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Subject: Aborted Pandemic iOS project rss

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Jestin Jund
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I'm not one to say things like this, but this thread breaks my heart. I feel like I've been in Henry's shoes far too many times in my life and can say without a doubt that I am with him.

I understand that there are two sides to every story and after seeing Zev's response and Henry's follow up, I still feel much more sorry for Henry in this situation. Judging by the quality of the app, he worked his ass off on this and above everything else, that is what matters.

If there is anything the community can do to help you out, let us know. I think it goes without saying that we want you to keep working and get what you deserve.
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Simon Lundström
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peterb12 wrote:
Memo to self: never enter into a business relationship with someone whose reaction to things turning rocky will be "I'll post about it on an internet forum."

With all due respect, he didn't. He told us about it six months later, and he just told it because he wanted the world to know the app had been done. I can't blame him.
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Ryan Bretsch
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With all due respect, it seems as though Henry is getting somewhat of a "free pass" here. The details which would not have put him in the most positive of light only came out from Henry after Z-Man gave his side of the story and then Henry "clarified" his comments from his original sanitized version of events. Red Flag.

Then and only then after Z-Man responded, did "concessions" come out from Henry about the original story he told, that indicated this wasn't as "one-sided" of a tale as Henry was originally making it out to be.

The lesson to be learned, from any negotiation, is that there are always two perspectives to any negotiation. Rarely is any side 100% right... as we have seen in the example here.

Both sides could have handled it better, IMO. The fact that Filosofia didn't resolve this as clearly to an end resolution with the app developer means they now must handle the minor PR crisis they are having to deal with here.

---
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Victor Bui
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Thought I should chime in as a close friend of Henry's who worked on the underlying game framework but was hands off the discussions with Z-Man Games. Henry may not appreciate me adding fuel to the fire, but I am not going to let Henry take the brunt of the damage.

Both parties agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, instead of a contract. In the beginning, Henry suggested that we draft a contract, but in the end everyone agreed that a contract would be too restrictive to both parties, and would go against the indie developer spirit.

I will not post the entire MOU that we drafted and reviewed with Z-Man, but I will mention a few points:

- Z-Man would receive a significant royalty per copy sold
- In exchange, we would be able to use the Pandemic name for the iOS game
- Z-Man and Matt would be able to effect changes to the game throughout the development cycle and have the final decision on its release

We fronted a large down payment (large to us, at least) to show that we were serious about finishing the game, and Henry provided a prototype before the MOU was even signed.

What Z-Man may be having issues with in the MOU (I conjecture based on his reply in this thread) was the provision that if Z-Man wanted to release non-iOS digital versions of the game (e.g. Android), then he would have to ask us first if we wanted to develop it for him (e.g. the "first right to refuse"). If we did not want to develop it, Z-Man was free to ask other companies to develop non-iOS versions of the game.
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Victor Bui
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rdbret wrote:
Then and only then after Z-Man responded, did "concessions" come out from Henry about the original story he told, that indicated this wasn't as "one-sided" of a tale as Henry was originally making it out to be.

I believed that both Henry and Z-Man were operating with good faith throughout the game's development, until several weeks before the end when Z-Man simply stopped responding to Henry's email. At what point until the agreement lapsed did Henry do anything that could possibly be misrepresented or "not put him in the most positive of light"? He finished the game well before the deadline, and there was no indication that Z-Man was unhappy with the game nor that he was selling to Filosofia, so Henry waited for an approval that never came.

I won't comment on Henry's talks with Filosofia because I wasn't privy to them, but I would be upset too if I spent almost a year living on my savings and working on something awesome only to have the rug pulled from under me.

You don't have to believe everything I've said, in the same way that you don't have to believe everything Z-Man has said, nor the "concessions" or "clarifications" that Henry presented after being personally attacked and purposefully misrepresented. In my opinion, everything that Henry said about the agreement on the first three pages of this thread was intentionally vague to give the impression of bureaucracy getting in the way of the game's release instead of saying things you don't have to believe.
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Peter B
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Look, I'm sorry to be cold and uncaring about this. But I am a cold person, and I don't care.

If you buy a residential house, there are all sorts of warrantees and restrictions built into the law to protect you, the residential real estate buyer. If, for example, you fail to check to make sure that the house is fit for human habitation, and it turns out it isn't, you have a legal recourse, even if that wasn't in the contract.

If, on the other hand, you are engaged in a commercial real estate transaction, there are no such protections. The law assumes that businesspeople are all adults, and know what they're getting into when they sign a contract. Maybe the commercial buyer didn't care that the building was full of rats and was falling down - maybe he just wanted the land. If you forgot to check to make sure the building wasn't falling down, then that's on you. You're an adult. You signed a contract. Either the contract you signed gives you some legal recourse, in which case you sue, or it didn't, in which case you didn't do your job right.

Maybe it's because this is about games, and games are "fun", and we all want to believe that making something fun should somehow be fun that I'm seeing so much romanticism in this thread. Henry's unreleased software is obviously, according to this logic, the best of all possible ports of the game, and according to this view he's been done wrong in all sorts of nefarious ways (although not, it should be noted, in any way that the contract and/or memorandum of understanding that was or was not signed did or did not specify, apparently).

I, however, have a different perspective on this. Henry might be a great guy, personally. But both writing software and making games are businesses. I like the guys at GMT Games (to pick someone not involved in this dispute), and I want them to be complete hard-asses when negotiating contracts because I want them to make money and to be able to make other games. If that means that any one particular game they make might not be developed the way that I personally want it to be, well, it's not my money that's at stake. I'm not the one with skin in the game. They can (and should, and do) run their business the way that they want to. Not the way that I, J. Random Internet Forum Wanker, want them to.

Henry is obviously free to write whatever he wants about this. But I, as a reader, am also free to think whatever I want about what he has written. And, elaborating on my earlier snarky one-liner, what I personally think is "Man, I sure am glad that I wasn't the one in a business relationship with this amateur." Sharing the details of a business relationship like this a mere 6 months after it went sour is, in my personal opinion, unprofessional and foolish. It screams to the world that you didn't do your homework (including hashing out the details of the contract or MOU, whose entire purpose in life is to reduce uncertainty) when initiating the project. What I see in the comments here is that lots of people (apparently including Henry) seem to (romantically?) view this as a virtue. I view it as the opposite.

EDIT: Amusingly, I also hold the opposite opinion from Henry on the topic cloning that his Gamasutra post is about. Since it's fairly clear that game mechanics aren't copyrightable, I think there's absolutely nothing wrong with cloning a game as long as it is reskinned and changed enough that it doesn't infringe on the copyrightable expression of a game (e.g. the text of the rules, on cards, artwork, and so on).
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Mark Meinster
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^^^

Your point about professionalism is true, but its an ideal. You seriously don't believe that the majority of small businesses and green developers have an ounce of business saavy do you. Not saying that all don't, but the majority don't. You are clearly speaking of an ideal, but reality is parsecs away from this.

According to your expectations, small business would be non-existent in the world.

Now, your harsh assessment would be a valid criticism of a seasoned business, but for newbs, please try to grab reality a bit tighter.

Just for reference, what is your experience with starting and running a business? Where you successful and seasoned out of the gate (great to hear). Do you have contact or experience with many seasoned, small biz?

Good conversation, but this clearly is a case of an ambitious team of newbs that got involved in a situation where their green got them burnt. It happens more often than not.

Both parties are equally at fault and also lauded for their efforts to make it work. In the end, Henry should take the advice and support from the BGG community... clean this app up, scrub of copyrightable materials, release it, LEARN from their collective mistakes, and live another day. To run away now would not only seal their fate in business from this day forward, because they aren't salvaging their lost resources to either break even or to make a profit, but this act of cowering and non-recovering is a sure sign that they should stay miles away from business and remain employees.

Filo or Zman don't deserve any negative effects, but if Henry and his team do release a good product, it should find its support.

Not everyone is cut out for the business world. Not being a dev, I will only assume that it is as tough as all business. No guarantees, many landmines, and continuation is based on hard work and excellent luck.
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Steven
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peterb12 wrote:
If, on the other hand, you are engaged in a commercial real estate transaction, there are no such protections. The law assumes that businesspeople are all adults, and know what they're getting into when they sign a contract. Maybe the commercial buyer didn't care that the building was full of rats and was falling down - maybe he just wanted the land. If you forgot to check to make sure the building wasn't falling down, then that's on you. You're an adult. You signed a contract. Either the contract you signed gives you some legal recourse, in which case you sue, or it didn't, in which case you didn't do your job right.

Peter, your view isn't totally inaccurate, but it just isn't true that hard bargaining is always presumed to be a part of business. As a matter of practice there is plenty of business that's done on the basis of trust, personal relationships, and less-than-ironclad agreements. And that's a good thing; otherwise, the barriers to small business would be nigh-insurmountable, since everybody would have to lawyer up, and the little guys would always lose out to the big ones.

This assumption is even built in to a lot of legal doctrines. "Good faith and fair dealing" is presumed in (almost) every contractual relationship. Courts tend to interpret contracts in favor of the non-drafting party. And in many specific situations (including the landlord-tenant example you raise) one side or the other will have specific duties that require them to disclose or remedy problems that they would know about (for example, landlords must disclose latent defects, which include structural damage and may very well include infestation).

I don't know if any of these would apply in Henry's situation. Probably not - nonbinding or unwritten agreements are notoriously difficult to enforce, especially if Z-Man or Filosofia are not using anything Henry made. (If they were, he could at least get back the value of what they were appropriating.) But generally speaking it's a good thing, for society and businesses, if parties believe that they can operate informally and in good faith, without unassailable agreements.
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Rob Ryan
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celiborn wrote:
especially if Z-Man or Filosofia are not using anything Henry made. (If they were, he could at least get back the value of what they were appropriating.) But generally speaking it's a good thing, for society and businesses, if parties believe that they can operate informally and in good faith, without unassailable agreements.


It sounds to me like Z-man is using something he made, Henry's hard earned money he paid up front for the license agreement. They could be using his seed money to help pay for the new development team they are using...
Again its hard to know the whole truth of the situation, but both parties agree that Henry paid some money and hasn't got it back...
 
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Liam Liam
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Regardless of whose testimony you believe, a major power-differential has led to the weakest party coming out not only worst but as the only loser. Disappointed to hear the current outcome.

I Would buy the clone if it came out - I will not be buying the official version without this current situation being fairly resolved.
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Rob Ryan
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monkeyhandz wrote:
Regardless of whose testimony you believe, a major power-differential has led to the weakest party coming out not only worst but as the only loser. Disappointed to hear the current outcome.

I Would buy the clone if it came out - I will not be buying the official version without this current situation being fairly resolved.


I think it will be pretty tricky to define "fairly resolved". Do you really want to see two apps competing for essentially the same market share?

It would be interesting to hear some more details of the potential legal aspects of a case. Which country would adjudicate, USA, Canada, or both? What is the exact liability of Z-man & Filosofia? If Z-man releases an app can Henry tie up its release in a legal battle and/or can z-man tie up Henry's release of a potential clone? I imagine the perception of a re-theme is to a degree in the eye of the beholder...
 
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Clyde W
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Nope. Filosofia stil sucks here. Don't suck, Filosifia, it's unbecoming and makes me want to buy your games less.
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Damn, that's a beautiful implementation. Nicely paranoid and high tech, and the interface is very nice. Pandemic is very abstract; I don't see how trying to make the game more "board game like" would be an improvement. I really like the circling glyphs around infected cities.

Re-theming it to be a zombie invasion or the spread of deadly plant fungi or vampires or werewolfery or alien life-forms wouldn't be difficult, but I empathize with the ethical dilemma here...

I guess I'll just add my voice to the chorus asking Filosofia to reconsider. I realize that for business reasons they may want to have in-house development; may want to come up with a game design that is more like a board game; may want to come up with interface choices that would have similar look-and-feel for several iOS implementations of board games; may have brand consistency to consider; and of course trademark and ip protection, budgeting, advertising, control of distribution issues that would argue against using Henry's implementation.

Maybe Henry and Matt working together could change it enough to make a new game, a video game.

It's probably been chhange enough to satisfy Zynga's definition of a new game... (couldn't resist.)
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Vince Lupo
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HungryTenor wrote:
Grudunza wrote:
Oh, my... It looks fantastic, and appears to be on an iPhone/iPod Touch screen, which I never would have expected.


It was a universal app. The iPad version looks the same, just with different proportions for the various widgets. Unfortunately, that did give it a little bit of an "oversized iPhone" kind of appearance.



You should DEFINITELY reskin, retheme, add something, remove something and then release it.
 
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Vince Lupo
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If you need more funds to justify the time in changing this to be your own game, use Kickstarter. You definitely have our support!


edit: There are many many risk clones in multiple forms. It wouldn't be hard to effect your own game from this. I actually think there are some faults with Pandemic/Forbidden Island anyhow.
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Thought the timing on this was interesting. Coincidence?

http://www.skejo.com/eradicate.htm

Looks like it might be. They have been announcing it for a while.
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CJ
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HungryTenor wrote:
theory wrote:
I guess what I don't understand is what you meant by "agreement term". Unless your original contract specified that it expired on transfer, or that it somehow just disappeared after a couple years, or you hadn't actually finalized the contract yet (in which case you have vague quasi-contract claims to bring).


The agreement was set to expire if a product was not released by a certain date, and I needed approval to release. I was ready to release, but I wasn't able to get a hold of anybody. Later I found out that they stopped talking to me because of the change in ownership going down. By the time someone actually wanted to talk to me, the expiration date had passed.


You see, I read that as an impartial observer and the conclusion that I come to is that the previous ownership of ZMan has fucked you over, not the new.
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Greg Holsclaw

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Hi, my name is Greg Holsclaw, from Skejo Studios. Last summer I briefly chatted with Zev (thru email) about Pandemic. I had picked it up last summer and really liked the game. As an accomplished iOS dev I asked if the game was in the workds for iOS, and if not if we could have a shot at it. Until reading this thread today, and the one on Gamasutra, I was completely un-aware of this history.

Zev said they were just bought and that the new owners would eventually get around to it (I read this as it will happen eventually, but no timelines have been established).

So my designer, artist and I (having recently launched Skejo Studios), stopped playing Pandemic, crafted a new map, commissioned hand-drawn artwork, changed a bunch of rules (the are in the background as the computer does all the heavy lifting), changed the win-lose conditions a great deal, coded and playtested it over the last four months.

You are accurate that Operation: Eradicate was inspired by Pandemic, but we believe it is its own game.


-Greg


PS: Skejo Studios will also be launching two new platformers later this summer for the iOS, but that isn't a Board Game Geek topic.
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P. M.
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elgin_j wrote:
You see, I read that as an impartial observer and the conclusion that I come to is that the previous ownership of ZMan has fucked you over, not the new.


That's how I read it as well.

 
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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Its own game? Nnnnah. It's 99% Pandemic. I can think of many ways to adjust Pandemic to become something different (see Defenders of the Realm), but that's not the case here. There is no legal issue with making a clone, and I'm okay playing this until the official version comes out (which I'll gladly support at a higher price), but let's be clear, this is a clone of Pandemic.

Also, if there is not a zoom function added, or some kind of different UI function, then I'll be requesting a refund, as it's essentially unplayable on iPhone/iPod Touch as it is, unless you happen to have very pointy fingertips.

This makes it all the more disappointing that Henry's version didn't get released long ago. shake
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Rob Rob
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Too bad the OP got the shaft on his hard work. I highly encourage him to retheme his design (zombies?), change enough to avoid copyright issues and get it on the app store.
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Kevin Riddle

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bummer, would be a great idea
and awesome app
 
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E D
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Robrob wrote:
Too bad the OP got the shaft on his hard work. I highly encourage him to retheme his design (zombies?), change enough to avoid copyright issues and get it on the app store.
\\

too late?
 
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BoardGameGeek » Forums » Gaming Related » Computer Based Board Gaming
Re: Aborted Pandemic iOS project
Maybe an opening for renewed negotiations?
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Matt Morgan
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Wow, just became aware of this whole story and it is quite a mess. Between this bungled Z-man situation and the recent news that Rio Grande was handing out rights to make free Dominion apps like candy (while developing their own version), it is looking very embarrassing for these 1-man company big publishers.

Reading through both Henry and Zev's stories, which obviously conflict with each other, I'm much more inclined to believe that Henry is the victim. Most of his complaints are that his agreement expired due to a complete breakdown in communication. The only reason I'd lean this way is b/c I've reached out to Z-man Games several times in the past and have never heard back. Communication is not a strong point.

Live and learn, I suppose. Making a game is a lot of work, and nobody should put so much effort in with just a memorandum. Get a real contract, or risk getting screwed.
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