From Quackshot to Speer

Posted September 20, 2018

Back when I got my Mega Drive in 1991 I got two games along with it: Sonic the Hedgehog and Castle of Illusion. Not only did these excellent titles provide hours of fun for me and my dad, they also left a huge impression on me. Through their sheer quality, these games became my taste in games. I loved the platforming, the colors, the charm, the easy to grasp mechanics and how they were simply fun.

Needless to say I wanted more. So my dad and I would scour store shelves and flea markets for anything that resembled Sonic and Mickey’s outings that had opened a whole new world for us. Then, one day—I don’t exactly remember when or where—we saw this:

quack_cover.jpg

Donald Duck? A plunger gun? Cute screenshots on the back and promises of a globe-trotting adventure? There was no way in hell we’d be able to walk past this one. So we didn’t. We took it home, popped it into our Mega Drive and experienced a game that left an impression so deep, it influenced me 20 years later. In case you couldn’t tell: Quackshot was the main inspiration for [Speer].

quackshot1.png
That plunger gun seems to be packing quite an oomph!

You see, on this particular adventure, Donald was packing the plunger gun shown on the cover. With it you could stun enemies, but more importantly: Once you upgraded it, the plungers would stick to walls and serve as temporary platforms for you to climb. Looking back, it was a somewhat underutilized feature but for some reason it left a huge impression on me. 20 years later I would revisit that mechanic in a game of my very own.

During the final work on Magnet Man Adventures I already began thinking about my next game. I had written down a couple of vague ideas and indulged in some brainstorming sessions whenever I had some leisure time. All I knew was that I wanted a simple mechanic with lots of possibilities—and preferably one that was easier to implement than the fiddly magnets featured in MMA. The idea of creating your own platforms popped into my head multiple times, but for some reason I never paid it too much attention. But then, one fateful day, I decided that the idea just had to have some merit when it kept sneaking into my head like that. So I sat down and brainstormed potential uses for your platform-weapon…and the rest, as they say, is history.

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Throwing things at other things is a good way to get ahead in life.

It didn’t take me long to realize that yes, the idea did have merit. A lot of it. I got fired up, felt that rush of adrenaline any creative gets when they have a great idea…and waited for the inevitable realization that the idea wasn’t that good after all, that it wouldn’t work, that I couldn’t do it justice. But funnily enough, that feeling didn’t materialize. So I set to work on a prototype and a couple months later, I suddenly had a full game being sold on itch.io.

In order to make the most of the mechanic I had to emphasize the puzzle aspects, which made [Speer] a different beast to Quackshot. The Speer had to have more uses, the level design had to be a lot more complex and tricky. Really, apart from the basic idea of the core mechanic, [Speer] doesn’t have all that much to do with Quackshot. However, without an angry duck wearing a fedora, [Speer] would most likely never have happened. Funny how life works sometimes, isn’t it?

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