Game development is a tough, stressful gig, but also an incredibly rewarding one. To start a development studio on your own from nothing is surely one of the riskiest business ventures you could set out on. Making your first game, a decent one at that, is only the first of many trying steps to becoming a mildly successful, or even viable studio. This is essential knowledge on the road to learning what it takes to be successful while playing Game Dev Tycoon, Greenheart Games’ latest offering, a sort of Rollercoaster Tycoon and Game Dev Story mash-up. Just like any other game in the Tycoon vein, Game Dev is a compelling business simulation that had me constantly chasing the next big project and growing my operation, despite my occasional catastrophic failures.
At the outset in GDT, you’re a lone developer working out of a garage with a single computer; you’ve just started your own operation, and now you’re taking your first shot at making a game. Early on, the type of games you can create are somewhat limited, but as you continue through the game you’ll gain research points to unlock new genres, as you advance across real-life console equivalents. In all likelihood, that initial game will be terrible, but it’ll at least earn you enough money to consistently release more and better games. There’s always the possibility that your games will repeatedly turn out poorly, and you’ll go bankrupt and have to close up shop, though. This happened to me several times before I managed to produce a hit title, and that moment felt like a real triumph. It takes a great combination of topics and genres, good timing and successful marketing to produce a game that will sell and be well received, and it truly feels like you’ve earned it when you release that first success.
There are so many directions you could go at any moment that at times it’s hard to know what the best course of action is. The point at which you have your own studio, five designers on your team, and internal departments like R&D, and your own console development team creates a sense of having a truly massive operation under way. And if you can successfully manage all of that, that feeling of success is fantastic.
The number of different genres of game, topics and combinations thereof are more than you’ll likely have time to experiment with. There’s no one obvious winning strategy, either. You won’t get by making a new Call of Duty equivalent every year or even every few months. There are rewards to be had trying different genre and topic combinations, and the next hit is almost never what you’ll be expecting. My highest rated and best-selling game throughout my studio’s entire lifespan ended up being a fashion-simulation adventure, much to my surprise.
Game Dev Tycoon isn’t as deep or tactical as other games sharing the Tycoon moniker, but what it offers up is something few games do and it succeeds at portraying, if lightly, what it’s like to be an up-and-coming developer.
Download Game Dev Tycoon.