Well hello my friends!
It’s been a while since I’ve delved into the murky waters of indie gaming and quickfire reviews but this weekend, in a hungover post-bierfest haze I broke open the old Steam library, blew the dust off the ‘Indie Games to Try’ category and found something worthy of some playtime between building my rail network in Minecraft – Game Dev Tycoon.
And so, Beetle Interactive was founded, in a little garage in the 70’s creating 2D games to its heart’s content.
Game Dev Tycoon is literally just that – it puts you in charge of yourself in a garage with the premise of creating games. You start off in the early days of video games (sometime in the 70s I suppose), with several choices for each game you create – choose a name, a topic for your game and its genre, then control how much time you spend on each part of the game in a 3 stage slider controlled development cycle. Once the game is ready, you release it, wait for the critic reviews and then watch the sales. By this time you should already be on your next game, engine or completing contracts to earn some extra money and research points.
Research points are used to research and unlock new topics, genres, technologies and other such things you’ll need to keep up with the times.
There are choices to be made, but not many – self publish or use a publisher? What size booth at this year’s convention? As you go through the years you’ll need to choose which licences to buy and which platforms to develop on – one of the best things about Game Dev Tycoon – the nostalgia factor of that “remember when…?” feeling that those old platforms bring, even if their names are obscured (Vega on Ninvento anyone?)
Sound complicated? No, didn’t think so, because Game Dev Tycoon, while challenging, is not difficult or complex to learn and play. There are more subtle strategies and ways to make the game more interesting for yourself, but overall, we’re lacking some serious depth here. Truth be told I didn’t get past having 4 employees and creating games for the “Vony Playsystem”, but I feel like I’d experienced all the game had to offer by that point, which was about 2 or 3 hours into the gameplay.
And the single most frustrating thing? For best I can tell, although the game tries to lead you to believe otherwise through ‘genre matching’ and ‘platform matching’ results from analysing past games, the success of your game and the critic opinions just feels far too much like a randomly generated farce. That means it feels like your whole progress in the game is more up to chance and less up to the skill/knowledge of what the game tries to lead you to believe is the way to get better scores.
Gave Dev Tycoon is fun for what it’s worth and not too intense – it didn’t tax my beer-induced brain-hurt – and I’m sure I’ll revisit it and play more, since there is a lot of gameplay left in it, but I don’t feel myself particularly motivated to do so.
He also hosts the nAvTV podcast and this here website is his domain.