Adios, Amoebas!: History
On October 9, 1997, I was contacted by a programmer at the
Swedish web design company Netch about
a little Java development job. They were creating a site for some
particular client and wanted "some simple game" for attracting visitors.
Quick download time was one of the main design objectives. It would
also need to be finished rather soon.
After some initial small talk he gave me a ballpark estimate of how much
they were prepared to pay and asked me what I'd be willing to sell
for that amount.
During my lunch break I managed to come up with a game idea that would
fit the requirements. It was simple and inexpensive in terms of download
time, yet presumably entertaining. All
the essential elements of a good arcade game were there. So I wrote
back and gave him a detailed description, along with an estimate of
how long it would take me to finish it (if I really hurried). He passed
it on to the project leaders and informed me that they
had found it "definitely interesting". About my fee, however ... I was
told I'd now need to discuss that with the guy in charge.
"If I can have your phone number, he'll call you" was the last thing
I heard from him or anyone associated with Netch. I gave him my number
and waited ... and waited. Nothing. I wrote and asked if the deal
was still on, or if the project had been cancelled. No response.
I started dawning on me that maybe it wasn't such a wise move to reveal
the whole idea before having signed any agreement. Any run-of-the-mill
Java programmer would be able to implement that game without much effort.
They really didn't need my services anymore. If that [name withheld] guy was
"smart", he'd write it himself or pass the assignment on to someone
who would do it for significantly less money. The incident could easily
be blamed on some alleged communications failure if anyone started
By then I had already began working on the game and I decided to go
ahead and finish it. I usually try to make each new Java game more
technically sophisticated than my previous work, but for one thing
I didn't want to see the idea go
to waste. For another, if Netch would actually build a site with that
game on, nobody would believe me if I said "Hey! That's my idea!"
unless I already had a similar game to prove it.