Apps That Don’t Suck: Game Dev Tycoon

I cleaned up during last week’s Steam sale. I walked away with several games, and I spent less than $30. I love bargains. 

One of the titles I picked up is Game Dev Tycoon. Game Dev Tycoon was inspired by Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story, and there are many, many similarities. As a fan of the original, I think Greenheart Games took a few shortcuts that are a bit too similar to Game Dev Story to call the idea “inspired by,” but they did expand and improve on the original in a few ways.

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Part of the charm of Kairosoft’s games is the old school 8-bit graphics. I have a fondness in my heart for giant, square pixels, and as the game is essentially a text-based adventure, limited graphics didn’t impede game play, or, more importantly, fun, at all.

Greenheart games has taken it a step further with Game Dev Tycoon, still relying on old-school graphics, but bringing the style forward about 20 years. The result is a 3/4 view and simply animated sprites.

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The GUI draws from flat design, it’s clean and simple, although it takes a moment to get used to how everything works, so it’s not necessarily intuitive.

Success takes a lot of trial and error, my company, HOUSE UNICORN GAMES, went under four times before I made it all the way through the game. I think I also missed an entire arm of gameplay, there appear to be expansions available for the largest office that are obtained by doing specialized research.

Overall, I spent maybe 8-10 hours playing, comparable to the amount of time it took me to beat Game Dev Story. I enjoyed the humor, and I’m amused by Greenheart’s approach to piracy. (One of the pair that made the game released a special cracked copy as a torrent. In it, everyone who plays goes bankrupt, from piracy. Pretty clever.)

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It’s a cute game, and while it’s hard to find the right path to success, the ride is entertaining throughout. I’d recommend it, if you’re looking for a way to spend a few dollars and kill a few hours. From my knowledge of the inside of the game industry (which is mostly by proxy, due to friends who work in it), it’s a fairly accurate, if extremely simplified, portrayal of the trials and tribulations of taking a game to market.

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[E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

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