Monday, February 10, 2014

Why Indie Developers Go Insane

We all have our little mantras we use to get through the day.
After I started writing games in 1994 and went full-time in 1995, I soon came to a conclusion about the people who do what I do for a living: "These people are all crazy."

Then, as I got older, I realized that I am crazy too.

Then, as I got even older, I switched to a better truth: Everyone is crazy. Every human has his or her damage. Nobody gets out of this world alive.

It's just that indie developers tend to have high visibility, high stress, and small support groups. These factors mean that, when these devs break, you see it, and it's spectacular. Twitter has only helped to make self-immolation faster, easier, and more public.

A lot of people love indie games because they can so clearly be the product of real people. They aren't focus-grouped, penny-pinching, soulless chum. At their best, they have character. You might not like my games, but you can tell I CARE. They're works of love, recognizably the product of passionate brains.

And, since we care about the product of these brains so much, it's sometimes worthy to look at the brains themselves. Brains that spend half their time receiving more accolades than they deserve and half their time being the target of laserlike hate. These crazy, crazy brains.

I wanted to write a bit about the brain of the indie developer under stress. I don't want pity. I just think someone might find it interesting to read what it can be like to be in this particular box.

Simple. Free. Ad-supported. Indie. Popular. Addictive. BURN IT!
What Brought This On?

For years now, the iTunes (and lately Google Play) app store has been this gigantic, rushing torrent of infinite money, and everyone has scrambled to grab their piece.

It's the most soulless, joyless, metric-obsessed market/ethics-free-zone imaginable. There is nothing that can't and won't have all fun and creativity sucked out of it to earn an extra penny from the "whales" (i.e. compulsives) who will happily shell out a hundred bucks a month to get Candy Crush Saga to let them play Bejeweled. (Hot tip: Uninstall Candy Crush Saga and play all the Bejeweled you want forever ad-free for three bucks.)

So for the last couple weeks, people, when they weren't raging about EA's pillaging all of their happy memories of Dungeon Keeper, were noting the runaway success of a tiny, free, ad-supported game called Flappy Bird.

Let's be clear. It's not a great game. It was written in three days by a young Vietnamese man named Dong Nguyen. It's really simple, crushingly difficult, pretty derivative, weirdly addictive, and marketed purely by word of mouth. And it became a huge hit, sucking the attention away from a million equally derivative money-sinks.

According to the author, Flappy Bird was averaging $50K a day. So here come the haters ...

Shut up,
If You Think There Is Something Bad About Flappy Bird, Here Is Why You Are Wrong

The Internet exists to crap all over everything. And Flappy Bird is simple, silly, derivative, and casual-friendly, so it was sure to bring the self-styled Defenders of Gaming out of the woodwork.

And why do people object to it?

One. The gameplay is similar to many earlier games. Well, of course. Flappy Bird is very similar to a host of press-the-button-to-make-the-helicopter-or-bird-stay-in-the-air games going back years. So what? Here's a news flash. If you write any sort of simple game, there is a %99.999 chance somebody already did it.

You can't copyright gameplay for a reason. If you could, small developers (including me) would never stand a chance.

(Many have claimed that Flappy Bird is a ripoff of a game called Piou Piou, which is laughable if you bother to actually try the games. They play entirely differently.)

Two. The art style is super-similar to early Nintendo games. Yes, Flappy Bird's art is reeeeeally close to some Nintendo games that came out in the last century. I've never seen proof that assets were lifted. It's just similar.

So what? Again, you can't copyright an art style, for a reason. If your art style could never be similar to someone else's, small developers (including me) would never stand a chance.

Three. The game is pretty rough. So what? If people choose to play it, nobody voted you the Queen of Gaming. It is so, SO not your business. I think players of Candy Crush Saga or mobile Dungeon Keeper are getting rooked and could get a lot more similar fun elsewhere for way less money, but I'm not running up and down the subway slapping the iPhones out of their hands.

Want to see people hate on Flappy Birds for no good reason? Look at this gross bit of anti-journalism from Kotaku. As of my writing this, the article begins with an update that basically says, "We changed the title of this article as it was pure slander." (Kotaku has since apologized for this piece, so thanks for that, I guess.)

Or look at this vicious example. Or this straight-out slander from the famed game critics of, um, (At least Kotaku apologized.) Or, on in the best pretentious grad student style, this hilariously bizarre article in The Atlantic.

Or read the petty, jealous comments of any article on it. I promise you the author has. Every single one. Which is why this happened ...

Going ...
Rough Lessons In How Humans Work

Dong Nguyen quit. A fortune coming through the door, and he walked away. As I write this, Flappy Bird has been removed from app stores.

Think about this. I mean you, personally. Think about what it would take to make you run from a gold mine like this. Really. Think about why someone would do this.

This is not about money.

If you've experienced any time as a public figure, especially one that is mainly hated on, it makes a lot of sense.

Dong Nguyen is a young guy. He wrote a game for fun, put it out there, and found himself at the target end of a massive wave of attention, much of it negative. I can't stress enough how insanely terrifying this can be, and he wasn't ready.

Hardly the first time this happened. Remember when Phil Fish, the successful author of Fez, canceled Fez 2 and quit the industry in a fit of pique? I've never been Phil Fish. I don't know exactly what was happening in his head when this happened. But it did happen, and I can totally relate.

It can be hard to understand why someone would kill a product that's making a fortune. Anyone can say, "Oh, gee. He has money. Who cares?"

Well, I promise you, there are things that money can't buy. If you are going mad, you can't buy yourself sane. Some people can take this sort of attention. Not everyone. And some people can take it, but it makes them ... weird.

... going ...
I'm Crazy Too.

I've been the target of my fair share of hate. Real example: E-mails from angry schizophrenics. People who tell me they hope I go out of business and my kids never go to college. Pictures of me Photoshopped in various unflattering ways.

And, of course, the occasional truly unhinged message that I forward to my friends and ask, "Tell me honestly. Should I be worried about my safety here?"

I've been doing this for a long time, and I have a pretty thick skin. Even then, this stuff has an effect. You can't help it. It's part of being human. One angry message has more effect than ten friendly ones. It has a real psychic weight. And, once you know it's there, turning off your computer and avoiding Twitter doesn't remove it.

When my games had their own Humble Bundle, I should have been happy. I mean, I was, in a way. It'll help send my kids to college, and who could argue with that?

Yet, I spent that week in my room quivering with terror. When my developer/writer/artist friends find themselves in similar situations, they are often the same. I've been asked, "This is going so well. Why do I feel horrible all the time?" We neither expect nor deserve sympathy, but that's what happens.

And when an indie dev becomes the hate target of the day, isn't up to it, and loses it a bit, the public responses are the same.

Suppose one day I get one insult too many, I go nuts and quit or freak out. Here's what people will say about me: What a weakling. What a wimp. What an idiot. Why does he care? Why doesn't he just turn the social media off? Why can't he be tough and awesome like me? Screw that guy.

All this, of course, from people who have never experienced being in even remotely the same position.

A Quick Aside

Everyone jokes about how supposedly soulless PR and marketing people are, but dealing with the masses is difficult, time-consuming, and an actual skill. To survive emotionally in a high-profile situation, you need a layer of protection between yourself and the raw feedback of humanity.

If Dong Nguyen got a PR flack, stayed off forums, and just wrote games, he could make a lot of money. However, as he has said himself, this isn't the sort of life he wants to live, and I can't blame him.

But if you've ever seen a public figure (politician, actor, musician, and yes, game designer) have a weird, inexplicable public flame-out, it might make a little bit more sense now.

... gone. You see? Trolling does work!
Nothing Can Be Done, Of Course.

Reality is what it is. We devs would never have our attention and success without the Internet, but you have to take the good with the bad. If you want the attention, you also have to face the Hate Machine.

Sometimes it seems (accurately or not) like every gamer on the Internet seeks out their own little rantbox. A place to direct rage at their chosen target. Young male teens on one side, social justice warriors on the other, general cranks everywhere. Everyone has their axe to grind, and shouting is fun.

People have the right to give feedback, too. If I want to call out the Dungeon Keeper app or the hacky articles I linked to above, it's something I should be allowed to do. If you make your work public, people get to respond.

Trolling is annoying. (Though one man's troll is another man's brave truth-teller.) People troll because it works. When someone writes, "[Some developer] is a moron and his games suck," and the developer reads it, it hurts. You can't prevent it. It's just how our brains work.

I don't think this can ever change. (Though less slander from reporters who should know better would be nice, of course.) It's not about a broken system. It's about understanding, empathy, and remembering that the work you are shouting about was written by another human. An actual human, with feelings and stuff. And humans can be surprisingly fragile.

Saying that won't make any difference, of course. Haters gonna' hate. Trolls gonna' troll. But it feels nice to remind people occasionally, just the same.


Anyone who wants to hear more of my ramblings can follow me on teh Twitter.

Edit: Fixed a typo and made it clear one of the pieces linked was not actually by a grad student.


  1. It is amazing how little fame on the internet can lead to so much drama.

  2. I have read that successful actors, stage in particular, never read the reviews of their performances; because it interferes with their mindset.

    Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), these days anyone can be a critic and use social media to put their point across. And it's much harder for artists to avoid since so much promotion is done via the same channels. It's no longer a matter of not reading the arts section in the paper.

    Hopefully, Dong Nguyen can recover from all this and build a long and fruitful career doing what he loves.

  3. I think a big part of the problem was that the dev naively put on the record that he is earning 50K a day from the game (that equates to $18 million a year). Anyone reading that number has their mind boggle with incredulity and injustice that such a simple game can earn so much money.

    Can that number possibly be true? I doubt it. All the ads I've seen on the game are for 'Clash of Clans'. Is Clans earning enough money that it has over $18M ad budget per year?

    Event assuming that number is true, we all know that it won't last for ever. It's a shame that Dong could not handle his good fortune and reap his cash reward while it held out.

    Oh and lastly it is actually a fantastic game - incredibly simple yes, but also incredibly addictive. People should be studying what makes it so addictive and try to replicate that.

    1. The developer is really green. Never reveal your sales figures when it will make you a target.

      And yes, that number can TOTALLY be true. Yes, Clash of Clans earns that much money. In a few days.

      Flappy Bird was a fad, of course, but a fad with a lot of life left in it. It was still on the upswing. Guy walked away from serious bank. Sanity is worth more.

      - Jeff Vogel

    2. Well regardless of if CoC has that big of a budget or not, that 18 million dollar figure does seem a little excessive.

    3. You are extrapolating a week's success to something that lasts an entire year or beyond. That is not a correct thing to do. Flappy birds did NOT earn $18 mil a year. Nor would it have.

      And can Clash of Clans pay $50K/day for advertising? Absolutely. It loses more than that in the couch cushions each morning.

      - Jeff Vogel

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    5. Um, why are we feeding the troll?

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. It's just not that big of a deal. There's no injustice to it. The market rewards innovators, and a game people actually wanted to play as innovative in that it was relatively pure and didn't splatter in-game powerups via micro-transactions in everyone's face, every time they died.

      There's no injustice in people pleasing the market. I do think, however, there's injustice in greedy people trying to "understand" the market just to suck as much money out of it as they can, regardless of how it affects the user's experience, mentality, overall happiness, etc.

      Only greedy, money-hungry people are offended by someone else's financial success.

  4. Wow $2.4M A DAY?? That is insane money. Who TF is spending that much money on CoC?? And how can I get in that business?

    1. "Who TF is spending that much money on CoC??"

      The person sitting next to you on the subway.

      "And how can I get in that business?"

      Travel back in time to 2009. :-D

      - Jeff Vogel

    2. Hopefully, someone like you will stay far away from it. We have enough of your kind flooding the app stores with soulless garbage for $2.49 + DLC already.

  5. Hey Jeff, thanks for Exile. :)

    1. Heh. Speaking of derivative games that stole ideas (not all good) from their predecessors. And you're welcome. :)

      - Jeff Vogel

    2. I came here from a link on HN, got halfway though and thought "hey, this guy actually writes pretty good," looked up at the URL, and sure enough it's the Spiderweb Software guy!

      I played the crap out of your games in the late 90s - thanks for all the good times!

    3. Oh my god Exile defined years of my childhood - and I was just playing the demo! Now I'm deep in Avadon. Thanks Jeff!

  6. There's a huge silent majority out there who like your work. As you said, it takes more than 10 nice posts to undo 1 nasty post, so here's something to apply against 0.1 or less of your next nasty post:

    I like your work!

  7. Thanks! Nice to hear how that kind of attention can affect you, by someone who has tried it!

    I think you're making the best point: Reporters should know better...

    Much of this sort of mass hysteria seems to be ignited by some *#€%€@ up reporter/journalist/blogger who writes hate with no facts involve and a lot of lies...

    The world/internet would be a nicer place, if we all summoned a bit more empathy for our fellow human beings...

  8. Superb article. I've seen too many people get success or exposure, then get ripped apart because of it. I sometimes worry that we're heading into an age of reduced creativity just because of the level of unfocused rage out there looking for a target.

  9. That was a really nice summary!
    Non informed people hearing about this on TV, with shoddy reporting, and then telling game devs that "you should do that too".
    All the while ignoring that being under such unwanted pressure is kinda soul crushing.

  10. Great article. And thank you for Avadon the Black Fortress - spent many days playing on the iPad.

  11. I doubt you remember this particular venue for your games. But way back in the mid-late 90s, my mom bought me game collection called galaxy of games. That disc had both exile and castle of the winds, I sunk a stupid amount of time into both of those, So thanks for creating awesome games that started my love for tactics and rpgs.

    We're not all sociopaths!

  12. As another small dev, I find the other thing about the "10 friendly messages don't make up for 1 unfriendly message" axiom is that quite often, nine of the ten friendly messages will include "I really like ____, but what if you added ______". Very rarely do you get unalloyed "thanks for making your game!" without additional feature requests or bug reports.

    It is objectively useful and constructive criticism, but it still puts you in the situation of having to ignore their email (bad), respond that their requested feature is not going to happen (bad), or put it on the list of things to do (won't really please them, since it might get done months into the future).

    1. Dude, those positive emails are not criticism (in case that's what you were implying, I'm not sure). People make suggestions to your games because they LOVE them.

      It makes them want additional things out of them.

      Those aren't problems. Those are you spinning up people's imaginations.

      Maybe an appropriate response would be, even though almost everyone would say "Nah, I'm not interested", is "Learn how to make games yourself, and you can put any features you want in them." :)

  13. Loved the article by the way. Captured my own thoughts much better than I could.

  14. I am glad that you wrote this article.

    It affects non-famous people too, and they are lots of routines and anti-routines that can be tried to deal with those type of ego attacks, but, they still do hurt at the time... emotional pain is a part of life, but it doesn't have to rule your life, either.

  15. The internet makes hating all the easier, too.

    I can also imagine every distant acquaintance and alleged long lost cousin coming out of the woodwork looking for a piece of that 150K. The average salary in Hanoi is $28.5K per year.

  16. Sometimes certain criticism of a project is understandable, even predictable. You might even take something away from it. But it can be the stuff you never anticipated, which might not even make complete sense for people to be saying about your project, which can bug you the most.

    And this is coming from someone who just makes a couple of minor Minecraft mods. I'd hate to see what the real spotlight is like!

  17. Um, you do realize he's pointing to the right, right? ^_^

  18. This is unbelievably good. Thanks for writing it. People need reminding. And professional journalists have no excuse.

  19. Thank you for writing this. A little empathy on the internet can go a long way.

  20. Hey Jeff! I just wanted to quickly write and say "Thanks" for all your work.

    Exile was the first game I ever downloaded. This was back on AOL, using my 14.4k dialup connection on a Performa 6300 (our first computer)

    I remember thinking that Shareware must be some kind of trick and my parents were going to be pissed when their card got charged.

    I was hooked, and I spent countless hours on Exile I, II and III (the third being my favorite RPG of all time).

    Sadly, back then, I never paid for any of your games. I was a kid with no money, so I used rather unscrupulous methods to play. I did always feel bad about this.

    I was so happy to see your titles as a Humble Bundle. As an adult now, and a fellow small business owner, I was more than happy to donate a generous amount. I haven't even played the titles I got through the humble bundle (lack of time, I'm afraid... something I had plenty of when I was a pre-teen on AOL). It felt good though to finally send a little bit your way for all the entertainment you gave me.
    Of course, factoring in inflation and potential interest, I think I still owe you a lot...

    Keep up the good work!

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  22. Thanks for putting your neck out there and telling it like it is, Jeff. I've had aspirations of making games/apps for iOS but the more I hear about these situations, the more I shy away. It's amazing how soulless your average person is when they're behind the anonymity and comfort of their little computer screen. You are an island in this sea of diarrhea they call the Internet...thank you, sir!

  23. This probably shouldn't be my biggest takeaway from your piece, there are many excellent points, but that bit where you call Ian Bogost's piece "in the best pretentious grad student style" made my day.

  24. Thank you very much for all of your kind comments. Writing these things is a compulsion. I have to do it, but it stresses me out (as the article makes clear). The friendly words are greatly appreciated.

    - Jeff Vogel

  25. It's certainly sad to see all of the hate and vitriol sent Dong Nguyen's way, especially when it seems to be just a little pet project that was put on the market for free. But the fact that it is simply a harmless project that offers a free distraction does not automatically mean that it's original. You seem to condemn the hate mail for that reason mainly: it wasn't out to get anyone's money. It was a free little coding project that someone made for fun, and maybe even something he just wanted to show his friends and family.

    But what I don't get is the defense of the game as an original title. You seem to shift from acknowledging what a harmless, yet derivative game it is, to writing off the borrowing of ideas, as if Flappy Bird is an admirable standard for mobile games. You describe the borrowing of imagery like it doesn't matter. You call the Mario Series and its imagery "some Nintendo games that came out in the last century". You also say that designing an original and simple game is something that cannot be done.

    You can defend it as a project that experienced anomalous popularity and unwarranted criticism, or you could stand behind the game and call it a fine standard for mobile games, but you can't really do both, because Flappy Bird isn't both. If the game required money to play, and people noted yet again how derivative it is, would it be as unjustified?

    I think we should acknowledge that it's not a standard other mobile games should follow, but that's okay, because I don't think it was trying to make millions of dollars in the first place. Dong Nguyen doesn't deserve the hate at all, but it's not because he made a quality game that got a bad wrap, it's because he made a harmless and addictive, yet unoriginal project that got unfairly judged as something more than what it was. Dong Nguyen and his game should be defended from the hatred because it wasn't an attempt to make money on a dishonest product, but this fact does not change the quality or originality of Flappy Bird. I just don't think defending the game as a quality product that is justified in borrowing from other games is way to go about this situation. Let's acknowledge what Flappy Bird is, for good and bad, stand up for Dong Nguyen properly against the vicious hate mail that he does not deserve, and hope he finds happiness and success in the future.

    I tried commenting, and there was an error, when I reposted it, I accidentally replied to the original, which gave the comment a grey outline, and I don't want to have priority over anyone else's comment, so I had to repost it again, sorry about that!

    1. Set aside the art issue and look at the game design, which is, of course, a different take on the Helicopter Game, an ancient and much copied design.

      Yes, it's derivative. But think about the amazing thing he did. He took this tedious, pathologically unfun, archaic design and gave it some weird magical set of tweaks to turn it into an internet sensation. Do people see how rare and amazing that is?

      I don't care whether he should be a standard and a role model for mobile games or whatever. All I know is that, for that one trick, the guy should get the Nobel Prize For Awesomeness.

      - Jeff Vogel

    2. Well I do acknowledge the addictive nature of the game, but as for the popularity, I'm not entirely aware of the circumstances that gave this game such a widespread spotlight, so I can't really comment either way on that. I know 3 things about the game's popularity:

      The Style of game (Helicopter or otherwise) is a tried and true game for the mobile platform. One thing in particular that helps the game spread is the instantly understandable nature of the "High Score". Say "I scored 30 on Flappy Bird" and everyone immediately knows what that means.

      The game has been featured by many of the top youtubers, including Pewdiepie, who has 20 Million Subscribers. And of course, the game has been a fixture in most gaming news for the past 2 weeks.

      The game is free to anybody with a cellphone, and most other helicopter games are at least $0.99.

      So I can't comment about the nature of the game's popularity, and whether or not it really succeeded on its own merit. I mean, the game was released in May, 2013, and most have only known about it for 5 or 6 weeks.

      I don't have an acute perspective on this; I'm not a fellow Indie-Dev, and I've never worked on a Helicopter-Type game, or a Mario game. I'm just trying to look at the whole picture, that's all.

    3. Whether or not you find the Helicopter game archaic and inherently bad or not is left to opinion, as is the view that Dong Nguyen took that concept and made something truly special. I think games where you do your best to survive and attain a high score that directly correlates to the duration of the run are addictive by nature. It's so easy to jump right back in to playing that kind of game to see if you can outdo yourself. I think that holds true regardless of the method in which the player stays afloat (hovering or bouncing)

  26. Very well written and thought. I myself are very aware of the power of comments, that why I refrain myself to comment about many things. I keep comments for positive things I have to say. Fixing the World and the Internet I leave that to others.

  27. Another great article, Jeff.

    I read something recently that seems axiomatic, but it is actually clever: "The two hardest things to deal with are failure and success."

    Both can be devastating and stressful in their own ways.

    The life of the indie dev is incredibly stressful in so many unexpected ways. You touched on many of them here.

    Thank you,

  28. One thing.

    I understand the sentiment of the article and can relate to it, but to my knowledge it is still probable that the whole flappy birds craze was, at least in part, built on fraud. The movement of the apps through the store shows very irregular behavior (at least to superficial analysis) and might hint to bots being used, the reviews (again, in part) look strange.

    I don't deny that they had viral traction enough from a certain point in time, but at least the start of the upwards movement seems wrong to me.

    Isn't it still possible that the dev pulled the apps to hide fraud -- or perhaps even because a mighty platform holder told him to go or be exposed?

    1. I heard something on TWiT about possibly bought reviews. Maybe that's just another string in the guerilla PR campaign a game needs these days. It's not like the people who've played and enjoyed the game are wrong - any more than the people who play and enjoy Candy Crush Trademark are wrong.

      Also, for what it's worth Treasures of Montezuma is/was my match three of choice. Bejewelled Blitz was about the closest to that. So many hours...

    2. - I really try not to delete posts from my comments threads, but this time I am sorely tempted.

      You are accusing someone of "fraud" based on "superficial analysis". This is gross, and you are Part of the Problem.

      First, gaming the app store isn't "fraud." It's what everyone has done since pretty much day 1. It's no secret. There are a million services you can hire to do it for you.

      Second, the idea that Nguyen would have the resources to pull it off against well-funded adversaries like King and Supercell is laughable.

      People talk about trolls a lot, but I honestly don't think trolls are the real problem. I think the main problem is honest, heartfelt, unconsidered malevolence.

      Go forth and sin no more.

      - Jeff Vogel

  29. @kaliban,

    "but to my knowledge it is still probable that the whole flappy birds craze was, at least in part, built on fraud"

    Sounds like weasel words circling around being libelous to me. Do you really think this guy was gaming the ratings? I think its just a bit of a freak success. I know for a fact that every single 10 year old in my son's class with access to a mobile device got a copy - that's how I heard about it. Being reviewed by pewdiepie would have a massive effect, for example.

  30. By chance, I stumbled on Fish's post when he quit - because Fez was great, and I wanted to know what the dev was up to - and the sheer wall of hateful comments was completely shocking and inexplicable. It's one of the most disgusting comment threads on the internet, and I still don't understand it.

  31. Of course deeper issue here is how people behave. But I think there is a whole generation of people who for some strange reason are not able to ignore mindless criticism. If somebody writes "you're an idiot" you stop reading and forget about it. This is childish and shouldn't happen, but children in fact call each other idiots and moron all the time and do not have any problem with it. That's a skill some people should relearn.

    1. You really think it doesn't affect children when they're called idiots and morons? I ASSURE you this is not the case.

      - Jeff Vogel

  32. Excellent article, but please don't compare this guy to Fish... Fish insulted and provoked a lot of people during his 15 minutes of fame, and though he might not have deserved the absolute torrent of angry reaction, he certainly wasn't some innocent victim either. Nguyen is not Fish, and didn't do or say anything wrong to warrant what he's been getting... I really feel for the guy.

    1. Again, I'm not Phil Fish. I've never been Phil Fish. I can't say anything about his exact mental state.

      I can say this, though. Dealing with massive hostile feedback can, as I said, create erratic behavior. For me, this has included periods of insulting and provoking behavior. This is often a natural response to insulting and provoking behavior from, say, everyone else on the net.

      Which is not to defend rudeness. But to say that, when a creator goes funny and hasn't actually hurt anyone, empathy should absolutely be the first response. Yes?

      - Jeff Vogel

  33. "You might not like my games, but you can tell I CARE."

    I wish you cared enough to bring back Numpad support. :(

  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

  35. Jeff, this article is so true, getting all this hate for a mere publishing of a little game, makes you mad.

    I run a small card game (mobile+desktop) for 5000 active users for 5-6 years - and am selling or shutting it down by June:

    From bitching to family threats, I've seen it all.

  36. I'm assuming that most of the abuse came via Twitter, which is full of trolls and obsessives raging about everything. But Twitter is essentially a gamified discussion forum and it should be seen as the perfect example of gamification gone bad.

    Success on Twitter is measured by your number of followers, and to a lesser extent by replies and retweets. So you have a score and you increase it by attracting attention. You compete with millions of other people who are trying to do the same and increasing your level of notoriety is like levelling-up in an RPG because it means you start with greater firepower in the next round of play. The persona you adopt online is your character class and the most powerful classes are "troll" and "celeb" because they can most easily attract attention.

    Users with a large number of followers can send them to attack enemies, like a guild going on a raid. Each of the followers is trying to raise his or her own notoriety so each tweet fired in an attack is like an XP point. So Twitter actually functions like an MMORPG - it's World of FlameWarCraft, and posturing and aggression are a fundamental part of the gameplay. There's no way to change that without completely changing how Twitter works, so in the long run it will probably collapse when the trolls drive everybody else away.

  37. hey everyone if someone wants to help me out with my app please do so ;)

  38. than k you There's no injustice in people pleasing the market. I do think, however, there's injustice in greedy people trying to "understand" the market just to suck as much money out of it as they can, regardless of how it affects the user's experience, mentality, overall happiness, etc.

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