Quack V – The Unwrapped Present
December 26, 2014
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Joyeux Noël! Feliz Navidad! Mele Kalilkimaka! Happy Festivus! Yay, it’s Friday! Whew, we made it through another one. As the dust settles and the wrapping paper is cleared away, one final present makes itself visible – Quack V: Omelette of Doom (version 1.2)!
Quack V is an FPS game—a first person splatter—set in the Cubes storyverse (yep, the Cubes that I regularly write comic strips for over on my other site www.CubesComic.com). In the game, the villainous Scrambler is loose in the city, wreaking havoc. Through three intense levels of egg throwing (no guns!) craziness you must stop the Scrambler and his cronies. The game is a throwback to those classic original FPS games of the Wolfenstein 3D era and the art style is intentionally reminiscent of that period.
Quack V is the first fully-featured computer game I ever wrote to completion. Prior to Quack V, I’d programmed a number of simple little computer games and dabbled in a few more complex ones. But Quack V was the first game that had all the basic parts of modern games: customizable video resolutions, audio controls, input remapping, a proper Windows installer, and so on.
I developed the initial release of Quack V from March through December of 2006. On average, I spent an hour a day working on the game. I had tried programming several fully-featured games before, but had inevitably abandoned them. When I got to Quack V, I said, “Enough is enough. I’m going to make this happen.” Over the course of development, I really figured out how to keep focused on a long term project and how to make the time available for it (but that’s a subject for a future blog post).
So, if Quack V was finished and released back in 2006, why are you blogging about it now? That’s a very good question. I’m glad you asked. I’m blogging about it now, because just today you can go over to my other website and download, absolutely free, the newest release of Quack V.
I recently had reason to revisit Quack V. The same basic game tech that went into Quack V is going into my new Sleuthhounds computer game. Even though one is an FPS and the other is an adventure game, they both have the same basic game tasks of needing to show graphics, play sounds and music, and adapt to different control schemes. It was this last, in particular, that I was looking at in Quack V. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that while the mouse and keyboard controls worked well, the game controller (back in the day we called ‘em joysticks, you young whippersnappers) was almost unusable.
Of course, once I opened up the Quack V project again, to fix the game controller code, it became like any other renovation. You know? Where once you fix one thing, something else that looked fine before now stands out as needing more work.
In addition to improved game controller support, version 1.2 of Quack V provides several other enhancements. These include Jaggy Graphics mode for that real old school graphics feel, quick toggle between mouse/keyboard and game controllers, a couple new detail textures in some of the levels, and various other minor tweaks and improvements.
However, the biggest addition to the game was easily the new “Kid Mode” difficulty setting for really young players. When running in Kid Mode, you (or your kid) are given unlimited eggs to toss. Your enemies, on the other hand, have no eggs to toss. Kid Mode takes you through three levels different from those in the regular difficulty settings. In these three new levels, the enemies are clustered before you, making them easy to splat. Really young kids only have the one toss button to worry about. A little older and they can toss and move side to side with three buttons. And then the next step up is to full control in the game.