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Unity acquires the open source MLAPI networking library

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Unity Technologies who work on the Unity game engine have announced that they have acquired the networking library MLAPI, along with the creator joining Unity.

In the post Unity's Brandi House mentioned how they're trying to expand the Unity ecosystem with a "first-party multiplayer networking solution for GameObjects that is easy to set up and extend, scales to meet the needs of high-performance titles, and is seamlessly integrated into the Unity ecosystem" and after considering many they ultimately decided to pull in MLAPI along with its creator, Albin Corén.

The good news is that it remains open source and will be developed in the open as expected, and they will not be changing the license which is currently as MIT. So now we have another open source solution for networking, fully backed by a big company - nice.

Unity said they will be expanding it in these areas, in addition to working on documentation and samples:

  • Remote procedure calls (RPCs): Currently MLAPI has two RPC systems, “convenience RPCs” and “performance RPCs.” The convenience RPCs incur a performance overhead that performance RPCs address, but they are not straightforward to use. We are investigating options to replace both with a system that is performant, is easy to use, and has clean usage patterns.
  • Snapshot generation: MLAPI’s current design poses challenges for incorporating features like delta compression or client-side prediction. To overcome this roadblock, we’re working on separating snapshot generation from packet-sending systems.
  • Network relevance model: Sending the right data to each player enables developers to minimize their bandwidth costs and maximize players gameplay experiences. We’ll change MLAPI so new methods can be used to increase performance, lower the likelihood of cheating, and lower operating costs by lowering the amount of data sent. 

See the announcement here and find the code on GitHub.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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9 comments

Purple Library Guy 4 Dec, 2020
Gotta say it feels weird to me to see someone say they "acquired" something that's open source. I know what they mean, but my instincts yell "It's open source, it belongs to everyone!"
Eike 4 Dec, 2020
Quoting: Purple Library GuyGotta say it feels weird to me to see someone say they "acquired" something that's open source. I know what they mean, but my instincts yell "It's open source, it belongs to everyone!"

I actually wasn't sure. Does it mean they hired the (main) developer?
Liam Dawe 4 Dec, 2020
Quoting: Eike
Quoting: Purple Library GuyGotta say it feels weird to me to see someone say they "acquired" something that's open source. I know what they mean, but my instincts yell "It's open source, it belongs to everyone!"

I actually wasn't sure. Does it mean they hired the (main) developer?
Hired yes and the GitHub has moved under Unity's umbrella.
mirv 4 Dec, 2020
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Quoting: Purple Library GuyGotta say it feels weird to me to see someone say they "acquired" something that's open source. I know what they mean, but my instincts yell "It's open source, it belongs to everyone!"

It's freely available to everyone, but it belongs to the author. The distinction means that while a particular license applies to any releases, the author (or rather if all authors/contributors agree) can at their discretion transfer ownership (with all that entails) and/or change the license.

In this case the ownership transfers to Unity Technologies, who have kept it with an MIT license.


Last edited by mirv on 5 December 2020 at 10:43 am UTC
Eike 5 Dec, 2020
Quoting: mirvApologies, thought that was a given from "or authors", but perhaps "all contributors" would have been more appropriate.

I'm sorry, didn't read thoroughly enough. I'll delete my nonsense. :)
TheRiddick 6 Dec, 2020
Community lead and developed projects and apps that have been handed over to the community for maintenance are an entirely different kettle of fish. If a company came in and took that sort of project it would create a shitstorm, I can see maybe microsoft or apple doing that...
Purple Library Guy 6 Dec, 2020
Quoting: mirv
Quoting: Purple Library GuyGotta say it feels weird to me to see someone say they "acquired" something that's open source. I know what they mean, but my instincts yell "It's open source, it belongs to everyone!"

It's freely available to everyone, but it belongs to the author. The distinction means that while a particular license applies to any releases, the author (or rather if all authors/contributors agree) can at their discretion transfer ownership (with all that entails) and/or change the license.
Wouldn't be able to stop people from forking from the pre-license-change version.
mirv 6 Dec, 2020
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Quoting: Purple Library Guy
Quoting: mirv
Quoting: Purple Library GuyGotta say it feels weird to me to see someone say they "acquired" something that's open source. I know what they mean, but my instincts yell "It's open source, it belongs to everyone!"

It's freely available to everyone, but it belongs to the author. The distinction means that while a particular license applies to any releases, the author (or rather if all authors/contributors agree) can at their discretion transfer ownership (with all that entails) and/or change the license.
Wouldn't be able to stop people from forking from the pre-license-change version.

Does stop people being able to re-license or claim the work as their own, depending upon the license.

Actually MIT license permits proprietary relicensing. I don't think that allows the original work to change, but anything added extra can be wrapped up in a proprietary license I'm pretty sure. The permissive license is probably one reason Unity have acquired MLAPI.

If Unity keep some extras for themselves but allow the public facing code to be maintained though, I don't see any problems here. Other companies do the same.
devland 7 Dec, 2020
Quoting: Purple Library GuyGotta say it feels weird to me to see someone say they "acquired" something that's open source. I know what they mean, but my instincts yell "It's open source, it belongs to everyone!"

The press release doesn't mention anything about any "acquisition". I suspect Liam just took the liberty to add some click-bait to the title. :)

The press release reads as below.
QuoteWe’re thrilled to share that the OSS multiplayer networking framework MLAPI is joining the Unity family, along with its creator, Albin Corén.
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