Simple Machine has released a new update for LEX, the game that has you combining letters to form words before time runs out. This update adds a daily letter challenge using a different letter each day. For those of you that excel at spelling, there's a trophy room to display your feats. The game now also includes a dictionary and a new end game screen that will display your top ten scores.
You can download the new and improved LEX for $1.99 on the App Store.
At the time Kurt Bieg, CEO of Simple Machine, explained their reasoning in doing so: "we believe ownership is becoming obsolete, this is our way of inspiring young and old people to read, learn, and ultimately manipulate code that came from a studio known for taking chances and innovating puzzle games."
A few weeks into making LEX open-source, and given the rarity of this occurring, we thought we'd take the time to follow up with Kurt and see how things have progressed.
One such outcome was this:
Simple Machine's 'dream outcome' according to Kurt, with coder Bill Kendrick having played LEX then used the source code to create a variant for the 8-bit Atari system.
"We don't have any quantifiable numbers on how many people read it or anything, but this made it real for us. The first point to point cause and effect. Now we just have to buy an Atari for the office so we can play it," explained Kurt.
Enlightening us on their motivations, Kurt told us about Chupamobile: a site where you can buy game code, press publish, and effectively make money with little effort.
"I was horrified at first, then I showed some of the team, and one person, Anne Peng, our community manager at the time who has since moved on, actually thought it was a good thing. Insta-curious.
Kurt went on to compare the situation to the Napster/Metallica issues of early 2000s. "We are moving towards an ownerless society, and the current "clone craze" in games is a path where the lines between who owns what are visibly blurring. What you have is an amazing new way for games to be distributed, where the code is available for everyone to read and learn from. Not everyone has the best intentions, that's for sure, but we feel like it's very parallel to the Napster/Metallica issues of early 2000s. Here we have a band that grew to popularity by people copying their songs on blank tapes off the radio, only to sue their fans for the very same behavior a couple decades later. In my view, we've been moving towards this sharable culture for quite some time, only now do we have the technology where it has become mainstream."
One significant issue, however, is the financial aspect of open sourcing. How is Simple Machine planning to stay financially solvent if their code is available to everyone?
Kurt explained, "The answer is, we don't have an answer yet. We believe that Simple Machine is about being a window to new ideas. With each game we try innovate in some unexplored area, like The Outcast for instance. Open source has huge benefits for everyone involved. I can't say that we've seen any profit lost from doing it. I can say that our hearts are warm after seeing some one interpret LEX and demake it for Atari. You could maybe draw a line and say that open sourcing has connected us directly to more fans and that our reputation has grown in a new direction.
"Overall, we're happy some people are finding inspiration from our code and that it makes the overall developer/customer experience more than just a money transaction. It's a bit more of a two way street, and that's our ultimate goal."
It's certainly ambitious and ultimately very positive and selfless of the folks at Simple Machine. It'll be fascinating to see how things turn out in the long term for them and, of course, we'll be keeping an eye on their progress and future titles.
Thanks to Kurt Bieg for taking the time to answer our questions. LEX is available now from the App Store, priced at $0.99.
It's a big day for Simple Machine's word game, LEX. For one thing, it's just been updated so that it now throws double letters into the mix, plus there are some handy bug fixes going on.
To celebrate that update, LEX is entirely free to download for today only!
Plus, for the coding buffs out there, LEX has also been made open-source for the public, meaning that coders can manipulate the code as they please if they wish. Simple Machine has explained that they believe "ownership is becoming obsolete," which is why they want to inspire young and old through this venture. A video below explains more on the matter.
For those yet to try LEX, I'd suggest diving in now before the price goes back up.
4 Thrones is free for today only, so get on it folks! The one day sale is taking place because the company is celebrating the launch of its Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of the 4 Thrones game for physical play.
In our review, Jennifer Allen said, "A purist’s delight, 4 Thrones is ever steady in offering enjoyment to card game fans. A trickle of new themes unlock the more that one plays, offering a relatively minor yet oddly attractive reason to keep on playing. 4 Thrones is easily the kind of game to pass the time with whenever there’s a spare five minutes in the day. It’s quite delightful."
Carter and Kurt Bieg of Simple Machine talk about his studio's new release, Tomb Breaker, how it spawned from a nearly-complete prototype of another game, and how it fits in with his other titles, Circadia and Twirdie.