Technical turns into legal issue: EIDOS-AMD e-mail exchange
Two days ago, nVidia's own Lars Weinand came out on Hexus forums and published a statement
which re-ignited the flame wars: "Batman AA is not our property. It is owned by Eidos. It is up to Eidos to decide the fate of a feature that AMD refused to contribute too and QA for their customers, not NVIDIA.
If it is relatively trivial, Mr. Huddy should have done it himself. The Unreal engine does not support in game AA, so we added it and QA'ed it for our customers. As Eidos confirmed (Not allowed to post links here, but check PCper for Eidos' statement) AMD refused the same opportunity to support gamers with AA on AMD GPUs. I'm sure Mr. Huddy knows how important QA is for game developers. I recommend AMD starts working with developers to make their HW work in a proper way. That's not our job. We added functionality for NVIDIA GPUs into the game. We did not lock anything out. AMD just did not do their work. This happened with previous UE3 engine titles before, where ATI owners had to rename the executable to make AA work on that title (Bioshock in example). It’s not NVIDIA to blame here."
As you can see here, an nVidia representative stated that Batman AA code is not nVidia's property, but Eidos one. Secondly, Lars stated that nVidia "did not lock anything out."
Unfortunately, neither of those two statements are true.
Richard Huddy then followed up with a post revealing a following comment
: "AMD received an email dated Sept 29th at 5:22pm from Mr. Lee Singleton General Manager at Eidos Game Studios who stated that Eidos’ legal department is preventing Eidos from allowing ATI cards to run in-game antialiasing in Batman Arkham Asylum due to NVIDIA IP ownership issues over the antialiasing code, and that they are not permitted to remove the vendor ID filter.
NVIDIA has done the right thing in bowing to public pressure to renounce anti-competitive sponsorship practices and given Eidos a clear mandate to remove the vendor ID detect code that is unfairly preventing many of Eidos’ customers from using in-game AA, as per Mr. Weinand’s comments. I would encourage Mr. Singleton at Eidos to move quickly and decisively to remove NVIDIA’s vendor ID detection."
We asked AMD to release us the complete e-mail conversation and the company the following e-mail thread to Hexus
and BSN*: From: Lee Singleton Sent: 29 September 2009 18:06 To: Huddy, Richard Subject: RE: Multisampling Anti-Aliasing in Batman: Arkham Asylum Hi Richard, I have taken legal advice from our general council who have advised us not to pursue a route which involves changing code that nVidia wrote, I am not prepared to go into any further details and share privileged information. We are working very hard to find a solution for ATI so please respect our position in this situation. Best, Lee From: Huddy, Richard Sent: 29 September 2009 17:30 To: Lee Singleton Subject: RE: Multisampling Anti-Aliasing in Batman: Arkham Asylum Lee, Can you please be very specific about what your legal staff has recommended. I believe that NVIDIA's code path is using only the DirectX API (except where it specifically shuts out AMD hardware), so I'm unclear why this would be an issue. Ideally I'd like to understand this response so I can explain it to my management, rather than simply parrot it to my management. I suspect that if I just recite this to my management they'll treat it with great skepticism. Thanks, Richard "7 of 5" Huddy Worldwide Developer Relations Manager, AMD's GPU Division From: Lee Singleton Sent: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 5:22 PM To: Huddy, Richard Subject: RE: Multisampling Anti-Aliasing in Batman: Arkham Asylum Hi Richard, We have worked closely with our local legal team today and we have been advised that we should not reuse or change the code written by nVidia. If ATI have robust sample code we can use it will accelerate any fix, if not Rocksteady will need to start from scratch. Best, Lee From: Huddy, Richard Sent: 29 September 2009 17:09 To: Lee Singleton Subject: RE: Multisampling Anti-Aliasing in Batman: Arkham Asylum Guys, I believe this technique is very closely related to a technique which we've seen NVIDIA recommend before now - so actually it may well fit very well with the code that they've given you... Richard "7 of 5" Huddy Worldwide Developer Relations Manager, AMD's GPU Division
If you re-read the e-mail communication, you can see two things. First of all, Batman's AA code is nVidia's ownership, not Eidos – thus rebutting the statement at the top of this page.
Secondly, Eidos asked AMD to provide "robust sample code".
To this date, AMD failed to do so, arguing that nVidia's method is the same as AMD's sample code. Given the fact that you can turn in-game AA by changing the vendor lD to nVidia, there is nothing given by Eidos nor nVidia that would prove otherwise. Assassins' Creed and the DirectX 10.1 Affair
As you can read from the e-mail exchange above, there are multiple ways you can interpret what is going on. But the underlying problem of this whole Batmangate affair was that a similar situation happen a year and a half ago. In spring 2008, Assassin's Creed was the hot title and at first hand, it had everything: superb gameplay, excellent graphics, used DirectX 10.1 API... and was nVidia's TWIMTBP title that ran better on ATI hardware. My analysis of Assassin's Creed DirectX 10.1 issue was published on May 8th on TG Daily
and Tom's Hardware.
No question about the statement above - DirectX 10.0 hardware does another pass when AA is enabled and in the case of 4x AA, use of DirectX 10.1 code path saves around 25%. By some odd case, this was the difference in performance between ATI Radeon 3800 and nVidia GeForce 8800/9800 generation. Ubisoft reacted in a very interesting way… the company announced that the code is breaking apart on nVidia hardware due to use of DX10.1 and that the first patch will disable DirectX 10.1. Indeed, when the patch arrived, any issues that nVidia hardware had disappeared, but so did DX10.1 support.
During that case, I spoke with Michael Beadle [PR, Ubisoft] and Jade Raymond [Producer, Assassin's Creed] who went on-the-record and stated that nVidia was not the factor in the case for DX10.1 removal. Unfortunately for both Ubisoft and nVidia, that situation didn't develop well when Derek Perez, then Director of Public Relations at nVidia stated that "nVidia never paid for and will not pay for anything with Ubi[soft]. That is a completely false claim."
The case of Inconvenient Truth came out when Ubisoft's own Michael Beadle stated that "there was a [co-marketing] money amount, but that [transaction] was already done. That had nothing to do with development team or with Assassin's Creed."
Back then, we were a part of a heated off-the-record conversation where I was told that Roy Taylor, then lead man for TWIMTPB program contacted Ubisoft and threatened to pull marketing support for all Ubisoft titles, and the sum in question ranged at around two million dollars - unless the case of Assassin's Creed is remedied. You can treat this off-the-record conversation as hear-say or the truth, but neither nVidia nor Ubisoft issued a public rebuttal of the analysis published on May 8, 2008
Was Batman: Arkham Asylum and this whole MSAA affair the case of Assassin's Creed in 2009? AMD is crying foul as the party that was damaged in the past. Unfortunately for AMD, every story has two sides.
Yes, Ubisoft moved to remove the DirectX 10.1 path but the issues experienced by nVidia users weren't exactly "nothing to sneeze at": first of all, one of render passes went missing as a consequence of DX10.1 path. That render pass featured dust particles, lights were bleeding through the walls and there were reported cases of instability i.e. game crashing on nVidia hardware. Naturally, Ubisoft had to move to correct those issues. The inconvenient truth for AMD - the company cried foul over nVidia instead of stepping to the plate and fixing the DirectX 10.1 code. It was much easier to create a stir among AMD fanboys and press instead of working closely with the developer to get DirectX 10.1 working properly. The question of those two million dollars will remain open for eternity, though. Next page: What does nVidia think about all of this?
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