Updating my review of Game Dev Tycoon, the amusing little indie game from 2013.
The original review was a single paragraph long and boy was it bad. Now, we’ve got words and scary feelings to talk about. 😉 Enjoy.
A Paladin’s Steam Review: Game Dev Tycoon. More Clinical Than I Prefer, But Fun.
- Genre: Indie Simulation Management Game.
- Developed and Published by: Greenheart Games
- Platform: Windows, Mac and Linux
- Business Model: Base Game
- Copy Purchased by Myself
Overall Gameplay Thoughts
This is my first and, so far only, journey into this genre. Game Dev Tycoon premise is about traveling back in time and building a game development studio from the ground up with knowledge of what’s to come. Personally, I think I would have done a lot of bets on the lottery but hey, priorities right? Build your company from nothing and try to make it to the top in the optimal way possible. From working out of your garage into your own studio to eventually commanding a team of about 10 people. GDT covers a lot of different aspects of game development including developing your own technologies, advertising, fan bases and more. There’s about six to seven hours of content to complete a single run-through. It’s a casual experience with a numbers-increasing-over-time reward feeling to it.
Building a game is somewhat straightforward. After selecting the name, topic, genre and platform the game will be built for, development will start. This involves little bubbles flying to the top of the screen increasing four different point stats: Bugs, Design, Technology and Research. Design and technology points are useful for different aspects of game development. Research points are used for, well, researching new technologies. The fourth stat is how many bugs your game has created. You are free to publish a game with bugs but there may be an understandable backlash by fans and sales might be affected. There will then be three development stage windows that will popup. These will have sliders that guide how much time is spent on certain aspects of the title in process Generally, you want to optimize your time for what the genre/topic prefers. There’s also chances to include/exclude certain costly features such as better sound & graphics or other potentially important features. Once you think your game is ready and finished, you’ll gain experience (there’s a lot of different sliders) and then have the option to either release the game or trash it. Keep in mind that there are monthly costs so trashing a game should only be done if you’ve royally screwed it up.
There’s some additional nuance to the simulation, especially once the company grows bigger and moves out of the garage. There’s the hiring of additional developers for different training into different specialties. There’s deciding how much advertising in traditional and non-traditional media the company will manage, choosing which new game technology to research, and much more. A lot of it is handled by staring at bars and numbers steadily increasing as your team/company gets better at its job. All of which is simply handled with popup windows and mouse clicks. There’s only a single level of difficulty and it’s enough to keep you honest but not overly punishing. Unless you make some really silly mistakes. GDT is good for an amusing time through game development history starting from the C64/oldPC era to slightly ahead of our current times in 2013. Though the biggest you can reach is a mid-range development studio. No true AAA 100+ man teams. Although, all things considered, maybe its best we don’t simulate that…
GDT’s Biggest Strength and Weakness
While the point of GDT is that you know what’s coming up next, it’s also its biggest problem. It makes the game just a little too predictable. It takes the risk out of the game since if my company was ever approaching bankruptcy, all I had to do was publish a game I knew would do well on the PC platform and suddenly huge amounts of cash. Whether that was a post-apocalyptic RPG, aka: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, a history strategy title or a military action game, I’d get my money and then some from the project. It was almost always guaranteed they’d work out so long as I hadn’t been making them constantly. The game is a bit too clinical about how games are made for my taste. What sets your game apart from the rest besides your development talents is the name its given. There’s no real branding done, universe building or whatnot. At least, not organically. These are mostly just gripes and not game-breaking problems.
PC settings menu is a bit lacking in user choice. The settings menu gives you language choices, tutorials & hints with present on/off switches and an animation quality slider. The quality slider presents performance and quality presets though I doubt you’ll need it to run at the performance preset unless you’re running this game on a toaster. In fullscreen mode, which is really borderless windowed, the game auto-adjusts to whatever resolution your desktop is running. In windowed, it runs in a square resolution. V-sync is always on. As the game is entirely mouse driven, there’s nothing to be remapped. There’s a single audio slider for the game’s volume with on/off toggles for sound effects and music. I would have preferred there to be multiple audio sliders, but oh well. By the way, there’s only four save slots and they only save the most recent games.
My opinion is mostly neutral when it comes to Game Dev Tycoon. It’s fun for the one playthrough but after that, there’s not much to hook me in. It’s filled with plenty of references and nods to games, platforms and the culture throughout the game which make the first run-through worthwhile. But, it’s a little too predictable and a little too clinical for my taste. There’s not a lot of true creative control over the games made and there’s some missing aspects of game development not featured. Not that it makes the game bad, just not really what I’m looking for. Still, I can’t knock it for doing what they sold the game as but I’d keep that thought in mind if you’re interested in it.
Thanks for reading!