Okay, it seems a number of people are either inadvertently misinterpreting or willfully misrepresenting my stance here, so for the record:
I am not claiming Tiny Wings is a “ripoff” or demanding a cut of the profits (or indeed making any demands whatsoever). Andreas Illiger deserves his due wealth and fame for the time and effort he’s put into Tiny Wings, and I wish to deprive him of neither. Independent of this fact, I would be very interested in seeing any previous game that features single-button controls and gravity manipulation to navigate procedural terrain as its central mechanic, as I have been under the impression that up until Tiny Wings that particular core gameplay was unique to Wavespark.*
While the design of Wavespark was in the works in some form for years, I spent only a week coding and polishing it, and that lack of investment is clearly apparent when contrasted with a highly polished and marketable game like Tiny Wings. The difference between Wavespark and Tiny Wings is indeed a great example of what Chris Hecker talks about in his Please Finish Your Game rant. Wavespark was coded in a week, and it shows. Wavespark, being one of the games that was brewing in my head for quite some time (and thus having a fair amount of “idea polish” but no “implementation polish”), got a degree of recognition and praise that surprised me at the time, including much clamoring for iPhone porting.** In hindsight, it turns out I wasn’t surprised enough by the enthusiasm for Wavespark. It was only the fourth weekly game I’d made, and I would have felt silly dropping my weekly game commitment four games into the project to focus on polishing up one of those games.
Much to my chagrin a year later, it seems that would have been the correct decision, as a game with the very same core mechanic is now the top-selling iPhone game in the app store. A day of reflection has tempered my shock and indignation into ruefulness more than anything; had I made different decisions (and had a Mac to develop on, a budget to hire an artist, and the cynicism to bank on selling Yet Another Game With Excessively Cute Birds, but yeah) that could easily have been me with the latest hit mobile game.
Where do I go from here? Well, I have of this writing 45 little weekly games completed, at least half of which are decidedly lackluster in my opinion. But there’s at least a few of which have a compelling enough gameplay core to perhaps become commercially successful games in their own right. (Hopefully I’ll get to them before someone else does, if I choose that route.) I intend to continue publishing small games on here occasionally, fueled by donation titles, competitions like LD48, and whatever other nifty ideas happen to inspire me. I’ll keep looking for a way to pay the bills, of course; ideally with game design, though I’ll settle for soul-crushing retail work if need be – Portland’s a truly lovely city, but not exactly the best place to be unemployed right now.
To my loyal fans – thanks for sticking around. Your feedback and enthusiasm, to no small extent, is what keeps me going with this.
To my loyal trolls – I am inspired by your passion for my website. Seriously, there was one dude who stuffed my moderation queue with no less than seven comments full of spite and insults under various names and email addresses. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is. And such eloquence! “Nathan, you are a cry baby. Your game Wavefart, looks like shit.” Mark my words, friends: this is the writing of a man who has a lengthy and successful career in playground bullying ahead of him. (Regrettably, I had to IP-ban the fellow because the constant comment notifications were interrupting my D&D game. So it goes.)
One further note: my previous post attracted a lot of commentary, and the configured comment protocol for this site is to hold comments for moderation unless they’re from a previously-approved poster. (Mostly I do this to spare you folks the playground insults.) If you had something substantive and civil to contribute to the discussion and it hasn’t shown up yet, I apologize for overlooking it in the deluge. I’ve withheld some specific comments that were either inflammatory or redundant (I woke up this morning to six consecutive comments in the queue about sin(Surfing)), in order to try and keep the discussion polite and productive – but rest assured that I do my best to read everything submitted, and it’s all archived for posterity.
*Thanks to those of you – at least, the less vitriolic of you – who pointed out sin(Surfing); after a fair amount of struggling (turns out that XNA is very finicky about its version numbers) I’ve managed to get it running on my computer, and after playing around with it a bit there do indeed to be some similarities, although the game as a whole reminds me of Uniracers more than anything with how the tricks work. The sticking-to-hills mechanism caught me by the most surprise, as the corresponding mechanic in Wavespark was actually initially a bug that arose intermittently in early development, due to how ground collision was calculated when transitioning between segments. After much frustration fixing said bug, I wound up eventually re-adding the “sticking” behavior when the gravity button was held while going over a peak, as it was too easy to lose speed to short hops otherwise.
**There was in fact an iPhone port underway at one point, but that project fell through. Turns out one shouldn’t mix business and personal relationships; yet another lesson learned the hard way in the course of weekly game development.