Game Dev Tycoon

I recently spotted an article over on Eurogamer.net that caught my interest. It involves an indie game that punishes people who play a ‘cracked’ version of their game.

Game Dev Tycoon is a title created by Greenheart Games. It’s a quirky little game that pits you to try to create a videogame studio. Choose the right genre, platform, game engine, hire the right people and you could have a massive hit on your hands. Or you could create Aliens Colonial Marines (which still went on to sell lots and lots of copies, but we’ll ignore that point).

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Back to the Eurogamer post. If you are playing a cracked (that is, a ‘pirate’ copy) of the game you’ll have possibly got hold of a copy that was intentionally placed on file sharing sites by the games creators, Patrick and Daniel Klug. In the pirated copy you’ll eventually get to a stage where most of the copies of your released games get pirated instead of purchased, ultimately making your studio go bankrupt. The point they are making is very simple. The game doesn’t cost the earth, and every penny of the cost of the game goes straight back to the guys who made it, thus in turn helping to cover any and all costs incurred when creating Game Dev Tycoon and hopefully encouraging them to create a new game in the future. For the full news story click here.

I’ve purchased a copy myself and I must admit, it’s a very fun and addictive title. It does borrow ideas quite heavily from the hit iOS/Android game by Kairosoft, Game Dev Story, however it does do a good job in taking the basic principles of the mobile phone title and then expanding on them. By adding new features and expanding into deeper areas such as researching target audiences and creating your own game engines to power your titles it does provide you with more options when it comes to developing games compared to Game Dev Story.

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Developing a game is simple. You choose a theme, say for example Racing, then a genre like Simulation. As time passes new consoles become available, and you’ll have to decide which of them to buy a license for so that the game you have in mind can be created for it. As the game takes shape little bubbles float up and contribute to ether its design or the technology behind the game. The higher the numbers, the better the finished product. Once finished the game will be reviewed before hitting the public. A well made game with high production values doesn’t always sell (as real life developers will know) if the combination of genre and theme don’t work well together.

In truth, the secret to a succesful studio isn’t so much about what games you want to make, or how you market them etc. The game is about combinations, and once you’ve started to work out which combinations work best you’ll soon start to see results. Some of the additional development decisions you make don’t seem to make all that much of a difference to the end result. Once you’ve ‘cracked’ the key combinations I can image the title would lose a lot of its charm and replay value.

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Nonetheless, it’s a very fun simulation game and probably the closest I’ll ever get to running a videogame studio. I’m not that far into it yet, so it would be unfair to call this a review, but I can tell you I’m enjoying it a lot so far. Yes, it is very similar to Game Dev Story however with its clean visual approach and increased options I feel the game has done just about enough to dodge being called a copy-cat.

You can purchase a copy from Greenheart Game’s official site for £5.69 or download the demo for free. Alternatively it’s currently up for voting to appear on Steam’s Greenlight.

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