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Monday, March 25, 2013

Game Dev Story

I came across a game called game dev story for android (also available on ios), and I am absolutely in love with this game.  Game Dev Story follows an independent game studio and its attempts to make blockbuster games in a changing game world.  It has spoofs of major gaming companies and consoles, like Intendo and the NeonGeon.  It is a game that will keep you playing long after you should have stopped, and that, in my opinion, is a great thing in terms of immersion.

The game starts you in a small office with $500,000, two employees (three if you count your tutorial secretary), and access to a very limited amount of development types.  Your goal is to make your gaming company into a successful gaming giant, but in the beginning you will be making a lot of simple games and doing contract work to keep the lights on.  As your crew works, they earn research credit, which can be used to level them up (unlocking new things as they do, and improving their stats), or used in boosts to improve your games.  You earn money through selling copies of your games or by doing contracts.  Money is used to pay staff, for initial development, advertising, or to train your staff (training certain staff in certain ways unlocks new stuff).

What really draws me is the way that a game is created in this app.  You select a console, a genre, and a type of game (so you could make a pirate racing game, or a RPG about trains), then select a writer or an outside contractor to come up with a proposal.  They will bang away at a keyboard for a while, and provide some basic stats for your game.  Every game has fun, creativity, graphics, and sound stats.  These base numbers are the start of the process (usually heavily fun and creativity based).  For a short time, then your whole staff will mess with their computers, randomly adding stats to the game in 1s or 2s (or much higher numbers if they hit a hot streak, represented by them lighting on fire).  They can also add bugs (including a hot streak of bugs which can be awful) that have to be fixed later.  Anyway, after a short development cycle, its time to improve the graphics, and you have another worker or contractor bang away at the computer, greatly improving the graphics (sometimes adding fun and creativity).  After another development cycle, its time for a third worker to bang away and create some music (heavily sound based, with some fun and creativity).  Another short development cycle, and then your workers try to kill all the bugs.  Then the game is released with its current stats, gets reviewed and sales start piling in.

What I like is the progressive development cycle.  Each of your workers is adding points to the game, even though the only large boosts of points come from being on fire, boosts, or from the stops in development for proposals, graphics, and soundtracks.  This adds the sense of randomness to the game, and its fun and frustrating at the same time.

The selection of theme and genre is very important as well.  Matching theme and genre well will give you a bonus to development and sales, while making a poor match will be more difficult to make and sell your game.  Making good matches levels up your skill with those genres and themes, which improves your ability to make games in general.

In all, its a fun and addicting game.  The only downside I can see is the massive battery drain.  Playing for even a short time kills the battery on my galaxy 2, and I'd rather not have to have it hooked up to a power source just to play.  The game is well worth that inconvenience.

-VG

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