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Show HN: I Created the Inverse of Angry Birds (itunes.apple.com)
625 points by ghempton on Dec 20, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 123 comments

Awesome and hilarious concept, brilliant to garner PR since it's such a fun story.

Great iphone PR resources:

List of the top sites to contact -


Nice presentation on mobile-app specific PR:


Your story has legs - worth maybe hitting TechCrunch and the other big boys as well - good luck!

This is freaking awesome. Congrats on releasing the project Gordon!

Just played till level nine and even paid for unlocking the rest of the levels. Some feedback:

1) The game needs music. It's a little quiet after awhile, would be much better with music. 2) On a lot of the levels you don't need to do anything and you'll "win" by just pressing play. 3) Totally understand why you have the ads on in the game but sometimes on the cloud levels it gets in the way of placing blocks. 4) Sometimes the game gets stuck at the end and doesn't count up all of the points 5) Counting up the points on level with a ton of items in it takes forever 6) You should also explain the different birds and which ones are coming. Noticed some had dynamite strapped to them but didn't expect that at all. 7) On replay I really wish I had the previous blocks stay where they were.

Overall an awesome game but wanted to give you some feedback on it after I played around with it for awhile.

Thanks for all the great feedback. This is a side project that I had been sitting on at 90% completion for months and finally got it out.

As a side note: I need to remember to not publicize newly launched apps until they have been indexed by the app store. It might not show up in the app store search until tomorrow.

It showed up in my search today.

did you make the artwork yourself?

Everything was done by yours truly in Fireworks. I wrote a custom extension that I use to create both the artwork and the levels inside of Fireworks.

Would love to see a writeup on your tool chain and how you put this together.

Fireworks has been my go-to graphics tool for years. What exactly does your extension do as opposed to using symbols?

The level design and artwork are done simultaneously inside of Fireworks. I have an extension which attaches metadata to objects to use in-game. I also rely on states and pages to correspond to animations and levels respectively. I.e. all of the levels of the game are "compiled" from a single fireworks doc with 20 pages, each page corresponding to a level.

That is great! It's definitely one of the most clever and unique uses I've seen of Fireworks. Hopefully, someone from Adobe is reading so they can recommend it as an article on the Fireworks Developer Center (http://www.adobe.com/devnet/fireworks.edu.html).

Amazing! Are you planning to opensource this extension? It's very interesting to look inside.

Great to hear someone else using Fireworks. I feel like it gets ignored by Adobe in favour of Illustrator, but it's really a fantastic tool.

+1, in fact I'm still a fireworks 8 junkie, I still can't find a better product for web layout and super quick vector/raster work.

+1 to that as well. Fireworks is indispensable as part of my design tool chain. It's the best and simplified world of illustrator and photoshop.

I sent the link to my ipad and opened it from there, and whala it shows up.

at the risk of negative karma; voilà.

Thanks... I actually know that, but I guess I had a brain fart. That and I was distracted playing the game.

Yeah it is a great game, you need to think in a broader fashion than angry birds. It is kind of like the difference between protecting something vs attacking it a la computer security; protecting takes more forethought.

Cool concept. Next up: multiplayer where one person plays the birds and the other plays the pigs (Rovio might have to buy your app for that).

You need to explain why the pigs took the eggs. Maybe you do in the game.

It's not the pigs' fault eggs are delicious. :)

Birds? Eggs? What are these egg-laying birds you speak of? They're not in the game.

Wise not to mention them, from an afraid-of-well-paid-lawyers point of view.

Concentration of eggs helps all. Extra eggs will trickle down back to the birds.

but who will play the role of the seesaw??

Those birds in the third screenshot look pretty much the same as the Angry Birds to me (I didn't compare them directly, but I don't think that's necessary anyway). You're also directly advertising this with reference to Angry Birds (see title of this post).

I'd say you're pretty much flouting basic trademark law here, and the only way for Rovio to react is to protect their trademark, or lose it. It's all the more likely if they are working on their own title from the viewpoint of the pigs - and I'd say the odds are pretty high that they are.

In addition, the idea of this being parody is not something I'd want to defend in front of a judge...

The birds are a question of copyright, not trademark. And one doesn't lose that for failing to defend it.

I don't think its that simple. Wikipedia says

>A trademark is typically a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or a combination of these elements. There is also a range of non-conventional trademarks comprising marks which do not fall into these standard categories, such as those based on color, smell, or sound.

I'd be surprised if Rovio doesn't consider the general appearance of the birds as a trademark. If you see a game in the app store represented by an angry bird like image, that's clearly going to create consumer confusion about the origin of the game.

You don't consider things trademarks, it's either a registered trademark or it's not.

That's not true. There's no need for a trademark to be registered or even to be indicated as being a trademark (typically by using 'TM'), though of course you do get extra rights if you do. The US Patent Office is a good resource for info: http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/index.jsp

That bird design is to Rovio what Mickey is to Disney...

Some feedback:

The UI needs some work. Running on an iPhone 3GS, it felt very laggy, many of my touches didn't register correctly.

Tap to rotate is an odd concept, and combined with the lagginess above, I was always moving when I wanted to rotate, or vice versa. Maybe two fingers to rotate?

Move the advertising. Having it right on top of the playing field caused me to accidentally click it when trying to move around a block, taking me completely out of the game.

A better visual distinction between blocks I'm allowed to move, and blocks I'm not allowed to move would be nice, I spent a few minutes of the first level trying to move the block that was already there.

Otherwise, I love the concept.

Thanks for the feedback. An iPad 2 was my primary testing device so I surely didn't give the iPhone version the UI love it needs.

This explains a lot. If my thumbs were 1/3 their present size, moving the blocks around on my iPhone probably would have been a lot easier. I recommend increasing the area you can touch to "grab" a block by at least 50%, and adding some sort of visual indicator of the position and orientation of the block outside the thumb-occlusion. Other than that, it's a great game.

Just an FYI: it crashes while trying to open it on my iPhone 3G (displays the splash screen, then exits to springboard.)

Love the idea, though. :)

@ghempton, if you're still reading these comments, it's likely you're passing a iOS 4 or 5 message without checking to see if the message is received.

I ran into this recently with a number of simple startup checks, e.g., if the device is a high-res ([UIScreen scale]) or if it's an iPhone vs. iPad ([UIDevice userInterfaceIdiom]).

Having it right on top of the playing field caused me to accidentally click it when trying to move around a block, taking me completely out of the game.

But possibly earning some cash if it is cost per tap. I sometimes think people who show advertising on their websites and/or apps must love tablets and phones because it is so easy to accidentally tap on an ad. I've done so many times, even though I'd normally never click an ad.

I hope Rovio sees this, finds it as hilarious as I did, keeps their head about them, then finds a way to work with you on developing the idea.

Unless it's freemium, I don't see why they wouldn't find it hilarious.

Charging or not charging for an infringing work isn't relevant. Personally I hope they give him a job with a hefty options grant.

There's no infringement here, the pigs look different and there doesn't seem to be any stolen art or something. So Rovio probably couldn't do anything anyway.

"So Rovio probably couldn't do anything anyway."

I've talked about this a few times on HN, but this is a huge pet peeve of mine. It's armchair litigating. Rovio could absolutely file a case against this developer. How far it would go would depend largely on the judge in the case. You can bet that Rovio would, if they decided to, file with a court that historically rules in favor of their position. This would mean that, at a minimum, this developer would have to retain counsel and pay the thousands of dollars it would cost to get the case dismissed (not a slow process). There would be depositions, discovery, inquiry, and a slew of other bullshit that comes along with being sued.

You see, this is how the game is played. It's not a matter of who is right or wrong. It's not even a matter of what the rules say. It's a matter of who has the bigger bank role to pay for attorneys that are good at playing the game.

I know because I've been in this scenario. Prior to the plaintiff filing suit against us, everyone said the same things:

"They don't have a case!"

"This is baseless, it will be thrown out!"

"What a stupid premise, they'll get laughed out of court!"

This was not from one or two people, and not from laymen. This was from virtually every attorney I talked to (6 of them). We're now 3 years in to the suit and the judge seems content to extend the trial date in to the year 2012. The courts are in the business of having people in court. Never forget it.

May I ask how much is this costing you or your company in legal fees?

We make a concerted effort to reduce legal fees by coordinating with our attorneys to do whatever footwork we can. On bad months, it will cost us $7k-$10k. On a relatively idle month, $2k.

wow, thats quite a bit, what is the hourly rate they charge

There's an argument that this counts as fair use case. And in that case, charging or not charging can make a difference.

I don't think Rovio have any grounds for complaint here. No trademarks are infringed.

It is freemium ($3 level pack), and has admob ads

I would refer to this as a "parody" of angry birds.

I agree but I have seen cases where companies have tried to suppress a parody. I think we are going to see Rovio is made of.

A parody is constitutionally protected free speech. Yes, they can sue regardless, but I think your leverage is higher in that scenario. I am not a lawyer. I hope the creator has spoken with one in case.

Note that that only applies in the US; not every jurisdiction recognizes the right to parody, and the Apple store may choose to enforce the lowest common denominator, or any other capricious policy they choose.

Also, the constitution does not mention the right to parody. It doesn't even exist in the section of US code describing fair use (17 USC 107), just in the history of case law surrounding fair use. Parody gets interpreted by the courts as part of the test to determine fair use, and not always in favor of the parodist.

It depends. If you are parodying X while making a comment about X, that's probably in the clear. But if you're parodying X while making a comment about Y, that's problematic. See Penny Arcade's difficulties with parodying Strawberry Shortcake while commenting on American McGee's take on games.

To be fair, PA didn't make any attempt to litigate that. American McGee told them to take it down, and they did, essentially no questions asked.

They didn't make any attempt to litigate it, because, as I understand it, a lawyer told them it was not a good idea (http://www.penny-arcade.com/2003/04/21):

We are, of course, talking to our lawyer about all this stuff. Readers have referred us to many sources in an effort to clarify our position legally, sites like Chilling Effects act as clearing houses for data useful in situations such as this. Also, interesting cases have been brought to our attention - for example, Aqua’s song “Barbie Girl” was contested by Mattel, and Aqua still came out on top (as it were). In darker news, Matt from MacHall send this interesting bit - check page 3, “Dr. Seuss Enterprises Vs. Penguin Books.” To my mind, that precedent doesn’t mean anything good for us.

I clicked on this, forgot about it and looked at the tab a while later. I only realized I was looking at old comics after a couple of fairly confusing minutes, wondering about the odd art style and why on Earth they were back to playing Phantasy Star Online, but effortlessly integrating the "fact" that there's a new EverQuest expansion coming out that is similar to the previous ones. I guess that one is a timeless fact.

For the record it was American Greetings that C&D'd them, not American McGee.

Exactly, parodying Y using a pastiche of X is not considered fair use of X.

Apple however is free to suppress anything they want in the app store, so I guess we'll see.

It's not free, they charge you 30% for the privilege of violating you tenderly at their whim.

(sorry, couldn't resist)

It's also not free as in GnuBeer either, since as a general rule they generously decline to explain the reverses in policy (pet theory: it is based on the retrograde motion of Sirius the dogstar, since Apple is clearly controlled by the reptillian lizard-people from there)

Rovio probably won't care as long as he doesn't start profiting from the app.

He has in-app ads of some kind, I got one cross-selling the Gilt app.

My two year old would probably love that - he sympathises with the pigs and gets upset whenever he accidentally hits one of them with the birds. Doesn't seem to care as much about the birds.

Perhaps because pigs are mammals and hence more closely related to him than birds?

Been playing this all morning, I'd love to see the pig protection milked to the max. A fun plug would be 'how many pigs saved to date' and maybe when a certain number has been hit then for some PR you could adopt a pig - http://worldanimalfoundation.homestead.com/AdoptAPig.html

Be pretty funny to see a load of blog posts about saving pigs, due to help from players!

I've possibly had too much coffee this morning..

If Angry Birds is Crush The Castle this is Hold Your Ground: http://www.physicsgames.net/game/Hold_Your_Ground.html. Since Hold Your Ground has been out for years I am surprised someone hasn't done this before considering the runaway success of Angry Birds.

Depending on how Rovio take this I would love to see some form of collab (bet it partnered or purchased)

I can see a PvP multiplayer feature, one player in Angry Birds, one player in Misunderstood Pigs, phone vs phone multiplayer goodness.

Great idea and execution, love it.

Perhaps you mentioned it in the opening message and I just missed it, but...I was waiting for objects to appear that were oriented differently, and only by accident did I realize that I had to tap to rotate (I had first tried by actually doing a rotation gesture).

I'd add some note about this on the object palette in the bottom, and maybe even add a rotation gesture to turn it.

Looks pretty cool, downloading now. Why is it free, though? Charge a buck for it at least.

I wonder if he's leaving it free to minimize the number of reasons for Rovio to go after him.

It is ad driven.

Please do an Android version.

Hopefully I will have time to get around to this someday.

Few months ago a similar game was released on Android: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.rejectedgames.isla...

This is one of those very rare moments where the idea is so funny and good that you'll probably have quite the success with the idea even if the implementation isn't the best.

But it seems like you've done a great job with the implementation as well. All the best!

I'm growing overly tired of the success of Angry Birds, seeing it on Hipmunk.com, as a special Roku box, pushed on the Chrome Web Store, etc. so this is very welcome. Congratulations on the launch!

Cool game and concept. Lots of fun. Now some feedback:

1) The touch logic on the blocks is frustrating for me on the iPhone. It takes me several tries to move a block. It thinks I want to scroll half the time, or doesn't register the touch with block. Maybe the block touch zone should be bigger than the block itself.

2.) Putting ads directly in the level seems distasteful to me and ruins the immersive experience. Would rather have them in-between levels or at start up.

The idea sounds great! I don't have an iDevice to test it, but hell with testing, I believe my fellow HNers, and I want to wish you good luck from Turkmenistan!

E-mail me please, I am curious about costs of web development in Turkmenistan.

Very clever! I'd rename it to something catchier though -- Pity Pigs, Sorry Pigs... something with no more than three syllables

Funny! If you need funding you can try to pitch it as "Tower defense meets Angry birds" :)

Very good first version. Quick and easy to get into gameplay. About the right level of difficulty. Thanks :)

Here is hoping for you to have even half of the marketing juggernaut of that other pig game :-)

I don't have an iOS device to play on it but this looks great! I think this will attract Angry Birds lovers and haters alike. I imagine you'll have competitors if this takes off, so it's good that you built a real game and not a simple novelty app.

Fun, but it likes to crash when loading levels. For a while it crashed when trying to go to the second level, which I fixed by force-restarting the app, and just now when reloading level 2 after a failed attempt. iPad 1, iOS 5.1.

Funny seeing this within days of the iPhone version of Plants vs. Zombies adding a mode where you control the zombies. (Feature already existed in Flash version; requires in-game currency to play most of it).

The regular desktop version has a mode where you control the zombies.

Awesome, a new game to play! I used to play 'Cover Orange' which had a similar inverse Angry Birds gameplay. Did you research that game before working on this?

Great concept, great creativity! Bravo. If you can effectively manage the IP battle I think you have a smash success on your hands here.

Needs a bit of ux work but is pretty brilliant

Hey ,that was funny and well done . The game lags on iphone. And yes this is a good concept of parody games.

Please open this up on multiple Apple App stores. Not available in the South African app store.

I'd like to see Angry Bird "right-to-left". Any hacks to make that happen?

I can't stop laughing at the name of the app. It's fantastic!

Awesome idea. What did you use for the physics engine?

i cant seem to access the link on my mobile device. can someone please give me the name of the game so i can search it in the app store?

Misunderstood Pigs

Cool. May I know the tools you used to make it?

Im downloading it now! Looks awesome! Congrats.

Looks good, downloaded it to my iPhone. :)

It's kind of hard to drag the items, I have to zoom all the way in and try and move the items like 10 times before I get it right. Also make them drop down like they do when you hit play, because it's way to hard having to try and line them up when creating structures, due to the dropping of items making them very unstable.

Is it US only? Can't find it in UK store

Should be everywhere, maybe there is a delay.

I'm not seeing this game in the AppStore

Load the link in your safari on your iPod/iPad/iPhone and it will take you to it in the store.

Yeah that worked for me. Searching for the exact title in the App Store didn't return any results.

I guess their search index is not always up to date.

Yeah I should have waited until it was indexed before posting.

So you're trying to protect the pigs?

Yes, they never deserved the birds' misplaced anger to begin with.

gosh i hope you don't get sued

This is great.



awesome stuff!

did you use cocos2d?

Yup cocos2d, with a pretty thick custom level editor built on top.

is the level editor your own or another product?

I built it myself. It is in the form of a Fireworks extension. I lay out the levels inside of Fireworks and export both the art and the level as a package.

I will open source it eventually.

I am very interested in taking a look at your level builder.. i am even willing you pay for it :)

Also, are you available for freelance work? contact me at ob.ahmed[@]gmail[.]com

I was an early contributor to Cocos2d, Riq was always looking for a good level editor and produced his own eventually (http://www.sapusmedia.com/levelsvg/) but it was a bit limited. I'm sure he'd be interested in your work, have you reached out to him?

Knowing nothing about Fireworks, in what language did write the plugin?

Please post when you do, I'm just getting into cocos2d now trying to learn game development. Any tips/resources you can share? I'm working through this book http://www.learn-cocos2d.com/

cool. good job!

genius idea is genius.

Android plz?

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