Game Dev Tycoon Review

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I once wanted to be a game developer – no really, I did. Growing up I was fortunate enough to own a number of consoles, meaning most of my after school time was spent with some of gaming’s finest. I took computer studies in high school which taught me just enough programming to create a number of functional, albeit horrible, 2D action games. This continued throughout my schooling years and had me seriously considering whether or not I wanted to become a professional game developer.

Those dreams have been long since forgotten and I’ve moved on. Jump to the present day and I’ve become a man whose hopes and aspirations have all but shattered, a man void of enthusiasm and optimism, a man I can barely look at in the mirror when I drag my depressed body out of the bed of a morning.

Okay, so that entire last paragraph was a complete and utter lie, I love my life! Let’s move on though, when I caught a glimpse of Game Dev Tycoon I couldn’t help but wonder what life would’ve been like had I decided to pursue my dreams of becoming a … uhh … game dev tycoon.

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Humble beginnings.

The game starts you off as a humble independent game developer, working out of your garage. You’re given a generous 70k budget and only have to concern yourself with personal ongoing costs. A quick tutorial gets you up to speed with the game’s simple point and click mechanics. From here you’re given the chance to name your company and begin development on your first title.

In Game Dev Tycoon you’ll follow the actual timeline of technological advances in gaming and computing, as such, the only two platforms you can develop for in the beginning is the PC and the G64 (a Commodore 64 knock off).

Upon choosing the game’s platform you’ll be given the chance to name it and choose it’s topic (sports, military, medieval, space, etc.) and genre (action, adventure, RPG, etc.). During the game’s development you can elect to enhance it with technologies you research outside of development; these include 2D/3D graphics, gaming peripherals, gameplay mechanics and more.

Once development is underway it’s simply a case of waiting for the process to complete. You have the ability to specifically allocating your time to different aspects of the game, such as the engine, gameplay, story, dialogue, artificial intelligence, etc. During game development, your character will generate design, technology and research points and occasionally encounter bugs. The design and technology points are the biggest factor in deciding how good the end product is once the game is completed, more points equals an overall better game.

Once you’ve finished developing the game you’re given the choice of releasing it into the public and braving the reviews. This can be one of the most daunting experiences in the game, I’m sure it mirrors the actual experience of real life indie game developers releasing their first few titles into the wild.

Needless to say, games that receive high scores tend to sell better. Game Dev Tycoon doesn’t alter a developers reality – a few bad titles and you’re looking at bankruptcy. Ouch. Luckily though, the game is a little forgiving and will allow you to take out a bank loan if your funds start to dwindle a little.

As the game progresses as does the alternate reality that is Game Dev Tycoon’s timeline. New consoles are brought to the market which include the TES (NES) by Ninvento (Nintendo) and the DreamVast (Dreamcast) by Vena (Sega).

Once you’ve released a number of games that sell decently well you’re given the opportunity to move to your very own office and start hiring staff. Your applicants will have a number of skills, though you should really only concern yourself with two of these skills, their design and technology efficiencies.

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Moving up in the world.

Once you’ve hired your first employee you can begin working on more complex game titles, appropriately enough, here’s where Game Dev Tycoon’s gameplay mechanics also start to become a little more complex. You’re able to assign certain staff members to work on certain aspects of the game, for example, a staff member who is efficient in programming can tackle the game engine whilst a more design orientated staff member can tackle the graphic and sound design. Once you start to obtain a team of employees this task can start to become a bit too complex and really bog down the gameplay.

From here, you can choose to partner with publishers to reach a wider audience of gamers or decide to keep it in-house and promote your own titles. The gameplay doesn’t differ all too much otherwise, you’ll simply be creating new titles and hoping for the best reception from gamers and the gaming media alike. Your ultimate goal is to become a game development powerhouse with enough fans to not have to rely on publishers to reach a massive audience.

Game Dev Tycoon stumbles a little during the late game, trying to provide a slew of options and freedoms which only end up being a major distraction. Instead they should have limited the number of gameplay mechanics and focused heavily on polishing and making them enjoyable and challenging.

  • PC

The Verdict

Game Dev Tycoon tries to do a little too much and ends up being overly complex. A little more effort towards core gameplay mechanics could have made this title a real gem, instead it leaves a lot to be desired.
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