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Legal troubles for Jumpgate


Jabberwocky
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Codemasters Files Complaint Against Gazillion, NetDevil

Not a good sign, if NetDevil was close to release, you'd think we wouldn't be seeing a lawsuit.


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DarkOne
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Agreed Jabberwocky. Thing about it is that they took Codemasters money and hence they are obligated to fulfill their agreement and I think NetDevil and Co. will loose this fight in the end because if there is milestone dates and deliver dates i think they are screwed. CodeMasters has been more than gracious by waiting almost 2yrs longer than Feb 2009 for release.

I look at it this way. It is NetDevils fault. Why? Not until all of the game expos was the community able to see the game in action and ask in-depth questions (still never got my Q&A from them). But once the community saw the game and all the negative posts started happening they didn't know what to do (back in June '09) and according to that article they are late on giving the game to CodeMasters. CodeMasters not wanting to see the game die and lose their investment gave them more time to fix some of the issues. Now a year and a half later from June '09 and Codemasters is still waiting. I can feel their pain and they have a right to be a bit mad.

In summary, I guess JGE is in limbo until this legal action is settled and could take some time. And even if it does this will hurt the community and the following of this game as a whole. It is a shame and a loss to the gaming community. I hope the good devs at NetDevil can turn this around to a positive in the end.


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Jabberwocky
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I mostly agree with you DarkOne. Although there may be some "behind the scenes" issues we don't know about. Who knows, maybe Codemasters was an active part of the initial design which was later abandoned, which would have caused all sorts of dev-publisher tensions. Also, $1.4 million (quoted in that gamasutra article) is a bizarrely small amount of money for an MMO. Were they expecting Netdevil to create the whole game for this amount? If so, that's insane. Did the relationship break down before additional money was paid? We don't know.

Your comments about their community relationship are interesting. How early to reveal or discuss your game is very tricky. Games are tremendously iterative in nature. Very often, the game you end up creating is extremely different than in the initial design. This can be because:

    [*:ouo585eb]you have better ideas as you develop the game.

    [*:ouo585eb]you find out there are design or technical problems with the initial idea

    [*:ouo585eb]you run out of time and/or money

    [*:ouo585eb]the initial design just isn't as fun as you thought they'd be.

Unfortunately, communities often don't react well when you "promise" one thing in the initial design, and deliver something else in the final game.

There are many counter examples where involving the community early has worked out really well. The recent indie-game phenomenon "Minecraft" is an example. Although an indie game with a single developer is far simpler and less subject to change than an MMO production, with a big dev team, a publisher relationship, and a licensed IP.


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DarkOne
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Jabberwocky wrote:
Although there may be some "behind the scenes" issues we don't know about. Who knows, maybe Codemasters was an active part of the initial design which was later abandoned, which would have caused all sorts of dev-publisher tensions.

Ah very true Jabberwocky. Always nice to get the dev point of view πŸ™‚ I could see how this scenario would cause all types of strife on both sides over the game development.

Jabberwocky wrote:
Also, $1.4 million (quoted in that gamasutra article) is a bizarrely small amount of money for an MMO. Were they expecting Netdevil to create the whole game for this amount?

I wanted to say that the NetDevil dev team working on JGE wasn't that large and I don't think Codemasters was in on development from day 1. If so I think 1.4mil could fund the team over this past 1-2yrs depending on the salaries of the devs of course πŸ™‚

I know the one thing I didn't comment on Jabberwocky, and very interested in any developers thoughts on this is this quote:

Quote:

The publisher also says NetDevil was supposed to enter into an agreement with an escrow agent and deposit its source code with that agent. Codemasters alleges that NetDevil has "failed and refused to enter into the mandated escrow agreement and has failed and refused to deposit the source code into any escrow."

If NetDevil signed this agreement does this mean that it has to hand over the source code no matter what? In in this case does the developer loose creative control?


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Jabberwocky
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1.4 million really is nothing when you're talking about an MMO. It's amazing how fast companies can eat up money.

Let's say the average salary is $75,000.

Then let's say the true cost per employee is $140,000 annually, once you factor in:

    [*:2iym8vm7]corporate payroll tax

    [*:2iym8vm7]health and dental care

    [*:2iym8vm7]equipment (dev computers, software licenses, test servers, etc).

    [*:2iym8vm7]office space

That means $1.4 million gets you 10 employees for 1 year.

Some of these 10 people will be non developers, such as: management, producers, community / website, and quality assurance testers. And I'm not even considering shared company positions like legal, financial, marketing, and administration.

So your dev team probably has about 5 or 6 people. Lets be generous and say 6.

Now, your dev team looks like this:

    [*:2iym8vm7]1 designer

    [*:2iym8vm7]2 coders

    [*:2iym8vm7]2 artists

    [*:2iym8vm7]1 audio and/or effects guy

That's not going to make you an MMO in a year, or even several years. Certainly not a successful one, anyway.


I don't know much about the legal side of things, but publisher contracts are notoriously brutal for robbing you of all your rights. Developers, particularly smaller ones, are forced to sign them because the alternative is often to go out of business. So I wouldn't be surprised if Netdevil did sign away their rights to the source code. If it comes down to a fight, I'm betting Codemaster's lawyers can beat up Netdevil's.


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Vorg
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The game they talked about at first and showed sounded like a big improvement over JGC. But they had problems with AI flying into stuff and needed to make changes. Now what they are saying is they have basicly scraped JGE and what they are doing in stead is nothing more then quake fest in space and of no interest. They have killed it.


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DarkOne
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Thanks for that break down Jabberwocky, you are definitely right about not being able to fund a MMO for that money. Unless JGE was already far along before NetDevil started looking.

Vorg -

Haven't seen any real new data or videos on the new progress of JGE lately. But I was just trolling the JGE forums and saw that Scott Brown left who was the founder of NetDevil. That's usually not a good thing πŸ™‚ But there is a few more posts of some other staff members of netDevil leaving. So it is definitely a shake up and who knows what Gazillion is going to do?

ND has most of teh pieces there to make a game, a glorified arena style shooter isn't a huge draw personally. Put they could release something while they work on something else like a SP/MP game or try to revisit the MMO. But with all the drama the past 2 years over the JGE MMO how many people are still dying to play it and are willing to pay $15 a month?


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