Arts & Culture

Why aren’t you playing: Game Dev Tycoon

Why aren’t you playing: Game Dev Tycoon
Much better than your mother's basement. (Press image)
written by Vaughn Pearson
January 17, 2014 12:05 pm
Much better than your mother's basement. (Press image)

Much better than your mother’s basement. (Press image)

I’ve never come across a greater love letter to gaming than Game Dev Tycoon, by Greenheart Games. Starting out in your garage, you are tasked with creating video games. Your journey begins in the early days of gaming on the PC and Commodore 64, and stretches into the present day. As time passes, new technologies can be researched, new genres explored and new mechanics developed until you are running multi-million dollar studios with dozens of employees at your disposal. And along the way, you will feel the overwhelming presence of love for the world of video games in every little detail.

This game is not easy. An in depth knowledge of the history of gaming, its popular conventions and dynamics is essential to succeeding. Granted, a careful understanding of the game itself will allow you to succeed well enough on your own, but knowing the specifics of certain games—when they were released and on what systems—will help you immensely in creating your own games. There is a certain degree of elation when you’re sitting at your computer in your lonely garage and your first smash hit takes the game world by storm. For me it was a ninja game on the original Gameboy (called Gameling, made by Ninvento) I jokingly named Go-Go-Ninja-Stab-Time. I watched as my perfect combination of the casual genre, ninja subject and handheld device proved to be the perfect formula, allowing my bank account to soar from a meager $50k to $5.2 million. Soon enough I had employees, a studio and central air conditioning. Alas, I lost it all to hubris, gambling too much and sinking more into marketing and research than proper development.

There are plenty of factors to balance and plenty of risks to consider, but ultimately if you know your games, you’ll know how to succeed. For those of you out there who are not as well versed in video game history, fear not. Regular news updates, analyst predictions and subtle nods will keep you on the right track and having fun right alongside the more hardcore enthusiasts. It is fun for everyone, and with its tongue in cheek approach to the history of the medium, the fun remains lasting even on your 15th attempt at making it big in the cutthroat world of game development.

You can pick up Game Dev Tycoon on Mac and PC for $9.99 via Desura, Steam, the Windows Store, Mac Game Store, Humble Marketplace, or via the Greenheart Games website.

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