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The Dude Who Wrote Snood 68

Posted by Zonk
from the rude-but-profitable dept.
usacoder writes "The Raleigh News and Observer Lifestyle section has a story on the guy who wrote Snood, Dave Dobson. It's nice to see that shareware can still make money for some developers." From the article: "He describes the evolution of Snood into a cult attraction as a series of random events, and refers to his fame as the game's creator as third-rate celebrity. 'But,' he adds, 'I milk it for all it's worth.'"
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The Dude Who Wrote Snood

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  • by Momoru (837801) on Monday January 31, 2005 @03:02PM (#11530765) Homepage Journal
    You are personally responsible for me skipping half of my classes in college. Hope you enjoy your stinkin' shareware fees.
  • Really cool. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xerxesVII (707232)
    I don't remember where I first learned about Snood, but I can attest to the cult mentality that surrounds it. It's the first shareware game where I grew up and paid the paltry sum instead of just finding a hack for it. And when I saw it was available on the gba I didn't hesitate to pick up a copy, glad to know that some guy just wrote a simple, fun little game and that it ended up on a cart.
  • Why did he give his game the same name as a hairnet? [reference.com]
  • he's a nice guy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jeffy124 (453342) on Monday January 31, 2005 @03:13PM (#11530864) Homepage Journal
    I had downloaded a beta version many years ago (1999?) and got a BSOD style error, to which I reported to him the full error message and what I had done ahead of that. He emailed me back a day or two later saying he fixed it, and to download an updated (but still beta) version. First (and I think it's still the only) time I ever saw a BSOD source get eliminated.
    • Dear Mr. Gates (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by AtariAmarok (451306)
      Dear Mr. Gates: I got a BSOD with my new Win2k upgrade. Can you fix it for me?

      Response: This is the Microsoft automailer, "Maily". This problem appears to be your fault. Can I help?

  • From the screen cap it looks like Bubble Bobble, never played Snood though.... how can a game like that get as addictive as Evercrack
    • Bubble Bobble was a completely different game. You controlled two little dinosaurs (Bub and Bob) and walked around a 2D level, shooting bubbles at the badguys and popping the bubbles. It was available on the NES.

      Bub and Bob do make a cameo on Bust a Move, which is the snood-like game I think you are referring to.

    • Cuz it's fun as hell?

      I was an Evercrack junkie for 4 and half years...

      I'm still a Bubble Bobble junkie...

      and I'm still a Snood junkie...

      Serioulsy... I mean why is solitaire popular? It's a distraction.
    • Puzzle Bobble got way too easy once I beat it the first time or two... though I did make a fair amount of money by betting the arcade denizens of my university money that I could beat the game by using my right hand only.

      Of course, these were the same goofballs that supplied me with lunch money after I whupped them in SF2 using the left only. Did I mention I gots me some big hands?
    • So which came first, Snood or Frozen Bubble? To lazy to check the CVS logs. ;)
  • *ahem* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Pimlott (16212) on Monday January 31, 2005 @03:14PM (#11530874)
    A whole article, and yet not a single word about how Snood is a straight rip-off of Puzzle Bobble [overclocked.org]...
    • Re:*ahem* (Score:3, Informative)

      by Elwood P Dowd (16933)
      1) Not a straight rip off. There are gameplay improvements that make Snood distinctly more compelling. Different at least.

      2) Are you sure Puzzle Bobble wasn't a rip off of another game? There are a million snood-likes.
      • Puzzle Bobble, aka bust-a-move is definitely the one that everyone is cloning. Originally on the Taito B coin-op platform (in 1994), it really became popular on the Neo Geo, and is still in like 1/4 of neo geo cabinets in one incarnation or another.

        Puzzle Bobble was a pretty early 2p vs puzzle game (though some tetrises had 2p vs too, so it wasn't the first). Stuff like "attack patterns" and stuff was still new.
        • I've only seen bust-a-move in a neo-geo cabinet once, and it was alone. Samurai Showdown (of assorted versions) and Metal Slug are still at least a hundred times more common - more's the pity.
    • Re:*ahem* (Score:3, Informative)

      by GoRK (10018)
      According to the MAME history file, Magic Bubble [mameworld.net] was released in 1993, a year ahead of Puzzle Bobble [mameworld.net]. However, there is no actual copyright date in the rom and no source listed for the date in the history file, so it could be inaccurate. It appears that Magic Bubble has some elements that could be ripped off from later versions of Puzzle Bobble -- but it could be the other way around also..

      for what it's worth...
      • by lorcha (464930)
        My Norton just barfed all over your sig.
        • by GoRK (10018)
          Did it actually catch it? Slashdot forces a space in there so it generally makes it fail..
          • Heh. No, it didn't catch it. I just thought it would be funny to say that it did.

            You would never be able to email me with that sig, though! I've never tried sending both eicar and gtube in the same message, but I'm guessing SA would score it pretty high. Higher than 10, which is my reject threshold. ;)

        • by GoRK (10018)
          Oh yeah, I forgot the interesting tidbit: The string is also a legal .com file. If you save the ASCII text (without the space in between VIR and US) to a file, say, eicar.com and run it, it will print "EICAR-STANDARD-ANTIVIRUS-TEST-FILE!"

          It's safe to do, but then again, don't take my word for running any precompiled code on your machine :) You could also go to the source [eicar.org].
  • by david.given (6740) <dg@cowl a r k .com> on Monday January 31, 2005 @03:14PM (#11530876) Homepage Journal
    For what the article claims is a cultural phenomenon, I've never heard of it. Is this just a US thing?

    FWIW, it sounds awfully similar to Frozen Bubble --- was FB based on Snood?

  • Just goes to show that you can make a lot of money by copying someone else's work if you just market it with a few silly looking monsters (Sesame Street, Barnie, Teletubbies, John and Teresa Kerry... oops!).
  • by fruitbane (454488) on Monday January 31, 2005 @03:18PM (#11530914) Homepage
    Though the article makes it out to be, it isn't original. The author nowhere points out that he was at all influenced by Puzzle Bobble/Bust a Move, an arcade game by Taito that came out in '94 on the Neo Geo hardware, predating Snood by roughly 2 years. It had a cannon at the bottom and fired up colored balls at rows of said balls above, which eliminate when matched in 3s or more.

    I think it's all well and good doing a clone game. I've played, loved, and respected many tetris clones over the years. I would say it's possible he came up with Snood without having every seen or played Puzzle Bobble, but I just don't buy it. There are too many similarities.

    So does anyone know of any other articles posted elsewhere that confess that Snood is essentially clone?
    • I was a big fan of Bust-A-Move (Puzzle Bobble) and it was out on main-stream systems well before Snood was even in Beta. I remember versions for both the Neo-Geo, SNES, N64 and Playstation long before I had played SNOOD. Sure the idea could have been original, but it's unlikely.

      What most be even more annoying for the people at Taito is when people call Bust-A-Move a Snood clone.
  • Whither Bust-A-Move? (Score:2, Informative)

    by kmhebert (586931)
    Snood is just a shareware version of Bust-A-Move [rainemu.com] (a.k.a. Puzzle Bobble), which was released in 1994. And of course the two-player version of Bust-A-Move is TRULY addictive, exacting vengeance on your good friends via crazy multi-bubble drops. Still, I give the guy credit for making serious cash on a homebrew game.
  • by AceGopher (814882) on Monday January 31, 2005 @03:24PM (#11530998) Homepage
    Instead of rehashing the Snood clone discussion, just visit Slashdot's article two years ago about Snood:

    Snood, the Simple Game [slashdot.org]

    So just read the previous discussion over, find what you thought was your original comment, and link. Saves typing ;-).

    -Ace
  • by Anonymous Coward
    from TFA:
    Soon, he was imitating games that used to devour his quarters at the arcade. But he was limited by text-only capabilities. He needed images. Color.

    They made text based arcade games?
  • by harks (534599) on Monday January 31, 2005 @03:52PM (#11531275)
    "Dave's got kids. They sure are neat. Register Snood so they can eat."
  • zerg (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord Omlette (124579) on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:16PM (#11532407) Homepage
    Snood was the game that introduced me to spyware. "Gator? What's this?"
  • by M3wThr33 (310489) on Monday January 31, 2005 @05:41PM (#11532844) Homepage
    So he rips off Taito's title to the point where people think Puzzle Bobble is the imitator, makes a substandard clone that isn't even a realtime game AND becomes one of the first developers to begin installing Offer Manager/GATOR SPYWARE on computers?

    Why should we respect this guy? He took thunder away from Taito and ruined countless computers. I hate that friggin' O symbol. I had to clean it every day back in high school in a room full of computers. These kids didn't know what the f. On top of that, the game was too easy. There was no pressure to act fast and the collision detection was piss poor. You could fit any piece down any narrow path you wanted. Programmer art was in it, too.

    I hate Snood and I'm proud of it.
    • I had some friends playing this in college that would really get into it. These two girls would compete back and forth for the high score, and they were getting really good. But I watched them playing and realized there was no time limit. I was kind of amazed. Bust-A-Move with no pressure, okay. I asked if I could play a round of it, I busted out my ruler, and then proceeded to blow their high scores out of the water. If you just use a ruler to make sure your pieces are all going exactly where you wan
  • My roomie and I discovered Snood fairly early on, I think 1999. We didn't figure out the point of it for a few days but we "played" it when we were high anyway. Later on I got good at Snood, or so I thought, but some potheads I was hanging out with got some REAL high Scores.

    I once wrote Dave an e-mail letting him know what a following he has in the Stony Brook weed community. I also asked him why the faces had to be so bizzare, as I found them kinda freaky when high.

    Dave responded saying that he was consi
  • This snood game of his is a crappy clone of Taito's classic Bust a move / puzzle bobble .

    Not only that but the visuals sucks and his code is horrible (try to make the game bigger and you'll see)

    It pisses me off that he made money off of this. Taito should sue his ass for all it's worth.
  • Replies from author (Score:5, Informative)

    by dobnarr (641354) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @11:25AM (#11540259)
    Interesting to read the follow ups here, although many of you are pretty harsh :-).

    Here are some responses to various comments, if anybody cares:

    I've never represented that Snood was original, although I did write the first version way back in late 1995/early 1996, and it included a number of differences from other similar arcade games at the time. The skull snoods (i.e. Snoods that can't be matched and have to be dropped), the looser collision detection (which apparently some people hate, but which I thought made it a better game), the lack of time pressure, the danger bar management, the random layouts, mouse control rather than joystick. It is actually many of these features that people say they like most about the game, and many of them have been included in other similar games.

    This still not great innovation, certainly, but you have to remember the following:

    1) I wrote the thing primarily for my wife to play, since she never went to arcades. I never expected it to sell much at all; my previous game, Centaurian, was selling maybe 3-5 copies a week tops at the time, and I considered it a better game then.

    2) I wrote it on a non-competing platform (i.e. Macintosh; PC came later in 1998 due to me getting probably 30-50 requests a day for it). Don't tell me the arcade video game industry was suddenly going to expand into the Mac shareware market.

    3) The shareware community at the time (and still today) was rife with imitations of arcade games, including nearly every one of Ambrosia's early products (e.g. Maelstrom = Asteroids, Cyclone = Star Castle). There were probably 30 different popular shareware tetris-ish games then on Mac alone. There's nothing illegal or actionable in that if you're not using names, artwork, etc., and I was careful to stay far away from that. Just look at all the Monopoly clones out there - none of the localized ones are made by Parker Brothers.

    4) The Gator thing - I'm not necessarily too proud of that, but (1) the version of the Gator software we installed was the e-wallet kind; it didn't send personal information other than anonymous browsing statistics to their servers, (2) there were clear warnings in the installer that it was being installed, an explanation of what it would do, and instructions for removing it, and (3) there was always a non-Gator version of Snood available. We terminated our deal with them after maybe a year, year and a half. Gator has gone in a different, more morally obscure direction since we were involved with them. Even three years after we quit with them, people are still shouting about spyware; I guess I'd warn other developers to be more careful than we were about both your partnerships and how they may be perceived, sine the perception is often quite different from the reality.

    So, you can say I'm not original (I'm not! But go look at the console game section of your local Target sometime and tell me what percentage of the games there are unique archetypes uninfluenced by anything else). You can say we shouldn't have partnered with Gator (maybe not; it seemed like an OK and morally acceptable idea at the time, and we tried to be very careful and up-front about what our users were getting).

    You can't say, though, that people don't like Snood; even if I'd never made any money off it, I can tell from my e-mails that people are having fun with it and playing it with their families and friends, and that's cool. People use it to teach special-ed kids about shapes and colors, in kids' cancer and burn wards, to stop smoking, to lose weight, and to rehab after strokes, which is even cooler. I don't know why it caught on as much as it did, and I consider myself very lucky.

    My thanks to everybody who posted nice comments or constructive criticism.

    Sincerely,
    Dave

    • 1) Then you released it commercially.
      2) This is pretty irrelevent, as a) there are (and were even then) home versions of Puzzle Bobble, and b) you are still making money from plagiarism. The host platform is not an issue.
      3) You cannot apply the 'relaxed' attitude to IP of 15 or 20 years ago to the modern world. You can't even claim there's a grey area- unlike Asteroids (a very, very old game, although it still makes money for its IP owners) or Tetris (the rights to which are now being defended heavily by th
    • For what it's worth Dave, I installed Snood and loved it. I must have installed it pre/post Gator, as Ad-Aware has never warned me about having that installed on my computer.

      You're right that not having a timer on it makes the game much more fun. I'd much rather play Snood, take my time, and have fun, rather than stress out and run out of time in Bust a Move (which I also own, on the PS2). Snood's just more fun, for me, than any of the other similar games.

      It's been a while since I've played, but sinc

  • Super Puzzle fighter (2 Turbo)

    At first glance, it seems pretty silly - a derivative of Puyo Puyo that perhaps isn't as good as the original. It almost seems like arbitrary complexity was added and little else. But, as you play it the tricky balance between attack and defense becomes clear. I think the developers went to great lengths to playtest and balance the game - to perfection. It's especially great as against a competent human opponent. The handicapping feature can cover a bit for differences, b
    • Try puzzle bobble 3 or 4, depending on if you like inexplicable "combo" moves or not - they are present in PB4. To me, PB3 is the pinnacle of the PB series, because 4 goofed it all up with stupid combos. But, I'm sure many disagree... If you like Japanese games with Turbo in the name that aren't about racing, you probably like combos.
  • Snood is a blatant rip-off, that adds nothing to the Puzzle Bobble series of games. I think the big break for Snood was when it was featured in a commercial for bank loans or something. A guy was playing Snood and his S/O was telling him she was pregnant in a snarky way. My first thought was, "That piece of .... in a commercial?!?!" Even if you love the concept, Snood has always been a buggy, crash-happy product.

    Popcap ripped Magical Drop to make Astro Pop, but at least they added to the formula. Zuma
  • I was a huge Snood addict, *huge* (we're talking played since 1996 on both Mac and PC, at one point averaging 100 games a day in a 4 hr session), but my addiction was quickly replaced by another game which feeds my puzzle solving needs but offers me more variety and more challenges. E.V.E Paradox [entropicsoftware.com] is a suite of games with a game called Orbit that has replaced Snood as my new addiction. Since loading E.V.E. I haven't played Snood once in over 4 months!

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