Game Dev Tycoon
Let me start this off by relaying a piece of news I found to be hilarious. The developer of this game released their own cracked / pirated version of the game the same day as its release. Wait…what!? These guys certainly have a sense of humor, having built code into the pirated version that dwindles funds away from the player as the result of in-game piracy. Needless to say, those who pirated “Game Dev Tycoon” did not react well to the in-game piracy issues they had to deal with…how’s that for irony? At any rate, “Game Dev Tycoon” will put you in the role of a developer trying to start their own game development company (and if you didn’t pirate the game itself, you might actually succeed). Before we get started getting into the nitty-gritty details, I’d like to thank Patrick Klug from Greenheart Games for providing me with a free review copy.
Once you start up the game, you’ll be prompted to enter both your name and the company name. You can also choose between a male and female avatar, as well as choose the length of time the game will last (25, 30, or 35 years). At this point, you can hit escape to bring up the menu, which didn’t always work for some reason. On occasion, accessing the menu became troublesome and wasn’t always responsive. I have evidence of that in the video I linked below. At that menu, you can start a new game, continue an existing one, view help, adjust game options, and see scores & achievements. The options menu was pretty bare, allowing you to adjust audio levels and toggle fullscreen. While there was no screen resolution option, you can resize the playing window if you’re not in fullscreen mode. The help menu will give you a few tips as well as keep track of what tutorial messages you’ve seen thus far, should you want to revisit them.
Being no stranger to games with a simulator theme, I was impressed by the amount of different options I had when it came time to get my hands dirty. In the beginning, you’ll start off with a staff of one (you) and attempt to create successful games indie style. Creating a new game or project is easily done via the click of a mouse, and you’ll be given some customization options in order to give the game its own flavor. You can name the game, pick a topic, choose a genre, and assign a platform. There won’t be many options to choose from at first, but you’ll unlock more as the game progresses. The beginning stages of the game do a nice job in getting used to the feel of the game development process (in-game, of course).
Later down the line, you’ll have a staff to manage and more development tools available to mess around with. Time management and allocation will become important, as you’ll be able to assign particular staff members to certain aspects of a game’s development phase. For example, you could have one employee ruthlessly working on a game’s AI or dialogue, while having another spend a little time on, say, level design. Being able to pick and choose what features a game will have and how much effort will go into each will be the deciding factor in how well it does when it’s finished. The complexity of the games you’ll be making can increase as well, the depth of which depends on how much you’ve unlocked thus far in the game. Creating new game engines, I discovered, was key in staying competitive. Still, I felt challenged through and through and even failed on my first playthru.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a simulator without money coming and going. After all, isn’t that the general idea behind most? The financials of running your simulated company isn’t all that complicated, but you will have a lot of different expenses to keep in the back of your mind while you’re developing games. You can upgrade a game with better AI for a fee, just to name an example. Training your staff costs money, as does keeping them around to do the dirty work for you. Projects, which add modifiers and open up new opportunities for your business, also costs a nice chunk of change. You might be tempted to give a game all the bells and whistles, but the budget may not allow for it. You can attend special events to help build your fan base, but that too, costs money. Luckily, you can accept contracts (and even publisher deals) to help net you a little cash.
While making money from the games you develop is one way to expand your business, you’ll also gain experience points after a game’s release. These experience points funnel into their own categories, like world design and story quests. Each of these categories level up on their own, allowing you to concentrate on particular game elements on a whim. As a games journalist, I chuckled when I saw the review scores pop up for the first game I created. All of these game critics use a ten point scale (like mine) and the better your game, the better your score will be. Afterwards, you’ll be able to see a game’s progress on the market in terms of average review score and how many units have been sold. I appreciated how easy it was to see how well a game was doing at a glance, even if most of the games I developed bombed horribly.
“Game Dev Tycoon” is a charming, fun little simulator that I can’t seem to put down. As a review critic and an avid gamer, I don’t often see games that actually touch on the gaming industry itself. The developer has done something truly unique here and it’s certainly worth your attention, especially if you’re a fan of simulators in general. It’s simple enough to jump into headfirst but complex enough to hold your attention over long periods of time. As a parent, I’m also pleased to report that this game is kid-friendly. I did have some issues with the game’s functionality, namely accessing the menu (hitting escape didn’t always work). I also had trouble dragging employees when assigning tasks during game development. Other than that, everything was smooth sailing and I really enjoyed my experience, especially the references to the retro gaming platforms. The game is currently going for $7.99 on the official website, which is all-in-all, a good deal. There’s a demo on the official website (link below) should you wish to try it out first.
Final Verdict: 9/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Game Dev Tycoon” by visiting the following websites:
You can help bring the game to Steam by voting for it on its Greenlight page, here:
You can view video play sessions here: