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Subject: Communiqué from the French Game Designers Union about the Alien / Nostromo game rss

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bruno faidutti
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Regularly, by mail or in our facebook group, wannabe designers ask us « how not to have my idea stolen by a publisher ».

We won’t go into details about this topic here. Someday, the SAJ (Société des Auteurs de Jeux, the french game designers union) might publish a comprehensive text on this issue, but usually we mostly try to calm down the anguished designers. In France, since there’s no legal way to protect a game rule, the best way to ensure one’s paternity over it is to show it around to as many gamers as possible. Since the boardgames business is largely open and honest, any obvious plagiarist would soon be toast. Anyway, it almost never happens.

Well, it looks like we are witnessing one of the few exceptions to this long standing rule. A game publisher, Wonder Dice, is launching a preorder campaign for the game a young designer, François Bachelart, has shown them a few years ago. The publisher even proposed him a contract then, but they failed to find an agreement and it wasn’t signed. From what we know at the moment, it looks like the publisher simply « stole" the game from its designer, developing and publishing it without his agreement, without his name and of course without royalties.

The SAJ firmly disapproves of such practices, and gives all its support to François. Since legal actions would be expensive and their result unpredictable due to ambiguity of boardgames legal status, the only thing we can do is to inform designers and gamers of the bad dealings of Wonderdice, and hope they will deservedly fail. 

We want to make clear that this sad story is only an exception. Relations between game designers and publishers are usually trustful. As a matter of fact, Edge, a major French distributor, has declined to sell the game. All the gamers and game designers who have heard of this story are already spreading the word about Wonderdice obvious dishonesty, and are of course restraining from ordering the game. The boardgames world reacts in the best possible way, and it’s not a surprise for us. 
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Per Glöde
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Greg Kik
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I like Alien movies but I will not buy a game that does not deserve it... angry
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Julien Fernandez
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kik3i1 wrote:
I like Alien movies but I will not buy a game that does not deserve it... angry


Same thing for me ...
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For a moment I thought this was going to be something about the Nemesis KS that just wrapped up. I bought into that so I'm good... don't need the official "Aliens" branding (which it is unclear whether or not they even have permission to use that in the first place).


EDIT: According to this (place I have never heard of before and found via a random Google search whistle ) Wonderdice does have the global license for the extended Alien universe. https://www.avpgalaxy.net/2018/04/17/uscss-nostromo-alien-th...
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faidutti wrote:
Regularly, by mail or in our facebook group, wannabe designers ask us « how not to have my idea stolen by a publisher ».

We won’t go into details about this topic here. Someday, the SAJ (Société des Auteurs de Jeux, the french game designers union) might publish a comprehensive text on this issue, but usually we mostly try to calm down the anguished designers. In France, since there’s no legal way to protect a game rule, the best way to ensure one’s paternity over it is to show it around to as many gamers as possible. Since the boardgames business is largely open and honest, any obvious plagiarist would soon be toast. Anyway, it almost never happens.

Well, it looks like we are witnessing one of the few exceptions to this long standing rule. A game publisher, Wonder Dice, is launching a preorder campaign for the game a young designer, François Bachelart, has shown them a few years ago. The publisher even proposed him a contract then, but they failed to find an agreement and it wasn’t signed. From what we know at the moment, it looks like the publisher simply « stole" the game from its designer, developing and publishing it without his agreement, without his name and of course without royalties.

The SAJ firmly disapproves of such practices, and gives all its support to François. Since legal actions would be expensive and their result unpredictable due to ambiguity of boardgames legal status, the only thing we can do is to inform designers and gamers of the bad dealings of Wonderdice, and hope they will deservedly fail. 

We want to make clear that this sad story is only an exception. Relations between game designers and publishers are usually trustful. As a matter of fact, Edge, a major French distributor, has declined to sell the game. All the gamers and game designers who have heard of this story are already spreading the word about Wonderdice obvious dishonesty, and are of course restraining from ordering the game. The boardgames world reacts in the best possible way, and it’s not a surprise for us. 


Thanks for the heads up Bruno, I'll make sure my FLGSs know about it so they know to never order the game in.

I'd definitely get this information to Zee Garcia. He's a fan of your work so would absolutely get this information out for you through The Dice Tower.
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Not Real
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There does appear to be a 20th C Fox logo on the box art, suggesting it is licensed; not sure which would be worse for them, using Alien without permission or Fox's logo, wonder which they're more litigious about?
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Snowball
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I'd really like to hear the other side of the story: as for now, we have one person that is both judge, jury and executionner. I was ready to preorder and I won't, but I am eager to read the publisher version of this story.
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HavocIsHere wrote:
we have one person that is both judge, jury and executionner

> One person ? The "Société des Auteurs de Jeux", it's a lot of professional game designers.
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Someone should contact 20th Century Fox about this.
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gibier wrote:
HavocIsHere wrote:
we have one person that is both judge, jury and executionner

> One person ? The "Société des Auteurs de Jeux", it's a lot of professional game designers.


One person posted here. And then a second user with an empty account to confirm. I am reluctant to comdemn on such a measly basis.
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gibier wrote:
HavocIsHere wrote:
we have one person that is both judge, jury and executionner

> One person ? The "Société des Auteurs de Jeux", it's a lot of professional game designers.


... That could also be on a personal vendetta against a designer for whatever reason. It's hard to judge without facts. I'm not saying a famous designer is lying here. But he could. And the fake account is not helping.

But I'm merely stating that as an observer, I'm not interested by the game or theme.

The SAJ should try and take legal action if it's true, and help create patents in France so that history doesn't repeat itself, if they're not already doing so.
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HavocIsHere wrote:

One person posted here.


Yeah, just a random person. Not like Bruno is a hugely respected figure in the industry or anything.
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Snowball
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fh13 wrote:
For a moment I thought this was going to be something about the Nemesis KS that just wrapped up. I bought into that so I'm good... don't need the official "Aliens" branding (which it is unclear whether or not they even have permission to use that in the first place).


EDIT: According to this (place I have never heard of before and found via a random Google search whistle ) Wonderdice does have the global license for the extended Alien universe. https://www.avpgalaxy.net/2018/04/17/uscss-nostromo-alien-th...

Yes and a quick visit to their website shows that there is, in fact , an appropriate logo on the box cover.
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Snowball
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Tzer wrote:
HavocIsHere wrote:

One person posted here.


Yeah, just a random person. Not like Bruno is a hugely respected figure in the industry or anything.


So we don't need to hear the two sides of the story. We should do the same in courts, it would spare a huge pile of time and money. Judges are hugely respected figures.

To be clear I am not affiliated in anyway to wonderdice and for all I know they could be the worts crooks in the world, but before throwing names at them and proposing that resellers avoid their games I would like really much to hear what they have to say. Seems a pretty reasonable expectation, right. My own pitchfork will stay in the closet until then.
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Laetitia DS
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Most of this "case" is currently happening in the French gamers Facebook group, the publishers' Facebook page, and on TricTrac forums, where both sides communicate in French. It has been shared here as we gamers want this information to be avaiable worldwide.

You can compare the rulebooks (in French too):
- FB games (initial author): https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ieb5pqfbuyww3lq/AABmI3Y8tgbjUB6ms...
- Wonderdice: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ieb5pqfbuyww3lq/AABckHqhSOpYTRmra...
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Domitien AW
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HavocIsHere wrote:
gibier wrote:
HavocIsHere wrote:
we have one person that is both judge, jury and executionner

> One person ? The "Société des Auteurs de Jeux", it's a lot of professional game designers.


One person posted here. And then a second user with an empty account to confirm. I am reluctant to comdemn on such a measly basis.


Here is the communication (in French) from the SAJ (the French Boardgame Author Union) http://www.societedesauteursdejeux.fr/?p=597

You can also find information (still in French) here :
https://www.trictrac.net/forum/sujet/alien-uscss-nostromo

Here are the original rules:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ieb5pqfbuyww3lq/AABmI3Y8tgbjUB6ms...
And the "new" one:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ieb5pqfbuyww3lq/AABckHqhSOpYTRmra...

Here is a presentation of the game in 2010:
http://fbgames.over-blog.com/2013/10/nostromo.html

It also as been presented at Edge (the publisher who translate all FGG games in Europe)…
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Snowball
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Domitien wrote:


Yes thanks indeed it is more of a blatant copy that a vague inspiration!
I won't buy from them, but I still am curious about how they defend their dubious practices.
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Greg Kik
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HavocIsHere wrote:
gibier wrote:
HavocIsHere wrote:
we have one person that is both judge, jury and executionner

> One person ? The "Société des Auteurs de Jeux", it's a lot of professional game designers.


One person posted here. And then a second user with an empty account to confirm. I am reluctant to comdemn on such a measly basis.


I'm just a random person yeah, and I didn't know Bruno (just by games boxes) or the author of the pretend first game that is mentionned.
Sorry for my empty account, I know that's not a good way to be credible, but I just wanted to say what I think about this news.
I came here from a Facebook group called "La communauté des ludistes francophones" with around 15000 members where I found this news, and where many details suggest that this story is true, but it's just my opinion...
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Jeremy Chakado
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HavocIsHere wrote:
I still am curious about how they defend their dubious practices.


For now, they don't, really...


Translation :
Ludo Theque : "Isn't this from a shamelessly stolen prototype ?"
ALIEN Board Game : "No, it's a game developed internally by our staff, we are currently the victims of a bunch of trolls, which are unfortunately not part of the Alien Universe..."


There is no mention of an author or game designer on the box, they claim it was all developed "internally".
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DAUBET Hervé
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The logo on the box doesn't mean they have the license. Strangely enough, neither their website nor their rulebook mentions a Fox legal copyright. Furthermore, the would-be-legal-mentions found in the rulebook are actually not so legal. They even mention than Alien is trademark of their own company! I bet Fox/Disney would love this...

I know the original Nostromo game. I've played it. I've read the new rulebook and I can tell the similarities are more than troubling. This is not a mere coincidence. It goes farthest then the alien license wrap-up. It's the same game.

As a member of a publishing company myself, I've been working with the original author for a couple of years. I know him well to be an honest, passionate gamer. I also know that he had been in contact with Wonderdice to publish Nostromo, and that he gave them a prototype. They couldn't agree on a deal, and then today, a (very) slightly revamped version of his game is released without his consent by the same people (and I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't without Fox/Disney consent either).


Also note that this is not the first time that this company has been accused from stealing property from game authors.

So, I don’t have the physical proofs to call these guys thieves, but only a blind man wouldn’t see the truth. So as much as you love the Alien license (and God knows I do!), please boycott this game until the truth is out.
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K. Khazaar
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HavocIsHere wrote:
fh13 wrote:
EDIT: According to this (place I have never heard of before and found via a random Google search whistle ) Wonderdice does have the global license for the extended Alien universe. https://www.avpgalaxy.net/2018/04/17/uscss-nostromo-alien-th...

Yes and a quick visit to their website shows that there is, in fact , an appropriate logo on the box cover.

The story is not about having the official Alien licence or not, but that the entire game design is hugely copy-pasted from a prototype that have been presented to them without any contract or permission from the original author (see the documents attached from previous posts)
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Henri Kermarrec
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It's ok if someone wants to be fair and judge on facts, that's natural. Here the original game deisgner has kept all the mail exchanges, the contract proposed and refused a few years ago, and he has proofs that his game was made before. When you read the rules (sorry, they're in french), you clearly see the robery.

Some published games commonly share mechanics or themes, or are inspired from other games, it's part of the competition on the market. But here it's different, a designer has been stolen from his rights, and the publisher clearly doesn't want to assume it ; he wants to make some cash with his expensive licence (yes, he has it apparently).

In France rules of a board game can not be patented or protected (and personnaly I think it's better that way, even if it leads to this kind of situation), so our last resource is to inform customers. The original designer will maybe attempt any legal action if he wants to, but these things take time, and right now the game is in preorder, so we have to do something.
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James Mathe
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Sounds like France is similar to the rest of the EU and USA for copyright laws on games... in short you can protect expression, artwork, IP, and actual words in the manual in the exact form... but if they do all the art themselves, they make up the world themselves (in this case licensed IP), and they write the manual from scratch, etc... there is very little anyone can do as you can't protect the mechanics of a game. Even if he had a patent which is expensive, changing just one thing about how this game works would invalidate their claim. More info can be read here:

http://www.jamesmathe.com/dammit-jim-im-a-publisher-not-a-la...

That said, the only real recourse people have for something like this is to express their claims in the public forum to the great community we have. Which is what this is doing. If proven true, they will suffer consequences now and in the future for their behavior.

Good luck
James
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Has there been any talk about contacting the organizers of Essen and other conventions about not allowing them to exhibit? Seems like that might be a good pressure point.
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