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Developers talk about UE3 lawsuit

Developers talk about UE3 lawsuit

Epic Games has allegedly failed to support licensees of the UE3 engine, according to Silicon Knights.

The lawsuit put against Epic by Silicon Knights has been a bit of a hot topic lately and has shaken the developer community to its core.

The lawsuit alleges that Epic has failed to provide support to a number of developers who have licensed the Unreal Engine 3, created by Epic for the upcoming Unreal Tournament 3, and that the license fees were wrongly used by Epic to promote its own titles and sabotage other games using the engine. Silicon Knights is also alleging that Epic did not deliver the final SDK in time and that it finally arrived eight months late.

Mark Rein, VP of Epic, has commented that he believes the claims are "are unfounded and without merit".

In the lull since the complaint was first filed, ShackNews has interviewed a number of different developers to gauge their reactions.

Results vary, with people like Josh Jeffcoat of Gearbox Software being generally positive; "It's not that UE3 is the best at any one thing it does, because it's not. It's just better at more of them than anything else, and the ten-plus years of maturity it's been through has yielded a better-than-average art and design pipeline. I've heard plenty of tirades and I've given a few of them myself, but at the end of the day, UE3 helped me get my shit done. And it did a better job than any tool set I'd used before."

Others though have been more critical, such as the deliberately controversial Running With Scissors, who developed the Postal series.

"Epic does make a great product and while I don't hold anything against Epic personally, we are a small indie developer and we are at the mercy of the licensor," said Mike Jaret of Running With Scissors, who have licensed the engine for the third Postal game. "It just wasn't the best relationship for us."

Another developer, who wanted to remain anonymous, gave his opinion;

"It is true that Epic was very late in delivering key features to UE3 during the development of Gears of War. They had promised one of the most important feature of UE3, the multi-threaded renderer, many many months before it was finally delivered. Since the key to having fast performances on the Xbox 360 is multi-threading, it made the engine somewhat subpar if you wanted to run your game with good graphics on a console."

A number of other developers refused to comment publicly, according to ShackNews.

Made up your mind already? Guilty, innocent or uninterested? Let us know your point of view in our forums.

15 Comments

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The_Pope 24th July 2007, 12:51 Quote
I find it curious that UE3 is NOT "the best at any one thing" - because it looks pretty farking amazing to me. Aside from Cry Engine 2, what else would provide better visuals??
CardJoe 24th July 2007, 12:53 Quote
Project Offset. By a long, long, loooooong way is better looking than Crysis AND UT3 IMO. Shame it won't be out for ages.
MiT 24th July 2007, 13:03 Quote
Some game developers can "borrow/pay" for code of each other? sorry for a naive question but stuff like this is a bit new to me.
Tim S 24th July 2007, 13:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by MiT
Some game developers can "borrow/pay" for code of each other? sorry for a naive question but stuff like this is a bit new to me.

Yep, engine licensing has happened for ages. :)

Half-Life, for example, was built on a heavily modified version of the Quake engine.
MiT 24th July 2007, 13:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S
Yep, engine licensing has happened for ages. :)

Half-Life, for example, was built on a heavily modified version of the Quake engine.

aahhh ok, so its like out-sourcing then. Saves money, cost, and time. Makes sense.
CardJoe 24th July 2007, 13:43 Quote
Well, Half-Life is an unusual case. They bought the Quake2 engine IIRC and then found out it was crap and rewrote the entire thing, turning it into GoldSRC. But yes, engine buying goes on all the time.

Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines? Built on the Source engine which was made for Half-Life 2. So was Sin: Episodes and Dark Messiah: Might and Magic and The Ship. Just a few examples.
Bursar 24th July 2007, 13:46 Quote
Quote:
license fees were wrongly used
So they're complaining that Epic used license fee money to either progress development on, or advertise GoW? Once they'd paid, the money was Epics to use as they saw fit. Whether they got decent support and received code updates on a regular basis is a different matter, and that should be the crux of the lawsuit.

Maybe I'll sue SK once I've bought their game and claim that they misused the money I paid...
sandys 24th July 2007, 14:03 Quote
The issue is probably related to misrepresentation on the status of the engine, EPIC probably demoed a few selective things that worked to wow a customer, told them about the other great things the engine could/would do and told SK it would be ready by some date which they have widly missed, got them to sign up based on what they could provide and then when SK needed the finished product EPIC were nowhere near finished.

Its not unusual behavior from a software vendor. SK not being top of the pile in EPICs eyes means that they get next to no support as customers with fatter wallets take precedence, we get that a lot being a small company.
DougEdey 24th July 2007, 14:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bursar

Maybe I'll sue SK once I've bought their game and claim that they misused the money I paid...
aggies11 24th July 2007, 16:22 Quote
Take it fwiw, but I actually know a few guys at Silicon Knights. From what I can gather, the truth, as usual, lies somewhere in the middle. When working with licensed engines, there can be some bumps along the way. It would seem that UE3 was particularly troublesome. Since the engine was a work in progress, features were not added in a timely manner, and were behind schedule. As Too Human had it's own schedule, they often had to "fill in the gaps" themselves, implementing the features that Epic/UE3 was behind on. This isn't that uncommon in the industry though, and that alone, while unfortunate, isn't usually enough to bring a lawsuit. However, the fact that Too Human received such a poor showing at E3, and this was largely a result of the problems in retrofitting the changing UE3 engine, left a bad taste in SK mouth. That coupled with the fact that Epic's own game, Gears of War, didn't seem to be having any of those problems, didn't sit too well with Dennis Dyack and co. It would seem that working on Two games (Gears of War and Unreal Tournament 3), where Gears had it's own deadlines imposed by publisher Microsoft, made it so that Epic was stretched too thin, and UE3 was somewhat neglected. I don't think this was done out of malice, they definitely didn't want to screw Too Human over, however they bit off more than they can chew and chose to focus more on their own games, and worry about the engine later.

The whole point of licensing an engine is to save yourself the work of making your own, to save yourself time. With the amount of "filling in the gaps" Too Human has had to do, SK feels like they have almost made their own engine, which obviously defeats the entire point of licensing. Other shops have had to do this also, but they don't feel as burned as SK because of the whole E3 showing. Their case looks to have merit, although it is fueled by some "sour grapes". Epic dropped the ball, to meet their own deadlines. Too Human got hit/hurt hard by that, because it too had deadlines. Which apparently was enough to spur a lawsuit, as most other developers wouldn't bother because it's too much of a hassle.

The funny/sad part of it all, is that in a way the blame can somewhat be placed on Microsoft. They gave Epic the Gears of War Release deadline, which meant they had to focus more on that game to get it ready for release. Microsoft also made Too Human be demo'd at E3, which caused the game to get panned by all who saw it, upsetting Silicon Knights enough to feel that a lawsuit is justified. Ultimately I have to wonder if this industry wouldn't be better off without publishers at all :/

Aggies
DougEdey 24th July 2007, 17:15 Quote
aggies11: I personally thought it looked good, but i haven't ever heard of it and it didn't make me think "i want this game", there was no kind of narrative or setting, unlike mass effect where you had voice overs.

To be honest, the trailer just told you that there was a murderer around, why the hell did a huge robot attack the pub? Why did they guy not finish him off? What the hell is it about?

Pass this on to the guys at SK as feedback. It was a poor showing because there's nothing there, not because of the game looks.
Vergil_117 24th July 2007, 17:42 Quote
CardJoe HL1 was a heavily modified quake 1 engine not 2, and source is the same but with havok...
CardJoe 24th July 2007, 17:52 Quote
According to Raising The Bar, the official Half-Life 2 book, Source was made from scratch. Your right about HL1, but it was literally so modified that only some lighting code remained the same reportedly and is reffered to as goldSRC. There was a lot more added to GoldSRS than Havok to turn it into Source.
DougEdey 24th July 2007, 17:59 Quote
Just as a further addition to the main story (before Joe gets too distracted)

a new game has been announced today The Scourge Project

Four player co-op (seperate characters and stories), but the interesting point is this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Jones, head of Tragnarion Studios,
"We've been amazed at the speed and quality of results on Unreal. We've only had the engine for a couple of months, yet we've already been able to build a great-looking, fully playable prototype, which we'll soon show to publishers, featuring our innovative narrative system for multiple players and our unique co-op focused game play mechanics. Every single feature we want is easily implemented in Unreal - for all the major high-end platforms."
Aankhen 24th July 2007, 19:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Project Offset. By a long, long, loooooong way is better looking than Crysis AND UT3 IMO. Shame it won't be out for ages.
Yeah, by the time it comes out, those graphics will probably be par for the course. :)

I also have to say that while I was extremely impressed at first, the GDC dragon video confused me. From what I could tell, the dragon was amazingly detailed, but the surfaces shown in the video had drastically reduced detail. I could just have misinterpreted what I saw, of course.
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