Battlecruiser 3000AD v. 2.09
File Info: Battlecruiser 3000AD v. 2.09
Description: Battlecruiser 3000AD v. 2.09Almost 10 years in the making with millions of dollars spent on research and development of advanced technologies, Battlecruiser 3000AD is the only space flight sim that gives you everything you expect in the genre and more. Using advanced technologies in areas of artificial intelligence and accelerated 3Dfx graphics, Battlecruiser 3000AD adds enhanced gameplay to provide you with total immersion like no other game in the genre can. This is no short term shooter. This is an advanced simulation with unmatched replay value. BC3K v2.09 will work on WIN95, WIN98 and WINME (your mileage may vary)
NOTE: THIS FIRST APPEARED IN THE FREE INTERNET VERSION OF BC3K v1.0x, RELEASED
IN MARCH 1998. IT IS INCLUDED HERE IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN A SEAMLESS HISTORY
SURROUNDING THE ON-GOING BATTLECRUISER SAGA.
By now if you don't know about the on-going Battlecruiser saga, welcome to our
planet Earth. For your sakes, I sure as heck hope you come in peace. While
you're pondering this, skip to the March 1998, read it, then come back and read
the June entry.
Back in 1998, right before I signed a deal with interplay production, I released
BC3K v1.0x on the Internet for free. In fact, it was the popularity of that
release, that made the deal possible in the first place. The rest, is history.
Fast forward to 2001. For a DOS product, released in a Windows dominated
game market, BC3K v2.0x has sold more units worldwide, than most multi-million
dollar duds. And this is largely due to the loyalty of the fan base, the dedication
of the dev team and, well, a probable act of God. To this day, it remains a very
popular title, especially in the hard core gaming niche. On our website, we still
have gamers from all of the world, playing both BC3K v2.0x and in fact, the BCM demos.
By now, you've probably heard or read about and probably played the demos of the
next title in the BC series, Battlecruiser Millennium, due out this Summer. This
title has come a long way since the DOS days of its predecessor and continues to
harness the power of the niche in once again remaining true and loyal to those who
have made this series so popular. In fact, my original plan was so ambitious, that
I had to scrap my *entire* design for the original Battlecruiser 3020AD sequel,
and split that design into two products, with Battlecruiser Millennium being the
first of the two.
With that, and in keeping with a trend I intend to adopt for all my products, I have
today released Battlecruiser 3000ad v2.09 to the Internet for free. It includes the
following in a compact Installshield package:
- Original BC3K v2.08 retail game
- BC3K v2.09 final BC3K v2.0x patch (installed)
- Map Pak add-on (installed) which includes 7000+ planetary mission zones
- BC3K Game Development System, GBS, which allows the creation of scenarios and
worlds for BC3K
- All BC3K v2.0x game cheats (including the Fleet C&C cheat)
- Original script sources for all scenarios included in BC3K v2.0x
BC3K v2.09 will work on WIN95, WIN98 and in fact, WINME (your mileage may vary)
So, there you have it. While you are waiting for us to finish polishing up and doing
final testing of BCM, you can play BC3K v2.09 if you haven't already, and get used
to the world, the characters and the tremendous freedom and power that it offers.
Regards and see you among the stars
Derek K. Smart, Ph.D.
The Battlecruiser Series
President, 3000AD, Inc.
By now, you already know who I am, what Battlecruiser 3000AD is and of course
heard about or experienced the 1996 botched release of one of the most eagerly
anticipated and hyped titles of all time. The abuse, the insults, the finger
pointing, the blame etc. have all been shoved back and forth since 1996 and to
this day, the controversy continues.
What happened to BC3K in September 1996?
Everyone, from the publishers to the Usenet detractors who don't even own the
game, has a version of what they believed really happened. The gaming press and
general populous at large, have stirred up story after story, theory after
theory, with no idea of what really happened. Every story, every thread, every
flame war reeked of speculation, conjecture and even blatant lies. The Usenet
has generated in excess of 65,000 posts since the game's release. Everyone has
an opinion and unless you're Derek Smart, you won't have a clue as to what it
takes to watch a decade of hard work go up in flames. Someone woke up one
morning and made a decision that was to change my life forever.
This, is my story.
HOW IT ALL STARTED...
The story of this game's evolution to what it is today and the stuff I had to go
through to complete it would fill volumes. I'll try to keep it short. I was in
London back in 1988-89 when I had the idea for this game. At the time I had no
idea what I was in for or where it would take me. The details are pretty sketchy
now, but not completely beyond the realm of recall.
The genesis (or perhaps this story is better analogized to the trials of Job) of
Battlecruiser dates back to a phone call to Velocity in the US for tech support.
I bought a copy of Jetfighter with my brand new top of the line Amstrad computer
and I couldn't get it to work. Boy that baby was slick (do I hear you chuckling
and does this story sound familiar?). Anyway, I had to make an international
call to get the tech support I needed. I spoke to Matt Harmon who was pretty
helpful and in no time, I was flying over San Francisco ready to shoot down
anything that moved. In the days that followed, I became virtually obsessed
with the game (This is beginning to sound very familiar, isn't it?) and since I
could find no other meaningful use for my machine, I continued to buy games.
In the months that followed, Matt and I built a relationship during which I
expressed the desire to get into the gaming business (yep, this story is getting
very close to home). At the time it was a novel and niche market in which only
the elite of the elite prospered, but many fresh from their new Walter Mitty
environments dreamed of entering. Was I qualified to undertake such a daunting
task? Hell, my programming skills were more geared toward vertical market type
applications and other software that one could actually admit in public to be
the focus of one's livelihood. Even with my background and education, I didn't
even know what would be the first module to write for a game. Notwithstanding
these obstacles, my newfound passion for gaming triggered by games such as
Jetfighter was not going to be quenched by dreams alone or the work of others. I
knew then that I wanted to write a game, not just any game, but THE GAME.
After much prodding of Matt in between his tech support calls, I was convinced
that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. All I needed was to
get in (Opening Hollywood-type scene: "Mr. Mayer, my name is Derek Smart and
I'm ready for my screen test now"). Naturally, this conflicted with those
mundane facets of life. Like working as systems engineer and programmer, going
to college at night, dealing with a demanding boss and coping with a new
marriage (now it is becoming crystal clear, this isn't only my story is it? It
could be the story of anyone, who, like me, was bitten by the bug of this
fantastic form of entertainment).
In between designing the game, bothering Matt and pretty much everyone in the UK
who knew anything about the subject, I became much more proficient in
programming areas that the ultimate game would require, including graphics, AI
processing and data structures. Most of all, I needed a good design for a
gaming concept that was largely little more than a general notion residing
between my ears. I wanted a game that combined most, if not all, of the
elements of existing games. THE GAME would be a game that was completely
immersing and gave the player total control or as much control as the player
wanted. THE GAME would transcend game genre boundaries such as role-playing,
simulation, strategic wargaming and other sub-genres of gaming--all gamers would
be welcome at Derek Smart's table of gaming delight.
What a nightmare that grandiose vision turned out to be. It wasn't the 60's so I
couldn't blame it on drugs and bell-bottoms. The long and short of the matter
is, I was basically out to lunch to think I could pull this off and plain crazy
to even attempt to do so. Now you're beginning to get the picture.
The design of THE GAME itself when through several revisions, from a basic
planetary flight sim, to role playing, back to flight sim, back to role playing
. . .
department, which is complete with padding and custom-fitted straightjacket>.
Remember, I did admit earlier that I didn't have a clue as to what I was doing?
By the time I realized that I was headed nowhere, but doing so with such flair
and reckless abandon, I had a library of over twenty games. Ranging from the
Infocom classics to titles by Rainbird, Microprose, Cosmi and Interstel. I was
drawn more toward the adrenaline pumping action that Microprose titles provided,
so my flight sim design aspects constantly went through all sorts of revisions
to achieve as close to perfect simulation characteristics as humanly possible.
Coming from a scientific and space research background, I decided to blend in a
touch of space flight modeling just to complicate my life further.
It was by pure coincidence that I went to a store in downtown London (I think it
was the Virgin Megastore on Oxford street) and ran into 'Wild Bill' Stealey,
then CEO of Microprose who was showing off either F19 or F15 Strike Eagle, I
can't remember (this seems to be happening a lot). Boy, was I excited. I
watched and listened as he demonstrated his new toy to the gawking on-lookers.
In between doing that, he was narrating a story (for the umpteenth time) about
how he and some hot shot (Andy Hollis?) had the idea of doing a game. As the
story goes, he had told Andy that if he [Andy] could write it, he [Bill] could
sell it. When I had the chance, I introduced myself. He offered to show me his
new piece of magic on a floppy.
Not being shy, lacking self-confidence or otherwise reluctant to promote THE
GAME well in advance of its release date, at the end of the presentation, I told
him that I was currently working on an idea for a game which would most likely
surpass anything ever developed (yeah right!). He took a long hard look at me
and said, "Son, when you do, be sure contact me" and he gave me his card. It
was many years before I would see Bill again in the United States.
By the time I decided to return to the States, Battlecruiser: 3000AD had evolved
from scrambled thoughts and spaghetti code to the basic framework for a game,
but it still wasn't THE GAME, either in concept or in preliminary design. THE
GAME would take a bit more time, but little did I know that it would take
another five years to complete. I continued to learn 3D programming while
honing my ai skills and basically making the transition from business
application programming to gaming. No easy task to say the least! Since no
publisher in their right mind was willing to give an unknown developer a chance
to create THE GAME on their nickel, I had to continue financing the development
Remember good old Matt? Well, I continued to plague him and he continued to
provide the best advice he could, since programming assistance was out of the
question. Man, I was buying books and games like it was the end of the era of
gaming. Wallowing in "research material," I got so confused and sidetracked
that I started to seriously consider bringing in some hired help. The question
was what kind of help did I need? Up to that point I wrote every line of code
for the game, created every screen image, design specs and every other
conceivable task imaginable--what kind of help did I really need and where would
I start looking for those to lend a helping hand in finishing the quest for the
holy grail of gaming? I created a demo and posted it on the popular on-line
services with a message for anyone interested to contact me. The response was
enormous, but this did not produce the gathering of crusaders that I needed, so
I continued part time development on my own.
In 1991, I contacted one publisher who had just terminated an agreement with
another source of game products and who was excited about publishing my game.
Consistent with disappointments to be expected at the outset of any new venture,
it never panned out. I think someone died and the deal got nixed. In early
1992, negotiations with another publisher never went beyond the non-disclosure
agreement stage. Shortly thereafter, I remembered my conversation with Bill
Stealey and tried to contact him at Microprose. After several attempts I
received a encouraging ding letter from an associate producer that stated a
potential conflict between my project and a pending Microprose project.
Undeterred, the search for a publisher willing to release the project continued
with contacts with yet another major player, but that deal, again, never went
beyond the non-disclosure agreement stage. The Strategy Plus did a front cover
article in 1992 and all hell broke loose. Interest in THE GAME escalated and for
once, publishers were actually talking to me - but weren't saying much. Go
I continued development and financing on my own with the idea that if I could
enhance the game and fine-tune the concept, it would be more attractive to a
publisher. Surely, someone in the biz would recognize THE GAME in its infancy.
Back to the drawing board. Believe me, being a rocket scientist is more fun and
is far less stressful. Later that year, in October actually, 3000AD signed its
first ever publishing contract. Boy, was I excited and I was going to my first
trade show with my game that December. CES here I come!
My new publisher terminated my contract at the trade show after I was there for
only, say maybe, five hours citing that the press did not think that
Battlecruiser had the glitz that other programs of that genre had. This was a
thinly veiled reference to Chris Roberts' latest version of Wing Commander, of
course. Ok, what's another disappointment; at least I got to meet some very
interesting people, all of whom have stuck with me throughout this development.
These include Ed Dille, Mike Weksler and other press contributors who throughout
the years have added their own two cents to give me an idea of where the
industry was headed and what I needed to do in order to compete.
By January of 1993, I was without a publisher and my assistant 3D developer had
departed. Those moves cost me eighteen months of development time and an
unusable 3D black box. THE GAME would, however, be completed, so I went
searching for a replacement. Was I disillusioned? Absolutely not, I was
determined to finish my game regardless of what I had to go through.
In February of 1993, after a providing a demo for another potential publisher, I
received another nice letter, of course, turning the project down. Tell me if
you are beginning to see a pattern here: your product is quiet impressive and we
believe it will do well on the market, but we do not think we are the right
publisher due to our staffing and other product commitments. We could not give
you the attention, both development and marketing, which your product will
require to maximize its market success. Remember Matt? Yeah, you remember him.
Well, I contacted him - again - and told him about my misfortune. He then
suggested that I talk to another contact in the game of games to see if they
would be interested in doing my game. I did and a few days later had a new
publisher. Well the publisher had problems of its own and a few months later,
the key players went separate ways. With that split, I decided to stick with
one group, Matt and Tom Ptak, who then formed Mission Studios with
Battlecruiser:3000 AD as the first product. Talk about taking risks with a
developer claiming to be the creator of THE GAME.
I bet you thought that was the end of the tale. As much as I thought and later
wished it was, THE GAME was still far from finding its way to those patiently
awaiting its release. I had managed to assemble together a ghost team of one
more 3D programmer, an artist, an animator and a support programmer and we
continued working. Chasing technology can be a dangerous thing with limited
resources and an ambitious objective. This industry creates it's own standards,
in part, in response to what you, the ultimate arbiter of what constitutes a
quality game, demand. Jumping on the bandwagon of a contemporary marketable
concept is as simple as finding the talent and money to do it. In my opinion,
technology will no longer cut it, however, in terms of producing something that
has the potential to occupy hard drives or CD caddies for years to come.
Everyone has the basic tools that technology yields. Texture mapping, gouraud
shading, 2D/3D graphics manipulation, great sound fx and music, stunning
Without being overly critical and in an attempt to avoid sounding arrogant, a
game without the 'gameplay' is like a cheap thrill-here today, nothing but
fragments of erased files when the next piece of eye-candy or trendy stuff hits
the shelves tomorrow. That kind of software pays the bills, attracts many
(though it may leave many disappointed) and has some positive gameplay aspects
in addition to the "gee whiz" technology, but it is not the heart and soul of
any great game, let alone that of THE GAME.
For three years I was chasing technology. Great games came and went and
Battlecruiser: 3000 AD was still in development. Review followed review, still
no game in sight. By late 1994, the delays, slips and technical difficulties
finally put a strain on the limited financial resources of Mission Studios. In
the interest of all concerned, we agreed that I would find a new publisher to
purchase the publishing rights to Battlecruiser:3000 AD.
Several companies expressed an interest, but true to prior form none of the
deals panned out. In March 1995, came the next publisher. Invigorated by a
recent acquisition of one of those publishers that had already made me the
beneficiary of one of those lovely ding letters, my new publisher now expressed
an interest in acquiring the same game that the acquired company may have erred
in dropping from its stable of titles. This deal fell apart quicker than one
would imagine for a project that really was demonstrably close to completion.
Two months after the ink had dried on the contract, I was without a publisher
again! That stunt cost me two months of development time and attorney fees I
did not have to incur (but gladly paid because I'm that kind of guy and my
attorney made me say that). In the end, I got my game back. I'm sure you've
probably read about the circumstances in one of the computer gaming magazines. I
won't go into any details here.
Anyway, one bright afternoon I was buried deep in code (never say die, Dr.
Smart, the Tooth Fairy got your message and will see you immediately!!!) when
the phone rang and I found myself speaking to Ryan Brant at Take 2 Interactive
Software, who I didn't know from a hole in the wall. Apparently, he had read
about the incident with my prior publisher in the press and expressed an
interest in the game. A few days later, armed with what I thought was a top
notch support team and a dedicated publisher Battlecruiser: 3000 AD was finally
headed for the shelves. Take Two purchased the rights from Mission Studios and
went to work providing whatever assistance the development needed to ensure its
It was the deal that has changed my life and all but ruined my career. For all
of you out there with questions about why this development has taken this long
and what has Derek Smart been doing, now you know. The answer to whether it was
worth the wait and whether Battlecruiser: 3000 AD is anywhere close to the
epitome of gaming that I worked so hard to at least try to achieve, lies in the
box and awaits your judgment. Now that you've opened it, install it, play it
and determine whether it is THE GAME or any reasonable facsimile thereof.
Whatever your conclusion is, I have truly expended all efforts to attempt what
may be as impossible as writing the Great American Novel. Most of all, do what
I'll be doing post-release, have some fun!!
THE DOWNHILL SYNDROME....
Talking about Take Two's mistake causes me nothing but aggravation and turmoil
because I trusted them. When they [Take Two] came calling right after the
Intracorp deal fell through, I really knew that this time, the game would reach
the shelves. They were more concerned that the project would never get finished
and wanted a little 'assurance' that it would not be the case. Of course, they
wanted me to pay my own way. Naturally.
I was more concerned that since the inception of my idea in 1989, I had gone
though three publishers. Three Sixty Pacific went out of business shortly after
a deal was signed. Mission Studios could no longer afford the project due to
other project financial commitments. Intracorp had requirements I was not
prepared to meet, including the modification of my design specs. With these
issues in mind, I was not prepared to lose another publisher and as such, was
determined to do whatever I could in my power to make the game happen and
complete it once and for all.
Three things happened in May of 1996 as a result of the project not shipping for
Christmas 1995 as was suggested. 1. I was asked to leave Miami and go to
Latrobe, PA to 'work with' their team on finishing the project. 2. Take Two
wanted me to give them release rights as a guarantee that I would not stifle the
final release of the game. 3. I was to take a royalty cut to pay for their
investment that included paying Intracorp and Mission Studios for their expenses
and providing me with monthly development funding. That royalty cut meant not
being paid for 100,000 thousand units. Think about it. 100,000 units. Most games
don't even sell 50,000 units. Based on the figures that I had been sold, I was
confident that indeed the title would sell several hundred thousand units
worldwide. Because of this, I didn't care about the royalty cuts especially
since, effectively, the game was paying for itself as it always had in the past.
I did #1 as instructed and went up there in April 1996. At the same time my
contract was modified to support #2 and #3. It went downhill from there. Now
that they had release rights and the project had been brought 'in house', they
felt they could chop 'n ship the game. Boy were they wrong on that one. This
nonsense people are saying about them not seeing the code, is what it is, utter
nonsense. The only code I did not make them privy to, for obvious reason, was my
artificial intelligence engine. They had libraries for that. Besides, that
engine required no modifications. With an assigned project scheduler, an entire
art team, a sound fx team and two programmers, we set to work. It went downhill
from there a few weeks later when it became obvious that BC3K would not be ready
to ship for Christmas '96 though I already knew that it would not happen and had
requested more time. The extension was rejected and they set out on tasks aimed
at having something to ship. They hurriedly replaced my dynamics engine with
some chase dogfighting code that didn't work. The artwork and models done by the
artists were fine because let's face it, these guys are all from the art
institute in PA, one of the best in the country. I had already done, and paid
for all my sound fx, only new MIDI sequences were added. Programming assistance
for the core game engine was pretty much non-existent because the gentleman
assigned to me spent more time taking orders from the NY head office about what
'he' needed to do, than to listen to me who was the project leader, designer and
producer of the title. He spent most of his time figuring out how to merge the
chase engine with my dynamics engine something I told them could not be done. I
told them that dogfighting was part of the things to do and needed to get done
right but they felt that it was one less thing for 3000AD to do. Fair enough.
The other programmer did a good job in assisting in the integration of the new
2D front-end menu graphics into the game, using my pre-existing code. Even then,
I had to go back and make several modifications because he simply did not have
enough time to get up to speed with over 5 years worth of code.
By August 1996 we were already talking separation, at least they were, because
I'd had enough and was thinking divorce with full intentions of taking the
furniture, the cutlery, the car, the jewelry and the dog. In the end I did just
that. Anyway, the Take 2 producer and his gang were getting heat from NY. I
wasn't getting heat from anyone because I wasn't listening. Period. Every member
of the Take 2 team had access to the same task schedule that I did. In fact,
it's part of the contract amendment that was done in 1996. There were no hidden
agendas and everything that needed to get done, was in there.
By mid September 1996, we still did not have a beta and in fact, the four Take
Two testers were complaining because they had nothing tangible to test as there
was no game. The artists, under my supervision, had long since built all the new
3D models and 2D screens. All of which ended up being a remarkable piece of
work. As I have said time and time again, I have no problems with this aspect of
their assistance because the artists adhered to the design specs for the game's
theme and also came up with their own ideas. You've already seen the results.
FURTHER ALONG DOWNHILL....
Then one day it all came to a head when one of the Take Two programmers accused
the dynamics engine of causing problems with his chase engine which made the
game run at 2 fps. The same version I had was doing in excess of 10pfs under the
same conditions. Oh, did I forget to mention that we were working on two code
versions? Well, we were. Theirs and mine. Theirs, they were chopping up in order
to make their Christmas release. Mine I was working on according to my specs.
Anyway, I told them that the anomaly was not in my version simply because I was
not using the chase engine. This erupted into a skirmish of sorts. I took my
version and ran it on the machine in the QA directors' machine. I was right. All
hell broke loose.
Later after Peter, one of my guys and I researched the problem, we discovered
the problem in the chase engine. I then showed it to the Take2 programmer. It
was too late by then because all hell had broken loose. Anyway, by this time,
Mr. Producer was having fits and fights with NY (Take Two head office). He was
outside in the main hallway screaming and pounding on things. Anyway, I was
never even part of that rampage during which he threatened to call the cops on
me if I did not leave the building. He alluded to an incident earlier that week
when I was pulled over in the early hours of the morning on my way from work by
Latrobe police and questioned for identification, by saying "...I'll call the
cops to throw you out and you know what that's like". That incident was later
relayed to the press that I had attacked a Coke machine, although Take Two
denies the story and the incident. A complete fabrication. I was with the QA
director the whole time and we walked to the elevator together right after I
found out that Take Two had confiscated my work machine while I was in the QA
director's office. Everything on it was encrypted anyway, so it didn't matter.
People who know me at a personal level know I'm non-violent. Besides, when I set
my mind to doing something, I usually do it right. If I were upset then,
attacking a Coke machine would've been the last thing on my mind because it
would not solve the problem and give me the satisfaction that I would be
At this point, they knew they couldn't ship 'their' version. Take Two, NY called
me up and said that they were going to be shipping what they had the following
week. At this point, I told the CEO, that it was crazy thing to do and that it
would be the biggest mistake he would ever make. He had release rights he said,
so the matter was out of my hands. I called my attorney who told me not to leave
until I received a performance of contract letter. He was concerned that the
incident earlier and my abrupt departure would give them leverage for a breach
of contract because I could be sued for abandonment. Take Two, who knew they
were going to ship anyway, had no problems with this. They drafted the letter,
signed it and faxed it to me. It simply used a lot of legal jargon to indicate
that I had successfully provided Take Two with a Beta tested version of the game
and that I had satisfied the terms of my contract, that I could pack up and go
home, etc. This was accurate because the game had been in Beta since 1995 and
was still not finished nor tested.
The next day, I packed and left but not before I uploaded my current version of
the code, to the Take Two bulletin board system we used for secure file
transfers. That version fixed several things and did not use the chase engine.
They never touched it. I'm assuming that they thought I had sabotaged it somehow
to prevent the release. I hadn't.
That week, they mastered the game, without notifying me and shipped it and the
Take Two 'BC3K team' was given the week off.
The first time I saw a copy of my game was when I went across the street and
bought a copy after being told on AOL that the game had shipped. That was when I
realized that they had not created a manual from the manuscripts I had provided.
From that point on, I knew that my life as I knew it was over. The game shipped
and it was unplayable out of the box. The first patch I did and released a few
days after I returned was based on the version I had left on the Take Two BBS.
It brought some stability to the game. However the damage was already done. I
was beaten, broke and out there was a game with my name on the box in the hands
some poor gamer who bought a game that had been hyped for so many years. How
would you feel?
I could have walked away from this title there and then. But I didn't. My
friends and I held a meeting and I told them that I had no intentions of
quitting. Neither did they. Whatever I needed to do, would get done and whatever
time they had for testing, development, support etc, was mine to do as I
pleased. That was all I needed.
Take Two could not support this game. The testing department does not know how
to play the game. Don't believe me? Call 'em up and ask the most basic question.
Every tech support call was routed to me.
They printed my phone number in the pamphlet they called a manual. I had to
field phone calls, respond to email, put out fires, deal with the on-line
debacle, deal with my bank that thought that by first quarter 1997 my account
should be in the green, etc.
In late 1996 to early 1997, I decided to set up a support network of supporters
and gamers to help fix the game. I created a mailing list, built a strong
testing team and got a web site. To date, those are the only resources I have.
Take Two, the publisher, has never participated in this endeavor, leaving the
game for dead. Testing and supporting the game was the responsibility of the
publisher. My contract says so because I do not have those resources.
In early 1997, I then decided to sue Take Two for all the breaches in my
I'm not going to list them but they include releasing a beta product with no
manual, not reporting sales figures, putting my company at risk, causing me
aggravation etc. They decided to negotiate rather than go to court. My attorney
spent many, man hours drafting a contract amendment which simply required them
to (a) re-release the title (b) provide a printed manual and new CD-ROM to
existing users (c) accurately report sales/royalty figures (d) pay me from unit
#1 of the re-release among other things. I in turn, would lose all claims
against them, provide a manual manuscript based on the finished version of the
work and a finished version suitable for commercial release. That contract was
never signed. Take Two continues to operate under my original contract and its
1996 amendment as if nothing happened; claiming that the game did not sell
enough units to warrant royalty payments. How could a game that was released
incomplete and buggy sell enough units anyway?
Meanwhile, everyone out there was looking up to me to fix this game. Something
I've been doing effectively, with what little resources I have, with nothing to
show for it but a game that is 99.99% true to my vision. For me, it would be
payment enough if it paid the goddamn bills.
MORE CORPORATE DECISIONS...
Take Two did an OEM deal with GameTek UK which they had no rights to do. The
first time I got wind of it was when GameTek UK called me and asked what had
gone wrong with the game in the US. I told them. They listened and agreed not to
master and ship the CD-ROM that Take 2 had sent them. They wanted to wait for my
version of the completed game. They joined the testing team. They never shipped
any of the patches. Take Two continued to ship the dud US units in the US and
even to international countries; causing problems for GameTek who were then
forced to release v1.01C4 of the game in March in the face of dropped orders -
without telling me. I was livid. The first time I knew about it was when I
received a tech support email from the UK. I then asked Peter to go out and buy
a copy. Once again, I was not part of the process. The game then entered the top
20 UK charts. I was still livid; it was not THE GAME. I then told them that I
was not supporting it. They quickly drew up a contract which had them paying me
a point for supporting the UK version because they doubted that the game would
ever sell enough units to earn me any US royalties and also because they doubted
that Take Two would ever pay me. I agreed. The game reached #12 and stayed in
the charts for over 8 weeks. I was still upset but it was a small victory at
They then contracted me to do the foreign translations for the title due to its
popularity in Europe. That was supposed to be in the C patch. It didn't make it
for several reasons. They agreed to wait for the next patch, v1.01D. I sent them
the second set of text to translate. I never got it back. I then found out that
they were shipping UK version of the game to European countries, with translated
To this day, I have not been paid those royalties.
IT GETS WORSE....
In late 1997, Take Two bought GameTek UK who in turn, stopped talking to me and
refused to submit accurate sales figures and didn't pay any royalties as per our
agreement. They're now a Take Two company and as far as they're concerned, BC3K
and Derek Smart don't exist. This left me to also deal with and provide support
for international users who bought the game in Europe and as far away as South
Africa. Until I threatened legal action, the Take Two web page did not promote
the game, made no mention of it or even posted the latest patches and info. It
wasn't even featured in the list of products they were publishing.
WHO STARTED THIS MESS ANYWAY?
Whose fault is all this? It depends on who you ask and whose side you're on.
BC3K has always been a huge, complex and ambitious project. There was no way to
chop up the game, absolutely no way. Everyone seems to think I have something
against making money. Why would I not want to trim down the game and release it
if it meant making some money? Does anyone have any idea how huge and complex
this game is? Take Two knew and knew this all along. I have been in millions of
dollars in the red for this project with no hope of ever turning a profit. This
is why: BC3K was not designed to be a one off title. All the engines it has were
written from the ground up and that's where my investment lies. To this day, the
core of BC3K does not even use 50% of what the engines are capable of. You could
sit down and write a full blown space flight sim, planetary flight sim,
strategic sim, arcade shooter (all the things BC3K has) and have room left to do
it all over again in a different fashion.
Anyway, once word got out that the game was almost fixed, people started finding
places to buy it. Some places would sell it for a low price and the gamer had to
locate and spend hours downloading the patches to make the game work
So, BC3K was released in beta form by the publisher. The whole mess got dumped
on my lap. I've fixed 99.9% of it. The game was a hit in Europe because it was
playable out of the box and C5.3 was already available. Why aren't I happy?
Because my publishers are selling a game that should've been a hit, and not
paying me a penny for it. Eight long years of hard work and this is the ninth
year I've been doing this. They blame me for taking too long. I blame them for
not releasing it incomplete. All they had to do, and in fact my contract says
this, was to terminate my contract and I would owe them their expenses. They
could then have taken out a lien on the product, ensuring that they got their
money if I ever finished it. No, instead they opted to ship a Beta and cause
these problems. I don't think anyone doubts this for a second, that if it were
up to me, this game would never have shipped until it was finished. Even if it
took another decade. All business ventures are a risk. We all took the risk and
why the hell should I be sorry for them? I'm only sorry for those guys who keep
coming to me for help, knowing that I would keep my word when I said that I
would not sleep until they had a game that works.
My commitment is to patch this game and bring the development to a conclusion. I
would have, against all odds, fulfilled my obligation to the very gamers I
designed and developed this game for. Those who bought it, hopefully, when they
see a game on the shelf with my name on it, will remember.
Back in April 1997, I realized that patching the game to completion would most
likely take it into the holiday season and that, once again, graphics technology
would pass me by. I did not believe that you folks would want to wait an entire
year to play a game that sported old technology considering the recent crop of
advanced games currently on the market. Some of you, disappointed, had already
stopped playing and shelved the game for that day when it would be completed. My
thoughts led me to sanction the upgrade of the graphics technology in order to
keep up with recent trends. You have already seen the advancements since v1.01D
patch variations which were released between October and November 1997.
This technology comes at a price. I have been releasing patches for free with no
financial support whatsoever. I feel that the small price that I am charging
for the final v2.0 Developer's Edition upgrade is just that; a small price to
pay for a game that, when compared to the original, could well have been a
sequel. Is it fair to charge the gamer for a game they already bought and paid
for? It depends on how you look at it. This is why in February of 1998, I
decided to release, for free, to the public, v1.01D7C. It has been featured on
over 20 magazines worldwide, including PC Games in which it earned a B rating in
its August 1998 issue. You have all seen what it is we have been creating all
these years. Sporting the latest technology, including 3Dfx support, BC3K has
proven, without a reasonable doubt, that it is the definitive space flight
simulation that it was created to be.
As far as I'm concerned, the 1996 generation of Battlecruiser 3000 AD is over
and done with. Like every product, it lived a normal, albeit troubled life span
and sold more units than some completed games out there. The new generation you
will see in Battlecruiser 3000 AD v2.0 - The Developer's Edition as well as the
sequel Battlecruiser 3020 AD will no doubt enforce your faith in me, in my work
and in the title. You have been a part of these developments. You have seen all
the work put forth. Most of all, those of you who sought help, received it.
Today, you are playing and talking about a game that was DOA in September 1996.
The fiasco surrounding this title will be remembered for years to come. Many
more articles and reviews will be written. Many more Usenet wars will be fought.
There will be casualties. Once the praise comes, I don't want it. All I want to
be remembered for is the fact that I had a dream that I could never give up on.
You, the gamer, are the one to praise for sticking with the game because after
all, without you, I wouldn't be here.
Regards and see you among the stars
Derek K. Smart, Ph.D.
President - Lead Developer
BATTLECRUISER : 30000AD
A PUBLISHING HISTORY
BC3K has been profiled in every major gaming magazines worldwide since it first
appeared on the cover of Strategy Plus in 1992. Shortly after which it landed
the Three Sixty deal.
GT VALUE (the UK subsidiary of GT Interactive)
Picked up the European rights to distribute BATTLECRUISER 3000AD v2.08 in mid
'99. The title was released in Europe in October '99.
Picked up the rights to distribute BATTLECRUISER 3000AD v2.0 in June '98 with
a first rights to refusal option to the full sequel, BATTLECRUISER 3020AD. The
game was delivered in September '98 and released in December '98. 1999 opened
with a flurry of great reviews for this industry classic. You can read these
reviews via the reviews page link at the website.
TAKE-TWO INTERACTIVE SOFTWARE
Bid on the rights to BC3K after reading a story in Computer Gaming World. Bought
rights from Mission Studios in early 1995 and released BC3K v1.00 ahead of its
time in September 1996. Signed an OEM deal with GameTek (UK) who also released a
version of the game in Europe in March 1997. Take Two Interactive bought Mission
Studios in late 1996 and GameTek (UK) in mid 1997. The latter is no longer in
business. In an out of court-settlement, 3000AD got the rights back to the BC3K
During the period when I was allowed to stay or seek a new publisher, they bid
on the rights and then due to a disagreement over source code release, the deal
never progressed beyond a letter of intent. Showcased BC3K at 1995 E3 (back when
they were marketing William Shatner's Tekwar). Intracorp went bankrupt shortly
Signed distribution deal with Interplay Productions for it's products. Showcased
BC3K at 1994 winter and 1994 summer CES under the Interplay Affiliated label
brand. Had two high profile products (which were both late) in production. Due
to financial constraints, an amicable agreement was reached which allowed
3000AD, Inc to seek a new publisher for BC3K.
The partners split up and 3000AD, Inc signed on BC3K with Mission Studios, the
new company formed by one of the partners.
Held rights for a year (1992) and went out of business shortly after. Product
showcased at 1993 COMPUTER ELECTRONIC SHOW (CES).
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