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I urge anyone backing Jeffrey Wittenhagen's Black Box Challenge to seriously consider the following: he didn't get the game creator's permission to re-release it. The game creator is getting zero compensation from this. He didn't get the creator's permission to create a sequel.

The game is still available to purchase on @InfiniteNesLive website. The game is also available for a free download from @slydogstudios's website.
 
Please support the people who actually make these games and not people to pay to use a game for a certain context and then turn around and do what they want with it at a further date without any permission.
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Administrator · Posted
13 minutes ago, KHAN Games said:

I urge anyone backing Jeffrey Wittenhagen's Black Box Challenge to seriously consider the following: he didn't get the game creator's permission to re-release it. The game creator is getting zero compensation from this. He didn't get the creator's permission to create a sequel.

The game is still available to purchase on @InfiniteNesLive website. The game is also available for a free download from @slydogstudios's website.
 
Please support the people who actually make these games and not people to pay to use a game for a certain context and then turn around and do what they want with it at a further date without any permission.

I'd be curious to hear from the creator if they can speak to this themselves? I appreciate you bringing this up, but without full context it's hard to pick a side.

Like we don't know if they had a contract (verbal or otherwise) which stated ownership of the asset(s) involved, whether anything could/should happen in future, etc..

You and I for instance agreed that the one run of ShmupSpeed would be all that ever happens, and I'd never ever go back on that for any reason - what was printed is all that will ever BE printed, it was for charity that year and that is that. I dunno what the relationship they have/had is so would be interested in hearing from a first-party account on this one, out of curiosity.

Not to discount your word by any stretch, like I say, I appreciate you letting us know!

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4 hours ago, Gloves said:

I'd be curious to hear from the creator if they can speak to this themselves? I appreciate you bringing this up, but without full context it's hard to pick a side.

Like we don't know if they had a contract (verbal or otherwise) which stated ownership of the asset(s) involved, whether anything could/should happen in future, etc..

You and I for instance agreed that the one run of ShmupSpeed would be all that ever happens, and I'd never ever go back on that for any reason - what was printed is all that will ever BE printed, it was for charity that year and that is that. I dunno what the relationship they have/had is so would be interested in hearing from a first-party account on this one, out of curiosity.

Not to discount your word by any stretch, like I say, I appreciate you letting us know!

(Sorry for the wall of text but I want to be as upfront and clear as possible on this... since I'm being called out by name here)

A bit of backstory as I've kept quiet about a lot of things for years:

Khan and a few other NA Homebrew Developers have apparently been on some weird tirade against me when I originally commissioned the game back in 2015 to be created and released along side my Complete NES collector's book. This was to the point where I found out they may have tried to sabotage the game at NintendoAge Campout before the Kickstarter had ended because of a collecting joke I had going on with K3VBOT which they took out of context. It was something where I texted him about doing JWBBC on RetroUSB boards as he was collecting for that at the time, which was manipulated that I was trying to pressure him to buy the game... I was confused on that, as I was joking with him, but by the time NA Campout occured we were already using InfiniteNESLives boards due to it using Mapper30 so the game was never going to be on RetroUSB boards. (The really dumb joke was he wasn't counting Limited Edition releases like Lady Frogger as part of a full RetroUSB collection, or something like that, but crazy to take that out of context as it's so niche.) (Side note: I gifted K3VBOT a JWBBC prototype for NA Secret Santa in 2016 I think, which was a RetroUSB board with the NES homebrew Rick'Roll'd on it). I didn't put together all these pieces of people having toxic drama until after I created the Secret Santa gift. I even had talked to most of this Homebrew Developer group in person when they were cool with me to my face, but not behind my back... (I've seen similar toxicity from the same group of people currently surrounding NESmaker community, which is unfortunate to see...) But that's all just to put the nature of certain comments I've seen here and on Twitter in context.

As for the Jeffrey Wittenhagen's Black Box Challenge agreement:

As I mentioned above, the game was agreed to be created and associated with my Kickstarter campaign, which I would pay for through backer funding in order to have the game created for my campaign. I paid for the development of the game upfront in 2015, based on a verbal agreement with Rob from Sly Dog, providing more money to the developer than was initially asked for. (This is why the RE and LE versions of the game were more expensive on the Kickstarter so I could directly pay Rob out of the backer contributions) Rob had some unexpected bills at the time and as the game was pretty popular in the Kickstarter campaign, I had no problems with paying extra out of the game funds, which I ended up using a percentage of overall game sales to calculate the amount. The game was being worked on for a couple of years with updates being provided by Rob via YouTube, which I updated backers with. It was completed in 2017 and Sly Dog sent the finished ROM over to me. I ordered the boards and shells from INL, the labels from Uncle Tusk and boxes/manuals from thisroomisanillusion, which I assembled all boards/shells/labels etc by hand and shipped out myself to all the backers. I created the boxes and manual before the game was done so it's using demo sprites too. There were a few extra copies of the game that I had left over which I sold to help pay for the insane international shipping costs, which I undercharged for during the Kickstarter campaign. 

Non-Agreement for the other release:

After it was completed and released in 2017, I found out that Rob took my name off the title screen in game and was re-releasing it later that year, which was news to me. It wasn't part of our verbal agreement, as it was always intended from the conception of the idea to be named after me as it was created to go along with my collector's book. I commissioned the box artwork from a GPC artist which was also used the custom logo he created on the in-game title screen (including in the re-release version without my name), my wife and daughter are NPCs in the game, among Kickstarter backers that helped make the game possible by paying for the development through NPC tiers. So there was more than just my name in the title screen to this game. But even though I was confused why he did all this, I honestly was fine with more people being able to experience the game as it is an amazing RPG. So I didn't cause a stink with him doing a version without my name on it, even if he still used my custom title artwork without permission, among other things. It also sucked to see the Homebrew developer community that I have always supported ignore my version, even with podcasts and such. But that's also when I put together the pieces from the toxic folk mentioned above. I looked past all that as I work a full time job and I honestly hate all that drama and try to steer clear.

Agreement to re-release the game (that apparently was forgotten):

A year or so later at multiple conventions I found out that Regular Edition versions of JWBBC were being resold for hundreds of dollars. I eventually e-mailed INL after the third or forth time and asked if at least the basic version could be restocked (as it was unavailable in March of 2019 so I couldn't point people to his site). Rob chimed in (as he was apparently auto-CC'd by INL) about not wanting anything to do with the game anymore and if he did a re-release his profits would go to charity. (I found out today when trying to reference those e-mails that were directly from Rob that they had been retracted, which is odd considering those posting about me now) After that exchange, INL and Rob had a side conversation which he agreed to me being able to re-release and publish my version of JWBBC. I'm assuming that Rob of Sly Dog forgot that he gave me permission to re-release the JWBBC version of the game as it was back in March of 2019. However just to keep everything on the up-and-up I have attached the e-mails from my conversation with INL showing that Rob gave permission for me to do a reprint of JWBBC. Notice also now INL recommended that I do not contact Rob to avoid further aggravation... which I agreed to.

Information on why I took this to Kickstarter now in 2020:

I spent the last year working on the idea a novel of the game, akin to the classic Worlds of Power books and collaborating with artist Charles Moisant to do awesome artwork based off a story around the game world that will tell how the events unfold. This to me made doing a re-release on Kickstarter worthwhile since it's not just simply reprinting the game, as I could have just done preorders for that on my website for those people who wanted the game. I am also planning on doing an Action-RPG sequel too, calling it "Jeffrey Wittenhagen's Action Adventure" or something like that, to continue the story I'm telling in the novel... I've been talking to a few developers and already have a pixel artist and programmer interested, but if there isn't interest in a sequel I won't pursue it. With all this toxicity around something that I was given permission to do, I doubt it'll meet that stretch goal anyhow...

Also, on the Kickstarter before I launched it I posted in the bottom of my campaign that "10% of the game-related profits are allocated to Sly Dog Studios should they want it, although they have indicated they want nothing to do with this version." So if Sly Dog wants to donate their proceeds to charity, as was talked about in 2019, they absolutely can. I also mentioned directly on the campaign about the non-JW version being available as well as the ROM being available for free, as I was trying to be 100% upfront with everything in the campaign prior to launching. The game re-release is for those who wanted my version, which I have gotten over 50+ requests in my store from people over the last couple years, which isn't on the main page so people had to search for it. I don't plan to continue production of JWBBC, as the main idea is to get the book series off the ground and this campaign should allow those who missed out JWBBC in 2015 and follow my works the opportunity to finally get their own CIB copy.

In closing:

I don't know why some people just want to create drama and be toxic in this niche community, but heck I'll tell the story on the Collector's Quest Podcast if you guys want... It's wild that things seem to be this spun out of control when in reality I have supported the NES Homebrew community since almost day one and basically do not want to see games get resold for hundreds of dollars, especially if my name is attached to it. Re-releasing a game that I was given the okay to do, with my name on it, using my commissioned artwork from 2015 for that project, is such a weird thing to have to justify, especially with the verbal agreement and way my name was unknowingly taken off in the way it was. This is exactly why all business I do nowadays that requires creation of a new IP is done with a very clear and notarized contract. Live and learn but that's the facts from my side of this whole crazy ordeal... I'm sure people will chime in, but with this whole virus I won't have access to this site while at work. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions.

INL Email 1.png

INL Email 2.PNG

INL Email 3.PNG

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Administrator · Posted

Thanks for giving your side @thesubcon3.

I've personally seen the toxicity that does exist within the community and it honestly baffles me. How the goal for people can't simply be "support new NES games" is just childish IMO, but that's a bit of another story really.

Really appreciate your thoroughness here.

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13 hours ago, KHAN Games said:

I urge anyone backing Jeffrey Wittenhagen's Black Box Challenge to seriously consider the following: he didn't get the game creator's permission to re-release it. The game creator is getting zero compensation from this. He didn't get the creator's permission to create a sequel.

The game is still available to purchase on @InfiniteNesLive website. The game is also available for a free download from @slydogstudios's website.
 
Please support the people who actually make these games and not people to pay to use a game for a certain context and then turn around and do what they want with it at a further date without any permission.

Care to respond back to the points the other party/side of the story brought to light?! So much left unsaid in your post and (likely unwarranted) accusations, no?

Edited by fcgamer
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@thesubcon3 On another note, is the later release this one? I saw a screenshot on the Devs page, Jeffrey if that's the logo you commissioned, it's super lame if the Dev used it and then put his name in, instead of yours, if that wasn't agrees upon. I thought the second release just removed your name, did he actually insert his name instead (as in the screenshot attached?)

IMG_20200325_180237.jpg

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@thesubcon3 is correct, the bit about the 10% to sly dog is there on the Kickstarter campaign as is the language that the cart is available elsewhere with a different label and also mentions the the rom can even be downloaded for free. As someone who busted ass to find and buy this game (how many of you did I reach out to via email and NA PM) I support someone trying to make it easier to find the game for everyone. Raising $5k for this basically leaves no profit or even a worthwhile profit.  
 

Glad I was able to get the last wooden box and I’ve got my fingers crossed for $20k for a sequel!

edit: Funny story, I emailed Rob (told me to reach out to Infinite), Infinite NES Lives (told me they had re-listed the BBC which they did), and Jeff about this game back in August. Jeff told me he was planning on doing another Kickstarter because Rob had given him the rights to his version (JWBBC). I can provide mods emails as proof if they wish. Although just hearsay, I see no reason for him to lie to me. I didn’t buy the Infinite version because it was cart only. Someone here or at NA eventually sold me the JWBBC version

 

@fcgamer slydog posted on his twitter that he will post his side of the story, this was 13 hours ago. 
 

I hope everything involves here gets on the same page because we need a sequel where the end goal is to get SE or a gold NWC lol

Edited by a3quit4s
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@a3quit4s : Yes i saw that tweet as well, as he mentions (the real story). IMO, if there was any issue to begin with, he and Jeffrey should have been discussing it behind closed doors, why the need for an unrelated (but very biased) party to start slinging mud at another member here? That's what I personally find most disturbing. 

IMG_20200325_211217.jpg

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Homebrew Team · Posted
5 hours ago, fcgamer said:

Care to respond back to the points the other party/side of the story brought to light?! So much left unsaid in your post and (likely unwarranted) accusations, no?

Here is a link to Rob's side.  There is a lot info there.  Emails as well and a link to audio of Jeff talking about the project.

 

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2 hours ago, fcgamer said:

@a3quit4s : Yes i saw that tweet as well, as he mentions (the real story). IMO, if there was any issue to begin with, he and Jeffrey should have been discussing it behind closed doors, why the need for an unrelated (but very biased) party to start slinging mud at another member here? That's what I personally find most disturbing. 

 

Heaven forbid I defend a personal friend of mine who has given me specific details of this ongoing issue for the last several years. It's not like my statements were unfounded. Rob's Twitter thread proves this.

I'll let Rob's Twitter thread do the talking from now on. In the past Rob hasn't risen to defend his work, so I took it upon myself to do it for him. That's all.

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@KHAN Games : when i commissioned artwork in the past, there was always a contract laid out between me and the artist regarding his rights and mine, ability to reproduce said artwork for purposes other than the commissioned purpose, etc. We each signed a contract, we each established who could do what (in the end, I'd generally purchase the full rights, albeit at a higher price), and that was that. These were pieces I commissioned friends to do, so it wasn't even a stranger who might be looking to screw me somehow.

From what's been posted on both sides, it sounds to me that this is at the crux of the issue, no contracts as to what each person can do. 

I will be honest enough and say that I can't look at the matter in a 100% unbiased way, as the attitudes of a lot of the old guard in nes homebrew is sickening and condenscending towards newcomers, and a few of you guys have been less than friendly towards me over the years, just for having differing opinions than yours. With that said, a few things that I'd just like to address:

A.  I'd like to know more about the second game release, the one where Jeffrey's name is replaced by Rob's. To me, if Jeffrey's son and wife are characters in the game, that's an extremely weird / douchey thing to do, especially if Jeffrey was not on board with it.

B.  Rob argues that because Jeffrey says "Thank you Rob" it shows be didn't believe he owned the rights...no, that's a silly argument. It just shows that Jeffrey is thanking Rob for being willing to produce a commissioned game, and doing a good job at it .

C.  If Jeffrey commissioned the other guy to do the logo and what not, for his game, would Rob even have the rights to use said logo in the version of the game that wasn't Jeffrey's version? Again, it's a contracts thing, who owns the rights.

D. I'd like to know more about the guys that wanted to support Rob and buy the game, but not with Jeffrey's name. Is this the guys that Jeffrey mentioned earlier, who allegedly couldn't take a joke?

To me, the whole thing sounds like it boils down to contracts (or lack of) and cliques.

IMG_20200325_232512.jpg

Edited by fcgamer
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Yeah I’m with @Gloves there is really no fault here. I do think that Rob does deserve more than 10% of sales since it is his game but it doesn’t really seem like it would make him happy. The biggest discrepancy here is that Jeff thinks he owns his version, which is really just a title change, of the game or JWBBC and Rob doesn’t see it that way. 
 

edit: oh and communication JW should have been in touch with SlyDog to go over the re-release. I think that could have resolved this from the start. Not sure where things thing went wrong with these two but I think it could probably be talked out. Happy to mediate a meeting!

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So, a couple things I see here.

First off, I fail to see how these Kickstarter rules are not violated.

  • Projects that share things that already exist, or repackage a previously-created product, without adding anything new or aiming to iterate on the idea in any way.
  • Resale. All rewards must have been produced or designed by the project or one of its creators — no reselling things from elsewhere.

  Maybe there is a loophole being exploited with the book?

Second, without legal contracts for publishing and IP ownership, I fail to see how Rob lost any of his rights to the game. He was not under legal contract, he was not an employee of Jeff's, nor has it been shown where Rob gave up any rights to the game, IP related to it, or branding which includes future titles or sequels. Mike Tyson can't create a "Mike Tyson's Punch Out 2" just because his name was on the game; just like I can't make a game using the Pac-Man sprite in a new game even if the entire game plays is changed. Without any of these legal documents or proper open licensing filed by Rob himself, the creator of the content is the owner of the content. I'm not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV, but I fail to see how Jeff can legally promote the creation of a sequel in a stretch goal without the original content creator's legal written permission. I don't see anywhere from either party where it explicitly says that Rob has given Jeff exclusive rights to all future creation, production, and publishing of all Black Box Challenge titles and related IPs, regardless of whose name precedes the title.

It is very unfortunate that a fun collaboration project in a hobby community has come down to this, but I guess it shows that there may be something to contracts. I don't like operating on them, but to protect yourself and your creations, you have to now days. Hobbies aren't fun when legal matters get in the way. 😞

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Administrator · Posted
4 minutes ago, Orab Games said:

So, a couple things I see here.

First off, I fail to see how these Kickstarter rules are not violated.

  • Projects that share things that already exist, or repackage a previously-created product, without adding anything new or aiming to iterate on the idea in any way.
  • Resale. All rewards must have been produced or designed by the project or one of its creators — no reselling things from elsewhere.

  Maybe there is a loophole being exploited with the book?

Second, without legal contracts for publishing and IP ownership, I fail to see how Rob lost any of his rights to the game. He was not under legal contract, he was not an employee of Jeff's, nor has it been shown where Rob gave up any rights to the game, IP related to it, or branding which includes future titles or sequels. Mike Tyson can't create a "Mike Tyson's Punch Out 2" just because his name was on the game; just like I can't make a game using the Pac-Man sprite in a new game even if the entire game plays is changed. Without any of these legal documents or proper open licensing filed by Rob himself, the creator of the content is the owner of the content. I'm not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV, but I fail to see how Jeff can legally promote the creation of a sequel in a stretch goal without the original content creator's legal written permission. I don't see anywhere from either party where it explicitly says that Rob has given Jeff exclusive rights to all future creation, production, and publishing of all Black Box Challenge titles and related IPs, regardless of whose name precedes the title.

It is very unfortunate that a fun collaboration project in a hobby community has come down to this, but I guess it shows that there may be something to contracts. I don't like operating on them, but to protect yourself and your creations, you have to now days. Hobbies aren't fun when legal matters get in the way. 😞

Contracts don't have to be scary worrisome things, seriously. Consider a marriage contract, for instance. A contract is simply a statement of how each individual is going to be considered in the future when making decisions of any kind.

Contract writing/signing time is your time to say "Actually I'd like to own the IP myself, and let you sell the game as part of your KS but not beyond that" and then if the other party disagrees you have that conversation. You know, BEFORE everybody has done a bunch of work on the thing, or even as is the case here, the work is done and has already been sold to people.

There's nothing at all wrong with a contract, and if you ever present someone with the idea of drafting a contract together and they get antsy about it, that is your first RED FLAG! Seriously the stories of people being fucked in one way or another because of no signed contract, where they have no recourse at all, are plentiful. Do yourself AND your partner(s) a favor and always do a contract.

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2 minutes ago, Gloves said:

Contracts don't have to be scary worrisome things, seriously. Consider a marriage contract, for instance. A contract is simply a statement of how each individual is going to be considered in the future when making decisions of any kind.

Contract writing/signing time is your time to say "Actually I'd like to own the IP myself, and let you sell the game as part of your KS but not beyond that" and then if the other party disagrees you have that conversation. You know, BEFORE everybody has done a bunch of work on the thing, or even as is the case here, the work is done and has already been sold to people.

There's nothing at all wrong with a contract, and if you ever present someone with the idea of drafting a contract together and they get antsy about it, that is your first RED FLAG! Seriously the stories of people being fucked in one way or another because of no signed contract, where they have no recourse at all, are plentiful. Do yourself AND your partner(s) a favor and always do a contract.

For sure. I was working on a contract with an artist before I was forced to hang up programming as a hobby. To be honest, that person was very awesome to work with and I would recommend them to anyone for future projects! I feel terrible that I had to bow out right was we came to an agreement, but my life hasn't been the same since I had to make a choice to step away. Unfortunately, I doubt that project will ever see the light of day outside of concepts, but who knows. I'm forever grateful that they were understanding of my situation and understood that hobbies come after everything else in life.

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I'dstill like to know more details about what happened with the other guys logo being used in the non-jeff version of the game, also curious about Jeff's wife and kid appearing in the sans-jeff version. Would Rob have the rights to use their likeness, if Jeffrey wasn't on board with that second release? 

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