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Understanding  Threes : Developers release design archives
Understanding Threes: Developers release design archives
March 27, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

"We do believe imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but ideally the imitation happens after we’ve had time to descend slowly from the peak -- not the moment we plant the flag."
- an excerpt of a longer statement by the Threes development team.

A new post has popped up on the Threes site which gets at the heart of today's mobile game landscape: Release a great game, and it won't be long before it's outright copied or reinterpreted, and that reinterpretation or copy is up on an app store.

It happened to Threes, of course. "This fast, speed-up of technological and creative advances is the lay of the land here. That’s life! That’s how we get to where we’re going. Standing on each others shoulders," the developers write, "but piling on top of us right when the majority of Threes players haven’t had time to understand all we’ve done with our game’s system and why we took 14 months to make it, well... that makes us sad."

Whether it's to show off the hard work that went into the deceptively simple game, or just as a contribution to the game design space, the post comes alongside a huge dump of emails between developers Asher Vollmer and Greg Wohlwend -- including lots of design prototypes. The discussion takes in every aspect of the development process for the game.

If you truly want to understand Threes, they seem to be saying, check out all the work we've done -- and then build on it.

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Jeffrey Crenshaw
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This is a tough situation. I'm not sure what to do about it because a lot of the original design and refinement gets overlooked and cloners don't have to go through as much prototyping. so they kind of coast off the efforts of others. Of course remixing older games is how we move the art form forward. Glad the Threes guys seem to be handling this fairly maturely. Maybe just having a healthy respect for each other, mentioning your inspiration if you are a cloner and congratulating clones on their success, is a good direction?

Paolo Gambardella
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They made a great job in terms of game design, buy maybe they did not expected a classic in every market: the success is almost never for the first who arrives, but in general is for the third, that learns by errors of the first two. It is sad, maybe, but true.

Ashley Blacquiere
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It's an unfortunate result (I've played 2048 briefly, to see what all the fuss was about, but this is the first I'm hearing of Threes). I feel for these guys, but this kind of thing is likely just going to keep happening.

On the other hand, it is extremely, extremely cool that they were willing to post so much of their work for everyone to see; it comes from an unfortunate set of circumstances, but it's a great record of a successful design process. More people should do this. I wish I could do something similar, but everything I've ever worked on has been NDA'd from one end to the other...

Kudos to both Asher and Greg for sharing.

Curtiss Murphy
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That's the most powerful cloning discussion I've ever read! So personal. So real. Kudos to them on making one of the greatest mobile games of all time and for showing such downright awesomeness, after the fact.

I'm inspired.