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Game Dev Tycoon

By JcDent07-06-2013
Bis18marck70 (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)

The Defence

Greenheart Games
Greenheart Games
Strategy, Indie
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Pentium 4 2.4 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GT 230
AMD equivalent
2 GB
500 MB

The Case


The old days were the golden days of Tycoon games. Whether it was an amusement park, a railroad or a transportation company, many of them had names that ended in „Tycoon“ (unless you're JoWood – then they ended in „Giant“), promising audiences complex – but not too complex – games about running a business. The rise of AAA FPSs kind of stunted the whole thing since money had moved away from niche audiences. But, with Kickstarter and various platforms for game publishing, we may see a revival of sorts. This is kind of meta, considering that we're writing about Game Dev Tycoon, a game where you're a game designer who has to face such hurdles along his way to fame, glory and chest high walls.

The Trial


Before you can start putting DLC and DRM everywhere, you start, like most humble game developers did - in a garage, probably some time in the 80's. You have some basic tools (like a 2D game engine) and endeavor to make a game. Success is followed by mounds of money and research points, failure is just sad. Eventually you'll move to bigger places, hire more people, research more things to use in games, make your own incomprehensibly expensive video game engines, start an RnD department and more!

Start in the garage and if things don’t work out you can quietly gas yourself.

Start in the garage and if things don’t work out you can quietly gas yourself.

And all this is surprisingly addictive. You'll crank games out one after the other and watch them hopefully gain money, fans and positive reviews from the press. There’s no reason NOT to name games something whacky like [redacted for the purpose of good taste and as not to give Kotaku material to write another article - ed.].

But before you start making games with names that the editors will most probably edit out, you have to actually, you know, make them. It all begins from the name, size, platform, theme and genre. Then you choose the engine...and this is how the easy part ends. You see, game development is separated into three stages, each of which has three gauges that represent your sum effort in areas of technology, story and art. These show how much time on that stage will be devoted to each aspect and you have to juggle it expertly. Different themes and game types have different requirements – Fantasy RPGs need more narrative than technology, for example. And that's before you start adding various special components (like branching storyline or gamepad support), which impact the overall reception of the game even more. And then you move to „medium“ sized games, and this opens a whole new can of pixelated worms.

Just like in real life...

Just like in real life...

After you release the game, you can start research (yes, even such things as „sequels“ have to be researched) to unlock new technologies and ideas for game making. And you can train your personnel, maybe even get them specialization. This might look overwhelming in a review, but in the game, the difficulty stacks gently along the way and depends on the growth of your company. Of course, you have to make careful choices – when is it a good time to start building an engine or move office, for example – just like real game developers do! And although there are no stockholders to shit their pants at the first sign of risk – and thus order you to rip off some popular game – or some other unsavory elements that impact game making in real life, it's still sufficiently complex.

This sometimes leads to interesting situations, like constantly making small games or RPGs as they seem to be your best investment. Trying to find out how other games will be received by the public means trial and error – i.e. failing hard, often and getting bad press in the process. That's why there's an option to discard a game without releasing it – something people never do in real life, otherwise we wouldn't have Colonial Marines.

I blame uneducated audience!

I blame uneducated audience!

Your whole rise and fall is controlled via mouse and it's so easy that they could make the game work on various Pads. It has nice 2D graphics – in my experience, Tycoon games barely ever benefited from 3D – which aptly convey all that is necessary. The writing is more important here, since this is how you're notified how press reacts to your games and about special events. Funny, but Greenheart Games wear their hearts on their sleeves and both ingame and in their website you can see their hate of mainstream studio practices – this was especially obvious in their April Fool's DLC gag. On the audio side of things...there's not much to report. There's no music that you'll want to play at your wedding, but the notification sounds are really well done. There are also achievements, but with Steam release still in the works, it's for your eyes only. For added bonus, read the description on their website to learn about the dev's hatred of various „social“ features in gaming.



Game Dev Tycoon is the first game that Greenheart Games ever made, so that's kind of meta. It's a good product all around and, for its price, it will repay your investment in spades (and fun). Don't miss the chance to play a game that shows how game development would look in real life!

Case Review

  • Optimized: The game is very tight and neatly focuses on game development.
  • Multiplatform: This game is also available in Mac and Linux.
  • Easy to learn: As one guy in a basement, you're not really doing any advanced business...yet.
  • Abuse potential: Yes, let's make another handheld explicitly named game for children.
  • Flash: Menus look like they were made in flash.
  • Steamless: Some people like games that are free from distribution platforms. Weirdoes.
Score: 5/5
Unlike actual game development, Game Dev Tycoon is small, smart and fun.
Comments (5)
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Posts: 241

This is a great game, after playing it I really hope then expand on it for a sequel though, there's lots of potential for even greater things.

Posts: 3290

I still can't get over how they handled the piracy issue. That was genius

Posts: 207

Some of them did indeed

Posts: 228

Still, some of them survived in the screenshots!

Posts: 207

I'm digging the Redacted titles....after I read the unedited version I went and made a company that did something similar.