Review – Game Developer Tycoon

Game Dev Tycoon is here and taking over by storm, the tycoon builder strives to poke at video game history and challenge players to critical decision-making and budget spending to survive the harsh pages of time in the video gaming industry. Odd enough, as Game Dev Tycoon opens, such a reality seems possible, the simple initial controls and guesswork to pair genres to themes give an easy first impression.

That is… until you play the game. Themes are random each play, they could be miraculous or some of the most punishing elements to pair up on a limited field. The use of this is a great incentive for players to take the game and start shaping. As hits come out of the garage studio, options to research new themes and expand details come and it’s critical to manage funding and points to avoid falling into massive bank debt. Unfortunately it’s not an exact science, pairing isn’t just slap what sounds good together, zombies and simulations aren’t a magic match despite what might be thought.

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The team made an effort to allow users to fail at an earlier level of the game by having product cycle releases earlier and staggered results of development. Botch that first game out of the studio and there’s a solid chance the finances slide until bankruptcy leers around the corner. Management requires anticipation for technology upgrades and changes based on console history, falling behind the curve limits appeal and puts fan relations in a bind when years go by and the same antiquated engine is still running the latest releases. Every PR decision, every single move to attend a show, to hire a new person to train them. It all has a subtle longer term impact in how the results pan out.

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Ultimately it rests on the player to create the right formulas, balances, teams and training schedule to keep the team ready for the future. While this might frustrate some, it’s a challenge mechanic that forces creativity and experimentation without just churning out carbon copy games. The only current issue that I’ve had with Game Dev Tycoon is save management. Having only one studio to manage at a time is frustrating, being 34 years in and unable to make Virtual Kitten Action RPG games without tanking the studio is troubling.

Hopefully items like multiple saves states come into the design, at $9.99 (7.99 currently) this Greenlight title grabs the Tycoon formula and cleverly mashes it into a digestible delivery where players hack away to reach the top at their own pace. My current progress is a testament to that as I run with a full office and yet lack a proper R&D facility simply because I keep investing in future tech. The experience is what you want to make of it and those who expect to make it rain 10/10 games are clearly delusional.

The good:

  • Scales on current hardware and old hardware without an issue
  • Resolution is forgiving even at Eyefinity levels
  • Variety of starting points and results available, no empire will be exactly the same
  • Stands as one of the easier Tycoon games in the market
  • Replay value in creating random titles to succeed or fail horribly

The not so good:

  • Tweaking settings can bring frustration
  • Options can blur focus on priority investments or upgrades
  • Lack of additional save states
  • Time moves exceptionally fast, leaves players to restart to develop on other platforms

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