on to the talking about the case.  Our perspective was this: we don't like fighting, but we love creating, so can we step waaay outside the box and settle our dispute through positive, creative actions rather than continuing to beat each other up?  Brad listened and agreed, and this became the basis for settlement.  Our lawyers are all smart, professionals with their client's best interest in mind, but it's worth considering that it was only when we communicated directly with each other that we made progress.

Details

  • The terms are not confidential.  We won't be publishing the text of the agreement, but we are free to describe all of its contents.

  • This is honestly and truly an amicable settlement.  Not only are we settling the lawsuit, but we’ve decided to support each other’s development so that the fan community gets two great games.

  • There is no 'loser'.  All sides win, because we are no longer burning money, creative energy and the goodwill of our fans. 

  • No money changed hands.  We’re not only halting the lawsuit, but we’re committed to supporting each other’s projects and working together to rebuild the cracks in the fan community. 

  • There is a weird paragraph in the agreement that involves bees.  Seriously — no kidding.  Brad Wardell is giving Fred and Paul honey from his hives and Paul is giving Brad some bottles of his homemade mead.  Brad will also be giving Paul advice in how not to be stung.  The lawyers thought this was pretty dang crazy. This goes to show you can find common ground in the strangest (and most delicious) of places.

  • Stardock will create new games in the Star Control franchise.  Paul & Fred will create new games in the Ur-Quan Masters franchise. 

  • To help differentiate the two franchises Paul volunteered to create a few new alien races for Origins. 

  • Brad offered to help Fred and Paul with technology.

  • Stardock dropped all its alien name and character trademarks and all parties have dropped their oppositions to each other’s trademarks.

  • Both sides recognize each other’s copyrights and will not challenge them in the future.

  • We were able to come to a very specific understanding on the alien characters and races — how they look and act.  Stardock is dropping all trademark registration of the alien names and won't use the described aliens without permission from Paul & Fred.

  • Star Control, Star Control II, and Star Control III will be coming back for sale by Stardock so that fans of all ages can enjoy the classic games in their original form.  Paul and Fred will split royalties equally with Stardock.

  • Stardock, and Brad in particular, is supportive of Paul and Fred owning the Ur-Quan Masters trademark.  All of us are committed to support the current UQM team and project, including their having a free, perpetual right to use the Ur-Quan Masters trademark for their amazing fan-powered recreation of the original game.

  • Stardock accepts that Paul & Fred are the creators of Star Control and Star Control II.  Both parties agree that many other skilled people also contributed their talent and creativity to help make the games so great.

  • Paul and Fred will be changing the name "Ghosts of the Precursors" to something a little less generic -- (come on, you know we can do better!).  The precise ‘when’ is unclear, but it is still several years off.

  • The settlement resolved all issues with all the parties, including Valve and GOG.

  • Paul enjoyed Origins enough to spend over 50 intense hours playing the game.  He thought the jokes in the alien dialog were genuinely very funny and he was blown away by how beautifully interplanetary travel was rendered.  Paul was especially delighted that he could remap the control keys to his beloved SpaceWar! configuration.

  • We are honestly very, very happy with the way everything has settled.  No Dnyarri mental compulsion was needed.