Mar 29, 2024

Why We Open-Sourced The Mirror

The Mirror is now permissively MIT-licensed

Join the Movement: Star on Github
Why We Open-Sourced The Mirror

We've been asked why we open-sourced The Mirror many times, so I'd love to add more context.

Being open-source gives you, the creator, much more freedom for free ways to use The Mirror as a tool. We've received many small feature requests, often small tweaks that we'd love to implement at some point (i.e. "Can I apply a different UI theme?"), but those features aren't always viable to work on with our small team since we have big milestone functionality to knock out. Thus, by being open source, we welcome you tweaking it yourself and setting up The Mirror how you like.

On the development side, it felt muddy that our aim was for you to "own your data" (which is and was 100% true), but while being a closed platform ourselves where you technically couldn't own everything. It made sense to go all the way with being open-source ourselves so you can truly own everything, including the underlying engine layer (if you build on Roblox, UEFN, Unity, etc. then you don't own everything because you don't own the underlying engine).

As a web dev by trade, I almost never use closed-source software in my tech stack and when I have, it's always felt odd and clunky. Thus, I kept asking myself, "Well, why are we closed-source? I'd be hesitant about using something closed-source myself."

On the business side, one area this changes is RevShare: We'll be moving this to later down the road and focusing on asset marketplace and in-game transactions to help you monetize quickly. We've received many requests about a "free or contribute" option for asset purchases, which we'll be adding too, similar to Itch.

Being open-source simply made sense with our model. We were already offering free to use & play with a focuses on an asset marketplace and in-game transactions, and that stays the same. Building a sustainable business is a key aim so we can continue to contribute to the FOSS code and make it better and support your games and experiences (if you're a business, we also build custom experiences). Now additionally, when you buy and sell on our marketplace, you're supporting free and open-source software and the mission of giving creators full freedom to own what they build.

The Mirror Dinosaur meme: Open-source alternative to Roblox, UEFN, and Unity

There's a philosophical aim here too: We've had many chuckles about our dinosaur meme and some lighthearted responses that it's "too agro", but there's meaning to it. Open-source is a wave that can't be stopped once it's started. It's the de facto approach for web development; game development just happens to lag behind because it's so heavy and complex being in 3 dimensions instead of 2. This may sound like a benign phenomenon, but there's a massive undercurrent: Apps today are largely stuck in 2D: 3D is the next step of the internet.

This parallels the "information superhighway" debate in the 90s with companies wanting to add their "toll booth", which has continued into present-day net neutrality debates. We're seeing a similar pattern here, yet in the form of local code: Proprietary, closed-source engines have "toll booths" running on your computer. This rolls into key tenets like individual ownership without being beholden to a third party along with personal responsibility, but I'll leave things here for a future blog post.

We'd be honored for you to join the movement and star The Mirror on Github.

Cheers and have a good weekend.