Data Design Interactive
|Founded||United Kingdom (1983)|
|Defunct||DDI UK in 2009|
Data Design Interactive was a British video game developer and video game publisher. It was founded in 1983, became a limited company in 1999 and set up a US division Data Design Interactive LLC in May 2008. The UK office ceased trading in 2009. It developed games on multiple platforms including PC consoles, arcade and online, and also produced specialist sports analysis software.
The company was a pioneer of the early home computer games industry, started by Stewart Green as a single programmer, on 8 bit consoles, Sinclair Spectrum, Amstrad CPC he designed, programmed, created graphics, wrote music, manually recorded the games, and sold units at computer fairs and by mail order. The company grew organically hiring artists and programmers, mostly doing work for hire for publishers, it grew and topped out at 105 staff. It is best known for developing Family friendly titles, for Hasbro and Lego, although it has also produced two 18+ rated titles. DDI was a preferred developer for Lego Media, and created rendered animations for all the LEGO Media titles, including Harry Potter. They pioneered 'in game advertising', with the first real time interactive adverts featuring P&G in their London Taxi title. In 2003, after three publishers pulled out of the games market, DDI nearly closed down, but instead made a bold move from developing titles for other companies, to creating original titles. They are one of the few development teams who have been able to make the move into self publishing on consoles. They become licensed publishers with Sony, Intel, Nintendo and Microsoft.
Data Design Interactive worked with global brands and licences including Kawasaki, Mini, Harry Potter, BMW, Austin Mini, Rover, Austin-Healey, Spearmint Rhino, Habitrail, Lego, London Taxi, Tonka, EARACHE records and Nickelodeon.
'Game Orientated Development System' was a game engine developed by DDI for rapid & cross platform game development. Starting in 1990 on PS1 and PC, it constantly evolved to support all new consoles. Uniquely it worked from the top down, it created its own higher level of programming which was machine independent, so new formats could re-use existing code designed for former formats. By re-using large amounts of code between titles DDI achieved very short product release cycles with relatively few development staff. With a staff of only 40 people they published an impressive 62 SKUs in a single year (2008), which they claimed "probably makes us the biggest and most reliable Wii developer in the world". GODS has proven to be a very versatile system, producing racing, flying, platform, puzzle, strategy, sing-along, simulation and sports styles of games, with re-definable characters (NuYu's), multi-user split screens, and physics from either Havok or later with Bullet.
Data Design Interactive developed their own brands including:
A range of characters based on cute versions of international mythical characters. Each mythical character is designed to widen its potential market by suiting different seasons and times of the year including Christmas, Easter and Halloween.
Kidz Sports is a collection of sports video games for younger gamers. You can design your own character, called a NuYu, out of body 'parts' to match your desired look, then load saved characters into other titles like Nintendo Mii characters, but NuYu characters have more detail than Mii characters.
My Personal Trainer
DDI decided to branch out with another innovation, the use of the Wii remote and Balance Board for scientific analysis of body motion for training purposes. Teaming up with David Leadbetter and IMG Academy (owner of the world's largest sports training facilities), they produced accurate analysis of the golf swing and the player's body movement, which had previously only been capable on machines costing over $40,000. This was released as My Personal Golf Trainer, which at $100 was the most expensive Wii title ever released.
The Popcorn Arcade was Data Design Interactive's publishing label intended to fill a lack of Wii titles, and especially establish a low price Wii budget range. Many of the Popcorn Arcade titles were ports of DDI's PlayStation 2 games, with their control schemes modified to take advantage of the Wii's motion control capabilities. From 2007 DDI released over 30 'family friendly' titles on its Popcorn Arcade label targeted at casual gamers. DDI specialized in children's titles for LEGO and Hasbro, and the games were designed with an original range of characters intended to appeal to children, such as Ninjabread Man, Billy the Wizard and the Myth Makers. All the games featured split screens, often 4 player to encourage multi player family use.
The Popcorn range was a huge commercial success, especially for a small independent publisher with just a small 30 man team. It sold over 4 million units of which over 2 million were in the first year alone. Sales peaked at 40% of the European market for Wii games in this price segment. Later titles such as Kidz Sports Crazy Mini Golf sold over 400,000 units. and user demand lead to the sequels Kidz Sports Crazy Mini Golf 2.
As an indie developer, DDI has a long history of Innovations included Crazy Mini Golf's use of the angle and rotation of the Wii remote to detect small swings rather than the accelerometer - this made the control far more sensitive than the Golf minigame in Wii Sports, which only used the accelerometer and thus requires a harder, longer swing. Mini Golf 2 improved on the sensitivity and was one of only 4 titles with Motion Plus support demonstrated at the Launch of Motion Plus at E3 2009. DDI introduced the NuYu (pronounced: New You) characters which could be customized, similar to the Nintendo Mii characters, but they had over four times the detail and animation, these characters could be saved and your personalized character loaded into other NuYu compatible games. Battle Rage 3D was the first Wii title to feature stereoscopic 3D support, with the use of Red/Green glasses.
Critical response to Popcorn Arcade
The Popcorn Arcade range of Wii games received overwhelmingly negative reviews that were highly critical of the products' quality. The press strongly criticised poor graphics, flawed gameplay, unresponsive controls and lack of polish all associated with rushed production schedules or "shovelware" games.
Data Design Interactive's Kidz Sports Series were IGN's Worst Reviewed Wii Games, with all 3 titles receiving 1.0 out of 10. None of Data Design Interactive's Wii games had received a review score higher than 3.0 out of 10. The lowest score of all DDI titles was 0.8 out of 10, given to Action Girlz Racing.
In 2008 games reviewers on IGN and GameSpot UK declared they believed DDI were damaging the Wii games market's credibility by saturating the market with substandard products. One review called for Nintendo to refuse to publish DDI games on the grounds that they were killing public interest in the Wii.
- Action Girlz Racing
- Anubis II
- Billy the Wizard: Rocket Broomstick Racing
- Classic British Motor Racing
- Hamster Heroes
- Kawasaki Quad Bikes
- Kawasaki Jet Ski
- Kawasaki Snowmobiles
- Kidz Sports Basketball
- Kidz Sports Ice Hockey
- Kidz Sports International Soccer
- Kidz Sports Crazy Mini Golf
- LEGO Rock Raiders
- London Taxi: Rushour
- Mini Desktop Racing
- Monster Trux: Arenas
- Monster Trux Extreme: Offroad Edition
- Myth Makers: Orbs of Doom
- Myth Makers Super Kart GP
- Myth Makers: Trixie in Toyland
- Ninjabread Man
- Nickelodeon Party Blast
- Offroad Extreme! Special Edition
- Party Pigs: Farmyard Games
- Rock 'n' Roll Adventures
- Urban Extreme
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