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An indie game engine is ordering users to destroy its source code

Game engine The Machinery billed as an alternative to the Unreal and Unity. Now its creators are shutting it down for unexplained reasons.

Developer Our Machinery has announced it's ending development on its game engine, simply titled The Machinery. Our Machinery was consistent with providing updates for its engine, but those updates—and the developer's Twitter page—have been silent since this April 2022. 

"Thanks so much for supporting The Machinery," wrote Our Machinery in an email to its users. "Unfortunately, we’ve reached a point where it’s no longer possible for us to continue in the current direction." Beyond that, no explanation was given as for the engine's termination. 

Epic's Unreal Engine and the Unity Engine stand as the most commonly used commercial game engines. The Machinery was billed as an alternative product, one that had "the flexibility of a custom engine with the convenience of a ready-made one," according to its website

Along with informing users of its engine's cancellation, Our Machinery asked developers to delete copies of The Machinery's source code, as per Section 14 of the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA). In the same way that it isn't common for a game's source code to be released, it's even rarer that a developer asks for its source code to be outright deleted.

However, according to Game World Observer, the request for developers to delete source code wasn't in the original licensing agreement. Using the Wayback Machine, which has captures that date back to this past May, Game Developer can confirm there was no mention of deleting the source code in Section 14 of the EULA.

Since then, the EULA has been updated with Our Machinery's request to delete the source code. "Upon the termination of your license," reads the EULA, "you must immediately (a) cease all use of the Service and the Content, and (b) destroy any copies of the Service or Content in your possession, custody or control, including any related source code and/or binaries of the Service or the Content."

For developers who were actively using The Machinery, Our Machinery revealed the engine will be terminated in two weeks. All developers will receive a full refund of their annual license payment.

Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to Unreal Engine and Unity as "open source" game engines. The description has been updated.

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