Haters & Copycats: The Cliff Notes edition

December 22, 2010 · Posted in Copycats 
“Every day I get to highlight the [CMANO] failure is another day in paradise”
“As a matter of fact, I don’t play it. but I do contribute with Herman in underlying the horror hidden under the “Even Admirals like it!” If I manage to have even a potential customer to avoid the waste of $80, then I feel that I made my day”
– Herman & Vincenzo, demonstrating that jihad-level obsession against wargame developers is a thing.


This constitutes a short review of Vincenzo Beretta and Herman Hum’s antics, for the benefit of those without the time/patience to go through our (regrettably, but necessarily) extensive documentation of their public stunts.

Herman first appeared on the HarpoonHQ forums in 2003/4. From early on, he displayed an eagerness to cut corners on scenario construction by various means, primarily by copying the hard work of others, modifying it and presenting it as his own. (Archived e-mails of then-HHQ members urging him NOT to do this are available on courteous request).

Because of this, and his overall obnoxious behavior (some things never change) Herman was quickly banned from the HHQ forums. Afterwards he continued to produce scenarios using the DB2000 database. His first major act of IP theft was the illegal acquisition and use of the H3-SBR tool. Not being able to use the stolen tool effectively (in fact, his scens began to crash because of it), he instead attempted to publicly blame the creators of the DB2000 for his problems. In addition, he sprung up a string of anti-HHQ sites, the last of which survives to this day as his personal podium (looks like every fan community needs its own crazed version of Languatron).

In this smear campaign Herman was aided by Vincenzo Beretta, an attention-loving Usenet resident who publicly prides about starting flamewars (which got him banned from the HHQ in 2005) and harbors a years-long grudge against the HHQ. Over the years these two fine gents have proved to truly deserve each other.

Failing to lay the blame of his own incompetence at the feet of the HHQ & DB2000, Herman Hum then proceeded to wholesale rip the databases and scenarios of the HHQ and present the copies as original work of his own. Anyone who took even a cursory look at the volumes of evidence publicly presented by HHQ members realized this. Unfortunately many chose not to bother doing even that.

AGSI (Harpoon developer), anxious that their 2002 commitment to protect the IP of DB authors by any means necessary might have to be put to the test, and intrigued in the prospect of artificially fostering a rat-race within the community (More DBs! More scenarios! More sales of Harpoon! Who cares if one side stays in the race solely through cheating?) followed a public “see no evil” policy (years later, they admitted that the elephant was indeed in the room, but refused any obligation to prosecute the offender). The HHQ was explicitly asked, both in private and in public, to keep quiet for the sake of peace in the community (translation: sales of Harpoon). Naturally, they refused.

The powers-that-be (AGSI) then decided to frame the issue as a personal dispute between Herman & co and the HHQ. (To visualize the absurdity of this, imagine a serial killer’s trial being presented as “a dispute between the psycho and the victims’ families”). Herman & co embraced this golden-mean fallacy enthusiastically, as it comfortably skewed the view of observers towards the middle (“Hmm, perhaps Herman has some measure of right in this too…”) instead of forcing them to take a clear stand either for or against.

Frustrated by the passivity & indifference of both AGSI and the majority of the Harpoon community in this clear-cut case of Intellectual Property theft, and seeing the writing on the wall, the HHQ leadership publicly warned all sides of exactly what this implied state of impunity would bring to the community: loss and eventual disappearance of talent and interest. At the time the warning was widely mocked. In hindsight it proved prophetic – even though anyone paying attention could see the trainwreck well in advance.

Herman, emboldened by getting away with it once (twice if one also counts the SBR), went ahead and rode roughshod over the works of other major content creators like Paul Bridge, Ralf Koelbach and Darren Buckley (RIP). One by one, the content creators that forged the modern H2/3 legacy walked away. The community practically died. The warning came true.
(UPDATE Mar-18 2011: By now AGSI is so desperate to bring scen authors back into the community that they are actually willing to pay them. Great job on driving away the volunteers that made you, guys!)

The rest is recent history. Herman has been banned from the HHQ, from Matrix Games twice, even from his former sanctuary at HarpGamer. Hilariously, he publicly admits he doesn’t actually play the Harpoon game but simply tries to dig up the maximum number of bugs (real or contrived) in it as a form of embarrassment pressure against AGSI/Matrix – it has become so ridiculous that even Matrix calls him out on it. A handful supporters of Vincenzo Beretta and Herman Hum eventually realized what they teamed up with and left the two of them in the cold, occasionally exposing their antics. By now the two troublemakers found themselves alone.

In 2007 the HarpoonHQ was absorbed by WarfareSims and its crew moved to greener pastures, releasing the ‘Command: Modern Air / Naval Operations’ simulator in 2013, leaving this sorry mess behind.


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