January, 20th 2016

Time Played: 5 hours

Last Played: 1/15/16

Game Dev Tycoon: Punishing Success

So it appears as though I am in the minority when it comes to Game Dev Tycoon. It has an Overwhelmingly Positive rating on Steam, which is awesome! Unfortunately for me, I just don’t agree. And I’m not sure what people see in it…

Now, I’ve given Game Dev Tycoon a pretty fair chance. I’ve run through about five campaigns, and given this game roughly the length of time needed to beat a Call of Duty game… And each time I always run into the same wall. I make a smash hit game, get 10/10 reviews, make millions, and try to branch out into bigger and better things; only to have my games become universally panned until I go out of business. But I don’t know why!

There just doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it either. I make games that I believe will be successful, and they garner middling reviews and low sales for seemingly no reason!This was very frustrating to me, because I want to like this game. It’s actually quite fun! (When it’s fun) But there is a stark lack of information in-game that lends itself to understanding why my games were doing so poorly.

Then I read something on a wiki that isn’t explained in the game at all

If you make a wildly successful 10/10 game, your high review scores will work against you. Which is counter intuitive and seems like some kind strange real world market simulator level of depth for this game.

Made a 10/10 game? Well now everyone is comparing every game you make to that game, so your future releases are rated more harshly.

Yeah, you read that right.

Your super successful 2D indie action game ‘Dick Kicker” with its superb 10/10 reviews, makes it harder for your later games to do well. Seemingly forever. At least, that’s what I took away from it. And while yes, that is sort of what would happen in real life… It isn’t explicitly laid out for you in-game. Leading me to ponder why my fan base suddenly soured on me.

Why was Galactic War Front a smash hit, but Andromeda Under Siege flopped?!

Also apparently you need to research a new game engine every time you make a new game, and constantly have to push your tech forward. Despite Activision and Ubisoft proving that to be a lie. Except that costs a large amount of money and if you’re games aren’t consistently hits you’re going to be squeaking by most of the time, especially once you hire staff!

If you’re trying to tell me a game dev pulls down 50k a month I need to learn to code, NOW.

In my experience I find that the game generally goes like this:

Start out in your garage. Make three bad games, and one smash hit. Gain two or three million dollars and move up into an office building. Make some more games, pull in a few hundred thousand to a million. Hire on some staff (at incredibly high pay) and then make about ten to fifteen more games of varying success. Maybe make a few million along the way, before every game you make starts getting review scores in the 3 – 4 range as you slowly bleed funds until you die… I mean go bankrupt.

Now, maybe I’m just bad. Which is definitely a possibility! But, upon reading the wiki for this game, there appears to be a SHOCKING amount of depth in the way Game Dev Tycoon rates your releases.

It takes the engine you use into account, along with the various components of said engine, the genres you use, the topics, the last game you released, market share of various consoles and platforms, the year it was released, the time relative to your previous releases, hype, media coverage, technology and design, and current trends in the market, and last but not least your previously highest rated release.

All of that, and it’s never explained.

Now, I am in the vast minority with this game. So take my opinion with a grain of salt, because everyone seems to love it. But the idea that being successful makes it harder to be successful later makes the game a chore to play. Trying to be good– but not great– in order to prevent yourself from being screwed over– because of past success– is horribly, and completely, unfun.

It kills any desire in me to play this game.

Every time I’ve lost it’s felt cheap and artificial, like the game has a particular metric for what you have to do in order to succeed; but has absolutely no interest in actually articulating what the metric is.

It just feels random. And not in a good way. I read a Stack Exchange thread about the review scoring algorithm in this game and the first comment warns the player they might be making their games “TOO GOOD”… I’m sorry, but that sounds like a broken system to me. Punishing a player for doing well is bad.

Despite wanting to like Game Dev Tycoon I can’t recommend this one…

The game’s lack of explanation regarding its myriad of secret check boxes, mercurial reviewing algorithm, overpaid employees, and the biggest one of all; its punishment of your success are a deal breaker.  But hey, everyone else seems to like it!

Personally, I would describe it like this: It feels like making a hard core lightning Sorceress in Diablo 2, ripping through a dungeon and feeling all-powerful… Until you hit a pack of lightning immune elites and having no way of killing them… And then dying, slowly.

What do you think?

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