“After playing the role of Travis Redfish in the movie Roadie (which had cameos by Debbie Harry, Roy Orbison and Hank Williams, Jr., but was still a box office flop), Meat Loaf got his voice back, got off drugs, played softball, and started to work on his new album in 1980.”—It’s sentence-zillas like this that make Wikipedia one of my favorite places.
Before May 6th, 1953, there was a word for a person whose heart was not beating, and whose lungs contained little to no air.
"Dead" is what they called it.
That was just a bit more than a decade before I was born.
By that definition, July 9th, 2013 was quite literally the first day of the rest of my life.
That morning, at my request, my heart was stopped, my lungs collapsed, that same heart was cut open, my mitral valve was modified, and then the heart was stitched back together, with an additional teflon ring and metal clip contained therein.1
It still dumbfounds me that I am able to sit here and type this.
This morning, my wife greeted me with “Happy Heart Start Day!”.
I’m a pretty lucky one-year-old.
Having my breastbone sawn in half, then wired and clamped back together, was one of the less traumatic things to happen to me that day. ↩
After all of that work, it took some other developers all of an afternoon, give or take a few afternoons, to rip Threes off. One of those derivative games, 2048, all but eclipsed Threes, even though it borrowed only the superficial joys of the original while ignoring much of what makes it truly great.
Threes transformed dramatically over the year that followed, in a collaboration that transpired mostly in emails between Vollmer and Wohlwend. The saga is available for anyone to follow. Last month, as the duo were figuring out what to do about the 2048 problem, they decided to “show their work,” giving the world an intimate look into the making of their game. It takes the form of The Threes Letters, a compendium of correspondence comprising some 40,000 words in hundreds of emails. It’s like the WikiLeaks of game design–a document dump that offers a fascinating peek behind the curtain.
Great read (and great game) all-around.
It angers me a little every time a friend of mine mentions their love for 2048. Threes was first, Threes is better, and Threes is super cheap. But a shitty knockoff got everyone’s mindshare because it’s free, and because it takes a little less brainpower to get better scores. From the article:
It’s hard to overstate just how good Threes really is. Touch Arcade’s review deemed it a “perfect mobile game.” Ken Wong, the lead designer of the Escherian insta-classic Monument Valley said Threes, ostensibly a rival for mobile mindshare, was “one of the most elegantly designed games since Tetris.”
If Tetris had been invented today, it would flop in favor of a shitty knockoff called Bloxx. We suck.
We may suck, but no more or less than the species ever has.
Imitation is, by definition, easier than innovation—and always has been.
What we’re seeing in this case is an unfortunate consequence of living during a period of tetrational change.
I just hope the upsides continue to outpace the downsides (or start to, if they aren’t already).
Hydrox is the brand name for a creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookie that debuted in 1908 and was manufactured by Sunshine (later Sunshine Biscuits). The similar Oreo cookie—introduced later, in 1912—was inspired by the Hydrox, yet Hydrox suffered from the impression of being the knockoff.