Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
Personally, I wish I could’ve been alive during the 80s. In all my IT classes, I’ve heard about the computer revolution and how everyone seemed to start their path to digital greatness out of their garages, building computers and programming games. Though I was born in the early 90s, game design has always been something that I’ve been interested and passionate about, though the complexities of the modern world seem to be less inclined to the dream of yesteryear that Jobs, Wozniak, and Gates often recall so fondly.
However, the dream is still alive and well in Game Dev Tycoon , a business simulator by Greenheart Games where you… well.. become a successful games developer, starting in your own garage and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. Or sandal straps. Whatever programmers are wearing nowadays.
The game starts with a pretty simple objective: create your first video game. You have four random “topics” to choose from such as Medieval, War, Politics, or City. In addition to what your game will be about, you can choose the genre, platform, and later on, the intended audience and what game engine you want to use.
After you figure out a catchy title (and they even give you an achievement for taking longer than normal to come up with one–because writer’s block is terrible), you start the development process, which is broken up into four stages. The first three stages, you prioritize development in certain areas: do you focus on creating a better storyline or better graphics? Will you throw in 3D rendering for that extra $15,000 or will 2D suffice? Depending on topic, platform, and genre, these development choices can make or break you.
While you’re plugging away at your desk, you accumulate four types of points: Bugs, Design, Technology, and Research. The first one’s pretty self-explanatory: the amount of bugs you have in your game, which you can troubleshoot after development in the fourth stage (or just release the game anyway). Design and Technology are experience points given to you based on your style of development; the higher these are, the better you are at programming certain areas of a game.
Research is probably the most important as it allows you to experiment and discover new stuff like the ability to custom build your own game engines, unlock marketing options, find new game topics, among a plethora of other things.
After your game is launched, you can do an after-report on it, offering you hints on what works well with what, and what doesn’t. For example, strategy games go great on PC platforms, or that PC games are geared more towards a mature audience. You’ll also get a score from four fictional game reviewers and depending on how well you do, you’ll start gaining fans and more money. This aspect is what really gets me excited, what with the whole being a video game reviewer myself.
While operating out of your garage, the gameplay is rather limited: it’s just you, $70,000 to start, your trusty computer, and a pocket full of dreams. However, this is by no means a bad thing. In fact, the game gets pretty intense so this initial level eases you into the burgeoning alternate video game industry. Game Dev Tycoon builds on itself as you build your empire.
As you move to your first actual office, you’ll have enough room for some extra employees, adding a management aspect to the game, in addition to production. You’re given random events to steal information from other companies or sue people who pirate your games, all with their own bonuses and penalties. I was honestly surprised by the amount of detail the two brothers behind Greenheart Games have put into their creation, but that’s probably my favorite part about Game Dev Tycoon .
The game puts you in the chair of a video game entrepreneur and you’re faced with some of the problems we see in the real world. All of a sudden, some of the calls made by one of your least favorite developer that you might have griped about don’t seem so bad–or maybe you feel the allure of just pumping out games, making money solely off the sheer volume despite poor quality. And as a start up on their own, this game seems to be the story (or perhaps the hopes) of Greenheart Games, and everyone else who’s entered the industry while forging their path on their own.
To sum up, Game Dev Tycoon is a fantastic game and it’s well worth the value (only $10 on Steam). Every part of this game has been made with the passion expected of good game design, pleasantly surprising you with the level of depth it possesses given its simplistic appearance. I guess, as with any form of art, less is definitely more. Speaking of which, I can’t wait to see where Greenheart goes next.