Epic Games countersues Silicon Knights

Unreal Engine creator says Too Human developer is trying to steal its technology, asks judge to dismiss original suit.

The troubled development of Too Human was partially chronicled last month in a Silicon Knights lawsuit against Epic Games over a licensing agreement to use the latest Unreal Engine in the game. Silicon Knights claimed that Epic breached its contract and failed to deliver a workable version of the engine on time, forcing the developer to start building its own engine for Too Human, and delaying the game in the process.

Epic has returned fire: Yesterday the company filed a motion to dismiss the original suit, and then filed its own countersuit against Silicon Knights. In its defense, Epic said that Silicon Knights failed to show that the company misrepresented the truth or ever intended to deceive the developer.

It also took issue with Silicon Knights' portrayal of some terms in the licensing agreement. While the original suit claimed that Epic had committed to delivering a working engine for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 within six months of each system's final development kits being sent out, the motion to dismiss claimed that Epic was obligated merely to "demonstrate" that the Unreal Engine 3 would run on the Xbox 360 by March of 2006. The motion made no mention of the PlayStation 3 deadline.

Regardless of how the judge rules on the motion, there's also Epic's counterclaim to sort through. In short, Epic accused Silicon Knights of trying to steal the Unreal Engine 3 technology.

"Indeed, the plain language of the Silicon Knights' complaint makes clear that Silicon Knights wants to take Epic's licensed technology, pay nothing for it, and use it any way it pleases," the counterclaim reads.

According to Epic, Silicon Knights had full access to the Unreal Engine 3 code and support network for an evaluation period of roughly nine months before it entered into the license agreement. The developer also got a break on the regular licensing fee because it committed to use the engine exclusively for all of its Xbox 360, PS3, and PC games.

As such, Epic accused Silicon Knights of breaching the contract by creating its own engine for Too Human and developing the game--and a second game with Sega--using that new engine. Additionally, Epic sued the developer for copyright infringement because Silicon Knights said in its original suit that the new Too Human engine was based on Unreal Engine 3.

Epic said the new engine is an unauthorized, derivative work that violates its licensing agreement and constitutes a misappropriation of its trade secrets. It also noted in the months prior to the countersuit that Silicon Knights accessed "virtually all" of the Unreal Engine 3 documentation that Epic makes available to partners online, "consistent with an effort to archive documentation for use outside the scope of the license agreement."

Epic is seeking damages in excess of $650,000, as well as an order that any code or games that infringe on its copyright be destroyed. Only Silicon Knights' next project after Too Human--the as-yet-unannounced game to be published by Sega--is referenced directly in the copyright-infringement claim.

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502 comments
PapaRocks
PapaRocks

Whats going to happen to Gears if Epic loses though? Being forced to surrender all profits Epic made from Gears would hurt them alot wouldn't it? Good bye Gears 2?

The_AI
The_AI

Ouch, If Epic wins, this will kill Too Human for sure,

THE_WHITE_MAGE
THE_WHITE_MAGE

I think Epic is a little culpable here, but that doesn't mean they will lose this case. I think it's funny they split hairs about the fact they weren't required to show that their engine worked on the PS3, but they never come out and say anything about it working on the 360. So that probably means that it didn't work on the 360 either. That is pretty telling. I think Epic is a greedy company, and while Gears of War was a great game, I don't think it was an excellent one. I think if it did not have the best graphics of any game so far, it would not have gotten all the praise it got. Cliched characters and plot, the same warzone stuff we have seen in a gazillion other games, are we done yet? The fact that it won Artistic Direction Awards from everyone is what kills me. You are saying Okami and Zelda: Twilight Princess did not have prettier and more creative visuals? Those critics should be the ones getting sued.

NeoNavarro
NeoNavarro

I really hope they come to an agreement and no one gets hurt. I am a fan of both companies and I really hope they resolve there issues quickly and peacefully.

Snake329
Snake329

Damn, those are some major issues at hand... Good luck Epic and Silicon Knights, hope that they could work this out so they could work together in the future.

OfficialJab
OfficialJab

Just get it done! This is the only reason I want a 360, I'm practically peeing myself!

upstartrex
upstartrex

Silicon Knights should not deceive but make clear that it's in-house engine is based off Unreal Engine 3 (if it is). Were SK to not credit Epic though-they-should what problem does this cause? What punishment would be an equivalent payment, a court order that SK tells the truth? ________________________________________________________ Epic claims in this countersuit both that it only promised a demonstration of its' engine's workings and that it wasn't deceptive. Having a working engine is helpful but seeing an engine works is not. SK paid Epic for the right to use their engine not an advanced screening of it working. Epic shows itself to be dishonest in claiming otherwise. ___________________________________________________________ I give reason for why delivering a portion of Gears of Wars profits to SK may be reasonable in a comment on this: http://www.gamespot.com/news/6175386.html?page=5 article. Epic's demand is bolder: all games based on their engine code should be destroyed. Silicon Knights has already paid E to use its' engine so the claim that the use of that engine is an appropriation is a lie. ________________________________________________________________ I favor SIlicon Knights in these cases because they make claims they can only benefit from if they have evidence (so suspect they've proof) and Epic has made claims shown false by evidence already revealed. _________________________________________________________ It is always preferable that brothers settle their arguments peaceably yet let stubborn hearts be judged for righteousness.

Dolacide
Dolacide

So if Epic gets it's way, the Sega SK game will never be released, man I hope this get solved quickly.

fathed102
fathed102

Epic is a very respectable company. Without them, people would have problems getting their foot in the door because of mods. I think Silicon Knights tried getting some money out of a minor problem and it totally backfired on them.

BornK1ll
BornK1ll

Well i played Rainbow Six Vegas only on PC and didn't encounter any major issues (multiplayer as almost always have problems) so i don't know how it is on X360. About lawsuit i'm not so sure if they started it so long ago, couse when the rumor came up that SK has problems with engine they respond: "Too Human is progressing very well and we expect that gamers will be extremely excited with Too Human when we next show it." - Denis Dyack, Aug 15, 2006. About a year later: "Our strong preference is to focus on making games, not be in court. Unfortunately though, as explained in our lawsuit, we have had extensive problems with the Unreal Engine 3 that Epic has been unwilling or unable to rectify. For more than a year, we have been trying to reach an agreement with Epic to resolve these issues without resorting to litigation, but were unable to come to reasonable terms with Epic..." - Denis Dyack, Jul 20, 2007. This makes me curious why they deny in the first place? One thing is for sure - we need to wait ; )

decebal
decebal

Epic is pretty snobish. Gears of War made them quite cocky.

Dark_Nexus3367
Dark_Nexus3367

Well if you played R6 Vegas on 360 there are A LOT of exploits and glitches,which doesnt mean that other games dont have those,but a lot of them are noticeable in R6 Vegas.What I meant by technically inferior is that those games dont modify the UE3 because those companies can't afford the risk of losing money that they spent on the engine because of that.Gears Of War has game specific modifications of the UE 3,but then again Epic created the engine so they can't void the warranty on something they made themselves,and the engine is constantly evolving as Cliffy B said about Gears being on pc.The thing I was trying to say is,some companies can afford the risk of voiding their warranty but smaller developers like SK can't afford the risk of voiding the engine's warranty,but because Epic gave them a different version than what they had licensed,they were forced to use technology that wasn't up to par with what they wanted and licensed.Also,keep in mind that some cases need to pass all kinds of appeals and certifications and all that,so SK could have started working on the lawsuit long before it became public.Of course we don't know which side is right since this is more of a he said/they said case.Only time will tell who was really right about all of this.

BornK1ll
BornK1ll

Dark_Nexus3367 u're right it's sad but it's reality and i don't think that Epic is gonna make life any easier for SK if they loose first suit. But i don't "understand" why it took SK about a year to sue Epic, what they were doing back there huh? And why others could void the warranty and they couldn't? I'm not some Epic fallower and i think that Epic might "scre..d over" SK a lil bit but the SK had problems almost from the beginning. And i don't know what kind of technical issues u found in Rainbow Six? and on what platform X360/PS3/PC? In a matter of other games are "inferior" to GoW it's obvious that Epic will try as much as they can to hold the titles and prizes that GoW won and Epic can say that Gears Of War wasn't using newer version of UE3 but it was a game specific modifications - case closed.

Dark_Nexus3367
Dark_Nexus3367

@ BornK1ll: I understand what you are saying,but also look at games like splinter cell: DA,rainbow six vegas,and stranglehold.Those games are all fantastic games,but are also technically inferior to Gears Of War.The reason is that Epic says that in order for companies to NOT void the warranty,they have to use the engine 'as is' otherwise any issues the engine gives them is on those companies because they modified it which voids the warranty.All of those are great games,but Rainbow Six had no bump mapping,and there are a lot of technical issues with the game.Then you look at games like Mass Effect and Bioshock which have modified the UE3 to their liking,they look amazing.Why you ask?Those developers have voided their warranty with Epic by changing the game's code but they don't care because they can now do what they want with the game.Too Human looks inferior because SK was forced to use the engine 'as is' and tried not to void the warranty,so they had to use the technology with all of the crappy particle effects and texture mapping.SK could not work with those limitations so they instead started modifying their engine,but the mistake SK made was claiming it to be a brand new engine.My point in the other post was,that aside from developers being lazy(Hour Of Victory from Midway),some developers have talent but because they are limited to what they can do with the engine,they sometimes are forced to cut corners.The other part of the argument is that Epic gave SK an engine that was inferior to the one that both agreed upon,so SK decided to sue Epic for giving them an engine version that they did not license,so again the first lawsuit SHOULD go to SK,but it may end up being a settlement,much like the second one will be.Regardless,it's a sad day when two great companies are going at each other.

GoodkupoBan
GoodkupoBan

"Indeed, the plain language of the Silicon Knights' complaint makes clear that Silicon Knights wants to take Epic's licensed technology, pay nothing for it, and use it any way it pleases," Since SK had licensed the engine, doesn't it mean they could do anything they want with it anyway as long as it doesn't break the contract. SK should have the right to add-on to the Unreal Engine if it doesn't deliver what they expected. They just don't have the right to call the engine their own though. Epic has build up a good legally sound case against SK. SK should forget about having it's own engine unless they intend to build it form the ground up.

goodemon
goodemon

dude i played Too Human at e3 06 and I have to say one thing, that game is a weak-ass God of War ripoff. the camera was nearly unworkable, I think silicon knights is in over their head because they have a great game idea, but trying to pull a fast one on epic is the dumbest idea ever, they probably squandered any development costs on themselves partying and talking up this game to the press but what have the gamer's seen? absolutely nothing, because they dont have a game at all, just a bunch of hype, and now development is slowing to a crawl, with no funds, so now their trying to sue epic...this game may never be released in 2007

Phazevariance
Phazevariance

The only real part I see wrong here is SK making an engine to fit their game, by copying code and code setup from UE3, basically saying they made the engine from scratch, yet it functions the same way as Epics' own engine. That is copyright infringement.

matrixman2k
matrixman2k

Hmmm... so it all comes down to cash.... Should have known.

FiZiKz19
FiZiKz19

SK don't wanna release a buggy too human game, they want it to be the best it can be.

shaden79
shaden79

i second dark nexus's post and thank him for actually thinking before posting. though not exactly a legal argument it at least shows more thought on the subject then "epic make gears of war. i love play gears. epic not wrong."

SteveTwo
SteveTwo

Three cheers for Epic! Just because SK wasn't inspired enough with someone else's engine to match the efforts of the same people who developed that engine doesn't mean they can sue the originators. What were they thinking? We need money or we're going out of buisness?

BornK1ll
BornK1ll

Dark_Nexus3367, you named 3 games that used the UE3 and had problems (Hour Of Victory is one big problem) with Too Human it's 4 but check how many games came out with UE3 without problems or delays, so i don't see the point...

jakman2004
jakman2004

I swear DUke Nukem forever used the unreal engine, they aint on the list

jakman2004
jakman2004

if SK were trying to blag all the profits for gears, a game they would never be talented enough to make, then epic needs the right to want SK game destroyed. Too human got bad press for being wank

Dark_Nexus3367
Dark_Nexus3367

People are making some mistakes when analyzing this.Now I am no lawyer or legal advisor myself,but I can see many errors people are making.First off,SK isn't stealing the UE3 if it already paid to use it in the first place.Secondly,Epic was supposed to deliver an 'optimized' engine for both consoles within 5-6 months of the final dev kits being shipped,where Epic states that they only 'demoed' the engine and then licensed it to SK.So clearly Epic did not hold up it's end of the deal by giving them an engine that was inferior to what SK and Epic had agreed upon and instead delivered a crappy version that they demoed.Back to the rebuilt engine thing.SK is NOT going to sell that engine to anyone else because it is only optimized to work with Too Human.However,if in fact they used UE3 as the base for developing their 'new' engine,they did not commit code theft,but they did however void their license warranty with Epic.Anyways,SK made the mistake of voiding their warranty but Epic made the mistake of not delivering the engine that was agreed upon in the first place.So bottom line,SK wins the first law suit because Epic breached the contract FIRST which lead to that lawsuit,but the countersuit is anybodies game as code theft is a strong argument from Epic,but if SK only voids the warranty by modifying the engine they had,then it is simply a case of the warranty becoming null and void.This means neither company will get a dime from the countersuit as Epic falsely accused SK and SK only voided the warranty.Either way,I highly doubt that even if Epic wins that Too Human will be 'destroyed' but I do hope that they both settle out of court,as this is just a waste of time,money,and resources for both companies and the sooner that they get their acts together,the sooner that we can get some great games out of them.Good luck to both companies and I hope both do well in the future,but IMO SK deserves the win in this case,because although Epic has a strong case,Sk has more valid points and I hardly believe that company behind games like Kain and Eternal Darkness are incapable of working with engines unless something is truly wrong with it.One last thing,to those saying that this is the only game having problems,Advent Rising had horrible bugs and glitches,Hour Of Victory had horrible bugs,glitches,and other technical issues,and Frame City Killer,was cancelled after several delays because of development issues.You know what they all have in common?All used the Unreal Engines and ALL had development issues because of the engine,although Hour Of Victory was terrible regardless of the technical issues.Wow that was a mouthful lol :P

mcderek3000
mcderek3000

Making nex-gen games is getting more and more expensive.

malmeid2
malmeid2

I can live without Too Human ;)

Spotswoode
Spotswoode

good on epic, Silicon Knights were just having a whinge because they're game was dodgy

el_Dom
el_Dom

Damn Epic hit em back even harder.

malmeid2
malmeid2

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

toolzofchoice
toolzofchoice

Good. I'm sick of these small-fry companies trying to leach off of bigger corporations' success with lawyers. I reckon they have a separate segment on their financial statements every year, entitled 'Lawsuit Revenue'.

Miko101
Miko101

Edwin. that goes back to the idea of middleware and engine framework from an earlier post quoted from slashdot. "Middleware (and just about any production software) is constantly in a state of flux, and there is never a "final" version of it. People who licence the Unreal Engine technologies are given secure access to Epic's CVS repository, where daily engine builds and patches can be checked out for use by the game developers. SK's claim that they didn't have access to a "finished" version is a load of bunk. the Engine framework is delivered "as is". It is up to the game developer to modify the engine to suit that particular game's needs, not Epic. If the developers at SK are incapable of programming the engine to suit their needs, that is their problem, not Epics. SK started receiving alpha versions of the engine right after the first X360 dev kits went out and they have access to the CVS like everyone else. The fault is with SK, not Epic."

andrew_ribbons
andrew_ribbons

I back Epic. They are right to protect their Engine. Epic do a lot for their customers, like giving away no-cd patches legally, and supporting their products years after release. This "Too Human" game sounds really poor, it looks like Silicon Knights have tried to jump on the Unreal 3 gravy train, then jump off paying nothing but still getting the gravy recipe! Outragious, i hope the sue stops them from releasing yet more atrocious games! The market is saturated with filth, using small-budget home cooked engines, we don't need more!

edwin33186
edwin33186

I don't think Silicon Knights would have simply agreed to a demonstration of a working engine. They would actually need a working engine in their hands if Too Human was to come out when it was originally scheduled. Also why is Epic counter suing SK for using another engine. If the Epic engine is not finished then they can't use it .

GoddBless
GoddBless

Too Human is never gonna come out!

parasite5768
parasite5768

Glitzy69, if you think that everything that Miko101 said was not informed, you must be crazy Here's how I see it Epic likes giving away there lemons, they give it to gamers and developers alike Silicon Knights doesn't have very good lemons, so they (like many other developers) took Epic's lemons, but their lemonade wasn't turning out very good. So they grew a variation of Epic's lemons and called it there own, so that way they could have Epic's lemons without having to pay for it. And to make it worse, Silicon Knights wanted to take all of the money from Epic's best-selling lemonade! So Epic is entirely in the right to protect the profits they recived from the lemonade and the lemons themselves.

LordelX
LordelX

What a mess. No wonder Nintendo dropped Silicon Knights when they did.

Timstuff
Timstuff

All Epic has to do to win is show the judge Rainbow Six Vegas and Turok. It's looking more and more like Too Human really was just plain that bad, and SK is trying to use Epic as a scape goat. It's pretty obvious that it's not gonna be a trilogy. Heck, it might not even come out until Xbox 720.

Hott-FuzZ
Hott-FuzZ

"So this probably means that Too Human will never come out now " "Only Silicon Knights' next project after Too Human--the as-yet-unannounced game to be published by Sega--is referenced directly in the copyright-infringement claim. " so yes too human will come out, read the last paragraph next time.

halohelldaddy45
halohelldaddy45

Thank you Miko101 for this info, Finally someone with some sense here. I'm really annoyed that half of the people here are taking this way out of hand. In my opinion this is SK's fault in the first place. If HALF of the people backing SK would actually read the dang article, SK's arguement is just as screwed up as some people like to think Epic's is.

glitzy69
glitzy69

Damn, an awful lot of people are saying "I hope Silicon Knights gets reamed, just because they're messing with a company I like more." Seems to be the public reaction is more of a knee-jerk thing as opposed to anything informed, but then again when was the public EVER informed on topics like this? Even looking at the basic lifelines of each lawsuit, things are already appearing childish. Silicon Knights is saying "Yeah, they gave us trash, stuff they said would do certain things. It didn't. And then they backed away from our cries for help! So we did our own thing, but we want some money for having to even do that." Epic is saying "NO U! Yeah, we gave SK junk. But we were only supposed to show off our lemons. They weren't allowed to take our lemons and make their own brand of lemonade out of it! how are we supposed to support them on SOLID lemons when they pull that crap? Also, because it was our lemons, we want the lemonade. Or just dump the lemonade, whatever. They can't have it." I feel sorry for the judge in this, he's gotta sort all this playground bickering, when the companies could just be making games and helping each other out. The part about 'misappropriation of trade secrets' makes me giggle though, considering just how much of the outright code is available in online databases. Hell, there's even an unrealwiki. "Secret" now, but as soon as the SDK is out... Not that the judge knows that, of course.

MrLemur
MrLemur

Said it before and I will say it again - SK seems to be the only developer that can't make a game using the UE3 engine - their short coming - not Epics. Epic can win this suit on character witnesses (from the industry) alone. SK is all about making excuses to investor's as to why Too Human isn't further along than it is.

Intrakitt
Intrakitt

So this probably means that Too Human will never come out now :(

rdo
rdo

with all the user made mods for the unreal engines that are made by amatures sk's claim there is no suport wont be taken seriously. unrel ed is a modders dream come true.