There have been lots of things said about Dong Nguyen, creator of Flappy Bird, but, because you're more likely to spot a unicorn in the wild than you are to bump into Nguyen on the conference circuit, separating fact from fiction has been an impossible task.
It's no surprise then, that Nguyen's presence at this year's Gamelab conference in Barcelona has caused something of a stir.
However, when the Vietnamese developer took to the stage early Friday morning, it became obvious that he wasn't a man seeking fame, fortune, and power, but simply a passionate, humble, and perhaps slightly overawed developer who'd been thrust into the limelight without a moments notice.
“The inspiration behind Flappy Bird was bouncing a ping pong ball on one hand, which is something I do,” opened Nguyen.
"[Whenever I create a game] I like to use the philosophy 'easy to learn, but difficult to master'. I usually take inspiration from playing sport. I also play a lot of retro games, but the games that inspired me the most are Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 and 3. Actually, forget the 2, just 1 and 3.”
Nguyen doesn't create games for the sole purpose of making cash. For him, it's about flexing his creative muscles and learning new things.
So, When Flappy Bird became a chart-topper overnight, Nguyen was just as surprised as the rest of the industry.
“When I started .GEARS I followed the philosophy that I can fire and forget. I didn't do any marketing,” said Nguyen. “When I released Flappy Bird I didn't expect anything. I had another job, so I didn't rely on making games.
“[But], by the time November 2013 rolled around I had a few hundred downloads a day, and as I watched them come in I knew I had something special.”
No one wants to get stuck in a rut, and Nguyen is no different. After dispelling the rumours that Nintendo would be pursuing legal action against him and Flappy Bird, he revealed that he's now looking towards new horizons.
“I can confirm that Nintendo haven't been in contact with me about any lawsuit. They have never complained about my games,” insisted Nguyen, who explains that some rumours don't die because he simply prefers to “avoid the press”.
“I am making a big game now, and I see it as many small games put together. My job is to synchronise those components in order to create one unique experience.
“My new game will focus on competitions between players who can see each other in the game. I will also introduce new obstacles while maintaining the simplicity of the gameplay that Flappy Bird has."
Finally, Nguyen offered his thoughts on the never-ending stream of clones that have flooded app stores following his title's rise to power.
“I am very upset about the clones. If people presented the game differently, and didn't use my bird, I think It'd be okay,” offered Nguyen. “Unfortunately, some creators use my original design, my bird, in their game, and that makes people confused about my work. It's something I can't control.
As for the fame? You'll be pleased to know Nguyen has no intention of letting it get the better of him.
“I am still myself. I don't feel much different, because in my country I am not popular,” said Nguyen. “In Vietnam people don't play Flappy Bird.”