For all who wonders what happened with S:CK

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Some of you might have received the last Newsletter from SEYKEN:

PEOPLE WE GOT A CEASE & DESIST ORDER FROM FREELANCE PIXEL ARTIST CYANGMOU Yes you read right
- the very same Cyangmou that worked with us on the game for about two years.

He claims copyright on his work and gave explicit instructions of what he wants to be removed: + the game & game website + all websites containing his art - like: + Steam Greenlight + Facebook + Indiegogo + Indie DB IF YOU GOT A SITE OR WHATEVER SHOWING HIS ART - REMOVE IT - OTHERWISE YOU MAY GET A CEASE & DESIST ORDER AS WELL. DO NOT TAKE THIS RISK!!! REMOVE IT IMMEDIATELY!!!
Until yesterday I was totally unaware of his intentions - and even so his C&D is 35 pages long and must have taken ages to create he didn't say nothing about it to me or any other member of the team. He threatens me with a lawsuit and assertion of compensation if I don't comply. I keep you posted on whats going on as soon as time permits -
but please understand that I'm totally devastated by this news.
He ruins about 15 years of hard work on my site not to mention the other guys working with me and you the players and supporters. I took the game off-line already and started to work down his list. This guy totally lost it.
Presbyter.



Regarding to that just some additional information from my side:


Yes I hold the copyrights for all the art I created. All of this art has a total workload of ~2360h (stand 09.09.2013)

560h of that were paid monthly with a pocket money amount - I still hold the copyrights
900h are still open and payment was promised
900h I additionally worked for a promised 15% revenue share.

During the work on S:CK I finished school and built up my own business. I always had to freelance next to S:CK for my living - since the amount agreed with Pres don't covered my monthly living costs - S:CK was my big plan for the future and the 15% revenue-share would have been the backbone for my finances once the game gets successful.

Presbyter kicked me out of the project September 20th. I additionally don't received the payment we agreed on for August, September and October. On top of that he don't wanted to talk with me and as I wrote another E-Mail to him he said he currently don't has any time to talk with me and he would come back to me - which don't happened within 3 weeks.
But he obviously had time to release an update in the meanwhile (which also contained a lot more of my graphics and definitely was a lot of work).

I decided to let my lawyer send a C&D catalogue with all work I own the copyright and I will bring that up in front of the court of law if we can't find a solution or my art is used after the given deadline.
The initial deadline was October 25th, Presbyter extended that one already with my lawyer until November 4th.
If we'd make an agreement, they would get a license to use my work and I won't sue them.

But Instead of trying to bargain with me Pres already took down the game and all related materials today (October 25th).
It neither was my intention that the game gets offline nor would it have been necessary until November 4th.
I just want what Pres owes me and that in a legally fixed way, since I can't trust him anymore.

Mou
© 2013 - 2022 Cyangmou
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Watch "Alex Mauer enforces contract by DMCA extortion". It's a very similiar case to yours. Missing wages doesn't mean you can recall or take commissioned works back from employers.

It's like fixing a house. You can't break in and undo all your work because your employer never paid you. It's not your house. You have to sue for your wages promised, you cannot sue for ownership of the house (in most cases).

They made the right call. Most indie devs can't afford years of expensive litigation, even if they're in the right. That's not to say that you weren't wronged. Your employer may have been a deadbeat prick, but you where abusing copyright law to strong arm him into acquiescing. The laws are written to protect your work being used without permission, not to protect works you made for others that you weren't paid for. The fact is, to them, you probably looked like a crazy ex, trying to retroactively trying to withdrawing consent to things you agreed to in the past.

You came to the negotiating table with a bomb strapped to your chest threatening expensive litigation. Then tried to act like you where doing so in good faith. If you where willing to misuse the law to push a frivolous lawsuit, there really wasn't any Laurent that you would act honorably (even if you intended to) afterwards. You really went about this thing the wrong way. Just because your employer was an ass doesn't make it okay to stoop to his leve.

I hope you got payed though. You just approached it in a very immature way, like the indie devs who try to silence bad reviews with DMCAs, or people who use copyrights to pressure competition out of their market. Copyright is very very specific circumstances, not just for you to use every time your work ends up in hands of someone you don't like or agree with. Copyright claims ARE NOT FOR PAY DISPUTES. Taking advantage of the civil court system to rap up your competition/media opposition/ex-boss in expensive and pointless litigation is abusive and messed up!

Keep up the pretty art. Sorry if I seem harsh. I know this was a long time ago. I found this after looking up where some beautiful 2d screenshots came from (apparently S:CK). Maybe you approached the situation that way out of ignorance, and not knowing what else to do. Just be more careful about your employers, and don't ruin a project for an entire team, just because your boss is a total dick.
Cyangmou's avatar
First of all I agree on "not being an ass" in fact it's one of the values i hold very dear to my heart.

However:
If agreements which were made stated that rights for the art produced will only go to the employer after payment, what you say is simply incorrect.
This should always be the agreement you make as a freelance worker, next to a ton of other things you got to keep in mind. That's why as businessman you have a lawyer.

And then if someone who doesn't own the rights of something but releases it without your consent, then you can do a copyright lawsuit (unles sit's released it's a bit difficult).
In fact there are not many things you can do as freelance worker if someone doesn't fulfill their promises - even if there is a contract it's quite difficult to get your payment.

It's not like a house, because freelance digital art is not physical.
You can sue for the house if the agreement is that the house only will change owner if the payments were made (which usually is the case and why you go to a bank to get the money)
If you don't pay for the house despite agreeing, but you move in and tell everyone in the neighborhood it's yours, and then finally the owner comes around and kicks you out that's how it works.

I simply can't agree on silencing bad reviews is just as bad bc. no money is involved there. It's dirty as well but nobody really gets "harmed" or frauded - the customers usually have plenty of other sources (videos, magazines etc. to get information).

And if I invested my working time on a job for money and it causes problems on my end if my business partner doesn't fulfill his agreements, while I fulfilled mine, I always will use the law because that's simply what it's there for.
There is an saying "if debt is involved friendship ends quickly"
If money is involved and promises aren't kept I simply don't care about the team.
Fraud and it's consequences is never about friendship, it's never about the team, it's never about the other freelance workers, it's simply and only about business.
Keeping a project running and managing the team is the job of the director or lead of a project. If a freelancer can ruin your project you are just a super bad director.

In a case like this a lot of dirty stuff can happen.
I wasn't the dev who released a game on steam without having all rights on everything in it.
I wasn't the dev who intented to put social pressure on a young, inexperienced freelance artist by using his own fangroup to make him step back from his rights and agreements which were made by using manipulative methods and exploiting psychological pressure.
I also wasn't the one who as the former plan failed sent out insulting mails, used his coworkers for peer-pressure and who finally insulted the opposing lawyer that the other businessman "is just a kid" and has no rights to the work despite the agreements.

I just was the freelance artist who had to deal with a terrible client. I dealt with it with my lawyer and the law.

As freelance worker you are always a mercenary.
In medieval times mercenaries which weren't paid for risking their lifes sometimes looted or killed and looted their contractor.
Nowadays we don't have the killing and looting because it's not really a civilized way to go about things, but we got the law.
THe law was done justice.

In the countless projects I have been involved since then and the 12 released games I worked on since this happened, there has never been something as fucked up again.
And I tell you, the older and more experienced I get, the more I see this as someone who is old and experienced taking advantage of a very young and inexperienced person.
It has been a defining moment in my life which certainly shaped me as a person.
I personally don't have the slightest regrets on any of my decisions I made today and If I could go back I'd exactly handle each single one of them 1:1 as I did way back.
You're right, if it was part of the original agreement, then he really didn't have any room to complain. Using assets that aren't under your control is always a risk. There are too many copyright horror stories.

Sorry that happened to you. Ultimately, you had no incentive to want the game to fail. You had a stake in its success, and from my understanding, you wanted to negotiate, but he claimed you where trying to negotiate from an unfair position, so I don't know if he came to the table.

Your situation was a lot different from alex mauers, and I shouldn't have compared it. You didn't harrass the fans and try to pressure them to attack the company for you or use DMCA even though the rights where already in the hands of the developer.

The only thing I can say you did wrong is not ditching the project way before you amassed two thousand hours of unpaid work. I'm glad you've managed to build a successful career since then.
Cyangmou's avatar
It was one of my first experiences with freelance, you are right I should have ditched it much sooner, because the signs existed, but I did overlook them.
Stuff like this happens and it also keeps happening young artists in the pixelart scene these dayys, even if they know.
It's just always difficult to make online work work out.
MarkKetron's avatar
Ah yes, lawyers politics and lawsuit, THE EVILNESS OF THE WORLD. I will sum up the massive post you have made in a few short sentences. "Oh i have not heard from pres in 3 weeks, I will sue him and kill the game and then make excuses on the web not taking into consideration how it will affect the gamers." before you get all jumpy into a law suit you should have confronted pres in person like a normal human bieng. any one who sues anyone for any reason whatsoever i do not consider to be a member of the human species :3 thank you come again
I am a recreational gamer, as well as a philosophy major with a minor in psychology. I want to be clear:

You are both at fault.
You are both sentient beings capable of resolving problems without getting emotional.
You are both destroying what you have created because of a lack of empathy for each other, your team, and your fans.

On a more positive side:

You can both get together and fix this without harassing one another.
Much like developing a game in its early phase, you can both work through the bugs and fix what needs to be fixed.

No doubt you are both talented--artistic or otherwise. However, my father's business had a similar problem (two of the partners weren't getting along due to financial issues). Instead of putting more wood into your individual fires, take a while to rationalize all of this, and let your fires die down. While your fire has been reduced to ash, think about what you are each getting from this whole thing, and think about all of the work thats been done by the other team members.

Without a Doubt,

Laugh it out.
Kimashi's avatar
Well this is a bloody shame.  Who would have thought that such a promising game, a game that truly could have gone somewhere, slow-going though it was, would be brought down in a fiery heap if dung.

I'm not sure I can even put my thoughts into words properly right now, but I feel sorry for those who donated their time and money into this long-running game, only to have it all go up in smoke.

I have to agree, there are better ways this could have been handled by both sides, without bringing in lawyers or shutting down the entire game, but oh well, that's life.

...There is no more I can say without making anyone angry, if I haven't already managed to do so.

-sighs-
Groonhill's avatar
Presbyter is an idiot, in the beginning he had 1:1 graphics pretty much ripped from the SNES game which would have landed him a lawsuit with Square-Enix anyway, so since then there really was a huge graphics overhaul.. though i wouldnt say he made a single improvement on his engine.. he wasnt smart he could have ditched the development team and re-created his project BY HIMSELF in UnrealEngine or Unity, whats the point of drawing textures when he could have generated a fractal map terrain and trees and all that crap that already comes with the SDK?

Presbyter killed his game by himself, dont blame it on the graphics artist.. it was Presbyter that continued to WIPE the game every few weeks telling everyone hes "Rebooting for major updates!" 11 months later the game is less complete than it previously was and everyone has to start over.. how many times will people go through that?

with or without his graphics artist his game would have never been complete because he doesnt have a clue about what hes doing

you can read more about it here:

indiestatik.com/2013/11/07/sey…
1# >To be honest I don't know what he wants to achieve.
2# >If I look at all the facts and that he will try to work down the list it seems that he wants me to leave with nothing. 
3# >And it also seems that he wants to ruin my reputation as professional artist.

Presbyter here.

1# I bet you don't - you don't even know what you wanted to achieve as far as I can tell.
2# You still don't get it: EVERBODY leaves with nothing. Not YOU. Its US. ME, YOU, Vierbit, Matbtt the community. We talked about this a hundred times --- we will stand or fall as a team. I don't see you and me working together any time soon. The team ceased to exist the second you decided to go on this alone so did S:CK. I wanted to get you back into the team - I really did - I missed you as a friend and a cornerstone of the project ... your C&D totally ruined all of this --- . Why didn't you call me? Why? You called me a hundred times when you needed MY help on something YOU seemed important. Maybe it was money ... maybe your personal revenge because of me telling you the truth straight into your face. I said things to you because I cared.
3# No I don't. All I said is the truth. Would I do things differently now - you bet I would - wouldn't bet too much on you doing things differently.

Anyhow --- I did what you asked for. 
Every single demand of your C&D has been executed.
I see you are still not happy. 
Wonder why.

Your friend Pres. 

PS: I will not engage in a fight here. I already lost one. That's enough for one lifetime.
Cyangmou's avatar
Ich weiß jetzt nicht ob ich mich GEEHRT oder VERARSCHT fühlen soll, dass du dich jetzt, heute hier am 5. November, wenn alles gelaufen ist, auf meinem DevArt in einer zivilisierten Weise meldest.
Jedenfalls ist das die erste vernünftige Antwort von dir seit dem 16. September - Danke. 

Mir war sehr wohl bewusst, dass ich mit dem C&D ne vollgefüllte Dynamitkiste hinstelle und wa spassieren könnte.
Du hast nichtmal versucht sie zu entschärfen, stattdessen hast du sie beinhart gezündet - ohne Rücksicht auf irgendjemandes Verluste (deiner, Fabian, Matt, Community...).
DAS ALLES hast jedenfalls ganz allein DU zu verantworten. DU hast alles kaputtgemacht, obwohl du ganz genau wusstest wer und was alles auf der Strecke bleibt.

Als du die Deadline verlängert hast, dachte ich wir würden noch zu einer Lösung kommen. Ich jedenfalls hatte bis gestern Abend die Hoffnung nicht aufgegeben - trotz allem.
Thomas ich entschärfe keine Bomben die Du legst - für "Dynamitkisten" die Du in die Welt setzt trägst Du die Verantwortung. Nicht ich und auch sonst niemand.
Das Thema war gelaufen als der C&D bei mir eintrudelte - damit war die Basis jeder Zusammenarbeit in Zukunft zerstört - und damit das Projekt.
Ich hatte es mit Fabian & Mathias stundenlang durch diskutiert - ich werde nichts aushandeln während ich auf ner "Dynamitkiste" sitze - dazu stehe ich. Dazu steht Mathias. Dazu steht Fabian.

Wie oft hab ich gepredigt das wir es nur zusammen schaffen können ... wie oft. Ich hab gebettelt in Skype um Unterstützung.

Es ist schade das Du nicht siehst das ich etwas erschaffen wollte. Aber nur bis zu dem Punkt bis mich das Thema langsam auffrisst - mich schlaflos macht mit Sorge umgibt.
Es Freundschaften zerstört und Gier und Zwietracht sät - ab dem Zeitpunkt fiel es mir einfach. Abzulassen und genau das habe ich.
Nicht wegen Dir oder sonst wem - für mich - sonst hätte es mich zerstört.
Ich fühle mich seit Tagen wie ein Soldat der von einem langen Krieg heimgekehrt - am Boden zerstört - aber wenigstens noch am Leben.

Ich habe keine Ahnung was Dich umtreibt. Ich hab kein Wort gelesen über unsere Freundschaft oder das Team ich lese immer nur "Du" "Du" ... 
Mag sein das ich Schuld am allem bin. Nur ich. 

Trotzdem telefoniere ich noch mit Matbtt und Fabian. Skype mit Serket. Chatte mit Mike und den anderen aus Denmark.
Maile mit den DieHard Fans ... komisch eigentlich oder?

Wie gesagt ich habe alle Punkte erfüllt. 
Genauso wie Du und Dein Anwalt & deine "Freunde" es wollten.

Hoffnung nie aufgeben. Das war ein gutes Schlusswort von Dir.
Das lasse ich so stehen.

Ich wünsche Dir trotz allem alles Gute in Deinem weiteren Leben. 

Harald


 










good thing we have translator.. well i dont understand german so good..
anyway i was hoping some good resolution till november 4th and we got nothing :/

he(Pres) didnt need to continue with the other (Cyang) in the project, if he was interested he would find a way to continue, the community was with him to support .. but guess what!? he just gave up .. although i believe that he will not throw away a so long job, i really  think he will continue in some way ..

i respect his decision ... but it seems he didnt even tried .. at first sigh .. gave up and nothing else .. so sad .. was not either one or another who lost but the community who was supporting, donating, playing and waiting  always for something new ....

both were selfish .. Cyang could have sought Pres first before seeking lawyers and Pres need not have removed all work the way he did.
1 by ego and the other for lack of maturity.

Lack of Professionalism.

people who will only support Cyang will be those who think money is everything, or non-sense ones.. right money is pretty much today but not everything is solved in this way ..
others will support Pres per fellowship things ...
both are wrong ..
i dont meant to be rude, dont get me wrong.. its just .. well ... better stop writing cuz i dont want to be act like jerk..

Sad
and worst, if both dont want others to understand use PM instead using german ..

as Etherdrifter said 1day ago

"The players are left without a game, pretty rotten for them.  People who donated (which contributed to both yours and pres' wages) have been left without anything to show for it.

As far as I am aware, the only people getting anything out of this are the lawyers!"
Draco - I tried - I tried so hard for the last 6 month you can't even imagine. You wanted me to fight some more? I'm tired of fighting. 
The last conference we did as a full team backed me up as a leader - I spoke for hours about how I intend to make this work for everybody.
No-one disagreed. I made my point clear that we will make S:CK happen as a team or fall as a team = Cy,Me,Matbtt,Vierbit.

Unfortunately we fell.

PS. You might want to check with a legal council that once someone receives a C&D because of copyright infringements he has to stop doing so immediately the moment he becomes aware of it and also advice others he enables to take part in it to do so as well (like fan screenshots or Youtube etc). A C&D is nothing to take lightly. At least that's what my lawyer told me to do. The extension we got on the C&D was required to get the legal documents done. 

And Etherdrifter is right.
Hiho Pres, sure i cant even imagine.. as i said dont meant to be rude, just disappointed about the way it got.

We really dont know many things, sure theres many things behind the scene... and i understand.. i'm just very sad about not being able to be there with the guys playing such amazing game... as the others i really loved the environment and the game ..
If you start another one... please send communication to me and others, will be a pleasure to play once again and support your game in anyway...

I wish you good luck and god bless you!
It's sad that things didn't work out... I was hoping tho see more of the game :/ 


kkslidershreds's avatar
i thought you were a total dick until i read this. it's annoying how people like to leave out certain information when they want to make people look bad. you're a great artist bro. keep up the good work
Disagreements are rooted in misunderstandings and regretful things said in the moment.

Logically both of you have lost our on the agreement as it stands.  Pres is forced to remove graphics and halt the project, you are left with a black stain against your name on a major project.  Neither has gained anything save resentment and ulcers.

The players are left without a game, pretty rotten for them.  People who donated (which contributed to both yours and pres' wages) have been left without anything to show for it.

As far as I am aware, the only people getting anything out of this are the lawyers!

Just a thought for you, while you consider your future.
Pix3M's avatar
The site says that game service has been terminated.

Not a good sign.
MrFahrenheit840's avatar
Best of luck to you Cyangmou. You have amazing work!
API-Beast's avatar
Well, wow. This is fucked up.

Stay strong, don't give up, find your way :) I am pretty sure with your skills, portfolio and persistance you will find more fulfilling work in the future.
kyuuYUSHM's avatar

Hey cyangmou, Crow/Krähe from WotP here. I feel sorry for you, this isn't something that should happen to a person like you. Good luck with.. that. And anything you do in the future. May you have someone's sword, bow and axe. And my feathers! ^-^


Now, what I wanted to say is: I don't get people. Especially the ones defending the game and its owner (?) with arguments like "others have invested more time/money". So what? Is that reason enough to just not care about the money you rightfully deserve for your work, which you were promised beforehand? Do you expect people to live on the edge just so you can play a game that looks promising, but has shitty "management"? I feel sorry for the community, but definitely not for the people who are defending Pres.

Trick17's avatar
Hi Thomas,
As I first read the newsletter from Presbyter, I was really confused. I was wondering why you made such a big effort to remove all your art from the game without a good reason. I really had no idea that you worked as a freelancer for the game, thought that you spend a lot of (unpaid) sparetime for this project. However, I can fully support your reasons, since I work as a graphics designer too. I don't make art for the art's sake and if you decide to earn your money with pixelart, it's practically the same. I really admire your brave decision, because I had the same mindset some time ago but I made up my mind against it.
I also thought about hiring a freelancer for our game, but I don't want to get money involved in my sparetime projects. Sometimes it's better without, but I don't want to say that it was a bad decision on your side. It takes courage to do what you really like. Maybe I didn't have it yet.
Well, I hope you this issue here get's solved in a good manner. I really wish you the best and hope to see more pixelart from you.
I´ve been a fulltime freelancer for some years and I´ve been in your shoes many times.  Stay cool, knowing that you did your work to the best of your capacity and that you played nice while it was reasonable to do so. Then forget it and rock on :)
matbtt's avatar

For me, as a long term (12 years) S:CK member, it is quite interesting to see, how somebody - who just killed this long running project due to his selfish and double-faced behavior in less than two years - tries to wash responsibility of his hands by claiming behavioral standards he does not comply. So, Cyangmou, please do me a favor and do not mention your name in the context of honesty, integrity, credibility or even professionalism. What you did is the complete opposite!


It is not true, that Cyangmou had been kicked out of the S:CK for good. True is, that his game master account had been locked down temporarily, because he started to torpedo team goals we just had discussed days before. In a late night Skype conference all team members decided that the fun to work on the project is by far more important than the money we could make  out of it in the future. Furthermore all team members decided that there is one, and only one, project leader: Presbyter!


Guess what: Cyangmou did not disagree! Just five days later he did the opposite again!


The conference would have been the ideal moment to say: “Okay, I am out! I do not believe in the project, I do not believe in the project leader. For me, money is important and therefore I do not believe in the primary project goal anymore!”


Just for the records: Cyangmou agreed to follow Presbyter! And one month later the very same Presbyter should be an idiot running a project by ripping off a pixel artist by paying him  pocket money worth almost 10.000 USD for graphics and granting him even more money plus 15% of the future revenue. Maybe someone can help me, but that does not sound logical to me!


The story is just the confession of Cyangmou's complete failure, not only as Presbyter's friend, but also as a team player. If he would have spend less than five percent of the time, he needed to prepare the cease and desist order or answering the comments here, just to talk to the other team members (yes, I know we had a Skype chat) beside some blah blah or even think about the consequences of his behavior, S:CK would be still alive.


However, he decided to take a different direction. Without prior notice towards Presbyter and/or the team he filed a cease and desist order, a legal construct which is thought to be the last resort in case someone is ripping you completely off. Again, help is appreciated, as I cannot see a rip-off here: he received money before, he had an agreement for further payments plus a 15% share of future revenues. However, there was no email, no letter no call no whatsoever from his side withdrawing his allowance of using his graphics.


Just a really BIG BANG!!


There was no other way than shutting the game down as possible copyright violations can result in severe consequences. Cyangmou even did not withdraw that cease and desist order after Presbyter asked him if it is just bad timing because the first payments of a money transfer order valid for the next five(!) years where just on the way to his bank account! Instead he offered Presbyter some additional conditions. I do not go into details, but no person in full possession of its mental power would have agreed!


That is it! There is nothing more to say. I am very sorry for the community, for the people who believed in S:CK, bought credits to support use or just played the game from time to time. There was more to come but things went into the opposite direction.


Let me close with two remarks:


First: The above statement is my private opinion as a team member of S:CK and does not necessarily express the of other team members.


Second: People questioning Presbyter intentions here should ask themselves if they really believe that he would risk the work of nearly 16 year, the investment of thousands of dollars, his life time project just to betray Cyangmou?


Third: Yes, Cyangmou, I just registered tonight only to post this comment. Maybe I get an answer here, even if it is too late.


Over and out.

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