Game Dev Tycoon Review 

For those of you wondering, I haven't died, I'm developing a game. When I saw this gem though, I had to review it. 

You might have seen the controversy around the fact that Greenheart uploaded a "special" version of the game to torrent sites and let the pirates complain about how their game studios were failing due to piracy. This was too juicy to ignore, and Uryaen loves meta stuff, so I figured I'd buy it and throw down a quick review. 

The game isn't very long, and is an indie casual game, which I have not reviewed here on uryaen.com but we'll take a quick look. 

Game Dev Tycoon

 

STATS of review

Played one complete 30 year cycle of the game, and then played for at least another 20 years. Each week is about one second real time, so that's a good 8+ hours of solid play so far. Might be as much as twice that. This game is addictive, and I wasn't keeping close track on play time.

Game Platform and Release Stats

Game acquired retail direct from developer. They're supposed to do a Steam version, and they say that they'll send Steam keys to current owners.  

Spoiler Content

This particular review is spoiler free as far as the narrative is concerned. There isn't much story, but there are some nice little touches I won't spoil.

Overall Impression

Addictive as hell. If you're not a game developer, have never worked for one, and have no interest in it, this game might not be for you, but as a meta cathartic bit of mental yoga for those of us who have, it's part mirror, part pillow to cry in, and all a hoot.

Installing and Patching

It's a one screen indie game.

First Impressions and “Draw”

The developer offers the game in a demo version, which I tried first, got hooked on, and then immediately bought the full version. For a somewhat jaded tech reviewer, that's an impressive feat.

Is that a Delorean? :) 

Personal Story Arc

Start a game studio working in your garage in the 80's. Develop text based or 2D games, and eventually sell enough to start a small studio and hire help. The demo ends before you can do that, but in the full game, there are two additional stages, and the personal challenges you face are daunting.

Training

Each character in the game is capable of developing any of the core features of a game, from design to programming, and participating in technical research. I'm not going to spend 2800 words getting into each, just play the game, you won't be sorry.  

Reviews

Reviewers . . . I am one, so what can I say? They're picky. In this game, they're also really inconsistent, and this is something that is yelled about a lot on the forums, but I see it as fairly realistic. I have had several instances of this ONE reviewer ruining a perfect 10 streak for me. I have no problem with that.

The Interface

For a game of its scope, the UI works great, but has a few hiccups. Later in the game, you gain the ability to utilize research labs, which reside to the left and right of your main office. Scrolling to either isn't the smoothest, and the one on the right has a button to switch to it, while the one on the left does not. I imagine this is something that may be fixed in a patch.

The Pesky thing is an inside joke.

The Controls

You play almost entirely with the mouse, so for those of us who are disabled and bed bound, this is an awesome game.

Contract Work, Publishing Deals

During the course of your career, you will need to occasionally take on contracting work. This can be anything from bug testing, to something far more demeaning. Oh, the life of a struggling developer. At least you can get cash for it, but only if you hurry and finish on time. Otherwise, you end up worse than when you started.

Publishing Deals work much the same way. I highly recommend you grab one ONCE when you first open your office, and after you hire ONE employee, then don't do it again.

Game Engines

As you get further into developing games, you will need to develop your own engines. This isn't really how modern game development works, but it's a very close approximation, and there are a number of satisfying aspects to this side quest. Don't ignore it.

NPCs

The only NPCs are your lazy, incompetent employees, who require constant training and vacations after every little project. Your character NEVER gets a vacation, which is an all too real commentary as well.

 

AI

Even as straightforward as a Tycoon game is there is a considerable amount of logic AI going on, and the forums are alight with complaints that game quality and reviews do not correlate to sales. But then, do they ever in real life?

You guys didn't listen to us about Duke Nukem Forever, nor did you listen when I predicted that Aliens: CM would suck a year from release. Now the developer and publisher are facing a class action law suit over how sucky it is, and that they lied about it.

They should add stuff like that to this game, it would really spice things up.

The End Game

The game guides you through a breakneck pace from the 80's to slightly tomorrow, and then leaves off entirely. I wish that if they had more funds and time, they could extend their gaming universe several hundred or more years into the future, inventing computers and consoles as they go, which would go a long way toward extending end game playability. As it stands, once 30 years are up, you can keep sandboxing, which is fun, but you lose the "story progression" aspect.

Installation Size

139MB on my SSD

Time Commitment Required

For one reasonable play through, you're looking at 8-10 hours.

COMPANY

Two guys and a game, so far. Let's see what happens with this promising duo.

Conclusion

I don't usually do indie games because most of them suck. There is a growing movement of them, and some of the better ones are ok, but I don't usually need to review them, as they either live or die by word of mouth rather than reviews, but I just clicked really well with this little gem, and wanted to share.

Go give them your $7. It's worth it.

 

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