37 thoughts on “Versu Outcome”

  1. Well, that’s depressing. And confusing – what benefit could they possibly get from sitting on it?

    I hope you can do something with it, even if it’s something brand new. It’s really fascinating, wonderful work.

    1. This is definitely not the end of my trying to build more socially-focused IF, and we did learn a huge amount about how to make that work, not just in terms of a technical engine but in terms of authoring approaches. So there are things that can be built on even without access to the code or IP.

      Blood and Laurels can’t meaningfully be rewritten — they own all the text and images as well as the engine it runs on. I was working on that story concept, on and off, for nearly 15 years, so having finally finished it and been really excited about it, only to have it vanish into ether, makes me sad. Still, on a total scale of possible bad things to have happen to one, it’s not very far along the bad thing spectrum. So we go on to the next.

    2. Whether it gets used or not, it represents an asset (that is value) on the books – which has a variety of uses for a corporation. It is regrettable, because I really wanted to see Versu go somewhere.

  2. Really sad to here this, Emily. Like Tateru, I can see why LL have closed the door, and like her, really wanted to see Versu go somewhere on its own two legs.

    1. Yeah, I can understand the “let’s concentrate on Second Life” refocusing. I just also felt that Versu had finally reached a point where some of the harder authoring challenges were solved, and we had way better tools, and were producing some really cool output. So in some ways it’s more painful to have it killed there than earlier.

      But only in some ways. Like I said, we all learned a ton from doing it.

      1. The only thing to do is take away the positive and pour it into new opportunities, but can well understand how you feel. Of all the initial offerings from LL, Versu was the one that intrigued me the most, and the the only one I couldn’t access, as such I mourn it’s loss without ever having had the opportunity to use it.

        Ugh, and sorry for my “here” typo above; brain is totally elsewhere today!

    1. Of Blood and Laurels? Yeah. We’d gotten as far as sending out some review codes, and then there was also a period of a couple of hours when Linden made it live on the app store. I was confused that it had appeared there, but I figured they’d decided to release it after all and not told me, so I did tweet about it. I gather a few people managed to pick it up then. But I think we’re talking on the order of 30 copies in the world, counting both the review copies and those sales.

  3. Codebase I can understand but are they saying you can’t have the stories you developed?

  4. That’s terrible. Did they say anything about why? I understand the need to focus, but not even being willing to accept your money seems rather excessively “focused.”

  5. I can see the issue with the code base, but what makes no sense to me is not releasing a completed or nearly completed game or allowing you to retain rights to works they aren’t interested in anymore. In the case of Textfyre, I am still trying to get to a place where I can market Secret Letter and Shadow to a wider audience, and so have retained rights. Empath’s Gift is still being worked on (slowly) and again, I have retained the rights. But if I ever “give up”, the first thing I’d do is give those properties back to the authors. Seems strange from an outsider’s perspective.

  6. FFFFFff

    Well, I wish you the best of luck of luck with your next project, then!

  7. Stories like this are much too common. I am sorry for your loss, Emily. I hope, as you suggest above, that building another engine is the easy part now that you and your team have done it once already.

    More importantly however I think that you should retain the rights to your stories. The engine is one thing, but you should own the right to publish your story in a different medium as soon as Linden takes it off the market. I don’t claim to know the legal issues here but it seems to me that a publisher should not have the right to censor a work in this way. It seems to me that a publisher should at most be able to purchase exclusive rights to publish, which are revoked should they choose not to or to cease to publish the work. Those rights to publish should revert to the creator immediately in this situation. Yes, those are a lot of shoulds, and this is not a world shattering issue when compared to all the other issues of our time, but at the very least let those thoughts sink in. I think at the very least you are in a position to prevent this from happening to yourself in the future.

    1. Well — I’m touched by your indignation on my behalf, but work-for-hire clauses are *extremely* common when you’re salaried as a writer for a company — and I do understand why. It happens in this case that we’re talking about a piece for which I wrote all the text, but even so there were a bunch of other people who worked on B&L in some capacity, from engineers to QA testers to the artist. Should the art rights also have reverted to the artist? (If yes, then there wouldn’t have been a product to sell then, either, and everyone who worked on it would have to go away and make a deal among themselves.) And this doesn’t deal with the many cases where work is done collaboratively between multiple authors. For that matter, this isn’t the first time that some writing I did for hire did get buried as the result of a company decision — not even close. It just happens to be a case where I was especially invested in the work.

      The economic reality is that one often has to choose whether to get paid for something or whether to retain control. I’ve retained sole control on the vast majority of my work, but made nothing from it. Richard and I understood the implications of signing the contracts we signed. The financial results didn’t make me rich, but they did pay off my student loans, cover the nontrivial expenses of moving to the UK, and (fortuitously) put me in a position to help deal with some family emergencies that came up while I was working there — not something I planned for exactly, but something I was very glad of all the same. I also got a chance to spend two years of my life working on a project that I really cared about and from which I learned a great deal, and I had some terrific colleagues at Linden. This isn’t a project I could have done on my own. So those are good results for my life, and I am grateful to Linden for that, whatever the ultimate outcome may have been.

      1. Emily, the point I was making was that if a work is unpublished, then the publisher should immediately lose the rights to it. The reason for raising this “should” is that it enables a publisher to censor works. I am aware that this “should” is not governing your situation. But “shoulds” only come out by assertion. You have to demand them.

        I do not understand why you’d raise the point of rights dissolving to the individuals in a shared work and thus making it unpublishable in the first place. Thats nonsense in my view, and can’t understand why you would raise it. Did I miss something here? In anycase going on my assumption of what you mean: If a product is being sold, then that is more or less “published”, and therefore the individual rights do not revert to their respective creators as I was saying that they should above.

        Furthermore, work – such as the text of B&L – that you created prior to your contract are not owned by Linden as far as I am aware. But I could be wrong since I do not know the contents of your contract. Perhaps because they brielfy released the work, that sealed it up for them. I don’t really know for sure and my purpose is not to sour any wells. I just want to see your work. :)

        And as someone who enjoys your work, I hope you retain control of the ability to get it out in the world in the future. And even more so I hope that when you arrive at that point that you recognize how wrong it is that anyone should ever have to fight to that point in the first place. In otherwords my idignation is not only on your behalf. It is my own. Your situation is as I raised above all too common. It is – to put it simply – wrong, and I think something should be done about it along with a great many other things.

  8. Emily,

    Can the concepts your were working with be recoded in another environment and another product? Maybe this is an opportunity for another project?

  9. This makes my blood boil but I know that you won’t rest on your laurels – your equanimity in all this makes you even more of a hero in my eyes.

  10. Hey — the support is kind and is appreciated. Seriously, it means a lot to me that people were interested in what we were doing and cared about the outcome, and the main reason I’ve blogged about this publicly is that I’ve had so many inquiries about it, and felt some obligation to be clear with people who worked on our beta team or started doing research work around Versu.

    But I would like to discourage that support turning into griping about Linden. I may not understand all the factors they’re dealing with, and I may be sad about the outcome, but the execs are completely within their rights to dispose of their assets as they think best, and indeed they have a responsibility to the company to do so. They treated me fairly and generously as an employee, and I had some terrific coworkers. The company is not the villain. Sometimes stuff just doesn’t work out the way you want it to.

    1. No the company are the villain, but sometimes a company needs to be the villain for the good of the company.

      I’m glad to read that they treated you fairly, I don’t think Linden Lab are a bad company by a long stretch, but in this case, they are the bad guys, even if it is with the right motives.

  11. Maybe you treat this like a malfunctioning and dead hard drive. You never backed it up and lost a bunch of code. You remember most of the code or the intent and you still have a vision. Starting from scratch can be tedious at first (because you’re still thinking about that broken hard-drive), but eventually you hunker down and start having fun.

  12. Like everyone here, I’m severely disheartened at what happened to you, and you’re taking it amazingly well. I know I’d be devastated if I’d lost something I’d worked on for years for reasons completely beyond my control, hinging on a very small group of people taking a decision that just shows how very, very little they care for you.

    I don’t suppose there’s any way that Blood and Laurels can possibly come to light some day? Is it at all likely they might stick to the decision of leaving Versu by the roadside but release the grip on BaL, since it won’t do them any practical good whatsoever?

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