Title: Game Dev Tycoon
Developer: Greenheart Games
Publisher: Greenheart Games, Headup Games
Platform: PC, Mac, Android, IOS
Category: Economic Simulation
Release Date: December 10, 2012
How we got the game: We bought it on Steam
Game Dev Tycoon is a fun, addicting simulation in which you try to become the best game developer you can be within 35 game years. We first heard of the game from one of our favorite YouTubers, ProJared, and we became obsessed.
Game Dev Tycoon is played by clicking and selecting options from menus. For example, clicking on the screen will bring up options to create a new game, find contract work, find a publishing deal, or look at your game history. It’s very simple in terms of controls and the premise, but every action you make will affect your company, either for better or for worse.
Every action affects your company, yeah, but a lot is luck. You might think you’re making a great decision and it completely backfires. You start off by yourself in your garage making small games here and there. Once you get enough money, you get your own office. Now you can hire two employees and create games faster.
Eventually, you can get an even bigger office and hire a full team of six employees aside from yourself. Your employees affect your games as well, depending on their strengths in the design or technology department, as well as their speed and efficiency at research. You can train them to raise their stats, but it will cost money and research points, not to mention their monthly salaries and the rent for your office. With more employees, you can create even bigger games, which may bring in more fans and sales. Researching new topics and assets to your custom game engines — such as dialogue trees, soundtracks, open worlds, mini-games, just to name a small few — will also help drive up those game sales. As long as, you know, the critics like the games.
You have to manage your time well too because the time in-game moves pretty quickly. You need to sort out who’s going to research what, train their skills and when. Don’t forget to train yourself as well… something I often forgot. I usually did all this in between games too because it’s much better to have everyone working on the game at once. You can assign what aspects of the game you want your employees to work on. Everyone has a meter that fills up a percentage of how much they’re working. Ideally, you want your employees and yourself to be under 100% so they don’t overwork themselves. They do have a tired meter as well. If that goes down their work will slow or stop altogether. You can simply click on them and send them on vacation for a bit.
There are events happening all the time that can affect your work as well, such as big name video game companies coming out with new consoles, events that have to do with your fans, or market analysis news that tell you what kind of genre or target audience is popular at the moment. There is also “G3,” the game’s equivalent of E3, every year that you can attend. Depending on the size of the booth you can afford, you may get more fans and hype for the next game you’re making. The more hype for a game, the more sales you may generate. Beware, too much hype for a game that ends up being less than stellar may result in you losing fans.
After 35 years in-game, the game “ends.” You get a list of your stats such as your best selling game, least sold game, most used topic and genre, and more. All of that adds up and you get a score. The points don’t really matter but it’s fun to check out anyway. After that you can either keep playing the game without any “story elements” or you can start a new game and try to beat your score.
Game Dev Tycoon, being a casual simulator, doesn’t have a huge world or multiple levels to explore. Instead, you have the background of your office, your avatar and employees glued to their computer screens, and statistics and news bubbles around the edges of the game window. The graphics are very clean while being sure that you’re mentally focused on your budding game development company.
It’s simple and it works. You’re so focused on pointing, clicking, and checking the stats in the top right corner that you barely notice anything else going on – which isn’t much. The colors are bright and fun and the backgrounds for each office are cool to look closely at as your employees get their work done.
To go along with the chill graphics, the music is relaxing as well. It’s minimal, allowing you to zone into the work you have to do to develop the best games possible. There aren’t too many sound effects, either, but the best one is these little “bubbles” of productivity from your employees. While working on a game, the game earns bubbles of design and technology, depending on the speed and the workers’ strength in those areas, and it is extremely satisfying to see all the little bubbles go flying!
The music is smooth and relaxing, definitely. Even clicking on options for what to do next is a satisfying sound. The bubbles though were definitely my favorite! Their popping sounds were satisfying to listen to and yeah, to watch them fly across the screen was mesmerizing.
Game Dev Tycoon starts off with your avatar sitting in a little garage-turned-office with a handful of money and big dreams to become a famous — or at least profitable — game developer. With only the ability to make small games with a few randomized topic options, you have to do your best to balance out design and technology to make the best games as possible so you can move up in the video game world.
The point is to move up in the gaming world and become the best video game company ever. That’s all there is to it. The points and money only add up to give you stats and points at the end for a high score. While you can keep playing the game after it “ends” in 35 in-game years, there’s still a way to lose. Sometimes the market doesn’t go your way and you can go bankrupt. So be careful your business doesn’t go up in flames!
With the random events and beginning topics, Game Dev Tycoon has some great replay ability. The luck of the draw definitely keeps the game interesting, and with its addictive gameplay, you’re always trying to improve your games and overall high score. Year 35 is a good time for the game to “end,” for at that point we found ourselves to be so successful with fans and profits, that the quality of our games didn’t matter as much when it came to sales. At that point, I was ready to jump right into a new game and just keep going!
The game topics such as virtual pet, mystery games, and more are random when you first start. So there’s never a playthrough that’ll be the same. This is definitely something I’ll play again soon.
Game Dev Tycoon gets…
5 out of 5 lives.