Denki goes to war

Denki goes to war
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

December 18th 2008 at 3:49PM

Strategy word game the first product built from Denkiâ??s new approach to development

Scottish studio Denki has new IP poised for release in the form of Quarrel: World War One, a curious hybrid of military strategy title and word puzzle that is the result of a new approach to conceiving and creating games developed by the company.

Back making games` for traditional platforms, Dundee-based Denki is bringing Quarrel to XBL, after building a catalogue of games across various interactive television outlets.

“Quarrel has marked a return to form,” said Denki’s Internal Development Manager Gary Penn speaking to Develop. “That’s because we formed the company with the intention of doing nothing but small, original games, but had to detour slightly as the bottom fell out of the GBA market.

 “We used that to build a war chest,” explained Penn. “We used the war chest to invest in vertical slices, and also a process we call Dragon’s Denki”.

Dragons Denki, as the name implies, takes influence from the Dragon’s Den TV show, and is the first of two new approaches to creating games that Denki has envisaged.

Penn explained: “We set aside an amount with the idea being that you pitch for it, just like when we will have to pitch at the other end when we’re going out to tell the publishers. So the staff would come to a core group, our three dragons, who each had a week of investment to spend, so the maximum you could get was about three weeks of investment to build a vertical slice.

“It’s actually raised the bar, because you’re not just coming along shooting the breeze with an idea, but you actually have to put some effort into it. You’d think that might scare people off but it didn’t: it encouraged people to put the effort into ideas they really believed in.”

Despite the playful process name, the Dragon’s Denki process is one Penn believes give his employer an edge over rival studios: “Certainly from our own point of view it yielded better results, rather than lightly discussing or doing dry or even sexy paper documents. You tend to loose a lot there because until these things actually exist you never really know what you’re getting into anyway.”

Along with Dragon’s Denki, the studio has developed what Penn calls ‘our style guide’. ‘The Denki Difference’ is in effect a design mantra that boils down all the values that must be adhered to in pursuit of creating output worthy of the studio. Finalising the list this year, the end product must be defined by a feel of substance and emotive quality, a level of drama, a sense of the product being alive, convenience and a twist on the expected. Other values, such as the pursuit of illusion over simulation, also dictate exactly the kind of game Denki strives to develop, and quarrel is part of that.

“We’re not just getting back on the original horse. This is a full steam ahead gallop,” explained Penn. Denki is also working on a Wii title, with an official announcement coming in the follow weeks.