Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship Role Playing (Games) The Courts Games

World of StarCraft Mod Gets C&D From Blizzard 227

Posted by samzenpus
from the imitation-leads-to-litigation dept.
eldavojohn writes "If you've been following the team who created World of StarCraft (an amazing mod of StarCraft II to be more like World of Warcraft), their YouTube video of what they've done so far has already resulted in a cease and desist from Activision/Blizzard. Evidently when you are given tools to make custom mods to games you should be careful about making something too good. The author of the mod is hopeful that it's just a trademark problem with the name of his mod, but few reasons for the C&D were given." In other StarCraft news, reader glwtta recommends an article about how a Berkeley team won the world's first StarCraft AI competition with code that can beat even pro-level human players.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

World of StarCraft Mod Gets C&D From Blizzard

Comments Filter:
  • by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @04:43PM (#34932056) Homepage

    They better be making a "World of Starcraft" game, otherwise this just reeks of asshattery.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by AndrewGOO9 (1251062)
      They'll get to it, eventually I'm sure. Blizzard: Your children will love the sequels you grew up waiting for.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @04:48PM (#34932142) Journal
      We don't have to care: We made World of Warcraft.

      Hugs and Kisses, Blizzard.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Following the link, no copy of the C&D letter. So we have no idea WTF is going, just the incoherent ramblings of a developer who is whining about not allowed to have anything good. Apparently he e-mailed the tech support department for clarification....

      It could be as simple as the legal department scouring the web for the name "Starcraft" - not even knowing there is a tool out there to build mods.

      Bottom line, we know nothing at this point. No need to pucker up.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I agree with Anonymous Coward.

        (and the earth cracks open beneath my feet). Personally I'd ignore the Cease-and-Desist since I'm not doing anything wrong. The Company provided the modding program, thereby giving me permission to do whatever I please with it. They cannot later retract that permission as it would violate consumer laws (I paid; they disabled the product; I was ripped-off).

        • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @08:23PM (#34934536)
          Yeah, but you are wrong. If Disney sold a coloring book, you couldn't take that, color Mickey, and then make 10,000 prints of that and sell them as "World of Mickey" without some trademark issues, even if no copyright issues exist. And without seeing the license for the modding program, you aren't qualified to assert that you did get "permission to do whatever you please." So, have you actually read the license, or are you making up things you think best support your point without regard to the truth?
          • by snowraver1 (1052510) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @11:51PM (#34936032)
            He's not selling anything. Also, Blizzard itself would facilitate any transfer to other players, as designed, through battle.net. It would be like if Disney sold you a coloring book and said that anyone with a coloring book can copy their coloring (using a Disney approved photocopier) to give to their friends. But then this guy comes along with a Mickey coloring that is better than the real Mickey, so Disney is all in a huffy, and they are all like "I'm taking my photocopier and going home".
      • by Kenoli (934612)
        Starcraft 2 map/mod makers mainly focus on stirring up a bunch of bullshit drama in order to gain visibility. This seems to often take the form of them using words or phrases that are explicitly not allowed and then bitching when they inevitably get shut down by blizzard.
        Thanks to the current implementation of the custom map system on battle.net, gameplay and other such minor details are secondary concerns.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      It's Blizzard. Don't you expect asshattery from them? Or any other game company, for that matter... that's the biggest reason I pretty much stopped gaming.

      • by muindaur (925372)

        Funny thing...

        My brother and I dug out our tennis rackets, and there is a public court that's seldom used. I'm really starting to phase out video games(too many gimicks, too little story, too many quick to beat games.) The basement has a good sized tablle with a really bright light above it(shop quality long tube FL), and I plan to work on fletching with that. Once I get another job is when we start hitting the shooting range and getting our pistol permits.

        So yeah, I'm finding a lot more interesting things

  • I miss Blizzard. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by seebs (15766) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @04:44PM (#34932066) Homepage

    I remember back when Blizzard was an awesome company with great customer service. Well, that, and when the gamers buying their games were the "customers" they were so great to.

    That Activision merger seems to have totally killed the company we used to know. Not that this is totally surprising, mind you, but it's sad. I would guess that this was a matter of the Blizzard company officials not being paranoid enough to check the fine print in their merger deal. Either that, or they were ready to cash out.

    • Re:I miss Blizzard. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @04:46PM (#34932102) Homepage

      I'm sure the Activision merger had a lot to do with it, but I think the rampant success of World of Warcraft has inflated their ego. The way they released Starcraft II content leading up to its release was done with a tone of "Feast your eyes on yon game! We, Blizzard, have made it, and therefore it is good!"

      • The fact that the adoring masses largely lapped it up didn't exactly do much to dissuade them from that approach...

        The annoying thing about Blizzard is that they are currently in the "Obnoxiously prideful" stage; but that doesn't become the "Hubristic" stage unless they fuck up somehow....
      • Re:I miss Blizzard. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by seebs (15766) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:15PM (#34932538) Homepage

        I don't think so. I was a WoW player for about 5 years, and they were great about dealing with the community and addressing concerns until a couple of months after the merger. After that, they started doing stupid things about privacy and security on a pretty epic scale; see, for instance, the "Real ID" fiasco.

        And before everyone jumps in with "they backed down!"...

        1. They said in an interview shortly later that they weren't doing that "for the time being". In English, "won't X for the time being" means "will X, but not yet".
        2. In fact, the new forums did display your real name on the screen when you logged in. Just your name, not anyone else's (yet), but... Plain text over the open internet? That's real smart.
        3. They still (last I heard) haven't added any capacity for aliases or handles to the "Real ID" thing.
        4. They still use your login name as your key for inviting people, making it much easier to crack accounts than it used to be.
        5. All of this directly contradicts statements Blizzard had made about privacy or security prior to the merger.

        Net result, I went ahead and wrote to privacy@ and told them to delete all my personal information, because I no longer feel I have justified confidence that they will not, at some unspecified future date, decide to show real names to anyone and everyone. Went from 3 active subscriptions to no chance of ever buying from them again. Very, very, slick relationship management, there.

        I used to know at least a dozen people who played WoW. Now, no one I know who has any kind of security or law background, or even a basic IT background, plays.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by BobMcD (601576)

          I hate to break this to you, but your real name is absolutely not a secret. Not even your SSN is a secret, if you think about what 'secret' means. Both of these are a matter of public record, and are absolutely trivial to discover about you by anyone and everyone with whom you trade data bits. If you think you have 'privacy' online, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.

          In short, if you're in public, expect to be in public. And it goes without saying that the internet is 'in public'.

          I know this

          • Your name is public information. Your SSN is intended not to be, but given the number of people/places that require it, it's out there, associated with your name.

            The association between you and your Blizzard account (and what that account is, which characters are yours, etc) is not public information by default. Blizzard was intending to make it become so. You might do better to have researched the debate first.

            > It isn't the wild west any more, and Blizzard is reflecting that.

            Not everyone has surrend

          • by seebs (15766)

            No, you're just clueless.

            Your real name isn't a secret, but the connection between your real name and a particular online identity should be.

            Yes, we all know you don't get perfect privacy. Here's the thing. I play City of Heroes now. I have a global handle. The people I meet in game have global handles. We friend each other through those, and we have all the functionality that "Real ID" supposedly offers -- but no one had to give out real names or login information. And that means that the shy people,

      • As opposed to every other company in the history of the universe who was releasing something that was highly anticipated. Why, I remember when Apple was launching the iPhone, Jobs came out on stage was like, "Uh, well, it's OK I guess, if you care about phones or something, but, you know, its no big deal or anything." Ditto for Microsoft launching pretty much anything - I know I was feeling kind of bad for them when they had their "I'm a PC, and I think my mom doesn't really love me" marketing campaign arou

    • Re:I miss Blizzard. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:01PM (#34932340)

      Actually, if you read the EULAs surrounding Stacraft 2 map editor, you'll notice that ANYTHING you make becomes property of Blizzard. This jackassery was not unexpected.

    • by orthancstone (665890) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:18PM (#34932588)
      This is the same company that stomped on people over Starcraft LAN tools long before Activision got in the picture.
    • by MrLint (519792)

      The merger with Activision befuddled me. Blizzard was on top of the video game world, it didn't seem like they needed anyone else. It just reeks of a top level buyout cashgrab

      • by daid303 (843777)

        Blizzard was an ass towards everyone not playing their games as they intended it long before that. Bnetd being the well know example of that one. Glider being another. But there are more examples out there.

        Blizzard is quite simple to follow. They make wonderful games, they take their time to make them. They'll make a shitload of money with them. But if you are a tinkerer, then stay away from them. They simply do not tolerate tinkering out of the sandbox.

    • by quanticle (843097) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:39PM (#34932886) Homepage

      I remember back when Blizzard was an awesome company with great customer service. Well, that, and when the gamers buying their games were the "customers" they were so great to.

      What timeline were you living in? Blizzard has been known to be quite hostile to modders and independent developers for some time now. Just look at the original map editor for Starcraft. Look at what they did to bnetd [wikipedia.org]. Heck, I'm surprised to no end that the makers of bwapi [google.com] have been allowed to continue with the project, given that the project relies on hacking the Starcraft client via DLL injection.

    • by brkello (642429)

      They want the guy to change the name of his mod and suddenly the golden fairy that made love to you in your sleep is your evil step father that gets drunk and beats you. Over react much?

    • by afidel (530433)
      Nah, Blizzard South's attitude towards the customer was always about as bad as it is now, it was only Blizzard North that had that warm fuzzy feeling, at least for me.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      That Activision merger seems to have totally killed the company we used to know.

      FWIW, the bnetd [wikipedia.org] debacle predates the Activision merger.

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @04:47PM (#34932132)

    ...a smart company with plenty of resources like Blizzard/Activation should be saying: "Hey, you guys want a job?"

  • Blizzard will make the UI changes available in the options menu of the inevitable expansion without crediting the people they obviously got the idea from. If questioned about this, they will claim that the team stole the idea to make StarCraft more like WoW from them.

    Sometimes, I hate how cynical I am. Then I surf to /.

    • by Steeltoe (98226)

      I hate C&D as much as anyone here, but where did the original idea come from? World of Warcraft, by Blizzard, of course. Then from that, it was Everquest. Then various MUDs and MOOs.

      The _idea_ is clearly not protected by anyone's laws (IANAL, usual disclaimers etc.), but the name "World of Starcraft" is obviously Blizzard's trademark.

      However, if the C&D is not clear about what is the eact violation so that the authors can rectify it, I think Blizzard should be hammered down, maybe even lose that exa

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @04:57PM (#34932268) Journal
    The AI article was quite interesting, on all the various techniques that they had to use to avoid hardcoding exploitable behaviors and use heuristics to obtain desireable emergent behaviors. Fascinating stuff.

    Disappointingly, though, the punch line boiled down to "We discovered a tactic that is functionally unbeatable if you have superhuman micro and aren't handicapped by starcraft's(sorry fans) frankly shitty interface". Much of the most interesting AI work was them allowing their team to survive long enough to build the unbeatable mutalisk swarm, along with a little bit to build a threat heat map and a target value map to guide the swarm as it picked the enemy apart.

    Essentially, mutalisks' virtues were "balanced" by the fact that their range sucks and they tend to clump, which makes them easy meat for AoE AA attacks. It turns out, if your micro is inhumanly fast, you can break and reform the mutalisk clump fast enough to avoid most AoE attacks while still achieving concentrated fire on high value targets.
    • Actually, mass mutalisk use in competitive starcraft became popular only after clumping techniques were created. Without clumping, it was far too easy to pick apart mutalisks as they flew in one by one to start attacking. With a clump and the nearly continuous movement, a stack of mutalisks can dance in and out of range of enemy units and snipe targets at the edge of defenses.
      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:17PM (#34932574) Journal
        True; but things like Valkyries and whatever the Zerg AoE aircraft is were introduced in Brood War as a counter. Apparently, with the APS provided by an AI interacting through an API, you can even outrun those.

        Since the competition was AI vs. AI, and the Berkeley guys cleaned up, they obviously deserve kudos; but it is arguably a weakness of Starcraft's design that such a lot of it revolves around high-speed micro. The AIs just make that more blatant.
        • Starcraft micro is nearly useless without solid or good macro. Most people notice the flashy micro in the gameplay without really understanding the macrolevel strategy of what builds to use against a certain player, where and how to move the army, and so forth. The zerg aoe unit and the valkyries are almost never used, as they're bad.

          The AI proved good versus other AIs, but it would get slaughtered versus human top level players due to the strategic inflexibility. (humans won't let you sit and build units f
          • Spoiler: it won against the #1 in Spain, who's also #16 in Europe. Go read the article. It's a great read.

            • Spoiler: Korean programers wipe the floor with "internationals"
            • by Rakishi (759894)

              Most comments on this note the player is not particularly great as far as Starcraft players are concerned, nowhere near an actual pro-gamer, and the only tournament mentioned is from 2001. So at best a good (but not great) player who's 10 years out of practice and behind on current strategies of playing. Also, the article only mentions that the AI won one test game against the player. Not even an actual game since it seems testing Goliaths was the real point of that game.

    • by chemicaldave (1776600) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:15PM (#34932532)

      Having programmed an AI for that same competition, I can assure you that nobody should be surprised an AI can beat a human.

      You can find a list of the rules to the competition here [ucsc.edu]. One thing to notice is that there are some glitches that are permitted. Having an AI that can control and make decisions for each individual unit almost at the same time (not really at the same time, the AI still has to go through steps and issue commands sequentially, but it's so fast it might as well be same time) means the AI has a HUUUGE leg up on even the best Starcraft pros whose actions per minute only range in the few hundreds.

      All you need to beat a human is to program in strategies that just need the speed of an AI to execute

      And if you want to watch some good micro-managment, on that website you can view the final matches between AIs in each tournament here [ucsc.edu].

      • Wrong link. (Score:5, Informative)

        by chemicaldave (1776600) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:19PM (#34932614)
        That was the wrong link to the result. For a better summary go here [ucsc.edu].
      • Having programmed an AI for that same competition, I can assure you that nobody should be surprised an AI can beat a human.

        Turns out the AI didn't and can't. From a different article on the tournament [ucsc.edu]:
        The showcase game of the competition was a bot versus human match. In the exhibition match, =DoGo=, a World Cyber Games 2001 competitor played against the top ranking bot of the competition. The result was an exciting man versus machine match highlighting the state of the art in real-time strategy game AI.

        Whi

      • by hsk17 (1156449)
        The article is misleading. Please don't go around saying "AI beats top progamers at Starcraft". For one, the player they mention, Oriol, was not a progamer. The article does not say so either, but articles quoting the article seem to. They say

        Oriol is very good—one-time World Cyber Games competitor, number 1 in Spain, top 16 in Europe

        There seems to be confusion about the name of the player. The player that the UCSC article refers to, =DoGo=, indeed participated in WCG 2001 finals for Spain, but his name was Antonio Crespo Gomez.

        Who knows what the context really was? Maybe the developers asked h

    • by guruevi (827432)

      It's called the Magic Box trick and high-level SC2 players use it as well. It's basically spreading your muta's far enough out that they can all attack without taking splash damage. If you just move-hold the muta's can take care of plenty of Thors.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Worse than that, the AI's would be tremendously frustrating to play against. Wouldn't this kill the regular game if players never know whether they are playing against another human being or an AI? Is there a way of knowing whether or not your opponent is using the API? AI vs. AI would be fun, but human vs. AI would suck.
      • Worse than that, the AI's would be tremendously frustrating to play against. Wouldn't this kill the regular game if players never know whether they are playing against another human being or an AI? Is there a way of knowing whether or not your opponent is using the API? AI vs. AI would be fun, but human vs. AI would suck.

        The mods required to inject the AI code into the game prevent you from playing through battle.net

        • by Lehk228 (705449)
          not always but you will find yourself on the wrong end of a battlenet ban if you do run them.
    • Makes me think the next contest should put a cap on AI command input speed, particularly if it is property that could be easily altered. It would make it a lot more like a chess AI problem, then just a raw speed problem.
      • Makes me think the next contest should put a cap on AI command input speed, particularly if it is property that could be easily altered. It would make it a lot more like a chess AI problem, then just a raw speed problem.

        If you do that then the best algorithms will perform as badly as the worse ones. Unless you're talking about human vs AI, then I could see that being plausible. But how else should you level the playing field? Should the AI only be able to command what is on screen as opposed to all units at once?

        • by Lehk228 (705449)
          would be an interesting subset of an AI competition, an AI soldier competition where you wrote a script that ran per unit and could talk to other units but each unit could only see what was on the screen when centered on that unit. assigning scripts would be done by the constructor buildings so not every unit of the same type would have to run the same script.

          talking to other units would be silent if on screen together but would have to be in public chat if trying to talk to an off-screen unit
  • Blizzard is suing people for a mod that makes one of Blizzard's games, Starcraft 2, more like another one of Blizzard's games, World of Warcraft? How exactly is Blizzard harmed by this; is it causing Blizzard to lose game sales to themselves?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Blizzard is suing people for a mod that makes one of Blizzard's games, Starcraft 2, more like another one of Blizzard's games, World of Warcraft? How exactly is Blizzard harmed by this; is it causing Blizzard to lose game sales to themselves?

      Your description of the cyclical nature of this controversy evokes an image of Blizzard with their own head up their own ass.

    • by DdJ (10790)

      Blizzard is suing people for a mod that makes one of Blizzard's games, Starcraft 2, more like another one of Blizzard's games, World of Warcraft? How exactly is Blizzard harmed by this; is it causing Blizzard to lose game sales to themselves?

      Well, yes. Remember that StarCraft 2 is something you purchase once and then are finished spending money on, while World of Warcraft requires a monthly subscription.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:14PM (#34932524)

    The problem in the RTS genre is that there's *way* too much emphasis put on micro-management. When I write *way*, I really mean **wwaayy** or something like that (jokes welcome).

    The fact that so much emphasis is put on micro-management instead of strategy leaves the door to a great many hacks/cheats and also make it easy to write AI beating even top-notch players.

    Bring us RTS where the 'S' means something. A lot of people would love it.

    Btw, I was highly ranked on Case's ladder at Warcraft II but not in the top 10. Yet my rank was due to me outsmarting my opponents using real strategies. In Warcraft III it became much harder if not impossible (besides a few cheap builds that get rendered useless by the next anti-imba-patch anyway and that anyway aren't "strategies").

    So yup, please, bring back the 'S' in RTS...

  • by kamelkev (114875) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @05:24PM (#34932680)

    So apparently they already had his demo yanked off of youtube, and the above linked youtube video is just a repost - so they are taking it fairly seriously.

    I am always amazed on how little forsight is put into legal decisions like this one.

    Why don't they just hire the guy, and let him run with it. He clearly has the skillset they are looking for - he made the entire app, demo and produced a bulk of materials by himself. Sounds like he deserves at least an interview with them...

  • I remember when www.diablo3.com was bought by Blizzard.

    The guy that owned it was a huge diablo 2 fan, and he built the blog to track all news about an upcoming sequel. Blizzard didn't want to announce any plans yet for their upcoming game, but they wanted to announce that they were going to start working on a "new game". Since the guy was such a fan, he sold them the site, and honored their request to not announce that Blizzard was going to make an announcement about announcing a game. Really, I am not ma

  • by the number of idiots who have posted comments on this story. 1. Blizzard has to defend their trademarks or lose them, so of course someone creating a game called "World of Starcraft" is going to get a C&D. 2. People seem to get the idea that fans of something should be able to do whatever they want with that thing. Fanfic can be interesting, but non-canonical, and a creator may feel that his/her baby was violated by it. I feel it is entirely up to the copyright owner as to whether or not they all

The world will end in 5 minutes. Please log out.

Working...