An Update on the Starr Mazer DSP Situation

A couple of days ago, I posted a story about a musician called Alex Mauer who sent questionable DMCA notices to anyone who posted videos of a game called Starr Mazer DSP. It was already a pretty insane situation, given how said composer was ‘doing it to draw attention’ to how she supposedly wasn’t paid for the music despite the YouTubers have nothing to do with any of it.

But now things have gotten even crazier.

Nope, I’m not making this up. Somehow, a case involving a vengeful musician taking down YouTube videos about a game whose music they don’t own has gotten more insane since a few days ago.

Starting with said composer’s idea of putting the soundtrack on Bandcamp for $1000!

Yup. $1000 for the game’s soundtrack. The same one she likely doesn’t own the rights to and that is the whole reason for this controversy in the first place.

I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out why this is a bad idea.

For starters, who in their right mind would pay that much for this music? Remember, we’re not even talking a CD or something here. We’re talking a digital download for a bunch of songs from a game very few people have even heard of. Or if they have heard of it, for all the wrong reasons.

It’s not something people are going to pay much money for. Heck, they wouldn’t pay that much money for a rare soundtrack CD for a game scored by a world famous composer. Even the most expensive video game soundtracks I know of go for a few hundred at most. Or in the average case… somewhere between $10 and $80.

That’s for music from popular, well known games. The Final Fantasies, Donkey Kong Countries and Legend of Zeldas of the world.

An obscure indie soundtrack no one knows about (or only knows about for the wrong reasons)… Is not going to sell at $1000. Not even close.

But hey, that’s all irrelevant really. Because more importantly, she didn’t have the right to do this.

So Imagos Softworks sent Bandcamp a legal notice and the soundtrack was taken down. Which in its own way, is rather appropriate really. The person who liked sending people dodgy DMCA notices has now received a DMCA notice themself.

However, the story isn’t over yet. Oh no. Somehow, it gets even crazier from here.

That’s because in addition to Starr Mazer DSP, she’s also now going after videos about Death Row to Canada and DucK Game too.

Yes, the Duck Game published by Adult Swim. That’s because the trailer had her music in it

And a result… she’s sent a cease and desist notice to Turner Broadcasting.

As in, the guys who own Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and CNN.

This will not end well. Remember, we’ve already seen instances where copyright and trademark trolls have picked the wrong target to go after.

Like for example, Tim Langdell of Edge Games. He tried to sue EA for Mirrors Edge, after claiming he owned ‘Edge’ as a trademark.

But by doing so, he bit off far more than he could chew. This led to a large legal battle between Edge Games and EA, which he lost horribly. Leading to him losing all his edge related trademarks.

So Alex has now gone and done the same. Good job there kid. Not only have you gone after dozens of YouTubers that have no stake here, you’ve also gone after a multi billion dollar corporation with a lot more in the way of legal resources too. Over something that (most likely) has no valid legal basis.

That’s not going to end well for you.

But hey, don’t take my word for that one. Video game lawyer Leonard French has made a video on the subject where he goes over the case and the legal situations involved within:

It’s a very long (and rather interesting) watch, but the general gist seems to be that Mauer doesn’t have the copyright here. That even if the contract was invalid, it’d have to be proven so in court.

He also goes through Mauer’s contract too, proving that the soundtrack was done as work for hire and that the rights to it most likely belong with Imagos Softworks.

So check it out. Along with SidAlpha’s two videos on the subject:

And the latest Jim Sterling video about the events as well:

They’re all good videos.

Well, for us anyway. Mauer also doesn’t consider making video game videos on YouTube as an actual job either.

So her only response to people like Jim Sterling talking about potentially ruined careers is “hey, it’s not real work, get a job”.

Sorry Alex. That’s not how it works here.

When people are making hundreds or thousands of dollars a month from their YouTube channels, that’s is a proper job.

It’s a career they can’t afford to lose on a dime. Especially not because you “want to prove a point” to a video game developer.

But hey, I’ll end it here for now. Hopefully things will improve on the Starr Mazer front soon, and this whole internet feud will finally be put to rest in a nice peaceful way.

Because it cannot continue like this. No more YouTubers should see their careers damaged or destroyed like this. No more journalists should be targeted for doing their jobs.

Enough with the DMCA notices and C&Ds. Sort the problems out with Imagos. Not random people online for whom three strikes is the end of their career.

Just let it end already.

Thank you.

Beyond Good and Evil 2: First In Engine Demo Footage

For the last few months, we’ve been hearing a lot about Beyond Good and Evil 2. We’ve heard how it takes place in a large, procedurally generated universe. We’ve heard comments about its epic scale and scope, or how the physics go beyond anything else seen in the medium.

But we haven’t seen much actual footage of the title.

Until now. Because just a day ago, Ubisoft finally posted posted the first ever in engine footage of Beyond Good and Evil 2!

So here it is. Here is that first footage showing some of the game’s systems in action:

On a technical level, it’s amazing. The scale of the game is incredible, with you being able to move between planets, countries and cities at the drop of a hat. The spaceships you can fly look excellent, and seem to work exactly as you’d expect them to.

And well, that jetpack looks quite nice too. It’s certainly a fun way to get around, and looks to be another fun mechanic in this generally promising game.

There’s definitely a lot to like here.

However, it also still worries me as an actual game.

Why?

Because of how much more ambitious this sequel is. Remember, a large world doesn’t necessarily mean a fun to explore world. It certainly can (and some sandbox games have been truly magical experiences for me and many other players).

But at the same time, it can also be quite dull if nothing is actually there. No Man’s Sky may have had an enormous universe filled with planets to explore, but you couldn’t do anything interesting there. It was basically an endless number of cookie cutter locations built by a computer algorithm.

The original game knew this quite well. It wasn’t the next GTA, it didn’t have a Breath of the Wild scale open world to explore.

Instead, it was just a fun Zelda clone with a photography gimmick and some story about a girl called Jade and her uncle Pey’j as they tried to stop the hidden machinations of a group of aliens on their planet.

It was fairly low key, but it worked well.

This game however, it was far more ambitious. So much so in fact that I worry the creators have fallen prey to massive feature/scope creep and second system effect. That they’ve become so obsessed with making the game of their dreams that they’ve forgotten what really matters for this series.

And that’s what worries me. That the lack of focus on elements people liked about the first game (read, not spaceships and jetpacks and what not) might indicate Ubisoft doesn’t really know why so many people liked it. Or that they’re putting less focus on the intricate designs of the ground based areas to focus on the huge open worlds and physics possibilities.

Still, I’m optimistic none the less. I mean, you can already see some locations that look like they’ve been tweaked by actual designers along the way. Like the city shown in the video with the giant Ganesha type statue covered in glowing lights and markings.

So there is hope there.

But until a new trailer comes out and shows the game as it is at ground level, I’m just going to stay cautiously optimistic about the whole affair.

Let’s hope Beyond Good and Evil 2 turns out to be classic we’ve been waiting decades for!

Source:

Beyond Good and Evil 2: E3 2017 First In House Demo

An ‘Unpaid’ Video Game Composer is Blackmailing YouTubers with DMCA Strikes

As anyone who runs a YouTube channel will tell you, the current situation with copyright online is deeply messed up. It’s been used to take down criticism of bad games and companies. It’s been used to remove footage of popular games that companies simply don’t want advertised at all.

And where music is concerned… well that’s another kettle of fish entirely. You seemingly can’t use any song in a YouTube video without worrying that some fraudulent holding company or another will content ID the video to serve ads on it.

It’s absolutely ridiculous.

However, the recent incidents involving Starr Mazer: DSP are even worse. Why?

DSP

Because it’s not the game’s creators taking down videos.

It’s the game’s music composer issuing copyright strikes because she thinks the game’s developers didn’t pay her for her work.

Basically, she says that Imagos Softworks owes her $10,000 for unpaid music work. So she’s decided to use the DMCA system to ‘raise awareness’ about the issue, with said copyright strikes only being removed if the YouTube video creators post a news story about how the game’s developers owe you money.

As a result, you’ve suddenly got a bunch of YouTubers dragged into the middle of a firefight between an angry composer and a game development team. With their potential careers in jeopardy as a ‘bargaining chip’.

It’s pretty ridiculous all around. Illegal too, given how it’s misusing the DMCA system.

So I’m gonna try and end this by saying one thing to Alex Mauer here.

Stop.

Yes, I know why you’re angry. Having your work ripped off (if your claims are true) is a horrible thing for any artist.

However, here’s the thing:

The YouTubers you are targeting had nothing to do with this. They didn’t ask the company not to pay you. They’re not celebrating your personal situation, or laughing at your expense.

No, they’re just recording a game because they enjoy it. Or they feel their fans will enjoy it.

So why are you punishing them like this? You know they could lose their accounts because of crap like this. You know how ridiculous YouTube gets after copyright strikes.

Yet you still target innocent people to ‘make a message’. That’s not being a good person. That’s being an utter bully and scumbag.

It’s like being a fired employee who sabotages their ex company’s customers to ‘get back at the boss’. Like that recent example of a web hosting company admin who wiped his ex company’s hard drives because they had a falling out with their employer.

It’s petty, it’s unprofessional and makes everything worse for no gain whatsoever.

So just stop, okay? If you have problems with Imago Softworks, take it up with the company themselves.

Abusing YouTube’s broken copyright system is not a good way to ‘send a message’ or ‘raise awareness’. It’s petty, and makes you come across as a bully, especially when the people you’re targeting have nothing to do with your situation.

Thank you.

Sources:

Blizzard is Remastering StarCraft, Warcraft III and Diablo II

For the last few years, Blizzard has been mostly known for their multiplayer games. World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Starcraft II… Basically, eSports and MMORPGs have become the company’s bread and butter.

But it didn’t used to be like this. Oh no, before these games came out, Blizzard was well known for their strategy games and RPGS. Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo… their titles on the SNES and Mega Drive. Basically, Blizzard used to have a slightly more diverse game lineup then they did now.

And it seems Blizzard really hasn’t forgotten about that either. Why? Because according to a new job post on the company site, they’re planning to remaster games from the StarCraft, Warcraft and Diablo series! Here’s a picture showing the post in question:

Blizzard Job Post

Along with the link you can click to view the page itself.

As you can tell, it seems their plans go behind a mere port here. That’s because in the responsibilities list, it mentions such lines as:

Implement server infrastructure changes to support new gameplay features

In addition to others like:

Own implementation and curation of features new and old.

So it seems Blizzard’s plans for the remasters are a tad more ambitious than merely updating the graphics or other aesthetic elements. To the point that new features and online modes are being added. And that core elements of the titles are being overhauled.

But what do you think of this?

Are you happy that Blizzard still remembers its history, and is willing to revitalise its classic titles?

Or are you perhaps a tad worried here? Worried that say, Blizzard may not understand what made them so great to begin with?

Post your thoughts on the matter here or on social media today!

Source:

Senior Software Engineer Job List (official Blizzard website)

Sea of Thieves: New Trailer!

Announced back at E3 2015, Sea of Thieves is a pirate themed open world game developed by Rare, the creators of such franchises as Banjo-Kazooie, Conker and Perfect Dark. It’s an interesting title with some creative mechanics and a heavy focus on teamwork, and it’s one that Microsoft has been quite keen to promote ever since.

With E3 2017 being no exception to the rule. So here’s the trailer for Microsoft’s E3 2017 presentation, if you haven’t seen it already:

As you can tell, it looks really good. The island exploration is fascinating, with the treasure maps and compass leading to a real pirate style treasure hunt feel. The ship mechanics are well done, with the whole crew pitching in to either keep the boat running or fend off foes with the cannon. All in all, it looks exactly like the kind of fascinating game you couldn’t really get in older generations.

Yet that still leaves one key question in the back of my mind. Namely, what is the main goal of this game?

I mean, getting treasure is good and all. And yes, you do run a pirate ship with your crew and sail the seas looking for wrecks to plunder and rivals to send to Davy Jones’ locker.

But what’s the overarching goal behind it?

Is there one?

Is there an actual main story or end state for this game?

Because if not, it seems like it may get a bit dull in the longrun. It’ll end up being like Breath of the Wild would be without Calamity Ganon or the Divine Beast quests. One where shrines are basically the whole thing.

That’s fine for shorter playthroughs. As well as those who like open worlds.

But it’s not so great for those who like a goal to strive for. People who want to really complete the game and mark it off their games played list.

And the new trailer doesn’t clear any of this up. Still, maybe we’ll know a bit more about it nearer its release date. Or maybe it’s just one of those games that doesn’t have a story altogether, and who’s hook is entirely in how fascinating its world is to explore and how many possibility the pirate themed gameplay opens up.

We’ll see at a later date.