The curious case of Kilobolt using my book’s code

Update: James Cho from Kilobolt contacted me via e-mail. We had a very lengthy discussion, here’s the entire conversation, start reading at the bottom. James agreed to put up a link to the book. To those sending hate-mail to Kilobolt: please stop, that’s my job, and my job only. Our community is better than this, and your thoughts are better expressed in the comments below and on the forums. I leave the original post intact so you can judge how much of an ass i made myself look like :)

So, a few days ago i found Kilobolt’s “Android Game Development Tutorial”. The tutorial is currently the #1 search result on Google for the terms “android game development tutorial”.

Obviously, the code on that page is my book’s code. While the author states that he improve the framework, all he really did was fuck up the formatting, and add modifications that will ensure that the game will run horribly on any mid-level device. The tutorials explain nothing, hand waving via phrases like “you don’t have to understand this”.

That’s fine. The code is Apache 2, so legally all is well. If people want to learn from such a poor resource as this tutorial, that’s cool with me as well. If you want the real deal, click on the book image in the top right corner of this page. Or find a backup copy on the internet. The code is here.

What’s a bit funky is that the tutorial pages are full of ads. They are everywhere. Fair game, the code is Apache 2, but it leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.

Here’s what’s not fine. I wrote a friendly comment on one of the tutorial pages. That was deleted/not approved. After that, the author appearantly shit his pants a little and added the paragraph about the code being based on my book. Without linking to my book. I tried to contact the author via e-mail, twice, but never got a reply.

Now, just to make sure i get my message across properly: i love when people use my stuff to create awesome things, be they commercial or non-commercial. I have no problem with not getting a “cut”. I do have a problem with leeches like Kilobolt, that take the hard work of others, sell it as their own, not even giving a single bit of credit where its due, and monetizing it heavily. I also have a problem with poor tutorials, that explain nothing, give terrible advice in form of horrible code, while making the reader think they are learning something worth while.

It kinda sucks that things like this happen. Again, form a legal perspective it’s fair game, and i do not complain that someone’s using OSS code for commercial endevours. However, the way Kilobolt is doing this (no credit, then a little credit, no replies to e-mails, censoring of posts) is disgusting. The book was one of the few ways i try to make a bit of money from libgdx and all the other gaming related things i put out there for free. Seeing it being ripped off like this doesn’t evoke the greatest feelings.

Here’s a link to the “Android Game Development Workshop” i gave a while ago. It contains extensive slides explaining everything, and comes with full source-code. Do yourself a favor and use that as a resource, instead of this horrible money grab by Kilobolt.

Apps World 2012 Retrospective

I spent the last two days at Apps World in London. The nice guys and gals from SixDegrees invited me to give a talk on beginning Android games as well as participate in a panel discussion on HTML5 as a (mobile) gaming platform. What follows are a few memories from the event.

Day 1

I arrived at the venue in Earls Court at around noon. The exhibition center was packed with people, pretty much everyone who’s in the mobile space was there, from Samsung to RIM, Microsoft and so on.

The first talk i listened to was by AJ Grand-Scrutton, CCO of Dlala Studios. He previously worked at Bossa Studios. For their first game, Dlala Studios focuses on Windows 8 exclusively. AJ went to great lengths to tell us about how awesome Microsoft are for giving them all kinds of tools for free, and how they are not assholes. He assured us that they receive zero money from Microsoft. About 20 times. Coincidentially, they are also featured on the cover of the current edition of Develop magazine.

AJ told us the pretty cliche story about living at his mom’s, not having any money but wanting to realize his dream of making games. Sprinkled with references to games like SMB 3 or TV shows like Dexter’s laboratory. None of which i could discover when he demoed the actual game to us in private, after his talk. The game itself was barely mentioned in the talk, apart from showing the box art. He gave his speech a second time at the Microsoft booth later on.

It all felt very awkward and artificial to me. AJ ranted quite a bit about the (true) fact that many companies hire capable folks for cheap as interns, instead of employing them properly. This rant felt kinda strange, given that Microsoft got Dlala Studios for cheap to promote Windows 8, as according to AJ, they do not see a cent from Microsoft. They obviously get exposure through their Microsoft cooperation. To an outsider like me, it looked a lot like Microsoft wanted to attach the “indie” vibe to Windows 8, by hiring those guys to talk about how awesome everything is.

AJ seemed like a nice chap, and i wish him and his team the best of luck. Teaming up with Microsoft is probably a smart move, and there might be a real chance for them in case the Windows 8 market works out.

I also met Rod Hyde, who’s been involved with libgdx for quite some time. He contributed Very Angry Robots to our demo selection a while ago. We had a jolly good time talking about game programming and life in general.

Day 2

This day started with me meeting “The Batman” at the Apress booth. Didn’t dare to talk to him though, he’s the Batman after all. Apress asked me to sign a few books for folks passing by the Apress booth. To my surprise, a metric ton of people turned up, and i got to excersice my handwritting skills quite a bit. The most interesting observation was that most people come from an enterprisey background and want to get into games on the side. I had people from all walks of life coming by, even folks from the British Health Association. It was quite a blast. Big thanks to Brandon Levesque who organized this whole thing.

In the afternoon i had my talk about “Beginning Android Games”. Most of the folks that listened to the talk before me stayed, so the seats were filled pretty well. You can find the (non-informative) slides on SlideShare. Of course i couldn’t help pitching Nate and Shiu’s Spine as well as libgdx :)

After the talk a couple of folks came up to me, and we talked games, libgdx, Android and iOS. Good times! I got to know a couple of folks using libgdx and making quite a bit of money off of their games. Like Rich Woods from Exobyte. You’d be surprised how much money you can make off of Android games :) I also meet with Laith from vserv, and ads company. They have a very interesting approach of adding ads to your application. I haven’t tested it yet, but check out their site, it’s really interesting. There’s a chance that we might collaborate with those guys at some point, stay tuned.

The rest of the day i spent with Tamas, who showed me around Bossa Studios an the Silicon Round-about. We spent the the night talking about a few ideas we have. Hopefully something comes of it.

Thanks to SixDegrees for inviting me, i had a real blast! And i’m so sorry for the Jano’s, poor folks let me sleep in their house. <3

Beginning Android 4 Games Development

preface: this is soley my view of things, Robert has nothing to do with this post.

So, i was asked by my publisher to write a second edition of “Beginning Android Games”, updated to ICS. At the time i was asked, ICS was not out yet, there were also just rumours and nobody really knew when it would drop. On top of that, i didn’t have the intent of writting a second edition, as i just finished the first one and was loaded with a ton of other work that had to take priority.

I declined the offer. I was informed that they would hire another person (any other person really) to do the job and that i would lose my authorship (that is, my name wouldn’t be on the book even if it was 100% my writting). The contract i signed for the first edition gives the publisher the full right to do that, for better or worse. For obvious reasons i didn’t want this to happen. So i asked Robert Green from Battery Powered Games if he wanted to take over. He’d write the additions.

The end result is an updated version of the original book, with bug and typo fixes and a few additions concerning Honeycomb and ICS. I did not invest any time.

If anything, it should have been called “Beginning Android Games, Second Edition”, putting 4 in the title is suggesting it’s full of ICS related material.

I can not add more at this point due to legal reasons. Suffice it to say that i’m not happy with it either and as with any purchase, you have to evaluate whether it’s worth it for you or not.

Here’s the second edition’s TOC on Amazon for your convenience.