For Harpoon Commanders' Edition, take Tony's advice, and come to Harpgamer.
For H3, I think you're exactly right. It became about control to some people, and they thought they owned the game. Now there are other people pushing back against that. Those people aren't really squeaky clean, either, in their treatment of other people, imo. However, I don't think they're any worse than the others were. Neither side really has any high moral ground left at this point, and all the back-and-forth just drives new H3 customers away, as you said. Also, this whole thing about the DBs blew up five or six years ago. As far as I'm concerned, it's all just noise now. If there were real copyright issues, there would have been lawsuits. There haven't been any. YMMV.
I won't touch the HUD4, myself, because it's encrypted/passworded, so you can't open it and fiddle with it if stuff doesn't work, and what testing I've done says a lot of stuff doesn't work. :( To me, being able to fiddle with the DB is part of the H3 experience, and has always been. The other DB (PDB) consistently works more often for me, and I can open it and fiddle with it if I have issues or disagree with it. Again, your choice and YMMV.
I'm sure the PDB people will jump in here to toot their own horns and put down the HUD4. I think they'd be less reviled if they could just let their product stand on its own and not put others down. As it is, they're just doing the same things that were done toward them before. My advice is to just ignore it and try both things to see what you like. In my experience, one works better than the other, but, there are underlying issues with all three versions of the game engine that cause issues, too.
That's why I end up playing HCE more than H3 these days. If I find a major bug or problem, Tony's right there at Harpgamer to help us out. :D H3 bugs, there's really no equivalent person who can actually fix things, afaik.
Disclaimer: I have no oar in the water here, other than being a player since 1995. I remember getting my first Harpoon update in the US Mail by floppy disk from Don Gilman, btw. I am not part of any database maintaining team, and only report my experiences. I do heartily support the harpgamer team in their support of HCE, as Tony codes fixes, and Brad keeps up the CDB.
< Message edited by mavfin -- 3/31/2013 5:27:48 PM >