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Subject: Official Status of Deep rss

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J T

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Hello everyone,

My name is Jacob and I am the Operations Director for Leder Games. I wanted to give everyone an official update on the status of Deep.

After extensive review, we have decided that we will not be able to publish Sam's design.

As a potential property, we will retain both title, theme, and art assets, and hope to revisit the subject of an asymmetric space game later. In the meantime, however, we have decided to release Sam's game design to him and wish him the best of luck in finding a new publisher.

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Ed Hughes
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If you don't intend to publish the game, why not release the other assets back to the designer? It won't do you any good to keep them yourself, and it may help the game see the light of day.
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Jason Bloody Purchase
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Design rights are typically with the designer, whereas theme, title, art, etc, are with the publisher.
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Cole Wehrle
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themanfromsaturn wrote:
If you don't intend to publish the game, why not release the other assets back to the designer? It won't do you any good to keep them yourself, and it may help the game see the light of day.

Jasonbartfast wrote:
Design rights are typically with the designer, whereas theme, title, art, etc, are with the publisher.

Jason has it right.
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Roland Bruno
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This stinks!
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Elias Helfer
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That's sad news. It sounded like an interesting concept. But that is no guarantee that the design will work when you get down to playing it. And an asymmetric game like Vast or Deep with four players playing completely different games all intersecting is, oh, about 16 times as difficult to make work as a game with just one mechanism.
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Paul D
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Lame!

Well, if this title and art is no longer associated with the designed I was interested in, I guess this is one game I can unsubscribe from.
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Samuel Bailey
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Hi everyone! After months of Patrick Leder saying that he was going to work with me and another designer to make things happen, I got an email today saying they were again rejecting the design and in addition I got a mildly threatening legal document from his lawyer stating that I no longer owned the rights to the name, concept, art, story, etc.

This all happened with pretty much no discussion with me, something that sadly was not uncommon when working with Patrick and Leder Games.

I do firmly state that I do not agree at all with their assessment that they own the rights title, theme, and art assets of the game, as the contract me and Patrick signed states that ALL RIGHTS revert to me, the creator, should the game not be published by them. The contract also stated that Patrick Leder would publish the game, but as you can see here, he definitely didn't follow through with that and is now attempting to remake the game with a different designer down the line. So I am not surprised that he is trying to circumvent our contract even further in an attempt to benefit himself.

This is further insult to injury, as the game Root is based on Cole's redesign of my prototype of Deep after he played it in 2017 at SXSW. When I threatened legal action for this plagiarism during the Root kickstarter campaign, this is when he and I came to an agreement that Deep would still be published after some collaboration with another designer. I now see this as an intentional falsehood to avoid legal and publicity trouble during their kickstarter campaign.

Patrick Leder and Leder Games has acted in bad faith throughout the whole process. Like many organizations with the power in a relationship, they have used that power to take advantage of those who cannot protect themselves. Most designers cannot afford a lawyer in a protracted battle to preserve their rights. Most designers cannot afford to speak out publicly about being badly treated, since it could affect future job offers, and over all, they just want the game they put hundreds of hours into, passion and effort, to get made and reach the world.

Leder Games did not only steal a years worth of time and effort from me, not only did they plagiarize my concepts and mechanics for their game Root, but now they are trying to strip half the game I had made away from me in an effort to make it again themselves. This is extremely shady and immoral practices, and I hope that the consumers out there realize what kind of company Leder Games has become.

Thank you for your time. Happy gaming!
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Cole Wehrle
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Sam, you know very well that you have badly misrepresented the facts in your response. In our public remarks regarding Deep, we have done our best to spare your reputation and offer you the best chances of taking your work elsewhere. For that reason alone, I'm not going to detail the many issues we encountered when working on this project in a public forum.

However, it should be noted that no mechanical element of Root was taken from Deep. None. Patrick asked me to make an asymmetric strategy game following an outline, and I did so using my own work. I detailed the design of this game exhaustively in designer diaries posted here on bgg and elsewhere. These essays describe the design and its development accurately. In addition, the PNP files for Root are widely available. The game and it's development have been about as public as any project I've ever worked on.

Here are the essays if you'd like to read them:
Designer Diary - The Roots of Root
Designer Diary - Some Helpful Symmetry
Designer Diary - Constructing a Deck to Deconstruct a State
Designer Diary - Anatomy of a Card
Designer Diary - Building to Scale
Designer Diary - Playing with Hearts and Minds
Designer Diary - Whirlybirds
Designer Diary - Woodland Runners
Designer Diary - Exploring the Realm
Designer Diary - Dealing with the Down-and-Out
Designer Diary - The Development of Root
Editor Diary - Usability for Fun and Profit

Hard Cuts: The Continued Development of Root

Your WIP thread on Deep can be found here: Deep - An Asymmetrical Sci-Fi 1X/1X/1X/1X Game .

I think the comparison between these two bodies of texts might clear up any questions you or anyone might have about the two games.
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Samuel Bailey
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Hi Cole,

I started working with Patrick on Deep in August 2016. You were hired by Patrick to be a developer in August 2017 I believe, the same month that he canceled Deep in an email that stated he was going with a different designer for the project. For a majority of Deep's development you had no part in it, until SWSX of 2017.

It was there that you played my prototype of Deep. We discussed it afterwards, and you said it gave you many ideas about how to make it better. In the months following you talked with Patrick personally about this new version, and spun it into the job you currently have with Leder Games.

After you being hired, there was a brief period of collaboration between us, where you stated how you had prototyped your version of the game to give options to Patrick so he could pick and choose the best elements of either version.

Directly after Patrick informed me that he was canceling out contract and going with a different designer for Deep: you. I had to threaten legal action to get him to backdown from that course of action, and then a month later suddenly there was this new game Root, which one can tell is the concept of Deep rethemed.

I have read through your designer diaries, I have looked over the rules for Root, and I can see the threads of Deep throughout it. I can see the solutions to problems I spent weeks on in the mechanics and rules. I can see dynamics that I wove into the design of Deep throughout Root.

I am not saying that you didn't put your own ideas and work into Root, I am not saying it doesn't look like a great game and that I don't wish we could have actually collaborated on it as planned. What I am saying is that you and Leder Games built off of the work I already put into Deep, profiting from it while cutting me out of the process. And while this may not be illegal, is was shady and immoral thing to do.

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Malcolm King
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Hate those gifs. Could you remove it, it's a serious discussion for the people involved.
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Moshe
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Cole Wehrle wrote:

Your WIP thread on Deep can be found here: Deep - An Asymmetrical Sci-Fi 1X/1X/1X/1X Game .

I think the comparison between these two bodies of texts might clear up any questions you or anyone might have about the two games.

I must say, a lot of stuff in that WIP actuallly sound very much like the basis of Root and do not support your statements at all...
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Cole Wehrle
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Both Root and Deep are asymmetric games in the house style of Leder Games (that is, very asymmetric). They are also both strategy games that deal with power and empire. I can think of dozens of games that engage with the subject.

When I started working on Root seriously, I had already played Deep. You are right about that. Indeed, we had even worked on elements of it together. For this reason I very deliberately gave your inchoate design the maximum amount of space to grow. I didn't want to step on your toes. So, rather than starting from the conventions of science fiction and 4x games, I built my game around geopolitics and card driven games (CDG wargames and COIN games were particular sources of inspiration, but others have been mentioned as well). It has an entirely different mechanical lineage and it shows at every level of the design.

Again, I've got no intention of describing the development of Deep here, because I hope you find a place in this industry, and I don't want to hurt your chances. But, I want everyone to know that you have misrepresented myself, Patrick, and everyone else at Leder Games. Deep was a project we cared about and in which Patrick invested considerable resources. We all did our best to get it to a place where we could be proud of it, but it didn't make it.

Perhaps you will have better luck working on the design by yourself. I hope you do. The idea of a split 4x game has some compelling elements in it, and I do wish you the best of luck in getting the design to a place where you might find a publisher.
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Cole Wehrle
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Starkiller wrote:
Cole Wehrle wrote:

Your WIP thread on Deep can be found here: Deep - An Asymmetrical Sci-Fi 1X/1X/1X/1X Game .

I think the comparison between these two bodies of texts might clear up any questions you or anyone might have about the two games.

I must say, a lot of stuff in that WIP actuallly sound very much like the basis of Root and does not support your statements at all...

My claim is about the mechanics of the game.

The concepts for both Deep and Root came from Patrick who had wanted to design a series of asymmetric strategy games to compliment the work he was doing with Vast. Deep was to be an intervention into the science fiction genre and play with 4x conventions. Root was a separate concept set in a fantasy world, directed at a different audience with a different set of priorities. When the design for Deep faltered, Root was bumped up in the production schedule.
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Moshe
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Cole Wehrle wrote:

My claim is about the mechanics of the game.

The concepts for both Deep and Root came from Patrick who had wanted to design a series of asymmetric strategy games to compliment the work he was doing with Vast. Deep was to be an intervention into the science fiction genre and play with 4x conventions. Root was a separate concept set in a fantasy world, directly at a different audience with a different set of priorities.

You say mechanics but then again discuss the theme.
A sprawling empire that dominates at first but lacks in resources? A usurper spreading unrest? The rest as well...
Even from a quick read the similarities to the early days of Root (which I backed and support) are pretty clear.
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Jim Goff
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Moshe, have you played Deep?
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Cole Wehrle
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Right, so just to be clear, here's what I'm claiming: I built Root based on a concept that Patrick suggested.

Likewise, Sam designed Deep, also based on a concept that Patrick provided separately. The design was commissioned. It didn't work out, which is a shame, but that's the fact of it.

Edit to add:
It's worth noting too that Sam was provided with an advance for the design's commission after Patrick came up with the concept. Then, when things got off track Patrick paid him to help him get the design back on track! That is almost unheard of in this industry. Patrick cared about Deep and cared about Sam, and it isn't accurate to say otherwise.
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Moshe
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Flint Lockwood wrote:
Moshe, have you played Deep?

I haven't played Deep nor have I played Root. I did, however, read plenty of details on Root including all of the (great) designer diaries published by Cole.
I just said that, from the link Cole himself provided, all descriptions sound very much like the basis of Root.

I'll stop replying now, though, as it's clearly none of my business. I just stated how it looks - I don't have a horse in this race, I want both Root and Deep to be published and to succeed.
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Jim Goff
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Starkiller wrote:


I'll stop replying now, though, as it's clearly none of my business. I just stated how it looks - I don't have a horse in this race, I want both Root and Deep to be published and to succeed.


And that's exactly right. It's clearly not ANYONE'S business but Sam and Leder Games. Regardless of where fault lies why this hasn't been published (and I do have some insight as a playtester that is not my place to discuss publicly), the fact that this has become a public argument is something that I don't agree with on any level.

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Samuel Bailey
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I am not denying the work you put into Root, Cole. But it is like a writer reading an unpublished book, writing his own version of it, and then selling it to the same publisher that was going to publish the previous book. Most of the words might be your own, but you cannot deny that something was taken in the process.

I do not even blame you, as you were hustling your hardest to get your dream job. I would put the majority of the blame on Patrick Leder and Leder Games, who had me put hundreds of hours into a game, and then profited on that work while going with an in-house designer who was building on top of what I am already done.

And while I thank you for "preserving my reputation" and all your thoughts and best wishes, that still does not compensate me for the almost year of work I put into the game. The many conventions I attend and worked for Leder Games at no pay, as I thought I was promoting my game as a designer. The hundreds of hours of designing, discussions, playtesting, etc with sparse and sporadic input from Patrick, because he was too busy working on expansions for Vast.

Whatever the case was with your inspiration and direction in the game, it still leaves a situation of a publisher signing a contract to publish a game, then canceling that contract illegally to publish a version of that game with a different designer. Designers work on contract, they put the work in on good faith that the publisher will follow through and publish the game so that they can get paid. My wife and I were depending on the payment of Deep, I put in the work to earn that payment, borrowed money to stay afloat, only to have promises broken by Leder Games.



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Samuel Bailey
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Flint Lockwood wrote:



And that's exactly right. It's clearly not ANYONE'S business but Sam and Leder Games. Regardless of where fault lies why this hasn't been published (and I do have some insight as a playtester that is not my place to discuss publicly), the fact that this has become a public argument is something that I don't agree with on any level.


Jim, abuse should not be hidden. It is everyone's business if a company is treating people badly. For a long time many publishers have counted on the silence of designers to take advantage of those designers. Every potential designer should know that Leder Games does not honor its contracts, performs shady business practices, and takes advantage of designers that work for them.
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Samuel Bailey
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Starkiller wrote:
Flint Lockwood wrote:
Moshe, have you played Deep?

I haven't played Deep nor have I played Root. I did, however, read plenty of details on Root including all of the (great) designer diaries published by Cole.
I just said that, from the link Cole himself provided, all descriptions sound very much like the basis of Root.

I'll stop replying now, though, as it's clearly none of my business. I just stated how it looks - I don't have a horse in this race, I want both Root and Deep to be published and to succeed.

I want Deep to be published as well, which is why I tried for so long after the initial breach of contract to make it work. Now I truly feel Patrick had no intention of ever publishing Deep in any capacity since he made his decision back in August.

With Patrick Leder's newest attempt to take away many of my rights over the game, he would be assuring that the game would never be made in any capacity.
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Samuel Bailey
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Cole Wehrle wrote:

It's worth noting too that Sam was provided with an advance for the design's commission after Patrick came up with the concept. Then, when things got off track Patrick paid him to help him get the design back on track! That is almost unheard of in this industry. Patrick cared about Deep and cared about Sam, and it isn't accurate to say otherwise.

Patrick gave me a $1,000 advance on royalties. Something quite common in the industry. This advance came 7 months after I started development, when the contract was officially signed. I probably shouldn't have worked on it at all until a contract was signed, but Patrick and I were friends, so I entered into the arrangement on good faith.

In August Patrick paid me an additional fee to work freelance for him during that month. Part of that was continued work on Deep, but much of it was also editing work on Vast expansion material, prototype construction, etc. Payment for freelance work is also common in the industry.

In any case, the few thousand dollars I got is a pretty bad salary for hundreds of hours of work over an entire year.

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Mike
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Samuel Bailey wrote:


Jim, abuse should not be hidden. It is everyone's business if a company is treating people badly. For a long time many publishers have counted on the silence of designers to take advantage of those designers. Every potential designer should know that Leder Games does not honor its contracts, performs shady business practices, and takes advantage of designers that work for them.

I'd suggest you take a deep breath, walk away and read up on defamation before you go much further.
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