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Game Dev Tycoon (Steam)

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By Fr33Lanc3r.00704-09-2013
MrJenssen (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)
Game Dev Tycoon (Steam)

The Defence

Developer:
Greenheart Games
Publisher:
Greenheart Games
Genre:
Indie, Strategy
Release Date:
29-08-2013

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce GTc 8800
AMD equivalent
RAM:
4 GB
HDD:
500 MB
DirectX:
9.0c

The Case

Game Dev Tycoon has become the game so good that we’re reviewing it twice, This time there’s both a major update that’s overhauled many of the issues prevalent the first time around, and a big Steam release to celebrate the major update. But what has changed? Are any of the issues from the original still present?

The Trial

Game Dev Tycoon is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. You form a small, garage-based game development company, develop games to earn money, and eventually expand to an office, hiring staff, doing advanced R&D, and making bigger and bigger games over a 35-year period. Your success is dependent on how much focus you place on nine key aspects of games, split into three equal parts of the development cycle. This you must balance differently depending on the type of game you're making and the central topic or setting of the game. Later, as you build bigger and more expensive games, success will also be rated on how well you managed the development process. Did you overwork any staff members? Did you assign them to tasks according to their particular skills? What extra features did you include in the engine?

Bonus points if you get the reference.

Bonus points if you get the reference.

Once you develop and release a game, you're treated to a list of four big reviews, each of which give a quote and a score out of 10, which are then combined, metacritic-style, to give an overall score. This score is directly influenced by how much focus you put on each of the development aspects, and itself has a big influence on how many copies you'll sell, and how many people will decide to start following your studios work with a degree of enthusiasm. One of the new features with the Steam release is the ability to do a bit of research and write up a report on the game after completion, the completion of which gives you a couple of hints about what you did really well, and what you could have done better. The combination of this, and the optional feature that records these insights and represents them pictorially whenever you go back to release a new game in that genre, makes improving on your efforts a bit more focused, rather than a random crapshoot.

Between game releases, you have the option to get a tiny amount of extra spending money by completing tangentially related contract work, and more usefully, commit research points and some of your profits to research extra components for custom game engines or train your developers’ skills. The research options are drip-fed to you as your team gains more experience, and as time goes on and technology improves. Apart from the most basic of 2D graphics, these must all be built into what will end up being a succession of custom game engines that you can build whatever you like into - provided that you’ve researched it and can afford to spend money incorporating it. You can also research a whole slew of extra topics for your game, expanding on the randomised group of four that you started with, giving your company a wider range of options for development.

Once you begin making larger games, you can start searching out publishing contracts that allow you to take your mind off the marketing, at the cost of only getting a small portion of the sales revenue. Not to mention the hefty fee if your game fails to meet a specified review score. The game really pushes you to get publishing contracts, with constant reminders that you probably shouldn’t be trying to self publish larger games until you build your fanbase up a bit more, but there really isn’t much point to doing so. The games that my company self published often did better than the games I developed with the aid of a publisher, and I wasn’t under unreasonable demands to create a hit game with everything my company developed.

The new Game Report feature is really helpful.

The new Game Report feature is really helpful.

Game Dev Tycoon looks great, the environments are lovingly crafted - even if you can’t interact with them all that much - and the new office environment looks terrific. It could do with a wider variety of character customisation options though, there’s a little too much emphasis on the 80’s nerd vibe for my personal liking. The music is simple and catchy, and the addition of a couple more tunes into the mix for the game’s redux, helps stave off repetition during long stretches of gameplay.

The Verdict

The Steam Update of Game Dev Tycoon manages to improve greatly on the core concepts of the original game, bringing with it a much more helpful feedback system, and some subtle balance fixes. If you haven’t played it before now, make sure you grab yourself a copy.

Case Review

  • More Information: It’s now clearer what effect each aspect of the development process is useful for games of a particular type.
  • New Look:  The office redesign looks superb.
  • Music: As catchy as ever (I'm humming the main tune now), and there's more of it than before.
  • Aussie Pride: The Devs are Australian, what more do you need?
  • Publishers: The game makes them out to be a big help, and feels like it pushes you to use them...I still can’t see the point.
5
Score: 5/5
A number of improvements turned a great game into an even greater one.

Appeal

For those unfamiliar with the Tycoon style of games...what are you, five? It's one of the oldest, most respected (or at least longest serving) genres in the entire industry. They offer us, the everyday gamer, the opportunity to do something we can only dream of. Be that running a zoo, managing a football team or, in this case, building our own video game developer from the ground up. From your parents' garage.

Highly appropriately, this comes from a new developer as well, and what a mark they have made! Tracking the rise of one person from the humblest of beginnings, where bankruptcy looms at every turn, to a massive, intercontinental mega-corporation with millions of dollars to throw at any old tat. It really drives home the point of just how difficult it can be making those games that we so casually dismiss and ridicule. All the corners cut due to a lack of income or technology.

On the other hand, it also does a superb job of demonstrating how simple it all is, in principle, to actually make a game worth playing. You just have to keep your focus and know your audience. And it is exactly that, the simple core mechanic that make Game Dev Tycoon such a joy to play. If I was to make any complaint, it would be the limited budget Greenheart had to work with. Because they deserve so very much more.

5
Score: 5/5

Appeal

Game Dev Tycoon manages to include epic humour that pokes fun at pretty much every reality of modern game development in today’s gaming industry. It even references trends and tropes of the 1980s - the early days of PC gaming and the first major home consoles. Better yet, while saving money on licensing fees, Game Dev Tycoon replaces all the company and console names to spoof names. For example, the Apple iPad it is now the Grapple GrPad, the Sony PlayStation has become the Vonny Play System, and so on.

Spoofs and humour aside, Game Dev Tycoon starts off simple; it’s just you in your garage, making games. These games are created through a simple yet complex design process. You have to start by picking a topic, genre, platform, engine, and even a target age group. Then, you go through three design phases. These phases always offer the same three design principles in which you can then decide how much time you want to invest. Stage 1: the Engine, Gameplay and Story/Quests. Stage 2: Dialogues, Level Design and AI. And finally in stage 3: World Design, Graphics and Sound. In addition, you can even add additional features in each stage depending on what you have researched and what you have implemented into your engine.

As a result of all this, it can become highly challenging and highly addictive to always try to create the next smash hit game, be it a sequel or a fresh IP. You’re always encouraged to create new combinations in genres and topics, gaining research points that you must invest wisely. This all works together to create a very fun experience that you simply end up playing for hours on end. It’s satisfying to see your studio grow over time, and especially satisfying to create a sudden hit, which sells into the millions. But like its real-life counterpart, it’s a very tough business, and if you make too many wrong choices, you quickly find yourself to be an outdated studio with talentless employees, delivering mundane games with dwindling sales before going bankrupt. Will you be successful in your journey as a game developer? Only one way to find out...

5
Score: 5/5
Comments (11)
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Posts: 1184

Loved the game, but I really hope that for the sequel, they do a better job at making you feel like you're a developer in the gaming industry, instead of being what feels like THE ONLY developer in the gaming industry. I would love to see more rivalry between specific developers and such.

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Posts: 2617

My only successful games are about cats...

What does that tell you?

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Posts: 558

This game is so hard, I make some epic hits, such as Mass Errect, ZeldaLand, The Hero Who Couldn't, etc... but then I hit such horrible flops and even go bankrupt :(

Really tough sometimes to know where to focus in and where to put less focus in to. Also it is really important where you spend your research points and when you decide to invest in a new engine.

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Posts: 2617

Then need to add the piracy 'fix' as a paid DLC. But make it the price of a Call of Duty Collector's Edition. Just for teh lulz

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Posts: 176

I originally bought it cause of the way they handled the pirates....and I've been loving it ever since

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Posts: 122

This game is so much fun! I bought it because of this review and I have not been disappointed. :]

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Posts: 166

I liked game on my phone, I am definitely going to buy this title.

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Posts: 2617

It's okay. I didn't need to sleep last night.

Not like it kept me up until gone 4am or anything

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Posts: 350

I played this game on my hone a while back which was really fun.

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Posts: 1184

Well while editing these reviews, I ended up buying the game, so...