Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Game DNA - Digital Genius

Keen Kempt watchers will have already seen our latest game Digital Genius. In many ways it is our most sophisticated release so far and draws together concepts and influences that have been buzzing around our heads over the last few years.

For example, Digital Genius is a clear descendent of Nintendo’s Wario Ware and Konami’s earlier Bishi Bashi series. These titles popularized microgames with their quirky approach, sharing a fast-paced, frenzied structure and a real focus on novelty - perfect for short attention spans. That’s probably why we took to Wario Ware with such gusto when we got a Wii in the office. Our first stab at this genre was the much-lauded VaioWare (shortlisted as the Best Online Game at the 2007 BIMA Awards), which we then developed into our own ‘Championship of Microgames’ TinyTrials.

After Wario Ware and Bishi Bashi the other obvious influence is Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training. This was another big hit in the Kempt office and we learned its lessons well: with a little style and a clever format it was possible to get hardcore gamers hooked on simple problem solving. Even if we couldn't get our brain ages down from the mid-fifties.

Brain Training was particularly appropriate for Digital Genius as the game was launched with input from Mensa. In the early stages of development we began by using their IQ test questions, some of which made it through as microgames in the final release. Whilst this was fantastic in itself the real kudos came from Mensa actually taking part in the game; they asked their members to play through Digital Genius to set a benchmark for other players and this stands as a serious challenge to most gamers.

If you dig deeper into Digital Genius you’ll see more than just microgames as inspiration - videogame culture pops up all over the place; there are console knowledge quizzes, an arithmetic game based on Asteroids and various other nods to the likes of Gauntlet, Tron and Ray Ray Parade. We see this layering of references as a vital part of what we do - immersing ourselves in videogame culture means that we can build new games from the ground up using our influences as the cornerstones.