News Digest Episode 131
This is a copy of the “script” we used to organise Brainwaves Episode 131. It is not a full transcript but should give you an overview of the news as we reported it. Quotes are in italics.
Evil Genius sues Netflix regarding Snyder project
- Evil Genius games are the publishers of several RPGs including some based on film licences like Pacific Rim and Highlander.
- On September the 28th 2023 the company announced that they were suing streaming service Netflix over the termination of a contract to create a tabletop role playing game based on the upcoming Zack Snyder film Rebel Moon.
- Snyder had revealed the existence of the RPG back in a podcast in March of 2023.
- Evil Genius say that the official agreement to make the game was signed with Netflix just before this announcement. The game was to be released around the time of the film’s Decemeber 22nd, 2023 release date on Netflix.
- Evil Genius claim they created a 228 page world bible based off the details they had been given about the film, vastly expanding on the universe. According to Evil Genius Snyder and Netlfix Executives were
- “So enamoured with the 228 page world bible” that “ substantial elements of it” would find their way into the franchise including the film.
- The game was finished in May of 2023 and some images of the covers of the game where shown off at the GAMA trade show in April.
- It was then when all the trouble started. Netflix alleged a breach of contract, saying that revealing the covers had been against the confidentiality provisions in the contract.
- John Fowler, a lawyer for Evil Genius Games said this
- “Netflix then used this as pretext to terminate the Agreement, assert ownership over Plaintiff’s intellectual property, halt the project, and prevent the game from being released (or potentially release it themselves to avoid sharing the profits with Plaintiff).“Netflix’s accusations are baseless.”
- The deal was terminated on May 25th. A month later Netflix claimed exclusive ownership of the world bible and offered Evil Genius Games $50,000 to placate them.
- Evil Genius Games say the reveals of the cover were agreed by both sides and that Netflix employees had also distributed the images to retailers.
- The lawsuit states
- “Netflix cannot credibly claim that Plaintiff materially breached the Agreement’s confidentiality provisions since, among other things: (a) Mr. Snyder had already publicized the existence of the Rebel Moon TTRPG in his March 19, 2023 podcast appearance; (b) the very same artwork at issue had already been distributed by Netflix employees at GAMA on April 24-27, 2023 to over 100 retailers; (c) the artwork was little more than a pitch material recycled for GAMA, and (d) various Rebel Moon word marks and logos were already widely available on the internet (Netflix even instructed Evil Genius to use these materials rather than delivering official Licensed Property to Evil Genius per Schedule A of the Agreement).”
- David Scott, CEO of Evil Genius Games said this about the decision to file a lawsuit
- “Our aim is to ensure our team is recognized for their fantastic work, and that we can release this game for millions of TTRPG enthusiasts to enjoy,’’ Scott said. “It’s disheartening to see Netflix backpedal on content that was jointly showcased and had received their prior consent. We urge our supporters to contact Netflix and Zack Snyder to push for the release of this game.’’
Essen uses AI
- In the run up to Essen, the biggest boardgames convention in the world, it was revealed that the convention had used AI to generate some of the images in its promotional material.
- First revealed by site Boardgamewire the images were used all over the site and on the website and programmes for the event.
- Boardgamewire had an interview with a representative for Merz Verlag, the company that runs Essen Spiel.
- Boardgamewire start by asking the rep
- What is Merz Verlag / Spiel’s official position on using AI art in its marketing materials etc? Is there an official policy, or are there discussions ongoing to create one?
- The representative replies
- As with every new technology there is an ongoing process of evaluation and assessment. Society and laws always need to adapt when something new emerges and brings changes, and we are also in an ongoing process to see how to best approach the topic in general. We experiment with AI to comprehend its benefits but also its limits. The protection of artists rights has priority for us.
- Boardgame wire goes onto ask
- One issue that keeps being raised about AI-generated art is about the lack of consent from artists the software is trained on. Essentially, artists are having their work copied by an AI in order to create new art without any compensation, and are also concerned the AI art created will end up being used instead of traditional artists being hired. What’s Merz Verlag’s take on this, as an AI-generated art user?
- The representative replies
- We believe that original art brings the personality of the artist into each motive. That is one of the reasons we wanted our mascot to be created by an artist we like very much. And of course, we paid him for the rights to use Meeps and his creativity. We are also aware of issues regarding copyright of AI created content, making art created by an artist even more valuable and will make this work stay important.
- The interview wraps up shortly after with the rep saying that Essen Spiel is not committed either way to the inclusion of AI art in marketing for next years convention.
- Naturally the inclusion of this AI art has led to much condemnation across the tabletop community.
- Essen has said they will not comment further on the controversy till after the convention has taken place
- Essen announced the numbers for this years show shortly after the end of the event. They had over 193000 attendees from 85 countries. 935 exhibitors from 56 nations.
Backerkit announces AI policy
- Sticking with the subject of AI for our third headline
- Kickstarter rival Backerkit has come out with a strong statement on the use of AI generated content on future projects funded on the platform. They start that statement like this
- At BackerKit, our team is passionate about people’s passions. For ten years, we’ve supported creators in their journey to launch projects and build thriving creative practices and businesses. We’ve developed deep relationships and respect for the people who breathe life into crowdfunding projects, and we are committed to defending their well-being on our platform.
- They go onto to declare the new policy will come into effect from the 4th of October 2023. Backerkit say they share the concerns of creators around generative AI models like Midjourney and ChatGPT that use artists and writers content to train the AI. To that end Backerkit says that
- All content and assets must first be created by humans.
- They say this does not affect the use of AI tools that exist within programmes that use ‘generative content fill’ and other elements like that. It will restrict the creation of software on backerkit that would use AI to generate content.
- Backerkit say they will suspend projects that they find are using only AI generated content or that at least lack the minimum required amount of human input. THey also provide links to places where you can find artists for your project.
- Backerkit finishes their statement by saying this:
- As AI-generation tools evolve, so will the discussion surrounding them and their permissible use. BackerKit puts its creators first, and we will continue to gather feedback and refine our policy and processes in order to help foster a supportive community of creators, artists, and backers
Mythic games go back to the well
https://x.com/patrickleder/status/1710756200982200794?s=61&t=e67elsj0pVeCnUSBXu8Nbw (still worth saying?)
- We’ve reported a couple of times on the troubles that Mythic Games, publishers of Darkest Dungeon, have found themselves in.
- Last time we covered them in episode 121, they were asking for more money for the Siege 6 Kickstarter while fighting off rumours of bankruptcy which they strenuously denied.
- They had also asked for extra money from the backers of the Darkest Dungeon Kickstarter for the wave 1 of expansions that was coming out. They had effectively said that if you didn’t cough up anything extra, you wouldn’t get your games. At the time they said this was the last contribution they would ask for.
- Well now Mythic have asked the Darkest Dungeon backers for yet more money for the wave 2 of expansions. In their latest update to the Kickstarter campaign they say this is necessary due to the continued high prices of manufacturing and shipping. Again they tell customers that if they don’t pay they won’t get their products. They also heavily imply that the backers won’t be able to get those products later due to this being a one-off print run.
- Within that update they also say they have laid off staff to try and make ends meet.
- Discussion: Stop giving Mythic money. They are way beyond the point where they are using funding from one ks to another. This is a company that has felt on the verge of failure for a while.
Winner of the Deutscher Spielepreis
- We are all familiar with the Spiel Des Jahres, the annual german games award given out by a panel of german game critics.
- What you might not be so familiar with is the Duetscherspielpreis which is voted for by the german boardgame community. This prize is awarded at Essen Spiel every year, the largest boardgames convention in the world.
- From the post about the prize on the Essen Spiel site
- “The DEUTSCHE SPIELE PREIS (DSP) is an award by gamers for gamers and the largest community award in Germany. In two categories – family and adult games as well as children’s games – the entire German speaking games community chooses their most popular games from the multitude of titles published in one year’s issues, one of which wins the DSP and one the DSP Best Children’s Game. The award is presented at SPIEL Essen.”
- This year the winner was Planet Unknown, designed by Ryan Lambert and Adam Rehberg, art by Yoma and is published by Adam’s Apple Games.
- Second place was Dorfromantik and third place was Heat.
Board Game Hub folds
- Thanks to Gavin Jones from our Discord for bringing this next story to our attention.
- Board Game Hub are the publishers of Tranquility and had a Kickstarter on the go for a standalone sequel called Tranquility the Ascent
- In a recent update to that Kickstarter, Peter Hazelwood, founder of Board Game Hub, announced that the company was no longer viable and that Tranquility: The Ascent would not be reaching backers. From that post
- There is no sugar-coating this message and this update won’t be an adequate apology, but this is the final update for Tranquility: The Ascent. I am so sorry that I have failed you. Board Game Hub is in the process of shutting down as it is no longer a viable business. I am unable to deliver the games that you showed such faith and excitement in. Running Board Game Hub has been six years of turbulence featuring some wonderful highs and, unfortunately, horrible lows. I’ve done my best to make the business work- we nearly folded during the pandemic- but I desperately wanted BGH to succeed and to share brilliant games with you. It is now clear that there is no way forward as a company, nor for me running a business.
- There will be anger and disappointment and that is understandable. This is entirely on me; James and Tristam did everything that was required of them and more besides. I should also apologise to them for any anguish and/or difficulties caused by this failure. Sorry to you both.
- I fear there is nothing left to say except to apologise once more that I wasn’t able to make good the faith that you showed me and Board Game Hub. I never wanted to finish like this.
Games cafe staff move to unionise
- Thanks to Corey from our Discord for bringing this story to our attention and for Boardgamewire for reporting on the story.
- This year has seen all sorts of union action across the world, but especially stateside. Most recently writers in America won concessions from the big studios.
- We have seen these efforts spread to the world of tabletop gaming over the last year and the latest Union to try and form is across several locations owned by Hex & Co a board game cafe based in Manhattan.
- The union is demanding a $22.50 per hour living wage, a transparent path to promotions and adequate staffing to meet the workload at the various locations.
- The organisers of the union say the owners of the business have refused to voluntarily acknowledge the union which is set to include up to 70 employees.
- They say that the owners are
- “holding captive audience meetings and working to remove members from the proposed Hex & Co bargaining unit, including managers of the afterschool program”.
Gaming goat orders lost in the post
- Thanks to former co-host Iain Chantler for bringing this story to our attention
- We’ve reported many times on the controversial stances that the company previously known as the Gaming Goat have taken over the years and that of the former owner Jeff Bergen.
- In episode 129 we reported that the Gaming Goat had changed hands, and names to Knight and Day.
- It seems the new company is already running into some issues due to the nature of the sale. A thread on the boardgames subreddit detailed issues folk were having with pre-orders for games that were placed under the previous owners.
- Will from Knight and Day games responded to the post saying this
Beginning on June 6th of this year, The Gaming Goat began an asset sale to the new entity, with entirely new owners who had no affiliation beforehand. During the process, the topic of pre-order deposits was brought up, but never transferred over in the asset sale of The Gaming Goat.
- > We’ve fulfilled over 600+ orders from before June 6th as it’s all a case by case basis, as well as helped out another 450+ orders with our proposed solution.
Penguin no longer distributing Wizards of the Coast in the states
- At the start of September Wizards of the coast announced that Penguin Random House LLC would be ceasing distribution of Dungeons and Dragons titles.
- Wizards uses a host of distributors to get their products into hobby stores worldwide but Penguin is a general bookseller distributor. There the folk that get games into stores like Barnes & Noble.
- This move was confirmed in an email out to retailers from Penguin. It started
- Effective December 31, 2023, Penguin Random House LLC will cease distributing titles for Wizards of the Coast LLC. Depending on the product, please ensure that the vendor of record for Wizards of the Coast LLC titles is changed to one of their new distributors listed here: Distributors | WPN.”
- Wizards said this to ICV2 when asked about the news
- Penguin Random House is a valued partner and publishing licensee of Wizards of the Coast. While we deeply appreciate the excellent service provided over the years by PRHPS, we are now shifting our distribution strategy to utilize the capabilities of Hasbro to sell and distribute D&D products to retailers, and we will continue to partner with PRH on licensed D&D titles like the recently released Lore & Legends and the upcoming Hero’s Feast: Flavors of the Multiverse. This change to distribution of Wizards’ D&D roleplaying game publications such as rulebooks and adventure content won’t affect fans as they will continue to find Dungeons & Dragonsproducts at their preferred retailers.
- Checking the distributor list provided by Wizards, the main distributor in the UK will continue to be Asmodee.
Zenobia Award nominee finds publishing home
- Don’t usually report on new releases but the Zenobia award is a favourite of ours and we wanted to show its value
- One of the games that got to the finalists stage last year was Molly House. This was a game that saw you playing gender-defying queers in the early 18th century. Molly houses were where this community met in secret and you are tasked with arranging events and creating joy in the face of repression and persecution.
- This game has been picked up by Wherlegig games, the publishers of Pax Pamir and John Company.
- Discussion: Zenobia Award 2 will have just finished taking in submissions as you listen to this and we will bring you updates on that as designs are whittled down to finalists and winners. Best of luck everyone!
Jobs, Opportunities, and Events
Rose Gauntlet Foundation
- Rose Gauntlet Entertainment, publishers of Keystone: North America amongst other titles has announced a new initiative.
- The Rose Gauntlet Foundation posted this about its origins and aim
- The Rose Gauntlet Foundation was founded with the desire to meet and support more underrepresented individuals like us in the tabletop gaming industry. Its origins began when Isaac Vega reached out to other LGBTQ+ individuals working in the industry in 2017 to meet over dinner. The event was started with just a small group of 4, but quickly grew each year, eventually earning it’s name, “Big Gay Dinner.”
- When Lindsey and Isaac started Rose Gauntlet, they wanted a way to continue this tradition and expand it to others who did not have the means or connections to meet others who where trying to form bonds in this industry with other underrepresented groups.
- In 2022 Rose Gauntlet expanded it’s efforts by hosting the BIPOC Lounge at Gen Con, widening the scope of our mission. With its success, we found ourself now being reached out to by many other conventions and companies looking to support our efforts. To better handle the growing desire for more events and spaces to be created across the industry, we decided to start a Non Profit.
- Now in 2023, after much research and organization, we have officially started the Rose Gauntlet Foundation, a home for these events that are helping underrepresented groups within the tabletop games industry find community, resources and opportunities to grow and feel welcome.
- The 3 programmes the foundation is funding are as follows
- Game Changers: This program focuses on providing women in games with resources and networking opportunities within the tabletop games industry. Our first Game Changers took place during Origins in 2023 to great success and with over 30 women in attendance.
- BIPOC Lounge: In 2022 we hosted a deluxe and welcoming safe space at GenCon, the largest gaming convention in the United States, where BIPOC tabletop industry professionals and gamers can commune, share information, and access resources during the course of the 4 day event. Because of its success, we have been invited back by Gen Con to host in 2023 and are excited to keep it as a long standing tradition.
- Big Gay Dinner: This event caters to the LGBTQIA+ community, providing similar resources and safe spaces during PAX Unplugged. In 2022 we had over 60 LGBT+ professionals in attendance. We look forward to seeing this event grow even more in 2023.
- They go onto say that these programmes are made possible by funding from tabletop companies and individuals. If you would like to donate to the foundation there will be links to all this in our show notes.
Melsonian Arts Council offer publishing advice
- Publisher Melsonian Arts Council posted on Twitter recently that they are offering advice on getting your RPG published. We don’t have any further details but will provide a link to the post in the show notes.
Boardgame event at British Library
- Some of the folk from UK Games Expo are running and event at the British Library on December the 9th.
- Starting at 10:30 and going till 4:30. It is a free event but registration is requested and it will be a chance to try out a bunch of games.
- On the same day are talks about fantasy worlds from the likes of Adrian Tchikovsky, one of my current favourite authors.
Metallic Dice Games
Promo Code: ROLLWITHBRAINS
- We have previously reported on the moves by Path Entertainment Group to bring a life sized Monopoly to London. This was immensely successful and the group has now expanded its relationship with Hasbro to make a life sized version of Cluedo.
- David Hutchison, CEO of The Path Entertainment Group said this
- “MONOPOLY LIFESIZED has enjoyed two very successful years in London already, showcasing the power of the brand with the creative thinking at Path Entertainment – and has gone on to be successfully sub-licenced in the KSA, as we continue to rollout the experience internationally. From the start of our relationship with Hasbro we’ve always felt CLUEDO was a natural IP for us to explore – it’s innately theatrical, and combined with its nostalgic family favourite mystery origins – it’s the perfect brand for our team to play with and create a new thrilling, location based entertainment concept. We’re very excited to bring this to life in an ambitious new lifesized concept.”
- The press release reveals that Path have launched Monopoly Life Sized in Saudi Arabia and are looking to see their experiences be recreated in other countries.
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