Negative Yang

By: Derek Yu

On: September 24th, 2007

yin space

Everyone remembers Squidi’s attempt at 300 game ideas, right? Sadly cut short to 60 games, but still an admirable effort.

Well, y’all, it looks like we’ve got a little indie internet drama going on, as Nitrome’s latest flash title, Yin Yang, looks a wee bit similar to Squidi’s first game idea, Negative Space. Okay, maybe a little more than a wee bit. More like, if you shaved Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen’s heads and stripped them naked, would you be able to tell which was which? No, because you’d be throwing up. Zing!

In all seriousness, though, here are the facts:

1. Nitrome is claiming they came up with the idea on their own. They are, unsurprisingly, supported by Jay of Jay is Games, and the Jay disciples.

2. Squidi did, in fact, say that his game ideas could be used without credit.

3. Squidi raised a bit of a stink over it, however, both on his blog, and on the Jay is Games site.

4. One thing he claims is that MTV contacted him about his 300 game ideas long before Yin Yang was released. (MTV hired Nitrome to create Yin Yang.)

5. Jay is now threatening libel for a (rather innocuous, imo) quote from Squidi’s blog.

Hit the extended for my very serious opinions:

1. Nitrome totally got the idea from Squidi. Seriously, look at this other screenshot comparison if you’re still not convinced. (This is an opinion.)

2. But Squidi should just drop the whole darn thing before it blows up in his face like with Penny Arcade. He gave the rights to his idea away willingly. Let others argue for him, if need be. (This is an opinion.)

3. Jay is really, really scary! He seems like he could tear out your throat at the drop of a hat. It’s even scarier because Jay is Games is such a “friendly” place on the surface. Reminds me of church, or Disneyland. (This is an opinion.)

4. Yin Yang is pretty fun, regardless of where the idea came from. (This is an opinion.)

5. DISCUSS. (This is a suggestion!)

  • Monsieur LeBoeuf

    Hug mister the beef, too!

  • technology ayo

    100th comment.

  • Bob Saget

    I know what beef I wanna hug.

  • Albert Lai

    Allow the hugging to commence!

  • Skyleak

    Let’s hug it out.

  • BMcC

    Any excuse for manhugs!

    **goes in for the big one**

  • !CE-9

    time for thumb wars.

  • negative zero

    my god derek, you’ve brought out the big one! could this possibly be the longest commented article ever!?

    i’m up for a thumb war.

  • Some guy

    The thread has been a little over the top and I have nothing to add that nobody has already said. But is it just me or was Squidi’s last post blatantly hypocritical?

    First hes mad cause nobody is getting on the boat with him to assume Nitrome stole it. Then hes mad that we are assuming one way or another? I don’t think a single one of these posts has assumed that the idea wasn’t stolen. Some have assumed it was.

    He wants us to go to bars looking for video game sketches and harass Nitrome about it?! huh?!

  • Monsieur LeBoeuf

    Dude, it’s over.

    We’re hugging now.

  • papamook

    More like, if you shaved Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen’s heads and stripped them naked, would you be able to tell which was which? No, because you’d be throwing up. Zing!

    Nice Zing! :)

  • ManHugger

    The hugs have it!

  • PHeMoX

    *First hes mad cause nobody is getting on the boat with him to assume Nitrome stole it.*

    I think that’s a bit too much reading into his words, besides I don’t think it’s wrong to think it was stolen…

    Anyways I can fully understand Jay’s point of view too and it’s great that he apologized a few posts ago, because yeah threatening a lawsuit would be kinda off.

    I think Squidi has learned a valuable lesson too out of this, don’t make your ideas public like he did, but add some sort of license agreement in case of commercial usage or whatever. :)

  • Tr00jg

    This blog is win! *hugs*!

    Ideas are worth peanuts. Executing those ideas is what is worth much more.

  • ithamore


    Wow, the comments are multiplying at a rate that could put guppies to shame.

    I tried the game. It seemed like it was influenced by Daoism instead of the artistic concept of negative space or Squidi’s application of negative space in a game idea. Besides the fact that it has Taijitus (yin yang symbols) to collect, there are balance bonuses and Yin and Yang function as complementary characters that couldn’t reach their goals on their own.

    With that said, I think it would be easy to create a puzzle-platformer implementing Daoist concepts of yin and yang that might resemble Squidi’s comments on or art work of Negative Space on at least a rudimentary level.

    As for the gameplay and design: the platforming isn’t as smooth, quick, and accurate as it should be, and the crates can cause some wonky glitches.

    I would suggest that for a more Doaist game: killing creatures should increase Yin’s score but decrease Yang’s, Yin and Yang should be helping each other to pursue opposites (start and finish, up and down, in and out, or at least flags of opposite color patterns). If any of these suggestions end up in a new version of the game, I’d be more than happy, because then I could show people this post and brag about how I got something into a game (like a lot of beta testers for and friends and colleagues of game developers do with or without credit).

    I also appreciate Mat Annal’s explanation of how they came up with the concept:

    “The idea isn’t really that hard to fall upon if you’re coding games in a certain way. We have used the bitmapData object most of our games since Sandman and basically what this does is allow you access to the pixel data of a bitmap so you can manipulate it (we used it for the sand in sandman which is why we started using it). If you’re using it to make a platform game then it is logical to use different colours in a collision layer to represent different things you might collide with (red= ground/walls, blue=ice, yellow=keys etc). When you’re coding like this it’s not a giant leap to come up with the idea to have different things to act differently with the colours. I think the only reason nobody has came up with this before is that nobody really uses the bitmap data object for platform type games (they would tend to use tiles or vector line collision instead and then you wouldn’t use colours as a way to interact with things). We could have had more colours involved but it made sense to not overcomplicate it and when you only have two black and white is the obvious choice.”

    Now, I will now step out of the way before un-pausing the man-hugging.


  • makeshifter not about to read all this discussion above. im just going to post MY opinion and then run like hell!!!

    there are three trillion people on this planet. there is bound to be a chance that to people with have the same idea. the fact that two of them are pixel artists is no more than a coincidence, furthermore its a fucking free ware game. who cares where the game idea came from.
    as for jay. dude settle down. its just a comment. get the fuck over it.

    again this is just my opinion. now to run like hell!!!!

  • Derek

    What happened to the hugging? :'(

  • Joseph

    Nitrome is boring who cares.

  • Jad

    Hey, it’s alright, I’m still here. *hugs derek*

  • Bruce Digalow

    Good God, is Squidi STILL wanking about that thing from years and years ago where someone’s Penny Arcade forum avatar was a pixel character with feet that kind of sort of looked like Squidi’s pixel character feet? Or was there some other OMG THEFT of his MS Paint pixels I didn’t hear about?

  • Jim Miles

    I’m sure lots of people have already said this but I knew something like this fiasco would happen as soon as Squidi began the 300 game ideas project or whatever it was called. Innovative game ideas are easy to come up with, especially if they’re confined to a small concept sketch rather than a fleshed out design document, and it always felt to me like Squidi was claiming as his own a metric shit tonne of concepts that, while not implemented yet, would enter the mind of any intelligent person thinking about new game ideas. Predictable/10.

  • duh

    squidi makes me cry.

    i need a hug.

  • Joseph

    Maybe Nitrome will become the new Popcap…

  • Anthony Flack

    Looking at those two screenshots side-by-side, it’s pretty hard to take seriously any suggestion that there wasn’t a direct influence.

    But, they were not obliged to give credit, and they haven’t. Sorting out the exact legal status of the whole situation could have been a deal-breaker for the game. When asked about it, naturally enough they deny, deny, deny. It’s not pretty, and I doubt that they make a very plausible case either, but of course they are going to do that. This is business and they don’t want any legal trouble. They can’t admit to anything. They can’t take Squidi’s word that it’s okay to take these ideas without credit. They don’t want to expose themselves to the risk. So, they deny, deny, deny.

    And that’s it. End of story. If you tell people they are allowed to take things without credit, and they take you up on the offer, then you shouldn’t go on and force them to either give credit or lie about it.

  • Ilia Chentsov

    I’m stuck on level 10. Is there a save function?

  • Ilia Chentsov

    Forget it. Done (but a save would be nice still).