Monday, February 1, 2010

Ceasing and Desisting like it's 1999! A Lone Wolf Development Editorial.

I really have a hard time grasping the whole "Cease and Desist" disease that's been traveling around the game company community as of late. Sure it's not a surprise that Games Workshop has been putting their collective foot down on fan-based products. I love Warhammer Fantasy RPG 3rd Edition, and in general, love FFG. That being said, we know it's Games Workshop holding up the Strange Eons card customizer for WHFRPG. FFG has allowed the Arkham Horror original version of Strange Eons exist for a good while now (and still is allowed by FFG if I'm not mistaken). So the missing link here? Games Workshop. We've also seen recently Games Workshop's opinions of fan works and unofficial support via websites and resources found on the geek - essential it's worth nothing and generally steals from Games Workshop... somehow.

Ok, so it's no surprise that Games Workshop is doing this. They're a heavy weight in the industry, they've been notoriously zealous over the protection of their Intellectual Property (whether its legitimately "over" zealousness or not is up for discussion). What is kind of a surprise is the audacity the folks at Lone Wolf Development (LWD) have to suggest that the fine fans at the forums of Privateer Press are somehow doing it wrong. There's some hulabaloo from LWD about the fan-made Warmachine/Hordes "Roster Construction Tool" website. Whatever the issue LWD has with the folks who spend their own free time with no reward in mind to provide fans of the games with an intuitive tool with which to design armies, that's not my focus here (also not my general intent to write ridiculously-huge sentences!).

It appears that LWD, the company that apparently makes its living only by standing on the shoulders of game companies actually producing original content rather than producing anything on their own, would like us all to recognize the words "Army Builder" as a trade marked term owned by their company. To suggest that we must refer to activity of building an army as "roster constructing" just seems to be over-reaching. I'm definitely no lawyer (The Bro can tell you this factually), but serously, this is so far removed from trade marks like "Kleenex" or "Xerox." For one thing, people were building armies for their war games long before the internet came along. No one "Xerox'ed" anything before the brand name became the norm.

My real question here is, how many bridges do game and peripheral-game-aid companies have to burn to make sure they go out of business? Is there really any good done for the fans when the companies actively work against all the effort they put into it in the first place? Now, I don't produce much original content here for direct use in games, and when I do, they aren't usually tied to a single game, but that being said, what am I and everyone else who are exciting about gaming putting in all this work for? Don't get me wrong, blogging is super-duper easy, especially compared to writing code or whatever the hell kind of pixies make up programs on the interneb, but still, there is a baseline of effort put into this.

Luckily the guys at the new "List Generator" for Warmachine/Hordes have been able to just change the name of their free tool, but it doesn't change the fact that LWD have kinda played their hand here. If it wasn't obvious before that their products are really just waiting to be replaced with free apps on the iphone store or whatever, it is now. I gotta run, I got a Roster I need to be Constructin' for the big tourney this weekend - those Rosters don't Construct themselves you know!

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