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Epic/Silicon Knights - tidbits from the (messy) lawsuit

Unreal Engine 3 creator Epic and Canadian studio Silicon Knights are currently in the early stages on what appears to be a very messy lawsuit. Here's some characteristic tidbits from a 2010 deposition.

For those not in the know, Unreal Engine 3 creator Epic and Canadian studio Silicon Knights are currently in the early stages on what appears to be a very messy lawsuit, which is even now still rumbling on.

It's centered around the claims that SK's business was ruined by Epic supporting its own games ahead of its own engine, and the trial is preparing to get underway right now.

As part of this, a bunch of detailed information is being released in fairly impenetrable (public) legal documents, some of which get passed around the Gamasutra editor chatroom.

The latest to do so is a February 2010 deposition of Josh Adams, who was one of the lead developers on the PlayStation 3 version of Unreal Engine 3, and was being grilled by Silicon Knights' lawyers. (Thanks to Frank Cifaldi for retrieving it!)

In this part of their attack, the lawyers were striving attempt to show - as far as I can work out - that the PS3 version of Unreal Engine 3 was neglected while Epic completed Gears Of War (an Xbox 360 exclusive.)

While some of the testimony is sealed, a lot of the questioning that we can see centers on analysis of subpoena-ed Epic emails, with Silicon Knights' lawyers attempting to show that Epic was secretive, had unfair priorities with its licensees and so on.

There's a good five hours of this deposition alone, and I'm sure this is just one of multiple depositions, but there are some tidbits I thought elevated to 'could put on my blog for people to examine' status.

For what it's worth, the suit is clearly stressful for all parties concerned, especially some of the Epic employees who have to deal with it, and it's a shame that so much energy and lawyer time is being spent on something like this. But that's what courts are for, I guess - resolving the otherwise unresolvable.

(If we see other documents of interest, we may post a couple more of these. For this document, Q is Silicon Knights' lawyers, and A is Josh Adams. The trial itself will include plenty more higher-profile Silicon Knights and Epic employees, including Denis Dyack and Tim Sweeney.)

[UPDATE: A number of the free documents related to the case are available on Justia, but you'll need a subscription to the U.S. courts' PACER service, and pay per page, to get a lot of the in-depth testimony.]


[A classic 'how long is a piece of string' back-and-forth.]

Q. Okay. Did Epic have a lot of bugs in its PS3 code?

A: I mean, there's bugs everywhere. Every code has bugs.


[Trying to show that Gears was affecting PS3 engine development.]

Q. Okay. So if I can turn your attention to the bottom -- or the middle, actually, of the first page where you write, "Right now, we can have about 1 person's worth of time until gears ships (as me and Smedis have plenty of gears tasks, especially me). So I don't know how we can keep up to date with Gemini and that other stuff (SPUs in particular are a whore)." Do you see that?
A. Yes.

Q. Okay. Is it true that during the months prior to when Gears of War shipped, most of Epic was focused on Gears and getting that out the door?
Epic's lawyer: Objection. Calls for speculation.
A: I don't know who was working on what. I know I had some Gears tasks stated here.


[Discussing possible plans for more complex networking for Unreal Engine on PlayStation 3, and how Gears affected it - or didn't.]

Q. Okay. So you write there, "NP (Network "NP (Network Platform) support has not been started, and it's" [AFAIK] an abbreviation for "as far as I know"; correct?
A. Yes.

Q. -- "is not planned to begin before Gears is done. This is however a very political-type decision as sooo many licensees wants NP support, but our bandwidth (ie JoeG) to do it is very limited." Do you see that?
A. Yes.

Q. Is your bandwidth, in terms of this statement is referring to the amount of resources Epic had to support Gears or the UE3, basically the amount of tech support that Epic had at that time?
A. It is not for Gears. It's how many resources we had to work on NP support.

Q. Okay. So at that time prior to when Gears shipped, the amount of NP support and support for licensee' requests, was it limited prior to the release of Gears of War?
Epic's lawyer: Objection. Vague.
A. The -- if it was -- well, I think at the time, we weren't even sure if we were going to do NP support and -- because I'm not even sure if we knew we were going to use it for our own games and, again, if we don't work on -- if we're not doing something we're not going to support it. And so the -- when it was in that state of flux, I believe that's why we weren't -- the priority was lower --

Q. Because Gears wasn't going to use it? So --
A. Right. I mean, Gears was not for PS3. So that NP is a PS3 only feature.

A. And even for our games, we weren't sure if we were going to use NP at all. So it would be lower priority than if we knew we were going to use it.


[The vital answer to an age-old fanboy question - well, or the variant that asks which platform Unreal Engine 3 ran better on.]

Q. Do you recall whether or not there was a performance parity between the UE3 for the Xbox and UE3 for the PS3?
A. The performance characteristics of them are different, and they're not -- they were not the same performance as each other. I mean, there's different hardware and many reasons why that is.

Q. And was the Xbox much faster than the PS3?
A. I wouldn't say, "much faster," but it is -- it was somewhat faster, but I don't remember how much.

Q: Noticeably faster?
A. It was -- it was known to be faster on the Xbox at the time.

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