Hey Reddit!

We are behind the little sliding game Threes! You’ve probably heard about the game that we directly inspired called 2048.

We spent over a year perfecting Threes! into a minimal and elegant game, there’s more about that here: Wired

We’re here to answer your questions about anything. This is an AMA. The second A stands for Anything. But if you need ideas: Ask us about the process of making Threes, how 2048 makes us feel or our thoughts on Master Chef Jr.

We just released our game for free on the web! Everyone can play it for free without ads right on their phone in the browser. Go nuts! We also made a plush pillow you can cuddle with and a few other things if you’re into that: link

Answering your questions:

  • Asher Vollmer, Designer of Threes, Puzzlejuice, /u/ashervo
  • Greg Wohlwend, Illustrator of Threes, Puzzlejuice, Ridiculous Fishing, Hundreds and others /u/aeiowu

Proof: https://twitter.com/AsherVo/status/677574575580798977

More Proof: https://twitter.com/aeiowu/status/677586829651017728

Comments: 909 • Responses: 18  • Date: 

cunninglinguist96372 karma

Thanks for making such a fun little game! What post-secondary education do you guys have?

aeiowu306 karma

I got my BA in Graphic Design at Iowa State University. I studied for a couple years at the University of Iowa prior to that, floating between english, writing and art.

I started a company with friends in my last year at ISU intuition games and later Mikengreg. We all met at the Virtual Reality Applications Center, which was sort of the unofficial hub for geeks who liked doing weird stuff with computers.

I'm a big proponent of getting a well rounded education in a lot of things, especially if you want to be a game designer!

ShirtShanks135 karma

Hello, guys! Huge fan of Threes!

Just one question. How'd the newer sales model with the free version end up working out for you?

I understand that as a paid app, it was very difficult to compete on the Play Store, considering the rampant piracy issues and, well, 2048 being a thing.

Good luck here onwards!

aeiowu157 karma

Thanks! :)

It's been working out pretty well. One concern was that it might cannabalize sales of the paid version in some way but it seems to help out the paid version. It is nowhere near the kind of reach that we'd of got if we released the original version for free, but that's some hindsight nonsense. We're definitely happy we made a free option for people to try, I feel it has been financially worth it and has really increased our audience. Now I even see Threes on the train sometimes!

AsherVo61 karma

What you do?? I've still only ever seen Threes in the wild once in my life.

aeiowu48 karma

Yea maybe a few times tops though.

triferatu76 karma

At one point I had over 3k games in Threes! It would lock my phone for a few seconds when I loaded the stats page. What is the most number of games anyone has played?

Also, Threes has been quite therapeutic and helpful for a friend of mine. Thanks for making a great game!

aeiowu91 karma

We don't have comprehensive data on that. So for now let's say it's you, triferatu! Congrats! :) Until someone else self-reports in this thread otherwise.

windwaker91025 karma

I'm sensing a little salt towards 2048 here. How salty are you exactly?

aeiowu36 karma

Not even 3 g/kg salinity

Stuewe18 karma

Why did it take so long to port Threes to Android?

I believe that it was this extended delay that allowed 2048 to eat your lunch. Thoughts?

aeiowu15 karma

I don't agree. I think the what "allowed 2048 to eat [our] lunch" was that our game cost money and their didn't. There are more factors, like 2048 being open source, freely available on the browser and all that. But even if you scrub that away and just look at mobile, free v. paid had the biggest impact on audience size.

DogeMaster52213 karma

What was your reaction when you learned about 2048 and its popularity?

fatjesus15 karma

They wrote an extensive blog on the subject: http://asherv.com/threes/threemails/

aeiowu44 karma

That definitely sums up our feelings at the moment. To add a little more story though:

I first saw 2048 when someone linked it to us from HackerNews. I saw hundreds of comments and got that bitter taste in my mouth. We knew about 1024 –the game that 2048 is based on, 1024 is a clone of threes– the day it came out. Instead of reading those comments the first thing I did was play a round of 2048. I beat it my first try. It was too easy and I thought people would eventually tire of a "broken" game. I felt better for a little bit but then went back and read HN. After going through enough of it, even reading people talking about Threes and how 2048 is a ripoff, I felt pretty low.

I had the same reaction back when Ninja Fishing cloned Ridiculous Fishing. Ninja Fishing felt bad and wasn't well designed so I thought it might not eclipse RF that much. Ninja Fishing did really well and that same low feeling struck hard.

The difference then with RF though was that our game wasn't released yet so the feeling really festered and haunted us. Threes had been released and it shortly became the most successful game I've worked on. There was always that silver lining, that people really dug the game and were truly loving it, that dispels a lot of the broken-heartedness. I still consider myself incredibly lucky, and counted my blessings even back then.

danzbar10 karma

I have an old Android phone and your game is unusually rough on my battery. I still love it, but thought you should know. In an only slightly related matter, what are your all-time favorite games for Android?

(Someone asked about your best of 2015 picks, but I couldn't find either Star Billions or Undertale in the Play Store.)

aeiowu10 karma

I really liked playing Piloteer, homegrown right here in Chicago. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.whitakr.Piloteer&hl=en

And while only iOS I have to give a shout to "Progress to 100", fun little experience you have to try if you have an iPhone.

NorbitGorbit9 karma

which celebrity voices would you most want to incorporate in a future game? which easter eggs have you hidden in games that have yet to be found?

aeiowu16 karma

Nathan Fielder as Nathan in "Nathan for MewTwo" - a Pokémon/Comedy Central joint.

There's an old Flash game called Fig. 8 that's still on my website that nobody has found the easter egg in.

JyriKilpelainen4 karma

Love Threes, Ridiculous Fishing and Hundreds! Me and my wife actually have a small game company called Kiemura. Your games and stories have been inspirational and the design in all of your games is amazing!

Question: Game industry 2016. What will be hot and what will not?

aeiowu5 karma

Aw thanks! That's cool to hear. :)

I'm no Nostradamus and I've never been more confused about what's going on. I do think VR could be the next fertile ground for indies, though I'm not sure what incarnation is the BetaMax and which is the VHS. Folks are still starving for Great Games™ no matter the platform. So whatever the weather, my advice is always to buckle down and look inward on how to make something great.

rkkbrd4 karma

Hi guys! How did you market Threes?

aeiowu2 karma

I replied generally up above but I think it's worth talking about specifics.

To spread the word about Threes we kept everything small. We've made a number of games between us and over the years we have enough of a following that we're able to tweet something out or send out some emails to journalists to try and gain some momentum, get some reviews and etc.

That's essentially all we do, though we do it with a lot of heart and thought:

The emails that we send out to people had our custom animated gif explaining the game (you can see it on our threesgame.com website).

The website that we put together went through about 5 revisions.

The tagline "a tiny game you can play forever" went through hundreds of revisions. We were changing it from the time we decided on Threes as a name (about 6? months before launch) until the night before launch.

We kept things small and understated. Not adding too many messages, reviews or images. Nothing flashy. Just Threes. It's tiny. So we stuck to that and stayed true to it. The faces. The character's voices. Through and through we stayed small and because of that people that dug that came to the game and found the same smallness at the start, but then maybe as they spent more time with it they saw how much there really was to the game. We had no hope of communicating the depth of Threes, we had to just let that stand on its own and have the confidence to let players come to it. And they did! People talked about their strategies on Twitter and posted tutorial videos and helper guides about how to get better at Threes. I don't think that approach = that response. The game is very fun. We spent more time making sure of that. But being true to that, confident in that and not over-reaching worked for us.

slader1663 karma

What's your secret? ;)

Seriously though, any tips on reaching a larger audience?

aeiowu3 karma

Someone else mentioned marketing as well so I'll just lump my answer in here.

I don't think of it as marketing. The word "marketing" makes me throw up a little in my throat. What you're really trying to do when you make something others should see, hear or play is to tell them about it the best way you can. There are many different ways to tell people about your game but it really starts with the game itself and it's something you should be thinking about the whole time you're making your game. Coming up with a theme for your game, the core thesis of the game, how you talk about it to people, are all part of both the game's design and how you'll tell people about it.

It should be a creative pursuit, just like making the game. If you're making a game about hacking, maybe your website should feel like it's been hacked. I wrote a lot more about it in this post I made awhile ago. Hopefully that helps!

10ofClubs3 karma

Hello everyone! I was really bummed on your behalf when I heard about 2048, especially since I saw heard about threes first.

From reading the comments and replies, it seems like this wasn't your only game that was cloned? I guess my question is how did your game get cloned while in development? Did you openly talk about it and someone just jumped on the opportunity, or just quickly stole your idea as it hit the store? Are you cautious about this going forward, or is it just an acceptable risk due to the nature of the app market?

Also, ridiculous fishing is still one of my favorite apps, so much fun to play.

aeiowu10 karma

For me personally, it's my second time. Ridiculous Fishing and then later Threes. In both cases the games were cloned after release. Threes was ripped off quickly because it is a small game with simple rules that can be churned out pretty quickly. That's why we posted The Threemails to show how it took us over a year to figure out those simple rules.

So to answer your question, I wouldn't worry about people stealing your ideas when you talk about them. The cloners are looking at the bottom line only, and stealing ideas that are in development are far too great a risk for them. Not to mention they have no idea how to take a game idea and make it a functioning system that's fun and engaging. That's why they clone. So don't sweat showing off your ideas and your game in broad daylight, the cloners will only come when they smell money in the water.

Beaun2 karma

Is there an "Average high score" across all users? I can't seem to ever get past a single 768 tile (~27,000 points), just curious where I rank among the average.

aeiowu7 karma

I wish we had that for you but I can tell you if your highest card is a 768 that individual game is in the top 2% of all Threes games played.

And if you ever managed to get a Volleo, yours would be 1 of 900 ever acquired (amongst over 4.1 billion recorded games).

mywowtoonnname2 karma

Greg, why doesn't Tumbleweed have a legit website/presskit() yet? It looks great and I can't share!

aeiowu4 karma

We're still changing things about TumbleSeed enough that we don't feel comfy announcing it just yet. Soon though! It's tough but also I feel it's important to keep things malleable when designing videogames so we want to make sure we know enough about what that game will be before we tell people about it. We get about one chance to do that being smaller developers in what is now an ocean of indies.

EDIT: Also, thanks for the kind words! Warms my heart. :)

_Kyu1 karma

I was reading up on threes and 2048 and 1024 just this morning.

How did you come up with this game?

aeiowu2 karma

We posted our whole process (well the email bits) right here: http://asherv.com/threes/threemails/

I don't even have a tldr; for you... haha sorry!

UberJason1 karma

Huge fan of both Puzzlejuice and Threes! Any new iOS/Android games coming down the road?

aeiowu3 karma

Not working on anything together at the moment but that could change!