A few years ago a mobile game released that took a lot of people by surprise. That game was Game Dev Story. Yes, even I was addicted to it for a while. The simplistic nature of making a gaming company and releasing games for fake but historically accurate consoles was a lot of fun. Now, on the PC, a new company called Greenheart Games has released their take on the genre with Game Dev Tycoon. Will it be a hit with the reviewers? Let’s find out.
Game Dev Tycoon is a business simulator that focuses on the intricacies of game development. Players will take on the role of an aspiring developer that has hopes of starting a development business and seeing it grow to make blockbuster games that sell millions of copies.
The game starts off rather simple. Players have only one employee (the owner) and begin making simplistic games on the PC in their basement. After a few moderately successful titles, they can begin building up their income, hire new employees and move their base of operations.
Everything is based on developing a game. Players can choose the type, genre, what engine to use (if players have created their own) and what platform (or platforms once researched how to make multiplatform games) it should be made for. After deciding on what kind of game to make, then begins the process of handling what aspects of the game need the most attention. So if I was making an RPG, story and quests would come first over graphics. Here, sliders can be moved to show how much emphasis the player wants to put into a certain topic.
During the development process, employees generate both technology and design bubbles that are put into the game. The higher the points, the more creative and innovative it will be. During the development process, bugs may pop up along with research points. Bugs must be removed after it has been finished to keep the fans and critics happy. Research points are used in finding new genres and new aspects that can be used to develop the company’s own game engine.
After the bugs have all been removed, the game is then sent for release. It will receive review scores and based on how the game type and genre were mixed together as well as how many points were put into the design and tech. Then it goes on the market and hopefully, sells well and generates income for the company so they can begin making their next title. That is the main gist of the, and for the first hour or so of the, that is all players will be doing. Once I was able to expand the business is when it really opens up to some new features. Some of these include taking on larger projects with bigger budgets that may require a publishing deal with a larger company like Ubersoft where the publisher takes a cut of the profit and enforces guidelines on what to develop.
Using research points to learn new features like enhanced 3D graphics or dialog trees can add a lot to the games players wish to develop. Of course, these will need to be implemented into an engine which costs money; of course, making better experiences will garner more profit. It’s all a fine balance between improving the game and not going way over budget. During development, certain events may take place like a magazine may want to do an interview with the company to talk about their upcoming title or having a booth at the biggest video game expo, G3. These events have the potential to add hype to a game or garner new fans of the company.
Even unique things like having the community ask the CEO if they would put their old engine up for free use or have a secret sabotage group hinder another company’s development can crop up that may help or hinder the company’s progress, and since everything happens in real time, but sped up to where a week will last around five seconds, utilizing the right things is of the utmost importance.
The game handles showing off new features and mechanics fairly well. Nothing is ever too confusing, but how slow the early parts move can become a tedious turn-off for players, especially if they have already played a campaign before. It takes a good hour to an hour and a half to even get started into the customization options. Certain research can show what genres and game types can be a good combination, but for the most part it can be hit or miss. Even the reviewers don’t go into very good detail as to why the game was not good. They just say “Meh.” or “Had its moments.”
It can get frustrating when I have made the best Football sim for the past ten years, yet “Nadden Football ’99” was a flop and I really don’t know what I did wrong. While there is some good fun seeing the evolution of the industry in a nice satirical form, after playing through the campaign, players will more than likely encounter everything that can be seen after about three playthroughs.
Game Dev Tycoon has some nice bells and whistles and the social commentary and satire on the video game industry is charming at times. The game “has its moments” and “I liked it.” but it still has a limited amount of content that will keep the players coming back for more, and even when they do come back, it will take a while to get into the meat and potatoes of the experience. Still, that first play through was one enjoyable ride down video game history lane.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.