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HeroQuest 25th Anniversary Edition» Forums » General

Subject: a game designer's take on the HeroQuest debacle rss

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Mike Selinker
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Hi, I'm Mike Selinker, a game designer and president of Lone Shark Games. We're a small company founded by me and James Ernest, with a handful of employees in the Seattle area. We've designed the games Pirates of the Spanish Main, Unspeakable Words, Lords of Vegas, 12 Days, and the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, among many others. I've been active on BGG and gone to BGG.Con, because it's a community that I like quite a bit.

I've seen the HeroQuest 25th anniversary game get booted off of Kickstarter, get booted off of Verkami, and then respawn on Lanzanos. It's unclear to me whether they'll get booted off Lanzanos as well, but it's no given. There's a very good chance Gamezone will get their money and (at least try to) make their game.

It's a fairly simple situation to me: The rights holders for HeroQuest have not given permission to Gamezone to make this game, at least in English. The naming rights holders have also not given that permission. As far as I can tell, there isn't anyone who's given Gamezone permission except a legion of crowdfunding backers.

So if you support this game, what you are saying is that you don't care if the rights holders of games get paid for their work. That's a tenuous position for me. It means you don't care if I and my coworkers are able to make a living off what we do without fear that our works will be stolen. I don't expect everyone to hold that value uppermost in their minds, but that value -- that I can make something, sell the rights to someone else if I want, and then make an income off the sales of that item -- is what keeps me making games that people seem to like. Activity that undermines that principle is very damaging to me, even if it occurs on a game I didn't write in a country I don't live in.

So if you're supporting this blatant ripoff of Heroquest, I hope you'll reconsider your pledge. Thanks for listening.

Mike
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Chris Cieslik
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This is a bad precedent for everyone, if it gets funded.
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Austin Fleming
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I have sent Lanzanos an email with a copy of the copyright dispute notice from Kickstarter's site urging them to remove the project. If others would do so as well, they might agree if they get enough complaints.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Mike!
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Mike Selinker
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anoirtrou wrote:
I have sent Lanzanos an email with a copy of the copyright dipute notice from Kickstarter's site urging them to remove the project. If others would do so as well, they might agree if they get enough complaints.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Mike!


I would like that very much. Thanks for your efforts.
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Aaron Phillips
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Mike,

My son is approaching the age I was when I first played Heroquest. My father and I played together, and I would love to get to play it with my son.

However, I will not be backing this project until and unless they can resolve the rights issues. Proof that they have obtained permission from Hasbro is a must before I will even consider backing the project.

If we, as gamers, fail to consider the rights and needs of the game designers, we will begin to see fewer and fewer designers creating new games.

Board Gaming as a hobby requires *both* gamers and game designers. If the gamers begin to see game designers as "enemy" and trying to short-circuit their hard work just to get a cheaper product, then there will be no new games to play.

Everyone loses.
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Christopher Brind
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I hear what you're saying, but as far as I can see Moon Design Publications never declared any intention to create a board game until the Gamezone debacle. My worry there is that they've seen the demand for a HeroQuest board game and will jump on the band wagon because they own the name, producing a game that is nothing like the old game that people are wanting to celebrate. The whole thing is a bit sad. :(
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RanDomino Nickelmaster
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That's a funny position for a game company that bases its livelihood off the SRD.
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Mike Selinker
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RanDomino wrote:
That's a funny position for a game company that bases its livelihood off the SRD.


Well, first off, I'm neither Wizards of the Coast nor Paizo, both of which I've worked for. I was in WotC R&D when the SRD was created, and at Paizo when they launched Pathfinder. But Lone Shark is neither of those companies, and these are my opinions, not theirs.

But regardless, the d20 System was created to enable this form of copyright license. HeroQuest has never been part of such a thing, so I don't see the connection.

Mike
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Matt Price
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mike selinker wrote:


It's a fairly simple situation to me: The rights holders for HeroQuest have not given permission to Gamezone to make this game, at least in English. The naming rights holders have also not given that permission. As far as I can tell, there isn't anyone who's given Gamezone permission except a legion of crowdfunding backers.



Hi Mike,

Thanks for your opinion, to which I'm sympathetic (and no longer a backer, I dropped out while the KS project was in dispute prior to the move to Verkami.)

But I don't think it's quite so simple. It seems that GZ does have the rights, in Spain, to make the game (regardless of language). It also seemed as though they were in communication with Hasbro, something they claimed but so far have been unable or unwilling to produce proof. It seems highly unlikely they would use the old Hasbro commercial without having spoken with someone first (the old commercial was included in the video from the original KS, but is now conspicuously absent from the current crowdfunding effort! I suspect Hasbro recognized a poisonous situation when they saw it, and dropped their support)

Despite this, I still feel this wasn't a well run campaign, with too many unanswered questions even for me to back it (I have a much lower threshold for risk; e.g., I eagerly backed Up Front, and can't wait for it to get here!). I just wish GZ had been much more transparent and diligent with their efforts to secure the rights to produce this game, from both a legal and ethical viewpoint.

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Mike Selinker
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mattprice wrote:
But I don't think it's quite so simple. It seems that GZ does have the rights, in Spain, to make the game (regardless of language). It also seemed as though they were in communication with Hasbro, something they claimed but so far have been unable or unwilling to produce proof. It seems highly unlikely they would use the old Hasbro commercial without having spoken with someone first (the old commercial was included in the video from the original KS, but is now conspicuously absent from the current crowdfunding effort! I suspect Hasbro recognized a poisonous situation when they saw it, and dropped their support)

Despite this, I still feel this wasn't a well run campaign, with too many unanswered questions even for me to back it (I have a much lower threshold for risk; e.g., I eagerly backed Up Front, and can't wait for it to get here!). I just wish GZ had been much more transparent and diligent with their efforts to secure the rights to produce this game, from both a legal and ethical viewpoint.


As far as I can tell, at best they have the rights to the use of a name in one country. They do not have the rights to the game.

Mike
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Mike Miller

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mattprice wrote:
It seems that GZ does have the rights, in Spain, to make the game (regardless of language).


There is an entire thread dedicated to the legal aspect, and I know you participated in a multiple threads here, so you must realize this statement is misinformation.

A trademark alone does not the grant one rights to produce a derivative work. A trademark is all GZ has.
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David Dorward
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brindy wrote:
I hear what you're saying, but as far as I can see Moon Design Publications never declared any intention to create a board game until the Gamezone debacle.


Most companies don't announce projects until they are well into development.

There have been Glorantha boardgames before. It's not unsurprising that a new one might be in the works.

brindy wrote:
My worry there is that they've seen the demand for a HeroQuest board game and will jump on the band wagon because they own the name, producing a game that is nothing like the old game that people are wanting to celebrate.


I wouldn't worry. I doubt Moon Design are cynical enough to rush out a game to fleece people like that, or that they would want the negative feeling that taking such a course would generate.
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Joe Reil
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brindy wrote:
I hear what you're saying, but as far as I can see Moon Design Publications never declared any intention to create a board game until the Gamezone debacle.


What does this have to do with anything? Regardless of whether they had announced a board game or not, they do have a product line in place under this name already and did so well before the GZ debacle.

Quote:
My worry there is that they've seen the demand for a HeroQuest board game and will jump on the band wagon because they own the name, producing a game that is nothing like the old game that people are wanting to celebrate. The whole thing is a bit sad.


Why is this a worry? If Moon Design makes a game it's going to be based on the setting they're already producing RPGs for (Glorantha). I don't see why that should be an issue for fans of the MB game.
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mattprice wrote:

But I don't think it's quite so simple. It seems that GZ does have the rights, in Spain, to make the game (regardless of language). It also seemed as though they were in communication with Hasbro, something they claimed but so far have been unable or unwilling to produce proof. It seems highly unlikely they would use the old Hasbro commercial without having spoken with someone first (the old commercial was included in the video from the original KS, but is now conspicuously absent from the current crowdfunding effort! I suspect Hasbro recognized a poisonous situation when they saw it, and dropped their support)


For reference:
The only thing they own is the TM for the name alone (and only in Spain). They do not have a license to reprint the game from the right holders of the game. A TM is also what Moon Design own in the US for the name HeroQuest, which would enable them to create their own board game called HeroQuest (based on their own world, characters, etc.), but in no way means they are allowed to reprint the same game that was also called Heroquest (which would be the IP).

They also have changed their statement in regards to their communication with Hasbro multiple times.

At first they said there was an agreement with Hasbro Iberia.
Then someone who worked with GZ posted how GZ had a phone call with Hasbro, talking about the situation and how they all had a good laugh about it that could be heard "kilometres around". This statement was later removed.
Then, in an interview, GZ confirmed they have never actually spoken with Hasbro, because they don't think they need to in order to reprint the game.
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Aaron Phillips
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brindy wrote:
they've seen the demand for a HeroQuest board game and will jump on the band wagon because they own the name, producing a game that is nothing like the old game that people are wanting to celebrate. The whole thing is a bit sad.


In point-of-fact, this is *exactly* what GZ is claiming to be doing. At the very bottom of their lanzanos page:

GameZone Miniatures on Lanzanos.com wrote:
All illustrations, board, miniatures, rules and any other components are brand new and property of Gamezone Miniatures.
(emphasis mine)
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Matt Price
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pinkymadigan wrote:
mattprice wrote:
It seems that GZ does have the rights, in Spain, to make the game (regardless of language).


There is an entire thread dedicated to the legal aspect, and I know you participated in a multiple threads here, so you must realize this statement is misinformation.

A trademark alone does not the grant one rights to produce a derivative work. A trademark is all GZ has.


Yea, and I stand by my opinion. They've acquired the rights to produce the game in Spain. They can't use original art, minis or anything from the original game, but my takeaway message is that rules aren't protected.

And though it was initially interesting for a while, those threads got so trollish I've left long ago. (and accusing me of spreading "misinformation" is just silly, given that nearly all of this is conjecture anyway. I was hoping this thread would remain more civil, but there's the internet for you.)
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Sam Houle
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Mike, did you personally contact Stephen Baker? Hasbro? If not, you only speculating. You are just like Gamezone, with no proof of nothing.

Doing what you doing and being a professional can bring you trouble for defamation.
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Mike Miller

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mattprice wrote:

Yea, and I stand by my opinion. They've acquired the rights to produce the game in Spain. They can't use original art, minis or anything from the original game, but my takeaway message is that rules aren't protected.

And though it was initially interesting for a while, those threads got so trollish I've left long ago. (and accusing me of spreading "misinformation" is just silly, given that nearly all of this is conjecture anyway. I was hoping this thread would remain more civil, but there's the internet for you.)


Not trying to make this un-civil, but rights =/= trademark. It's not really a matter subject to opinion. They have the right to produce a game named HeroQuest, yes, but not a reprint of MB/GW's HeroQuest, or a work considered derivative of the same; but the way you have stated it leaves it open to too many incorrect interpretations.

With a subject that has as many rumors as this one, I think being a bit on the pedantic side serves everyone best.
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Mike Miller

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Mistersam wrote:
Mike, did you personally contact Stephen Baker? Hasbro? If not, you only speculating. You are just like Gamezone, with no proof of nothing.

Doing what you doing and being a professional can bring you trouble for defamation.


Eh? How is Mike just like Gamezone? I don't seem to be able to find his crowdfunded campaign for a country specific TM'ed name related to an older OOP yet much beloved franchise. Gotta link?
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Mike Miller

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Jacovis wrote:
If this were any of today's smaller publishing companies, I'd feel a lot more sympathy toward them, but Hasbro? They can bugger off.


Where does this attitude come from? You know that large companies are run by real humans too, right? Real humans with real families that are just doing their jobs better more successfully than people at smaller companies are, right?

Working for a large company hardly makes someone a tool, it may just mean that they care about giving their family the best lifestyle they can, and their best opportunity was at a large company.

Talk about being prejudice to a segment of the population, man.
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Skolo
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wow, another thread with comments base on assumptions. yeey.
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Mike Miller

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skolo wrote:
wow, another thread with comments base on assumptions. yeey.


Well, the last one was slowing down, so, you know...

... stuff.
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Sam Houle
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@Pinkymadigan

shake Gamezone say they have approval of Hasbro but not giving proof...
Just like Mike tell thing he can't prove.

But I think you know that and just trying to make me look stupid? typical shake


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Mike Miller

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Mistersam wrote:
@Pinkymadigan

shake Gamezone say they have approval of Hasbro but not giving proof...
Just like Mike tell thing he can't prove.

But I think you know that and just trying to make me look stupid? typical shake




What exactly does Mike need to prove? He wrote an opinion post which contained well sourced links backing his opinion. Please cite what you would like proof on exactly.
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brindy wrote:
I hear what you're saying, but as far as I can see Moon Design Publications never declared any intention to create a board game until the Gamezone debacle. My worry there is that they've seen the demand for a HeroQuest board game and will jump on the band wagon because they own the name, producing a game that is nothing like the old game that people are wanting to celebrate. The whole thing is a bit sad. :(


Problem here is... By Gamezones own admission. Their HeroQuest game might not be HeroQuest either. They specifically stated they were not going to recreate the game.

But as said elsewhere. No rules have been shown yet. What this game will really be is a total cypher reguards the rules and gameplay. Alot of fans and backers seem to be leaping it with absolute wishful thinking that this will be a one for one reprint.
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