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monalaw

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  1. Same problem, honestly. The issues are whether it's a) recognizable (will you pop up on the original IP owner's radar); and b) likely to cause consumer confusion (if you actually want to fight it when they send you the C&D). If it's highly recognizable you're more likely to get the threat of legal action. The more invisible your product, generally speaking (this is by no means absolute), the less likely you are to face legal action. The more successful your product, the higher the likelihood of legal action if any of your IP touches a big pocket's IP.
  2. monalaw

    Game Publishing Legal Checklist?

    Honestly, Scouting Ninja sums it up pretty well if all you're doing is releasing a product on Steam: 1. Form your company or sole proprietorship if that kind of thing is legal in your territory 2. Set up your bank account 3. Comply with all of Steam's developer requirements and conditions 4. Submit game 5. Wait 6. Wait 7. Profit. But I also routinely perform "legal audits" for clients (both when I've formed the company on behalf of a client or when I'm setting them up for an equity or asset purchase), which generally includes the following: 1. Entity formation and paperwork (register with relevant Sec. of State or territory, OA, bylaws or other organizing documents, board/shareholder/member consents, first meeting minutes, EIN if applicable, etc.) 2. Intra-company agreements (Employee Incentive Plan, employment agreements, employee handbook, PIIAs, shareholder agreements for founding members) 3. External material agreements (EULA, Privacy Policy, third party content licenses [e.g. software, open source, etc. EULAs], contractor agreements, distribution agreements, console SDK agreements, insurance, HR management service and other vendor service agreements if applicable) 4. IP rights management (product clearance [assets and music], TM filings, Copyright filings, patents, PIIAs and NDAs) 5. Financial statements (Confirm GAAP compliance if required, P&Ls, annual reports) 6. Investment paperwork (where applicable) The list goes on. There is a lot that goes into actually owning an operating a business if you're going to do it right. When you're in a place to make a serious go of it, I strongly advice you first find a great accountant and a decently honest lawyer. Best of luck!
  3. Simply referencing a product or service in context generally falls under fair comment (the trademark equivalent to fair use), but bear in mind that companies threaten meritless litigation on a fairly regular basis. The risk is minimal, but any recognizable use of another brand or product in your own may trigger someone's notice.
  4. monalaw

    Incorporating gift cards into game

    David, Could you explain how you intend to incorporate them? If you're using them as a reward for any chance-based game, gambling laws may be implicated. In addition, you may require permission from Amazon for use of their brand in any promotion in which the eGift cards are featured. just a couple of thoughts.
  5. Currently CBP are complying with the lower and appeal courts' TRO, but it's un likely that this is the last we'll see of this particular EO. BHXSpecter, the analogy used is incredibly apt and one I've used myself frequently (although I alternate shotgun and bat signal/searchlight) when discussing the constitutional questions the ban presents. Discrimination can be deemed constitutional if there's a compelling government interest and the rule is sufficiently narrowed to specifically address that interest. This EO doesn't so much miss the boat as it seems to have not even have a passing acquaintance with marine craft, if you'll excuse my carrying another apology too far.
  6. Introduction The Trump Administration's travel ban generated considerable shock, fear, and confusion for citizens, legal residents, and refugees alike. It has also raised concerns for game studios and publishers that employ the people affected by the Executive Order ("EO"). While many are discussing the outrage and constitutionality of the EO, lawyers and immigration professionals have limited information on the future of the ban for those employers who desperately want to protect their non-citizen employees. There is a good reason for this. The Executive Order is vague and broad in its scope and reach. There has certainly been some confused mishandling in its execution. Although there are still quite a few "indefinites", here's what we do know: About the Ban Affected Parties. The EO applies to all nationals from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. This includes nationals with existing visitor visas (B-1/B-2) and work visas (e.g. H-1B, L-1, O-1). For purposes of the EO it is best to assume that those visas are provisionally suspended until the ban is lifted. Although there has been confusion to what extent the travel ban applies to legal permanent residents ("LPRs", e.g. green card holders), the ban does not apply to naturalized citizens of the U.S. who originated from the referenced countries. Additionally, all refugee applications by nationals of the referenced countries are suspended for 120 days following the EO, and Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely. The currently available information indicates that affected parties holding dual citizenship with another country are also included in the ban. However, so far (according to reports from the UK and Canada), this only seems to apply if the entrant is traveling from a referenced country. Effect of the Executive Order. The EO has a few notable functions. First, it imposes a 90-day ban on admission from all ports of entry into the United States for all Affected Parties, excluding LPRs, who may be subject to secondary screening. This means non-LPR nationals of the 7 referenced countries seeking entry into the U.S. will either be detained or sent back, regardless of whether they have a valid visa or not. But there's more--the EO requires that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and State Department request information concerning individuals seeking entry from the referenced countries. If the referenced countries refuse to provide that information, the ban may become permanent. The EO also orders the USCIS to immediately suspend processing for all immigration benefit applications filed by or on behalf of nationals from the seven referenced counties. This includes work visas renewals, petitions for asylum, green card applications, adjustment of status and naturalization. Finally, the order also suspends the Visa Interview Waiver program, which allows eligible foreign nationals wishing to renew a nonimmigrant visa to request a waiver to the in-person interview requirement. Ongoing Concerns. As mentioned above, there is a likelihood that the ban may become permanent for those countries that do not comply with the DHS information requests. Additionally, there is a draft Executive Order circulating that may target legal immigration. Specifically, the order would require DHS to perform site visits to employers of L-1 nonimmigrant workers. Suits have been filed in several jurisdictions challenging the validity, constitutionality, and enforcement of the EO. One or more of these suits may impact short term and long term ramifications of the EO. For all practical purposes, that summarizes as much as we know about the breadth and scope of this travel ban. The confusion and fear is mostly the result of the unknown ramifications of the order. This bears particular impact on our industry for a few reasons: 1) studio work environments are often fluid--this allows studios to employ or contract foreign nationals who may telecommute from their countries of origin and only come to the U.S. for limited periods of time under a temporary work visa or visitor visa; 2) GDC is on the horizon and falls squarely in the middle of the ban period; and 3) we want to recruit the best and brightest minds regardless of their country of origin. The travel ban creates a more than inconvenient barrier to these objectives. So how can you, as a game studio, prepare yourself for what's ahead? Coping With the Executive Order Step 1. Cancelling Travel Plans If you employ non-LPRs from one of the referenced countries that are here on a work or visitor's visa, you should cancel any international business travel plans on behalf of those individuals. Simply put, they won't be allowed back in the country at this time, and there is no telling how long the ban will actually be in place. You can't force them to stay, as courts tend to frown on excessive corporate paternalism over employees, but to the extent you can control the situation you should strive to do so. For LPRs from the referenced countries, international travel may be incredibly inconvenient right now, but should still be possible if proper measures are taken. As mentioned above, LPRs with a valid green card are to a certain extent excluded from the ban. However, Although the administration as confirmed that LPRs should still be able to travel, the fact remains that LPRs have in fact been detained. If an LPR from the referenced country must travel for business, they should prepare for secondary inspection upon re-entry subject to enhanced screening. They will be asked about their religious beliefs, political views, and social media accounts. They may also be pressured by CBP agents to sign form I-407, "Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status". First and most obviously, they shouldn't sign I-407. Additionally, LPRs departing from the US should a) consult with an immigration attorney and company counsel prior to departure and obtain both a signed form G-28 (Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative) and a legal opinion letter specifying the basis for re-entry; and b) remain respectful but silent concerning their religious beliefs, political views, etc. It's also important to advise those affected employees against personal international travel. Inform them of the risks involved (namely, not being allowed back in the country) and the threat to their personal safety and physical assets in the US if they leave right now. Once again, you cannot force them to stay if they choose to go, but they should be made aware of the consequences. Unfortunately, this includes those employees or contractors working abroad who planned to attend DICE or GDC. If you have employees or contractors who are nationals of the referenced countries that intend to travel to San Francisco or Vegas for these events, you should contact an immigration attorney immediately to discuss your options. Step 2. Reviewing Documentation If you haven't done so recently, now would be a good time to perform an I-9, Visa, and immigration benefits documentation audit for any employee that may be impacted by the ban. Additionally, you should determine the status of any applicable outstanding work visas, and any pending requests for immigration benefits on behalf of affected employees, including renewals. However, if any such benefits/visas are set to expire during the ban period, those employees should be advised of the risks of over-staying their validity period. Applications and immigration benefit matters for adjudication submitted during the ban may be returned or rejected. Step 3. Consulting an Immigration Attorney Now is the time to consult a specialist if you have employees that are affected by the ban. Unfortunately, contacting the USCIS, CBP or ICE right now isn't likely to give you the specialized information you need for your studio. An immigration attorney with specialized knowledge in the area of immigration benefits and nonimmigrant work and travel visas will be able to give you an idea of the potential outcomes of the ban and how it will impact your current and future employees and contractors. Step 4. Setting Aside or Finding Alternative Placement Solutions for Future Affected Employees If you want to hire from the referenced countries in the future, you need to be mindful of the possibility that this ban may become permanent, unless it's overruled by the Courts or Congress. That being said, if you offer a flexible work environment that does not require your contractor or employee to reside in the US, you should still consider retaining these individuals. As stated previously, our industry seeks out the best and brightest minds regardless of religion, race, gender, or country of origin, and I hope that is a practice we continue. Step 5. Preparing for Delays Remember that your studio is not the only one impacted by the ban. Your publishers, investors, distributors, and third party licensors may also experience significant burdens and set-backs because of the Executive Order. We may also face retaliation from the referenced countries, which not only may impose similar bans, but may make trade with the US prohibitive. Expect considerable delays and keep an eye on your force majeure clauses. Any ongoing negotiations should take the ban and future ramifications into consideration. Any future deals should include force majeure events reflecting the current unsettled environment. Conclusion Our industry strives for inclusiveness. I would be remiss if I didn't emphasize this point. If you are minded to continue doing business with individuals and businesses based in the 7 referenced countries, I do not want this ban to discourage your determination. However, doing so will require some vigilance and safeguarding on your part. We are not yet aware of the full reach of this EO or the intent of the Administration in pursuing such action.
  7. this kind of anniversary sucks ass.
  8. Skyrim is all about lofty titles. Arch-mage of magic school, leader of the thieves guild and a "nightingale" all before I hit level 25. How on earth do you top this?
  9. I really do love my new kettle. Thanks mom!
  10. This article is the second part of a two part series. Please refer to Part 1, Contract Basics, if some terms or examples seem unclear. Now that the contract basics are explained, it's time to examine real life application of those principles. Ideally you don't want disputes to go to litigation. Hopefully you'll be able to negotiate terms that, if not favorable to all, are at least enough to make sure that everyone lets go of the matter before dumping thousands into legal fees. However, much of that negotiation will depend on your leverage under the law and your ability to determine whether the law is on your side. Below we'll employ some of the contract principles learned before in some fairly typical contract dispute situations and specifically when no formal agreement exists. Types of Informal Agreements In most cases when we're looking at the independent developer space, the contracts you'll see most often are work-for-hire agreements or collaboration agreements among individuals. These almost always count as service agreements and don't necessarily require a signed writing to be enforceable. Note that while service contracts that take longer than a year to perform require a signed writing, service contracts for an indefinite term don't necessarily require the same. So even if you don't have anything definitive in writing, a contract may still be enforceable if the circumstances suggest a valid agreement. The Gentleman's Agreement (Oral or Handshake Agreement) and Enforceability Oral contracts and handshake agreements are fairly common in the entertainment industry. They are particularly common in independent game development. They rely on mutual trust and knowledge among the contributors and are frequently the result of prior relationships. It's often said that an oral contract is "worth the paper it's written on," and in some cases that is definitely true. There are certainly a number of draw backs to having an oral agreement over a written one, not the least being enforceability and the likelihood of a shorter statute of limitations. However, oral contracts are enforceable under many circumstances and shouldn't be dismissed so easily. The problem with enforcing an oral contract is evidence--if it's just an agreement between two people the dispute will inevitably break into to a "he said, she said" finger-pointing match unless you have a witness or some other evidence pointing to an actual agreement. Sometimes that evidence can be performance itself; however, unless there's definitive proof or witness testimony concerning compensation for that performance, a court of law may only apply the market value of the performance instead of what was actually agreed to in order to make the person "whole". Let's look at an example: Example #6: Among Friends: Anne, Bill, and Charlie worked together at a game studio that fell on financial difficulty. The three decide to go off on their own to create their own game and meet at Bill's house to go over duties and logistics. They decide that Anne will handle art and music assets, Bill will handle design and act as production manager, and Charlie is in charge of programming/tools. They're each entitled to a third of the income. However, no written agreement is formed. Bill acts as the unofficial leader of the group and also handles license procurement and applications to the requisite online distribution channels like as Steam and Impulse. Nine months later they complete a simple but engaging game and release it on Steam. The game is a hit and Bill starts receiving payments from Steam, which he fails to distribute to Anne and Charlie. Anne and Charlie sue Bill for breach of contract asserting their entitlement to two-thirds of the proceeds. Bill argues that he treated them as independent contractors and they are only entitled to 10% each. Everyone's testimony is equally convincing, so the court relies on expert testimony and the market value of the contributions performed by Anne and Charlie. The experts disagree as to market value, but it's clear that the contributions exceed 10% of the finished product. The court awards Anne and Charlie 20% each for their contributions, with the remaining 60% going to Bill. The example above demonstrates the difficulty in proving the terms of an oral contract--however, this problem becomes less obvious if more people are involved or if disinterested third parties know about the agreement and can act as witnesses against the person breaching the agreement. The "Living Contract" (E-mail Exchange) Another often-seen disputed agreement comes in the form of e-mail exchange, which is probably more common than the handshake agreement these days. While e-mail or letter exchanges provide more evidence of an existing contract, they come with their own host of problems concerning enforceability. First, there's the question of validity--is there a valid offer and acceptance, is there a counter-offer, and has a counter-offer been rejected or accepted? Then there's the question of whether any particular e-mail constitutes a "written agreement" or "integrated agreement" for purposes of the parol evidence rule. Additionally, there's the issue of whether later e-mail exchanges act as modifications or amendments to the earlier contract. Offer, acceptance, revocation, and counter-offer As mentioned above, mutual agreement requires offer and acceptance. A counter-offer is essentially a rejection of the original offer, so once a counter-offer is made, the original offer is typically treated as invalid unless offered again. An offer can be revoked at any time prior to acceptance. In the case of an e-mail exchange, many offers or counter-offers may be made before there is acceptance--and if the acceptance is based on an earlier offer that has already been revoked or rejected with another counter-offer, there's an argument that the acceptance isn't valid. Let's look at an example. Example #7: Whose line is it, anyway?: Nick and Alice are in the process of putting together a team for their newest project, "Delilah's Curse", a post-apocalyptic RPG where the player is the parent of the harbinger of the apocalypse. The parent is presented with a Hobson's choice: He or she can either save his or her child or protect the world from complete annihilation. Ultimately the goal is to achieve a balance where both can be saved. Nick, without disclosing the project details, sends an e-mail to his friend Tom, a skilled level designer, and asks if he'd like to get involved with the project. Tom responds with a request for more information. Alice, who is CC'd on all correspondences, replies that the contents of the game concept can't be disclosed without an NDA, but she strongly believes Tom is an excellent fit for the project. Nick then sends Tom an NDA for negotiation purposes. Tom doesn't sign the agreement, but responds with the statement "I accept the terms of your NDA. Please tell me more about the project and the compensation you're offering." Alice sends Tom a brief synopsis of the game and the work they expect Tom to perform. She offers him $3,000 per milestone deliverable and contingent compensation of 10% of net profit. A few minutes later, Nick sends the same synopsis and offers him $2,500 per milestone deliverable and a contingent compensation of 15%. Confused, Tom accepts Alice's earlier offer. Nick responds that Nick's offer was meant to replace Alice's offer and Alice's offer is no longer valid. Tom refuses Nick's offer and insists on Alice's offer. Alice suggests in her reply that Nick's offer is more favorable--however, Tom responds that he would still prefer Alice's offer and rejects Nick's offer. The next day he sends a follow up e-mail saying he's thought about it, and he's willing to consider taking Nick's offer if the milestone deliverable payments are upped to $2,700. However, unbeknownst to Tom, Alice had sent an e-mail in the middle of the night stating that she's sorry for his rejection, and they'll look for someone else. The next day, Nick sees Tom's counter-offer. He sends Tom a response stating "Let me talk to Alice and get back to you. I think she'll accept. In the meantime, here is the work order for the first milestone deliverable." Tom begins work on the first milestone deliverable. Two weeks later, he receives a response from Alice, which states "I'm sorry, but we've already found someone else for the position. Please ignore Nick's prior e-mail." Tom, believing that he's entitled to the contract for $3,000 at 10% contingent compensation, or at the very least $2,700 at 15%, sues Alice and Nick for breach of contract. The case eventually goes to Court, and the Court finds the following: 1) under that jurisdiction's law, Tom's acceptance of the NDA in addition to his electronic signature constitutes a valid agreement for purposes of the NDA; 2) Nick's subsequent offer after Alice's initial offer constitutes a revocation of Alice's original offer; 3) Tom's rejection of Nick's offer and acceptance of Alice's original offer was a counter-offer by Tom; 4) Alice's late night e-mail constituted a valid rejection of the counter-offer by Tom; 5) Tom's next day e-mail constituted a new offer by Tom; 6) Although Nick's response to Tom's offer may have created some expectancy of being hired, nothing in the response constituted an acceptance of Tom's offer, so no contract was formed; 7) Because nothing in the e-mail sent by Nick actually requested performance on the work order, no request for work was actually made and Tom is not entitled to damages arising from promissory estoppel; and Alice's final e-mail constituted a rejection of Tom's offer. Note that the decisions reached by the Court are only hypothetical--depending on the jurisdiction and the language used in any given e-mail, Nick may have created a reasonable expectation in Tom that Tom's offer would be accepted. In that case Tom's performance may have entitled him to promissory estoppel. There is also the question of authority between Nick and Alice--if Alice is the person responsible for the project and Nick is only acting as her agent, a whole other slew of issues concerning agency law arise. The main point here is that the "living agreement" can get convoluted and it isn't always clear whether a contract has actually been formed or not. Parol Evidence Rule and the Hybrid Oral Contract/Living Agreement A "Living Agreement" can be even more convoluted if you throw in oral correspondences in addition to e-mail exchanges. For example, if Tom had accepted Nick's second offer of $2,500 and contingent compensation of 15%, and then later sent his e-mail accepting Alice's first offer, the question of acceptance versus counter-offer would become even more complicated. For this situation most jurisdictions have imposed the "Parol Evidence Rule", but even that rule may not be applicable in all circumstances. Simply stated, the Parol Evidence Rule prohibits things outside of an existing contract, such as oral or written communications (this extrinsic evidence is called "parol evidence"), from being admitted as evidence when a final or "integrated" contract exists if that evidence contradicts or adds to the written terms. This is limited to prior or contemporaneous evidence, like oral communications or e-mail exchanges made prior to or at the same time as the execution of the final written agreement. The most obvious question for our purposes is whether an "integrated" agreement actually exists. A contract is integrated if it is a final written agreement between the parties. In other words, all of the necessary terms are set out in the agreement, and as an additional security the parties may include a merger clause that asserts that the agreement is the final agreement between the parties. The more common problem when no formal contract exists is that an agreement may only be partially integrated--in that case, only some terms are clearly agreed to between the parties while others are left in dispute or not discussed at all. In that case, some parol evidence may be admissible if it expounds on those undefined terms. When we're looking at an e-mail exchange, it's possible that a partially or fully integrated agreement could come into existence through one or more of the correspondences. Let's return to our earlier example concerning Delilah's Curse: Example #8: Let's assume that Tom has decided to accept Nick's offer of $2,500 per milestone deliverable with 15% contingent compensation. Prior to responding to Nick's offer via e-mail, Tom calls Alice and Nick to further discuss his role in the project, when payments will be made, and when milestones are due. However, in his next correspondence he states nothing more than "As per our conversation, I'd like to accept the level design position for $2,500 p/MSD and 15% contingent compensation on release." During the phone discussion, Nick and Alice agreed that milestone delivery payments would be paid within 10 days of delivery regardless of whether or not the milestone was approved. However, the work order forms (none of which are signed by the parties) states that payment will only be made if the deliverable is approved by Nick and Alice. A few months down the road, Tom submits a milestone deliverable. Nick and Alice fail to make payment within 10 days. Tom contacts Nick and Alice about the payment and they respond that they had some problems with the milestone that need to be fixed before they're willing to make an agreement. Tom argues that they'd agreed to make the payment regardless of approval. However, Nick and Alice point to the provision in the work order requiring approval before payment. Angered, Tom refuses to do any more work on the project and sues Nick and Alice for breach. Nick and Alice file a counter-complaint asserting breach of contract against Tom. The suit goes to trial and the Court decides the following: 1) A partially integrated agreement existed with regard to Tom's position and compensation; 2) the work orders are integrated into the agreement based on Tom's past performance of those work orders and failure to dispute the terms of the work orders; 3) the oral agreement made prior to Tom's formal acceptance is barred by the parol evidence rule since it was made prior to the partially integrated agreement and directly conflicts with the term of the work order; 4) Tom is in breach for refusing to perform; 5) neither Nick or Alice are in breach, but are expected to exercise good faith when determining whether a milestone is "approved". The parol evidence rule could go many different ways depending on the circumstances; for instance, if the work order didn't say anything about payment depending on approval, Tom's testimony regarding their prior conversation may be admissible as clarifying a key point to the agreement. Also, the work order itself may be treated as parol evidence instead of being treated as an integrated part of the agreement if Tom disputed the payment terms prior to delivering the first milestone (in the contract world, "performance" is frequently treated as "acceptance"). All sorts of contingencies can change the game in a contract dispute--a formal written agreement that clearly defines the agreed upon terms is the easiest way to minimize those contingencies. Conclusion The most obvious lesson to take away from this is to always, always get something in writing; but more importantly you need to make sure you understand what's written down. As stated in Part 1, you don't need a massive legal document with a bunch of legalese and recitals to formalize your agreement. A document written in plain English with your agreement spelled out in plain and simple terms while taking into consideration as many contingencies as possible is vastly more valuable, legally speaking, than a form agreement that neither party understands. Knowing what to put in that agreement is equally important--for example, if the agreement doesn't address intellectual property issues, confidentiality, or indemnification matters properly, you're not covering your bases and you may end up in a conflict down the road. Although living contracts and handshake agreements are enforceable in many cases, they will rarely if ever provide you with the kind of protection you'll want or need regardless of the outcome of your project.
  11. monalaw

    Defender

    Game Developer and Under Development Law client Level Up Labs recently launched their latest title Defender's Quest for PC and digital distribution. If you're a fan of tower defense and RPGs (two of my favorite genres) you should enjoy this title. Check out the video and press release below for more information. Incidentally, you'll get $1 off the purchase price if you use coupon code: MONA. Video: Defender's Quest PRESS RELEASE FROM THE GUYS AT LEVEL UP LABS Level Up Labs is proud to announce their new Tower Defense / RPG hybrid Defender's Quest for Mac, Windows, and Linux! Playable demo available here: http://www.defendersquest.com/play_demo.html In the midst of a devastating epidemic, a young woman finds herself unceremoniously dumped into a plague colony full of monsters. Discovering a strange "half-way world" between life and death, she proceeds to gather a small army of disaffected survivors and sets off in hope of escape! Defender's Quest is a unique blend of real-time Tower Defense strategy and tactical RPG meta-game, complete with a colorful cast of characters and fast-paced story-telling. This game respects your time. Play through the game's "casual" missions for a quick 2-5 hour experience, or hunker down and take on "advanced" and "extreme" missions for the hardcore 30+ hour experience you crave. ------------------------------------ Defender's Quest is available for sale NOW at www.defendersquest.com! The game is currently being offered under an initial release price of $6.99. Everyone who buys the game will receive FREE updates to all future versions of the game. In a few months a bonus release will be offered, including lots of extra goodies, secrets, and extended end-game content, at a price of $9.99. The games original soundtrack is also available for sale for 99 cents when bundled with a purchase of the game. Features: DRM Free! Import save file from the demo! Runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux! Tower-defense style tactical battle system! Customizable characters! Story written by USDA certified English major! * ~100 Uniquely designed battle challenges over 34 maps! Extreme challenges for Hardcore types! Casual challenges for Your Mom! ** Skippable / pausable cutscenes! Accessibility features for gamers with disabilities! Bonus "endless" challenge modes! (Not available in demo) Multiple bullet points! *The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not certify the freshness of domestically grown English Majors. **The USDA has certified, however, that your mother is a classy lady. You should call her sometime, she misses you. Things we didn't include: 40+ hours of padding Zillions of random battles Pointless fetch quests Whiny emo kids Deliberate micro-management Cumbersome menus six layers deep $60 price tag Aeris dying ----------------------------- Nice things people have said: "It's a mix between Tower Defense and a traditional RPG and it's REALLY fun." -Robert Boyd, Cthulhu Saves the World "The RPG aspects are a real credit to the game... this is the first time I've been so engaged by tower defense in a while!" -Rodain Joubert, Desktop Dungeons "Pretty much the perfect expression of tower defense in its traditional form." -Tom Auxier, Nightmaremode.net "Productivity = Gone" -Andrew Smee, Rock, Paper, Shotgun Nice articles people have written: --------------------------------- http://nightmaremode.net/2011/10/defenders-quest-impressions-and-the-future-of-the-tower-defense-12731/ http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/10/11/thats-my-productivity-gone-defenders-quest/ http://www.diygamer.com/2011/10/lars-doucet-making-defenders-quest-accessible-interview/ http://n4g.com/news/863788/lars-doucet-on-how-defenders-quest-is-not-final-fantasy-crystal-defenders http://www.structuregaming.com/2012/01/17/hands-on-preview-defenders-quest/ Source
  12. A lot of congress' time lately has gone to drafting, revising, and negotiating legislation that in some way shape or form controls America's ability to access content on the Internet. You have likely heard about SOPA, PIPA, and maybe even OPEN--but how does this legislation apply to game developers, and why have these pieces of legislation created such dissention? This FAQ clarifies the details about these bills and how they affect game development. 1. So what are SOPA, PIPA, and OPEN? The "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) and the "Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act" or the "PROTECT IP Act"(PIPA) are corresponding pieces of legislation that are currently before the House of Representatives and Senate, respectively. Both Acts grant the Attorney General the power to force payment providers, advertisers, search engines, and DNS registries to block access to foreign sites dedicated to infringement. The Acts also give private parties the right to obtain court orders against infringing sites--upon obtaining a court order, private rights holders can turn around and, like the Attorney General, force payment providers and advertisers to cease providing services to the allegedly infringing site. SOPA also imposes criminal penalties for streaming content that's deemed infringing. The "Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act" (OPEN Act) is a counter-measure to SOPA and PIPA and is currently before both the House and Senate. The OPEN Act puts prosecution power against foreign "rogue sites" in the hands of the United States International Trade Commission. Upon receiving a complaint, the Commission will undergo an investigation to determine whether a site's sole or primary purpose is an infringing one. Unlike SOPA and PIPA, the penalties to rogue sites are purely financial--the Commission can issue Cease and Desist orders to payment providers and advertisers to cease operations on the rogue site, but there is no corresponding cease and desist forcing search engines or DNS registries to redirect or block access to the site. The owner of the rogue site has an opportunity to raise their defense prior to the Commission's issuance of Cease and Desist Orders. 2. How do SOPA and PIPA threaten the games industry and game development? Out of all of the entertainment industries, game development will probably be the most affected if SOPA or PIPA become law. Games rely on the Internet for everything from getting player feedback to promoting their content. So how could the games industry suffer if SOPA or PIPA pass? Fan-based communities that permit users to post videos or fan-created content will be at serious risk of totally shutting down even in minor cases of infringement by its community members. Funding opportunities like KickStarter, which enable small-time developers to create content without relying on a major publisher, are at risk of shutting down if even one project is suspected of infringement. Digital distribution channels (we've already seen what happened to MegaUpload), including Steam and Impulse, would also be at risk for the same reason. Online games and online game communities would be subject to the same threats as those websites threatened by SOPA and PIPA. Games in particular are affected by any Act that threatens freedom of speech--especially when that threat comes from private parties asserting IP rights. The opportunity to use such legislation to censor content for motives other than those set forth in the Act is high. Game developers both large and small rely heavily on digital distribution and their fans. Both SOPA and PIPA pose a direct threat to distribution channels and online communities in particular. 3. What makes SOPA and PIPA dangerous? SOPA and PIPA are dangerous for a few reasons: Both Acts use vague, ill-defined language to identify both foreign sites and sites dedicated to infringement; Both Acts give search engines, DNS registries, payment providers, and advertisers clear incentive to proactively block websites even before receiving a court order--a private party/competitor could send a notice to those service providers claiming infringement, thereby giving those service providers the "good faith" belief they need to act in order to protect their immunity. This is particularly problematic if, say, an ISP is also a content provider. It gives them both the power and the incentive to censor their own competitors; SOPA expressly criminalizes streaming content that contains infringing material--this could be anything from a fan-made game play video that has infringing music playing in the background to an infringing copy of a music video. Sites hosting that streamed content are subject to the blocking provisions set forth in SOPA (including internet community forums and sites like YouTube); Both Acts pose a threat to constitutional rights like freedom of speech and due process. With regard to freedom of speech, the method of blocking and redirecting sites is a model traditionally used for purposes of censorship in more restrictive countries--even if the purpose of the Act is different, there is no question that the censorship of perfectly legal content is a possibility thanks to the incentives created by both Acts. As for due process, court orders are obtained ex parte and action can be taken against a website regardless of whether the website owner has actual notice--in other words, a website can be blocked or redirected without giving the owner an opportunity to raise a defense. Many experts believe that the method DNS registries and registrars would have to use to redirect or block websites undermines Internet security. Opponents of both Acts have raised a number of other complaints citing various problems, but most arguments shake down to the fact that the Acts provide a legal arsenal to censor perfectly legitimate content. 4. How is the OPEN Act any different? OPEN isn't perfect, but it is a vast improvement to both SOPA and PIPA for several reasons: Private causes of action are eliminated--private parties must submit a complaint to the International Trade Commission, which will then investigate the site and make a determination as to whether it is infringing; It expressly protects websites that act in compliance with the DMCA Safe Harbors; Sites aren't blocked or redirected and enforcement is based purely on financial incentives. Cease and desist orders are issued to payment providers and advertisers to terminate financial support to rogue sites; Prior to issuing Cease and Desist orders, the Commission provides the owner or operator of the allegedly infringing site an opportunity to raise any available defenses; The Act discourages groundless complaints by requiring complainants to post a bond for preliminary injunction orders. There are other marked difference between the OPEN Act and SOPA/PIPA, but there are some similarities as well. Some of the language used, particularly definitions, are similar to those we see in SOPA/PIPA. However, the OPEN Act is likely a step in the right direction to shut down foreign piracy sites without catching innocent non-infringers in the same net. 5. Aren't SOPA and PIPA already dead? No. Both acts still have substantial congressional backing and financial support from the MPAA, RIAA, and other supporters. Although the opposition has increased and both Acts seem to be shelved for the immediate future, there is still a possibility that either Act will become law or will be re-presented in another form. Even if both Acts fail, there is a high probability that future legislation closely resembling those acts will appear before congress again--after all, they themselves are reincarnations of an earlier bill, the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act" (COICA). 6. So what can I as a game developer or fan do to stop this kind of legislation? Simply being aware of the problem isn't enough. Opponents to these and similar bills should contact their representatives and request that they withdraw support from bills that threaten a free and open Internet. Source
  13. monalaw

    Rolling blackouts

    As you probably know, many sites will black out tomorrow in protest of Senate Bill 968, or PIPA (Protect IP Act). Since this site is supported by WordPress (one of the companies protesting PIPA/SOPA), we may be down too. Being against SOPA/PIPA, I'm okay with that. Being trapped in a snow storm while all this is happening... Well, I'll find something fun to do. In the meantime, please educate yourself about the ramifications this legislation will have on the Internet and the games industry and learn how to take action against it. Your voice has value. Do not let it go to waste. My earlier article (please view the update) A message in protest of the ESA's support of PIPA/SOPA Contact your congressmen and encourage them to stand against PIPA/SOPA Thanks for hearing me out, everyone! Have a safe and happy blackout, and do your best to make the Internet the free and open environment we've fought so hard for. Source
  14. They say a massive storm is gonna hit. Not sure if it's true, but debating whether to head to whole foods and stock up on tea, fruit, and cereal for the next few days.
  15. What this weekend has taught me: Seattle transit during snow is a substantial pain in the ass, and I really enjoy what I've played of Skyrim so far to the extent that it's as expansive and robust as a well written MMO without all the annoying other people.
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