Is it ok to make (and link) a movie explaining basic rules?

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Jackal
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Is it ok to make (and link) a movie explaining basic rules?

Post by Jackal » Sat Aug 15, 2015 8:23 pm

So as many of you know I've made a couple movies in the past that explain the basic workings of MegaMek and Mekwars.

MekWars Walkthrough <- long, boring but informative :)
MegaMek Walkthrough <- more interesting, but still long


I have long been considering making a more ambitious collection of movies that's much more MODULAR (so several 1-2 minute movies instead of 10+ minute movies) that also explains some of the key concepts and rules in the game. But before doing so I probably need some clarity from the admins about what's ok and what's not ok.

I personally own a TON of BattleTech rule books, and absolutely love the franchise. I'm therefore strongly in favor of players who want to learn the game supporting the product by buy some of the rule books as well. That said, I'm not sure that this is a realistic expectation, especially for beginners. Very often before someone is willing to plunk down $15+ dollars on a gamebook they first want to decide if they're likely to enjoy it. If they come to MMNet, don't know know the rules, just get their asses kicked, and that's all they know of BattleTech, I don't see those players 1) sticking around, or 2) going and buying any books.

Because of this I'm of the opinion that we should at least equip players with a good overview of the basic game rules (as well as their not-always-obvious ramifications). I think if we do this, more players are likely to buy books than the other way around.

Note: In my profession this is known as a "freemium" model, where people get to test drive something and then a certain % of them will go on to actually make a purchase. With many products this results in higher sales than demanding money up front. Just a thought...

Nemesis
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Re: Is it ok to make (and link) a movie explaining basic rul

Post by Nemesis » Sat Aug 15, 2015 11:01 pm

Jackal wrote:That said, I'm not sure that this is a realistic expectation, especially for beginners. Very often before someone is willing to plunk down $15+ dollars on a gamebook they first want to decide if they're likely to enjoy it.
I completely agree, I'd never buy a game before checking it out first. Catalyst agrees as well.
Send new players to http://bg.battletech.com/downloads/ to pick up the Quick Start Rules, which will cover the basics.

Jackal
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Re: Is it ok to make (and link) a movie explaining basic rul

Post by Jackal » Sun Aug 16, 2015 1:49 pm

Thanks for the link, Nemesis.

So given that Catalyst already makes the quickstart rules available for free, it's seems like it should be fine to make some simple videos that mostly stick to the quickstart rules with perhaps a couple of special rules we use heavily on MMNet? (Like artillery rules?).

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Klingon
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Re: Is it ok to make (and link) a movie explaining basic rul

Post by Klingon » Sun Aug 16, 2015 7:19 pm

Makes sense; the elephant in the room, however, is that Mekwars operates in a bit of a grey area, where copyright is concerned. We make use of a lot of the properties; CGL/etc. could slap a cease-and-desist if this project shows up on their radar enough, so we try to avoid doing things that will do that (why you see very little in the way of advertisement, facebook pages, etc.); not steering you to or away from anything, just pointing out the lay of the land here.
"Grasshopper, the three secrets to life are as follows. First, keep your eyes and ears open. Second... don't tell everything you know."

Got a good idea to add to MekWars? We'd love to hear about it. (from that page, go to "Tickets", then "Feature Requests")

Nemesis
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Re: Is it ok to make (and link) a movie explaining basic rul

Post by Nemesis » Mon Aug 17, 2015 12:43 am

Klingon wrote:Makes sense; the elephant in the room, however, is that Mekwars operates in a bit of a grey area, where copyright is concerned. We make use of a lot of the properties; CGL/etc. could slap a cease-and-desist if this project shows up on their radar enough, so we try to avoid doing things that will do that (why you see very little in the way of advertisement, facebook pages, etc.); not steering you to or away from anything, just pointing out the lay of the land here.
I'm pretty sure they're aware of us, given that they created an entire section of their official forums dedicated to MegaMek and MekWars. I'd even consider that quasi-official approval, but then I'm not the one with my butt on the line. ;)
http://bg.battletech.com/forums/megamek-games/

I know you have to be careful when it comes to a company's IP, but I think in this case they're just happy Battletech fans are able to get together to play, even if we have to go online to do it. Their business is selling rulebooks, so as long as we don't provide rules and simply provide a way to use them, it actually helps them make sales. Roll20 is doing the same thing for Shadowrun, though granted that's without any sort of rules integration, but they are providing a way for players to meet and driving more rulebook sales as well. I guess a closer analogue to MM would be fumbbl.com, which does for Blood Bowl what MM/MW do for Battletech.

The only people really losing out from us are Iron Wind, since we don't need minis.

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Bloodknight
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Re: Is it ok to make (and link) a movie explaining basic rul

Post by Bloodknight » Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:20 am

since we don't need minis.
But then we never did. BT works just as well with paper chits because the game is defined by the hexes and not the figures - you only need figures for the hexless variant, and I'd argue you could easily play that with proxies of some kind (actually I never really read the rules for the hexless model, so it might be that you only need a hexagonal base for that, too). Minis are just the icing on the cake, I for one buy them anyway because I like collecting miniatures. I'm probably not the only one.

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Re: Is it ok to make (and link) a movie explaining basic rul

Post by Gottloser » Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:47 am

Nemesis wrote:
I know you have to be careful when it comes to a company's IP, but I think in this case they're just happy Battletech fans are able to get together to play, even if we have to go online to do it. Their business is selling rulebooks, so as long as we don't provide rules and simply provide a way to use them, it actually helps them make sales. Roll20 is doing the same thing for Shadowrun, though granted that's without any sort of rules integration, but they are providing a way for players to meet and driving more rulebook sales as well. I guess a closer analogue to MM would be fumbbl.com, which does for Blood Bowl what MM/MW do for Battletech.

The only people really losing out from us are Iron Wind, since we don't need minis.
Same could be said for Vassal, and obviously, most companies seem to agree - but for example Games Workshop is hard with banhammers here, as you can see on the fact that the Vassal Modules for 40k and Warhammer Fantasy are not allowed on the official Vassal Page. And they give a lot less of "help" with the rules than MegaMek does. You can get a good grasp of BT by using MegaMek. No way to use Vassal without rulebooks.

Jackal
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Re: Is it ok to make (and link) a movie explaining basic rul

Post by Jackal » Tue Aug 18, 2015 2:31 pm

I don't know if this is a useful perspective or not, but I'd wager I'm one of the only people here who's ever been involved with a cease-and-desist order (in my case, as the plaintiff). What I can say is it's expensive for the plaintiff to do this, and it's not something that anyone is going to do lightly (unless they have money to burn).

In the specific case of MegaMekNET, I'd say there's a decent argument to be made that what we're doing is a so-called "fair use" of the CBT intellectual property. We're not charging money, we have a very small community (we'd probably have to be 100x as large before it would be a concern), and the software exists mostly to enable enthusiasts—most of whom have legally purchased the rulebooks—to get together and play the game.

Very importantly, it could also be argued that the existence of MegaMek/Mekwars, rather than harming the CBT copyright, is actually a *net benefit* to CBT right-owners. Speaking for myself, I played BT when I was a kid, don't have anyone around to play the game with now that I'm an adult, and probably would have never considered buying new books were it not for my discovery of this server (and I've bought several since joining MMNet). We also bring NEW players into the game, some % of whom also probably go on to buy books (players who would have otherwise never purchased anything). It would therefore be difficult for a plaintiff in this case to successfully argue that there's any real damages.

But most importantly, one needs to understand that even just *filing* a C&D order is costly. And if you can't reasonably expect 1) that you'll recoup whatever you lose through increased sales (which is extremely unlikely in this case), and 2) that you'd actually win if the case went to court (which is debatable), then it's very definitely a waste of money.


In any case, I will tread carefully with any movies that I make. But I think just putting up some video explanations of the already-freely-available quickstart rules is probably pretty safe territory.

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Klingon
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Re: Is it ok to make (and link) a movie explaining basic rul

Post by Klingon » Tue Aug 18, 2015 3:42 pm

FWIW I agree on all counts... but if some exec up at CGL/Topps/WizKids decides he needs to get some action going to get his name recognition, we could be in a world of hurt; I'm just saying bear that in mind, which seems to already being done pretty well.
"Grasshopper, the three secrets to life are as follows. First, keep your eyes and ears open. Second... don't tell everything you know."

Got a good idea to add to MekWars? We'd love to hear about it. (from that page, go to "Tickets", then "Feature Requests")

Jackal
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Re: Is it ok to make (and link) a movie explaining basic rul

Post by Jackal » Tue Aug 18, 2015 6:30 pm

Cool. Glad we hashed that out.

I'll get to work on those vids. (Could take a while, btw. RL is pretty hectic atm).

arlith
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Re: Is it ok to make (and link) a movie explaining basic rul

Post by arlith » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:28 am

I may also be worth pointing out that game rules aren't covered by copyright: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html. To my knowledge, MM doesn't use any material that is copyrighted by Topps/CGL.

I don't know that there's really any danger of CGL sending a C&D to MM/MW; I think the concern is more over Microsoft. There's the conventional wisdom that Microsoft holds all rights over Battletech software, but I don't know personally what exactly those rights cover. In my humble opinion, the goal of MM is not something that would ever be profitable. Because of the complex table top rules there would be a high software cost with a limited audience. Ultimately, a commercial product would end up doing what Harebrained schemes has announced they are going to do: some adjusted version of the rules more suitable to a video game (and I suppose what Mechwarrior: Tactics did).
Member of the MegaMek Team.

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Bloodknight
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Re: Is it ok to make (and link) a movie explaining basic rul

Post by Bloodknight » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:55 am

game rules aren't covered by copyright
Yeah, only the wording is. Otherwise it would be copyrighting math because all game rules are, in the end, math. I'm not sure about the unit designations, though.
Because of the complex table top rules there would be a high software cost with a limited audience.
Maybe, maybe not. Depends on how shiny it is. Blood Bowl is also quite complex (although by far not as much as BT) and yet Cyanide sold enough of them to make Blood Bowl 2. I agree that Megamek really needs a dedicated fan because it's visually quite simple and the game is complex, but assuming you make it look awesome, 3d graphics and all that crap, I could imagine it would sell quite well with enough marketing. It wouldn't even need to be simplified a lot, Blood Bowl isn't either*, it just includes a rulebook that you can refer to. But yeah, I don't see it happen unless turn based strategy makes a major comeback. Probably too risky for Microsoft, because it would have to be an AAA title, but it's something an independent team might try given, say, two million Dollars and graphics people plus some marketing budget.


*Wikipedia says: PC Gamer magazine also agreed, saying: "If you can penetrate the mysteries of its boardgame-based rules, Blood Bowl can offer true barbaric happiness."

Nemesis
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Re: Is it ok to make (and link) a movie explaining basic rul

Post by Nemesis » Wed Aug 19, 2015 3:33 am

Bloodknight wrote:Blood Bowl is also quite complex (although by far not as much as BT) and yet Cyanide sold enough of them to make Blood Bowl 2.
I remember when GW sold the computer rights to BB to Cyanide, there was a big discussion on fumbbl about how that would affect the site. Would they want it shut down because they'd paid for the rights and didn't want the competition? As it turns out, they didn't care.

Fumbbl was an accurate copy of the board game, while Cyanide made an awful game that had more in common with an old arcade game called Pigskin than it did with anything resembling BB. Board gamer market vs console player market, two very different types of players, with very different preferences.

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Bloodknight
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Re: Is it ok to make (and link) a movie explaining basic rul

Post by Bloodknight » Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:26 am

Dunno, I play Cyanide's Blood Bowl in turn based mode, it uses the LRB 5 and works well. I've never tried the real time mode, actually.

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