Simulation games, even those that aren’t hyper-realistic, aren’t something I’m super familiar with. I trend towards puzzle games or match-three style games when I’m mobile gaming. During one of our meetings Greenheart Games’ Game Dev Tycoon came up, and I was intrigued. I decided to give it a try just for giggles and ended up really, really enjoying it.
The premise of the game is that you’re playing a game developer starting in the 80’s from your garage. You, starting back then, get to experience the evolution of gaming through simulating a developer. You will research new game topics (like Horror, Expedition, or Abstract), new graphic styles, different kinds of sound … you research everything that goes into making a custom game engine.
Each system that is introduced is some kind of reference or callback to the evolution of different game companies, publishers, and developers. There’s even a re-skinned E3 (G3: Games Games Games) present in the game for you to participate in later on.
Game Dev Tycoon has a little bit of a learning curve. While it does explain its systems very well, the game relies heavily on knowledge of gaming history and what games did well on what systems. Sometimes the player can create a game that would do really, really well in the present day but absolutely flops in the 80s. The game doesn’t tell you those things, so when I was trying to create an 80’s version of a fantasy RPG with the first iteration of 2D graphics, the game didn’t do so hot. Thankfully, there are mechanics in the game that turn your failures into learning experiences.
After you finish a game that you’ve developed, it’s shipped off to distributors, and soon enough you’re treated to reviews of the game. The reviews seem to determine how well the game will do during its time on the market as well as how many fans you may win or lose. The game will begin to ship after that, and you’ll be able to track how the game is selling by watching the numbers go up. If your game does well, you’ll blast into the millions and into a bigger, better office.
You start off knowing very little about what components should be prioritized for certain genres of games. However, each game you ship gives you the opportunity to generate a Game Report, which will tell you whether your combination of genres and game types is a success, what components of the games are important (and what aren’t), and occasionally some bits and pieces about your team management.
There’s a special research area that opens up later on in the game that gives you access to creating an MMO and a plethora of other things. I think this game is complex, rewarding, and has a lot of replayability. I started playing it as soon as it came out, and I still pick it up to experience the thrill of “creating” a successful game (well, and disappointment when I make a failure. Which…is often).
Definitely give this game a chance. It’s available on Google Play for $4.99.