Prototypes: Jack Action & the Duck Assault
This is part two of a two part series on my recent prototypes, also including Morbid Grid. I have a third game that is unfinished, currently called Proto2.
(View the first post in this series about Morbid Grid)
What is Jack Action & the Duck Assault?
Seriously? A game about punching and drop-kneeing mallards? Hahahaha. Damn. Jack Action is a exactly that: a game about Jack Action's noble sacrifice toward defeating the evil hoard of Dr. Science's robotic, maniacal waterfowl.
The story of this prototype goes back many many years. Around the time that YoYoGames.com was doing their Save the Planet Competition, I had a small idea that failed to come to fruition.
This idea was about an elite force of toxic waste fighters who jumped from airplanes to eliminate the pollutant threat of our terrorist foes. They did not use parachutes.
"Toxic Troopers" was the original track that played in that small experiment. Jack Action's music is a much more modern version of the song that I actually wrote several months before starting work on Jack Action. I liked the 5/4 time of the piece, so I kept it in the remix!
In the summer of 2011, I also had another idea for a game. This time, you were using a jetpack, grappling hook, and a heavy laser blaster pistol. Your name? Jack Action. The game was meant to be a ridiculous over the top action extravaganza where you took out airplanes and nuclear missiles.
Now, I started my campaign for a game a week. While working on another weird cube game (that at one time actually featured Jack Action himself), I had the urge to listen to some tunes from Time Splitters 2, and that is when I read this Youtube comment:
"Big Tony's been having some discrete hair transplant work done down at the Hospital. But in an anesthetic-induced daze he thinks that some giant ducks are after his new thatch to feather their nests! Help him out by whacking 'dem malicious mallards."
It flooded my mind with the great power of nostalgia. The comment was referring to a challenge mission you could play in TS2; All I could imagine was Jack Action beating the crap out of ducks.
A Legend is Born
But, how would all of the pieces fit together? How could this fury of action-gaming, brewing since the foul winters of 2008 to the frightful fall of 2012, form what we now know as the best bird-punching simulator human-kind has ever known?
A dream about jetpack explosion backflips.
Dreams have not failed me in the past. It was a sign. I can't explain it. At that point, it finally became really clear what I wanted to create for my prototype.
The rest of my weekend was spent perfecting the duck-punching formula; I would pull from the greats of combat: Battletoads, River City Ransom, Street Fighter. I would channel the hatred of those that fly: Duck Hunt, Ocarina of Time, Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts.
What Went Right?
This was a game that really raised my spirits; I gushed with happiness when I dumped a copy in front of my brother-in-law and we both laughed until Jack Action splatted to his death. I couldn't stop giggling to myself about this game. Could not. I honestly don't know if I've made such a satirical game before. I'm sure I've joked about it, but it's never materialized.
I hope other game developers who take their work seriously (much like I do) know that even if the subject matter is beyond reason, it can still be important work; it's really only something I came to realize after making Jack Action. I'm really surprised I hadn't done something like this sooner.
What Went Wrong?
Ha? Are you kidding me? What could possibly go wrong?
This was Part 2 of 2. Thanks for reading, guys. It means a lot!
Editor's Notes, 2020
: The image I reference being part of the weird cube game doesn't exist any longer, lost to time because the hosting service is now defunct.
: "dreams" have played a part in several of my games that I have developed — most notably, suteF was inspired by a dream I had where I was in a fist fight with something that I later made into the character Fetus.
: I was making a reference to the red flying enemies from the game, the "Red Arremers". They were very hard to defeat.
: "Parachutes are for pussies."
: Originally, there were references to a part 3, but it was never made. So references to there being a third article have been removed.