February 2008

Champions Online!

Alright, enough depressing stuff. Cryptic Studios has just posted the first trailer of Champions Online, the upcoming [Spring 2009] superhero MMORPG using the Champions universe. This is exciting stuff on a few fronts — the game is supposed to be fast-playing, and you have the ability to not only customize your hero and his powers but his archenemy and his powers. Awesome! There’s a trailer for the game available now:

In very related news, Hero Games, the publishers of Champions and the HERO System have announced new editions of both the HERO System rules and the Champions setting, to be released in 2009.

With all the supers news I wrestled with City of Heroes a bit to get it reinstalled, and finagled a short renewal of my account. I haven’t played since late 2004, so I’m totally behind the state of the art, and I really only have a couple hours a week to play computer games, so I suspect I’m just going to play casually for a month and then let it lapse again.

More News about Gen Con LLC bankruptcy filing

A few excerpts from indystar.com:

This year, Gen Con Indy is expected to attract 25,000 attendees who will spend more than $25 million on lodging and entertainment.

So the average Gen Con Indy attendee spends about $1000 dollars over the entire convention. That seems a little high to me, based on the number of times I’ve seen gamers discuss how they attend Gen Con as cheaply as possibly — it seems to be part of “gamer pride” to try and work the system as much as possible.

Indeed, in a statement issued Feb. 15, Gen Con said the “flagship” convention “remains a vibrant, profitable event” and will take place as scheduled from Aug. 14-17. The Chapter 11 filing won’t affect its other conventions in France, Australia and the United Kingdom, either.

“Gen Con LLC will continue to operate without interruption during this process,” the company said in a statement.

Seattle-based Gen Con said it had to file for bankruptcy in Washington state because of “significant unforeseen expenses associated with attempts to expand its core business to encompass externally licensed events.”

In the filing, Gen Con lists its assets and liabilities as each between $1 million and $10 million. It owes $748,956.81 to its largest creditor, convention services company George E. Fern Co. of Columbus, Ohio. Gen Con owes the Indiana Department of Revenue $116,858.70 in sales and income taxes, but Gen Con disputes that claim, according to the filing.

More lawsuits: White Wolf/CCP vs. World Wrestling Entertainment

This is totally not going to become a legal blog, but hey, this one combines two of my major interests: gaming and wrestling. White Wolf/CCP is suing World Wrestling Entertainment, claiming that they continued to use the Gangrel wrestler/character [which WWE initially licensed from White Wolf years ago, after White Wolf complained that they were using it without permission].

The Hollywood Reporter, Esq reports it, and here’s the actual complaint.

As both a wrestling fan and a gaming fan, I’m sure this will promote a wonderful week of wrestling fans saying “OMG! A bunch of anne rice loving nerd losers!” and gamers saying “Jesus, wrestling is stupid and fake,. OK — roll those dice!”

Gen Con LLC files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

from http://www.gencon.com/2009/corporate/news-pr/releases/2008/2008.02.15.Press.aspx

SEATTLE (February 15, 2008) Gen Con LLC announced today that it has filed for Chapter 11 protection in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the State of Washington. This action became necessary as a result of significant unforeseen expenses associated with attempts to expand its core business to encompass externally licensed events. Gen Con’s flagship show, Gen Con Indy, remains a vibrant, profitable event. Gen Con Indy will take place as scheduled August 14–17, 2008, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The protections afforded by Chapter 11 will allow Gen Con to further its efforts to address its liquidity needs, preserve value for its creditors and explore strategic alternatives for the business. “Because the fundamentals of our business are strong; and because our debt problems are challenges mostly linked to one-time events, we feel confident that the profile of our company will benefit under Chapter 11 and come out strong in the end,” said Peter D. Adkison, CEO of Gen Con.

Chapter 11 refers to the section of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code that provides for court-supervised restructuring of companies as they continue to operate normally. This proceeding is intended to help companies to become stronger financially.

Gen Con LLC will continue to operate without interruption during this process and looks forward to an expeditious resolution to the short-term challenges and the ability to focus entirely on producing Gen Con Indy, The Best Four Days in Gaming. International Gen Con events are unaffected by this situation and will continue to operate as scheduled.

About Gen Con

Gen Con, LLC produces the largest consumer fantasy, sci-fi and adventure game convention in North America. Itts operations include Gen Con Indy and licensees for European and Asia Pacific Gen Con shows. It was acquired in 2002 by former CEO and founder of Wizards of the Coast Peter Adkison, who solely owns the company headquartered in Seattle, Washington. Gen Con is a consumer and trade experience dedicated to gaming culture and community. For more information visit the website at www.gencon.com.

Gen Con LLC sued by LucasFilm LLC

Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter, Esq broke the news on January 14th that LucasFilm was suing Gen Con, LLC. This news didn’t make it to the gaming world until a few days ago in February, when GamingReport picked it up and other sites began discussing it.

Unfortunately, The Reporter’s summary of the lawsuit [which was filed on January 8th, 2008] was a little terse, and various postings around the ‘net have distorted the case and claimed false things — all of which could be avoided if people had actually read the brief complaint. A fair number of people are saying that Gen Con owes $1,000,000 to Make-a-Wish foundation, and no reading of the lawsuit bears that to be true.

As I read it [and I bounced the complaint and the bullet points over to a legal pal of mine for clarification — thanks Daniel!], the complaints levied against Gen Con LLC are pretty simple:

  • Gen Con LLC entered in an agreement — the “Fan Convention Agreement” — to run Star Wars Celebration IV in May 2007. They paid a non-refundable advance, but Lucasfilm alleges that they did not follow through with proper quarterly accounting statements nor payment, and Lucasfilm is seeking approx. $500,000 in compensatory damages plus interest.
  • Gen Con LLC entered in a second agreement — the “Auction Agreement” — in which Lucasfilm agreed to provide items to the auction, with the proceeds of the auction going to the Make-a-Wish foundation. It is not entirely clear from the lawsuit if all of the auction proceeds or just those from the Lucasfilm archives were intended for Make-a-Wish.#1 Lucasfilm is seeking approx. $150,000 in compensatory damages, plus approx $150,000 in pecuniary restitution, plus interest on both. In other words: they want the money that would have gone to Make-a-Wish foundation, and they they want to be paid for the merchandise that Gen Con allegedly auctioned off inappropriately.
  • Lucasfilm is further asking for punitive damages to be proven at trial.
  • Lucasfilm is also seeking pre-judgement interest plus the cost of the lawsuit.
  • Lucasfilm has asked for trial by jury on all claims that may be tried by a jury. My understanding is that this is done because a jury trial is more expensive, and thus more likely to force Gen Con to settle, and due to the nature of the donations — the average person isn’t going to look kindly on anyone ripping off a major charity.

That’s the skinny: approx $800,000 in various damages, plus potentially more.

#1: Based on the following quote at It’s a Hit: A Record-Breaking Celebration IV, I’m led to believe that the Lucasfilm-owned items were the majority or the only items available at the auction:

Fans were a huge part of the success of Celebration IV, contributing to programming and events especially in the Fan Fair Hall and on the Star Wars Fan Stage. Star Wars collectors raised nearly $170,000 in four silent auctions and one live auction of vintage toy merchandise from the Lucas Licensing archives. The profits from the auction will be donated to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Thursday, Feb 24th edit: My bad; the name of the blog I linked to is The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. Also, the proper name of the suit is “Lucasfilm Ltd v. Gen Con LLC”

Perian 1.1 Available

The latest non-beta version of Perian [“The swiss-army knife of QuickTime components”]is now available. This easy-to-install preference pane gives Apple Quicktime the ability to play many non-Apple encoded videos: DivX, 3ivx, Flash video, etc. And since QuickTime can play them, that means that apps powered by Quicktime — such as Front Row — can now play all of those formats.

There are other ways to get QuickTime playing those formats, but Perian is easy to install, easy to uninstall, and is under active development.