I’ll sue ya! (Gamerati News Update)

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John Smedley will head Amazon Game Studios, PayPal withholds Portal Games’ pre-orders of First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet, Elite: Dangerous Role Playing Game is stricken by weird copyright infringement, Green Ronin and Greater/Than/Games join forces to create Sentinels of Earth Prime card game, and we say goodbye to Loren K. Wiseman, the co-creator of Traveller RPG.


Hello, Gamerati, Marcelo here. It’s the 18th of February, 2017. Let’s review the top 5 game news of the week here on Gamerati News Update.

Amazon forms Amazon Game Studios and hires MMO veteran to lead it.

John Smedley is going to head the brand-new, San Diego based Amazon Game Studios. Smedley previous position was as chief of Daybreak Games (previously Sony Online Entertainment) but his career might be defined as helping solidify the massive online multiplayer scene. He was responsible for the inicial design of the high-fantasy RPG EverQuest, as head of Sony Online he published the action FPS PlanetSide, and at Daybreak Games he published the survival sandbox games H1Z1: Just Survive and H1Z1: King of the Kill.

John Smedley’s career is not without some controversy. In 2014 and 2015 he butted heads with hacker group Lizard Squad which prompted his stepping down as CEO of Daybreak Games. What I better remember him for is his announcement in 2007 that Sony Online would change direction and make games to attract more female gamers to balance their audience, which was 85% male at the time.

So, will Amazon Game Studios fizzle out and be forgotten or is Amazon an impossible force that will shake things up in the video game scene? Let’s wait and see.

PayPal withholds money from Portal Games’ pre-orders of First Martians board game.

First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet got almost 3,000 of its pre-orders from PayPal accounts before PayPal froze the money. PayPal states they’ll release the funds once Portal Games delivers the product. But PayPal has also frozen the funds Portal Games got from the sales of other games from their online store, not just the pre-order.

Ignacy Trzewiczek, the founder of Portal Games, stated on Reddit that, although they’re not happy with PayPal’s move, the production of the board game will not be affected. They’re likely not to see the money until the game releases three months from now, but the company is OK.

It’s not the first time PayPal freezes money from companies for arcane reasons. A couple of weeks ago we reported that Petersen Games is seeking legal action against PayPal for not releasing part of the money from the sales of Cthulhu Wars, even thought the game was already delivered.

So you see, it’s kind of a problem when one company almost completely dominates an industry. That’s why most countries have laws against monopoly. Not that Monopoly.

Crowd-funding for Elite: Dangerous is pulled after copyright infringement claims.

Last week, backers of Elite: Dangerous Role Playing Game got a message from Kickstarter’s Integrity team (yes, they have an integrity team) saying that the game is the subject of an intellectual property dispute and, because of that, the project has been pulled from public viewing and the countdown to its deadline, suspended.

The news outlet Ars Technica got in touch with Spidermind Games, the studio behind Elite: Dangerous KS. The copyright claim is being made by Ian Bell Elite Rights LLP. Ian Bell is the co-creator of the original 1984 Elite video game, but the claim filed on Kickstarter was made by Chris Jordan, who claims now holds the copyright to the game.

Things get interesting when you know that the designer of Elite: Dangerous Role Playing Game is David Braben, who-co designed Elite in 1984 with Ian Bell and went on to design all subsequent follow ups to the game without Bell.

Spidermind Games is preparing all documentation do prove to KS that their game doesn’t infringe any copyright claims. They also stated to Ars Technica that Chris Jordan hasn’t provided them with any kind of document to substantiate his claims to owning rights to the original Elite game. Ars Technica found out that Ian Bell Elite Rights LLP was incorporated two days prior to the cryptic KS message that backers to Elite: Dangerous received. Ian Bell himself hasn’t been active in game design for over thirty years. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can go making games with his creation willy nilly, but Spidermind Games’ argument that their RPG is a distinct property from the 1980’s game seems to hold water, especially because they have the designer of all games in that universe working on Elite: Dangerous.

Two super-hero role-playing games collide when Green Ronin and Greater/Than/Games join forces.

There’s none amongst comic book fans who don’t like a universe crossover. That’s what the two companies are promising with the mash up of Mutants & Masterminds and Sentinels of the Multiverse.

The new game is called Sentinels of Earth Prime, and will combine the core setting of Green Ronin’s Mutants & Masterminds RPG with the game mechanics of Greater/Than/Games’ Sentinels of the Multiverse card game. Sentinels of Earth Prime will be a card game and it’s being designed by Christopher Badell, the original designer of Sentinels of the Multiverse and credits Mutants & Masterminds as one of the inspirations for his game.

The game will be jointly published once is ready. Green Ronin will launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project in April, with release in 2018.

I’m going to end this edition of GNU with sad news. Game Designers Workshop founder and co-designer of Traveller RPG Loren Wiseman has passed away.

Loren Wiseman co-founded Game Designers Workshop with Frank Chadwick, Rich Banner, and Marc Miller on 1973. Initially focusing on miniature wargames, GDW published Traveller in 1977, written by Wiseman, Chadwick, Miller, and John Harshman. Wiseman was editor of the Journal of the Travellers Aid Society, which ran for 24 issues, and its successor Challenge magazine, which ran for 53 issues.

Wiseman helped define the ethos of science fiction RPGs with Traveller, having written dozens upon dozens of books for the setting, including GURPS Traveller and its supplements for Steve Jackson Games after GDW closed in 1995. He was inducted into the Origins Hall of Fame in 2003.

The cause of death appears to have been heart failure. Wiseman had suffered of poor health for many years, and had to crowdfund contributions for his medications in May of last year.

Next time you play Traveller, or any sci-fi RPG really, remember Loren Wiseman as you roll character creation.

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