, Glide Underground News/Reviews Editor
John Danforth, VP & General Counsel, Creative
Steve Mosher, VP, Graphics Business Unit
To begin, how much warning was there that this
lawsuit would occur, and were you expecting it when you began to implement
the Unified drivers?
Discussion of how to answer 3DFX's concerns began
approximately 4-5 days before the press release and arrival of paperwork,
with discussion of having the source codes compared by an independent expert.
We were aware of 3DFX's stance on the wrappers
and their stance that their competitiveness could go away if Glide worked
on other hardware, and their conduct towards other wrapper developers (specifically
students), and from following Glide Underground were watching to be sure
we stayed within the guidelines for wrappers which 3DFX themselves had
We were expecting to have a good-faith exercise
to seek compliance with the guidelines, not a lawsuit being served.
Personally having looked at the guidelines issued
by 3DFX, as they had been published on Glide Underground. we had a pretty
clear indication how development had to be done to be acceptable to them.
The last thing we expected was a lawsuit with these kind of claims in it.
Have 3DFX given any of their evidence of how they
"found" Glide source code, or evidence that such exists in the Unified
drivers? I know that in the case of other wrappers, they said there
was SDK header information in the source code, gainable only from an SDK
or a decompilation of their drivers.
In the complaint, the only evidence of their source
code is that the file and command names are used. They claim that this
is evidence of source code copying, to which we say "Balderdash."
It is required to use those names to create a functional wrapper, and they
know it from work with Glide Underground and their approval of other Glide
They (3dfx) have approved other wrappers, with
the same characteristics as Creative's Unified wrapper (the file names
and command names).
What do you plan to do while the litigation continues?
(i.e. Will Unified keep going?)
We plan to continue to distribute and improve
Unified, to respond to the needs of our customers.
How much credence do you put in 3DFX's claims
that another 100 titles are being developed "for" Glide, and their claim
that 200 commercial products have been developed "for" Glide, as their
press release about the lawsuit stated?
I can't address the claim, but I can say
that when we went to look for titles we went to game sites, and after thorough
research the initial list had somewhere between 20 and 30 titles. And they
were old games, as well. It's interesting to know that Bruce Busby, their
director of Intellectual Property, couldn't tell Multimedia Wire's reporter
how many Glide-only titles there were.
Is there a possibility that further software titles
with what I term "afterthought" support for Direct3D and OpenGL, such as
Epic's Unreal, could be added to the list of titles supported by Unified
in order to speed up their performance on Creative's video accelerator
Our initial motivation was to add legacy support
for our end user on games that were Glide-only. As a natural fallout
of that, titles like Unreal will be picked up simply because of functionality
development. I think what you see here is a transition of choice of API's,
moving away from Glide-only support. It is absolutely clear now that
D3D is the API of choice. You may see a few titles start with only
Glide for 3D acceleration, but more and more are shipping either D3D-only
or with both API's supported out of the box now.
What is your response to 3DFX's cutting off of
their chip line and making boards themselves?
3DFX bought STB, because they thought STB would
secure all the OEMs, By buying STB, they gave us and
our partner NVidia some great wins in the marketplace. So we say, "Thank
Early in development (pre-ComDex), the chip
was called the Banshee 2, because it IS a Banshee only with another
TMU. We had real problems with the lack of 32bit rendering and RAM.
We were looking at the Voodoo3 chipset
and didn't know what to do with it because it
was only 16-bit, and 16 MB. All the other chip vendors
are on 32-bit and 32MB: more color depth, bigger frame buffers. Nvidia,
S3, ATI, and Matrox all realized that quality counts,
while 3DFX took a Banshee core and renamed
it Voodoo3. I am really happy that 3DFX bought STB, because it gave
us the opportunity and the chance to compete against the Voodoo3, which
is technologically challenged
What do you think of 3DFX's "But we render at
32 bits internally" claim?
Well, nobody sees the pixels inside the chip,
so what matters is what's on the monitor, 3DFX knows that 32 bits is required,
and when they do make 32 bit cards they will be trying to make everyone
forget that they said 16 bit was good enough. You have to be honest about
these things, and those that have been in the 3D hardware business for
long know that for the human visual system 32 bits or beyond is what is
The best evidence that 16-bit rendering
is not good enough is Quake 3. Look at the visuals on a Voodoo3. Look at
the sky, shoot a rocket, and watch the dither pattern. The picture speaks
for itself. The image quality you get is simply not as good as the 32-bit
rendering on a TNT2 Ultra or even a TNT, for that matter. The sad thing
is that the 3dfx engineers KNOW that.
Remember, the Voodoo3 was called a Banshee 2 UP
UNTIL they decided to buy STB and changed the name for martketing purposes.
Technically, it is a Banshee core with a second TMU added. In the end,
the end users CANNOT be fooled. They see the visuals of the Voodoo3 and
they stick it back in the box and return it.
The representatives of Creative Labs also added
that they still think that 3DFX is unreasonable on ther position, and that
Glide Underground and the other wrapper developers deserve the title of
"heroes" for keeping going through 3DFX's harassment and bullying tactics.
Part of the reason for the development of Unified was that Glide Underground
and the dedication of its staff and the wrapper coders proved how much
of a need there was for the Wrappers as a product. The harassment of the
other wrapper writers was also a strong motivation for a card manufacturer
to begin to place such a product on its line of device drivers.
Thanks go to Jennifer Garrett, Creative Labs PR
representative, for arranging this interview, and to John Danforth and
Steve Mosher for donating their time to answer these questions.