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VGS Homebrew Almanac

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18 minutes ago, fcgamer said:

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? 

 

Does it really count as a likeness in an 8 bit game?  I mean, if it's some sprite that shares a first name with someone... just wondering how detailed it is or would have to be before it's literally like "look, that's me in the game!"

 

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38 minutes ago, the tall guy said:

 

Does it really count as a likeness in an 8 bit game?  I mean, if it's some sprite that shares a first name with someone... just wondering how detailed it is or would have to be before it's literally like "look, that's me in the game!"

 

Because if it was you in the game, you would be 32 pixels tall and the rest of the characters would be 16 pixels tall.

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Posted (edited)

Lawyer here. Bear with me, I've been touching this up in several places. Usual disclaimer: this isn't legal advice, no one should interpret what I'm saying as such neither should this post be taken to mean I am representing anyone.

The bare bones of a verbal contract are apparent here, as Rob did deliver a game with Jeff's name in the title: offer, acceptance, consideration. The rest of that contract however is fuzzy, given the lack of a "meeting of the minds" in terms of ownership over the IP. Is it a commissioned work that belongs to the patron? Did someone merely license their name (and the names of family members) to someone else's game in exchange for selling a run of the game in conjunction with a book? The fact that there is disagreement and behavior from both parties indicating they had a different view on this demonstrates at best a lack of a contract on that point and at worst a loss of the contract as whole because of that, which would lean toward any rights staying with the developer. Rob's pattern of behavior toward not selling his IP would probably bolster that argument, such as with K3VBOT licensing Estoscerro to sell physical carts on Kickstarter for that particular campaign.

In an 8-bit game, I'm not sure how much can really be made of someone's likeness since it's hard to argue that a sprite can look like anybody specific, though distinct names can indicate an intention for someone in particular to be represented. Joe Simko's art raises a similar issue: was this a one-time commission or are royalties for his work at stake, and what rights did he have across all of these runs of the game (did either side consider him in all this)?

The real mess with rights here (and why neither side probably wants to take this to legal authority in addition to prohibitive costs) is that Rob references and includes miniaturized versions of licensed Nintendo games in this unlicensed Nintendo homebrew. 

As much as people hate lawyers for stuff like this, the virtue of contracts, even among friends, can't be overstated. Others have already made the point about why they're useful. They are a great item to consult in the event of an issue, like turning to the rules of a complicated board game when a question comes up.

Much as Rob and Jeff don't seem interested, this is really only going to get resolved by them talking to each other and hashing something out, whether that's just between them, or with the help of a mediator/arbitrator/judge, and not by the "court of public opinion."

Edited by Scrobins
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Thanks for the info @Scrobins! Like you say, better resolved in private I think, and certainly a prolonged conversation here can be somewhat derailing. I'd encourage people to halt the conversation on it here and take it elsewhere, so this thread can continue on with its original purpose. I believe we all have roughly enough info here to have a personal opinion, and digging deeper should be done privately. If your purchase on Kickstarter or otherwise is influenced by the outcome of this, I'd say to contact the parties involved rather than publicly here, as we don't want to get into needless name calling which and the like, hasn't happened yet and I believe we can avoid.

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To me this really comes across as both parties are being genuine and well meaning, despite the bad blood. And I can easily see how they can each interpret the situation in different ways. As I understand it, this game was created entirely as a companion to the first book project, and therefore it is very easy to see it as a product commissioned by Wittenhagen, and created for him. Especially when it has his name on it.
And it's also very clear to me that releasing it as a stand-alone thing without his name on it, definitely wasn't something he had foreseen or wanted, but nevertheless accepted.

Now that's all fair in the sense that both parties had their own understanding of the case and the rights involved. There was a lack of contract and a lot of miscommunication, which is regrettable. I wouldn't fault anyone for this.

Where this completely comes apart for me, however, is that Wittenhagen apparently talked to Rob, the person who created this thing, who made it very clear that he didn't approve of selling the game again via another Kickstarter. Yet, he did it anyway.
At this point it comes down to morals and respectable behavior. Legally, I don't see any way that the copyright belongs to anyone other than Rob, because there was never a contract stating otherwise. But as @Scrobins points out, taking this to court would be a legal nightmare due to additional obvious trademark infringement being involved. So lets focus on the social implications instead.

I can understand that Jeffrey Wittenhagen wants to make this release, and I can understand that he's excited for his new book also. But when the developer of this game doesn't want him to sell it for personal profit, I can't really see how it could ever go any further than that. If you want to talk about people "creating drama and toxicity" in a niche community, you should probably consider your own actions first.

I don't believe there were any mean intentions, but it's pretty obvious that you went against the wishes of the person who both made and owns the product you are now selling. And if you don't want any drama, it's kind of puzzling to me you'd even do that in the first place.

(also as @Orab Games points out, selling the same product twice is clearly against Kickstarter's rules, so anyone with an issue with this KS should easily be able to report it)

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On 3/26/2020 at 12:52 AM, fcgamer said:

...

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 .

@Gloves I'm really sorry to continue this discussion in this thread, but for the sake of anyone making any judgement calls based on it, I just wanted to point out that this seems inaccurate. Rob argued that the time mark at 54:40 is what folks should hear. The "Thank You to Rob" was 5 seconds before the time mark posted. After that timemark (54:40-55:20ish), he lists how many copies he's made, that he's not making any more, and then states that Rob is releasing the game separately through INL and encourages folks to get it. I could be mistaken, but it seems to me like that would be what he was referring to.

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2 hours ago, M-Tee said:

@Gloves I'm really sorry to continue this discussion in this thread, but for the sake of anyone making any judgement calls based on it, I just wanted to point out that this seems inaccurate. Rob argued that the time mark at 54:40 is what folks should hear. The "Thank You to Rob" was 5 seconds before the time mark posted. After that timemark (54:40-55:20ish), he lists how many copies he's made, that he's not making any more, and then states that Rob is releasing the game separately through INL and encourages folks to get it. I could be mistaken, but it seems to me like that would be what he was referring to.

I just listened again, I am pretty sure the "Thank you Rob" part carried through (and possibly past) the 54:40, though I'm not going to listen to the clip again to double check.

With that being said though, I listened to the part you referenced above, too, and I honestly don't think it's a strong argument for Rob. The reason I say that is because Jeffrey doesn't mention the game being released in a different manner (i.e. a different name), he just says that inl will release the "normal " edition. Unless ALL Wittenhagen versions are LE (I wasn't under that impression), I'd believe that the normal edition Jeffrey release would be the same game as the normal edition INL release, though in reality, they aren't, as they have different title screens.

Again, like I said before, the whole thing sounds like a problem caused by lack of contracts, naivety, factions, etc. If Jeffrey commissioned the game to be done, it's quite possible he thought he'd get the rights to do whatever he wanted with it. Except for the fact that I had some paintings commissioned, otherwise I'd possibly have been in a similar camp if I ever got a game commissioned. On the other hand, I think Rob definitely has valid points from his perspective too.

What I don't particularly like though is the mass amount of people bashing Jeffrey and his books on twitter. I think the layout of his books look amateurish, but many people seem to like the books, and the guy did a passion project and shared it with the community.

Calling the guy a crook and trashing his projects seems a bit crappy to me, when it honestly seems like a huge misunderstanding initially.  

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Just answer me this single question, tracker.

How is Jeff benefiting the community (which he has stated over and over and over is his intent) when he is directly going against the wishes of the developer of the very game he's releasing? That seems to do quite the opposite.

I can understand it being a miscommunication (I guess... but this whole "miscommunication" happened over a year ago and communication should have been re-established prior to launching), but how can you defend him when he continues to push the release of this game?

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2 hours ago, KHAN Games said:

Just answer me this single question, tracker.

How is Jeff benefiting the community (which he has stated over and over and over is his intent) when he is directly going against the wishes of the developer of the very game he's releasing? That seems to do quite the opposite.

I can understand it being a miscommunication (I guess... but this whole "miscommunication" happened over a year ago and communication should have been re-established prior to launching), but how can you defend him when he continues to push the release of this game?

@KHAN Games : I will send you a message later tonight as promised, I'm just chatting with my family online at the current moment.

Honestly, you need and some of the others need to remove yourselves a bit from the situation and try to look at it from another viewpoint. I get that you're passionate, but I felt the same way years back about Taiwan-developed original games (basically considered the "first" homebrews , or "cottage games" over here), and it just pissed off the whole homebrew first gen group when I stated on NA that I felt those Taiwanese Devs deserved the same respect as the homebrew Dev scene at that time.

Self reflection time, I did a lot of that myself and finally decided to just let it go, the things I disagreed with. You can ask some repro makers here about this if you want, I eventually just realised that perhaps I care too much, and that it's someone else's battle. We are all in this together, let's stop crapping in the same pool.

I'll try to send you out a pm before the nights through, my time, please answer it honestly from your point of view...the thing is, if people aren't honest with how they're feeling, nothing ever will get resolved.

Game on dude, hope everything is find for you and your family right now during these dark times.

 

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Posted (edited)
On 3/27/2020 at 4:17 PM, fcgamer said:

you need and some of the others need to remove yourselves a bit from the situation and try to look at it from another viewpoint.

I'm genuinely interested in knowing what other viewpoint you're suggesting, because I'll willingly admit I can't really see any other potential perspectives - and I have no personal connection to anyone involved.

Edited by Sumez

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9 minutes ago, Sumez said:

I'm genuinely interested in knowing what other viewpoint you're suggesting, because I'll willingly admit I can't really see any other potential perspectives - and I have no personal connection to anyone involved.

Please take this conversation elsewhere.

As Gloves has already pointed out, the merits have already been raised for people to form their own opinion and I would like my thread to return to its original purpose as a source of information for currently available homebrew. It’s important and worthwhile that Kevin raised the issue and Jeffrey responded so we understand, but for others to give their hot takes and debate each other would be better suited in its own thread.

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Posted (edited)

Added Rainbow Brite: Journey to the Rainbow Land from JoshProd.

Edited by Scrobins
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