In which it is possible to design a game of style “Game development”. That shit got recursive. But lets back up – or iterate back up through loops, if you’d rather.
For the batshit tl;dr, check out the bits in bold.
Many of you have heard about Game Dev Tycoon because of the hilarious if not slightly depressing story of its release; but that’s not my story to tell. Check it out at: http://www.greenheartgames.com/2013/04/29/what-happens-when-pirates-play-a-game-development-simulator-and-then-go-bankrupt-because-of-piracy/
Game Dev Tycoon is a new game recently released by Greenheart Games, a game studio a pair of brothers set up, based in Australia. You create your character, your company, and you are flung bodily into the world of making games in a very abstract manner.
So began the adventures of BetterThanEA, my soon-to-be Leviathan-ic games company of awesomeness and good love all around. The system is delightfully clean – click anywhere on the screen to bring up your menu, which simply reads “Develop New Game…”.
You name your game, choose a topic (Fantasy, Sci Fi, Military, etc), a Genre (Action, RPG, Strategy, et. al.) and a platform. Starting off in (roughly) the late 70s/early 80s, the only available platforms are the G64 and the PC. Choose platform wisely, as each platform has development costs as well as a Marketshare with fluctuating popularity.
OH GOD THAT MAKES ME SO HAPPY.
I, being immature, decided no matter how disgusting my games it would most definitely be BetterThanEA (see what I did there?). Ready as I was for the imminent skyrocketing in popularity of the PC, Anal Prolapse, my shining debut into the world of Game Devving, was a 2D space adventure game on the PC. Thanks to some lovely sliders, I put most of my efforts into the Engine Design, Level Design, and Graphics (out of 9 areas to divide your time between.)
As you work, your hard grind is converted into little ‘popping’ bubbles that, well, bubble to the toolbar HUD at the top of the screen. It’s a most satisfying sensation, with a most satisfying noise. When the game was done, and I’d worked all the bugs out, I released my game to the big wide world!
Anal Prolapse was not popular. Reviews included “Meh!” – Star Games, “Pretty Bad” – All Games, and my favourite of all: “The name says it all” – Game Hero. Hehehehehe. Still, it sold 1,333 units in its first week, and went on to make a total of £41.5k.
Game #1 : Average score 4, Profit £10k. This shit is harder than I thought.
And onward it flows, introducing more game topics, features (Stereo sound! A Level Editor! AI Companions!), and an experience system that makes it very play-more-able. (It’s a little disheartening to know that my in-game avatar is most probably better at making games than I’ll ever be, but what ho.)
What could make this experience better? In-game popups, that’s the fuck what! Helpful marketing contacts, industrial espionage and a Nigerian Prince all come along to say hello, and try to get some of your hard-earned cash.
And the further into the game you progress, the more involved it gets! Trends emerge, your fans have opinions, and when more platforms get introduce EVERYTHING gets more complex. Three hours in, I make my first big cock-up. FuckShitUp, my fighting simulator was a hit so I fell into the trap of EA-ism; I immediately rehashed FuckMoreShitUp with zero additions or changes to the formula. And it fucking DIED. It was brutal man; the reviews tore me a new one, and I was struck dumb at how EA I had become. Foolishly following my Rollercoaster Tycoon method of ‘I’m in trouble, let’s spin some money out of these guys.’, I had unwittingly become the very thing I hated most.
So I moved on, reshaping my methods until The Zegend of Lelda hit big. So big I finally hit the mythical £1m mark, and moved into a bigger office. No more garage for me!
And that’s when things become less clean. The risk/reward needle began to swing more and more wildly, and my sliiiightly tenuous position the industry became shaky when coupled with my appalling business sense. Only PC games seemed to make me any profit, I had unlocked so many menu options that clicking anywhere on-screen caused a cascade of business opportunities, so much so that I began to pray a patch would let me customise left/right clicking.
If I’m honest that’s about as far as I’ve gotten – the second ‘level’, if you will, and many reloads to try and un-fuck up my latest fuck-up. I’ve put in about 10 hours so far, and it’s as playable as when I started, if at danger of becoming a little samey if it isn’t careful.
Would I recommend it? Of course. But not until you’ve finished this semester – or your dreams of developing hit games will be forever relegated to this game.
notwesleycrusher – AKA Dotwo – signing off.
Praying that FuckShitUpAgain makes me millions…