Design the Next Enterprise

Discussion in 'Fan Art' started by Shikarnov, Nov 17, 2010.

  1. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Cryptic: "These 25 are awesome."
    CBS: "Hey! you know what's great? I just saved $200 on my car insurance!"
    Cryptic: (dies inside)

    Cryptic: "These 25 are awesome."
    CBS: "_23_"
    Cryptic: "excuse me?"
    CBS: "_42_"
    Cryptic:"wha???"
    CBS:"_11_"
    Cryptic: (dies inside)
     
  2. Fuzzy Modem

    Fuzzy Modem Commander Red Shirt

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    No, complete cancellation.

    Not that I think it will come to that, but they did fine print themselves an out.

    Now let's never mention it again :p
     
  3. lennier1

    lennier1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Maybe one of the ladies on their cleaning staff has a pre-school kid who can doodle something they could use? Can't be much worse than some of the stuff they already have in that game.
     
  4. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    Cryptic: "These 25 are awesome."
    CBS: "They could use a few sombreros."
    Cryptic: (dies inside)
     
  5. B.J.

    B.J. Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Maybe CBS is more used to a back & forth approval *process*, rather than just having to pick something that's already final. I had that experience once when I did a logo competition. Several people created their idea of what the logo should be, and then we were supposed to pick one of them to use. Unfortunately, several of the judges kept wanting to modify or combine the entries, completely missing the point of the contest. We ended up not picking one at all. :(
     
  6. DFScott

    DFScott Captain Captain

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    Here's where I have to take off my artist's hat and put on my journalist's hat. In my other job as an editor, writer, and reporter, I have to pore over legal documents, corporate agreements, congressional bill drafts, all the time. (And you think deciphering source code is tough!)

    So I scanned through the contest rules, and concluded the following: This contest is sponsored by Atari, Cryptic Studios, Intel, and an entity that represents the interests of the copyright holders (CBS Studios). The contest is about creating a design to be used in the game. When the contest entities select a grand prize winner, they obtain the rights to use the design with respect to the game, in exchange for prizes. These entities could hire the winner to draft a more complete rendering of the design, but they're not obligated to, which suggests to me that they could just as easily hire someone else to complete the design. That's a very important point, so hold onto it in your mind for a moment.

    I listened to the selected segments of the Justin.tv interview that Fuzzy Modem linked to, with the fellow from Cryptic which the site dates as taking place on April 6 (two weeks ago tomorrow). He's only introduced as "Dan" (in real television, folks use last names), though I believe this to be Dan Stahl, Cryptic's executive producer for Star Trek Online. I've conducted tens of thousands of interviews in my 27-year career, and I consider myself a master of this art form. I know what to listen for in other people's answers. Here are the relevant segments, the first from about 8 minutes into the interview, the second at 22:20:

    From these two little segments, here's what I can surmise:

    1. There's an ongoing argument between Cryptic and CBS over what constitutes "The Enterprise." Apparently Cryptic's people have favorite designs (perhaps each one has a different personal choice), but CBS needs a ship that maintains a familiar stance (a saucer in front, a fuselage on the bottom, and two nacelles flying upward).
    2. There may have been some misrepresentation by someone over the extent to which the winning design will be used as a part of Star Trek proper. At one point, Dan Stahl clearly answers the "canon" question in the affirmative, but then he backtracks, as if someone else in the room shook his head "no" at him. In backtracking, Stahl essentially states that canon is usually determined by the fans first and then incorporated into the franchise's core assets later (an assertion which, if true, would open up many a studio and content producer to legal action by potential creators who have never been acknowledged as stakeholders).
    3. Essentially, there is nothing in the rules that states that stakeholders are obligated to use the winning design in a context other than the game (STO). There is also nothing in the rules that I see that explicitly grants stakeholders the rights to use the design outside of the game -- say, in a future Trek show. The winner, according to the rules, grants stakeholders the rights to distribute and exploit the image. A strict interpretation of "exploit," in my experience, means to utilize the image in the marketing of the principal product, which in the context of this contest is not Star Trek, the franchise, but Star Trek Online, the game. No, I'm not a lawyer, but I've been down this route before.
    4. Stahl says his team is consulting the rules. Apparently he's interested in using designs that CBS may have rejected as "not the Enterprise" in the context of the game, as other ships. The rules don't really grant Cryptic the right to do that. And this could be a really big problem: If CBS declares a losing design to be "not the Enterprise," then that design does not transfer its rights. And paragraph 6 of the rules makes it clear that participation in the game as a contestant doesn't obligate the contestant for anything else other than permission to use the submitted image of the design in advertising and promotion. That means (based on my read) that losing contestants are freelancers with regard to shopping the image; if Cryptic wants to use one, it may need to make an offer. And if that's not in the budget, it's a bigger problem because a losing design could be put "in play" -- perhaps some other game (Excalibur?) would care to use it.
    5. If an almost-perfect entry is not "the Enterprise," can a winning contestant be hired to make it into "the Enterprise?" (Dear Jason: We loved your ship. Could you please a: reduce the number of nacelles to two; b: add a lower fuselage; c: complete the saucer section in back; d: move the hangar bay to the rear one-third? Otherwise, great job. See ya, Dan.) My read of the rules is that the contest entities are claiming that right, but they phrased it as a "work for hire agreement...for no additional consideration." Which I think means, we can hire you for nothing and you have to say yes. I don't believe such a clause is defensible in court, but it may depend on the state in which the contest is registered. Also, such work -- according to the rules -- is limited to integrating the design into the Game, with a capital "G," which is another clear indicator to me that this entry is all about the game and not the franchise. That matters, because CBS has its own art department, full of people who yearn for the chance to design the Enterprise-F themselves, but know full well that their contracts specify that CBS has the exclusive rights to derivative works based on the images that it owns.
    This could be a pretty complicated situation if these people aren't careful, and Stahl may not have done anyone any favors by appearing to affirm that the contest has any context beyond the game.

    DFScott
     
  7. Fuzzy Modem

    Fuzzy Modem Commander Red Shirt

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    Thank you for that transcription and analysis DFScott. I concur.

    I wouldn't expect anyone to be given the chance to make any necessary modifications or revisions until after winning (rather than being hired after the contest was canceled), but the rules do state that they can require further work from the winner for no additional compensation (not that I think any of us here wouldn't jump at the chance to improve our work for free.) I imagine they will only ask for the orthographics though, as they weren't required in the submission image and the game designers will want them.

    I do think it's funny he references 'checking the rules' in the interview, as the rules said nothing to indicate specific design requirements, and probably should have. They didn't even give us "F".
     
  8. Vektor

    Vektor Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    My interpretation of the rules was that the winner might be asked to do additional work on the design "for hire," meaning there might be some additional compensation involved, monetary or otherwise, probably depending on the amount of work involved. The "without further consideration" part sounded more to me like they were saying that whatever the compensation offered, it would be a take it or leave it kind of deal and no additional rights to ownership or further compensation were implied.

    But then again, I'm no legal expert.
     
  9. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    By those guidelines NX-01 would be disqualified.
     
  10. Fuzzy Modem

    Fuzzy Modem Commander Red Shirt

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    That may be the problem. The lesson they may have learned from the Akiraprise is not to deviate from the norm in any way.

    IMHO, the lesson they should have learned is that deviation is essential, but you must maintain the "spirit" of the Enterprise, as hard to quantify as that is.

    You can't do that by mildly altering an established design. People liked the Akira because it was an Akira, not because it was an Enterprise, and no one was fooled.

    Everyone is going to have their own idea of where the next Enterprise should fall between unique and identifiable, but it sounds like CBS is pulling hard toward "safe" designs, while Cryptic might be considerably more open minded.

    Safe is generally rather boring and therefore unlikely to add to the perceived value of the franchise, but I'm not getting the sense that CBS is willing to role the dice on anything more unconventional or exciting.

    Still, someone is going to get their way and someone isn't. Eventually someone will make a compelling enough argument to break the deadlock, and that argument may be that fans won't accept a retread any more than they would something too radical. After all, if they don't even try to take it somewhere new, then what was the point?

    [edit] Re-reading, did Stahl just reveal that this would be the "Enterprise" Class?
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2011
  11. B.J.

    B.J. Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That would be the wrong lesson, unfortunately. I don't think the Trek community would have had a problem with an NX-01 that had a different configuration than NCC-1701. The problem was that they basically re-textured the Akira and we could *see* that that's what they did. (Despite Drexler's heroic efforts, of course.)
     
  12. Vektor

    Vektor Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You know, according to the rules, originality is supposed to be 50% of the judging criteria, which makes it just a tad annoying to be told that anything that deviates too far from the established Enterprise norm, i.e. number of nacelles, basic configuration, etc, will probably not make the cut. If that's true then some more explicitly stated design guidelines might have been in order.
     
  13. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Hey, I just had a thought. What if the notification emails went out but were all sent directly to trash by our built in spam filters? Wouldn't that be a hoot!
     
  14. Fuzzy Modem

    Fuzzy Modem Commander Red Shirt

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    I don't know about you, but I've been checking my gmail spam box hourly, and well as those of my alternate emails that route to gmail.

    I know the folks on the STO forums have been checking their spam boxes too, so if anyone has received an email the're under a NDA.

    That thought occurred to me as well, but we don't know how much input CBS had in establishing the rules.
     
  15. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    ^Yeah, I check mine too. Still, it's an ironic thought.
     
  16. Fuzzy Modem

    Fuzzy Modem Commander Red Shirt

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    I had a mini stroke this morning when I got the Startrek.com newsletter :eek::scream:...:rofl:
     
  17. erifah

    erifah Captain Captain

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    I just wanted to let everyone know I won.















    (Yes, I DID win... but not necessarily the Next Enterprise contest... Off to cash in that lotto ticket!)
     
  18. Fuzzy Modem

    Fuzzy Modem Commander Red Shirt

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    Walk this way... :rommie:

    How much?
     
  19. DFScott

    DFScott Captain Captain

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    I think history has already shown us that the battle to build an original Enterprise that both producers and fans will accept as "the Enterprise" has been fought and fought and fought, and has already drawn blood. I hope Doug Drexler doesn't mind if I cite a June 2009 post from his Drex Files blog where he talks with Alex Jaeger, the designer of the Akira class for the STVIII movie. These are Drexler's words:

    Granted, at the early stages of the Enterprise TV show's development, Drexler was submitting designs that looks like a cooler, only-slightly-scaled-down Constitution class. Nevertheless, this statement is incontrovertible evidence that producers at least can have a set-in-stone concept of how a design should appear, within which "creativity" is the fine art of making that concept not look plagiarized.

    DF "Imagining the 'Design the Last Enterprise' Contest" Scott
     
  20. erifah

    erifah Captain Captain

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    I would just like to observe that "playing it safe" is probably what tanked the ST franchise.

    People will go back all the way to the original series, and still enjoy watching it because it is like an old joke told by a friend. But new stuff... Jeeze, It needs to be new! If they want old, they got old on DVD and BluRay - and they will go to the authentic old stuff. Besides, audience tastes and expectations have changed SO much, and they want so much more and different and new. Even the old Star Trek method of presenting a self-contained episode each week in a 5-act structure with 2 parallel story lines is old and moldy.

    NuBattlestarGalactica set the stage, and proved that you can really "explore the studio space" and go WAAAAAYYYY out there - as long as you stay true to the core themes.