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Call of Duty - The Annotated Contract 19

Gamasutra offers up yet another unique feature: an annotated contract for a big-budget game. The document, part of a legal dispute between studio Spark and Activision, was released to the public. Game developers Tom Buscaglia, Chris Bennett, and Dave Spratley have chimed in with some insightful commentary on the particulars of game development in the major leagues. Particularly interesting is page twelve of the document, which lays out milestone payments for the project. "Payments totaling $8.5M USD are spread over the initial game milestones. Since these schedules are incorporated into the Agreement, the Notes to this milestone schedule are as important as the other provisions of the agreement. Here the requirement of approval before payment is reiterated. Also Spark is required to do monthly code dumps to Activision throughout the progress of the Game pre-Alpha, and then weekly builds thereafter. It also includes Activision's detailed requirements for the Final Milestone Schedule (FMS), Technical Design Document (TDD) and Game Design Document (GDD) that are very informative."
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Call of Duty - The Annotated Contract

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  • Gamasutra offers up yet another unique feature: an annotated contract for a big-budget game. The document, part of a legal dispute between studio Spark and Activision, was released to the public.

    That's a good way to make sure nobody will work with you in the future..
    • Huh, Call of Duty 3. I think they may still be working together.
      • Nope!

        All Call of Duty games are done internally now.
      • Re:blackballed? (Score:5, Informative)

        by 2008 ( 900939 ) on Friday January 12, 2007 @03:26PM (#17578662) Journal
        This is about Call of Duty: Finest Hour, developed by Spark.
        CoD 1 and 2 were made by Infinity Ward, CoD: Big Red One by Treyarch/Gray Matter and CoD 3 by Treyarch.
        There was also an expansion pack CoD: United Offensive, from Gray Matter.

        Infinity Ward are also supposedly working on CoD 4.

        So, Spark hasn't worked on CoD since this.
        • That is the best damn COD for the PS2 platform. Lots of us still play it regularly today cause 2 and 3 sucked so bad.
          • Really? Because Call of Duty 3 is the best one on any Xbox/360 platform. The single player game is old hat, but it is excellent on XBL.

            Of course nothing beats the original Day of Defeat mod for online WWII combat.
          • AFAIK the only COD2 game on the PS2 was "COD2: Big Red One" which is a completely different game from "COD2" (which was only released on Xbox 360 and PC)

            "COD2" is actually a fantastic game
    • Re:blackballed? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Thansal ( 999464 ) on Friday January 12, 2007 @02:46PM (#17577888)
      It was part of the court battle, and the judge unsealed the exhibits. (First line in TFA)
      • Just going to court over it will mean companies will be very hesitant to touch Spark in the future, whether they were in the right or the wrong.
        • by Thansal ( 999464 )
          Right you are.

          Uppon further reading of the artticle (yes, I actualy read all of TFA) one of the counter claims is that Spark broke the contract simply by bringing up this suit (by submitting the contract as evidence they therefore broke the NDA type stuff).
          • by vega80 ( 852274 )
            This doesn't seem legally enforceable to me. Putting a clause in the contract saying "you can't reveal the contents of this contract" is a way of saying "by agreeing to work with us, you promise not to sue us," since it seems inevitable that a lawsuit would have to reveal the contents of the signed contract. Unless somehow the contract is considered a trade secret - but suing someone for revealing a signed contract seems a bit ridiculous.
    • Re:blackballed? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Friday January 12, 2007 @03:18PM (#17578530)
      Spark and Activision probably weren't planning to work with each other in the future again anyway, if their contract dispute had to go to court to be resolved.
    • Anyone remember the good ol days when marketing and lawyers had very little to do with the making of a good game?
  • Standard stuff (Score:3, Informative)

    by 6350' ( 936630 ) on Friday January 12, 2007 @03:17PM (#17578494)
    The quoted selection in the post, detailing milestone payments etc., is nothing out of the ordinary, and quite standard.
    • I also thought "what's the point" when I read this, however, I guess it's interesting for people who have never seen a game contract with milestone definitions. Publishers will nail you on every last detail (for example - Disney specifies Beta as code and content complete) This level of detail can also bite them in the ass - especially if they want to add features or make changes after Beta testing demonstrates revisions are needed (meaning additional code and content!) contracts can work to the developer
  • Funny Name (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    What a silly name to call a game: Call of Duty - Annotated Contract
    I'm sure contract negotiations are very thrilling and all, but a game based on it probably won't sell very well.
  • by dj245 ( 732906 )
    Its a fairly standard looking Statement of Work. [wikipedia.org] Typically you lay out your deliverables schedule, assign incremental payments to them, and then describe the deliverables in great detail so no mistake is made about what the customer wants. Statements of works are engineering documents that use a significant amount of legalspeak, since they are contracts after all.

    I wrote one last semester. The devil is in the details (or lack thereof).

  • False (Score:3, Informative)

    by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwaterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday January 14, 2007 @01:11PM (#17603396) Homepage
    Gamasutra offers up yet another unique feature: an annotated contract for a big-budget game.

    No - Gamasutra offers up a series of low quality scans of the pages of a contract for a big-budget game with some commentary offered after some of the pages. The result is product that is virtually unreadable. On top of that, what is offered is a translation (and a partial one at that), rather than an annotation.

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