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May 26

Game of the Week: Game Dev Story

gamedevstoryI’ve probably bought too many Kairosoft titles.  Game Dev Story is the reason why.  At least, that’s where it started.  Conceptually, it’s pretty brilliant.  They made a game about making games.  Throw in a lot of game references and a retro art style.  It’s like catnip for gamers.  I suppose some PC gamers might be upset that the PC market gets short shrift, but you have to remember this is a Japanese game.

You start out as a small development house hiring some rookie developers.  They each have a job area (coder, designer, writer, etc.)  Then they’re ranked on abilities (programming, scenario writing, graphics and sound).  Your team works together to create games based on the type and genre you choose (i.e. Golf Simulation).   Based on their abilities, inspiration, breakthroughs, teamwork and luck, they’ll build up your game’s attributes such as fun, creativity, graphics and sound.  Then those attributes, platform market size, advertising and your popularity determine sales.  More sales means more money you can plow back into your next game, training people, improving resources, or outsourcing parts of development.

The best part of the design is that there’s always something you can improve.  You can level up your team or hire better team members.  You can train your team to increase stats and unlock new game types and genres.  You can develop for different game systems with larger installed bases.  You can use boosts to improve your current project.   Eventually, you can move to larger offices that support more team members.   You can experiment with mixing up different game types and genres (though they didn’t enjoy my ninja puzzle game for some reason).   You can take short term contract projects to boost your cash.  Later, you can even build your own game console and make games for it.

There are many different variables to tweak that makes each play-through different.  Random events spice things up as well.  Unless you’re trying to mess up, you’ll keep making better games that make more money.  That money lets you do things to make better games.  It’s a vicious cycle.  In fact, when I started up a new game just to refresh my memory on all those variables I lost myself for over an hour.

Don’t let the cute art style put you off.  There’s a meaty game here that will suck you in.  Though not all the Kairosoft games are this good, the best are something to behold especially if it hits one of your areas of interest.  With just a warning for addictiveness, highly recommended.

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