Can you get Game Of The Year?
I’ve just sold my 13th game and finally got into the Hall of Fame. It’s all thanks to my hardworking team and all the fans that have followed my company, CompletelySoft, from our very first game. Unfortunately for my bank manager, this is all part of Game Dev Story rather than real life.
A game about creating games may seem like a dull idea, especially as you never get to see your games in action, but give it a few minutes and it begins to show you just how addictive being a developer can be. Starting off with just a skeleton staff, you first need to hire writers, coders, graphic designers and sound engineers. You don’t need to use them for each game, there are a host of creative types you can pay as freelance artists, but using and training your own staff will save you money.
Sat in your tiny office with your crack team the task becomes to manage costs, staff training and try to create that elusive hit game. Between the months of coding you’ll be invited to new console launches, games conventions and get to read the monthly gaming magazine that, if you’re lucky, may feature an article about your company.
But this is only half the story. Praying on nostalgia with the 8-bit stylised graphics and the constant chip music the game manages to straddle a successful management sim with a cute RPG feel. Deliberately set at a time when big name games were first being created and major console launches were poised on the horizon, Game Dev Story knows its history and plays with it, eagerly jogging memories of long term gamers while keeping its tongue firmly lodged in its cheek, knowing full well that anyone playing will know exactly what console the Gamekid or Playstatus is referring to.
Possibly the most surprising thing here is that, despite the vast quantity of stats and calculations going on in the background, the player never gets swamped in figures. The cute little isometric view of your employees running around sharing ideas with each other and even going home at night then returning, ready to pump your game full of creative ideas in the morning, manages to make it all the more meaningful and creates the illusion that you have this organic, living world of developers working on your next big title.
Game show after game show will have you hanging on to your seat waiting for your game to win a trophy or even to grab that elusive Game Of The Year award, netting you a cool million in the process. But it’s not just about the money. Your fans will write you letters saying just how much they loved your last game and you will constantly need to advertise in order to keep your company’s fame and expectations high in the minds of potential customers. This involves running TV ads, sponsorship and working out whether you should hire costumes or booth babes for your next convention.
To tide you over while the big titles aren’t on the market there are contracts which will keep your team busy without having to provide an initial outlay. Graphics for films, music for a new game and ports from one console to another will come your way, all paying out useful wads of cash if they’re completed on time. Spend too long on these and your fans will complain that you haven’t released any games in a while, don’t do enough and you won’t be able to afford the licence needed to develop for that new Senga console.
For a game that relies on stats, Game Dev Story oozes charm and character. You will care about your company and its hard working employees, even when they fail you. It’s this winning formula that will see you playing in to the small hours and possibly even laying awake at night, wondering just how you can make that one special game every developer dreams about.
- Sound: 7
- Graphics: 8
- Gameplay: 9
- Longevity: 9
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