HotGen Ltd // October 2012
I’ve worked with HotGen on and off over the years, and it’s always a pleasure – they’re a fantastic bunch of experienced gaming veterans who consistently deliver great results.
In October 2012 they found they had a small gap between projects that meant one of their teams had nothing to do for a month. So they asked me to come up with a simple, fun idea they could code up quickly and release onto the App Store – well, no point having people just sitting about, is there?
One of their coders had already created a basic game engine, which had a space ship travelling along three winding tracks. By swiping left and right, you could ‘jump’ between tracks and collect stars. It was pretty thin stuff, but it was a starting point.
After some pondering, I proposed the game’s final form: you guide a mother duck as she swims upstream in search of her lost ducklings. You hop between streams by swiping left and right, and you dodge obstacles by swiping up to jump or swiping down to dive briefly.
Okay, so far, so standard. But the hook is the duckling collecting. On a basic level, the ducklings are like Sonic’s rings: hit an obstacle with ducks in tow and you lose all your ducklings; hit an obstacle with no ducklings in tow and you die.
The twist is, to earn points you have to deposit ducklings in the nests that pop up, with the score growing exponentially the more ducklings you drop off at once.
So if you want to score big, you need to collect loads and loads of ducklings… Problem is, the more ducklings in tow, the further the mother duck is pushed up the screen which gives the player less time to react to obstacles!
It proved to be a really addictive risk/reward mechanic that encouraged daring, edge-of-the-seat play, and makes Doodle Ducks a lot of fun.