A simulation game about game development – it’s about time!
There was a run of really good weather here in Yorkshire last month, and as my social media accounts were flooded with pictures and news of my friends and colleagues making the most of the sunshine, I played the heavily-stereotyped role of the Indoors Geek. Sure, I could’ve spent more time outside reading in the garden than I did, but thanks to my discovery of Gog and Steam, I’ve been chained to this PC slaving my way through some great games instead.
One such game was a unique insight into the actual production of games, a simulation which allows you to found a games company and put out some winning titles as the head of your very own software empire. Start a game of Game Dev Tycoon and you’ll see your avatar’s modest beginnings in a garage sometime back in the 1980s, beavering away on your home computer in a bid to create and sell games using combinations of clever design and capable technology.
Choose your character name and outfit, then a name for your company and before you know it, you’ll be tasked with creating your first game! Tickle the sliders on your development panels to put the right amount of effort into each game’s engine, gameplay and level design among others, then sit back and wait for the reviews to come in.
Each time you create a game you’ll receive Research Points to spend on new game topics, technological innovations and ingredients for each progressive game engine. Once you’ve sold enough copies of your games you’ll be able to upgrade to your shiny new office and hire some employees to help realise your new gaming visions for modest publishing fees and the dream of the perfect score.
As time goes on you’ll get news of new console and computer releases, as well as a knowledge of your potential audiences and the ability to create games with them in mind.
I really enjoyed Game Dev Tycoon because of the creators’ great depth of research into gaming history; each console release and which markets were best suited to playing them. The substitution of brand names became a little annoying over time (for example, as they can’t use the name ‘Sega Genesis’ they went with ‘Vena Oasis’, which is especially annoying for me as it was called the Mega Drive here!) Given each console’s obvious similarities and importance to the gameplay though, I can see why it had to be done. Also, I want to buy a Playsystem.
If you know your consoles, you’ll know exactly what sort of games you need to make for each one to be successful. While some genre/topic combinations make more sense than others (eg you would think a Hospital/Simulation game would work better than a Dancing/RPG), it’s important to get the right platform down too. It’s this sort of attention to detail which I loved – a great homage.
But it’s that attention to detail which can be annoying too; the development sliders seem completely arbitrary sometimes and don’t make for good games unless you place each of them just so. It was very frustrating when I started getting a run of bad reviews following a run of good ones when I wasn’t really doing anything different.
On the whole though, I can definitely recommend this game – a game about making games? They should’ve just called it Gameception – which by the way was what I called the game I produced using the Game Dev topic.