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Alternative game engine The Machinery has been cancelled, with devs told to delete all trace of it

Our Machinery
(Image credit: Our Machinery)
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Without explanation and without warning, the developers at Our Machinery have announced that they are terminating work on their alternative to Unreal Engine and Unity: an engine they called The Machinery.

The announcement came in the form of an email sent to users a few days ago. "Unfortunately, we've reached a point where it’s no longer possible for us to continue in the current direction," said the team at Our Machinery, before going on to say, well, nothing by way of explanation. 

Instead, the email simply stated that, per the engine's EULA, development would cease, access would be withdrawn, and licences would expire two weeks after the email was sent. Users were informed they would receive refunds and were requested to delete any source code or binaries they had in their possession.

That last bit has proven controversial. Users on Hacker News (opens in new tab) did a bit of digging and found that the EULA had been updated toward the end of July to feature a clause obliging users to "destroy any copies of the Service or Content in your possession, custody or control" upon termination of their licence. That clause was notably not present in earlier versions of the EULA, which are still viewable on the Wayback Machine (opens in new tab) at Archive.org. 

In other words, it looks like a new section was added to the EULA only to be invoked a couple of days later. That's permissible under the terms of the original EULA, which allowed Our Machinery to update the terms at their own discretion without prior notice, but it certainly doesn't feel fair. The website's dev blog and the Discord server for the project have also been summarily nuked, and the Twitter account hasn't been touched since April. That all makes it incredibly difficult for users looking for a bit of clarity on the project's ending.

I've reached out to Our Machinery for comment and will update if I hear back.

It's a glum end for an interesting project. When PCG spoke to Our Machinery (opens in new tab) last year, they seemed very excited about the potential of a  modular alternative to Unreal and Unity that offered developers all the "customizability [that] you get in a custom engine" without having to create the entire thing from scratch. To go from that to a 100-word email requesting that users memory-hole the entire thing is an intense and saddening whiplash.

Thanks, Game Developer (opens in new tab).

Joshua Wolens

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was far too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. Since then, his writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.