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Silicon Knights sues Epic over Too Human

"Inadequate" engine setbacks have caused "serious damage" to the 360 title, claims lawsuit

As if there couldn't be any more industry-shaking news this week, Too Human dev Silicon Knights has gone and filed a lawsuit against Unreal Engine licensor Epic Games, alleging breach of contract regarding Unreal Engine 3 licensing.

"This morning we were served with a lawsuit by Silicon Knights. We believe the claims against us are unfounded and without merit and we intend to fully defend against them," said Epic VP Mark Rein in a statement.

"We'd love to tell you more about it but unfortunately our lawyers want us to save our comments for the courthouse so we're going to do our best to comply with their wishes.."

Silicon Knights boss Denis Dyack however was far less vague about the dispute, coming right out and calling Unreal Engine "inadequate" and claiming it has caused "serious damage" to both Too Human and the industry.

"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," Dyack commented.

"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. Regrettably, we are now forced to go to court in order to achieve satisfaction."

According to SK, Epic's licensing document stated that a functional version of the UE3 engine would be available within 6 months of 360 dev kits arrivinhg. However, the company eventually got the engine in November 2006, "far too late for time and cost-sensitive projects like SK's videogames."

"No doubt Gears is a fun and phenomenally successful game, but as we alleged in our complaint against them, we strongly believe that from the perspective of someone waiting for a game engine that Epic promised it would deliver almost two years ago, it seems pretty clear that Gears was built on the backs of the Unreal Engine licensees," he added.

"We certainly stand by our allegations in the lawsuit that instead of using our licensing fees to develop and support the Unreal Engine 3, Epic used that money to build Gears." The gloves are most certainly off.

The lawsuit claims that the late arrival of working UE3 code has had a significant impact on the development of Too Human, and was the reason for its shoddy appearance at E3 2006.

"The damage to Silicon Knights caused by Epic's misconduct was manifest, because E3 attendees were able to compare Too Human with another game running ostensibly the same game engine, Gears of War, with vastly superior results," reads the lawsuit.

Other developers are yet to pipe up to echo Silicon Knights' claims, though with titles like Rainbow Six: Vegas unexpectedly delayed, perhaps it's only a matter of time before the rest of the industry opens its mouth for a moan...

You can read the entire suit over on Gamasutra. It's going to be interesting to see who Microsoft sides with on this one...