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    PQ | Features | Mailbag | Jan 14, 2000
   

PQ Mailbag
Week of: 01/14/00

A Good Old-Fashioned No. 7 Revival

Oh yes, I will promise you that this Mailbag is positively divine! The January 14th edition of the PlanetQuake Mailbag will feature such things as people commenting on LeeMon's editorials, idiots blathering, and.. get ready for it.. a whole final page of Failed Pics! You've been clamoring for them, so they're coming back! Oh yeah, and some fool named Hellchick will most likely try to make fun of me, but fail horribly as usual. Come on in! I think we can fit a few more..

LeeMon Stirs The Poo

Ah, an old tradition coming back to grace us. While few and far between, we recieved some great feedback on LeeMon's editorial The "Foxed" And The Hounds. Here's the three most bitchin' letters we got!

From: Steve Karstensen
Subject: Foxed? Or just hounded?

LeeMon raises some good points about copyrighted material in mods... but the tone of his article was just a *TAD* bitter. Hell, he's got a right to be: I have been working on Future Wars (www.quakefiles.com/futurewars) for as long as Generations had been in production, and if I was told to scrap the whole thing tommorow, you can bet I'd be seeing red. But has he let his own situation cloud his judgement of the whole scenario and taken an "all-or-nothing" stance?

Possibly. Derivative works *can* succeed if the author takes the proper precautions. I won't pretend to know the whole story behind Generations' canning, so I'll assume Lee & company did and just got burned anyway. But if you're determined to use that copyrighted material in your mod, go the following route:

1) ASK THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER'S PERMISSION. Far as I know, the Generations team did this with id. The next question is, how clear were they in their request? An E-mail to Todd Hollenshead saying "I'd like to base a mod on id's past games" is too vague. Try something along the lines of the following:

"Dear Big Software Co,

I wish to create a mod for Quake II based on your game "Weiner Dogs on Patrol". We will be creating our own artwork and models and will not be using any actual proprietary material *from* WDoP. The general concept of the game is (blah blah blah)... However, since we don't want to infringe on your copyrights, we'd like to get your blessing before we begin production. (Insert bit here about how the mod is non-profit and won't adversely affect Big Software Co).

Thanks in advance,

John. Q. Modeveloper"

now, if the copyright holder writes back and tells you not to even think about it, then it's time to find another idea. But if they give the go-ahead, then, well, go right ahead.

2) KNOW YOUR LIMITS. My understanding of id's problem with Generations was the Quake 1 material. The models, sounds, and levels were pulled directly from Quake and had not been altered in any way. Prior to doing such a thing, it would be wise to ask the copyright holder if you're allowed to do that. id didn't complain about the Doom/Wolfenstein material because it was created by the mod team, *based* on id's original artwork. However, nothing can be inferred and the limits will differ from holder to holder. For example, I run a roleplaying game fan site. I contacted the creators of the RPG and asked them if they had any problems with my reproductions of text or artwork from their sourcebooks on the site. The answer I received was "Go ahead, but use your judgement. We'll contact you if we have a problem with it." Not exactly a very stringent set of rules, but at least I had the official word. In a mod's case, spell out exactly what you're going to do *before* you do it, so you can plan accordingly. The Generations team may have taken id's okay to mean they could do whatever they needed to do to finish the mod, and obviously, it bit them in the end.

3) HAVE A BACKUP. Nobody likes to revamp their entire project two days before release. Therefore, when you're designing your mod and decide to use derivative work, take a moment to sit back and say "Can I get in trouble with this? How easy would it be to change if I did?" Would it involve a model change or two? Removing/changing a name? Or re-coding the entire mod? If the latter, then unless you heed my first two suggestions, you're opening yourself for trouble. Future Wars, for example, would probably require removal or changing of about four names to ditch all derivative references. Five minutes of recompiling my .dll and I'm good to go.

In summation, derivative mods can be fun, sometimes more so than something entirely original. But with that added potential comes added risk. Cover your ass beforehand. You can never be too careful.

Doom Trooper
Lead Programmer, Future Wars/Quake TV

From: Judeccan
Subject: Erm, comments.

Well, welcome to the twilight zone ladies and germs. The editorial I read today about the pseudofoxing of the Generations mod prompted me to return to the whole "letters to the website" thing.

Here goes ;p

Well I'm not sure if any of the generations people will remember me, at that far off time of a bit over a year ago I was dealing only with D. Nite and Skid, but I'm the same Judeccan which signed on to do some maps for the fledgling generations. Due to reasons beyond my control I had to sever contact with the team which isolated me from the creation of the mod, but that dosen't mean I wasn't watching. Like a pervert with a telescope who lives accross the street from the most beautiful woman in town.... and I knew when she bathed, I watched the blooming beauty that Generations was becoming. From the stellar modeling to the sheer fun this mod had everything going for it. I read today that Generations has been canceled, and not only cancelled but by the people you would least expect... id Software.

Now I'm certain you can look back through all the .plan files of Carmack et all and you'll find that Jonnie boy specifically states that he fully supports modifications, that they the life of their product, yadda yadda yadda. Now my personal opinion is that Generations would have made me install Quake 2 again when it was released. I haven't played part deux of the Quake saga for literally four months, and it looks like I have no reason to play anymore. Now someone says, "but Jude man, it was a corperate descicion not that of the rest of id!" Here's what I say: You cannot have a company which says one thing through their artists and another thing through their juggernaut. Its not right! Now again that little voice (I really ought to take them pills huh?) pops up and tells me "The had to say something, god forbid someone get a bright idea and rip them off for money or something!" but I, as always, have an answer. The worry of id Software is not really that their artwork or their gameplay ideas or their maps are going to be stolen from them and, god forbid, put to good use. No, the corporate face of id is afraid that if they let one go then someone will put out one of those pure-evil unsanctioned mission packs. Now regular mission packs are bad enough but ones like Shrak for Quake 1 are just oozing with outright shit. Erm.. thats for a different rant. They, id Software for those with short attention spans, are afraid of someone else making money off of their ideas. Typical American corperation right? But now imagine this situation: Imagine for a moment that Bill Gates puts out a letter to the Winblows community saying that he would be absolutely giddy at the prospect of them designing their own interfaces for Win2k. That he would release the source code for the Winblows interface and tells them to have at it. Now a few months down the line everyone has their own customized interface which they or a friend have programmed for them and everyone is happy. Someone gets the bright idea that the original interface was the best of them and puts out a Win98-Revival interface, and just before it was about to be released the Microshit geschtapo comes down on them and demands they entirely change the idea of the interface because they used the word "Start" and the little windows icon and that those were the sole and private property of Mircoshit. See the stupiditiy intrinsic here? First of all if you don't want someone to tweek their interface don't release the bleedin sorce code, second: If I were Bill Gates (in a pigs eye ) I would be more flattered than alarmed that someone thought the original interface was better. I certainly hope id reads this and takes a second look at themselves.

Solution to everyone's problems... edit the EULA. Make it state that it is unlawful to use the levels or models from a previous games for purposes of making a buck off it. Simple as that.

Well its either that or not prosecute... which is just as unlikely to happen. I mean if I were to post in a few places that I was considering doing a Coca-Cola mod (don't ask, for the love of god) the lawyers and the stiffs at Coca-Cola Corperation would get fucking wood at the idea of shutting down my project as it nears completion.

Flame me if you want, j00 know I'm right

--Judeccan

ph33r m3.... or something. ;p

Hellchick: There's actually a lot of story behind the decision to can "Generations", and Lee'Mon spoke with someone about all of that in an interview that (*sounds of Hellchick rustling through the PQ directories*) I somehow can't find right now. It wasn't that id ordered them to cease production on the mod, if I remember correctly; it was that they told them that if they were going to do the mod, certain things would have to be changed, and the team felt that if those things were changed the mod wouldn't be the project they'd set out to make it, and so the team decided to end it.

From: Aubrey Hesselgren
Subject: i ownz da foxes.

As the person most directly responsible for Matrix Quake 2 (shit, gave meself away already), Leemon's artical on foxing has scared me more than when I saw Damien Omen 3 when I was 8.

Matrix Quake 2 is in a position wereby it can completely disassociate itself from copyrightable material within a week or so of being asked to, but if Leemon's description of the ruthless Fox lawyers is anything to go by, I'm fuckn screwed.

Sure, we can get rid of any likenesses of WB copyrighted graphics, but even after that, will WB still push our closure, just because the kids in irc still call us the Matrix Team? In fact, if our mod is so damn popular (ok, so it isn't) why aren't WB getting US to code it? Ahh yes - the money thing.

I personally would like to give the Wachoski brothers a lesson in open source ethics right about now (using a copy of linux, a steel capped boot, and a syringe), but i know it won't affect their ass-raping lawyers (can i say that on pq?).

I'm also in the same situation as Leemon was with Generations - the finishing line is in view, and if i were to be tripped up by lawyers at this stage of the game, it really would push me over the edge.

Excuse my while I clean the M4's I stockpiled for the millenium - they could be useful yet.

Aubrey 'PainBerry' Hesselgren
Crytek Studios (www.crytek.com)
Lead Game Coder (Project 2)
& Matrix Quake 2 Lead Everything.

Hey, now this is what I was looking for, and I expect LeeMon was looking for this as well; he really did stir the poo this time. I suppose I'll be expected to include my views on this, so here I go. Foxing happens. The second you start doing something with someone else's intellectual property, whether they approve of it or not, you've got to expect the worst, but hope for the best. Especially where computers are concerned. I've got an idea for a mod I want to make, but unfortunately it may never see the light of day because I know if it ever gets released, a large multinational corporation will want me to do away with it because it uses one of their characters, copyrighted and trademarked and all that jazz to them. It's going to happen no matter what you do, because in this industry, intellectual property is all you have. And that's all I've got to say about that!

Hellchick: I'd just like to restate the line "ass-raping lawyers" to show Painberry that you can indeed say that on PQ.


Religion And The Mailbag

Yes, religion and the Mailbag. Sounds like one of those books you buy in airports just so you can not read it on the plane, doesn't it? I wouldn't know, I've never flown anywhere. Here's a few letters on an issue that's been dragging on for a few weeks here in the Mailbag, yet still continues to capture my attention. No, that's not a cue to spew your beliefs at me. If you want to spew beliefs at anyone, spew them at Mugwum. He's a chicken "lover", but it sure doesn't look like love to me.

From: Dermot Williams
Subject: The religious imagery in quake thing

Hey there luna

I'm sorry to bring the religious imagery thing up for the third week running, but i just thought that Travis Nichols was way off the mark with his opinions in this weeks mailbag. Personally i think that the religious imagery exists in Quake (1/2/3) because it adds atmosphere to the game and increases the sense of creepiness and paranoia. This kind of religious imagery is very common in any kind of 'horror' setting, from books to films (and now) to computer games. It puts one in mind of a creepy old church or cemetery, or reminds them of when they were four years old and they had to stay in their grandparents spare room with just a picture of the crucifixion for company. This wilfully unnerving artistic style is what has always set id's games apart from anyone else's.

That's just what I reckon, but I think its' more likely that any kind of anti-christian, anti-social or just plain trendy aspirations on id's part. Quake 1 and 3 (and, to a lesser extent, 2) may not have any real context, but that doesn't imply that the religious symbology does and I certainly don't see any kind of negativity in id's use of these images (the up-side-down crosses should, I think, be taken with a pinch of salt). As for any accusations of id trying to associate christianity with violence, i think they may have been beaten to it.

Besides, id trying to convert gamers to satanism would be a little like preaching to the perverted, wouldn't it ?

Anyway, cheers

woNk

Hellchick: From that grandma imagery, methinks someone's had a childhood that's just a little too reminiscent of Carrie.

From: Jacob Deorksen
Subject: -re: symbols and symbolism

Hey, It's not often that I actually read the mail bag. I usually just stop by planet quake for mynx articles (hey, they are damn funny) , but i was just browsing, and i came across a nice little letter from a T. Nichols... em, that's to obviouse... lets just call him Travis N. (hahaha, im so funny... :( aw shut up) Anyway, i just wanted to say, this guy is totally fucked in the head. (can i say fucked?) I think its great that the fine people at id decided to add a little religious connotation. One of the aspects that really drew me to quake (1) were all the "Satanic" symbols (and the wonderful score by trent reznor, the only reason I ACTUALLY bought the game) Travis seems to think that id has to justify what they are doing. In my opinion (OH I CAN'T BE WRONG NOW!) it would be just like censoring art. We have enough censoring as it is, and its not like they are like "GO PLAY OUR GAME OR DIE". You have a choice. If you don't like all the religious crap, then don't play. I don't' think its fair that i have to walk by your fucking churches, look at your fucking crosses, and listen to stupid bums preach bullshit as i walk down the streets downtown. You fucking Christians really have problems.... you go around telling us that we are going to hell, then when we decided to put a nice little picture of some supposed son of god in a commercial game, you start bitching about it. Holy shit, where the fuck is the justice...... (And don't call me racist, or whatever, cause im not, i have no problem with you believing what you want, but don't go telling me who i should be, or what i can do. And all that shit about those poor christians dyeing at that school shooting just cause they were christians, well i could really give a fuck, us atheists have been taking shit from you Christians long enough, i thinks its about time that you guys started showing us some respect, and yes, i am opinionated).... WEll, this has been a lot of fun..... i think im going to start laying of the beers right about now... GOOD NIGHT ALL! Are you going to sensor this? J.D.M.

Hellchick: Oooh, you're goin' to Hell for THAT bit.


From: Mighty Joe Young
Subject: The uh, religious symbols and stuff

D00d, these people keep commenting on this junk, and what does it matter? Hell, back in the day when me and my dog used to play Doom connected by link on the playstations, I didn't even notice the upside-down cross in it till like after a few hours. I was too busy blowing the peanut butter out of my dog. I think if you people have enough time to notice these things, you're not fragging and sux0rs and shouldn't even be there. Why join a server and look at the frickin' wall. Throw me a frickin' bone, people.

MunkeeBoi (:(|)

Well, the first letter made some sense.. I'd like to sum up this whole religious thing with a simple statement. Well, maybe it's not that simple. Some things offend people. It's a fact of life. If you do anything, someone, somewhere, will be offended. I don't think id is trying to offend anyone by putting "religious" or "anti-religious" imagery into their games. They've been doing it for quite a while, might I add. If more people were actually offended by this, protest groups would be marching in front of id's offices as you read this. I didn't want to drag anyone personally into this, but I remember reading that Paul Jaquays, id level designer, is a devout / semi-devout Christian (sorry, Paul, if you didn't want your name in this), and I think that if he was offended by anything in any levels, we, or the other members of id would have heard about it. Thus, I can assume that Paul's cool with everything in the final version of Q3A. And if he can be cool with it, then I think we can too.

Hellchick: "...blowing the peanut butter out of my dog"? Am I the <i>only</i> one who doesn't find that phrase incredibly disturbing?

On Page 2: Imbeciles and Funny Letters To The Exponential


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