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!)

  • Squidi

    @Joe: “Regardless of whether or not he wants credit for a game that uses his idea, he’s going to let everyone know where the idea came from, just as he’s doing now.”

    Here is what it said on my website concerning credit:

    “Yes. There is no way I can patent, copyright, trademark, or otherwise protect these ideas. I don’t even want to. I realize that the potential for exploitation is there, but I want to put these ideas out there to inspire others. If one of these ideas inspires you, go for it. Make it awesome. Just give me whatever credit you feel appropriate – if any. I’ll know where the idea came from. That’s enough for me.”

    In no way did I describe these ideas as public domain. I said give as much credit as you think I deserve. I also said that I’LL know where the idea came from, implying that no credit will not result in it being YOUR credit.

  • BMcC

    This whole thing is so ridiculous.

    My two cents: It’s clearly Squidi’s concept. I don’t have the patience to wade through the rest of the BS.

  • Butzo

    @Squidi: Regardless of Yin Yang (your claimed stance towards this), you are getting way too worked on these fanbases. Sheep are going to play sheep.

    You are saying people as a whole don’t appreciate ideas (when you really mean your ideas), when it’s simply just these few JIG people. I mean, for how many people DID appreciate what you were doing with the 300 ideas (and were sad when you quit), what are these few people who don’t?

  • Joe Joe

    You also implied that they didn’t need to give credit if they didn’t want to.

    They didn’t give credit, and you wrote about them taking your idea without giving credit on you blog. People took this and ran saying that you were contradicting yourself because you now wanted credit. Then Nitrome was contacted concerning this, they said they didn’t take your idea, and that’s how everything blew up into what it is now. You say you don’t care if credit is given or not, but then you make a stink about them not crediting you.

    Had you stayed true to your original word of, “Just give me whatever credit you feel appropriate – if any.”, then things wouldn’t of blown up as it has now.

    Next time either stay true to your message, or write how you really feel.

  • Oddball

    So who did create Spiderman? Stan Lee or Steve Ditko? The person who had the initial idea, or the person who made it come alive? One scribbles a two minute description on the back of a napkin, the other spends countless hours fleshing it out and making it a work of genius loved by all.

    Invention is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.

    My own opinion? They’re both wrong and they’re both right.

  • Squidi

    There’s a difference between not giving any credit by omission, but when asked and they flat out deny it. But even that doesn’t bother me much.

    I didn’t require credit for one reason:

    The ideas posted are largely half ideas. There is no way to implement them without adding to them in some way. The ideas were intended to be inspiration. My hope is that someone would take the idea, and through necessity, innovate further to finish it. I don’t need credit for inspiration.

    That’s not what Nitrome did. They copied in full with very little further contribution to the idea. It is IDENTICAL to what I posted. The irony is that I thought it was an unfinished idea, but as it turns out, it’s only unfinished because I saw more potential there than what I posted.

    So, hell yes, I’m going to claim credit. to what I wrote. I didn’t inspire them. They didn’t follow my instructions. They didn’t contribute to the idea. They didn’t take it to the next level. If they were inspired, it was only to make money off my idea.

    Like I said, I realize the potential for exploitation is there – that doesn’t me I approve of it.

  • Oddball

    But mainly they’re both wrong.

  • Squidi

    “Invention is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.”

    Of course, Edison WOULD say that. He stole many of “his” inventions from others.

  • Matt

    Congrats to Nitrome for making this innovative game. It’s a heck of a difficult concept, and something most people would give up on instead of seeing it completion. Thanks for putting this experimental gameplay out for everyone else to see and experience!

  • Thomas Edison

    Oh my heavens, how did _I_ get mixed up in all this?

  • Nikola Tesla

    Edison: I think you know!

  • BeamSplashX

    Fuck this, I’m going to play Mega Man!

  • Thomas Edison


    I know…

    *slinks off*

  • -B-

    What Squidi say is that we all should be on his side – because that looks so obvious copy from his idea.

    Well – there is no way that we can be sure – so I (and I hope no-one else) won’t doom anyone. All we can do is speculate and tell our opinions.

    And it is childish and egocentric to expect people to doom only because you feel so.

    “*I feel like my idea is being used – everyone who says something else is a lier*”

    No-one of us is god and neither is Squidi. Chill and relax.

    PS: That idea is not something so brilliant that you can say things like (from Squidis blog):

    *And then this other guy comes out and says, oh yeah, I had that idea too last weekend. No, you fucking didn’t. There is nothing in Nitrome’s catalog that even remotely hints at the kind of unique mentality needed to form an idea like that. You didn’t suddenly see game design from a different perspective over the weekend.*

    All I can say – well – maybe he had a idea like that. How can you know?

  • Stwelin

    Welcome to the world. People post things on the internet, other people make money off of it. You guys of all people should be used to it already!

    Squidi, your ideas could be used, as you claimed, without credit. If you’re making a fuss just because they’re claiming the idea was theirs originally, then you should just shrug it off. You’re better than them, in the end, so hats off to you! It was a pretty basic premise for a game to begin with.

    In any case, life isn’t fair, all that jazz. Suck it up and make your own game, you’re obviously not lacking in creativity.

  • Stwelin

    Also, i want to second what was said above:
    You said you didn’t care about being credited, but then go asking for it when your idea is used?

  • guest

    > the kind of unique mentality needed to form an idea like that

    There is nothing unique in this idea, you can see it quite often in art.

    So creating game using this concept is nothing special.

    But Squidi thinks he has original ideas, that no one else could came up with. He’s just plain wrong …

  • Stwelin

    P.P.S –

    Does anyone even care if the game is FUN? Is it FUN TO PLAY?

    WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU GUYS!? You’re indie gamers. You should not care about copyrights, credit placement, et cetera. You’ve become what you claim not to be. The development of good games dies when you make a fuss about who’s right and who’s wrong and the whole idea of making fun, inventive games goes out the fucking window.

  • moi

    I didn’t care to read all the comments above but did somebody happen to suggest that Jay from jay is game has been abducting small schoolchildren and eating their feces?
    Because if someone did, it would be very brazen!

  • Chris L

    Reading this article, its links, and this comment page has to be one of the greatest wastes of time I’ve ever engaged in. This kind of in-battling is counterproductive, inelegant, and poisonous for future work in creative game development. It is an extension of the same kind of corporate “intellectual property” horse crap that drove game development into the creative dumps a decade ago.

    And for the love of god, *do not complain* about your feelings of betrayal if your *publicly posted* game design ideas are brought to fruition by a developer who took the necessary risks in producing it. If you’re so worried about someone poaching your design ideas:

    a) Do not post them publicly.

    b) Get a Creative Commons license, GNU licensing page – whatever it takes – and CLEARLY state on your page the relevant licensing terms for your idea.

    c) If still unsatisfied, see (a).

    In the mean time, please cease the tiring, worthless, and adolescent chatter – my eyes are getting tired seeing this thread pop up on every indie gaming site when there is far more deserving news out there. This has been the intellectual equivalent of the time someone stole an eraser from my desk in the 3rd grade.

    If someone is *really* interested in talking about intellectual property rights in indie gaming, I suggest spending the time writing a cogent, thoughtful, and well-RESEARCHED article on it instead of posting opinions. In fact, if you write it – I’ll be happy to host the article.

    – Chris

  • pachinkoman

    who the hell is this squidi guy? nitrome made a sweet game, and squidi is trying to get credit for it?

    isnt that wrong or something? =/

  • Zetetic Elench

    Stwelin… Indie gamers aren’t a homogenous group. I have no idea why you would think that we wouldn’t care about copyrights and credit placement. That’s one of the few things keeping independent developers alive.

  • moi

    Squidy is a huge idiot for working hard and spreading ideas for free. I mean giving away 300 perfectly good games ideas for free is dumb, especially when some people manage to earn serious money with such cheap flash games.
    Instead he could be setting up a cheap website and aggregating other peoples ideas and make a lot of money out of it like JIG.

    As someone else said, this is the internet, people post free things and other people make money out of it.
    Jay is immoral and greedy but at least he’s not a loser. And you can’t accuse him for nothing. This is capitalism.

  • Stwelin

    Zetetic: Sorry, i should have been more specific. I am not talking about copyright, or credit in the case of someone blatantly stealing artwork, code, or anything with a substantial amount of effort put into it.

    I am talking about making a big deal over who had an original idea for a game. For all Squidi, or even the rest of us know, some 40-something out there had this same exact idea. Wasting time debating who here ‘owns’ the idea, well, it’s pretty silly. I myself have had ideas for games that i thought were totally (or at least somewhat) original, only to find some reletively old, small-industry game with the same exact premise.

    In any case, the game on Nitrome won’t run for me, so i can’t even tell if they executed the idea well or not! it’s a pity, really.

  • Xander

    72 comments in 10 hours must be some kind of record for us right? Holy hell..

    In regards to this, I think if you tell people you are allowed to use whatever you say to make a game without your consent… then that’s pretty much it. That said it’s just courteous to credit the creator of the original idea. Both of them have made a mistake or two in this entire situation, and hopefully they’ll come to some quiet resolution.

    The heck Jay is getting involved in this for I have no idea. Strange Man..

  • Squidi

    Besides not being able to spell “Squidi” properly, you guys have proven one thing to me. That as long as something is worthless to you, it should be worthless to everybody. What can I say to that?

  • pkt-zer0

    This incident seems to be blown _way_ out of proportion.

  • Um

    Stwelin and Jay are scary as hell.

  • motus

    anyway, “sqidui’s” 300 project was doomed from the start… I applaud his effort, but I can come up with 10 game ideas and hundreds of variations of said games. my understanding of Squidi’s tactic is just that by crapping out so many game ideas one person was bound to use one or come up with something similar on their own.

    this quote might explain why he is so pissed

    “This is not one of my oldest ideas (it is only about six years old), but it does remain my most cherished – for several reasons actually”

    and this one

    “And finally, and perhaps most importantly, I’ve never really figured out how to make it work. What exists here is not a game idea. It is a gameplay mechanic for a physical world, and within this world can exist a dozen different types of games and ideas”

    GAMEPLAY MECHANIC , can we actually use the this term now? if nitrome stole anything it’s gameplay mechanics…

    now on to nitrome’s actual game.. it’s cute.. the music is cute although it loops ‘like ass’, it’s also buggy but it can be enjoyable.. much more than staring at pixel art.

  • ABlowHard

    Why the hell are you guys talking about games? I thought you liked playing them!!1 Geez, I thought you guys were against mainstream games. You know how mainstream games rip off other games? I thought you guys were against that. Yeah.

    What? That’s what happened here? I don’t care. I’m going TYPE IN CAPS AND THEN YOU’LL HAVE TO AGREE WITH ME.



    Anyways, if your ego is as massive as mine, and you agree with my point of view, I’ll be happy to host the article on my pretentious website.

    If not, STOP POSTING WHAT YOU THINK. I’ll tell you what to think from now on, got it?

  • ZombiePixel

    Squidi gave away his rights by publicly declaring “okay, steal from me” and in all likelihood Nitrome / MTV did “steal” it. There are no coincidences here.

    The key lessons are..

    1)Keep your mouth shut when it comes to “ideas”. That’s for all of you indie developers who keep posting your game ideas on bulletin boards. Or at the very least learn to use the Creative Commons.

    2)Nitrome is perfectly in the right not to credit Squidi but also it shows lack of character that they didn’t. Ask yourself, if you took one of Squidi’s ideas wouldn’t you give at least a “thanks to” credit?

    To not credit the source and rather concoct your own backstory of how you innovated the idea is pure douchebaggery. Worth noting if you ever cross paths with them in business.

    What Squidi should have done is taken his lumps and posted “Hey, look what I inspired!” Be happy your idea actually worked as a game and you aren’t completely nuts.

    And Nitrome’s not a “him” it’s a “they”.

  • Stij

    Quoth the Moi,
    “Squidy is a huge idiot for working hard and spreading ideas for free. I mean giving away 300 perfectly good games ideas for free is dumb, especially when some people manage to earn serious money with such cheap flash games. Instead he could be setting up a cheap website and aggregating other peoples ideas and make a lot of money out of it like JIG.”

    I thought indy gaming was all about the free sharing of ideas…shows what I know.

  • http://downatthemoment limousinedriver

    Look, I think most of us can agree to the following after everything that’s happened at this point.

    Squidi likes to bitch.
    Jay likes to bitch.

    This whole situation might be dramatic for them because they don’t know how to handle it maturely, but for us I think it’s starting to become *really* funny.

  • ABlowHard

    Agreed! :)

  • Stij

    Also, if Nitrome would just admit they stole his idea, I would be okay with it. But all this doublespeak and denying is just making things worse.

    Okay, I’m done for today.

  • Bob Saget

    In my opinion it boils down to two things:

    1) Jay & Nitrome are being douchebags:
    Obviously the game looks pretty damn close to Squidi’s idea, no credit or acknowledgment, threatening Squidi with libel, etc.
    2) Squidi is being a drama queen:
    He openly said they could use his ideas without credit. Don’t say people can take your ideas without credit if you want to be credited! It’s not quadruple bypass surgery.

    Jesus Christ. T3h dr4ma on the intarnetz br1ngs teh epic lulz.

  • Oddball

    Well, I’ve just looked through all of Squidi’s 300 Game Machincs. It was made easier by there not actually being anywhere near 300. And I’ve come to the conclusion that barely any of them are in the least bit original. I mean, a computer game based on the rpg Paranoia. Please, like you’re the first person to play paranoia and think it would make a great computer game. In fact I almost made one myself several years ago, so I’d appreciate you not stealing my ideas. And worms, but with gravity in different directions. That’s the first idea I had when I played Warheads SE for the first time. How about Tiny Crawl, did the makers of ittybittyRPG steal that idea from you, or was it the other way round. Man I could go on. Negative Space does actually seem like the only original one of the bunch.

    I’ve changed my mind I think Nitrome are spot on. Payback for all the other ideas that you are claiming are yours when quite clearly they’re not.

  • BenH

    I made a black and white game once

  • Vinnybushes

    Squidi- “you guys have proven one thing to me. That as long as something is worthless to you, it should be worthless to everybody. What can I say to that?”

    I’m torn because there is no right side to this. Everyone is being a primadonna. This last comment really irked me though.

    There is a difference between something being “free” and something being “worthless”

    For good or for bad you made this free. Free as in anyone is allowed to use this, if you wanted to make this your sole intellectual property you should have copyrighted it instead. (which would have been an uphill battle anyway. Just look at what happened when d.c comics tried to make a case that every comic book character was rip off of superman.) but instead of that you did the better more reasonable thing and decided to make it free. you can always point to the idea and say you think it was worth something. worth is up to the individual.
    Obviously if someone uses an idea you thought up they think its worth something but they don’t have to pay you money. If money or even a “shout out” is what makes something have worth then you’re very shallow, and missing the point of your original project.

    As for who did what first and why I could give a *&^%.
    Plenty of people have the same idea and plenty of people steal ideas, but if all that is at stake is your reputation, then quit while you’re ahead.

  • haowan

    awesome thread

  • BMcC

    Hahaha, I love you, Haowan.

  • FireSword

    As far as i know yu can’t copyright ideas.. u can copyright brands, art, code music but not idea!!

    The Jay screenshot is pure crazy, he is jealous about a screenshot? well man shut down your site this is the internet!

    And yes u can clone a tetris and sell it granted that u don ‘t call it tetris but Burundi-frenzy.. lol

  • contra

    Jesus christ! It’s so obvious that Nitrome stole the idea (wich would have been totally fine I guess) but wth is this Jay guy’s problem? I feel really bad for Squidi but he should just drop it since there’s no point in reasoning with a dickhead like that.

  • FireSword

    Btw if i had used squid idea i had given credits.. but that is just personal decision.. Cya.

  • Squidi

    Do you guys actually read what I say, or does that get in the way of your soapbox?

    This isn’t about whether Nitrome did or didn’t. This is about the fact that people are assuming one way or another. There is more than enough evidence to draw suspicion on their originality – so why doesn’t anybody actually bother to find out? Get a picture of the napkin that they drew the idea on in the middle of the night when inspiration hit or something. Look at a previous version of the game idea in rough form.

    Do SOMETHING. Don’t just ASSUME. There is plenty of reasonable doubt that says trust and theories aren’t enough without further research. So why, in 90 comments here and just as many on Jay Is Games, nobody has contacted Nitrome about it directly?

    I don’t need the credit. I need people to stop making such dumb assumptions without any proof.

  • Stwelin

    ABlowJob, i have a huge boner now, but your ego is still nowhere as big as my own.

    Can this all blow over now? I want to hear about some games..

  • Vinnybushes

    Because why bother looking for the napkin if there’s nothing at stake? If said napkin exists would you really change your mind? Anyway you’re to busy flaming people here and on JIG to find out. Why should we spend our time investigating an undeveloped game concept and a mediocre flash game. Why get off YOUR soapbox and find out if it means that much to you? (yes, I can use capital letters as well.)

  • jivemasta

    Who really cares?

    I think they should have given Squidi credit for the idea, but they didn’t. That is one of the pitfalls of putting ideas on the internet for people to read. To be honest, the game wasn’t even that good. Neither was the idea. It was a novelty at best.

  • Jay

    It is unfortunate that such a scene has to be made over this. And though I really have no business in this matter, my mistake was to send Squidi that email about libel.

    I sent Squidi an apology the next day saying that I was not threatening a lawsuit, laughable as it was.

    My only consolation was that he did, in fact, clear up the error in paraphrasing what I had written in a previous email by publishing that one.

    Sorry Squidi. I was wrong to send you that email. I was upset with you for insisting that I was doing something wrong by taking Mat for his word, when I have had nothing but honest and fair dealings with him previous to this.

    And if that is something worthy to be dragged through the mud for, then I am guilty as charged.

  • ManHugger

    I’m so ready to hug all you guys right now!