Developers discuss the case against Epic

Developers discuss the case against Epic
Michael French

By Michael French

July 23rd 2007 at 11:31PM

Studios speak out for and against Unreal Engine 3

Following the news that Silicon Knights is suing Epic Games over Unreal Engine 3 functionality (or alleged lack of), Shacknews has spoken to some developers about the case.

As you would expect, opinions vary - some are happy with UE3 (after all, why speak out publicly against a vendor with a key, expensive tool?) some not (although, as Shacknews' Chris Remo points out "negative responses tended not to hold Epic to the same level of fault as does Silicon Knights' suit").

The reply to the site's questioning that will be familiar to most developers is from former Gearbox Software level designer Josh Jeffcoat - in short, claiming that the engine has issues, but nothing licensing developers can't get around or cope with.

"UE3 isn't perfect by any means, but I don't feel Epic misrepresented it in any way when we licensed it," said Jeffcoat.

"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."

At the same time, other developers have taken a stance against the engine, with Running With Scissors expressing displeasure with the licensor/licensee relationship that came from signing with Epic.

"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 product manager Mike Jaret. "It just wasn't the best relationship for us."

Although this was an unsurprisingly contrasting comment with UE3-exclusive studio Chair, which praised the technology, other anonymously quoted developers did spill their own tears of war, discussing delayed features and missing implementation. More can be found here.

Until the Silicon Knights vs. Epic Games case goes to trial (which SK has demanded) or is settled, it's unlikely this will be an issue developers and the press will stop talking about any time soon - and is something we'll be revisiting very shortly on Developmag.com.

With the likes of Phil Harrison commenting at E3 that Unreal Engine 3 PS3 support needed to be addressed, and with the engine, Epic's games and its tools otherwise dominating many of they key technology element to both the Microsoft and Sony press conferences in Santa Monica the week before last, it's clear that UE3 is still centerpiece middleware for the games industry – something that will only add to the commentary.

In the meantime, let us know what you think in the comments section below.