Dong Nguyen谈《Flappy Bird》开发经历
去年4月，Dong Nguyen这名28岁的内向年轻人还同父母一起住在越南河内的家里，做着为计程车定位设备编程的日常工作，节假日和周末则用于制作一款手机游戏。他希望这款手机游戏简单而富有挑战性，具有他从小所玩的任天堂游戏的精髓。游戏目标是让一只暴眼而大嘴的膨胀小鸟在一系列绿色垂直管之间飞行。玩家点触屏幕的速度越快，小鸟飞得就越高。他将其称为《Flappy Bird》。
这款游戏于2013年5月24日在iOS App Store上线了，Nguyen推出的是免费模式，希望通过游戏内置广告获得每月数百美元的收益。
但每个月都有2.5万款新应用上线，《Flappy Bird》很快就像石沉大海一样消声匿迹——直到8个月之后，某些不可思议的奇迹发生了。该游戏迅速火了。在今年2月份，它在100多个国家/地区的榜单一跃登顶，下载量突破5000万次。Nguyen估计该游戏每天收益为5万美元。即便是Mark Zuckerberg这种行业大咖也未能如此神速地致富。
在河内时间2月9日凌晨2：02，Nguyen的Twitter帐号出现了一则消息称“我对‘Flappy Bird’用户深感抱歉，从现在起22小时内，我将撤下‘Flappy Bird’。我实在无力承受了。”这则消息被怀疑者们转发超过14.5万次。一个好不容易中了头奖的人怎么可能突然弃权不领奖了呢？但第二天晚上午夜时，这个故事就真的走向了尾声。Nguyen像自己所承诺的那样，将游戏撤下了应用商店，离开了成百上千万被抛弃的游戏玩家，只留下一个巨大的问号：这个人究竟是谁，他到底在做什么？
在《Flappy Bird》下架的两击后，我一路奔波颠簸到达了河内市郊，在这个拥挤充满出售盗版商品的流动商贩的地方见到了Nguyen。他首次同意与《滚石》杂志分享自己的经历。由于国际媒体和本地狗仔队的搜索，他一直保持“隐身”状态——逃离了父母的依据，住进了朋友的公寓里，一直到现在。虽然互联网富豪在美国是常见现象，但在尚处于雏形的越南科技社区中还没有出现这种人物。这名该国的首位极客名人，穿着牛仔裤和灰色线衣，略为犹豫地走上前自我介绍，就好像在屏幕上布置像素一样谨慎地思考和斟酌自己的语言。他通过翻译表示，“我只是想制作一些与他人分享的好玩内容，我没有料到《Flappy Bird》会如此成功。”
他在河内之外的一个名为Van Phuc的丝绸小村长大，从来没有想过自己会成为世界有名的游戏设计师。虽然他的父亲经营一家硬件商店，母亲则在政府部门上班，但他的家境却不足以购买Game Boy等游戏设备。但最终，他和兄弟还是买得起任天堂游戏设备了，因为它和多数越南电子产品一样，都只有山寨版本。见识到了在屏幕上控制一个角色的魔力后，Nguyen开始沉迷于《超级马里奥》这款游戏。
Nguyen在16岁时掌握了编程技术，并编写了自己的首款电脑象棋游戏。三年后，他在河内的一所大学学习计算机科学，并进入了编程竞赛了前20名，获得了越南当时为数不多的游戏公司的一个实习机会。他在这家名为Punch Entertainment的公司制作手机游戏。他的前雇主Son Bui Truong称这名年轻的程序员编程速度、技能和独立性出类拔萃。Truong称“Dong根本就不需要主管，他不习惯被监督。所以我们准许他不用向任何人汇报工作。”
Nguyen在该月之前已经制作和发布了一款手机游戏《Shuriken Block》。其目标是阻止一队忍者星星刺杀屏幕上的5个小人。这看起来够简单了——唯一的操作就是点触。适时点触下坠的星星，就会让它弹开。但Nguyen知道《Pong》开发及兼雅达利创始人Nolan Bushnell曾说过的游戏设计要旨在于“简单易学，难以精通”。最近的独立游戏开发者将此扩展至另一个极端，衍生出所谓的masocore题材——难度堪比受虐狂的游戏。《Shuriken Block》具有迷惑性的冷酷无情。即使是最敏捷的玩家也可能因为延误了一分钟而导致屏幕上的小人血迹四溅。Nguyen对这个结果很满意，但该游戏在iOS应用商店并不受待见。
在统一日结束之前，Nguyen继续上Twitter并发布了自己“新款简单游戏”的截图。他表示除了发一些Twitter贴之外，他没有为游戏投入任何营销成本。像许多纷涌而至的游戏一样，《Flappy Bird》也很快陷入沉寂。直到5个月后，Twitter上才首次出现提及这款游戏的消息。在12月4日，有人发布了三个字的评论：“Fuck Flappy Bird”。
要分析为何此事能迅速扩散也是个难题。但“Fuck Flappy Bird”就是迅速吸引了人们的围观。这款极具成瘾性的游戏以迅雷不及掩耳之速扩散开来，让人们欲罢不能。
在12月底，玩家涌向社交媒体同情、对抗和抱怨摔坏手机的抓狂。Twitter爆发了Flappy Bird感言，最终生成了超过1600万条消息。有人称之为“最令人讨厌但却难以罢手的游戏”，又有人称它是“逐渐消磨我的生命”。Reddit至YouTube的，操场至办公园区，人人都在讨论这款游戏。《Flappy Bird》在1月初晋升至美国榜单前10名。最终在1月17晶，在无推广、无计划、无逻辑的情况下攀升至榜单之首。两周后，它也在Google Play榜单登顶。
Nguyen回忆称，“看到游戏登顶，我觉得不可思议。”像其他人一样，他也为这款游戏的迅速崛起，以及自己银行帐户的进帐而震惊。即使扣除苹果和谷歌30%的抽成，Nguyen估算自己每日也能净赚5万美元。不久之后，《Shuriken Block》和他提交的新游戏《Super Ball Juggling》也加入《Flappy Bird》的阵营，进入榜单前十名。但除了购买一台新Mac电脑，请朋友出去喝酒和吃鸡肉火锅，Nguyen并没有沉迷于其中。他平静地表示，“我不能太开心，我也不知道为什么。”更值得注意的是，他甚至没有告诉父母这些事。他解释道，“我父母不懂游戏。”
紧随《Flappy Bird》的消失，各路流言蜚语也纷涌而至。有谣言称Nguyen已经自杀；任天堂起诉了Nguyen；他收到了死亡威胁。而他拒绝采访的行为更是令各种猜测愈演愈烈。为了填补《Flappy Bird》撤架后的空缺，模仿者不遗余力地跟进。在我采访的时候，免费iPhone应用热门榜单已经出现了大量Flappy Bird山寨游戏——例如《Flappy Wings》、《Splashy Fish》，甚至还有一款采用了美国女歌手麦莉·赛勒斯的克隆游戏。截止本文撰稿，有款名为《Tiny Flying Drizzy》的游戏在App Store榜单登顶。有调查显示，平均每24分钟就会出现一款Flappy克隆游戏。Nguyen对此表示，“人们可能因为简单而克隆应用，但他们无法创造另一款《Flappy Bird》。”的确如此，对于那些想要体验真货的玩家来说，eBay网上拍卖的已安装《Flappy Bird》的二手手机仍然大有市场。
对于Nguyen来说，下载了《Flappy Bird》的用户仍在为其创造成千上万美元的广告收益。他最终辞掉了自己的工作，并考虑购买一辆迷你库柏（宝马公司的一种车）和一套公寓。他才刚获得自己的首份护照。现在，他正忙于从事自己最热爱的事情：制作游戏。在喝茶期间，他向我展示了自己正同时开发的3款游戏：一款未命名的牛仔主题射击游戏，一款垂直飞行的游戏《Kitty Jetpack》以及一款“动作象棋游戏”《Checkonaut》，其中之一将于本月发布。每款游戏都是他所熟悉的风格：简单玩法，复古图像以及硬核难度。
他称自从撤下《Flappy Bird》之后，他觉得自己“如释重负。我已经无法回到之前的生活，但我现在很好。”针对未来的打算，他还是拒绝他人收购这款游戏的要约。Nguyen拒绝妥协自己的独立性。但《Flappy Bird》还会卷土重来吗？Nguyen对此表示，“我正在考虑这一点”。他还没有开发新版本，但如果重新发布应该会添加一个提醒玩家“注意休息”的“警告”。（本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译，拒绝任何不保留版权的转载，如需转载请联系：游戏邦）
The Flight of the Birdman: Flappy Bird Creator Dong Nguyen Speaks Out
How did a chain-smoking geek from Hanoi design the viral hit Flappy Bird – and why did he walk away?
By DAVID KUSHNER
Last April, Dong Nguyen, a quiet 28-year-old who lived with his parents in Hanoi, Vietnam, and had a day job programming location devices for taxis, spent a holiday weekend making a mobile game. He wanted it to be simple but challenging, in the spirit of the Nintendo games he grew up playing. The object was to fly a bug-eyed, big-lipped, bloated bird between a series of green vertical pipes. The quicker a player tapped the screen, the higher the bird would flap. He called it Flappy Bird.
The game went live on the iOS App Store on May 24th. Instead of charging for Flappy Bird, Nguyen made it available for free, and hoped to get a few hundred dollars a month from in-game ads.
But with about 25,000 new apps going online every month, Flappy Bird was lost in the mix and seemed like a bust – until, eight months later, something crazy happened. The game went viral. By February, it was topping the charts in more than 100 countries and had been downloaded more than 50 million times. Nguyen was earning an estimated $50,000 a day. Not even Mark Zuckerberg became rich so fast.
Yet as Flappymania peaked, Nguyen remained a mystery. Aside from the occasional tweet, he had little to say about his incredible story. He ducked the press and refused to be photographed. He was called a fraud, a con man and a thief. Bloggers accused him of stealing art from Nintendo. The popular gaming site Kotaku wrote in a widely clicked headline, FLAPPY BIRD IS MAKING $50,000 A DAY OFF RIPPED ART.
On February 9th, at 2:02 a.m. Hanoi time, a message appeared on Nguyen’s Twitter account. “I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users,” it read. “22 hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore.” The message was retweeted more than 145,000 times by the disbelieving masses. How could someone who hit the online jackpot suddenly pull the plug? But when the clock struck midnight the next evening, the story came to an end. Nguyen, as promised, took Flappy Bird offline. In his wake, he left millions of jilted gamers, and one big question: Who was this dude, and WTF had he done?
Two weeks after the demise of Flappy, I’m taxiing past pagodas and motorbikes to the outskirts of Hanoi, a crowded, rundown metropolis filled with street vendors selling pirated goods, to meet with Nguyen, who has agreed to share with Rolling Stone his whole story for the first time. With the international press and local paparazzi searching for him, Nguyen has been in hiding – fleeing his parents’ house to stay at a friend’s apartment, where he now remains. Although dot-com millionaires have become familiar in the U.S., in Vietnam’s fledgling tech community they’re all but unheard of. When the country’s first celebrity geek, a boyish, slight guy in jeans and a gray sweater, walks hesitantly up and introduces himself, he measures his words and thoughts carefully, like placing pixels on a screen. “I was just making something fun to share with other people,” he says with the help of a translator. “I couldn’t predict the success of Flappy Bird.”
Growing up in Van Phuc, a village outside Hanoi famous for silk-making, Nguyen (pronounced nwin) never imagined being a world-famous game designer. Though his father owned a hardware store and his mother worked for the government, his family couldn’t afford Game Boys for him or his younger brother. But eventually, they were able to purchase a Nintendo, which, like most electronics in Vietnam, was available only in cloned form. Marveling at the power of controlling a character onscreen, Nguyen spent his free time obsessively playing Super Mario Bros.
By 16, Nguyen had learned to code his own computer chess game. Three years later, while studying computer science at a university in Hanoi, he placed in the top 20 of a programming competition and got an internship with one of Hanoi’s only game companies at the time, Punch Entertainment, which made cellphone games. Son Bui Truong, Nguyen’s former boss, says the young programmer stood out for his speed, skills and fierce independent streak. “Dong didn’t need a supervisor,” Truong says. “He wasn’t comfortable with it. So we said he did not have to report to anyone.”
Nguyen soon tired of churning out the company’s sports games. When he later got his hands on an iPhone, he became fascinated by the possibilities of the touch screen. Few games, however, captured the simple power of the Nintendo games of his youth. Angry Birds was too busy, he thought. “I don’t like the graphics,” he says. “It looked too crowded.” Nguyen wanted to make games for people like himself: busy, harried, always on the move. “I pictured how people play,” he says, as he taps his iPhone and reaches his other hand in the air. “One hand holding the train strap.” He’d make a game for them.
As we talk into the night, hordes of agile pedestrians deftly dodge the Hanoi traffic, screens flickering in their hands like fireflies. It’s no wonder the world’s hottest game came from here. “When you play game on a smartphone,” he says, with an ever-present cigarette dangling from his lip, “the simplest way is just tapping.”
Last April, Nguyen was tapping his iPhone at home while the rest of Hanoi was celebrating Reunification Day, the annual holiday marking the end of the Vietnam War. Instead of joining the throngs outside, he spent the weekend in his bedroom at his parents’ house creating a little game for fun, as a poster he’d drawn of Mario gazed down on him.
Fall Out Boy Pay Homage to ‘Flappy Bird’ With ‘Fall Out Bird’
Nguyen had already made and released a mobile game, Shuriken Block, earlier that month. The object was to stop a cascade of ninja stars from impaling five little men on the screen. This seemed simple enough – the one-word instruction read TAP. Tap the falling star at the right moment, and it would bounce away. But Nguyen understood the mantra of game design that Nolan Bushnell, creator of Pong and founder of Atari, described as “easy to learn and difficult to master.” More recently, indie game makers had taken this to speed-metal extremes with the so-called masocore genre – games that are masochistically hard. Shuriken Block was deceptively ruthless. Even the nimblest player would have trouble lasting a minute before the men were spurting pixelated blood. Nguyen was pleased with the results, but the game languished in the iOS store.
For his new game, Nguyen realized a way to go even simpler: Let the player tap anywhere. All he needed was an idea to build it around. The year before, he’d drawn a pixelated bird on his computer that riffed on Nintendo fish, called Cheep Cheeps. He drew green pipes – a homage to Super Mario Bros. – that the bird would have to navigate. He modeled the game on one of the most masocore analog creations ever: paddleball. The toy was a simple design – just a wooden paddle with a string attached to a rubber ball. But players would be lucky to bounce the ball more than a few times in a row.
Like paddleball, he limited his game to just a couple of elements – the bird and the pipes – and resisted the usual urge to lard the action with new elements as the player progressed. He tuned the physics so that the bird was fighting gravity so strong, even the slightest wrong tap would kill it. Since the deaths would be so frequent, Nguyen wanted to make them entertaining. He tried having the bird explode in a bloody pulp, or bounce back across the ground, before settling on a faceplant. He then sifted through hundreds of sounds before settling on a kung-fu-style thwack to make the bird’s demise even funnier. (The first question he asks me about the game is if it made me laugh.) “The bird is flying along peacefully,” he says with a chuckle, “and all of a sudden you die!”
Before the last flag waved on Reunification Day, Nguyen had gone on Twitter and posted a screen shot of his “new simple game.” Other than a couple of tweets, Nguyen says he put no marketing behind the launch. And, like so many games released into the flood, Flappy Bird flopped. The first mention of the game on Twitter didn’t come until five months later, on November 4th, when someone posted a three-word review. “Fuck Flappy Bird,” it read.
Trying to divine why stuff goes viral is like trying to fly the bird: You end up ass-up on the ground. But “Fuck Flappy Bird” captured the essence of the appeal. The highly addictive Flappy Bird was like a snot-nosed kid paddleballing you in the face. It was begging to be spanked. And you couldn’t resist or stop playing.
By the end of December, players swarmed social media to commiserate, compete and bitch about breaking their phones in frustration. Twitter erupted with Flappy Bird testimonials, eventually hitting more than 16 million messages. One called it “the most annoying game yet I can’t stop,” and another said it was “slowly consuming my life.” As word spread from Reddit to YouTube, playgrounds to office parks, Flappy Bird rose to the Top 10 of the U.S. charts by early January. Finally, with no promotion, no plan, no logic, on January 17th, Flappy Bird hit Number One. A week or two later, it topped the Google Play store, too.
“Seeing the game on top, I felt amazing,” Nguyen recalls. Like everyone else, he was shocked by its meteoric rise – and the avalanche of money that would be wired into his bank account. Even with Apple and Google’s 30 percent take, Nguyen estimated he was clearing $50,000 a day. Before long, Shuriken Block and a new game he had submitted called Super Ball Juggling joined Flappy Bird in the Top 10. But other than buying a new Mac, and taking his buddies out for rice wine and chicken hot pot, Nguyen wasn’t much for indulging. “I couldn’t be too happy,” he says quietly. “I don’t know why.” Remarkably, he hadn’t yet even bothered to tell his parents, with whom he lived. “My parents don’t understand games,” he explains.
As news hit of how much money Nguyen was making, his face appeared in the Vietnamese papers and on TV, which was how his mom and dad first learned their son had made the game. The local paparazzi soon besieged his parents’ house, and he couldn’t go out unnoticed. While this might seem a small price to pay for such fame and fortune, for Nguyen the attention felt suffocating. “It is something I never want,” he tweeted. “Please give me peace.”
But the hardest thing of all, he says, was something else entirely. He hands me his iPhone so that I can scroll through some messages he’s saved. One is from a woman chastising him for “distracting the children of the world.” Another laments that “13 kids at my school broke their phones because of your game, and they still play it cause it’s addicting like crack.” Nguyen tells me of e-mails from workers who had lost their jobs, a mother who had stopped talking to her kids. “At first I thought they were just joking,” he says, “but I realize they really hurt themselves.” Nguyen – who says he botched tests in high school because he was playing too much Counter-Strike – genuinely took them to heart.
By early February, the weight of everything – the scrutiny, the relentless criticism and accusations – felt crushing. He couldn’t sleep, couldn’t focus, didn’t want to go outdoors. His parents, he says, “worried about my well-being.” His tweets became darker and more cryptic. “I can call ‘Flappy Bird’ is a success of mine,” read one. “But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.” He realized there was one thing to do: Pull the game. After tweeting that he was taking it down, 10 million people downloaded it in 22 hours. Then he hit a button, and Flappy Bird disappeared. When I ask him why he did it, he answers with the same conviction that led him to create the game. “I’m master of my own fate,” he says. “Independent thinker.”
In the wake of Flappy Bird’s demise, rumors spread. Nguyen had committed suicide. Nintendo was suing him. He’d received death threats. His refusal to speak fueled the speculation even more. To fill the massive hole left by Flappy Bird, imitators rushed to cash in. By the time I visit, the top three free iPhone apps are Flappy rip-offs – Flappy Wings, Splashy Fish, even a game based on Miley Cyrus. As of this writing, a Drake game called Tiny Flying Drizzy is Number One at the App Store, and, according to a study, a new Flappy clone pops up every 24 minutes. “People can clone the app because of its simplicity,” Nguyen says, “but they will never make another Flappy Bird.” Indeed, for those who crave the real thing, phones with Flappy Bird installed have been listed for thousands on eBay.
But the absence has also spawned a reappraisal. Kotaku apologized for its allegations of plagiarism. John Romero, co-creator of the game Doom, says Flappy Bird is “a reaction against prevailing design the way grunge was a reaction to metal.” The godfather of gaming, Bushnell, compares it to his own hit, Pong. “Simple games are more satisfying,” he says.
As for Nguyen, the millions of people who downloaded Flappy Bird are still generating tens of thousands of dollars for him. He’s finally quit his job and says he’s thinking of buying a Mini Cooper and an apartment. He just got his first passport. For now, though, he’s busy doing what he loves most: making games. Over tea, he shows me the three he’s working on simultaneously: an untitled cowboy-themed shooter, a vertical flying game called Kitty Jetpack and an “action chess game,” as he puts it, called Checkonaut, one of which he’ll release this month. Each sports his now-familiar style: simple play, retro graphics and hardcore difficulty.
Since taking Flappy Bird down, he says he’s felt “relief. I can’t go back to my life before, but I’m good now.” As for the future of his flapper, he’s still turning down offers to purchase the game. Nguyen refuses to compromise his independence. But will Flappy Bird ever fly again? “I’m considering it,” Nguyen says. He’s not working on a new version, but if he ever releases one it will come with a “warning,” he says: “Please take a break.”（source：rollingstone）