<div class=header> <div class=headerrow> <div class=headercell> <div class=headerlogo> <p class=image><a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net" target="_parent"><img src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/logo/hg101logo.png" alt="Logo by MP83"></a></p> </div> <div class=headerad> <script type="text/javascript"><!-- google_ad_client = "pub-5230184257141993"; /* HG101 */ google_ad_slot = "4961941287"; google_ad_width = 728; google_ad_height = 90; //--> </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> </script> </div> </div> </div> <div class=headerrow> <div class=headercell> <div class=headermenu> <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/alpha.htm" target="_parent">Articles</a> | <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/features.htm" target="_parent">Features</a> | <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/books.htm" target="_parent">Books</a> | <a href="http://blog.hardcoregaming101.net" target="_parent">Blog</a> | <a href="http://hg101.proboards.com/" target="_parent">Forums</a> | <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/about.htm" target="_parent">About</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hardcore-Gaming-101/109837535712670" target="_blank"><img alt=" " src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/facebook.png"></a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/HG_101" target="_blank"><img alt=" " src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/twitter.png"></a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://ask.fm/hg_101" target="_blank"><img alt=" " src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/askfm.png"></a>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.patreon.com/hg101" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/supportsmalla.png"></a> </div> <div class=searchbox> <form action="http://www.google.com/cse" id="cse-search-box" target="_parent"> <div> <input type="hidden" name="cx" value="partner-pub-5230184257141993:xfg3mydy24k"> <input type="hidden" name="ie" value="ISO-8859-1"> <input type="text" name="q" size="30"> <input type="submit" name="sa" value="Search"> </div> </form> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.google.com/coop/cse/brand?form=cse-search-box&amp;lang=en"></script> </div> </div> </div> </div>

<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Mickey & Donald
Donald Duck's Speedboat
Donald Duck's Playground
Donald Alphabet Chase

Page 2:
Donald Duck
Lucky Dime Caper
Donald The Hero

Page 3:
Quackshot
World of Illusion
Deep Duck Trouble

Page 4:
Donald Duck no Mahou no Boushi
Magical Quest 3 Starring Mickey & Donald
Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow

Page 5:
Magical Tetris Challenge
Donald Duck: Goin' Qu@ckers
Disney's PK: Out of the Shadows

Page 6:
Duckburg P.D.: Donald on Duty
Donald Duck Quest
Donald Duck Quest 2
PK: Phantom Duck
Life of D. Duck

Page 7:
Al Lowe discussing Donald Duck
Darlene Lacey discussing Disney
Cameos & Appearances

Back to the Index


Al Lowe discussing Donald Duck

Al Lowe

Al Lowe is always going to be most well known for creating Leisure Suit Larry and his programming works on many of Sierra's finest adventure games. For me personally however, his name is synonymous with Donald Duck's Playground, a game that I personally owe a lot of respect and gratitude towards. When growing up in the '80s, Donald Duck's Playground was the very first stepping stone for me to start learning English, and the game single handedly taught me how to count with its clever way of making the players count the change in return. I was only 3-4 years when I first started playing the game, but whenever I hear the name or hear the sounds of the game, the memories of sitting in the basement with my babysitter and her booting up the game come back as if it was just a few days ago. It was therefore one of my biggest thrills to be able to talk to Al Lowe himself about the game and finally get to personally thank him for creating something so simple that yet became so important to me.

On where the idea for Donald Duck's Playground came from and Disney's input:

What planning stage? [grin] There was no up-front input from Disney at all; they had no one on staff who knew anything to speak of about computers. They were some educators who were then focusing on filmstrips (remember those?!), books and films. We came up with what we wanted to do, fleshed it out, and stayed away from the Disney folks as long as possible. We learned the hard way that their "suggestions" and "improvements" were merely "we need to change something so it looks like we had some input in case anybody asks." The less of that the better.

As far as the idea was concerning, we had some reading games, we wanted something to do with math. I was a model railroader (hence that scene); I lived in Fresno, where fruit packers were common (hence that scene); and we flew a lot (hence that scene!).

Discussing the planning stages and what amount of preparation went into the game:

Almost none. We didn't have time! From concept to shipping was only about 4 months; we scribbled some notes, made some sketches, and turned the art over to the artists, who did the best they could with the primitive tools they had.

Fruit packing Donald, inspired by the fruit packers in Fresno.

The production time and the amount of work it took to fully produce the game:

I was involved from start to ship, so about 4 months of more than full time labor. I was young, hungry and foolish; I often worked 80 hour weeks then. But, as I recall, that game was less trouble than some others since it was clearly segmented and each segment could be created and tested alone.

On inspiration for the music:

Hunger? [grin] Seriously, I needed some sort of music; we didn't have the budget to hire a composer; I was a musician and former music teacher - what else would you do? I tried to make it simple and child-like. I hope I succeeded.

Al playing saxophone with the David Hasselhoff Big Band in 2007.

Discussing material that might have been cut or in retrospect should have been added:

Cut? We didn't have time to design more than we could finish so there was never anything to be cut! Actually, considering the state of the art then, I'm quite proud of Donald Duck's Playground.

If Lowe ever expected that 27 years after release, people from around the world would contact him about the game.

Of course! This was all part of my master plan for world domination!! On a serious note: I thought the game came out in 1986. That would make it a quarter-century!

Thank you for your time Al, and thank you for the memories and inspiration.


Darlene Lacey discusses Disney

Darlene Lacey

Darlene Waddington was a product analyst and quality tester at Disney's media wing for several years since the late '80s. She started out in the business working on American Laser Disc Games, with both Dragon's Lair and Space Ace under her belt. Her name is found on many of the educational titles and also Capcom's Disney output on the NES and over the years, she has collected lots of vivid memories of working with Disney and seeing how the different companies treated the characters, and also mistreated them at times. She no longer works for Disney, and now focuses her career on her personal candy wrapper museum and script editing jobs for several companies. Since getting married, she changed her name to Darlene Lacey about 4-5 years ago.

On her background in video games and how she got to work with Disney:

My background before Disney was as a game designer. I was one of the members of the design team on the original Dragon's Lair and Space Ace at AMS (Advanced Microcomputer Systems, later known as Rick Dyer Industries). After that, I was hired by Sega Enterprises (this was the old Sega America which soon after bought by Sega of Japan) to develop laserdisc games based upon Paramount Studios' properties. I worked on a Star Trek III game as well as a He-Man game, neither of which made it to the market due to the restructuring of Sega.

I then helped design some CD-I titles, but optical disc technology was still in its infancy, and nothing came of that. That was when I came to work for Disney and began designing and producing games for established technologies, such as the C-64, Apple II, PC and NES-8 bit.

When I joined Disney, it was part of an effort on their part to make consumer software. Up until then, they only produced a small number of educational titles for schools. So, in an effort to maintain that reputation, the Disney-published titles were to be "edutainment" and licensed titles could be simply entertainment. All projects were developed out of house, but I designed the Disney-published titles and recruited developers to make them. With the licensed titles such as "Ducktales", the games were both designed and developed overseas by companies like Capcom."

Donald's Alphabet Chase

On which Duck games she was involved with:

I was responsible for two Donald Duck games. One was Donald's Alphabet Chase, which was a Disney-published game for pre-schoolers. It was "value-priced", which meant it had to fit on a single 5 1/4" disc. The game involved Donald hunting through his house for all the mischievous letters of the alphabet, which had gotten loose and were hiding throughout the house. As he found them, he tossed them up to an alphabet ledger in alphabetical order, and when all the letters were found, the "Alphabet Song" played. All game mechanics involved the spacebar so that very young children could play.

The other, better-known game was Ducktales, which was first developed by Capcom for the NES 8-bit and then also ported to Game Boy. Both titles earned Software Publishers Associations' "Gold" (over 500,000 units sold), and the Game Boy version won PC Players' Magazine's "Game Boy Game of the Year". I still have the unreasonably ostentatious statuette I was awarded for this honor(!). It wasn't truly a "Donald Duck" game, but revolved around Scrooge McDuck and Donald's nephews traveling the world in search of a treasure. In the end, the game player is told that friendship is the true treasure... not my idea... but it had a cute corniness to it.

On the usage of Disney characters in games and how companies would handle Disney's restrictions:

Disney was, of course, very particular about how its characters were used. For one thing, they had to be "on model"... no Mickeys with the ears attached to the wrong part of their heads, etc... and, of course, they had to behave in ways that were compatible with their established behaviors. But this could be tough when you're trying to introduce action to a videogame. Even in the pre-school game, the developer, Westwood Associates, wanted to jazz it up and not make it so baby-ish, so they added an animation in which Donald gets briefly electrocuted when he hunts for the letters in the bathroom. I had to tell them to take it out! They really wanted to keep it, but there was absolutely no way we could allow Donald to get fried, especially for the benefit of pre-schoolers. Sometimes you just have to be the killjoy who says, "Delete it".

The same thing happened with a licensed game I didn't work on which involved Donald. The Japanese developer had Donald clubbing baby seals on one level!!! They were perplexed as to why this wasn't a reasonable piece of game play to include. There was definitely a culture gap. (Note: The company in question is most likely Kemco as they held the license at the time.)

That sort of thing was mainly what we had to keep an eye on. The Disney characters couldn't kill anything or anyone. They often did other things like zap characters with freeze rays or bounce them out of their way... that sort of thing. They didn't shoot guns or otherwise wreak havoc. This definitely meant we had to create designs that were out of the norm, but they worked. You also couldn't have them be killed or maimed... they could only be slowed down or possibly stunned. Most game designers and developers have a blood lust, so we were the ones that had to be sure than nobody got carried away with the Disney characters.

Darlene's Candy Wrapper Museum as seen on "Unwrapped".

On Disney expanding their games industry and her activities beyond Disney:

That sort of thing was mainly what we had to keep an eye on. The Disney characters couldn't kill anything or anyone. They often did other things like zap characters with freeze rays or bounce them out of their way... that sort of thing. They didn't shoot guns or otherwise wreak havoc. This definitely meant we had to create designs that were out of the norm, but they worked. You also couldn't have them be killed or maimed... they could only be slowed down or possibly stunned. Most game designers and developers have a blood lust, so we were the ones that had to be sure than nobody got carried away with the Disney characters.

As the business evolved, we were allowed to design and develop games not based upon the Disney characters. I was working on a game based upon Route 66 and adventure game of office politics when Disney restructured (an old familiar story in the US software industry), and all our projects were canceled. I wound up eventually getting out of gaming and working more on Web technologies and artificial intelligence-based systems for education, but I also kept my hand in some fun stuff by becoming a script adapter for a large number of anime and other foreign DVDs, adapting them to English, either for lip-sync or subtitles. I'm still doing that. A few of the titles I have worked on are Lupin the 3rd, Doraemon, Code Geass and Disgaea.

Of course, I also run the Candy Wrapper Museum, which has brought me a good amount of success. I recently was part of an exhibit in Los Angeles (the "Palate" show), which was curated by the same people involved in Banksy's "Exit through the Gift Shop". It was a lot of fun.

Thanks so much to Darlene for her great insight and her continued hard work. Check out her website at The Candy Wrapper Museum.

Cameos & Appearances

Being one of Disney's most famous stars, it's no surprise that Donald has appeared in most of Disney's many games over the years in various roles. Some are simple cameos in the background, others are more in the forefront along with his friends and sometimes he's even the captain of his own sports team. The most well known role outside of his own video games is in Square's Kingdom Hearts, where Donald serves as main character Sora's sidekick as the hot headed magician. Kingdom Hearts tells the story of Sora as he explores the world inhabited by familiar Disney characters, fighting an evil force called The Heartless. This series has become a massive success and is one of Square's most popular titles due it its creative use of Disney characters alongside Final Fantasy and originals made specifically for the series. Due to the width and history in these titles, a thorough look is served better in its own article series than in the midst of unrelated games.



Related Articles


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Mickey & Donald
Donald Duck's Speedboat
Donald Duck's Playground
Donald Alphabet Chase

Page 2:
Donald Duck
Lucky Dime Caper
Donald The Hero

Page 3:
Quackshot
World of Illusion
Deep Duck Trouble

Page 4:
Donald Duck no Mahou no Boushi
Magical Quest 3 Starring Mickey & Donald
Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow

Page 5:
Magical Tetris Challenge
Donald Duck: Goin' Qu@ckers
Disney's PK: Out of the Shadows

Page 6:
Duckburg P.D.: Donald on Duty
Donald Duck Quest
Donald Duck Quest 2
PK: Phantom Duck
Life of D. Duck

Page 7:
Al Lowe discussing Donald Duck
Darlene Lacey discussing Disney
Cameos & Appearances

Back to the Index