Genre: Business Simulation
Original Release: December 10, 2012
Developer: Greenheart Games
Publisher: Greenheart Games
Platforms: Android, iOS, Linux, MacOS, Windows, Windows RT
Played on: Windows (Steam)
This quarantine is making everything blur together. Time, activities, even my bed is also working as my seat of choice when gaming. Partly because my chair is buried under clothing I haven’t put away yet, but I digress.
Recently, I started watching Jesse Cox’s playthrough of Game Dev Tycoon from 2013 when I hit something of a rut. Everything felt blah, even trying to sleep. So I decided instead to start playing Game Dev Tycoon myself and let me tell you, the game has changed a lot since it first released on Steam in 2013. Since I’ve been wanting to go into game development for years now, I thought “Why not explore some of the ideas I have?” And thus began the 35-year journey of Rainy Day Games.
I was born in late 1991, so I don’t have any real basis for comparison for platforms like the Commodore 64 or the NES beyond the NES games friends and family have shown me and the small bits of C64 games that I’ve seen in YouTube videos or through Google images.
Game Dev Tycoon starts you off somewhere in the 1980s. It’s just you, your newly founded company, four different topics chosen from a pool of 66 at random to make games out of, and PC and the C64 equivalent for game platforms. For this run, I decided to try things a little differently. Knowing how the market turns out, I would always make titles exclusively for PC until the NES came out. This time around, I decided to try my hand at C64 titles and ended up making a tidy profit early on, allowing me to spend a little more time researching new topics and technology to make my own engines.
Once you’ve saved up a fair amount of capital, you can move into an office and start hiring team members, in turn allowing you to make better and progressively larger games. But before any of that happens, you need a concept. After all, every good game starts with a concept.
Game Dev Tycoon’s gameplay is pretty simple by nature. You pick your topic and genre, choose a platform and engine, then move 9 different sliders around over three development stages to allocate your project time according to your chosen genre. RPGs and Adventures are more detail-oriented (story/quests, etc) while action and simulation games are more technical (engine, AI). I never really figured out strategy, but I’d imagine it leans into technology. You can later unlock casual games to make, but again I was never very good at them. In fact, my claim to fame was a post apocalyptic RPG called Winter’s Edge. As I worked on it, I had so many ideas come to mind to really flesh it out into its own game. In truth though, I can’t call it entirely original. In previous runs, I had a similar game series I made that followed the opening monologue of Richard III (Now Is The Winter…/…Of Our Discontent/Made Glorious Summer/By This Son of York) and I had laughed about the idea of critics saying something about the naming scheme. I think the name Winter’s Edge works better.
Anyway, once you’ve saved up a fair amount of money while in your first office, you can then move to a larger office, bringing your maximum team size to seven people, while also allowing access to better training and eventually opening an R&D and Hardware lab, both of which give access to special projects like improved 3D graphics, the ability to make AAA games, and even your own hardware!
I have a weird relationship with Game Dev Tycoon. I love it because it lets me explore some names I’ve had floating around and I can actually visualize the details better than I would be able to otherwise, but speaking as someone who’s genuinely interested in game development, it feels a little barebones to me. I understand that’s by necessity though as it’s not a 1 to 1 simulator and it wasn’t originally a PC game (as far as I’m aware anyway, it didn’t come to Steam until August 2013). Plus with access to both Unity and Unreal Engine 4 at present, it would be a bit silly to want a simulator that requires me to code in C# or C++ or create my own assets when I’m already working on that anyway.
So over 35 years, how did Rainy Day Games do? Pretty well, actually! We netted approximately 380 million in cash at the end, had four successful flight sims in a series I called “Jet Lads”, and racked up a lot of fans. It felt good, knowing I did something right in-game. Even if it was just doing things at the right time or somehow picking the right console for my games.
I’m going to recommend Game Dev Tycoon, honestly. It’s fun to play around with ideas you’ve had for games for a while. A bit stressful at times if one of your titles ends up being a flop, but it’s okay! Generating game reports after each release gives you some pointers for future releases and helps you figure out better combinations of topics and genres.
Greenheart Games did pretty well with Game Dev Tycoon. They’re working on their second game at present, so I’m curious to see what comes of it!