Author Topic: Re: Siliconate War  (Read 5187 times)

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Offline coldsteel

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Re: Siliconate War
« on: September 08, 2007, 09:21:18 PM »
[quote="
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by coldsteel »
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Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Siliconate War
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2007, 04:42:06 PM »
Quote from: "coldsteel"
May be time to try again with Baen, with the success of White & Weber's Starfire novels. Casually let 'slip' that they use the Starfire system; of course, with Jim Baen dying last year-ish, who knows?

I would be careful about that. When Marvin published ISW4, which was work David Weber had done before Marvin bought Starfire, he was breaking Weber's copyright. David Weber got involved but decided not to sue because he believed Marvin had made an honest mistake and wasn't deliberately stealing his work, or at least believed he was stealing it legally because he had bought Starfire. He made a long post along these lines on Baen's bar several years ago. Its a good thing for Marvin that David Weber was so understanding. Which incidentally makes the amount of unsubstantiated fuss Marvin made about SA breaking his copyright (after ten years of allowing it) seem more than a little hypocritical.

When I was involved in creating the Unified Rules, I exchanged some emails with David Weber, partly to explain what we were doing and partly because I was concerned about putting his original work into a new document, as well as any extended background based on that work. He was pleased to see Third edition being kept alive, as he wasn't happy with the direction that Fourth was going (and said so in his Baen post). His view was that the books now constituted a separate Starfire universe from the one in the game so we could create whatever additional background we liked as long as we didn't use any of the characters from his books.

Its probably best to bear that restriction in mind in any Starfire-related stories that you write and it also might be worth trying to contact David Weber or Steve White to check they don't mind you trying to sell a Starfire story. David Weber may not read the story because some authors try to avoid sub-conciously picking up ideas that they may get sued about later but he might ask someone at Baen to read it. Worth a try at least :)

Its probably worth informing Marvin too as the copyright situation is a little confused, Bear in mind what he says may not represent the actual legal situation as he is still telling people he is planning to sue me (as of a couple of weeks ago) and that's why 3rd edition is no longer on sale. However, he might see a Starfire story as good publicity and try to help you get it published

Steve
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Steve Walmsley »
 

Offline Þórgrímr

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« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2007, 05:14:18 PM »
Well thats the whole thing Steve, My Romans in space are NOT Starfire, the fiction was based on a campaign of Starfire, and thats why I came up with ships, names and all the various sundry items needed to create your own universe. I did not want to have to deal with IP and copyright headaches.  :D

And I think you can see, the only remote mentioning of anything Starfire is the HET's, but they can be changed witha swift edit in word.  :D  I purposefully kept the weapons generic enough so that there was no impinging on copyright. All my sweat went into the details of my Romans and the background of their universe.

But if you have read anything in my stuff that would indicate otherwise, please by all means, let me know so I can change it.




Cheers,
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Þórgrímr »
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Offline Kurt

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Re: Siliconate War
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2007, 06:16:16 PM »
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Its probably worth informing Marvin too as the copyright situation is a little confused, Bear in mind what he says may not represent the actual legal situation as he is still telling people he is planning to sue me (as of a couple of weeks ago) and that's why 3rd edition is no longer on sale. However, he might see a Starfire story as good publicity and try to help you get it published

Steve


Too bad.  I would have thought that Marvin would have given up on that subject a long time ago.  Of course, I haven't spoken with him directly in a long time.  

Is anyone else here on the Starfire list?  I haven't received any mail from it since early August, which I hadn't realized until just now.  I got the Majordomo auto-mailing at the start of September that confirmed that I was still subscribed.  

Kurt
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Kurt »
 

Offline coldsteel

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« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2007, 12:00:07 AM »
Aren't HETs from SFB...? :)

Also, same here about the majordomo list.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by coldsteel »
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Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Siliconate War
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2007, 05:12:55 AM »
Quote from: "Kurt"
Too bad.  I would have thought that Marvin would have given up on that subject a long time ago.  Of course, I haven't spoken with him directly in a long time.  
I don't think he ever intended to sue me. I think it just makes a convenient excuse for why he stopped selling 3rd edition. The most charitable 'real' reason I can find for the decision to stop selling 3rdR was to try and get people to finally abandon 3rd and move on to fourth instead, which Marvin obviously believed was the long-term future of Starfire. Although I was obviously annoyed and upset at the time, I now look back and realise that, in a way, Marvin was the driving force behind Aurora. Without all that upset I wouldn't have created a new game which is my own design (with a lot of help :)), rather than a assistant program for someone else's game. I can also make much faster progress with Aurora than SA because I am creating something specifically for PC, not trying to create a computer-based boardgame based on rules not designed for the PC.

Even before the final row, I had started to add optional rules to SA that were impossible without computer support and I know that was one of Marvin's primary worries. Because of the number of people using SA to play 3rdR, he felt SA had more control over the 3rdR rules than he did, which was probably a justifiable and understandable concern. He had already forbidden any type of tactical game within SA because of the Digital Gamers contract (anyone know what happened there btw?) so I think a row over SA was probably inevitable even without the flare-up over the Unified Rules.

Quote
Is anyone else here on the Starfire list?  I haven't received any mail from it since early August, which I hadn't realized until just now.  I got the Majordomo auto-mailing at the start of September that confirmed that I was still subscribed.  

I am not on the Starfire list so I can't confirm this. However, isn't there an archive somewhere? That might have the answer. Also, Mathhew Siedl runs the Starfire list so he may know what's going on if someone has his email address.

Steve
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Steve Walmsley »
 

Offline Þórgrímr

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« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2007, 10:31:24 AM »
Quote from: "coldsteel"
Aren't HETs from SFB...? :wink:




Cheers,
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Þórgrímr »
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Offline Kurt

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Re: Siliconate War
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2007, 11:58:25 AM »
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Quote from: "Kurt"
Too bad.  I would have thought that Marvin would have given up on that subject a long time ago.  Of course, I haven't spoken with him directly in a long time.  
I don't think he ever intended to sue me. I think it just makes a convenient excuse for why he stopped selling 3rd edition. The most charitable 'real' reason I can find for the decision to stop selling 3rdR was to try and get people to finally abandon 3rd and move on to fourth instead, which Marvin obviously believed was the long-term future of Starfire.  

As much as I loved 3rd, I had advised Marvin several times that he should have dropped 3rd completely once fourth came out, making a clean break.  By continuing to support 3rd he was diluting the brand, and I believed it would eventually lead to a schismatic break, which is exactly what happened.  This was just after the release of the 4th edition, when it was not really clear how much support either version had.  I believe that after the events that led to the disbanding/destruction of the 3rd Design Group, Marvin decided to belatedly implement this advice, but of course by then it was too late.  Thbe schism had happened, and a lot of people that had clung to 3rd, and even some 4th Ed. people got upset and dropped out.    

Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Although I was obviously annoyed and upset at the time, I now look back and realise that, in a way, Marvin was the driving force behind Aurora. Without all that upset I wouldn't have created a new game which is my own design (with a lot of help :)), rather than a assistant program for someone else's game. I can also make much faster progress with Aurora than SA because I am creating something specifically for PC, not trying to create a computer-based boardgame based on rules not designed for the PC.

Even before the final row, I had started to add optional rules to SA that were impossible without computer support and I know that was one of Marvin's primary worries. Because of the number of people using SA to play 3rdR, he felt SA had more control over the 3rdR rules than he did, which was probably a justifiable and understandable concern. He had already forbidden any type of tactical game within SA because of the Digital Gamers contract (anyone know what happened there btw?) so I think a row over SA was probably inevitable even without the flare-up over the Unified Rules.

As you note, Marvin was in a difficult position, albeit one largely of his own making.  With SA only available for 3rd, 4th had a difficult time competing, at least among a certain segment of the market.  Fourth really needed its own computer assistant to make it viable, a fact that Marvin admitted at some point, but ultimately he also admitted that he did not have the time or skills to program it, and couldn't afford to pay anyone to do it.  

What he really should have done was get you (Steve) or someone like you on board during the development of 4th to modify SA for 4th and release as an "Official" supplement.  Unfortunately, he was too focused on the release of 4th itself, and subsequent to the release, when it became clear how popular SA was, his relationship with you was too bad to make it work.  Also, by that time, Marvin was distracted by the online gaming issue, which he believed to be the future of Starfire.  

I checked the Starfire Online site, and it appears that the last time it was updated was 03/06.

Please NOTE that none of the above speaks as to who was right or wrong in the entire blowup, or motivations, and it is not an invitation to rehash the whole stupid event.  

Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Quote from: "Kurt"
Is anyone else here on the Starfire list?  I haven't received any mail from it since early August, which I hadn't realized until just now.  I got the Majordomo auto-mailing at the start of September that confirmed that I was still subscribed.  
I am not on the Starfire list so I can't confirm this. However, isn't there an archive somewhere? That might have the answer. Also, Mathhew Siedl runs the Starfire list so he may know what's going on if someone has his email address.

Steve


I was hoping someone here was on the list.  I poked around the links that came with my subscription e-mail and didn't find anything, I suppose I could look a little harder.  

Kurt

Edit: PS: If anyone has any questions about the demise of 3rd Ed., or comments, I am more than happy to discuss it via private e-mail.  I will not discuss it further here, as the subject is explosive and public discussions in the past tended to devolve into flame wars.  

E-mail me at Phoenix2350@ssctv.net
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Kurt »
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Siliconate War
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2007, 03:41:52 PM »
Quote from: "Kurt"
As you note, Marvin was in a difficult position, albeit one largely of his own making.  With SA only available for 3rd, 4th had a difficult time competing, at least among a certain segment of the market.  Fourth really needed its own computer assistant to make it viable, a fact that Marvin admitted at some point, but ultimately he also admitted that he did not have the time or skills to program it, and couldn't afford to pay anyone to do it.  

What he really should have done was get you (Steve) or someone like you on board during the development of 4th to modify SA for 4th and release as an "Official" supplement.  Unfortunately, he was too focused on the release of 4th itself, and subsequent to the release, when it became clear how popular SA was, his relationship with you was too bad to make it work.  Also, by that time, Marvin was distracted by the online gaming issue, which he believed to be the future of Starfire.  

That was really the crux of Marvin's problem. When 4th first came out, I was excited to see a new edition and before I had really gone through the rules, I posted on the list that I would start work on a Galactic Starfire Assistant (for free of course). That idea was quickly shot down by Cralis, who was part of the SDS at the time and insisted that new software would be created in-house by the SDS and they didn't want me to work on any 4th software. I am not sure how much effect that really had on the lack of 4th edition software. Although it obviously annoyed me, once I had gone through the rules properly there were a lot of things about 4th I didn't like (which I won't rehash here) so I probably wouldn't have created a new program anyway.

The problem for Marvin, which I don't think he or Cralis really ever appreciated, was that I had put a LOT of work into Starfire Assistant over perhaps ten years and it was a very large and complex program. The two things that kept me going through all that time were how much I enjoyed playing 3rd edition Starfire and how much I enjoyed being part of the community that had grown up around 3rdR and SA. There is no way that Marvin could realistically have paid me (or anyone else) for that amount of work. Starfire just doesn't generate that kind of money. The reality is that a program with the depth of Starfire Assistant will never be commercially written for a game as niche as Starfire because it is not even close to a commercially viable proposition.

When you looked at the other products produced by Digigamers, such as Fish Pond, Dominoes, Cribbage, etc., it seemed blindingly obvious that neither they nor Marvin/Cralis had any real appreciation of the amount of work involved in a Starfire program, or at least a Starfire program that bore any resemblance to the boardgame. Digigamers underestimated the task because they presumably didn't understand the depth of the rules and Marvin/Cralis underestimated it because they aren't programmers. However, I assume none of this was apparent to them at the time, which is why they kept insisting that Digigamers would produce something.

What Marvin needed was someone similar to me who liked 4th edition and would put the same amount of free effort into an SA equivalent for 4th. However, that person had to have the necessary programming skills, the necessary design skills (which are very different to programming skills), an obsessive-compulsive personality :), lots of free time, a willingness to put in hundreds, probably thousands, of development hours for free and provide free on-going support. They would also need an enjoyment of playing 4th edition Starfire that would continue to motivate them for several years at least. Although there must be 4th edition players with some of those qualifiers, finding someone with all of them was extremely unlikely. Will Gore was probably his best bet and I think he did start some early work on a 4th assistant.

It really must have been a difficult dilemma for Marvin. The existence of Starfire Assistant was probably a major factor (although my no means the only one) in making it difficult for 4th edition to gain real momentum but he had got himself into the situation with some bad decisions, which unfortunately would not have been obvious based on his subjective knowledge of the situation at the time. However, even if he had realised the problem in time, he was still stuck with the existence of SA, my dislike of 4th edition, a lack of suitable people to build a 4th assistant and no viable commercial path out of the situation.

If I was in his situation at the time, then banning further updates to SA and stopping the sale of 3rdR might have looked like a good way out of the mess, because that would take away what he believed was the main reason players were sticking with 3rd. However, because of the game play issues I don't think he was ever going to drag a majority of the 3rdR players into playing fourth. Now I am looking back without any of the emotion of the time, I can see Marvin was in a very difficult situation and I can even have a little sympathy for him.

However, I believe two different decisions might have made things easier. Firstly, it might have been worth finding out from Starfire players what they liked about 3rd edition and what they didn't like before creating 4th edition. He effectively created a new game in secret based on his own views of the deficiencies in 3rdR and his vision of how Starfire should be played and then released it. While that was certainly his perogative as owner and designer of Starfire, a little market research would have gone a long way toward making 4th edition more commercially successful. Secondly, he should have actively encouraged player participation in creating software and other play aids instead of discouraging it. While large companies that produce lots of add-ons for their game systems might discourage competition from players, a small company should gladly accept all the help it can get, especially if that help is provided for free by willing fans.

All this talk of Starfire made me visit the web page for nostalgia. I wish I hadn't bothered. It appears that Marvin no longer sells countersheets or accepts credit card orders (although he does accept Paypal) and the order page of the web site stopped working in February (based on the last update date). It may be that the list issues are not an isolated problem.  Whatever my general antipathy for Marvin, it would be a great shame if a game with the long history of Starfire faded into obscurity.

Steve

BTW, if anyone wants to discuss the reasons why I prefered 3rd to GSF then please mail me direct. As Kurt said, the flame wars around 3rd vs 4th were damaging to everyone and I don't want them on the Aurora forums
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Steve Walmsley »
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2007, 03:44:43 PM »
Erik,

Is there any way to remove the last few posts re the old 3rdR situation from this thread and place them in a separate thread so they don't detract from reading
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Steve Walmsley »
 

Offline Erik Luken

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« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2007, 04:05:12 PM »
Done. And let's not start any major wars betwixt ourselves
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Erik Luken »
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2007, 04:30:59 PM »
Quote from: "Erik Luken"
Done. And let's not start any major wars betwixt ourselves

I dont think we will. There is no heat in this thread; its more of a reminisce :)

Steve
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Steve Walmsley »
 

Offline Þórgrímr

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« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2007, 04:51:13 PM »
When I first heard about 4th edition, I to was very excited, I even bought a copy at Gencon. But once I got it home and began to read it, the more horrified I became. Eventually, I just tossed the whole set in the garbage. That was the first time I EVER threw away a game.  :shock:

I hated the new tech rules with a passion! So I went back to 3rd and won't even consider looking at 4th ever again. And it would be a REAL shame if Starfire finally went the way of the Dodo.


Cheers,
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Þórgrímr »
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Offline crucis

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« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2007, 05:50:31 PM »
I'm with you,
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by crucis »
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2007, 06:49:47 PM »
Quote from: "crucis"
I took a long break from Starfire (from the mid 90's up until this past July).  I was able to use Ebay to buy the 3rdR rulebook, as well as First Contact, SM#1, and Alkelda Dawn.  What I'd really like to get my hands on is SM#2.  SM#2 always seems to get mentioned in any thread where 3rdR is discussed, but because it's only a PDF document, it's just about impossible to get a hold of.  From what little I can gleen from posts in The List's archives and from reading the Ultra rules themselves, it seems that there are some similarities between SM#2 and Ultra's strategic rules, but I'd like to get a copy of SM#2 so I can see this for myself.  Besides, I'm thinking of starting up a new solo campaign, and would like to see what SM#2 has to offer.

Some other 3rdR products worth having are Crusade, which is a book with good scenarios and background and few new rules and tech, Interstellar War #4, which is a huge electronic product containing some new rules and new tech, plus a lot of scenarios and great background, and the Unified Tech Manual (UTM), which is a large electronic product that consolidates all of the 3rdR tech systems and tables and cleans up several other rules. Although the UTM contain all of the Crusade and ISW4 tech systems and the new rules for that tech, I think both the older products are worth it just for the background material alone. There is also the Unified Rules, a huge, unpublished electronic product that includes all the rules/tech from 3rdR, Imperial Starfire, SM#2 and the scenario modules plus a lot of background material in an updated and consolidated rulebook.

Although you might find a copy of Crusade in a store or on ebay, the electronic material is more problematic. The main problem is that 3rdR has been discontinued by Marvin and he seems keen to prevent any copying of existing electronic material. I have had a number of people contact me directly regarding copies of the UTM, etc, and I have always directed them to ask Marvin if they can get copies of the existing, 'out of print' electronic material from a friend. The response is usually that they aren't allowed to do that and would get sued for copyright infringement if they did so. I have no idea what the legal situation is for out of print material that is available electronically (vague I would guess) or if Marvin would carry out any such threat but I have avoided passing out such material.

When the UTM was produced, I simply included a request for people to buy the product and not copy it. However, given human nature and the ease of distribution by email, I expect there are probably a lot of unpurchased copies of ISW4 and the UTM floating around out there. Finding one is going to be the trick. There are also at least thirty copies of the Unified Rules, assuming that each member of the now-defunct third edition design group retained their own copy. I use my own copy as my only 3rdR reference material.

In fact, after writing this I think I am going to dig out my own copy of ISW4 and reread it :)

Steve
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Steve Walmsley »
 

 

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