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Is Dong Nguyen Trolling Gamers With "Swing Copters"? 113

Posted by samzenpus
from the stirring-the-pot dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes Given its extreme difficulty, it's tempting to think that the new Swing Copters is Dong Nguyen's attempt at a joke (You thought 'Flappy Bird' was hard? Check this out!), or maybe even a meta-comment on the emerging "masocore" gaming category. Or maybe he just wanted to make another game, and the idea of an ultra-difficult one appealed. Whatever the case, Nguyen can rely on the enduring popularity of Flappy Bird to propel Swing Copters to the top of the Google and iOS charts. But his games' popularity illuminates a rough issue for developers of popular (or even just semi-popular) apps everywhere: how do you deal with all the copycats flooding the world's app stores? Although Google and Apple boast that their respective app stores feature hundreds of thousands of apps, sometimes it seems as if most of those apps are crude imitations of other apps. The perpetual fear among app developers is that they'll score a modest hit—only to see their years of hard work undermined by someone who cobbles together a clone in a matter of weeks or days. If Apple and Google want to make things friendlier out there for developers, they might consider stricter enforcement policies for the blatant rip-offs filling their digital storefronts.
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Is Dong Nguyen Trolling Gamers With "Swing Copters"?

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  • by i kan reed (749298) on Monday August 25, 2014 @03:43PM (#47750725) Homepage Journal

    Point out literally any trivial mistake in any popular platform or game, and they(they being self-identified gamers) will inexplicably act as if you have invented the most vile insults about their parentage.

    Honestly, my observation is that it's harder to not troll gamers than to do so.

  • This is a non-story ...

    As it was already pointed out on reddit.com//r/gamedev ... Dong Nguyen got extremely lucky with Flappy Bird. The game is cheesy but it has focused game design making it a "good" game.

    Of course everyone will be watching if he can replicate his success with Swing Copters. The controls aren't that great but everyone is waiting to see how it will do.

    Trolling? No, just another game dev trying to follow up on his success. Just like Notch "failed" at his "Scrolls" project.

    • Edit: Or Notch's "0x10c" ... or whatever Notch is working on these days ...

      "Game tuning" is always an on-going process. Witness Blizzard with WoW, and Star Control 2, GGG wtih Path of Exile, etc.

    • by AvitarX (172628)

      I don't find swingcopter very fun, I think the mark was missed.

      Of course I'm just me, but the interaction is less direct it feels like.

  • by Nimey (114278) on Monday August 25, 2014 @03:49PM (#47750795) Homepage Journal

    I just wanted to post "trolling with a swinging dong" and have it be relevant to the story for once.

  • so, is it good or is it whack?
  • Clearly, if he were trying to troll he'd have named it "ROFLcopters!"

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday August 25, 2014 @03:57PM (#47750861)

    Gee, I dunno. Maybe ask some of the big studios that squeeze out sequel after sequel of identical games that look in no way different than the identical games offered by the studio next to it?

    It's not like that phenomenon is unique to the handheld gaming market. You get the same kind of crap on PC as well. A thousand similar FPS combat about as many RTS clones for popularity.

    And since AI is hard, you get the same shit with crappy AI from the Indie devs and call it Zombie shooter, since you're kinda expecting a zombie to be kinda mindlessly dumb, so nobody is gonna complain about an AI too dumb to dodge simple pits with mindless straight-to-the-player pathing. Actually, I'm kinda astonished that only a few big studios jumped on the latest Z-shooter fad to cut corners.

    And of course mix in the load of "Minecraft meets $genre" games we've been thrown at recently. From Minecraft-zombieshooter to Minecraft-spacerace, everything's available.

    You think the handheld market is full of copycats? Compared to the PC market they're petty amateurs.

    • "It's not like that phenomenon is unique to the handheld gaming market." It's not like that phenomenon is unique to gaming. Full Stop. Any time there is a successful TV show, it gets copied. Movies? copied. Books? copied. Nor is it unique to cultural works. The shelves of any big-box store are filled with cheap Chinese knockoffs of any physical product you can imagine. Compete on quality, customer service, and fan engagement. Those are much harder to rip off.
    • by mlts (1038732)

      Slots apps are a good example of this. Virtually all of them will toss you a small amount of coins every four hours, and you gain levels by spending coins, so you can play more elaborate simulated slots, some of which only are playable for 30 minutes. Of course, if you don't want to wait the rest of the four hours, you can do in-app-purchases.

      In fact, it seems most games on the smartphone tablet are this way... you need to consume/use "X" resource to gain levels to do more stuff... and the only way to do

      • Given enough copycat games that business scheme doesn't work out. Once I used up your 30 minutes, I move on to the next and use my 30 minutes there.

        • by GTRacer (234395)
          Depends on your tolerance for installing and presumably uninstalling the clones as you work your way through their energy cycles. I personally loathe installing apps without first trying to figure out what they'll really be doing and why I need it. And I run XPrivacy so it's not like apps have free reign on my phone. I just don't like them leaving their junk everywhere or pitching ads to me.
    • by kuzb (724081)

      >Gee, I dunno. Maybe ask some of the big studios that squeeze out sequel after sequel of identical games that look in no way different than the identical games offered by the studio next to it?

      Is that you EA?!

  • Wouldn't the rating system help hide the cheap knock-offs, or is the sad fact that people can't tell the difference?

    Maybe the rating system should be like rottentomatoes, where there is the "audience rating" and "somehow accredited professional critics ratings", and the app's position in the store searches/listings could be a weighted sum of both of those, and the app store user could adjust their weighting toward more audience score or more critics score. (Before you patent that obvious concept, consider t

    • Swing Copters has a poor rating because it has terrible controls. Getting past the hammers is pure luck. A copycat that actually makes it possible to control the copter would have a better rating.
  • by jbmartin6 (1232050) on Monday August 25, 2014 @03:57PM (#47750867)
    At first I thought, "years of hard work"? How can this be when clones fill up the store in a matter of days? Doesn't seem like it is that much work. Then I thought, well perhaps designer spends years designing a game with all sorts of clever ideas then copiers use them all a few days after release. I have to ask, though, is this what happens? Surely a game must spend some time before becoming popular enough to copy, during which it builds a following and has first mover advantage. Copiers can't copy those advantages. It seems like it is still worth doing to many since folks are still making games for these platforms.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is the reasoning for why we have patents. It took Edison (his team really) hundreds if not thousands of tries until they figured out how to create a reliable light bulb. Once they did all that hard work, it is ridiculously easy to merely see what they did and copy it. Patents exist to project people who do that upfront investment.

      Sure, they have lots of issues that need fixing, but the fundamental idea is still OK. On the one hand, there should be a way to protect original apps from copying, but on

      • by s.petry (762400) on Monday August 25, 2014 @04:41PM (#47751305)

        Thomas Edison was one of numerous scientists that were working on similar "inventions". Scientists shared notes and findings which lead to the invention of the filament bulb, but it surely was not one guy doing all of the work.

        The patent system gave a monopoly to Edison and isolated every other scientist that worked on the bulb reducing "their" work to non-existence a short time later. It did not help anything in science, and the only person that benefited was "Edison".

        The same guy by the way, that staged live executions to show how dangerous AC was and cost Tesla numerous contracts (one of numerous publicity stunts to help his own career and harm others). It only cost Tesla most of his funding. It only took us a century to figure out what a genius Tesla really was and what a dickhead Edison really was.

        I'm sure we could spend time digging and find a patent that is not complete bullshit, but your example is surely not one of the few.

        • Edison/Tesla rants are so boring.

          Edison was a very successful businessman. His greatest invention was the Research and Development Lab (you hire a bunch of people who work for you inventing stuff that you own the patents for) Probably his second greatest invention was whatever he did to win the PR battle so well that people consider him as an individual a 'great inventor.'

          Tesla was a different matter. He was an Edison employee, one among many. It's sad that he went stark raving batshit mad in his later

      • That's cause edison was a moron, like you.

    • The original creator comes up with the idea, usually among many ideas. Then they have to decide which one to go with. Then you have to design and implement, refine, and see what works, until you have something worth releasing.
      Then you might have to put the effort into social media or advertising.
      Then you might become popular.
      Then someone else looks at what you created and breaks the concept down into components that are easily reproducible in a day or two, while their artist copies your art. They flood the

      • by rasmusbr (2186518)

        The only real counter to something like that is to create a game that's complicated enough that reproducing the game mechanics that make it popular takes long enough that the clones don't come out in time to bite into the profit during the critical first week/month.

        Or in other words: make a product with actual lasting value. Oh, the horror!

    • by asmkm22 (1902712)

      What generally happens is a developer might spend "years" on several different games/apps, with each probably benefiting from lessons learned from the previous ones. Eventually, one of the games finally breaks out gets popular. Since we're talking about very simplistic games here, it's not at all difficult for someone else to just copy what they see working.

      The problem here is that these knockoffs aren't even trying to pass for unique games. Most even try and copy the developer name, counting on a certai

    • Then I thought, well perhaps designer spends years designing a game with all sorts of clever ideas then copiers use them all a few days after release. I have to ask, though, is this what happens?

      What happens is that the developer has dozens of ideas, and the 30th one actually works. People like it; people play it. It has the right "stuff" that it becomes a success. Finding that combination is what takes years. Actually producing that one game may have only taken the amount of time it takes a copier.

      Alt

      • Supercell is eating Zynga's lunch. With a business plan so different that it's staggering. No, Zynga isn't long for this world. When they die, nobody will fucking care, either.

    • by gringer (252588)

      Then I thought, well perhaps designer spends years designing a game with all sorts of clever ideas then copiers use them all a few days after release. I have to ask, though, is this what happens? Surely a game must spend some time before becoming popular enough to copy, during which it builds a following and has first mover advantage.

      Flappy bird is certainly not a good example of the ideas being the expensive part. Here's just one example of an earlier game that is similar in nature:

      http://www2.sunflat.net [sunflat.net]

    • you spend years making games that bomb until you hit on one idea that works and that clicks with people.

      Basically, years of honing your game design skills and trying new ideas and then someone comes along and copies your mechanics and your game is irrelevant just like that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2014 @03:57PM (#47750869)

    So when someone expends significant effort and time to develop something we want to ensure that they realize the benefit for their work. The challenge is that once the work has been done, it is easy for someone else to copy it and steal your profits (because they avoided all the development costs).

    What is being asked is for an institution, such as Google or Apple, to take steps to prevent other from copying one's work.

    Put another way, the ask is that Google/Apple create a private patent system.

    I have to laugh that when developers want to take advantage of other people's work, they condemn patents, but when they find their own work being cloned suddenly they are clamoring for someone to come in and protect their work...

    • by asmkm22 (1902712)

      Not quite what's happening here. These aren't people just copying designs. They're usually trying to pose as the original work, including the developer name, to trick people into installing their version.

      • Not quite what's happening here. These aren't people just copying designs. They're usually trying to pose as the original work, including the developer name, to trick people into installing their version.

        Slight modification to the GP post, then:

        Put another way, the ask is that Google/Apple create a private patent and trademark system.

    • by ADRA (37398)

      Their innovation was that they invent something that people like. Their advantage is that they invented it first and should have both the buzz and the initial profits of said game. If you think that magically a clone game company can write the exact same game at a fraction of the cost, I'd say you're a liar, the original company did it horribly, or they stole the content assets from the original.

      1. Yeah, most likely. Games are not trivial to write. They're incrementally easier if you know exactly what you w

    • I know, how could anyone make a statement as ridiculously inconsistent as "I don't like this one system administered by this group over here, and would like a very different system to be put in place by that group over there"?

      Morons.

  • On person’s “blatant rip off” is another person’s “Words with Friends.”

  • While coming up with good game mechanics is important to a successful game, if it takes you years to develop a game, and someone else can copy it in weeks or days, then you're probably doing something seriously wrong. Either your game is too trivial, or you weren't a very good developer to start with.

    Yaz

    • Not necessarily. I don't particularly care about Flappy Bird, but let's look at Chess. Chess took centuries to develop, and almost anyone could reproduce it now.
      • by Yaztromo (655250)

        Not necessarily. I don't particularly care about Flappy Bird, but let's look at Chess. Chess took centuries to develop, and almost anyone could reproduce it now.

        Chess has evolved over time, and wasn't the product of a single development team, so it's not exactly an apples-to-oranges comparison. It took roughly 900 years of evolution for chess to take on its modern form, and there have been many variations of chess (Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] claims more than 2000 published variations).

        Early versions of chess weren't unplayable, in-development versions. They were proper, stand-alone games. You could think of modern chess as actually having been a "rip-off" of these earlier games.

  • So, yeah, I downloaded Swing Copters. And then I played it... for about two minutes.

    Nguyen stated he wanted to come up with a game that was "less addictive" than Flappy Birds, and I think he accomplished that - by creating a new game that will almost certainly irritate and annoy most people very quickly. That game is freaking impossible!

    • Basically Nguyen has managed to commercialize the "deliberately worthless" control scheme of QWER that is "just" simple enough to make your brain say "hey, this is simple, so it should be easy!" QWER was magical because your brain says "I know how walking works, I can do this". same with Flappy Bird, your brain says "I get gravity" and you spend 30 minutes swearing at the screen, but sort of having fun. I tried Swing Copters, and it has none of the things that made the first two "addicting" because it lacks
  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Monday August 25, 2014 @04:43PM (#47751321) Homepage

    . If Apple and Google want to make things friendlier out there for developers, they might consider stricter enforcement policies for the blatant rip-offs filling their digital storefronts.

    It took a lawsuit for Atari to kill KC Munchkin ... and even then they only won on appeal : http://www.mathpirate.net/log/... [mathpirate.net]

    If KC Munchkin was a rip-off of Pac Man, then every first person shooter is a rip-off of Wolf 3D. (which might've been a rip-off of Space Simulation).

    Don't get me wrong -- there needs to be something done about people making crappy games and tricking people into buying it (eg, The War Z), but once in a while, someone makes a *better* game that's similar to something that already exists (eg, Arkanoid vs. Break Out).

  • >> their respective app stores feature hundreds of thousands of apps, sometimes it seems as if most of those apps are crude imitations of other apps

    Is the poster new to computers? This clutter has been the case with software since it first reached the consumer. (e.g., RPG games in the 1980s, etc.)

    This is why:
    1) It's good to be the PLATFORM (you get paid no matter what apps sell).
    2) It's good to be a CONSUMER (you get zillions of choices).
    3) Being a DEVELOPER is hard, and making a living trying to se

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Do you really think Google and Apple are going to bite the hand of Zynga, King, et al. when such a huge proportion of their app store profit comes from their blatant ripoff games?

  • Bullet hell has been around for a while, there were tons of games that were hard because they were broken, and 'Nintendo hard' is older than dirt, and variations that are nigh impossible for human players have been popular for years (think Kazio Mario). 'Masocore' is not an emerging genre.
  • The rating system on app stores are too generic.
    And considering 90% of all the apps get like 4.5 stars, the ratings are comepletly useless.
    The top downloaded lists are much better, but that makes it near impossible for a new app to get any attention.

    When you are looking for apps, you usually are looking for something specific.

    For example, I was looking for a professional drawing/painting tool for my kid.
    About 99.999% of these apps are more like coloring books for kids.
    While there were some very nice tools,

  • original games? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tommeke100 (755660) on Monday August 25, 2014 @06:20PM (#47752099)
    Those original games are blatant rip-offs as well.
    Angry Birds? Flappy Birds? I had similar games on my C64 and those were probably already copies of similar games on Atari and earlier computers.
    Except for the eye-candy, these games could be programmed by anyone taking a basic programming/gaming 101 course.
    • mod parent up.

      I haven't seen an original game since the PS1. Most/all of the popular most downloaded games can be shoehorned into a few dozen categories. The only "originality" I see comes from the refreshed graphics, a few plot tweaks and whatnot. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. But to insist that your (the developer's) game is all so brand spanking original that Thou Shalt Not Copy My (your hapless animal species here) Game is hypocritical to say the least.

  • Are we supposed to know who all people with generic vietnamese names are?

  • I know that the versions of don't-touch-white and 2048 that I have aren't the "originals." They were the most popular ones at the time I jumped in because they're better. The devs start with a rip-off and then add more interesting features that the original didn't have. With dead simple microgames like this, it's easy for each game to become its own little subgenre, with new ideas being layered on by each iteration. If we "protect" the original versions of these things, it will only make crappy games crappi
    • by Pope (17780)

      2048 is terrible. All the clones of Threes leave out important gameplay elements, making them stupidly easy.

      • Actually, you're pointing out something that makes this a particularly good example of what I'm talking about. Even though only one detail is changed, 2048 isn't a rip-off of Threes. Using twos instead of threes makes it work completely differently on a mathematical level.
  • Regardless of how "trolled" any one feels by this he gets an ad hit every time the user looses a round in the game. So do they pay him with a bucket of cash or just Apple store credit?

  • 1. Make a game which is simple to understand but impossibly difficult.
    2. Make it free with an iAd banner for revenue.
    3. Withdraw the game as soon as the feeding frenzy begins and the media pick up on it.
    4. Repeat.

    Consumers love nothing more than a freebie in limited supply.
    Dong's limited editions.

    There's a new iPhone coming out and I'd like to upgrade.
    My fingers are crossed that he pulls it so I can sell my current iPhone, with this latest game installed, for twice the price of the new iPhone 6 ;)

  • "years of hard work undermined by someone who cobbles together a clone in a matter of weeks or days"

    Sorry but if I can reproduce the game in entirety in days, then what you've done is years of dicking around.

    It's time we stopped babying everyone who got the hang of 2D graphics and sound in Android like they've invented the internet.

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