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Game Dev Tycoon: Will You Be The Next Nintendo?
Platform: PC (Steam), works with Mac & Linux
Release Date: 29 August 2013
Developer: Greenheart Games
Nearly every avid gamer has fantasies about being a game developer. We all have favorite genres and ideas about putting together what we think is the best kind of game. However this idea is one that makes Game Dev Tycoon both exciting but inevitably unable to deliver what many gamers will expect from it. It is a fairly standard Tycoon game, which means you spend most of the time experimenting on different types of games to make the most money – not a game-making program where you can design to your heart’s content.
So you start out in your dinky garage making your first game. You can pick the genre, topic and platform, as well as the name of course, and then you will be prompted periodically to make decisions about your game. This generally includes sliders that allow you to focus your efforts on different aspects of the game such as graphics, gameplay and sound. All of these options are evaluated when you release your final product depending on how well all of your choices match up (for example, government/simulation is a much better combo than government/RPG). Overall the best combinations are fairly intuitive, if you play a lot of games, but again, everyone has their own view of how games should be. Just because you can think of an amazing idea for a ninja/simulation game doesn’t mean that the game will agree with you! In traditional tycoon style, you will end up using a lot of trial-and-error in working out the best choices, but you are helped in this by the ability to produce game reports after you publish a game. This will tell you about the effectiveness of some of the combinations you made and add these results to the interface when you next make a game (so it might say bad combo! before you go through with it next time). The game report isn’t extensive, however, and often you will find that the report simply lists your good decisions when you’re trying to find out why the game got terrible reviews.
New concepts are introduced quickly in Game Dev Tycoon so it never really feels stale. The game starts very basically, but you will rapidly unlock new features that change the way you play, such as the ability to market your games, accept contracts and publishing opportunities, and make sequels. You will also have the ability to constantly upgrade your games with options like better sound, cutscenes and graphics that you can combine to make your own unique game engine. There are tonnes of events as you play, mostly revolving around new consoles that are released to market, but you can also be invited to gaming festivals or asked for your comment in an interview.
There are various little problems with the game that can be annoying but don’t really ruin the game in any big way. For example if you leave the game for a while after it’s finished you will start to remove bugs, but for some reason bugs can also be made during this period. That might be realistic but it can be frustrating when you have removed all the bugs and just as you click Finish a bug suddenly appears and you can’t go back. The game could probably do with some tooltips to quickly explain some of the options given as well. For example, some of the slider options such as ‘Engine’ can be a little confusing for those who don’t play a lot of games, which is made worse when you have to decide whether to put your designer or technical guy on the job.
You can play Game Dev Tycoon at whichever pace you like. There’s plenty of time to admire the basic-yet-cute graphics in between development stages but there’s also a lot of options to tinker with if you don’t like sitting around. The music is upbeat and fits quite well with the atmosphere of the game. Mostly, though, the game’s charm comes from it’s amusing game industry references – there’s everything from making games for the TES and G64 to being able to hire famous staff members like Peter Polynox and Eduard McGillen. You even get a message when you go bankrupt about how disappointed your fans are that the licenses to your games were bought by ‘Electronic Mass’ when you go bankrupt!
Game Dev Tycoon doesn’t really bring anything new to the tycoon genre, but aside from the few bugs everything feels polished and well-made. Not to mention that this is only Greenheart Games’ first release! We look forward to seeing what they will make in the future.
Check out the official trailer here: