Sniper Elite studio Rebellion Developments filed a lawsuit against Ironclad Games in 2012 over Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, claiming that the title infringed on Rebellion's trademark. A judge dismissed the case more than a year ago, ruling that the title qualifies as "expressive speech" and is thus protected by the First Amendment, and if you're wondering why you didn't hear anything about it until now, it's because Ironclad opted to not to publicize the victory in an effort to "let bygones be bygones." But now Rebellion has launched new legal action against the game in Canada and the U.K., and that's prompted Ironclad to speak up.
In a blog post that went up last week, Ironclad Games Director Blair Fraser spoke in detail about the studio's First Amendment victory over Rebellion, explaining what led to the legal action, the nature of its defense and the potential impact of the decision on the gaming industry as a whole. What he didn't make clear is why the studio opted not to speak about the dismissal of the suit, which actually happened in May 2013, until now.
"We don't like to talk about the business side of things in public. The focus should be on the games themselves," Fraser told us. "We never brought up the cease and desist. We never talked about being served. We never commented when the story broke in the news. We never spoke when we won the case. We kept silent for over two years. However, last week we decided to break our silence."
Fraser said Ironclad decided to speak out now for two reasons: moral and strategic. "For years now there has been a growing sense in our company that trademark issues in the gaming industry were getting out of hand and that talking about our experience might help," he explained. "Our hope is that other developers will see this and be willing to explore, maintain and defend their freedom of expression without as much worry."
On the strategic side of the coin, he said that exposing this kind of behavior to the public can be a "powerful force" in its own right. "The gaming community is not simply content with buying the next cool widget regardless of who made it or how it was made," he continued. "Negative public response increases the cost of legal action to more than just legal fees - there is a public relations bill to pay on top. When we received confirmation last week that Rebellion Developments was taking this global we decided to direct attention to the facts and publicly available documents. We ll let the public decide how to interpret them."
Despite the decisive win in U.S. courts, differences in trademark law, precedents and various other factors means that a victory in Canada, the U.K. or anywhere else is far from a sure thing. Nonetheless, he has no interest in changing the name of Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion in order to suit Rebellion's demands.
"I don t know why Star Wars: Rebellion was renamed to Star Wars: Supremacy in the U.K. but I ll quit my job before I ever let there be a Sins of a Solar Empire: Supremacy or any other bastardization," he said. "Everything in Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, including the gameplay, the lore, the cinematic, the logo, the factions, the research subjects, the capital ships, the Titans, and every single asset was designed to fit into the overarching theme of 'rebellion.' No other word in the English language comes even close."
But while he's not willing to give up the title, he is hopeful that something can be worked out. "The disappointing part is that if one of the Kingsley brothers had called us up on the phone from the start and discussed the matter in a polite and reasonable manner I think this would have turned out a lot different. As a means of introduction, having a third party send a letter containing threats, demands, and accusations can set things off on the wrong foot. I can see all the business hawks rolling their eyes at what they see as an overreaction to what I assume is par for the course, 'Lawyers will be lawyers and companies have to act aggressively to defend their trademarks or else risk losing them.' Well, that isn't how we do business," he said. "Surely, there is a better way to defend a trademark. Perhaps it s not too late to get back on the right foot."
Ironclad Games and Stardock Entertainment are pleased to announce the final release of Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion v1.82 today. This latest version addresses balance issues in the Stellar Phenomena DLC.
Stellar Phenomena DLC
Halved asteroidCounts on Graveyard and DenseDebris templates in AsteroidDef to improve performance.
Updated GalaxyScenarioDef uncolonizable gravity wells w/resources to be guarded by Pirates, not neutral factions.
Removed defenders from Antimatter Fountain.
Changed ShatteredMoon defender template from LocalMilitiaWeak to LocalMilitiaWeakUncolonizable.
Updated Allegiance progression in Gameplay.Constants on the later stages to drop by .05 on levels 7-8. This should help prevent very distant planets from instantly going neutral from Open Rebellion.
Added potential for 0-2 (from 0) neutral crystal extractors at Comets.
Increased minimum neutral crystal extractor count to 2 (from 1) at Ice Fields.
Increased minimum neutral metal/crystal extractor count to 1 (from 0) at Radiation Storms.
Increased minimum neutral metal extractor count to 1 (from 0) at Shattered Moon.
Increased random event allegiance check from 240 to 600 seconds. This should help prevent distant colonies from succumbing to Open Rebellion before the player can do anything about it.
Reduced minimum allegiance threshold for random events from 30% to 15%.
Increased max respawn count on Magnetic Storm from 4 to 9.
Increased max respawn count on Plasma Storm from 4 to 9.
Reduced trigger weight on Partisans event from 25% to 10%.
Reduced trigger weight on Open Rebellion event from 10% to 5%.
Reduced fleet point range on Open Rebellion event from 150/350 to 100/250.
Increased volume on random event warning sound by 3db.
Dramatically shortened Pulsar particle so that it doesn't touch other gravity wells and made the tails less sharp.
Removed Fighters from target list on Gas Giant's pre-explode buff since they can never lose it; will still take damage from nearby explosions.
Added new Commodity Boom random event: one random planet (including neutrals) may now undergo a resource boom where extractor and refinery rates are increased by 30% for 5 minutes. Should never appear on: Dead Asteroids, Pirate Bases, Antimatter Fountains, Magnetic Clouds or Wormholes. (Thanks to Goafan for the suggestion!)
Forbidden Worlds DLC
Removed 'Ferrus' from PlanetRandomUncolonizable in GalaxyScenarioDefs.
Removed 'FerrusFair' from PlanetRandomUncolonizableFair in GalaxyScenarioDefs.
Added new planet bonuses to GalaxyScenarioDefs (thanks Goafan!).
Changed Rusted Core planet bonus to no longer require points in exploration.
Revised AI bonus income rates to try and scale less drastically past Normal.
Updated SDActivate.exe so folks shouldn't need to open up IE if it fails on new installs.
Stardock released today the latest downloadable content (DLC), the Leader Pack, for its critically acclaimed turn-based fantasy strategy game, Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes. The Leader Pack is available now through Steam for $4.99.
The Leader Pack adds an all-new sovereign to each of the game's 10 factions. These leaders provide fresh gameplay experiences with new abilities and items. Prove might makes right with the hardy but magically impaired General Tarth, bring death magic to the kingdoms of men with Sanjo of Gilden, or absolve Lord Relias' mistakes by leading Altar to glory as Shirayn.
Players can also customize their own sovereigns with additional traits and equipment. Treasure Hunters have supernaturally good luck at finding loot, leaders with Lifeblood heal their own wounds with every spell cast, and anyone wielding powerful Ruvennan Bracers is destined for glory on the battlefield with their dramatically boosted combat capabilities.
Fire up your Steam client to get the latest patch to Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes. The free 1.6 update paves the way for the DLC coming soon and offers a little something for everyone.
Heroes get access to some new abilities (Dragon Born, Master Archer, Death Blow), many of the late-game champions get significant boosts to make it a little less disappointing when Gallowman doesn’t offer to join your cause, and modders now have some additional tools for creating abilities of their own.
As always, a raft of balance tweaks and bug fixes are folded into the patch as well.
If you've been looking for a reason to revisit 2011's SIns of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, might I tempt you with a fresh injection of Star Trek? Galaxy-class Federation starships? Borg Cubes? Klingon Vor'cha? Romulan... whatever it is Romulans drive? The Star Trek Armada III mod completely transforms Sins into Trek, with custom models, animations, effects, and technology.
The Armada 3 mod has been under space-construction for a couple of years, and recently went into beta. While there's still some tweaking and balancing happening behind the scenes, and plans for expansions in the future, version 1.0 already feels impressively polished. It can actually be a little hard to play sometimes because it's so much fun to just zoom in on ships and structures and admire the detail. When you do start to play, it actually feels less like a mod and more like a real Star Trek game.
Not everyone can drive the Enterprise! There are tons of other types of detailed spacecraft. Like this one!
The mod lets you play as one of four races. There's the Federation, the Klingons, the Romulans, and the Borg Collective. Not only does each side have its own UI theme (a nice touch) but they have their own strengths and weaknesses. The Federation can dominate the markets with their economic know-how, but their construction times (presumably due to Federation red-tape) can leave you short a few ships when the space-poop hits the fan. Klingons, meanwhile, have incredibly powerful weapons, but lag a bit behind in infrastructure and economy. The Borg, obviously, are efficient and powerful, but their weakness is... well, they don't actually have one. Watch out for those Borg. They're bad news. Romulans... well, they probably have some attributes, too!
Sending the fleet into warp, you even get the blue-flashy-light-wink. I'm sure it has a technical name.
You can also summon some of the heroes from the Star Trek universe. Sisko, Picard, and Janeway can pilot your federation ships in a pinch, if you've unlocked the ability to call on them through your research tree. Klingon heroes include Kurn, whose brother was Worf, and Chancellor Gowron, who was killed by Worf. Wait. Is Star Trek implying that all Klingons know each other, or am I imagining things? I didn't play as the Borg, so I'm not sure who their heroes are, but they're probably some terrifying robot monsters. And, as is probably clear by now, I don't give a single hot toot about the Romulans.
Photon torpedoes, disruptor beams, shield effects... it all looks great and true to the fiction.
Being able to call in actual Star Trek characters is cool, but it's even cooler to hear their actual voices in the game, provided by sound snippets from the TV shows. I know it sounds cheesy, but it fits in amazingly well. Speaking of sound, the mod has a great soundtrack consisting of remastered tracks from Armada 1 and 2, as well as from Starfleet Command 3. And, the ships, the weapons, and the rest of the game's sound effects go a long way to transforming Sins into an authentic-feeling Trek universe.
Smooth head or lumpy head? The choice is yours.
The small touches are nice, too. Resources consist of credits, dilithium, and tritanium, which, as Wikipedia tells me, are things you would like to have a lot of in the Star Trek universe. The menus, the UI, even the tiniest of icons and emblems look great. As I said above, it doesn't feel like a mod as much as an actual Star Trek game. Even random pirate ships are modeled after space vessels from the show. It's pretty clear the team behind the mod are fans who really want to get the details right.
Research means more Star Trek ships, and the ability to summons Star Trek heroes.
I played a few rounds as the Federation, and a couple as the Klingons. In terms of balance, I'll just say that I lost no matter which side I was playing, so at least it's fair (I am pretty terrible at strategy). I definitely recommend it if you have Sins: Rebellion, and if you don't, it's only $40 on Steam. Wait, $40? Still? Well, wishlist it, then, and snap it up in a sale. If you're a strategy fan and Trekkie, this mod is your jam.
There's even a little custom intro movie. For you to watch once and then skip forever.
Installation: Grab the latest version (and hotfix, where applicable) here. It's self-installing. When it's done, just boot the game up and you'll be ready to make it so.
It s been a long time since we heard from Ironclad s MOBA Sins of a Dark Age, but it s still alive and kicking and has just landed on Steam Early Access for $5. That s a steal compared to the $25 you had to pay previously for a founder edition and access to the closed beta. However, when it s ready, Sins of a Dark Age will be free-to-play. Ironclad is known mostly for Sins of a Solar Empire, which is one of our favorite strategy games ever. When Ironclad first revealed Sins of a Dark Age it billed it as a MOBA and real-time strategy hybrid, but has since dropped the game s commander role. Last we heard, Sins of a Dark Age was leaning more in the role-playing game direction by giving players PvE quests, which can trigger special events, earn special rewards, or harm the enemy team. Judging by the most recent trailer, it seems that Ironclad is sticking to that direction, though Dark Age is described as an action strategy game on its Steam page. Buying the game will get you one of three bundles which contains a rare skin, uncommon piece of Hero Gear, Rare Skin Recipe, Uncommon Materials, and Common Materials. Ironclad says Sins of a Dark Age will be in Early Access for months, not years, but for now it comes with the usual warnings about missing content, bugs, and so on, so proceed with caution.