tail /thoughts

Marketing beats quality

Published on 2014-02-17

One of my biggest motivations on getting into programming was learning how to create games. Unfortunately, I’ve been a web developer for more than a handful of years now but I’ve yet to finish creating my first game. That was the case before a couple of weeks ago. After playing Flappy Bird for the first time, I immediately realized that its mechanics were really simple.

“I can do that!”

I’ve been casually reading game development news and topics ever since so I was at least familiar with the available libraries. After deciding on taking a stab at writing a Flappy Bird clone, I downloaded Phaser and got started. I worked on it during my free time for about 3 days.

First I made the bird fly. Then I made the fingers appear. (I used fingers instead of pipes because I named my game “Don’t touch my birdie”. Ain’t I witty?) Halfway through, I got stuck on dealing with collisions because of a bug in how bounding boxes were positioned when sprites are flipped using a negative scale. After managing to fix that, I drew my own shitty pixel art, tuned physics to my liking, added clouds and a background, used bfxr to create sound effects, threw in a CC Attribution-NonCommercial license and pushed it up to GitHub.

It was my first complete game. It’s a clone, yes, but I created it from scratch. My friends liked it. I liked it. So being proud of myself, I tried posting it in Hacker News. The day passed by and I got 0 points. Maybe it was timing. I really suck at that. But I just sighed and continued on with my life.

The next day, I saw this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7199334

“You mothereffin thief!”

It sucked. I was really pissed. He even claimed that he created and open sourced the thing. After a few comments in Hacker News from some of my friends, he decided to add “some attribution” to my work on his readme. But I guess most people don’t like reading because some days and weeks later, a few forks popped out giving credits to that uralozden jerk:

Marketing beats quality. My hobo looking bird didn’t stand a chance with his straight rip assets from Flappy Bird. At least I got some sympathy and advice from Phaser’s author:

@themarksteve I can see why you’d be a bit pissed, but honestly turn it to your advantage. Claim back credit :)

— Richard Davey (@photonstorm) February 14, 2014

So I end my rant here. It’s upsetting but that’s life. I didn’t really understand how indie game developers felt when they find clones of their games that make more money than them until now.