A small game which came out recently hit the headlines for a reason that wasn’t to do with the game itself so much as the game’s response to piracy. It’s pretty hilarious! But let’s have a word about the game itself before we get into that.
Game Dev Tycoon takes its cues from Game Dev Story, an iOS/Android game wherein you control a videogame development house with the intent of making money and great games. I’ve not played GDS but GDT is a very enjoyable little game that’s well worth the few bucks it costs to get – in fact it’s got one of the better money-to-time ratios of games I’ve recently shelled out for. The game starts you out in around 1980, working out of your garage, making games for the C64 era – you decide on the theme and genre, hopefully ones that go well together (Although I did once put out a Fashion RTS that sold surprisingly well) you choose various base options such as whether the game will be text based or 2D or what have you, and then you assign time to various aspects of development, so you can spend loads of time writing backstory at the expense of graphics. Then you watch your little girl or guy beaver away as the game gets made, and it gets sent out for review and release – your choices in development influence how well it does, and high review scores translate into high sales, and that means money – allowing you to invest that much more into your next game!
Where GDT triumphs is that it is constantly tantalizing you with some new aspect you can work with in your games. Your first few games will be very simple affairs but soon you’ll be able to knock together an engine that affords you more choices, better graphics and sound options, and so forth. New consoles will start to come out, loving parodies of real ones such as the Vintendo Super TES, and different systems tend to appreciate different genres and so on. Then you’ll move into a small office, which is where the game really opens up as you can hire new staff, train yourself and them, and start making bigger and better games. Ultimately you can create MMOs, put out your own consoles, invent a Steam-equivalent, and spend tens of millions on Triple-A games that take your team a year to make only to result in 5/10s across the board and imminent bankruptcy.
Indeed, the main failing I can point to in this game is that there’s just not enough of it, which is hardly fair to say of something made by a two-man outfit and is faint damnation anyway. But I do hope they think about an expansion pack or at least some more patches, just to increase your choices and options. Anyway as I said it’s an enjoyable little game and if you’ve got a few bucks and want something that doesn’t strain the brain but will keep you engaged for awhile, there’re worse choices than this.
Now, let’s talk about how I heard about the thing – as an indie game it’s obviously going to struggle to get much media attention, but a very clever little play on the devs’ part got it out there like whoa. See, the devs – brothers Patrick and Daniel Klug – were well aware they would suffer from piracy when this game hit the torrents, but rather than making a lot of bluster or seeking out an attackdog lawyer they did something subtler and cleverer. What they did is upload the thing to torrent sites themselves. Crazy, right? Well the thing is the version they uploaded played normally up to a point, but after awhile in-game you would start getting messages about how all your games are being pirated and you’d start losing money due to it no matter how good your games are. You wouldn’t be able to finish the game due to this, instead going into ignominious bankruptcy.
So, this is a pretty neat solution anyway because it’s essentially a fairly decently sized demo that might encourage a few purchases they wouldn’t otherwise get. The real comedy gold started when people on the forums began to complain about the pirates in-game, as apparently self-awareness is something some people utterly, totally lack. Perhaps the greatest line I’ve seen written is the simple, plaintive question, “I mean can I research DRM or something?” Beautiful. You can take a proper look at the whole story on the dev’s blog here if you’re interested, it’s well worth a read if you want a laugh!