Starfire gaming system I
For those of you who play Starfire, I should also mention that my relationship with the gaming system has undergone a major change. I was originally asked by John Olsen, who took over Task Force Games from its original (and defunct) ownership about the time Insurrection was coming out, to serve as designer and general coordinator for a resurrection of the Starfire system. I agreed, with the stipulation that all new products would be vetted by me so that there would be a single, central concept of what the system was and where it was going. The result of this agreement was the re-release (with substantial updating) of Tactical Starfire, then Imperial Starfire, then the scenario collections The Stars at War and Crusade. There were a few hiccups in the process, including the introduction (in a product which I did not see before its release) of a race with rather... peculiar attributes and technology, but by and large it had worked out fairly well up to that point.
However, I designed and sent in The Fourth Interstellar War about 3 years ago, at which time I was told there were no plans (for financial reasons) to produce the game. I believed that it was a new product and not covered by the existing contract with Task Force, and I was certainly never paid anything for it. Task Force apparently believed that it held title to the rough draft, which it handed over to a consultant about a year after I had sent it in, with instructions to develop it into a finished product. This was done, with substantial changes to my tech base. At the same time, apparently, Task Force was making other major changes to the strategic/campaign system, which I was neither consulted over nor knew anything about. I discovered, almost accidentally, only a month or so ago that The Fourth Interstellar War nor only exists but has been on the market as an electronic storage set of rules, apparently for some time. I became aware of the fact only because the gentleman who did the development work and who (while I may not agree with some of the changes he's made) appears to be an upright and an honest fellow intends to buy the Starfire line from Task Force to market on its own. He contacted me to discuss the future of the system, and clearly was unaware that I didn't know anything about his work on The Fourth Interstellar War. Apparently,he had simply done as instructed by the current Task Force management, for which he can scarcely be blamed. Finally, I found out at the very last moment that a version of Insurrection, into which I had no input whatsoever, has also been designed and was about to be put on the market in violation of mine and Steve White's copyright on the novel. (I hasten to add that the people responsible for this particular project apparently did not understand many of the nuances of copyright law nor exactly who owned what between the book and the gaming system. I do not believe that anyone intended to violate anyone else's legal rights in this respect; it was a case of ignorance, not malice or dishonesty.)
At any rate, I believe that my view of the Starfire gaming environment and that of the new ownership are too divergent to make any future collaboration between us very practical. I have not had time yet to review all the changes they've made, but several which I have become aware of are at direct odds with the history and tech base established in the novels, and I do not see how they can be reconciled. Because of this, I do not anticipate any future role in designing Starfire products, nor do I expect that future novels in that universe by Steve and myself will be turned into gaming products. I regret that, but I really don't have the time to devote to both aspects of the universe, anyway, and if someone else owns the basic game platform (which currently belongs to Task Force), then they certainly have every right to develop it along any lines they like. Moreover, I do not disagree with everything they are trying to do, and I wish them the very best of luck, although we still have to work out exactly where we are in regards to The Fourth Interstellar War and Insurrection.