Everything that’s Flappy isn’t always gold

Welcome back. If your week was anything like mine then I share your joy of experiencing this Friday as the start of the weekend.

For me, weekend is game development time. I spend pretty much all my free time working on games to get this going. That makes a “no” a bitter pill to swallow. Even if you expected a “no” in the first place. As you are no doubt aware, I submitted Clappy Bird to Amazon and to Apple.

I was surprised that Amazon provides feedback as quickly as they do. I submitted it last week Saturday to them and come Sunday morning I had a lovely letter informing me that I’ve used artwork from Flappy Bird. This was of course not true, I had drawn all my art work myself but I cannot deny that it was drawn to the same purpose as Flappy Bird and it looks very, very similar. In addition, Clappy Bird is no doubt a clone of Flappy Bird. I replied to the rejection and was simply told that I am using the Flappy Bird icon, which again I wasn’t.

I decided to leave it at that and to see what Apple came back with. It had taken Apple a little more than the average of 6 days (I think) but I finally received the loveliest and most politically correct response from them. They made no claims towards copyright or me using Flappy Bird graphics, rather, they indicated that they don’t approve games that leverage of other games. Fair enough I suppose and to be brutally honest, I appreciate that. Like I said in my previous post, the original creator of a game should reap the rewards of it, not the copy cats.

The interesting thing here was still the fact that Flappy Bird was removed and no longer available. Obviously, the counter argument is that the creator could opt to re-submit it at any time.

Regardless of the “no” I am extremely happy to have submitted something and seen some of the process flow. I’m also very encouraged by the fact that they won’t simply allow Flappy Bird clones. It does beg a few questions though, such as why say no to clones now and only with regards to Flappy Bird? They said no to me, but Fallout Boy is about to release a clone. What makes their clone special?

Why did Apple not prevent all the clones for 5-0 Radio for example, in fact, the creator of 5-0 radio, Allen Wong, has famously stated that there were so many clones he ended up creating clones for his own app to compete with himself and the clones. He still bought a Lamborghini Aventador, so I suppose he won’t complain.

In all, I’m still satisfied that what’s fair is fair. I took a shot with Clappy Bird and they said no. It’s their right to say no and that no protects me too.

When I Come Around

Why is it so quiet in here?

Welcome back, I’d forgive you for thinking I’ve been away but looks can be deceiving. Ok, stop staring at me-you’re right; I’ve been away but it’s not what you think. I hit a roadblock, a big one.

If you build it, he will own it

I’ve not hidden the fact that I make games or that I intend to make games in my part time from my employer and they have never had a problem with it. The problem is, whatever I do belongs to them! It turns out that while you’re under the employ of someone, everything you do belongs to them if it relates in any way to what they employ you for (unless you have some sort of moonlighting clause in your contract of employment).

I’ve always thought that so long as there isn’t a conflict of interest and you do it in your own time it would be yours. Sadly this is not true. It gets worse, they own the intellectual property rights and if you job hop, there can even be legal disputes between your old and new employers! This can just get nasty…

As a result I had to make an emergency stop, dead in my tracks. I needed written permission from my employer. The verbal agreement I had with them apparently isn’t good enough.

This took time, lots of time, but that’s behind me now and the less I say about it the better.

What did we miss?

In the few months that it took to sort out, Apple has opened the games category in the South African App store!! That has to be the single biggest iOS event in South Africa since the launch of iOS! I joined a local indie development group, MakeGamesSA and I realized that I am not as unique and alone in this as I thought. There’s a bunch of really fun people doing exactly what I’m doing and the are guys out there making a living off it! This is possible! Can you see me doing the dance of good omens? Maybe it’s good that you can’t as it’s pretty embarrassing actually.

I took Zombie Apocalypse to them and the reviews were mixed but good. Some people played it for quite some time which was really positive!! In the end I was fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of some very hard, but constructive feedback. I pulled my launch, there was more work needed. I’m not trying to be perfect, but sometimes it takes someone else to tell you what you are thinking in any case before you believe it.

The hard truth

I also took the few months I couldn’t work on Zombie Apocalypse to reflect on what I had done. I spent a lot of time playing it and messing around with new ideas. I spent hours and hours looking at my code and apart from wondering if I would be able to continue I realized that I was much too focused before. Let me explain before you throw back your shoulders and go pfft. I was too close to my code, it’s as simple as that.

The best comparison I have is that it’s like a child drawing, seeing this marvelous world unfolding on the piece of paper and the parent, well the parent can only see two parallel grey lines . So Zombie Apocalypse works and it’s not bad but it’s not a game yet. It’s an engine, there are some graphics and some things to do but the fun aspect needed a lot more attention. I needed more “production” graphics. I needed more transition effects and I need to test on a Retina iPad to be sure my graphics aren’t too small.

The future is now!

That’s all folks” I covered a lot of ground and a lot of events in a very short post, please excuse me for that, I want to look forward and not spend my time looking back.

Watch this space, it’s happening!