Name: Game Dev Tycoon
Price: $9.99 through Steam
Developer: Greenheart Games
Every so often, a great little, addictive game comes along and before you know it, you’ve spent far too much time on the game. Game Dev Tycoon is one of those games. It’s so simple, but at the same time so deep and rich in gameplay that you’ll play more of it.
At the start of the game, you get to name your company and your character, and you even get to choose an outfit for your character. So naturally I went with the most 80’s thing possible, I think it was some sort of knitted pullover sweater, but there’s a host of other options as well.
He first few games are made in a garage. This is where the basic game mechanics are introduced. Each section of game development has about 5 areas: naming, stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, and bug squashing. Each of these phases is essential in creating the perfect game.
The first step is naming the game, as well as choosing the genre, topic, and platform. This may not sound important, but it is very important: certain topics will do better with certain genres and awful with other genres. In addition to this some genres will do better on certain consoles and worse on other consoles. Choosing the right combination of topic, genre, and platform is essential to create a best-selling game.
The stages of game development revolve around three sets of three bars, and these bars have to be adjusted just right to create a better game. For example, dialogue is very important in an RPG, but not so much in an action game. On the other hand, gameplay is going to be important in an action game, but not an RPG.
Finally, after these stages are complete, your character has to spend some time ironing out the bugs that are created during development. Following the game’s release, reviews will arrive for the game, with a score from four outlets, plus a one or two word comment. These one or two word comments are often annoying, providing no real feedback, but occasionally a full sentence will occur with some actual feedback about the game. Following the reviews, the character can conduct a game report and find out what did and didn’t work. This will reveal helpful things during game development (for example, it’ll show ‘great combination’ when a good topic/genre combo is chosen, and will have a ++ above important bars in the stages). These are well worth conducting, as they provide insight for future games.
There are four constant circles in-game that add more complexity to the game: bugs (covered already), design, technology and research. Design and technology affect the ratings of the game (generally the higher the number, the better) but research is really interesting. Conducting game reports and other such things will form research points, which can then be spent on more research for more game mechanics and better graphics and sound et cetera. This leads to the next form of complexity: engines.
Using mechanics researched, the character can create a game engine which will allow for better graphics and design choices. This is necessary to do pretty much anything other than a text adventure.
After a few hits, the character can move to an office and hire more people, which is again necessary for better games.
The simple gameplay, cutesy graphics and – there’s no other way to say this really – sheer fun of it all make this a great game to play: but it’s not without its flaws.
As mentioned earlier, the game critics never really do anything: they just sort of exist to help define what combinations are good, they never really give any feedback regarding the game, and when they do, it’s generally something you already know. The game also becomes laughably easy once multi-platform games are available to make: while before it would be a struggle to receive several thousand dollars in profit, once multi-platform games have been researched almost every game made, whether good or bad, will make at least $500k. Once optimisation has been researched and is implemented in the next engine that’s built, which makes it even cheaper to build multi-platform games, the game becomes incredibly relaxing to play – no worries about going bankrupt! Speaking of bankruptcy, my last criticism is more of a nitpick. Once the character/company goes bankrupt, they are sold off to another company and the game ends. That’s great and all, but it disrupts the flow of the game. It would have been very cool to keep working under this new company, and possibly even make enough money to buy yourself back! I think it would have made for a more interesting game, but there did have to be an element of failure, and I think this is a way of doing that.
Game Dev Tycoon is a great, cheap game that’s entertaining for a few hours at least (and once the main story’s completed, the character can keep making games. So it never ends) and is just pure fun. I do think that it’s not something you should play in long sessions – small bursts is better for this style of game, almost like a mobile title, which is good, because it’s been confirmed to be releasing on mobile devices: the perfect platform for this kind of game. But I think the only way to sum this game up is:
“Simulation games work well on PC” – Game Dev Tycoon
– Great, simple gameplay
– Good art style
– Very fun
– Critics too shallow
– Multi-platform makes game incredibly easy
– Bankruptcy disrupts flow of game