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The Dude Who Wrote Snood

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the rude-but-profitable dept.

Puzzle Games (Games) 68

usacoder writes "The Raleigh News and Observer Lifestyle section has a story on the guy who wrote Snood, Dave Dobson. It's nice to see that shareware can still make money for some developers." From the article: "He describes the evolution of Snood into a cult attraction as a series of random events, and refers to his fame as the game's creator as third-rate celebrity. 'But,' he adds, 'I milk it for all it's worth.'"

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Thanks asshole. (5, Funny)

Momoru (837801) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530765)

You are personally responsible for me skipping half of my classes in college. Hope you enjoy your stinkin' shareware fees.

Re:Thanks asshole. (1)

FullMetalAlchemist (811118) | more than 9 years ago | (#11532526)

Sorry, I fucked up, so I reply to remove the modding. This definity deserv a +5.

Re:Thanks asshole. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11537157)

You get no porridge!

Really cool. (2, Interesting)

xerxesVII (707232) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530791)

I don't remember where I first learned about Snood, but I can attest to the cult mentality that surrounds it. It's the first shareware game where I grew up and paid the paltry sum instead of just finding a hack for it. And when I saw it was available on the gba I didn't hesitate to pick up a copy, glad to know that some guy just wrote a simple, fun little game and that it ended up on a cart.

Uhhh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11530793)

Why should I care about some proprietary shareware bullshit? Software wants to be free! Fuck shareware and fuck Micro$oft.

The name? (1)

christopherfinke (608750) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530794)

Why did he give his game the same name as a hairnet? []

article mirror (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11530836)

I dunno how well this small town newspaper site can withsthand a /.ing... so here's the article (just in case)

The dude behind Snood
Wacky computer game's success amazes creator

Nearly a decade after Dave Dobson designed it, Snood -- rhymes with "rude" -- is keeping millions of people from what they really ought to be doing.


Like the object of any addiction, Snood seems harmless at first. Try it, an office worker suggests to a colleague when the boss is away. Nothing to it. Take a few shots.

Next thing, the hapless devotee is dry-eyed, hours past bedtime, alone with his obsession.

Lucky it's just a computer game.

Nearly a decade after Dave Dobson designed it, Snood -- rhymes with "rude" -- is keeping millions of people from what they really ought to be doing.

Dobson designed the game with the goofy little monster faces for his wife in 1996, when he was in grad school at the University of Michigan and she was teaching high school. On a lark, he offered it on the Internet as shareware, and figured if a few people bought it for $10 apiece, he and Christina could go out for a nice dinner.

Today, Dobson is an assistant professor in geology and computer science at Guilford College in Greensboro, but only because he loves teaching. Snood, once estimated to be the most-played computer game behind the games installed in new computers when they come out of the box, has made him a wealthy man.

"It's nuts," says Dobson, on sabbatical from Guilford this academic year. Stopping by his office on campus for an interview, in jeans, tennis shoes and a "Snood University" sweat shirt, he props his feet up on an extra chair, looking more like a student than a 35-year-old faculty member. His office decor also is more relaxed than rarefied; students who stop by for consultation often linger for a game of foosball on the table Dobson installed outside his door.

He describes the evolution of Snood into a cult attraction as a series of "random events," and refers to his fame as the game's creator as "third-rate celebrity."

"But," he adds, "I milk it for all it's worth."

Dobson grew up in Ames, Iowa, a faculty brat, he says. His father now teaches history at Oklahoma State University, where his mother teaches sociology and has worked in the library. As a kid, Dobson loved to hang out in the video arcade at the mall. He would stand in Sears for hours and play the Atari demo. When his school got its first computer, he signed up for after-school time slots to practice on it.

When Dobson was 12, his father saw the potential computers had for writing books and bought an early IBM. Dobson read the manual, learned the programming language and played around to see what he could do. Soon, he was imitating games that used to devour his quarters at the arcade. But he was limited by text-only capabilities. He needed images. Color.

"A total geek," he says, shaking his head at the memory. "I spent a whole summer de-tasseling corn to buy a graphics card."

He went to Harvard to study geological sciences, and then to Michigan State, where he got a master's and a Ph.D. He studied oceanography, geochemistry and marine geology.

First player: His wife

While he was in graduate school -- in the hours that should have been spent grading papers and completing his own assignments -- Dobson designed several computer games and offered them through Internet newsgroups frequented by game fanatics. The first, called Bombs Away!, was based on another popular game called Minesweeper. His second was Centaurian, an arcade-style game that did well for about three years and is still available on the Web for people who like to shoot at enemy spacecraft.

Then came Snood.

Dobson wanted to design a game in a new computer language he was trying to learn and decided to create one that would appeal to his wife, who liked another puzzle game called Tetris but none of the quick-draw fare that so hypnotizes Dobson even now. To make it low stress, it would be like pool or darts, in that it wouldn't have a time element, and nothing would come flying at the player that required quick defensive reflexes. Like solitaire, a single game wouldn't last too long, so it could be played in brief increments -- between chores, say -- and the player would get a definitive score at the end.

What he came up with is a screen full of randomly arranged little creature heads, or Snoods, in offset rows. At the bottom of the screen is a cannon that fires additional heads, knocking down the ones above when three or more are joined. "Loose" Snoods that fall down when other Snoods are dislodged earn points and help prevent the "danger" bar from creeping up. When the danger level tops out, all the Snoods descend one row.

The goal is to free all the Snoods before they get to the bottom of the screen and convert to white skulls.

Seven just seemed about the right number of characters, Dobson says, and he thought they should all be different colors to make it easier to distinguish one from one another. When the cannon fires, it sounds like a tennis ball being shot from a serving machine. Something that sounds like an organ blares a celebratory note when a bunch of loose snoods are knocked down.

"And I thought it would be funny if they made faces at you while you played," Dobson says. Some grimace, then grin. One keeps poking out its tongue.

Compared to some of the high-tech interactive video and computer games played in the dark halls of modern gaming rooms, Snood is embarrassingly simple to play and, for many people, astonishingly difficult not to play.

Dobson borrowed the name for the game from a friends' fantasy football team, the Snood Trunions. He learned later that a snood also is a Victorian crocheted hair accessory, as well as a male turkey appendage.

Christina loved the game. She has played it many thousands of times and says she most enjoyed it when she was teaching, "when I needed to be grading papers. I'm afraid I'm one of the addicted."

To the couple's surprise, it's a large club. People started sending Dobson money for the game soon after he put it on the Internet. Sometimes, at the end of the day, the Dobsons would find one or two envelopes in the mailbox, each containing a check or a $10 bill, or even foreign currency. Often payment was accompanied by a note, some personal tale of habituation. Some days, there were as many as 30.

"It's amazing how nice most people have been," Dobson says. "We'd get these letters from people about how much they enjoyed playing the game. But some of them were kind of funny. At least, you hope they were supposed to be funny. People would tell you they were flunking school because they were playing so much Snood. One lady wrote and said she was really upset because she had let her dog die because of the game. He got out and fell in the swimming pool and drowned while she was busy playing Snood."

Author Michael Crichton is a registered Snood user. He sent Dobson a note saying the game had kept him from finishing a novel. Writer Nora Ephron also has played, though Dobson says she didn't buy the program, at least under her own name. A character on "The Sopranos" played Snood.

Dobson used a survey to identify types of people who buy the game, and found that it has disparate consumer groups, most of whom presumably have more important things to do. Members of the military are distracted by the game in droves. Office workers. Emergency-room staff.

"And nuns," says Dobson with a perplexed laugh. "For a while we were getting lots of nuns."

Grandparents like to play the game with their grandchildren. Smokers have said they used the game as an alternative to lighting up, and some have claimed they lost weight by playing Snood instead of snacking. Special-education teachers have told Dobson the game is helpful in teaching students to recognize pattern and color. One woman said the game helped her through the emotional pain of a divorce.

College kids love it

Snood also is a perennial hit among college students.

"My brother actually played it in his freshman year, when I was a freshman in high school, and he came home and put it on our computer," says Elaine Erteschik, a 19-year-old UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore and Snood enthusiast. She played the game so much during high school, she says, she had to delete it from the computer because it was taking so much time. It often kept her up after midnight.

When she came to Carolina as a freshman, she downloaded it again to show to her roommate, who then became addicted.

Erteschik says she doesn't play as much as she used to because she's carrying a heavier course load and sings in an a cappella group on campus. But she still has it on her computer and plays occasionally. She is at a loss to explain Snood's lasting attraction.

"Some of my friends used to ask me, 'Why do you play that?' and I was, like, 'I have no idea.'"

Michael Young has some idea.

"Game designers say that one good quality in a game is that it's easy to learn ... but difficult to master," says Young, an assistant professor of computer science at N.C. State University.

Though Young teaches computer-game design and says he has students who view a shot at the $10 billion-a-year industry as their dream job, he believes it is unlikely any of them will replicate Dobson's homemade success.

"His case, I think, is getting increasingly rare," Young says. "To build games these days that are really competitive. ... You really need millions of dollars in budget, a publisher that can get the games on the shelves. It's becoming like making a movie. You have to go to the big studios."

Dobson is in a unique position, Young says, because he already has a following. He doesn't need to pay for a licensed, recognizable character, a Shrek or a Terminator, to attract players.

Young discovered Snood several months ago, when his 6-year-old son, Daniel, came home from a friend's house talking about it. Young tried the game and decided it would be OK to let Daniel play occasionally.

"It's perfect for him because it's got spatial elements and a fairly simple idea of how you play and how you win and how you're doing. And I liked it because there's not a lot of blood and guts in it."

The game's Web site,, and several gaming and shareware sites offer a free download that users can have on their computer and begin to play in minutes.

As shareware, Snood is sold over the Internet on the honor system; users decide which shareware programs they will register, or pay for. So it's possible to play Snood forever using just the trial version. But with Snood, those who register get extra features, such as an aimer to place shots, additional levels of difficulty and the ability to design custom games, arranging the Snoods in challenging patterns.

Industry analysts say that only about 1.5 percent of the people who download shareware ever pay for it. Snood is said to do better than the industry average, though Dobson won't say how much. His business partner says more than 30 million copies have been installed since it was introduced, or about 10,000 per day.

After a while, those who don't pay are greeted at the beginning of each game with a request to register. It's a digitized recording of Dobson's voice saying, "Please," which many people have mistaken for "Thief," an insult that Dobson, with his Midwestern upbringing, would never utter to a complete stranger.

As further enticement for freeloaders to pay, Dobson wrote a couple dozen four-line poems, which appear while Snoods dance in a circle at the end of each unpaid game. The poems, the gentlest form of chastisement, are metered to the rhythm of old Burma Shave signs.

One poem reads: "Dave's kids need clothes, Dave's kids need food, Dave's kids need haircuts -- Please register Snood!"

Some people have reported finding the poems so charming, they waited to make sure they had seen them all before registering.

A year or two after the game came out, Jeff Grogin, a California lawyer who specializes in business transactions and intellectual property issues, caught the Snood bug through his brother. He was enthralled with playing the game, but also saw in the Snoods' smirking faces almost endless merchandising possibilities. He tracked Dobson down in Greensboro and began leaving phone messages.

Months later, Dobson finally took one of his calls and considered Grogin's proposition. He won't say how much, but Grogin paid Dobson a licensing fee for use of the Snoods' images and began putting them on clothing, coffee mugs, key chains, baseball caps, bumper stickers. Later, Dobson became a partner in the company, called Word of Mouse Games, which now employs a handful of people in Calabasas, Calif., who oversee manufacturing and shipping. The items are available through

"He's a creative genius, there's no doubt," Grogin says. "He is a genius in many more ways than just computer games or geology. And one of the nicest people I've ever met. He's the kind of person, if you cut him in half, he'd be the same on the inside as he is on the outside."

Already, Snood merchandising takes up much of Grogin's working day.

"And I've been begging Dave to stop teaching. Then he'd free up his time and he could really make some money."

New levels and games

Grogin figures Snood has an indefinite life span, as long as Dobson continues to update it. Dobson originally designed Snood for Macintosh computers because that's what he and his wife used at work. Versions are now available for Windows, Palm Pilots and cell phones.

Dobson came out with a version of the game last fall that includes a new difficulty level: Armageddon. Armageddon is really the antithesis of Snood, he says, because it grows more intense as a player progresses and the Snoods begin to move down faster and faster.

"That one makes your hand hurt," his wife says. "You get so involved you can't let go of the mouse."

The new version also includes a "panic button" for office users who are surprised midgame by the approach of the boss. Clicking on the panic button wipes the Snoods off the screen and replaces them with a spreadsheet.

Christina doesn't play the game as much as she used to, probably, she says, because she's not teaching anymore and has less that she wants to be distracted from. She and Dobson have two children, Nicholas, 6, and Brianna, 8, who are Snood players.

Though he knows tricks to run up the score, Dobson says he is not the best Snood player.

"I'm better at first-person shoot-'em-up kinds of stuff," he says.

While on sabbatical, Dobson has been working on a research paper on global warming, using computers to analyze historical temperature data to forecast future extremes. He's also writing his second children's book and a new computer game that will employ 3D graphics, a skill he's wanted to learn. The player will be a fish that goes around devouring other fish.

Back in his classroom later this year, Dobson's students may have a new excuse for not getting their homework done.

They can tell the prof they were playing Chowder.

parent contains subliminal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11531284)

That's not a very nice subliminal message... Naughty AC.

Re:parent contains subliminal (1)

curtisk (191737) | more than 9 years ago | (#11540485)

at least he said please...

he's a nice guy (3, Interesting)

jeffy124 (453342) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530864)

I had downloaded a beta version many years ago (1999?) and got a BSOD style error, to which I reported to him the full error message and what I had done ahead of that. He emailed me back a day or two later saying he fixed it, and to download an updated (but still beta) version. First (and I think it's still the only) time I ever saw a BSOD source get eliminated.

Dear Mr. Gates (0, Offtopic)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530912)

Dear Mr. Gates: I got a BSOD with my new Win2k upgrade. Can you fix it for me?

Response: This is the Microsoft automailer, "Maily". This problem appears to be your fault. Can I help?

Looks like Bubble Bobble (1)

My name isn't Tim (684860) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530873)

From the screen cap it looks like Bubble Bobble, never played Snood though.... how can a game like that get as addictive as Evercrack

Re:Looks like Bubble Bobble (3, Informative)

Riddlefox (798679) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530975)

Bubble Bobble was a completely different game. You controlled two little dinosaurs (Bub and Bob) and walked around a 2D level, shooting bubbles at the badguys and popping the bubbles. It was available on the NES.

Bub and Bob do make a cameo on Bust a Move, which is the snood-like game I think you are referring to.

Re:Looks like Bubble Bobble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11538168)

"Bub and Bob do make a cameo on Bust a Move, which is the snood-like game I think you are referring to."

1. Bub and Bob are main characters in the first versions of Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-Move. There are no other crank-turners in PB/BAM until later games.

2. Bust-a-Move is "Snood-like" the same way Resident Evil is "Silent Hill-like."

But sure, Puzzle Bobble is a totally different game that uses the Bubble Bobble characters.

Re:Looks like Bubble Bobble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11541247)

Puzzle Bobble was the original name for Bust-A-Move. It predates Snood and is a better game in general.

Re:Looks like Bubble Bobble (1)

rogabean (741411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530984)

Cuz it's fun as hell?

I was an Evercrack junkie for 4 and half years...

I'm still a Bubble Bobble junkie...

and I'm still a Snood junkie...

Serioulsy... I mean why is solitaire popular? It's a distraction.

Re:Looks like Bubble Bobble (1)

rogabean (741411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11531006)

Oops I meant... Bust-A-Move instead of Bubble Bobble in my post...

Snood, Bust-A-Move and Frozen Bubble all have the same feel but are fun in their own ways...

Re:Looks like Bubble Bobble (1)

NewOrleansNed (836441) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530988)

Puzzle Bobble got way too easy once I beat it the first time or two... though I did make a fair amount of money by betting the arcade denizens of my university money that I could beat the game by using my right hand only.

Of course, these were the same goofballs that supplied me with lunch money after I whupped them in SF2 using the left only. Did I mention I gots me some big hands?

Re:Looks like Frozen Bobble (1)

Kalak (260968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11532788)

So which came first, Snood or Frozen Bubble? To lazy to check the CVS logs. ;)

Re:Looks like Frozen Bobble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11537724)

Frozen Bubble is a (good) clone of Snood.

Re:Looks like Frozen Bobble (1)

rakxzo (852133) | more than 9 years ago | (#11541057)

I would venture to say that Snood came out first. And goddam is it addictive! I have never played evercrack though. never even heard of it... google here I come.

Re:Looks like Frozen Bobble (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 9 years ago | (#11541608)

And both are clones of Puzzle Bobble.

*ahem* (5, Insightful)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530874)

A whole article, and yet not a single word about how Snood is a straight rip-off of Puzzle Bobble [] ...

Re:*ahem* (2, Informative)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 9 years ago | (#11531067)

1) Not a straight rip off. There are gameplay improvements that make Snood distinctly more compelling. Different at least.

2) Are you sure Puzzle Bobble wasn't a rip off of another game? There are a million snood-likes.

Re:*ahem* (1)

Cuthalion (65550) | more than 9 years ago | (#11531582)

Puzzle Bobble, aka bust-a-move is definitely the one that everyone is cloning. Originally on the Taito B coin-op platform (in 1994), it really became popular on the Neo Geo, and is still in like 1/4 of neo geo cabinets in one incarnation or another.

Puzzle Bobble was a pretty early 2p vs puzzle game (though some tetrises had 2p vs too, so it wasn't the first). Stuff like "attack patterns" and stuff was still new.

Re:*ahem* (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11534637)

I've only seen bust-a-move in a neo-geo cabinet once, and it was alone. Samurai Showdown (of assorted versions) and Metal Slug are still at least a hundred times more common - more's the pity.

Re:*ahem* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11538291)

1) I played Snood on my Macs a looong time ago, and have fiddled with the GB and recent PC versions (never bought a single version of it, since I prefer BAM and have purchased versions of that instead for the consoles and handhelds). It is not as compelling than any version of Bust-a-Move by a longshot in my opinion, but that's just my take and I don't intend to sell the point. Playing Snood = playing BAM without a timer. Imagine Tetris without pieces that fall on their own - to me, that's how exciting Snood is compared to BAM (which was born as an arcade game, so the timer makes a whole lot of sense).

2) Yes. Another poster below cites a single Korean game that claims to have an earlier copyright date, but a quick look at their other games shows that they are clearly a producer of rip-off games that have adult themes added to them, so their release dates aren't necessarily going to be very trustworthy. The fact that the suppsosedly earlier copyright date is nowhere to be found on the title screen (whereas they display it prominently on the title screens of their other games) is a big tip-off that whatever date string the 1993 date was found in was likely just a red herring. This is irrelevant anyways, since there is no question about Snood's BAM lineage.

Really, by the time Snood was first released, American-released localizations of PB/BAM had already been available for years. History isn't vague about this.

Re:*ahem* (2, Informative)

GoRK (10018) | more than 9 years ago | (#11531478)

According to the MAME history file, Magic Bubble [] was released in 1993, a year ahead of Puzzle Bobble [] . However, there is no actual copyright date in the rom and no source listed for the date in the history file, so it could be inaccurate. It appears that Magic Bubble has some elements that could be ripped off from later versions of Puzzle Bobble -- but it could be the other way around also..

for what it's worth...

Dude (1)

lorcha (464930) | more than 9 years ago | (#11542182)

My Norton just barfed all over your sig.

Re:Dude (1)

GoRK (10018) | more than 9 years ago | (#11562633)

Did it actually catch it? Slashdot forces a space in there so it generally makes it fail..

Re:Dude (1)

lorcha (464930) | more than 9 years ago | (#11564351)

Heh. No, it didn't catch it. I just thought it would be funny to say that it did.

You would never be able to email me with that sig, though! I've never tried sending both eicar and gtube in the same message, but I'm guessing SA would score it pretty high. Higher than 10, which is my reject threshold. ;)

Re:Dude (1)

GoRK (10018) | more than 9 years ago | (#11562669)

Oh yeah, I forgot the interesting tidbit: The string is also a legal .com file. If you save the ASCII text (without the space in between VIR and US) to a file, say, and run it, it will print "EICAR-STANDARD-ANTIVIRUS-TEST-FILE!"

It's safe to do, but then again, don't take my word for running any precompiled code on your machine :) You could also go to the source [] .

The guy who wrote what? (2, Insightful)

david.given (6740) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530876)

For what the article claims is a cultural phenomenon, I've never heard of it. Is this just a US thing?

FWIW, it sounds awfully similar to Frozen Bubble --- was FB based on Snood?

Re:The guy who wrote what? (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 9 years ago | (#11532804)

FB was more likely based off of Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-move

Re:The guy who wrote what? (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 9 years ago | (#11539051)

> FWIW, it sounds awfully similar to Frozen Bubble --- was FB based on Snood?

Frozen Bubble is based on Magic Bubble, an arcade game from the early nineties.

I've never heard of Snood before.

Re:The guy who wrote what? (1)

Vermifax (3687) | more than 9 years ago | (#11547593)

For wha its worth the only thing I've ever heard as a USian of snood, is that it is/was a cultural phenomenon.

There once was a guy who wrote Snood (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11530885)

There once was a guy who wrote Snood
He was really a talented dude
You could not avoid
Just like playing Arkanoid
And then you need an appointment with Freud.

Re:There once was a guy who wrote Snood (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11531253)

You screwed up the limerick. The last line is supposed to rhyme with the first and second, not third and fourth. But still entertaining ;-)

Re:There once was a guy who wrote Snood (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11532694)

Maybe he thinks it's pronounced "Frood"

Re:There once was a guy who wrote Snood (4, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11535264)

An article led readers to think
Something only believed after drink
That snood was original
But we know that's really bull
And taito's fans are pushed o'er the brink.

Re:There once was a guy who wrote Snood (1)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#11551658)

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> Hehe, let's see you finish this one, Mr. Smarty-Oracle!

> There once was an Oracle from Valhalla....

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} There once was an Oracle from Valhalla....
} Who's poetic syllables were incorrect
} They neither did rhyme
} Or make anyone impressed
} Because he was just a fake

Wow, a Bubble Bobble clone (2, Funny)

NewOrleansNed (836441) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530907)

Just goes to show that you can make a lot of money by copying someone else's work if you just market it with a few silly looking monsters (Sesame Street, Barnie, Teletubbies, John and Teresa Kerry... oops!).

Re:Wow, a Bubble Bobble clone (1)

NewOrleansNed (836441) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530939)

Make that Puzzle Bobble....

Re:Wow, a Bubble Bobble clone (1)

aftk2 (556992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11536208)

Thanks for the clarification. Without it, we might not have gotten the hilarious joke.

Snood isn't really an original game (5, Interesting)

fruitbane (454488) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530914)

Though the article makes it out to be, it isn't original. The author nowhere points out that he was at all influenced by Puzzle Bobble/Bust a Move, an arcade game by Taito that came out in '94 on the Neo Geo hardware, predating Snood by roughly 2 years. It had a cannon at the bottom and fired up colored balls at rows of said balls above, which eliminate when matched in 3s or more.

I think it's all well and good doing a clone game. I've played, loved, and respected many tetris clones over the years. I would say it's possible he came up with Snood without having every seen or played Puzzle Bobble, but I just don't buy it. There are too many similarities.

So does anyone know of any other articles posted elsewhere that confess that Snood is essentially clone?

Re:Snood isn't really an original game (1)

ayersrj (701333) | more than 9 years ago | (#11531305)

I was a big fan of Bust-A-Move (Puzzle Bobble) and it was out on main-stream systems well before Snood was even in Beta. I remember versions for both the Neo-Geo, SNES, N64 and Playstation long before I had played SNOOD. Sure the idea could have been original, but it's unlikely.

What most be even more annoying for the people at Taito is when people call Bust-A-Move a Snood clone.

Whither Bust-A-Move? (2, Informative)

kmhebert (586931) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530952)

Snood is just a shareware version of Bust-A-Move [] (a.k.a. Puzzle Bobble), which was released in 1994. And of course the two-player version of Bust-A-Move is TRULY addictive, exacting vengeance on your good friends via crazy multi-bubble drops. Still, I give the guy credit for making serious cash on a homebrew game.

Snood Clone Discussion Redux (5, Informative)

AceGopher (814882) | more than 9 years ago | (#11530998)

Instead of rehashing the Snood clone discussion, just visit Slashdot's article two years ago about Snood:

Snood, the Simple Game []

So just read the previous discussion over, find what you thought was your original comment, and link. Saves typing ;-).


Soon, he was imitating games that used to... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11531113)

from TFA:
Soon, he was imitating games that used to devour his quarters at the arcade. But he was limited by text-only capabilities. He needed images. Color.

They made text based arcade games?

Re:Soon, he was imitating games that used to... (2, Funny)

david duncan scott (206421) | more than 9 years ago | (#11531701)

Sure, kid. Things was different back then, slower. Punch a card, feed it in to the reader, and the next day you got back a printout saying, "Sorry, you have died"... and we liked it that way.

Re:Soon, he was imitating games that used to... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11535281)

You have been eaten by a grue. Please deposit twenty-five cents.

Dave? I remember him. (3, Funny)

harks (534599) | more than 9 years ago | (#11531275)

"Dave's got kids. They sure are neat. Register Snood so they can eat."

Re:Dave? I remember him. (1)

Bachus9000 (765935) | more than 9 years ago | (#11533365)

I can't do that, Dave...

zerg (2, Interesting)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 9 years ago | (#11532407)

Snood was the game that introduced me to spyware. "Gator? What's this?"

I hope no one respects him (5, Insightful)

M3wThr33 (310489) | more than 9 years ago | (#11532844)

So he rips off Taito's title to the point where people think Puzzle Bobble is the imitator, makes a substandard clone that isn't even a realtime game AND becomes one of the first developers to begin installing Offer Manager/GATOR SPYWARE on computers?

Why should we respect this guy? He took thunder away from Taito and ruined countless computers. I hate that friggin' O symbol. I had to clean it every day back in high school in a room full of computers. These kids didn't know what the f. On top of that, the game was too easy. There was no pressure to act fast and the collision detection was piss poor. You could fit any piece down any narrow path you wanted. Programmer art was in it, too.

I hate Snood and I'm proud of it.

Re:I hope no one respects him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11536472)

You're supposed to play it while really really high. That's why there's no time pressure.

Re:I hope no one respects him (1)

dmauro (742353) | more than 9 years ago | (#11539843)

I had some friends playing this in college that would really get into it. These two girls would compete back and forth for the high score, and they were getting really good. But I watched them playing and realized there was no time limit. I was kind of amazed. Bust-A-Move with no pressure, okay. I asked if I could play a round of it, I busted out my ruler, and then proceeded to blow their high scores out of the water. If you just use a ruler to make sure your pieces are all going exactly where you want them, the game is ridiculously easy.

Good job, Dave. You took an essential part of the game out and instead put in annoying faces.

Haha Snood (1)

cookiepus (154655) | more than 9 years ago | (#11536565)

My roomie and I discovered Snood fairly early on, I think 1999. We didn't figure out the point of it for a few days but we "played" it when we were high anyway. Later on I got good at Snood, or so I thought, but some potheads I was hanging out with got some REAL high Scores.

I once wrote Dave an e-mail letting him know what a following he has in the Stony Brook weed community. I also asked him why the faces had to be so bizzare, as I found them kinda freaky when high.

Dave responded saying that he was considering an extension pack for Snood where the faces were not quite so grody. I guess he was just fucking with me, expecting me not to remember. Of course that never came out, as far as I know, anyway.

Ah oh well.

What the hell? This guy sucks... (1)

gozu (541069) | more than 9 years ago | (#11537641)

This snood game of his is a crappy clone of Taito's classic Bust a move / puzzle bobble .

Not only that but the visuals sucks and his code is horrible (try to make the game bigger and you'll see)

It pisses me off that he made money off of this. Taito should sue his ass for all it's worth.

Re:What the hell? This guy sucks... (1)

Quill_28 (553921) | more than 9 years ago | (#11540422)

You are mean and bitter person.

Replies from author (5, Informative)

dobnarr (641354) | more than 9 years ago | (#11540259)

Interesting to read the follow ups here, although many of you are pretty harsh :-).

Here are some responses to various comments, if anybody cares:

I've never represented that Snood was original, although I did write the first version way back in late 1995/early 1996, and it included a number of differences from other similar arcade games at the time. The skull snoods (i.e. Snoods that can't be matched and have to be dropped), the looser collision detection (which apparently some people hate, but which I thought made it a better game), the lack of time pressure, the danger bar management, the random layouts, mouse control rather than joystick. It is actually many of these features that people say they like most about the game, and many of them have been included in other similar games.

This still not great innovation, certainly, but you have to remember the following:

1) I wrote the thing primarily for my wife to play, since she never went to arcades. I never expected it to sell much at all; my previous game, Centaurian, was selling maybe 3-5 copies a week tops at the time, and I considered it a better game then.

2) I wrote it on a non-competing platform (i.e. Macintosh; PC came later in 1998 due to me getting probably 30-50 requests a day for it). Don't tell me the arcade video game industry was suddenly going to expand into the Mac shareware market.

3) The shareware community at the time (and still today) was rife with imitations of arcade games, including nearly every one of Ambrosia's early products (e.g. Maelstrom = Asteroids, Cyclone = Star Castle). There were probably 30 different popular shareware tetris-ish games then on Mac alone. There's nothing illegal or actionable in that if you're not using names, artwork, etc., and I was careful to stay far away from that. Just look at all the Monopoly clones out there - none of the localized ones are made by Parker Brothers.

4) The Gator thing - I'm not necessarily too proud of that, but (1) the version of the Gator software we installed was the e-wallet kind; it didn't send personal information other than anonymous browsing statistics to their servers, (2) there were clear warnings in the installer that it was being installed, an explanation of what it would do, and instructions for removing it, and (3) there was always a non-Gator version of Snood available. We terminated our deal with them after maybe a year, year and a half. Gator has gone in a different, more morally obscure direction since we were involved with them. Even three years after we quit with them, people are still shouting about spyware; I guess I'd warn other developers to be more careful than we were about both your partnerships and how they may be perceived, sine the perception is often quite different from the reality.

So, you can say I'm not original (I'm not! But go look at the console game section of your local Target sometime and tell me what percentage of the games there are unique archetypes uninfluenced by anything else). You can say we shouldn't have partnered with Gator (maybe not; it seemed like an OK and morally acceptable idea at the time, and we tried to be very careful and up-front about what our users were getting).

You can't say, though, that people don't like Snood; even if I'd never made any money off it, I can tell from my e-mails that people are having fun with it and playing it with their families and friends, and that's cool. People use it to teach special-ed kids about shapes and colors, in kids' cancer and burn wards, to stop smoking, to lose weight, and to rehab after strokes, which is even cooler. I don't know why it caught on as much as it did, and I consider myself very lucky.

My thanks to everybody who posted nice comments or constructive criticism.


Re:Replies from author (1)

fondue (244902) | more than 9 years ago | (#11544082)

1) Then you released it commercially.
2) This is pretty irrelevent, as a) there are (and were even then) home versions of Puzzle Bobble, and b) you are still making money from plagiarism. The host platform is not an issue.
3) You cannot apply the 'relaxed' attitude to IP of 15 or 20 years ago to the modern world. You can't even claim there's a grey area- unlike Asteroids (a very, very old game, although it still makes money for its IP owners) or Tetris (the rights to which are now being defended heavily by the Tetris Company after an extended period of neglect), Puzzle Bobble is a modern game and a going concern for Taito.

Everyone 'borrows' elements from games they've enjoyed, it's practically a necessity to make something the player will understand easily. But your game is a direct rip-off of Puzzle Bobble. If you make a living out of it you have to expect that no-one working professionally in games is ever going to respect you.

Sick kids could still play the game if you gave it away free and credited the real authors.

Re:Replies from author (1)

Riddlefox (798679) | more than 9 years ago | (#11550004)

For what it's worth Dave, I installed Snood and loved it. I must have installed it pre/post Gator, as Ad-Aware has never warned me about having that installed on my computer.

You're right that not having a timer on it makes the game much more fun. I'd much rather play Snood, take my time, and have fun, rather than stress out and run out of time in Bust a Move (which I also own, on the PS2). Snood's just more fun, for me, than any of the other similar games.

It's been a while since I've played, but since I'm in the crunch time of writing my thesis, I suppose it'll have to be a while longer. Still, thanks for writing a great game!

The Best Game of This Kind is ... (1)

p_conrad (118670) | more than 9 years ago | (#11540599)

Super Puzzle fighter (2 Turbo)

At first glance, it seems pretty silly - a derivative of Puyo Puyo that perhaps isn't as good as the original. It almost seems like arbitrary complexity was added and little else. But, as you play it the tricky balance between attack and defense becomes clear. I think the developers went to great lengths to playtest and balance the game - to perfection. It's especially great as against a competent human opponent. The handicapping feature can cover a bit for differences, but you need to have somebody who's mastered the basics to really get the best experience.

In the most recent Mortal Kombat package - Deception, they copied SPF2T except for one important detail - the gems merging into power gems. Also the scrolling seems over-smooth, which is something I never thought I would actually complain about, but it feels really wrong. I haven't logged much time on this because I have easy access to the original.

The most common home version of this game you can find is for the PSX. There was a release for the GBA about a year ago. There was also a PC version put out in the cheap bins of CompUSA. There might be some MAME solution. For the life of me, I have no idea why there hasn't been an update of this game for the PS2/GameCube/XBox generation of consoles. Maybe they have a Super Puzzle Fighter 3 in Japan - I have no idea. I'd love to see some snazzy new graphics and new characters, but I think they got the gameplay so perfect on 2 Turbo, any attempt to update the mechanics or balance would probably not be an improvement.

Re:The Best Game of This Kind is ... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11541575)

Try puzzle bobble 3 or 4, depending on if you like inexplicable "combo" moves or not - they are present in PB4. To me, PB3 is the pinnacle of the PB series, because 4 goofed it all up with stupid combos. But, I'm sure many disagree... If you like Japanese games with Turbo in the name that aren't about racing, you probably like combos.

Other Rip-Offs in Puzzle Gaming (1)

p_conrad (118670) | more than 9 years ago | (#11541100)

Snood is a blatant rip-off, that adds nothing to the Puzzle Bobble series of games. I think the big break for Snood was when it was featured in a commercial for bank loans or something. A guy was playing Snood and his S/O was telling him she was pregnant in a snarky way. My first thought was, "That piece of .... in a commercial?!?!" Even if you love the concept, Snood has always been a buggy, crash-happy product.

Popcap ripped Magical Drop to make Astro Pop, but at least they added to the formula. Zuma is a rip-off a game that I think was called Ballistic. They added a bit, but it's very similar to the game that had a tiny release on the PSX. You lost a lot quicker on the PSX, so if nothing else, Popcap balanced a very rough concept. Big Money is a rip-off of the "Same Game" or Maki which is so simple and common, it may be impossible to know the true origins, but I think it's certainly Japanese. But for all the derivative titles, Popcap always added something. They added enough to help advance the genre, so I can't really fault them too much.

Cubis is a variant of a rare game called Builder's Block, but they changed so much, it's truly a different game. I like Builder's Block a lot better myself, especially the single-player game in the PSX release.

One of the greatest rip-offs with enhancements was Deadly Rooms of Death (D.R.O.D) which is a very cool exetnsion of the old game Daleks, or the even older Robots. There's even been a fan re-programming of it. ( Last I heard, the original D.R.O.D. developer's whereabouts were unknown. You could also argue (at least I could, anywat) that great Williams game Robotron is actually a derivative of the ancient game Robots. I only saw it running once on some kind of terminal system, with no idea what was serving the game from the other side, so I can't really say what it was like in the day. But I still play tons of Daleks and Drod. Once again Popcap gets into the concept with Seven Seas, but with lots of changes.

Ripping off game mechanics is pretty much a standard thing development strategy. Most of the great strategy games are all boosted from great board games. Pretty much every game concept in play today can be traced back to an original title from the 80's. It's a pity the a dead-end game like Snood made a lot of money and quirky fame for the developer. Borrowing concepts is only acceptable, IMO, if it advances the genre or refines the gameplay. Just putting funny faces on an established Japanese franchies is pretty weak. Especially when the end product is vastly inferior to the source material.

One addiction replaced for another (1)

LTB_Enterprises (824336) | more than 9 years ago | (#11557111)

I was a huge Snood addict, *huge* (we're talking played since 1996 on both Mac and PC, at one point averaging 100 games a day in a 4 hr session), but my addiction was quickly replaced by another game which feeds my puzzle solving needs but offers me more variety and more challenges. E.V.E Paradox [] is a suite of games with a game called Orbit that has replaced Snood as my new addiction. Since loading E.V.E. I haven't played Snood once in over 4 months!
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