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Head Over Heels Remake now commercial

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Is the original remake still available. I just did a search and it looks like they did a Batman remake as well. 

 

I used to love Head over Heels as a kid but wasn‘t very good at it. The remake was excellent so would be happy to buy it if the people who remade it earn something from it but It doesn‘t seem to be the case.

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Yeah I flagged this up to Lorf on Twitter a day or two back because he covered the Amiga version recently. I didn't know of the freeware history though.

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I wonder if this has something to do with whoever owns the IP for Head over Heels....

 

If you look at Antstream, they've got a load of Ocean games that are essentially the ones that were "original" (Head over Heels, Great Escape etc so not Cobra, Knight Rider, Batman). Looking at that steam page, it looks like Piko Interactive has bought up Ocean's "original" IP and has licensed them to Antstream (BTW, the original creators like Jon Ritman, AFAIK, aren't getting paid for this). 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piko_Interactive

 

Quote

On January 2, 2018, Piko announced via their website that they had closed a catalog acquisition of 60 titles, now owning over 100 IPs. The acquisition considered of mostly original IPs from developers Accolade, Beam Software, GT Interactive, Hasbro Interactive, Infogrames, Legend Entertainment, MicroProse, Ocean Softwareand Spectrum HoloByte.[4] 

 

Up until now, it looks like their business model was re-releasing retro games for consoles, so they probably bought Ocean's IP for their (limited) SNES output like Soccer Kid, although it says they released Head over Heels for the Jaguar. Now it looks like they've literally uploaded a retro remake for sale on steam?

 

From that wikipedia page, that is the case

 

Quote

Games released under a new label called “Classics Digital”, which concentrate in publishing the games that they acquired in popular digital distribution channels like Steam Greenlight and GOG.com.

 

The page says games released include The Great Escape, Where Time Stood Still, but I can't find any reference to them on GOG or Steam (it says they include the original DOS version, but AFAIK those were never released on DOS). 

 

So is it the case where Piko Interactive are literally uploading retro remakes to Steam because they own the IP but where nobody in the creative process is getting paid (the original creators like Jon Ritman or the remake developers)? 

 

Man, that's a terrible reflection on retro gaming and the shady world of IP if it is true.

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4 minutes ago, gone fishin' said:

The page says games released include The Great Escape, Where Time Stood Still, but I can't find any reference to them on GOG or Steam (it says they include the original DOS version, but AFAIK those were never released on DOS)

 

I recall seeing dos versions of the great escape and where time stood still listed as abandonware. GOG is great but there are still a lot of games missing for various technical and legal reasons. The graphics were early pc (I guess so I never tried them as they didn‘t look better than the speccy.

 

 

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Great Escape doesn't really need better graphics than the Speccy one to be honest, the slightly sparse industrial feel to the thing kinda works.

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3 minutes ago, gone fishin' said:

 

So is it the case where Piko Interactive are literally uploading retro remakes to Steam because they own the IP but where nobody in the creative process is getting paid (the original creators like Jon Ritman or the remake developers)? 

 

Man, that's a terrible reflection on retro gaming and the shady world of IP if it is true.

 

I'm going to guess they've done what Atari used to do and just grabbed the unofficial port to sell on knowing that if challenged they can launch a counter action. Or they might not be aware that Ocean didn't release the remake.

 

I have three of the rereleases by Piko.

 

I really enjoyed the Amiga demo of Jim Power back in the day so I got this version which has the PC and SNES ports and...well maybe it didn't age well but the parallax was running in the wrong direction and made my eyes hurt.

 

Sleepwalker and The Great Escape are bare bones DOS ports running in DOS Box. I was hoping for either the Amiga or C64 version of Sleepwalker and some controller options of The Great Escape. Mind you The Great Escape in DOS is just as good as the Speccy version and faster than the C64 port I used to play.

 

Their marketing leaves a bit to be desired regarding the Ocean games as well.

 

The Great Escape will release in just a couple of days.



Remember - this version is officially licensed from Ocean Software and designed to be added to your Steam Library - any other portals distributing this title free of charge are doing so illegally and breaching Copyright Law - these will be reported to the Copyright Owners. 

Anyone on these forums promoting illegal sites will be reported to Steam.

 

Ouch! 

 

Anyway the bare bones nature of the ports I did play put me off trying any others. Their SNES ports have trading cards but at least the ports I bought don't have any achievements.

 

 

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This is what Piko says on the steam discussion. So it seems they did pay something to retrospec but I doubt Jon Ritman gets anything.

 

Quote

Retrospec did the game without rights or license. We actually own this IP and went through the trouble of buying the game and the IP.

Then we went through the trouble of buying this version from Retrospec.

Also it has a new soundtrack.

 

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The great escape hasn‘t been available to buy for 20 years. I know abandonware is not always legally clear but I think it helps preserve these old games so on the whole is a good thing.

 

I don‘t think Piko are making any friends by threatening people.

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Yeah, I've mentioned this in the Antstream thread but it highlights the problem with these companies buying up the IP rights for retro games. 

 

On one hand Piko seem to be doing a good job in that they're releasing unreleased or limited availability games for retro consoles, mostly for NES and SNES, but it means that in buying up the IP rights for "Way of the Exploding Fist" so they can release the prototype NES game, they're also buying up the rights to every other Beam developed game. 

 

Now it looks like they're literally re-releasing the original games via digital platforms such as Steam and GOG. That's fine, it means that people can easily play the games if they want to.

 

Except they're now coming out with statements like "any other portals distributing this title free of charge are doing so illegally and breaching Copyright Law - these will be reported to the Copyright Owners." But what's a "portal"? Is it something like GOG or is it a website that's hosting the original games for the Spectrum, C64, Amiga, ST etc? I.e. they're going to go after the same retro audience that they're trying to make money from?

 

Or even a statement like "Retrospec did the game without rights or license. We actually own this IP and went through the trouble of buying the game and the IP." gives the impression that they think they have carte blanche commercial ownership over any retro remake game that they own the IP for?

 

It also seems strange that the developer didn't know it was being uploaded to steam and yet they've been paid for their work? 

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9 minutes ago, crocked said:

This is what Piko says on the steam discussion. So it seems they did pay something to retrospec but I doubt Jon Ritman gets anything.

"Retrospec did the game without rights or license. We actually own this IP and went through the trouble of buying the game and the IP.

Then we went through the trouble of buying this version from Retrospec.

Also it has a new soundtrack."

 

 

A little bit dry but fair enough although it's a bit weird Graham had to be made aware of the release by someone else if Piko had Retrospec. (edit snap @gone fishin' )

 

5 minutes ago, crocked said:

The great escape hasn‘t been available to buy for 20 years. I know abandonware is not always legally clear but I think it helps preserve these old games so on the whole is a good thing.

 

I don‘t think Piko are making any friends by threatening people.

 

I agree. I think three things help a lot with retro rereleases

 

-Some quality of life improvements

-Some interesting extras

-Engagement with the community

 

I can understand why they want to keep threads clear of trolls that would post links to free download links but tone is important, you want people to feel good about buying something they could grab for free.

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Apparently nothing other the addition of a new soundtrack. 

 

GOG try and include patches, manuals and bonus material where possible for older games so it‘s worth paying for. I agree it‘s good the games are being made available but hopefully it’s not just shovelware. 

 

I‘m also sceptical retrospec got paid but don‘t know enough about Piko or retrospec to say. In any case the game is no longer available on retrospec.

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On 10/08/2019 at 09:48, crocked said:

This is what Piko says on the steam discussion. So it seems they did pay something to retrospec but I doubt Jon Ritman gets anything.

 

 

 

I know we have been over this issue in other threads ... but I don't think I've ever got a straight answer to the question: If Jon Ritman sold the rights to the game back in the 80s (presumably with the knowledge that whoever he was selling it to intended to use it to make money) should he really expect to get anything from it now?

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5 minutes ago, DeDeDe said:

Legally, no. Ethically. yes. And this is something that is always conveniently forgotten by the people in suits when there’s money involved.

 

Yeah, it's the ethical aspect I'm actually interested in. 

Why is it automatically ethical that he should? Didn't he make the decision, when he sold the rights, that he was happy with the idea of a guaranteed one-off payment? The alternative would be to gamble on making future earnings from it depending on whether or not it was a success? 

Isn't this a decision that every creative person needs to make, when they make the choice between either working for someone else, and setting up in business for themselves?

If this was generally considered to be unethical in some way - wouldn't it be right to restrict creatives' rights when it came to selling their work, to protect them from possibly being exploited at some point in the future? Are there many creative people who would get behind that idea?

 

I don't wear a suit, and I'm not a capitalist by any means - my own idea of the ideal society would be where no one owned anything and everyone just took what they want, according to their needs. But considering we do live in a capitalist society, is it right to consider this sort of behaviour unethical?

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Of course it is unethical. We don't know Ritman's contract, but he was working for Ocean, not this scavenging company picking over the remains of fallen software houses. They are profiting off the labour of the original creators' work, but unlike Ocean, have done very little to actually facilitate it or provide any further recompense (Ritman/Ocean probably did not believe the game would have a life beyond the few years in the 80s and the contract signed likely reflected that).

 

In addition, it sounds like they're gearing up for an assault on the WoS archive, and fuck that for a game of soldiers.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Peter St John said:

Of course it is unethical. We don't know Ritman's contract, but he was working for Ocean, not this scavenging company picking over the remains of fallen software houses.

 

 

 

That's kind of what I'm getting at - doesn't Ocean have the rights to sell the work on, if it has paid for it? You seem to be suggesting that IP-rights should be non-transferable. If this was the case, wouldn't it be reflected in their value and therefore the price paid for them? (i.e Ocean would presumably pay the creator less for them, if it wasn't for the fact they know they could sell them on at some point?)

You're right that we don't know his contract, but isn't it likely that it was made clear to him that he was transferring all rights of ownership, and the buyer (Ocean) was buying the rights to do whatever they wanted with them, including selling them on? 

 

Still not convinced that this is unethical, but willing to be persuaded if anyone can put up a reasonable argument (and no, negging me or pos'ing people who disagree with me, without backing it up with reasoning, doesn't count as a reasonable argument :P) What ethical principles do you think are broken in this situation?

 

 

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You're really talking legally still, and nobody here is pointing out that you're on relatively firm ground here*, but ethically, the author(s) did not envisage that 20, 30 years later, their precious hard work might be part of a subscription-financed platform where neither they or the original company receives any money from its profits. They believed (at most), it would have a full price run and a budget run and that was it. I don't think you're fulfilling your ethical obligations simply by paying somebody who has harvested IP likely with pennies on the pound.

 

(* though I'd watch out; given how free-wheeling the 80s UK scene was, you may not be on quite as firm ground as you believe to be contract-wise)

 

For example, it's a special case of a contract, but nobody believes DC has acted illegally over the past 30 years concerning Watchmen. They've sure as hell acted unethically about it, though.

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Other creative industries like music evolved from shitty exploitive practices where the publishers, record companies, the "men in suits" were continuously paid years after when the creators weren't. That's down to the idea ("musical work" - chord progressions, melodies etc) and the actual product ("recording") being legally recognised as work created by individuals, or creators. 

 

That means that Lennon and McCartney still get writing royalties for Hey Jude, despite it being written over 50 years ago. It means George Harrison and Ringo Starr get paid for playing on Hey Jude (who both were part of the creative process, yes, even Ringo Starr added with his drumming input). You download Hey Jude on iTunes or you stream it on Spotify, they still get paid. Sure, the "men in the suits" still get a chunk, but even then it's in the creators favour. But if it hadn't been for Lennon and McCartney writing the song, Harrison and Starr contributing on the song recording then there would be no product for iTunes or Spotify to sell. Yes, there were session musicians involved (they didn't play the orchestra), but those musicians were paid for the session, because that's the way session musicians work ("play this").

 

If you download Head over Heels on GoG, Steam or if you stream it over Antstream, Jon Ritman gets nothing from that. Not for coming up with the idea, or even writing the original product. Instead some company in San Antonio, Texas, gets a royalty payment. Not because they had anything to do with the creation of the original game. Because they bought up some IP rights. Sure, they may decide that Jon Ritman may get something, but it's highly unlikely.

 

As @Peter St John pointed out, these guys likely didn't think the game would be played in 10 years time, never mind in 30 years time because how would you be able to play a Spectrum game in 2019? 

 

Yes, some of these creators were paid employees of the publishers, but many weren't. They were paid on a per-game basis. Ritman himself even described how he got involved with Ocean and how much he was paid for his first Ocean game, Match Day.

 

https://www.retrogamer.net/profiles/developer/john-ritman/

 

Quote

So how did you end up getting in touch with Ocean?
Ocean actually got in touch with me. I went to a show with somebody who worked at Artic Computing [my publisher at the time] and we were talking to some of the distributors that were around to find out what they were interested in. They were all totally unanimous; they all wanted International Soccer on the Spectrum. I’d seen International Soccer over and over again in Dixons shop windows but I had never played it and I deliberately didn’t play it after that show.

I’m not interested in football, hadn’t been since I was a little kid, as it bored me senseless but there was obviously a market for it, so I went to work. I had been writing this game for about two weeks and went to another show at Ally Pally where we were showing Bear Bovver and I found myself looking at World Cup Carnival.

David Ward of Ocean was standing next to me and I said to him: ‘My football game’s going to be loads better than that’. Which was pretty brash considering I had only just managed to get the sprites on screen.

Anyway, round about nine months later, I got a phone call from David asking how that football game had turned out. I was literally in the middle of closing it up and there were only a few days left to go on it. Anyway he offered me more money than I’d ever considered having in one hand.

Can you say?
It was £25,000. That was a down payment. Bearing in mind this was 1983 or something; my previous wage for a year at Radio Rentals was £7,500, so £25,000 in one go was amazing, and that was just the advance. Add to that the fact that I was paid in dollars, which at the time was considerably more and that was that. Match Day was released a short while later.

 

 

Yeah, you could say "he was paid the inflation adjusted equivalent of £50k+" and signed whatever contract to get the money, because sure these guys were being offered ridiculous amounts compared to what they were earning before. But I bet if they knew the game would still be commercially sold in 30 years time, they'd probably have done it differently. But yes, legally Ocean owned the game and could do what they want with it.

 

But you know who could change it? Steam, GoG, Anstream.

 

Instead of looking at it from a purely legal point of view ("we legally only need to pay the IP holders), they could easily look at it from an ethical point of view (we will pay the IP holders AND the creators). Divide the royalties up so that the original creators get paid something and change the shitty system that exploits the original creators, because they were too young or desperate for money to think that people would still be paying to play their games in 30 years time and where IP holders and delivery platforms would continue to exploit their work for commercial purposes. The discussion now changes from the creators being happy about their games being made publicly available for free, because it means people still enjoy their games, to it being about how IP and platforms can commercially exploit shitty business practices from 30+ years ago. 

 

But that's ethics. You don't have to do anything. But what you actually do certainly says a lot about the company. Ocean may have legally owned Head over Heels as part of the contract, but they at least paid a decent amount to the creator for it because it was ethically correct.

 

Can you say that about the current IP holders or distribution platforms?

 

Oh at least Ocean paid their developers. How about Bo Jangeborg with the brilliant Fairlight and Fairlght II and the publisher Edge?

 

https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=6456.msg209504#msg209504

 

Quote

"I had to get a lawyer to get them [Tim and Cheri] to pay me the money they owed me for Fairlight. They refused to pay me, unless I signed up to make more games for them. As a result, Fairlight II was released without my approval, with several known bugs. In the end, I ended up getting some money but they ended up with the rights to Fairlight [My note: that Langdell is now releasing for the WiiWare, according to his website]. I didn't sign up for any more games.....  ;o)"

"Generally speaking you could definitely say I'm not very fond of the Langdell's or their way of doing business. I can only state that they have spent a lot of time in court."

 

But then how long is it until Fairlight pops up on a distribution platform with some bullshit marketing blog stating "did you know the talented Bo Jangeborg only had two games published before disappearing from the Spectrum scene? Well, thanks to our latest licensing deal with Edge, we can now bring those games to you!"

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Great Escape is interesting to me, because it really looks like they're playing fast and loose with that one, unless they've paid to relicence the movie.

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You make some very good points there and I do agree with you on a lot of them - particularly the way creatives have traditionally got a poor deal from the industry when it comes to gaming, far different from how recording artists/ actors / screenwriters are treated. 

Perhaps this came about because traditionally they weren't even seen as creatives ? From reading a lot of books and articles about the games industry "back in the day", I get the impression that, particularly early on, they were more thought of as "engineers" - look at the way Atari famously denied its programmers and artists the right to credits on their work.  

 

But I also think there is a degree of naivety in what you are saying, eg

Quote

But I bet if they knew the game would still be commercially sold in 30 years time, they'd probably have done it differently. 

 

That gamble is basically the foundation of all trading - if you are buying or selling something with the intention of selling it on for a profit, you take a gamble on what it's future value will be. Remember, in 90% of cases the creatives probably got it right - they gambled that their games would be worthless in 30 years' time, and in the vast majority of cases they were. A few games - perhaps Jon Ritman's, for example- may still have value today, but they are certainly in the minority. 

 

Quote

But you know who could change it? Steam, GoG, Anstream.

 

Instead of looking at it from a purely legal point of view ("we legally only need to pay the IP holders), they could easily look at it from an ethical point of view (we will pay the IP holders AND the creators).Divide the royalties up so that the original creators get paid something ...

 

Again, I find this slightly naive. In order to "divide the royalties up" you're going to have to ask the rights' holders to accept a lesser share of the royalties, or you are going to have to ask the distributor to pay more out of their own pocket to cover the creator's cut - in effect a charitable donation. I agree that in an ideal world, yes, both of these would be laudable actions. But in reality, when we have to live and work within the confines of a capitalist system, I don't think it's right to consider it "unethical" if the corporate entities decide not to do this.

 

It would be great if all sorts of businesses agreed to pay a greater share of their profits into ethical or charitable causes, sure ... and I would personally support any political party which proposed policy that would make this happen. But at the moment, that isn't the way things work. Businesses have to compete with other businesses in the capitalist system, and unless they are hugely profitable (i.e Microsoft) then any money they dedicate to charity/ethical considerations simply makes them less competitive - they have less money to spend on salaries, marketing, development, etc. Meaning they hand an advantage to their competition. 

 

One final point that I do think is worth bringing up is that I don't see Jon Ritman, or any of the other creatives whose games are popping up on these platforms, complaining about this - it seems to be people online taking offence on their behalf. Not saying you don't have a right to do so, of course. But have you considered that maybe they are happy that they got a fair deal back in the day, and are just pleased that a new audience is getting the chance to play their games again? 

 

TL;DR - I hate capitalism as much as you do. But I don't think it's fair to consider businesses which have to operate within the system "unethical". This is the system society as a whole has chosen and we have to live with it.  

 

3 minutes ago, Dudley said:

Great Escape is interesting to me, because it really looks like they're playing fast and loose with that one, unless they've paid to relicence the movie.

 

It was never licensed from the movie. It just stole the name.

 

 

 

 

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Which is fine. Until Open Circle or whoever holds the rights now, comes after you for distributing work that violates their copyright. And music companies that might take an exception to games of yore’s predilection for lifting large chunks of popular songs in their soundtracks. 

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One final point that I do think is worth bringing up is that I don't see Jon Ritman, or any of the other creatives whose games are popping up on these platforms, complaining about this - it seems to be people online taking offence on their behalf.

 

Well, I can think of at least one counter-example to that...

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43 minutes ago, Peter St John said:

Which is fine. Until Open Circle or whoever holds the rights now, comes after you for distributing work that violates their copyright. And music companies that might take an exception to games of yore’s predilection for lifting large chunks of popular songs in their soundtracks. 

 

I suspect the latter is why the rerelease of the remake of Head Over Heels was rescored.

 

As for The Great Escape. Borderline that. If the end game involved a motorbike it might be more cut and dry.

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14 hours ago, gone fishin' said:

 

Other creative industries like music evolved from shitty exploitive practices where the publishers, record companies, the "men in suits" were continuously paid years after when the creators weren't. That's down to the idea ("musical work" - chord progressions, melodies etc) and the actual product ("recording") being legally recognised as work created by individuals, or creators. 

 

That means that Lennon and McCartney still get writing royalties for Hey Jude, despite it being written over 50 years ago. It means George Harrison and Ringo Starr get paid for playing on Hey Jude (who both were part of the creative process, yes, even Ringo Starr added with his drumming input). You download Hey Jude on iTunes or you stream it on Spotify, they still get paid. Sure, the "men in the suits" still get a chunk, but even then it's in the creators favour. But if it hadn't been for Lennon and McCartney writing the song, Harrison and Starr contributing on the song recording then there would be no product for iTunes or Spotify to sell. Yes, there were session musicians involved (they didn't play the orchestra), but those musicians were paid for the session, because that's the way session musicians work ("play this").

 

 

Sounds wonderful.

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2012/06/06/154451399/george-clinton-fights-for-his-right-to-funk?t=1565601904438

 

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/de-la-soul-tommy-boy-back-catalog-870212/

 

etc etc

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23 minutes ago, Unofficial Who said:

 

As for The Great Escape. Borderline that. If the end game involved a motorbike it might be more cut and dry.

 

It's borderline until somebody decides to go after a service with large backers.

 

(see also: Superkid, which is a Warner Bros. trademark suit just sitting like a timebomb)

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Just to be clear, PIKO interactive came to us quite a while ago. Had we refuse to let them publish our remake of it, I very much doubt they would have done so (has anyone seen them doing this elsewhere?) because even if they had the rights to the original, they most certainly didn't have the rights to Tomaz's code or my graphics.

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