Slim Gaming - Game Dev Tycoon

What better way to start off a series about computer games than with a game that sees you as the head of your very own development studio. Game Dev Tycoon’s premise is deceptively simple. You start out as a stereotypical bedroom (or in this case garage) programmer back in the 1980s, and the aim is to move from a one man operation to a studio that can rival the likes of Biohazard, Dice, and similar companies. You have full freedom to program games for whatever platform you want, you decide on the genre, the type, and assign priorities to different features during development. Sound simple, right? Well, like all good games, Game Dev Tycoon is difficult to learn, but hard to master. But let’s take it step by step.
The developers of Game Dev Tycoon, Greenheart Games, originally developed this game for the Windows Store, back when Windows 8 was a thing. They expressly state on their website that they designed this game from the ground up as a single player simulation game, without any “social media” integration, in-game coin purchases and the like, to differentiate themselves from the myriad of Farmville clones out there on the market. What’s not to like about that? In addition, apart from being available on the Windows Store and Steam, it is also available as a DRM-free version directly from the Greenheart Games website. I wish more developers would do that! The game has been out for quite some time now, and is still gathering rave reviews on Steam, rightly so in my opinion. While the look of the game is suspiciously simplistic, don’t let that fool you.
Welcome to the 1980s! The starting premise is deceptively simple.
A garage, a desk, a computer, and yourself. That's all you have to start off with.
There is a surprising level of depth behind that facade, and once you’ve made the jump from garage to business park, and hire your first employee, a whole new level of complexity is added to the mix, as you need to juggle them between the different tasks during the game development phase, their own training and talent development, and research projects. As if game development wasn’t enough, you also have to develop your own engines, in-game counterparts to things like Unity, in order to increase the quality of your games. That quality is vital, because if your game doesn’t convince the reviewers of the in-game gaming journals, you can kiss any chance of good sales figures good-bye. Add changing market interests, the appearance and disappearance of hardware platforms and games consoles, random events, as well as the fact that your games have a limited shelf life, and soon you’ll have more than enough on your virtual plate to keep you busy.
The in-game gaming magazines can be absolutely ruthless in their criticism.
With every game, you, and eventually your team, will gain experience,...
...and with a right instinct for what the market wants, your ratings will eventually get better.
So how does that game fare on my MacBook Air? Surprisingly well, especially given the official hardware specs listed on the steam website. Unlike many other games, some of which I’ll cover in this series, the MacBook remains relatively cool when playing it, so you definitely keep the machine on your lap, for example while on a train, without roasting your legs. There’s no perceptible lag, the game runs smooth as silk, even when you have a large team all assigned to different tasks. The impact on battery life is quite okay as well, although I admittedly not timed just how long it would take the game to drain the battery completely. So, from the MacBook side, this game is definitely a recommendation.
As the studio grows bigger, the media will begin to take an interest in your studio, and interview requests will become more common.
Surprise hits are rare, but can really move your studio forward.
Just like in the real world...
...Gaming trade shows are a major chance for developers to get noticed.

Every now and then, new hardware will become available. While some will be easily recognisable, some, like the one one pictured here, will invariably be more obscure.
The same goes for the game in general. The comic-like look is charming, there’s plenty of long-term motivation there, with all the challenges of the gaming market, random events, and team management to deal with, and there’s no major loose ends or rough edges floating about. Sure, I would have loved a bit more customisation options for the offices, a bit of The Sims never hurt anyone, after all, but that is really an extremely petty point. This game has all the hallmarks of a classic in the making, and if you’re into tycoon games or business simulations, this game belongs on your machine, no excuses.

Over time, your garage will give way to a dedicated office...
...and eventually to dedicated facilities. More customisation options wouldn't have hurt, though.

System Requirements (According to Steam)

    * OS: Mac OS 10.7.5+
    * Processor: 2 GHz dual core
    * Memory: 2 GB RAM
    * Graphics: Hardware Accelerated Graphics with dedicated memory
    * Additional Notes: minimum resolution of 1024x768

    * OS: Mac OS 10.8
    * Memory: 4 GB RAM

    * Graphics: Hardware Accelerated Graphics with 1GB memory

Suitability for MacBook Air: High

Where to buy:


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