Thursday, 3 May 2012

Game Dev Story [ANDROID REVIEW]



What's The Story Here Then?
This is a strategy/management game that puts you at the head of a fledgling game development company. By employing a team of writers, designers and programmers, you must create the next big video game.


This is achieved by choosing the best person to write the story, to design the graphics and to compose the soundtrack. You can use in-house staff or commission an outsider to write each part, but you need to keep the costs down to make the game a success.


When you set about creating a game, you can choose the genre (puzzle, action, adventure) and a type (detective, romance or.... er... swimsuit) - and finding combinations of these which work well together is the key to a top-selling title.


By training your staff, you gain access to a better range of design options - starting with basic genres and types before unlocking more varied options, such as cowboy and ninja.


By hiring and training the right staff, exploring different gaming combinations and making games for the best consoles, you can try to win the big prize - annual "Game of the Year" award.


There's a free version, where you can play for a maximum of 3 in-game years, or a paid version where you can play indefinitely.
Simple graphics - but still cute and clear enough to work.


So Is It Any Good?
+++ Addictive As Hell +++
Once you start, it's pretty hard to stop. You're always working on something - whether it's developing a new action title or building up money so you can write games for the latest console release.


It takes a little while to get used to - and this is what the free version is for - but with a bit of practise you can find the gaming combinations that sell.


Slowly improving your game studio, staff and finances is remarkably rewarding - watching your fans go wild over your latest game is quite a motivator!
Get your top composer to create an epic soundtrack.

There isn't even much incentive - no upgrades to the office to waste money on, no fancy customisation options or anything like that - just better games and bigger sales.


It's a nicely-paced process, with the beginning of the game being a bit of an experimental phase where you try out a few Fantasy/Racing games (which don't work) before finding the combinations which bring in the big bucks (Action/Ninja and Adventure/Detective work well).


It's this trial-and-error gameplay that makes the game so fun - you aren't penalised too much for trying something weird (and in fact may get some extra fans just for trying it!).

If your game has high stats during development, the fans will go crazy.
+++ Suitably Challenging +++
As I've mentioned, the game has a nice pace to it. The beginning is fairly easy, allowing you to try a few things out to see what works. 


As you get further into the game, the stakes get raised much higher. The licenses you need to buy in order to develop for the new consoles are close to a year's turnover - so you need to build up a fair amount of capital before you try to develop for them. Get it right, and you'll be rolling in it. Get it wrong, and you may have to scrap the project altogether.


I found it perfectly balanced - not too challenging but you certainly need to make a big push in order to get the big prizes. After a few years' play, you can start to take home the gaming awards - best graphical design or best sound. Each has a cash prize attached and is well worth trying to win.


But the big one - the Game of the Year - is an elusive devil. Seeing some familiar-looking titles win the prize (like " The Legend of Helga", and "Dragon Crest") is quite amusing but mightily infuriating when you lose out on the top prize for the 5th year in a row.


So I gave up on the top prize - I just gave up and started developing my own console. Ha! Screw you gaming awards! I'm gonna go and make my own new toy because you've scorned me!
When you get really successful, you can forget being creative and just churn out loads of sequels.
--- Creative Block ---

So basically the game is fun and addictive - but what is wrong with it?

Well, if you like making the same games over and over - say, if you are a Nintendo employee - then you'll love this. But if you wanted to make something more unique - more personalised - then you'll be sorely disappointed. 

There's about 20 different genres combined with 20 different types. On top of that, you can assign Skill Points to areas like "Realism" and "Simplicity" to improve certain features. But you can't actually tailor ANY of the features of your games. You just choose the starting point, and let your team get on with it.

I may have preferred to have some extra input into the games I made. Things like:
  • creating a lead character that could become a company mascot
  • choosing settings and themes in the games - like "London" or "Underwater"
  • fiddling with things like colour schemes, visual styles and the target audience.
This almost sounds petty - asking for some extra customisation options when they give you hundreds of game combos to be playing with - but this was meant to be a game where you are in charge of a game studio, so I wanted to do just that. 

It's still very much worth a play - and if you like management sims/strategy games then this is easily worth £1.60 of your money too. Or just try it for free! Man, I love Android apps....

The amount of spontaneous combustion in my office is pretty alarming.

Conclusions
It's cute, fun and a massive time-killer.

There's plenty to try out - lots of scope for playing around with different types of game - but the customisation is fairly hollow.

If you could REALLY customise the games you make (you know, kinda like you're in charge of a game studio) then this may have been my favourite game ever.


UPDATE!!!
Just after uploading the review, my game won the "Game of the Year".


Thought I'd share the final stages of my company's development with you: 


On the left, my latest console - The McWhizz.
In the middle, Dick Privates 5 (GOTY edition).
On the right, my highest rated game - 
Dick Privates 7.


Feel free to post comments or contributions to improve the experience!
Any images in this review are subject to relevant copyrights and are kindly provided by: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.kairosoft.android.gamedev3en&hl=en

6 comments:

Will Sneddon said...

Excellent review, dangerously addictive game.

Matt Tiernan said...

Thanks Will!

I'm still playing the bugger!

Started a new company to see if I can make a success of the WRONG combinations (Swimsuits, Romances and Cowboys a-plenty!).

Let's just say... it's not going well.

Brighton Games Trader

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