Category Archives: Personal Stuff

The Affordable Care Act

Warning: this rare post of mine has nothing to do with games. Worse yet, it’s political in nature! I know, I know… how self-indulgent of me. If you’re easily offended by political commentary, skip this article.

Lately I’ve been depressed by the number of arguments I’ve witnessed about the US Affordable Care Act that revolved around anecdotes as opposed to facts. “My buddy Joe’s premiums doubled because of this stupid law!” “Oh yeah? My cousin Susan was dying of cancer and couldn’t get insurance, until this law saved her life!” I expect this kind of thing from politicians (“Let me tell you about Mary Sue of South Dakota…”) but not from my friends and family. How about we break down a few simple stats instead:

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Spry Fox settlement with 6waves

As several news outlets have discovered, we have amicably settled our lawsuit with 6waves. We are very happy with the outcome and glad to be finished with this matter. The full terms of the settlement are confidential, but I can disclose that as a consequence of the settlement, ownership of the Yeti Town IP has been transferred to Spry Fox. We look forward to putting 100% of our time and energy into our games, like the upcoming Leap Day, Steambirds 2 and Panda Poet mobile. :-)

Goodbye RotMG

It is hard to let go of something you’ve worked on for such a long time, but such is life. After a rather successful launch of Realm of the Mad God on Steam and Kongregate, our partners at Wild Shadow Studios decided that the best course of action was to sell the game to a larger operator, and we agreed to sell our stake alongside them.

Kabam will be operating the game from here on out and Willem Rosenthal, who has been designing the new dungeons and loot drops in RotMG for several months now, will stay on board to guide the project going forward.

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Spry Fox seeking Senior Engineer

Spry Fox is looking to hire a senior-level engineer/developer. If you are not this person but know someone who is, we would be very grateful if you introduced us!

Job title: we don’t really do titles. Call yourself something amusing and/or impressive.
What we’re looking for:

  • Senior level engineer (five to ten years of work experience, minimum.)
  • Can program both the front end and back end of an original online game – by themselves or as half a team of two.
  • Has worked on multiple shipped games in the past
  • Very comfortable with frequent, rapid iteration (daily to weekly)
  • Excited about original, free to play games
  • Familiarity with Flash and Unity is a major plus but not a requirement. It’s actually more important for whomever we hire to be flexible and not wedded to any given language, as we frequently find ourselves adjusting our tech to meet specific circumstances.
  • You must be a self-starter who can work effectively without being closely managed or prodded. This is a company for entrepreneurs, not worker bees.
  • Reliability and honesty are the two most important traits to us.
  • Location is not an issue; we all work remotely. But if you live in Seattle or the Bay Area, you’ll get to have lunch with us pretty regularly.  :-)

About us: Spry Fox is a successful developer of online games that have collectively reached over 30m people. Our titles include Steambirds, Triple Town, Realm of the Mad God and Panda Poet. We are passionate about two things: making great original games and bringing happiness to the world.

Send inquiries to jobs at spryfox.com

Spry Fox @ GDC 2012

Want to learn more about the exploits of Spry Fox from its co-founders? Looking for insights into the nutty world of f2p, web-based, and/or mobile games? Curious to see if Danc and I are as relentlessly and unforgivably opinionated in the flesh as we are on the Internets? (Spoiler: we are.)

Well, here’s where you can find us at GDC:

Realm of the Counter-Intuitive God (SOGS Postmortem)
SPEAKER/S: David Edery (Spry Fox)
Monday 11:15-12:15 Room 135, North Hall
Social and Online Games Summit / 60-Minute Lecture
Description: Realm of the Mad God is a web-based f2p MMO with a penchant for breaking rules. It’s a MMO bullet-hell-shooter… in Flash. It is based on open source art. It features permadeath (the ultimate in retention challenges)! And it just so happens to be surprisingly popular and very profitable. This lecture will review some of the unusual design and business choices we made and explore which worked, which didn’t, and why. Financial and other data will be shared (and not just the stuff that makes us look good).

Create New Genres (and Stop Wasting Your Life in the Clone Factories)
SPEAKER/S: Daniel Cook (Spry Fox)
Tuesday 3:00-4:00 Room 135, North Hall
Social and Online Games Summit / 60-Minute Lecture
Description: Re-releasing old designs with pretty new graphics means me-too titles fighting off a crowd of similar products. This is the path to mediocrity. To become a master designer, you need to break past a slavish devotion of past forms and create vibrant, new experiences. This design talk covers practical techniques for reinventing game genres. The goal is the invention of a unique and highly differentiated customer value proposition that makes both strong business sense and is also deeply creatively fulfilling. We cover designing from the root, reducing design risk, and igniting original franchises. We also cover the pitfalls of design innovation including fending off shark-like fast followers and other cloners. The presentation covers personal examples from recent titles such as Steambirds, Realm of the Mad God, Triple Town and other innovative successes.

How F2P Games Blur the Line Between Design and Business
SPEAKER/S: Soren Johnson (Game Developer Magazine), Ben Cousins (ngmoco Sweden), Matthias Worch (LucasArts), Tom Chick (Quarter to Three) and David Edery (Spry Fox)
Friday 4:00-5:00 Room 2003, West Hall, 2nd Fl
60-Minute Panel
The free-to-play movement is here to stay and will touch every corner of the games industry. However, the format blurs the line between game design and game business, so that business decisions will become increasingly indistinguishable from design decisions. Free-to-play content must be fun enough to attract and retain players but not so much fun that no one feels the need to spend some money. Managing this tension makes free-to-play design extremely difficult, especially for traditional game designers who are used to simply making the best game possible. Our panelists will discuss this transition and best practices for building free-to-play games with soul.

Standing up for ourselves

Sometimes you need to stand up for yourself, or you’re just begging to be taken advantage of.

We (Spry Fox) have filed a copyright infringement suit in federal court against 6Waves LOLAPPS in response to their release of Yeti Town, their blatant copy of Triple Town. This was a difficult decision for Danc and I. We are not enthusiastic about the prospect of spending our time in court as opposed to making games. And in general, we believe that only in the most extreme circumstances should a video game developer resort to legal action in order to defend their creative works — the last thing our industry needs is frivolous lawsuits. Unfortunately, it is our opinion that 6waves has behaved in a reprehensible and illegal manner, and we can not, in good conscience, ignore it.

The full legal complaint can be downloaded here. In particular, I will call attention to these issues:

First: Yeti Town, as launched by 6waves, was a nearly perfect copy of Triple Town. We’re not just talking about the game’s basic mechanics here. We’re talking about tons of little details, from the language in the tutorial, to many of our UI elements, to the quantities and prices of every single item in the store (how exactly did 6waves “independently” decide to price 200 turns for 950 coins, or 4 wildcards for 1500 coins each? That’s quite a coincidence!) But don’t take our word for it. Here are just a few quotes taken from the numerous press articles that were published shortly after the release of Yeti Town:

  • Gamezebo: “Unfortunately for Yeti Town, the only substantial difference between it and Facebook’s Triple Town is the platform it’s on. Otherwise it’s the exact same game, only this time with snow.”
  • InsideSocialGames: “Yeti Town is a matching game nearly identical to Spry Fox’s Triple Town”
  • Games.com: “Replace “saplings” with “bushes”, “tents” with “houses” and “yetis” with “bears”. What do you get? Something that would look a lot like independent developer Spry Fox’s Triple Town”

Second: what most people don’t know is that 6waves was in confidential (under NDA) negotiations with us to publish Triple Town at the exact same time that they were actively copying Triple Town. We gave 6waves private access to Triple Town when it was still in closed beta, months before the public was exposed to the game. We believed those negotiations were ongoing, and we continued to give private information to 6waves, until 6waves’ Executive Director of Business Development sent us a message via Facebook on the day Yeti Town was published in which he suddenly broke off negotiations and apologized for the nasty situation. His message can be found in its entirety in the body of our legal complaint.

It’s bad enough to rip off another company. To do so while you are pumping them for private information (first, our game design ideas, and later, after the game was launched on Facebook, our private revenue and retention numbers) is profoundly unethical by any measure.

Despite all this, Danc and I still struggled with the idea of initiating a lawsuit. However, 6waves brought the issue to a head when, rather than openly and honestly discuss their actions, they had the chutzpah to tell Gamasutra that they had developed Yeti Town completely independently, and characterized the legitimate public criticism of their company as simply “part of the natural process” of game development.

We believe that there is nothing “natural” or ethical or legal about 6waves behavior. What they did was wrong. And if they get away with it, it will simply encourage more publishers to prey on independent game developers like us. We refuse to sit back and let that happen.

-Dave & Danc

Announcing Steambirds Survival for iOS

Steambirds Survival for iOS and Android

Steambirds: Survival (SB:S) is now available on iTunes! iPhone/iPod version here. iPad version here. We hit a slight snag with the Android version but you can expect to see it launch very soon as well. :-)

For those of you who haven’t heard, this version of Steambirds is the result of a collaboration between Spry Fox and Halfbrick (aka the guys who made Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride.) We worked together to evolve SB:S, which we originally co-created with Andy, from its humble beginnings into a robust game with 120 missions — 64 available for free at launch — and some cool new features, like a recruiting system that lets you hire additional planes to help you beat more difficult missions.

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The return of Triple Town

Triple Town for Facebook and Google+.

I’m pleased to announce the public beta of Triple Town, our original twist on the match-3 genre, which is launching on Facebook and will soon appear on other platforms as well.

Triple Town has always been a very special game for Spry Fox. It was one of our studio’s first titles, and it was good enough to be chosen by Amazon as the first indie game to be released on the Kindle. Triple Town also has the highest user rating of any game we’ve ever released (4.72 out of 5 on Amazon.com based on 158 reviews as of the time of this writing.)

So, when Danc and I started talking about how we might want to dip our toes into the turbulent water that is Facebook, Triple Town seemed like a natural fit. We knew the game was fun. We knew it would appeal to a broad audience. We knew it wouldn’t require a massive development expense because it is a relatively simple game. And we had observed a relatively limited amount of content in what I’ll call “the Bejeweled Blitz genre” on Facebook… a market opportunity that we felt we had a decent chance of capitalizing upon with Triple Town.

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My Google+ Feed

Just a short note to say that I’ve been really enjoying Google+ thus far. It feels like a perfect blend of Facebook and Twitter and enables me to easily take advantage of the things that I like best about both without some of the annoying limitations (character limit, inability to specify target groups, etc). If you’re using it, you can find me at: gplus.to/djedery.

Welcome to the world, Aria Stella Edery

A belated post to help explain why I’ve been so quiet on this blog as of late. :-)

Mama Eve and baby Aria are doing great; the former is glowing and the latter is a champion eater and sleeper! She’s also got awesome hair, like her papa. ;-)