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Silicon Knights only entitled to $1 in damages in suit against Epic Games
Silicon Knights only entitled to $1 in damages in suit against Epic Games
May 21, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

May 21, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
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    20 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



After almost five years of legal turmoil, the ongoing lawsuit between Silicon Knights and Epic Games has finally gone to court, but it seems the stakes aren't quite as high as previously thought.

New court documents reveal that even if Silicon Knights wins in its case to prove that Epic failed to provide a functional version of Unreal Engine 3, it would only be entitled to $1 in damages, reports Polygon.

In a May 7 ruling, Judge James Dever III said that Silicon Knights never provided a detailed breakdown of the damages it sought from the case, and Polygon reports that the court had to assign a value of its own.

This new assessment of the damages likely arose thanks to a setback Silicon Knights suffered late last year, when a judge dismissed the reports and testimony of an analyst that was key to the developer's case. The analyst had argued that problems with the Unreal Engine's licensing and functionality cost Silicon Knights some $58 million in damages.

While this new amount seems insignificant at best, Silicon Knights could still appeal to dispute how the damages were assessed, or even pursue further recourse against Epic Games. In addition to the $1 in damages, the studio will also receive reimbursement for its lawyer's fees should it win the case.

The conflict between Silicon Knights and Epic first arose in mid-2007, when the Too Human developer sued Epic over qualms with its Unreal Engine 3 technology.

Silicon Knights, which used the engine to develop Too Human, claimed that Epic was using and licensing the Unreal Engine to benefit the launch of Gears of War, while "sabotaging efforts by Silicon Knights and others to develop their own video games."


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Comments


Joe McIntosh
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If that isn't a slap in the face...

Justin Leeper
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Is that $1 American or Canadian?

Alan Rimkeit
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Too bad it is not in Euros... ;D..oh wait... never mind.. LOL

Eric McQuiggan
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Doesn't really matter much right now.

Amir Barak
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Could be an Australian dollar, that goes pretty strong nowadays...

A W
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Wow... I don't know if I should feel sorry for Silicon Knights though. I mean the could have stayed in the game if they had made smarter decisions.

Rob Wright
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I feel sorry for SK. Eternal Darkness is one of my favorite games, and I've always had a soft spot for them. Yes, that includes Too Human, which I really liked. I wonder, if you privately polled other devs that licensed UE3, if they'd side with Epic or SK on this one. I remember quite a few complaints about the engine back in 2007...

A W
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I agree Rob. I can feel sorry for them given they did make a great game and one of my all time favorite games. However when I say they could have made better choices...

The could have stuck with Nintendo (maybe), and / or made Eternal Darkness 2; for any or all system(s). Then they could have developed Too Human for Xbox360 exclusive like the wanted to.

But instead they said HD was the immediate future, broke with Nintendo on ideas, and developed Too Human with the UE3 engine, for Xbox360 only, and with way too much internal hype surrounding it.

Then when the game was not ready (after about ten + years of conception dating back to the PS1) and the bosses where starting to call, they rushed out a sub par game and blamed Epic for their folly when it didn't sell as well as Halo and Gears or War.

They could have been a contender... the could have been a star.

Michael Rooney
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@AW: To be fair, the Too Human that was being developed 10 years prior to the release of what we all know as Too Human was not the same game. It was more similar to Deus Ex.

The game really wasn't that bad. It was a pretty solid game, and probably would have stood out if Dyack hadn't hyped it quite so much or if it weren't associated with the game they were developing 10 years prior to it's eventual launch.

Joe McGinn
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I'd buy that for a dollar

William Johnson
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Jeez, you'd think after all that Canadian tax payer money Dyack burnt on that terrible Xmen game, I thought they'd have cut their losses. I think there is enough evidence to me UE3 is not the problem with Silicon Knight's work pipeline. Its their programmers, artists, and designers. UE3 isn't some kind of magic wand that will instantly transform bad game developers in to amazing ones.

Evan Combs
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That isn't what the lawsuit is about. It is about Epic not providing what they said they would provide, in other words false advertising.

William Johnson
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If its true that Epic really was holding back, wouldn't we see this as a class action lawsuit, and not just Silicon Knights vs Epic? The only other developer off the top of my head that was using UE3 circa 2007 was Ubisoft using in it the Rainbow Six Vegas games. I know there must be more, but that's the first one that comes to mind.

Wouldn't it make sense for more developers to be jumping on the Epic hate train if Epic really did gimp the UDK for everyone but themselves?

William Dettrey
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Not sure how accurate this is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Unreal_Engine_gamesI don't even see Too Human on the list but holy cow when you see BIOSHOCK, oh wait, MASS EFFECT, Stranglehold just to name a few that released in 2007. If you want to go back to 2005 the great games seem to be harder to find and they are also at the console generation transition so there's crossover from last gen into this gen as well as port. But I have to agree with William, there's something odd going on in that studio and the proof is in X-Men Destiny.

Rob Wright
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@William Dettrey
Actually, both Mass Effect and Stranglehold had some graphics glitches, if memory serves, like texture popping. Not saying that's directly related to UE3, just that not all UE3 games were as flawless-looking as, say, Gears of War and BioShock.

On the other hand, yes, there's X-Men Destiny. Hard to believe it was made by the same studio that made Eternal Darkness and Twin Snakes.

warren blyth
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@William Dettrey: I think you're misreading that wiki list. Bioshock used (modified) UE2.

Further down you'll see that the only UE3 games to come out in 2006 were Gears, TCRainbowSix:Vegas and RoboBlitz (which was a small tech demo basically?). As I recall, Rainbow6 Vegas was pretty solid. But its wiki page says it was plagued with glitches at launch. My suspicion is that it was releasable because it wasn't trying to deviate too far from Gears game features.

I believe this stink all started because Too Human had such a bad showing at E3 2006 (compared to Gears, which looked great). Gears came out that year, while Too Human was delayed 2 years. In my memory, the first year of Xbox360 (2005) promised 5 key exclusive franchises as coming soon: Halo, Mass Effect, Shadowrun, Too Human, and Gears. It's like Xbox wanted to define itself with space marine aesthetic. (i know gears didn't end up being a space marine game. but. It's often lumped in there). I remember drooling over these at old E3(s). Nowadays people laugh at Shadowrun and TooHuman, but I remember them being highly anticipated and championed before their release. I think it's important to remember this when gauging how much the delay hurt the game's marketing momentum. It's the only one in the group that came out broken and unpolished. I think this is why there was such a backlash against it.

@WilliamJohnson: I thought Activision forced them to release XmenDestiny before they were ready, so activation could keep the license.? Maybe I'm clinging to hard to this rumor, because I don't want to believe they're incompetent. but. i like it!

When people say UE3 tools were probably fine, and SK must have just been incompetent game developers, I always think of that game Blacksite:Area51. I was stunned at how buggy the demo was. And I remember the lead designer, Harvey Smith, getting fired by Midway for saying the project was "so fucked up" and not ready. I probably misunderstood why the game was so fucked up. but. I always wonder if the various people who had problems with UE3 tools initially just got fired (or kept their mouths shut).

Michael Rooney
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I'd say the more important part for SK now would be having their legal fees dealt with. A low damage assessment may be the best way to get out of this without having to foot the legal fees on top of losing the case.

As much as it sucks, sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on. Too Human wasn't even that bad a game considering the amount of poop flung at it. I'd probably buy a sequel if they made one.

Mike Kasprzak
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Totally saw this coming way back in 2007. "How dare your middleware not be perfect".

Paul Orlemanski
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I know that this isn't right for me to say but doesn't it seem like Silicon Knights is slowly but eventually joining the ranks of Acclaim, Ocean, Titus and Accolode?

Luke Quinn
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So, Silicon Knights...
deal or no deal?


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