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Grid Wars author's reflections

Felt pressured into cloning Geometry Wars, denies he's being sued.

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Image credit: Eurogamer

Despite similarities, Geometry Wars clone Grid Wars - shut down at the barrel of a legal gun this month - began life quite detached from the game it ended up imitating.

That's according to developer Mark Incitti, who told Eurogamer that the project originally began as a reaction to news that there were no plans for a PC version of the popular Live Arcade title.

He also denies that Microsoft and Bizarre Creations have taken legal action against him, but has expressed doubts about their claims that Grid Wars was affecting 360 sales of Geometry Wars - and also highlighted the irony of a Smash TV/Robotron clone developer complaining about being copied.

"I loved Smash TV and enjoyed that style of game and began working on my own version. I enjoy the challenge of programming games that people enjoy playing," he told Eurogamer.

"I also liked the visual effect of their grid. I had some old code that did something similar that I modified to do a displacement distortion. I threw that into a Robotron clone I had made for a coding competition and took that as the basis for Grid Wars. I knew I had something when my four year-old niece played it and said it was fun!"

"I had many unique elements in there - that initially people were pushing me to remove - [like] power-ups, generators, triangle-chainers, various control methods, skill levels, etc."

"The graphics and behaviours ended up being very similar to Geometry Wars - I had input from people constantly telling me to change this and that - make this brighter/faster, etc. I resisted for a while - but that's futile, isn't it? So the game evolved into more of a clone than anticipated."

And it wasn't long after that that he heard from Bizarre. Following an exchange of emails in early April, during which Incitti offered to make changes to the game's name and aesthetic - key elements of Bizarre's argument, this week, that people were confusing the two products.

He also offered to include credits and links to Bizarre, he says, but apparently his offer fell on deaf ears, and then a fortnight ago he received an email asking him to stop distributing the game. He duly obliged.

"I don't know if legally they have the right to shut it down - but I took it down out of respect for their developers and the cool work they do. I don't really think it is affecting their sales on Xbox 360 - but if they do want to move into the PC market then it's better if the confusion is cleared up," he conceded.

"I hope that they are approaching the rest of the 'clone' makers with a [cease and desist] stance," he added. "My game may have been popular, but there were several others that had gameplay that was closer to Geometry Wars than Grid Wars is."

Whether they do or not remains to be seen. Microsoft told us that they and Bizarre would not be commenting on Grid Wars any further for legal reasons.

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