Is the Moai game engine dead? It appears no, not quite


I have been a big fan of the Moai game engine for a long time, going back to when I created a tutorial series about using it.  Lately though, things got quite, really really really quite.  The forum activity really dropped off, and new commits weren’t being added to the github.  I had personally written it off as a promising but dead end technology.  I decided to take a look at the forums after a few months off and found this interesting post from Patrick at Zipline games a couple days back:


Thoughts on the future of Moai


Marko Pukari sent me an email yesterday asking for a comment on what’s going on (or not) with Moai SDK from Zipline’s perspective. As you know we’ve been heads down on internal projects for quite a few months now. It’s been ages since I’ve looked at the forums or our pull requests – I just haven’t had the time. Looking at them this morning I saw a lot of high quality pull requests and bug fixes (thank you!) but was a bit surprised that they hadn’t already been merged in to develop. I went ahead and grabbed the obvious ones and will try to close out the rest when I have time to get back to the SDK.

The specific question Marko wanted me to address is whether or not Moai SDK is a ‘dead engine.’ It isn’t (and it won’t be) for a few reasons. The first is that we are actively using it to develop our own games and will continue to do so. The second is that Moai SDK started life as my personal code base and I intend to keep working on it no matter what happens. Third, there is a community branch so even if I get hit by a bus the project will continue.

As of this writing nobody has productized the engine, so if you are a less experienced developer and not prepared to fully maintain the engine yourself then think seriously about going with a commercial engine or authoring tool instead. Open source is great because you won’t get boxed in by a missing feature or a bug… but you have to be experienced enough to implement the feature or fix the bug yourself, or rich enough to hire someone to do it.

Regarding Zipline, our games are paying us right now but developing them takes up our every working moment. This should ease up in a month or three, but nobody should sit around waiting for us. The big project for me personally is going to be to merge our ‘studio’ branch back into develop. From that point I will continue to work on the SDK. In fact, I can hardly wait!

I can confirm that we do plan to offer products and services around Moai in the future. Moai Cloud didn’t work out, but there are some other things I’m hoping to announce later this year. None of them involve taking Moai closed source.

I’m also glad to see there is a community branch; I’ll keep an eye on it and pull features and fixes from time to time. Alternatively, I’ve asked before and I’ll ask again: if anyone wants to volunteer to maintain Zipline’s branch and CI then I would welcome them to do so. This extends to all aspects of community and project maintenance. Just contact me directly via email.



Later in the comments was this interesting tidbit:

3) Sure. The moment someone wants to pay me to do that, I will. Until then I cannot take time away from studio work. Every hour I spend not doing studio work I am losing money. Me personally. As in out of my pocket. Bread off my table. Etc. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate everyone’s interest and contributions. But so far to date Moai SDK has paid me exactly $0.00. In spite of it being used to develop flagship titles by companies that received over $10m in venture capital. Just sayin’.


And no, Patrick isn’t whining, I get 100% where he was coming from.  He published Moai and certain studios certainly benefited majorly from it and that didn’t trickle back.  This of course is one of the joys of open source software.  It’s a bummer, but to me not surprising, that the Moai cloud efforts didn’t turn into a revenue stream.  There is no need to contribute upstream to the success of Moai… but karma’s a bitch!


What I did and do find incredible disappointing is the complete lack of contribution I have seen from studios other than Zipline.  Harebrained Schemes made Crimson Steam Pirates and StrikeFleet Omega using Moai and must have made pretty extensive changes… but did they contribute anything back to the engine?  There was some early promises, but I haven’t personally seen a damned thing.   And that is a gigantic shame.


At the very least though, we will be getting Ziplines internal copy pushed to the git repository, so that is good news.  I hope others decide to get more involved in the community and make Moai a success.

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