Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Review: Game Dev Tycoon

The steam sale can be a blessing and a curse at times.  Browsing it's many pages of offerings on the PC you would be forgiven for missing numerous gems out there as you see the next triple A title from the previous year now down 50% or more.  One of those missed gems is Game Dev Tycoon, a simple but highly addictive game from start up developer Greenheart games.

The premise is simple, you begin the game in the 80's working on your own from a garage making simple games for early systems such as the Govodore 64 or PC.  One thing you will notice quickly is the long list of major names in the gaming world with simple changes to avoid copyright.  So Sony becomes Vonny, Nintendo is Ninvento and even developers with the likes of Ubersoft and TGQ.

Making games is quick and simple with a few mouse clicks you can pick a topic, genre and platform for your new game.  After that you pick a title of your own creation, so if you want to try and be the developer of Sonic you can, but honestly you can pick any name you want for your games.  Development time is then allocated for each stage and the game is made.  Afterwards it's sent to the reviewers and the scores come in.  Good reviews mean fantastic sales and money to invest in new technologies and systems.

From humble beginnings
The game becomes more challenging as you progress as you need to research improvements to your game engine which itself needs to be created.  New engines cost money so keeping your finances in check to produce bigger and better games while also researching and paying bills becomes quite the trick.  Other costs include hiring and paying for staff, marketing, games conferences (G3) and other random events such as legal issues, hackers and patching your games.

It gives you the tiniest glimpse into the game development process and shows how hard it can be for smaller and medium sized developers to try and create a game that not only works well, but also competes with the major developers out there.  You don't have to play the game as a indie developer of course, you can instead choose to work under publishers creating games they want you to make.  Make a game that gets the desired review scores and you stand to make plenty of cash.  Fail however and you make potentially far less than you invested.

The game can sometimes be a little vague when it comes to certain genres though.  For example trying to make your attempt at Call of Duty for instance would normally be labelled as a first person shooter, but Game Dev Tycoon doesn't have this as a genre, instead you have to choose action which in itself covers many other game types.  Obviously the small number of genre's keep things streamlined but it would have been nice to have an advanced set of options for more in depth genre choices.  It would have also been nice to check out the competition and see what your rivals are making and try to one up them or see how they are doing compared to you.

Still the game has enough depth that you won't really notice the few minor omissions and the game is fully moddable for those who wish for me content.  Looking at the Greenheart games forums will yield plenty of mods to expand the game beyond it's already generous offering. 

The beginnings of a corporate empire
Graphically the title is simple but efficient with simple animations and bright colours for your development studio.  You will see your staff at their computers taking notes, drinking coffee and working.  The user interface is incredibly simple to use and clean without unnecessary clutter to obscure menu's.  In fact the game is extremely simple to get to grips with, allowing you to very easily create games.

The sound is generally good although sounds are limited overall, reduced to menu pops and tills pinging for game sales.  Still the sounds aren't offensive and certainly add to the games aesthetic feel.  The music is a little repetitive when you pay attention to it while waiting for research to finish or getting review scores, but again it's such a minor complaint in what is overall a great package at the price.

In closing the game is great fun in between those hardcore sessions of other titles you own on PC.  You will squirm when a bad review comes in, curse the name of reviewers and fist punch the air when you hit a group of 9's and 10's.  Very few games have made me feel that tense and for that I salute you Game Dev tycoon.

SCORE: 8/10 - Played it for days


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