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Derek Yu (born July 2, 1982) is an American indie game designer, artist, and blogger.[1][2] Yu is known for a number of indie games he helped design: Spelunky, Aquaria, and Eternal Daughter.[3] He is also known for blogging and creating websites about independent video games.

Derek Yu
Derek yu gdc2007.jpg
Yu at the Game Developers Conference in 2007
Born (1982-07-02) July 2, 1982 (age 37)
OccupationGame designer, artist, blogger


Under Blackeye SoftwareEdit

Early on, he was associated with a freeware game website solely distributing its own software, including Diabolika (year unknown), Diabolika II (2003), and Eternal Daughter (2002).[4][5][6]

Eternal DaughterEdit

Eternal Daughter (2002) is a throwback platform game that was developed over a two-year period using Multimedia Fusion.[3][6]

I'm O.K. – A Murder SimulatorEdit

A small run-and-gun game that Yu helped create, I'm O.K (2006) is a low-resolution game created by a small team of four people in response to Jack Thompson's open letter "A Modest Video Game Proposal" regarding gun violence and any possible tie-in to violent video games.[7]

Later gamesEdit

Yu has worked on several indie games sold outside of traditional distribution channels.


Aquaria screenshot

A collaboration between Yu and Alec Holowka,[1] Aquaria (2007) is a side-scrolling video game that takes place underwater.[1] It won the Independent Games Festival's 2007 Seumas McNally Grand Prize,[8][9] was available as a download,[8][10] and was also sold in a Humble Indie Bundle.

According to Yu, "Not only did Aquaria sell well enough that [Alec Holowka and I] could continue making games full time, but the positive feedback we received from players and critics also validated us as artists and helped to put to rest our doubts about whether we were making something worthwhile."[11] However, Bit Blot has yet to produce another title, and the last update to the company's website occurred in 2011.[12] Yu and Holowka live in separate countries,[1] and Holowka cited the long distance nature of the collaboration as a source of tension during a 2008 interview.[2]


Spelunky (2008) is a retro platform game with randomized level generation similar to roguelike games. It is reminiscent of the 1983 game Spelunker. It was released as a freeware game in 2008, and was remade for Xbox 360 in 2012;[13] PC Gamer UK chose the remake of Spelunky as its 2013 game of the year.[14]

Yu is working on a sequel, Spelunky 2.[15]

Other gamesEdit

Yu created the tileset graphics for DoomRL, a roguelike game based on the popular series, in development since 2002. He designed a level in Super Mario Maker for the website Polygon's "Devs Make Mario" series.[16] In 2014, he designed the card game Time Barons with Jon Perry.[17]


  • Yu, Derek (March 2016). Spelunky. Los Angeles: Boss Fight Books. ISBN 978-1940535111.


  1. ^ a b c d Road To The IGF: Bit Blot's Aquaria, October 23, 2006
  2. ^ a b Inside Job: Interview; Aquaria Creators Derek Yu, Alec Holowka (page 2/5), 18 January 2008
  3. ^ a b 4cr Interview - Derek Yu Archived 2008-01-16 at the Wayback Machine, September 30, 2005
  4. ^ Blackeye software profile
  5. ^ About, archived from the original on 2001-03-03, retrieved 2017-05-07
  6. ^ a b Eternal Daughter ( cache)
  7. ^ Wallis, Alistair (2006-10-23). "Road To The IGF: Bit Blot's Aquaria". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  8. ^ a b IGS: Inside The Making Of Aquaria, February 18, 2008
  9. ^ 2007 Finalists and Winners: 2007 Independent Games Festival Winners Independent Games Festival Official Site
  10. ^ Aquaria Sets Sale On Steam, Dec 17, 2008
  11. ^ Yu, Derek (2016). "1". Spelunky. Los Angeles, CA: Boss Fight Books. p. (kindle ebook location) 117.
  12. ^ Holowka, Alec (3 November 2011). "AQUARIA FOR IPAD RELEASED!". Bit Blot. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  13. ^ "Major Nelson Xbox Live Marketplace Release Schedule". Retrieved 2012-06-26.
  14. ^ "Game of the year 2013: Spelunky". PC Gamer UK. Future plc. 1 January 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  15. ^ "Spelunky World". Spelunky World. Retrieved 2019-06-13.
  16. ^ Robinson, Nick (2015-08-26). "Watch Spelunky's creator build a hellish stage in Super Mario Maker".
  17. ^ "Time Barons: From Spelunky to Card Games". October 15, 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2018.

External linksEdit