Fan Remake Shut Down. This Is Never A Good Idea.

Fan Remake Shut Down. This Is Never A Good Idea.

Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines was a very interesting game that, for all its many problems (it's kinda broken), has a core of very loyal fans. Because the original game is a mess, some of those fans wanted to remake the game and clean it up. And they would have got away with it too, if it wasn't for games publisher CCP.

The EVE Online developers, who also own the rights to Vampire, have sent a cease-and-desist to the team working on the remake, saying "we believe you are infringing CCP's intellectual property rights".

I mean, maybe they are technically, but this is always a crummy move on the part of video game companies that very rarely makes much sense. Here was a team of loyal fans doing something they would have released for free, which could have been a cool story about a series that CCP own!

Instead we're now writing about CCP looking like the bad guys.

Goodnight, Sweet Prince [Project Vaulderie, via RPS]


    I originally bought this game when it came out and never got past the haunted house. I recently bought it in a steam sale and installed the community title update and it was fantastic.

    Shame about the remake, but hopefully the fact CCP is enforcing their rights to the property means they have plans for it at some point.

      Not really, they very well could have just been told by their collection of lawyers to stomp on it just cos.

      Oh geez, that haunted house... I nearly didn't make it through, it scared the crap out of me.

        That washing machine. That damn washing machine...

        Haha, while it was pretty scary the reason I didn't get past was because I got lost and couldn't figure out how to advance after I fell into the basement. I took a break to play something else and just never went back to it - much like System Shock 2 which I never finished because wasn't able to play after I updated my PC to Windows XP.

        I think I currently own it on Steam and it's been made compatible, I should get back into that as well.

          Finish System Shock 2. Maybe install a high-res texture mod pack, though. The original, unsullied by mods, is a little rough.

            I really should. I tried to revisit System Shock 1 about 6 months ago and holy crap that control scheme. What a mess. I can't believe I played that game in high school without gnawing off my own fingers in frustration.

      One can only hope... but even if so, they're definitely going the wrong way to go about it.

      Unless they're re-making Bloodlines themselves, there's only good hype to come out of a fanbase re-invigorated by the restoration and new word-of-mouth customers made aware of the franchise before CCP drops their own content bomb.

      As it is, they're coming off as petulant misanthropes who are full of bitterness and sour grapes over the fact that they've proven to be shithouse at developing anything other than EVE.

      There's a school of thought that suggests IP copyright has to be enforced to ensure that imitators can't claim they're simply following a precedent, and normally that's avoided by ensuring that fan-projects are published as non-commercial or 'mods' (which could possibly be what this should be considered as, even though it's a new engine - which is about as compelling as arguing what part of a human body contains the soul, or if you replace every part in a machine over its lifetime, is it still the same machine...). Even a token effort of making official contact with the fans and giving official sanction can ensure that imitators can't claim neglect of copyright, thus protecting them.

      Instead, they just decided to be pricks about it.

        I'd say it's more than a school of thought, it's fact - if you don't enforce your copyright you gradually lose the power to do so. But you're right, they could sanction this project. If they don't, it suggests to me the possibility they have their own plans.

        The reality, however, is probably as you say. They just don't want anyone horning in on their business and giving away their property for free when the occasionally see a few bucks from the real thing when it goes for $2.50 in a steam sale. Because ain't no one paying $20 for it these days.

          if you don't enforce your copyright you gradually lose the power to do so

          That's trademark law, isn't it?

            You're probably right.

              I honestly thought it was both. Isn't that the excuse King used for trying to trademark/copyright all those common dictionary words?

                Can't lost copyright, it's trademarks that can be diluted and need to be maintained.

                Honestly I was going into more detail, but suddenly find myself without energy but I'll try do a sum up sentence on King:

                He tried to create and maintain trademarks on common dictionary words by suggesting they were directly intrinsically linked to his IPs which he owns the copyright on.

                Copyright protects original concepts and ideas and allows monetisation of them where as trademark law is designed to try and prevent competitors passing off their similar products under the same name as you.

    There's a line between what's acceptable and what isn't, I think. Fixing the bugs in the existing game, modding it for more content, all that is pretty much fine and developers rarely care. Releasing a free remake of the content and basically ripping the story wholesale into another product, that type of thing usually doesn't go down well.

      A bit of perspective was needed there, thank you :) The remake would've been distributed free, as they cannot charge for it, meaning that any and all minute bits of revenue coming from the original would've been lost more than likely. They're within their rights to protect their IP, even when we don't agree.

    I don't understand why people continue to embark on these kinds of projects without first seeking permission from the relevant parties. If they do that first, they can save themselves a lot of heartache later on. Or you never know, maybe the IP owners might actually love the idea. But you need to ask first, BEFORE sinking any time into it.

    Last edited 25/11/14 10:15 pm

      I get the feeling some of these people were raised without knowledge about copyright or intellectual property rights.

      It tends to start out 100% innocently and you're not intending to harm anything so you never stop to question what you're doing as the project evolves. Think of it like going from Superman fan art to fan webcomic to full on fan comic. At the fan art stage you're not doing anything wrong. When you reach the fan comic stage you're still not doing anything hostile so you never take the time to think 'oh yeah, there's no way DC would let just anybody use their characters like this'.
      When it comes to game development you would think it would be harder to miss that change, but the project and the finished product don't really register as the same thing. You see it more like a pile of components than a game right up until it is a game. You bring in help but on a project like this it's all fans volunteering their time. It's more like a community or fan club getting together.
      It sounds dumb but it's easy to set out to make a game without really believing it will go anywhere, and then after you've put in a lot of afternoons having fun with your hobby project and your friends suddenly you find yourself on the cusp of releasing a retail quality game.

      Also in this case I believe all the relevant parties, from a fans perspective, are long gone. It'd be like me trying to figure out who to ask about a Syndicate remake. Bullfrog don't exist. Nobody at EA even knows what Syndicate is. The original team members have absolutely nothing to do with it anymore. The only people in a position to say yes are going to say no regardless of whether they'd pursue legal action. The people whose blessing I would actually want aren't in the position to make the project legit.
      It adds up to that old abandonware problem of nobody will say it's ok to pirate the game but you could confess your piracy to the owners and they would probably tell you to quit wasting their time rather than take legal action.

      One thing that's also worth noting is that usually the people behind the projects don't complain about the time wasted when they get shut down. You would imagine it's a room full of people upset that they've sunk so much time into the project with nothing to show for it, but more often than not it's just a room full of people who are bummed because the game isn't going to reach the community they've built it for.
      Volunteers for these sorts of projects tend to not calculate the value of their invested time properly. All the work is being done off the clock so you don't really tally it up and realise that the couple of hours every night with a bit extra on weekends added up to a minimum of 20 hours per week.
      The rest of the time they're just relieved to be given a free pass to abandon a project that grew too big. =P

    Yay, yet another fan project killed in the "good" name of Copyright protection. While these projects are never likely to ever be finished (seriously, name one besides Black Mesa, which is also still not technically "finished" either) I still find it extremely irritating when publishers and developers step on fan creativity like this. First off, what are they planning to do with the IP? If they want to protect it fine, but at least have the decency to DO something with it instead of just stopping others from doing so. Second, Bloodlines is a 10 year old game that currently sells for $19.99 USD on the Steam store. Would a fan made remake given away for free really be THAT much of a threat to the publisher's bottom line? And of course there's also the tiny matter that the studio who made this game in the first place went bankrupt shortly after its release.

    As to the argument of "Just ask permission first", I can name two examples of why that doesn't work either. First off - Duke Nuke 3D Reloaded. Gearbox gave Interceptor Entertainment the go ahead to do it. They spent months and months working on it. Then, when Gearbox actually SAW what they had produced and realised it was far better than what Gearbox themselves had managed with Duke Nukem Forever, they pulled the plug. Then there's the other example with that Metal Gear remake. First Konami gives them the all clear, then after a month or so (when the team had even managed to get David *Freaking* Hayter on board to do the voice over) they backflip and say "Nup, not gonna happen".

      Wait that actually happened to Metal Gear Solid? Cos last I heard Kojimi himself was working on a remake. Or at least considering it. Probably the reason they put a stop to it.

        It was the first Metal Gear game from 1987 for the MSX2 and NES being remade, not Metal Gear Solid for the PS1. And I've heard nothing about a remake of any Metal Gear game from Kojima

    Now we have to financially hurt the company by arranging a boycott on any official sequels that get made <>

      I wouldn't worry about it, CCP's doing enough damage to their non-EVE sales with the quality of their products.

        I thought they also did some self inflicted damage on EVE as well w/ a previous update xD

    Couldnt they just do what squeenix did and consider it like a mod for the original etc, work out some agreement with the development fan team.

    If they allow this to be done, they essentially declare open season on the Vampire Masquerade IP. Sure, they aren't doing anything with it.... but the day may come when they decide to create a sequel.

    I feel bad for the fans though. Having said that - if they have the chops to create a polished remake, they certainly have the ability to create a game of their own, with their own characters and their own story. I'd rather have them be bold and try to create something new.

      It doesn't have to be open season on the IP. Just make a deal with these guys allowing them to use the IP under strict guidelines such as you can't make money of it etc etc.

      In addition to what @darren says, it doesn't effect their rights on the IP at all.

      It could affect their trademark though, but there are ways to prevent that and let it go forward. That said they do own the rights and still sell the original game which has a lot of mods available, they're under no obligation to let someone else give away their IP for free.

    Why didn't CCP approach those already involved to create a full price HD remake? Then both parties would have won. Or... maybe something similar is already in the works? /crosses fingers

    Yeah, this sucks, but at least it's not as bad as the dick move Sega pulled with the Streets of Rage remake (which is superior to all of the SoR titles). They were well aware of the development of the remake as the dev team approached Sega for their blessing while it was being made. Sega made some encouraging noises, but stayed relatively silent until a couple if days before it was due to be released when they slapped the project with a cease and desist. Such a monumental dick move!

    I'm not sure I understand the rage here.

    The game is still for sale on Steam (and probably elsewhere) where it regularly goes on sale for less than $5. As such the company is most likely still getting revenue from it.

    A free version of the game would stop this revenue, however small it may be.

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