Review: Game Dev Tycoon

By Matt Skidmore 13 Dec 2017 0

Review: Game Dev Tycoon

Released 28 Nov 2017

Developer: Greenheart Games
Genre: Simulation
Available from:
App Store
Reviewed on: iPad Pro

Once upon a time back in 2012, the brothers Klug released a PC game entitled Game Dev Tycoon. To thwart those evil-hearted game pirates, the crafty developers deliberately also released a cursed version of the game into the wicked world of file sharing. This cracked version appeared to play just like the original, but soon those with pirated copies began to lose money and received the following message: “Boss, it seems that while many players play our new game, they steal it by downloading a cracked version rather than buying it legally. If players don’t buy the games they like, we will sooner or later go bankrupt.” – The Brothers Klug

To their horror, the pesky pirates felt the wrath of the Klug’s curse, suffering hardship and bankruptcy. Even then there were still some particularly silly pirates who didn’t realise the error of their selfish ways. They posted messages complaining about the piracy feature, completely unaware that it only appeared because they had been playing the cursed version.

Finally, the shamed pirates recognised the errors of their ways and never pirated a game again, thus allowing all game developers to live happily and wealthily ever after – well, not really, but we all love a happy ending.

Garage

Game Dev Tycoon is an excellent business simulation title which proves to be extremely addictive, with the game drip-feeding the player new features and research opportunities at just the right pace. Anyone ancient enough to remember the dawning of the videogames industry will be delighted that the game follows the innovations and the trends of the times. Yes, the names may be different but it doesn’t take a genius to work out the inspiration for consoles such as the Ninvento TES. The real fun comes from using your imagination to visualise a game and then selecting a theme, genre and platform that complement each other. Like most business simulations if you strip away the theme you are left with a dry exercise in spreadsheet manipulation. However, if you lose yourself in the game and really think about what you want to produce and name accordingly, then it really springs to life.

My company, Pocket Tactics, began life in a garage rather than a bedroom back in the early 1980’s. With little money, no extra staff (except mom who provided the tea and biscuits) and very limited programming experience, it seemed only wise to ensure that I didn’t bite off more than I could chew. So, choosing the theme of thievery and the genre adventure I decided to forgo fancy graphics and produce a text adventure. Entitled The Tower Of London, my game focused on master thief Robin Banks and his quest to steal the Crown Jewels. I decided that the game would work best on the PC platform and hastily set to work. During the first stage of development, I opted to focus on the story, added a pinch of gameplay, and since the game was only handling text, I overlooked a fancy game engine. As the game entered its second creative cycle, my focus changed to improving dialogues by fleshing out the characters. I wasn’t too concerned with AI (we had seen too much of dwarves sitting down and singing about gold) and level design was not really appropriate. As the game neared release date, it was time to add some spit and polish, I beefed up the world design, added a few simple but atmospheric sound effects, and completely ignored graphics. A bit of time spent squishing bugs, and The Tower Of London was finally ready for release.

Tower of London

Now came the nail-biting moment, as I waited to find out what those snarky and talentless game journalists thought of my masterpiece. Highlights were a satisfying seven out of ten from Game Hero, who said that my game was a good fit for the PC; and another seven from Star Games who described my game as “enjoyable.” Other reviews were mediocre, but over the following months, my game peaked at number twenty in the bestseller charts. Hardly an earth-shattering performance, but Tower of London had still managed to turn a healthy profit - my life as a games tycoon had got off to a good start.

As I progressed through the years, a range of new options become available. I was able to develop new game engines and secure the rights to work on new and innovative platforms. After a few years of hard graft, I could afford to relocate to some fancy offices and hire staff (I still kept my mom on to make the tea). I also had to delve into the black arts of marketing, hyping my games through advertisements, interviews and show stands with scantily clad PR girls. I began to dream of establishing my own research and development centre to create a cutting-edge game console of my very own design.

Playstation

I found it all so addictive that the years just flew by, there was never a dull moment with time flashing past at a breakneck pace. Coupled with the captivating gameplay, the game will cause you to hurtle through at alarming speed. But although the journey may be over all too soon, you can always start afresh and take a different approach. You can also carry on playing beyond 35 years, but since there will be no new platforms released, the game loses its central dynamic. In fact, actually reaching this 35-year milestone can be tough, with the bank manager charging extortionate interest rates and threatening to close you down as you work furiously on what you hope will be your first AAA title.

For those of us that have played Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story, this game will feel very familiar. Replace the graphics with Kairosoft’s trademark pixel art and, on the surface at least, the two games would be hard to tell apart. However, look a little deeper and you will realise that Game Dev Tycoon has a lot more to offer, both in terms of depth and opportunities to experiment with different approaches. The presentation is clear and simple, and overall, it just feels like the game has found its true home on touchscreen devices -- and it works equally well whether you choose to play in short sessions or over longer periods. My one real gripe is that the endlessly looping music quickly becomes irritating; it would have been lovely to have a soundtrack based on the chip music of different eras.

You will have to excuse me now, as the venerable Pocket Tactics is just about to celebrate 25 years in the industry with the release of its latest epic.


Note: Budding Android tycoons will be pleased to hear that a version for their platform of choice is due for release in January 2018.

 

Embrace the theme and let your imagination take care of the rest.

Review: Game Dev Tycoon

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