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Bob's Game is a homebrew console role-playing game developed by Robert Pelloni for the Nintendo DS, iPhone and Pandora handheld consoles, and more recently Microsoft Windows. The game began testing on September 11th 2009 and has yet to have a final release date. The game received notoriety for Pelloni having worked on the game all by himself, spending over five years and 15,000 hours developing the game. Bob's Game is influenced by the Earthbound series, and also incorporated ideas from Super Mario 64, Super Metroid, Dance Dance Revolution, and Dragon Warrior. Pelloni was motivated to develop the game because other successful independent video game projects had been published in the past. His disillusionment with the business-like nature of the video game industry was also a contributing factor.

Pelloni developed the game hoping that Nintendo would grant him a license for the game, but Nintendo denied him the required software development kit . This sparked a 100-day public protest by Pelloni, in which he planned to lock himself in his room for 100 days, or until Nintendo gave him the SDK. During the protest, he attempted to criticize Nintendo and their executives, painting them as corporate bullies beating down on indie game developers. His room had no Internet (except for a live webcam) or television. Pelloni's only contact with the outside world was a mobile phone in which he could make calls and send emails, and the materials he needed to work on the game.

Pelloni stopped the protest on the 30th day, January 10, 2009, after complaints of paranoia and excessive headaches. The following day, police entered his room, after concerns that there were no signs of life on his webcam. Pelloni also vandalized the Nintendo World Store in New York Citymarker. Nintendo formally rejected his SDK offer on February 6, 2009. Then, in March 2009, Pelloni announced that he staged the events and stunts as part of a viral marketing ploy to advertise the game. A playable demo of Bob's Game was released on his website on March 31.

Development

Bob's Game was to be a 2D console role-playing game developed by Pelloni all by himself. According to an interview done by the Orlando Sentinel, Pelloni spent over five years and put over 15,000 hours working on the game. The game was to feature over 200 characters and, according to the interview, "more gameplay than just about anything out there on the portable system". In August 2008, Pelloni posted a preview of the game on YouTube, which garnered over 100,000 views as of September 15, 2008.

Development started as a result from a conversation Pelloni made with friends at a restaurant regarding video games. He discussed creating a video game that was based in the suburbs that had a Dungeons and Dragons mindset, similar to the Earthbound series. Pelloni first got the idea of creating Bob's Game from watching his brother play Dragon Warrior, whose story, he said, he found confusing. He also drew motivation from other titles such as Super Mario 64, Super Metroid, the Dance Dance Revolution series, and a similar game developed by one person titled Cave Story. He started to brainstorm ideas for this game, scribbling notes on a napkin. According to the Sentinel interview, Pelloni was fascinated by other similar video game projects getting published after participating in online Internet forums. At the same time, he was also "disheartened" over how the video game industry conducted itself business-wise, saying that "it's a standard practice for some publishers to take a game engine and put in licensed assets to coincide with, say, a movie release for example". This motivated Pelloni to self-develop Bob's Game and, as a result, spent most of 2006 and 2007 in isolation while developing the game.

Pelloni said that the hardest part in developing the game was the background graphics, which he drew by himself, despite having no artistic experience. He said that he enjoyed writing the dialogue and designing the gameplay elements the best. He didn't consider the game "100% complete" until he received the software development kit from Nintendo, which would allow him to compile the game according to Nintendo's specifications of coding. However, he stated in the Sentinel interview that "you can't get access to [the SDK] unless you've published a game before". Pelloni had received responses from some video game publishers but did not start talks with any of them as he wanted to retain creative rights over the game. As a replacement for the standard credits roll at the end of most video games, he would have said the following: "You just played it, now this is how it was made."

Rejection and protest

According to an article from The Escapist, Pelloni was directed by Nintendo to talk to the WarioWorld division, where they directed him to marketing; marketing directed him back to the WarioWorld division. Nintendo told him that they would inform him of their decision to grant him an SDK for the game between six and eight weeks. No response came from Nintendo. After 17 weeks of trying and failing to get Nintendo to provide Pelloni with the SDK, on December 11, 2008, he decided to publicly protest to Nintendo by locking himself in his room for 100 days or until they provided him with the SDK, whichever came first. According to Owen Good from Kotaku, he staged the protest in an effort to gain publicity by making Nintendo look like a corporate bully beating down on an indie game developer. His room had no Internet (save for broadcasting a live feed of him in his room via a webcam) or television and had only a mobile phone in which he could make calls and send emails and the materials he needed to work on the game. Pelloni made the following comment when he decided to protest:

His protest garnered popularity on various Internet forums and websites. On the 21st day of his protest on December 31, 2008, Pelloni started to release addresses of Nintendo executives and to send Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime holiday greetings. He also threatened Nintendo by bundling the game as a killer app using a Nintendo DSi homebrew device. He also said that he was currently translating the game into several languages, planning to release the game worldwide as part of an effort to "significantly cut into Nintendo's bottom line". According to Chris Greenhough from Joystiq, he had contacted a Chinese firm for release of Bob's Game on a flash cartridge and that he was negotiating with Wal-Martmarker to distribute his game. He also threatened to get the game released on other distribution platforms including Xbox Live Arcade, Steam, the iPhone, and the PlayStation Network. On January 6, he sent another message, declaring that he was better than Shigeru Miyamoto, Hiroyuki Itō, Hideo Kojima, Adrian Carmack, and Will Wright combined, slamming all of them and saying that he "bested them all by far". Though he apologized for his comment two days later, he made another threat, which, according to Andy Chalk in an Escapist article, he would "exact a horrific vengeance if the company continued to deny him the SDK". At this point, he started to complain about paranoia and having persistent headaches.

Aftermath

The protest ended on the 30th day on January 10, 2009, with Pelloni saying that he was suffering from a "wicked headache". He blasted Nintendo, ranting that they are "a "heartless corporation, only interested in the biggest profits". He also ransacked his room as a result of his frustration. He posted a lengthy comment on his website, declaring his defeat. In light of the protest and lack of any movement from the webcam and after a post left to Pelloni on his website which suggested suicide, a concerned user from the /v/ board on 4chan was able to retrieve Pelloni's telephone number from his WHOIS information. The user contacted his sister in an attempt to get somebody to check on him. Then, on January 11, the police broke into his room to check on him, finding him okay.

According to Rob Hearn in an article on the website Pocket Gamer, shortly after his concession, Pelloni resumed his protest and attack on Nintendo. He had apparently worked himself into Bob's Game, portraying himself as the game's main antagonist and final boss. He redefined the object of the game to take down "Gantendo" (which was a combination of the words "Ganon" and "Nintendo"), with the game's main protagonist being named "Yuu". In addition, he had retooled the story to incorporate his events leading up to and after his protest. On February 1, Griffen McElroy from Joystiq reported that Pelloni vandalized the Nintendo World Store in New York Citymarker, saying that this is "Level 50" of his newly-revived protest. According to a report on Beefjack.com, it is suggested that Pelloni had been in communication with Nintendo throughout the past month colloborating with them on a viral marketing campaign. It said that he visited the Nintendo World Store not to vandalize but to advertise the game, and it said that is was unclear as to whether his YouTube video of him visiting the store was supported by Nintendo. This also provided speculation that, if Nintendo was colloborating with Pelloni on the viral marketing, then they would have already granted him the SDK for the game.

Then, on February 6, 25 weeks after sending his request for an SDK, he received a letter from Nintendo, rejecting his request. According to JC Fletcher from Joystiq, this was the same form letter that Xiotex Studios received upon their rejection to develop games for WiiWare. According to the letter, Nintendo said that they require "secure business facilities, sufficient equipment and staffing, financial stability and other attributes that would distinguish the developer" and that they deal with confidential information, making them highly selective to whom they grant SDK access.

In March 2009, Pelloni announced on his website that the protest and ensuing events were a viral marketing ploy to advertise Bob's Game. According to an email sent to the press, he said that he was able to fool the entire Internet gaming community. He also expressed disappointment in the press, saying that "'angry developer litters' is considered more newsworthy than 'angry developer'". He referred to the marketing of the game as "an old-school marketing style for an old-school style game". According to Jim Sterling from Destructoid, he did his various stunts to gain attention but claimed that his antics and stunts "are the mark of somebody who deserves to be a part of the game industry".

On March 31, it was reported that Pelloni released a playable demo of Bob's Game, which, according to his website, required a flash cartridge and was playable on the NO$GBA emulator. On April 2, 2009, MTV.com's Stephen Totilo interviewed Reggie Fils-Aime about the Bob's Game incident. Fils-Aime said that Pelloni did in fact submit to be a licensed developer for Nintendo, but Nintendo rejected his offer after a standard evaluation because he did not meet their requirements to be a developer for them. He notes that he is happy that people are motivated by games developed under similar circumstances such as World of Goo and 2D Boy as well as Tetris and Pokémon, that Nintendo enjoys "taking big ideas with small budgets and bringing them to life", as he put it.

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