In hindsight, calling ourselves “Hardcore Gamer” pigeonholed what we could cover. Many sleepless nights go by with our writers tossing and turning because they can’t write about the latest Farmville update. It’s for that reason and that reason only — and because somebody registered the Casual Gamer domain before we had a chance too — that every month we present to you a quick look at a mobile game that deserves your attention regardless of its place on the gaming spectrum.
Game Dev Story by Kairosoft Co. is a fun mobile game where you create and manage your own video game company, and what makes it shine is that its simulation mechanics actually make you feel like you’re a developer. It really immerses you in the world of game development – as much as a mobile game can, anyway.
You start out as an indie game company with little capital developing games for the PC. Like a real company your goal is to create games that sell extremely well to stay afloat and eventually buy expensive licenses to develop on the new consoles (whose names are parodies of actual systems) that are released sporadically. While your employees don’t have unique personalities like you might see in a more robust sim, their names are parodies of operating systems (Anne Deroid) and famous people in and out of the tech business (Stephen Jobson). It’s a nice touch that gives them a bit of charm.
You create games by combining genres and game types from an expansive list of options, which grows as you train and level up your employees. Not all combinations work. You could create a wrestling audio novel and it would sell and be rated by critics just as bad as you think or you could develop a robot shooter and potentially create a “Hall of Fame” game fans and journalists both gush over. If your company starts doing well you can eventually graduate from indie development by moving into a bigger office and hiring more employees, which allows you to compete against other AAA companies like Senga and Intendro.
When you move into another office the game doesn’t just rinse and repeat the same old process as before. The first office you can liken to that of a tutorial more or less. When you move into your second office you start going to Gamedex, (Game Dev Story‘s E3) where booth babes flaunt products in pixelated glory. You also get entries in the Global Game Awards, where you can win awards and cash for creating outstanding games – or get penalized monetarily for creating the worst game on the market.
While there technically isn’t an “end” to the game the biggest things you can do are win Game of the Year and develop your own console. Developing your own console is costly, and only viable once your studio studio has officially made it. You need to have a cult following of die-hard fans, and you need to be consistently turning out great games that turn a profit. Console Development can be a costly thing ranging anywhere from $8,000 to as much as $91,000, and that’s not including the salaries of your equally expensive employees.
Game Dev Story gets a lot right and never tries to be too ambitious. You can easily sink time into this game while waiting for a download or for class. If you’re a fan of management sims, or you’ve always wanted to make your own games, Game Dev Story is well worth a look for $2.50.