Feb 082013

I’ll be honest. I’m not much for mobile games. Most of the ones I’ve purchased are related to console games I own, and generally I forget that they’re there and never end up playing them. However, the mobile game market is becoming more sophisticated, and there are lots of mobile games out there that are worth paying attention to. One of the ones that I have played is Game Dev Story.

Game Dev Story is a great little game, partially because it’s related to every gamer’s favorite thing – gaming! The game puts you in the shoes of a new game developer trying to get a company off the ground. The goal of the game is to survive as a company for a certain number of years. Trust me, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are a lot of things that factor into making your company a success, and you have to be able to manage all of them to go the distance.

Every year, your company has a certain amount of money. It’s in your best interest to not overspend, which means you have to be able to develop games and pay all of your employees with the money in the bank. There’s no way to reliably tell how much money you’ll make from your games, either, so you can’t count on any figures to give you a leg up in that department.

This is the normal working atmosphere at your company.

Making games requires employees with certain skills. As you hit milestones in the game, you will be able to expand your office and hire more employees. Employees with multiple skills or very high skills cost more per year to hire, so you can’t always hire the most skilled people off the bat. The employees you start with are very low level, but you also have opportunities to level employees up with data packets you earn when developing games. Sometimes it’s more lucrative to hire a low level employee and level them up than it is to shell out the big bucks for someone who’s already skilled, especially at the beginning of the game. During a game’s development cycle, you also have the opportunity to hire someone from the outside to work on a certain aspect of your game, but that costs more money, and the results are never guaranteed.

To develop a game, first you have to choose some hardware. At first, you’ll only be able to develop for the PC. Developing for consoles costs extra money, because you have to purchase licenses to use their hardware. This can also be a risk, because you can only develop for consoles during a certain cycle, so if you buy the license at the wrong time, it might end up being useless. To start, you have to pick a genre for your game. All of your favorite game genres are here: action, RPG, puzzle, and many more. You also have to pick a game type. Choices include romance, mystery, time travel, and lots of other quirky choices. Part of the formula for a successful game is to pick good combinations, so experimenting gets really fun.

Pray that reviewers like your game, or else it might not sell!

To make a good game, you have to try to get as many high scores as possible in all categories. Categories are things like music and graphics, and one employee is assigned to handle each category. Employees can handle multiple categories, but if you work an employee too hard, or make them do the same task over and over again, they will get tired and not do a very good job. This is where outside hires come in – you can hire a specialist to work on just one aspect of your game, even though they don’t work for your company, but as I mentioned before, this can be risky, because their performance is not guaranteed. The higher each of your category scores are, the better chances your game has of succeeding.

Once a game is released, it will be scored by reviewers. Magazines might write articles about it, and you can see if it lands on a top ten list. You can also receive fan mail. Eventually, your sales will be posted and you’ll receive any money made from the game. There is also a yearly awards show, and if you win an award for any aspect of your game, you could win money. You have to make sure to release games with frequency, though, or else your fans will get restless and jump ship, and then no one else will buy your next game.

Game Dev Story is an intriguing blend of creativity and commerce, and although it can be frustrating (I had to restart multiple times before I really had a chance to get to the end), it’s definitely a mental workout, and it’s fun to play around with different game styles. This is a mobile game that’s worth checking out.

Grade: 8/10

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