press kit

Developers: Pete Morrish and Jake Simpson
Based in London, UK, and Arizona, US.
@PJDubyaM and @TheJakeSimpson

Release date: Autumn 2013.
Platforms: Designed for iPhone / iPod Touch.
Compatibility: anything running iOS6 or above.
Twitter: @woodlousegame
Price: Free, with IAP.

The simplest game there's ever been, and the first in a new genre – 'Background Gaming' – to boot. Woodlouse is, basically, a posh list – think of as many words as you can with more vowels in them than consonants. Sounds silly, but for the right sort of person, it's life-changing stuff. You won't be able to read a newspaper article, or have a chat on the phone, or meet up with your friends, without some background part of your brain checking every word that passes through it.

press release
Click to download the Woodlouse press release.

All the cool startup kids are talking about minimum viable products these days. Woodlouse's own MVP sparked into existence in a warehouse some time in the mid-nineties, and consisted of nothing more than, well, nothing. A friend and I (Pete) were a bit bored in our job, and came up with a challenge: how many words could we think of with more vowels than consonants?

And so, the first seeds of what would eventually become Woodlouse were sown.

Where the first MVP consisted of nothing, MVP1.1 added a pen and some cardboard. And about four days later, we'd written down hundreds of viable vowel-heavy words.

Fast-forward half a lifetime, and I remembered about the silly vowelly word game I invented in a dusty cosmetics distributor all those years ago. I asked a friend to bash out a prototype iOS version, and within a couple of hours, the first silicon version was ready.

It was ugly, and buggy, and liked crashing, but that initial prototype was compelling enough to keep me adding words – daily – for over 18 months. That prototype became my most played game of all time.

Back at the beginning of 2013, I left my job. I was second in command of a small games developer, but kinda wanted to do my own thing. And one of those things was Woodlouse.

A friend and I decided to devote some spare time hours to it and, a few months later, Woodlouse is here.

>> The simplest game on the App Store? Just might be.

>> We think it might be the world's first 'background' game. You don't really play it, as such. It sort of hangs around in the corners of your mind, subtly monitoring everything you read and every conversation you have.

>> A unique take on Achievements. These aren't your normal Achievements; this is a crossword-style metagame layered on top of the core Woodlouse experience. Yeah. We said 'metagame'.

>> Friends and Global Leaderboards.

>> Uncynical IAP, designed just to appeal to fans: extra score modes and an in-app dictionary.

>> Experimental, hyperminimal, monochrome UI.

>> Black-and-colourful modes to match your chosen 5c device (or just because it looks hella cool).

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Download zip of above screenshots.

logo / icon
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Click to download Logo Pack


We plan to make many (many!) more Woodlouse Nano videos. Keep up to date at our Woodlouse YouTube channel.

about pete morrish
I've been making games for about fifteen years.

I'm currently working at Slightly Mad Studios as Lead Producer, where I'm heading up all things production-related on the awesome community-assisted Project CARS, and on a top-secret unannounced project. Prior to that, I spent four years as second-in-command of a small eight-person games developer. I left there at the beginning of 2013 to try and get my change-the-face-of-the-music-industry startup, Skynl, off the ground. Over the course of a few months, it became clear that ambition outweighed wallet, so I switched into consultancy and making my own games. One of those is Woodlouse.

My background is in biology, psychology and behaviour, so I have a slightly different take on play than most in the industry. I love experimenting with design, with cognition, and with nudges.

Woodlouse is my attempt to finally release something I'm proud of, that's pure unfiltered 'me'. I mostly got there.

about jake simpson
Jake Simpson has been making games for longer than it's actually possible to have been making games. So when he tells you he was personally involved in making Eliza, just nod, buy him another beer – Stella for choice – and then edge away slowly, nodding, smiling and making eye contact.. He's had a hand in everything from Midway Arcade games to MMOs and virtual worlds, like Second Life, with some stops at PC gaming along the way. Although recently he deserted and went to try his hand making CG movies instead, it was probably just so he could get chicks. Once he'd established that wasn't going to happen, he returned to games and app development in the mobile space and now he wrote Woodlouse for Pete.

A Brit somehow marooned in deepest darkest Arizona, Jake is grumpy in the morning, likes tea and thinks American bacon is for the birds. He writes in his spare time, and has taken up Archery, so he's ready for the Mildly Peckish Games he is sure are coming.

Jake Simpson did all the code (and tweaked a bit of the design).

I did all the design (and tweaked a bit of the code).

The font is Oranienbaum, by by Ivan Glakikh and Oleg Popselov.

The in-app dictionary is LexiContext, by Ori Regev.

Drop me a line at ObscureMyEmail, and/or Natalie Griffith of Press Space (awesome PR for indies!) at pressspace or +44 (0)7914 840004.