Excit Clones

The Success of Exits never fails to amaze me. Back when we made it, we only hoped it would spread virally. Actually, the briefing was to create a viral game. But viral marketing is a tricky beast and the results aren’t predictable so it felt more like a stab in the dark.
But we hit something after all and Excit had more then 2 Million Plays. Even today we get around 3000 hits a day. We were paid for the game itself by the client and we even made some change with ads. How ironic that the game is more prevalent then our client. The project was so successful that I consider flash games as a means to earn my money.
Recently, some people started to contact me to show me their Exict clones. I must say that I really enjoy seeing them. Having people play your game is one thing but seeing how your work inspires people to follow your steps is a whole different ballpark. So here is a list of the Excit clones that came up so far:

Excite (not a well chosen name) is a clone of Excit in C#. It seems like this one is in an early phase of development yet. At this stage, it lacks a lot of polish but it already comes with some interesting features. For example, it introduces “harmful” blocks. Back when we made Exit we decided against them to simplify the rules (only one game over condition). They do allow some different level designs, though.
Unfortunately this clone also shows quite nicely the advantages of Flash as a game platform: no installing, no compatibility issues – it just works, right here right now.

Spreadsheet Escape came out recently. Visually, this one is obviously Excit-inspired but there is a nice gameplay twist: the cursor stops “inside” of walls rather then in front of them. Walls also become passable after the cursor hit them once. I really like it because of this small difference. Too bad it lacks so much polish, I wonder what kind of impact this difference has on level design possibilities with a higher difficulty.
It is also interesting how the author has to endure a lot of flames on the Kongregate comments for “ripping off Excit”. In fact, all of them do. Even we had our share of that because of similarities of Excit with Orbox and Roadblocks. Isn’t it strange? Why is this considered a bad thing with this kind of game but no one complains when yet another Tower Defense game comes out? It seems like there is a certain resistance to clones if the genre is not well established yet.

Target is one I found by accident by checking comments on Spreadsheet Escape. The level of polish is somewhat comparable to Spreadsheet Escape, unfortunately. However, what I like about it is how it features a look and feel similar to Excit without explicitly adapting its spreadsheet theme.

Traction 2 is the oldest ones we found. Technically it is not an Excit clone. The Author claims that he never saw Excit. If this is true, the similarities are uncanny. Either way, Traction 2 is the most polished one. The graphics and animations are simple, crisp and functional. The the controls are responsive, the Interface is well thought-out. My personal favorite is the typography – I have a thing for Futura. So why does Excit outrank this one by a factor of 100 on Kongregate? What do you think?

That’s all for now. If you found a game that was clearly inspired by Excit, please tell me!

If you want to make a game similar to Excit – I don’t mind. On the contrary: by all means, go ahead! Just tell me if you finished. And it wouldn’t hurt if you could link back to Excit.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

2 responses to “Excit Clones”

  1. axcho

    It is strange how people will flame for ripping off games, until of course there are so many clones that they constitute an entire genre. I’ve gotten that with my game Braids on Kongregate, which was based on Ragdoll Masters.

    By the way, I haven’t gotten a reply from you yet to my last email about Adopt an Invader – it’s been several weeks. Are you still interested in the project?

  2. Krystian Majewski

    This behavior is really most peculiar. It might be worth investigating. It seems like if an idea is unique, the copying it means somehow “stealing” or “ripping off” the person with the original idea. People will feel obliged to “help” the guy with the original idea by flaming the copycat. They automatically assume that the originator doesn’t want his idea to be copied.

    But when an idea gets spread wide enough, it becomes a “common good” and copying is not considered unfair. In fact, I have the impression that THEN it is even somewhat positive to copy that idea.

    It is a very confusing behavior. I have two explenations:

    1. People behave like that because they grew up taking copyrights for granted which themselves are internally inconsistent.

    2. It is some strange primate instinct designed to strengthen the survival of a group. Like a refined version of groupthink.

    Or both. Either way, an intriguing memetic phenomenon.

    And sorry for the delay. I got cought up with moving from my old flat. But things are back to normal now.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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