If you play video games you’ve thought about making them. Maybe you’ve drawn a few character models or created a design outline for your perfect game. And while many people want to create games, there are a select few who would want to run a studio. Unfortunately, the dream of running a studio is often just that…a dream. But there is a way to run your own studio, if you don’t mind some repetitive “gameplay.”
Game Dev Story is a mobile sim developed by Kairosoft. In GDS you are the owner of a game studio and it is your job to run the studio how you see fit. You begin the game with two employees and limited resources. You take on small projects to raise capital before purchasing a license for a game console. Once you have the license you can create games, but you need to make sure you have the money in the budget to create the best game possible. If not the reviewers do not like your game, it won’t sell well. And if it doesn’t sell, then you won’t make enough money to make another game and pay your staff.
It’s a simple cycle that is highly addictive. When you first start the game you will play for hours trying to figure out the right combination of project work and game development to grow your business. You can level up your employees with research data that you earn during development. Or you can spend money to train them in certain areas. And when you have enough money you can hire new staff members. There is a job system for staff that includes (but not limited to) hacker, producer, coder, writer and designer. You can even change jobs if you have the right item.
The game is pretty simple. You select a console that you want to develop your game. After you select your console you then have to choose a genre and type for the game. Each type and genre start at level one and as you make more of a particular type of game your skills will rise. A higher skill means it’s easier to make a game for a particular type (action-robot game), but making too many games in one area will annoy your fans. You’ll also want to make games of different genres and types because raising your genre levels gives you points that you can put into the direction of your game. During development you have the opportunity to improve certain aspects of the game. For example during the alpha phase you can use one of your employees or hire a contractor to work solely on graphics. The higher the level for sound, graphics, fun, and creativity, the better your game will be. Once you’ve finished developing the game you will then begin testing so you can remove any bugs. Once the bugs are removed the game is released, reviewed, and sold. Rinse and repeat.
The game also includes features to help keep your mind off the business of game making. There are award shows, console announcements, and even game events like E3. There is also a traveling salesman who will periodically walk into the company and sell you items like energy drinks and feature boosts that help improve the quality of your game. Kairosoft has all the elements of a highly addicting game, but it has one fatal flaw…
Although years go by in the game, there is a limit to your company’s growth. What makes the game addicting is the prospect of growing your company. The first time you move into a bigger office space you want to move again. When you’re finally able to hire more employees and fill the office you’ll want an even larger team. But after the second move you’ve reached your peak. There are no more offices to move into and you staff size is limited. You’ll want to take over the industry but you’re limited to just your office space, which begins to tear down the walls of reality constructed by the game. Near the end of playing the game I was so good at developing games that every game I made was a hit. And with every hit I wanted to move into a new office or finally make a console. But that day never came. In fact I had to look online to see if I was going to move to a bigger office. Sadly, I discovered I was only going to move twice and the game “ends” at year 21. And since I was already at year 17 I decided it was time to get off the hamster ball.
Game Dev Story is a fun time waster. There’s enough going on to make you feel that your initial investment into the studio is worth your time. From the management of your staff to dealing with console life cycles, you want to believe that you’ll walk away with a taste of what it must be like in the real world. Unfortunately, the real world hits you in the face as the upgrades stop coming in and the game just becomes a cycle of making hit games over and over. And once you realize you’re in the hamster ball the game stops being fun. I guess that’s what it’s like in real life…