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    • =VG= SemlerPDX
      Presenting Exhibit C: A Video Game

      The gaming industry received an enormous shock this week, in that the upcoming title Assassin's Creed 3 may be prevented from release by an injunction and pending lawsuit. On April 16th, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania received a Complaint for Copyright Infringement from Plaintiff John L. Beiswenger. A jury trail has been demanded by the Plaintiff, as well as a request for injunctive relief that would stop the Defendants Ubisoft and Gametrailers from further infringement, and prevent them from releasing "the Assassin's Creed III video games and related books, videos, clips, or other works based on Assassin's Creed III".

      This comes as quite a late blow, as the original release of the Assassin's Creed video game series dates back to 2007, and was released on PS3, Windows PC, and XBOX 360 platforms. The copyrighted book that this lawsuit is based around was published a decade ago. Now, in what is actually the fifth software release of this highly successful series, and almost exactly 6 months before it's slated to launch, the end is truly grim for what was to be the final chapter of the saga of the Assassins.

      After reading the 42 page complaint myself, http://www.bannerwitcoff.com/_docs/Ubisoft_Complaint.pdf , I can only just keep from cringing as I think of each of the jury members also going over these lines from the book, "Link", and these supposed vast parallels in the story of Assassin's Creed over the last 4 years. According to the complaint, the book's plot includes the "conception and creation of a device and process whereby ancestral memories can be accessed, recalled, relived, and re-experienced by the user".

      The facts as stated detail not only each software release in the series as infringing, but also each "Complete Official Guide", the collectors edition encyclopedias, the comic book series, and even the game trailers produced and released by Gametrailers on national TV.

      Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, we will now recess and play some video games

      Moreover, there is a decent bit of focus on the possibility that the Defendants knew about said copyright, and willfully infringed upon it. The sum of $1.05 million dollars is being sought, and in the case that willful infringement is determined, $5.25 million. It is very understandable to conclude such similarities, given some of the excerpts presented from the book.

      For example, this is from page 309 of "Link": "I have given much thought to this. I know the very stability of our government is at stake. We must find who was behind the mass assassination, but if the Search International process is in our hands, in the hands of any government, it will lead to great evils,"

      And another from page 290 of "Link": "If John Wilkes Booth fathered a child after he assassinated Lincoln, and we found a descendant alive today, we could place Booth at the scene and perhaps smell the gunpowder." "Ancestral memories?" "As far back as you want,"

      Clearly, there is much substance to this lawsuit, and only time will tell the outcome. A trial by jury can be a long process, and I can only imagine how this will effect the current development process. The requested injunctive relief says "release" not develop, begging one to ask if Ubisoft will hope for the best and continue to spend money on the final stages of development. Perhaps, if the lawsuit is lost, Ubisoft will make some kind of deal that will allow this final game of the series to be released so long as the Plaintiff is properly compensated. If the Plaintiff knew about this copyright infringement himself back 2007, he certainly picked the perfect time to play ball, as this is one hot title now, and could have been one of the best selling games of 2012's 4th Quarter.

      by Aaron Semler, Senior Editor VETERANS-GAMING

    • For the People, By the People

      Bohemia Interactive has just announced a Play & Contribute Beta for Carrier Command: Gaea Mission. Starting April 6th, 2012, players can purchase one of two P&C betas - either the regular version, or the premium Supporter version which will ship with the beta-access, the digital soundtrack of the game, and a full copy of the game from Steam and the BI Studios Store. The price is $40 euros, and sales start tomorrow.

      Though the beta will not feature the full story line and campaign, players will be able to play and test the true essence of Carrier Command: Gaea Mission in it's free roaming environments, taking control of any unit under their command at any time on the vast planetoid Taurus.
      Here's what the CEO and founder of Bohemia Interactive, Marek Spanel, had to say about the Play & Contribute Beta:

      "Our aim is to open up the project so that people will be able to contribute not only in terms of funding, but also by helping us to further improve what we feel is already a great experience. For us, as an independent developer, involving outside enthusiasts like this is extremely valuable and we greatly appreciate the support of everyone willing to join in."

      "When we started this project in 2008," Marek continued, "we set out to re-imagine the original Carrier Command in a way that captures the spirit of the 8/16-bit classic, while making optimal use of all the technical and game design opportunities available today. It has been a long and exciting journey, and now, after more than 3 years of passionate work, the game is even better than we had envisioned. Still, we remain dedicated to making it as solid as possible. By allowing it some more time and involving gamers directly, we hope to release a game that stands up to its great legacy. We plan to announce more specific release plans for Carrier Command: Gaea Mission by the end of this month."

      This is a remake of the 1980's classic game, Carrier Command, and Bohemia Interactive is very excited about their version of it. Players reception of this sci-fi real-time strategy gameplay is important to them, and they are rumored to be using this beta to determine if the final release date of the game should be pushed back to September of 2012. I find this a far better business model than to release a product to the public that desperately needs it's first patch to function as advertised.

      You can read more about Carrier Command: Gaea Mission here:
      Preview - Carrier Command: Gaea Mission

      by Aaron Semler, Senior Editor VETERANS-GAMING

    • PR:Vietnam is no joke!

      Exactly two years ago from yesterday, the Project Reality Team seemingly teased gamers with the announcement of an upcoming addition to their award winning modification of Battlefield 2, Project Reality. The fact that it came on April Fool's Day had many players wondering if Project Reality: Vietnam was in fact a Reality. Again, just yesterday, Project Reality Dev AncientMan posted a PR:Vietnam announcement on the RealityMod forums. Is this just another cruel joke, or has the joke been on us this whole time? The answer is yes - PR: Vietnam HAS been in development for 2 years, and IS going to release it's first public playable version this Friday, April 6th, 2012.

      This Friday, we will finally get a chance to experience Battlefield 2 Project Reality style gameplay in a recreation of the battlefields of the Vietnam War. Fighting as the US Army, United States Marine Corps, and North Vietnam Army, players will struggle for territory and control points in 2 new maps made specifically for PR:Vietnam, as well as 2 PR:BF2 maps modified for Vietnam gameplay. Plenty of Vietnam-era weapons, equipment, and vehicles will be at our disposal in what is sure to be the coolest Vietnam mod and game mode to ever grace the EA and DICE blockbuster that is Battlefield 2. The mod will be available for download on April 6th, and in the future will be integrated into the main Battlefield 2 Project Reality build in the version 1.0 coming soon.

      Check out this awesome new game mod this Friday, and be sure to check back here as we will most certainly have many screenshots and some videos of Project Reality: Vietnam!

      by Aaron Semler, Senior Editor VETERANS-GAMING

    • A Balancing Act for a Small Fee

      The much anticipated Battlefield 3 Patch has released, and DICE has proudly touted this as a package that will make the game "more stable, fairer, and more balanced". Covering a very wide range of changes, fixes, and improvements, this is a BF3 patch to beat all before it. Most notable is the new and improved Commo Rose with it's intuitive design and interface features such as improved functions and readability. The mouse movement is now centered in the middle when the Commo Rose is displayed (by holding down Q), and moving the mouse from center to a selection, players can now activate that action by simply releasing the Q button. This will make for a much faster interaction, a great help to these call-outs for ammo, medic, or spotting an enemy - especially now that all these call-outs will be globally broadcast to every player on your team. Another immediately apparent addition is the new mini-map styles choices. Either a satellite view, a map view, or a hybrid of the two will show buildings and terrain features to better help the digital war fighter navigate his area of operations. Another big one that noOb flyboys are sure to love - flares are no longer an unlock item, but usable by anyone piloting an aircraft.

      These all seem like great improvements to a game that is all about earning rank and unlocking special weapons and gear, a system which makes for a very desirable degree of recognition that rewards the diligent, frequent player and his ever improving skills. The idea to limit certain weapons, equipment, and abilities is not a new concept in video games, and Battlefield 3 makes for a grand arena for such gameplay to flourish - putting more powerful items in the hands of seasoned players. Unfortunately for those dedicated players who worked so hard for their unlocks, the Battlefield is about to be leveled with the newest and most controversial concept of purchasing said upgrades outright from EA just as one would the game itself. In my opinion, and many others, this is a very contradictory concept, seemingly moving the core idea of Battlefield 3 online multiplayer gameplay in the completely opposite direction. For an additional $40, one can immediately have access to each and every unlock in the game - or for smaller fees, they can simply buy the unlock set that appeals to them.

      Now, I know many are going to jump and say that this is a good balancing feature due to the fact that anyone who buys the game today, with a desire to play online against others, would otherwise be at a severe disadvantage given the number of long time players who have already unlocked a number of powerful items and weapons now populating the online battlefields. In a game that features tracked stats, ranks, unlocks, and achievements, one must also argue that selling such achievements that would be gained over time through actual gameplay comes very close to unbalancing the fairness of the game in that now many, many more of these unique weapons or powerful gameplay features will now plague the battlefields, many in the hands of players who never had to work hard or learn to use any other weapon to achieve such a level of presence on said battlefield as a proven e-warrior.

      In my opinion, all the elements exist in Battlefield 3 to simply balance the fairness of the "unlocks paradox", not by merely selling unlocks to lazy, or more appropriately, casual players desiring full access to game features, but by ordering their ranked servers by rank itself. One of my favorite PvP online wargames of the past was the Socom series for the Playstation. Sure, there were plenty of ranked servers that had no rank restrictions - Ensigns fought alongside Captains, albeit in much shorter life spans - but also just as popular were servers such as Ensigns Only, Lt.'s Only, or servers barring lower or higher ranks. Surely this is a better system than flooding the game universe with each and every unlockable item/weapon/feature to anyone with a bit of green. Imagine how quickly those gamers without a large budget will be outclassed by players who haven't any more experience than they do at the game, or time spent online, but just a fatter wallet.

      Of course, Electronic Arts immediately stepped to defend this obvious profit motivated concept, and had this to say in a statement made to GameSpy regarding their editorial on the subject:
      "Yesterday we released new content for Battlefield 3 that included the ability for players to purchase a shortcut that unlocks earnable content in the game. The shortcuts are meant to encourage players to brave new territory. We want to offer newcomers a chance to catch up with the veterans that have been playing the game for the last five months. These shortcuts do not create an unfair advantage for any players ? new or veteran. In fact, withholding these shortcuts would actually put newcomers in a pretty steep uphill climb, splitting the community.

      We understand that everyone plays differently. Some gamers want to earn the unlocks, and they can continue to do so. Others have been wishing for a shortcut, which is now available. We're happy to be able to serve both types of players."

      What do you think about this new idea to sell the very unlocks that make the game a rewarding experience to play? Do you think that by selling these features to other players that those trying to work at it through gameplay will be disheartened and frustrated as they see other players left and right with paid for unlock packs? Will this force those players to purchase the unlocks themselves just to be able to compete on this new level where most all players have access to everything but they themselves? Please write your opinions in the comments section below!

      by Aaron Semler, Senior Editor VETERANS-GAMING