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Monday, 14 October 2013

Indie Game Review - "Game Dev Tycoon"

Computer games about making computer games have been around for nearly as long as there have been computer games.  One of my most vivid early gaming memories was a game called Millionaire on the Commodore 16, which was such a game.  Of course sims have become much more complex since then and in Game Dev Tycoon there is no dodgy character called “Honest Joe” trying to flog you knock-off cassettes – although a certain amount of underhanded dealings are possible in this game.

You start off the game working out of your garage, but soon enough if you manage to release a few successful titles, you can upgrade to an office and start hiring more staff.  Be careful though – expand too quickly and you’re sure to go bankrupt, which means game over!  (Well not quite game over – there are certain points that you can restart the game from if you do lose all your money.)  Using a simple and easy to use interface, you control basic aspects of game design, how much time you allocate to each section of the game, etc.  As you get further into the game more options are available to you – for instance hiring team members, handling marketing, showcasing at exhibitions – and you can also research new game themes, graphics, interfaces, and the like.  Eventually you have the job of managing both your team and overall design strategy, in addition to each game that you produce.  Create a hit and you’ll get big sales and more fans; produce a flop and it could mean disaster for your finances and your fan base.

For each game you release you can generate a game report, which is one way of gaining Research Points, which can then be used for researching new topics for your games, new aspects of game engine development and other aspects of the game publishing business.  As you gain experience of different aspects of game design, new research topics become available.  Managing your finances is a big part of the game – contract work is available as a stop gap, for example – but managing your Research Points well is just as important to be successful.

As you go through the game, you also get industry news, which mirrors real-life events from the time period in question – although names have been changed to protect the innocent.  Game Dev Tycoon introduces new features to you at a steady rate, rarely becoming either boring or overwhelming, and the optional tutorials and hints are very welcome.   The graphics are nicely done – very clean and with some good touches in the animations - and the music is fine, very laid back, albeit could do with some more variety.  There’s a lot of attention to detail, which isn’t really noticeable on the first play-through perhaps but you begin to notice things after a while (such as, if you go bust but you have a new release coming out, the bank gives you a bailout on the basis of getting its money back after you release the game), and there’s really a great deal of depth to the game.  As you find our

All in all, Game Dev Tycoon is very well put together and is an extremely enjoyable game for anyone who likes this sort of business simulator.  Thoroughly recommended.

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