April 20th, 2012 | By Emerson Smith
There has been a lot of talk today about Zach Gage’s title, SpellTower, on the AppStore. Today was his “Holy Crap, I’m Near the Top, This is Crazy! Help an Indie Take On Rovio and Zynga! Half Off 24Hour Sale!” and I found myself grow skeptical. Something about the game looked too familiar.
My friend, Asher Vollmer, released his game Puzzlejuice on January 18th this year and did relatively well. When I saw Gage trying reach the top of the appstore with an almost identical game, I did a bit of a double take. I needed to research this.
If Puzzlejuice was released January 18th and SpellTower was released November 17th of 2011, then wouldn’t Puzzlejuice be the copy, and not SpellTower?
Last October I attended Indiecade, and that was where I met Asher. His friend, Sam Farmer, and he were demoing their most recent game, Semi-Automatic, during the gameslam the first night of the festival.
At the end of the slam, Asher brought out his iPad and shared with the nearby crowd his alpha build of a game he was currently developing. That game later became Puzzlejuice. The alpha build shared the same mechanics as the final release, they just didn’t have the layer of paint that makes Puzzlejuice shine. Zach Gage happened to be at the festival too, showing of his current release, Halcyon.
I do not have any evidence to suggest that either title was influenced by the other. I simply noticed the similarities between the two, and felt a bit disappointed that my friend with the same game did not receive the same exposure. Just simply from my perspective, I found Puzzlejuice to have more polish and found the art to be more minimalistic. I found it funny how Puzzlejuice only stayed in the Top 25 for such a short while, even though it’s such a good game. Another point I found is how SpellTower only rose in ranks these past few days, where I never noticed it previously. How did this happen?
Update: Since this article was posted we have learned a bit more about how the two are related. Gage told us this morning that Asher and he were both very away of their games. In a couple of twitter posts, Gage replied that “Puzzlejuice totally inspired SpellTower. We’ve been pretty up front about it. Asher did a podcast where he talked about it a bit.”
“Asher and I talked a lot about release timing,” He continued. “I don’t think they’re similar games at all though. Just both indie word games.”