A great thing about the independent game development scene is how new ideas come about, some of which help customers understand the story behind being a developer. We have come to learn more about what developers go through as they make their games through the Internet, as well as other things like articles, documentaries, and so on. Some of them are even able to tell their stories through their games, one of the best examples of which is Game Dev Tycoon by Greenheart Games.
Game Dev Tycoon is a game about making games, which is Inception-level thinking in its premise. You start off as a young and hungry game developer who wants to make a living out of making games, so you get a starting capital and a computer in your garage to start churning out brilliance. Depending on how well you know how to make games and how you handle your money, you can go from garage to big multi-million dollar company or go broke.
This game draws a whole lot of comparisons with Japanese mobile developer Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story for the iOS and Android. Kairosoft itself has become known for management simulation games, and Game Dev Story set the bar for the genre in the mobile platform. Even from the title, Game Dev Tycoon seems to have taken a lot of elements from Kairosoft’s product and gave it their own spin to come up with this product. The additions make this game worth playing, even if you have been a longtime Game Dev Story fan.
Perhaps it’s unfair to say that Greenheart Games copied from Kairosoft, but it can’t really be avoided, especially with certain elements being similar to the Japanese mobile game like how similarly it shows the date and your available money. What people who have played Game Dev Story can do to know for sure is to play this game and decide for themselves, and they’ll find out that Game Dev Tycoon does have its own unique elements as well. From the interface to how you start as some dude in a garage rather than a small office gives this game that closer connection to the indie scene.
When you want to make a game, you have to give it a name, pick with platform it’s for, choose the setting and genre, tweak how much of each element the game will have, and so on. As you make the game, you gain experience points that will accumulate and make you better at certain things. When you finish the game, you release it to the market and get reviews from the critics, which can affect how many people buy to play it. There are also certain combinations of setting and genre that go well together, which helps make the game better as a result.
Developing a game goes through three stages, wherein you get to choose how much focus you put in various aspects of the game at the start. Picking the right focus according to the genre and setting of the game will boost your game’s quality and let you sell more units. When you boost the focus on one aspect though, you may have to decrease that of another due to constrictions in cost and time.
During the development, game points are generated for both design and technology, and the better the game becomes as you get more points for each. Unfortunately, bugs are also unavoidable, and they can increase development time since you’ll need to take time to remove them unless you want to release a buggy game that will annoy the customers. You also get research points that go into the development of future games and other aspects of your company.
You also get to do a lot of other things, like work on contracts for clients to get extra cash on the side, research on different things to improve your depth and breadth in game development, train each employee of the company, and so on. As you get bigger, there is a lot more that you should do in order to become successful in game development, so you have to hire the right people and make the right kind of games to maximize your strengths and opportunities.
As your game development company earns more money and reputation, you get to move up and allocate higher budgets for your games, so you get to release bigger and better games as a result. However, you better not allocate too much money into a game since as soon as your money hits zero, you become backrupt and it’s automatically game over. Survival of your company means that you have to plan in advance how much money you’re willing to invest into every game, just like in real life.
Another unique feature that this game has is how it works when you pirate it. If you downloaded this game for free and play it, you get to a point where your game development company can’t grow any further due to people pirating your games. That’s right, it teaches you how pirating affects developers by letting it happen to you if you pirate this game. That’s actually a pretty cool idea by Greenheart Games, and is a well-executed editorial on game piracy.
For those who haven’t played Game Dev Story on the mobile platform, this title should introduce you to the meta of a game about making games. Even if you have played the Kairosoft game, you’ll still get to appreciate the polish and attention to detail that has been put into this game, as well as the mechanics that differ from the mobile title. If you’re a fan of management games, then this is a must play.
Another thing that you’ll see as you play this game is a message from the developers thanking you for buying the game. It’s nice to see that the people who make the games truly appreciate it when people enjoy their creations. It’s a heartwarming thing and justifies supporting them and their craft.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 8/10