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    PlanetQuake | Features | Articles | Generation Next
   

Generation Next

  — by Dan Lichtenberg

From what I understand, id didn't shut down the project, but rather, made it somewhat difficult to continue its original development plan. Could you elaborate?

Ah, here is the part that virtually no one, outside of the Generations team and id Software, understands. Between my explanation of the current state of Generations and Todd H.'s explanation of the legal restrictions, I came to realize that the current version of Generations--as well as virtually every public version we've released--was rather illegal to distribute freely. The biggest concerns were direct map conversions, use of files extracted from the original games (which constituted virtually all of our Quake I adaptations), and use of the trademarked and copyrighted names. The first two would require the removal of all troublesome items, with legally acceptable replacements created from scratch--no small task, and a huge setback for a Quake2 mod, especially with Quake3Arena looming so close on the horizon. The trademark and copyright use, however, was something we would have trouble removing. After all, how does Generations unite Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake, and Quake II, if we cannot use any of those terms?

id made no ultimatum, made no recommendations, and certainly did not fox the project. However, they had to make the restrictions known. These restrictions were not so much their choice as their legal responsibility. Quake II and Wolfenstein were published by Activision; Quake and Doom were published by GT Interactive. If we used files from the previous games in a Quake II mod--items that the publishers were contractually given exclusive distribution rights to--and put them in a Quake II mod freely available for download, then id Software could find itself sued by its publishers. As for the trademarks and copyrights, id has a legal responsibility to protect them, or they risk losing them. Although using such terms to reference the original games is acceptable, using them to refer specifically to features in one's own work is not. Thus, with the Quake2:Generations mod, we could not call our classes "Quake Guy", "Doom Marine", "B.J. Blazcowicz", and so on. id was forced into their decision; we had some choices for ours. We could take the time to make the necessary changes, and remove all direct reference to the trademarks from the game. However, this posed two problems; one, the team would be faced with the daunting task of recreating the necessary work from scratch, and two, removal of the names of the original games removed Generations from its original purpose. The other choice was to simply quit, remove the current Generations files, and end the Quake2 mod project. After discussing the alternatives with the team, the decision was universal. So, Monday afternoon, June 16, the Quake2:Generations project officially ended.

Although the question may be a bit personal, is there any bad blood or bitter feelings between the Generations team and id Software, or was the mod's dissolution done on good terms with them?

I can't say I'm bitter at all towards id. In fact, in the current backlash against them, I am one of their biggest supporters. I understand their legal situation fully, and I know that they have no other choice. The decision to end the project was ours, not theirs. Todd H. liked the idea, but he had to make us play by the rules.

Most of all, I keep in mind that this started by my email, asking for clarification of the legal situation. Even then, I knew the risk existed that we were working in violation, and that we might have to stop. But I accepted that, and I did not want the project to continue if we were violating id's legal rights and responsibilities.

From what I've seen, a tremendous portion of fan reaction has been negative - fans have all been expressing their anger towards what has happened, and have even spoke of boycotting id altogether. What is your response to this?

What do I have to say to them? Stop. Slow down. Go back and read the final news post--especially if you never even read it in the first place. If you only read the beginning, read it through this time. Listen to me, and listen to id Software. They're not trying to cover their tracks, and they're certainly not trying to find a scapegoat. In this case, many of you have made THEM the scapegoat.

Like it or not, id Software is a corporation. As much as the people of id may like the idea of a tribute to them, id itself has to protect its rights. If something is brought to their attention that is in clear violation of their legal responsibilities, they must act.

Most of all, please keep in mind that the decision to end the project was ours, not id's. We cared about this mod more than anyone. If we are not mad, not yelling, not anti-id... why should you be? Please, don't let your emotions cloud your judgment. Take a couple of days off of this issue, and give it some thought. Understand id's viewpoint, and our viewpoint, before you start pointing fingers and waving accusations.

During the final period of Generations, many fans openly voiced their support for the mod, even creating support buttons in an attempt to save it. Was there any hope, or were the coming events already clear to you?

I encouraged these efforts early on, but I warned all groups not to take any action until I received final word from id on our legal situation. I didn't want any "Save Generations" efforts to swing into action if there was no way we could be saved.

After id's first email, I knew we were in trouble. I spent that weekend thinking long and hard about our situation. All of our work had been based on that original agreement. I tried to think of what we'd be doing wrong if there had been NO original agreement. I took a look at how much of Generations would be legally troubling, and considered what alternatives we had. As a result, by the time id defined their legal obligations, they had only clarified what I already knew, and I knew it was time to make a decision.

Please send your responses to Feedback.


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