I think I may need to lie down. It’s not often that I get sucked into a game so completely and so fully that I find myself ‘waking up’ a couple of hours later, physically shaking as I step back say ‘enough is enough’. It does happen… Hearts of Iron III, Civ V when I was reviewing it… games designed a certain way are actually pretty good at keeping players ‘looped’, with no natural cut-off point with which to take a break. Never did I think it would happen with GameDev Story though.
As is my trend, I was fashionably late to the scene with this title. I remember it being all the rage last year (or was it the year before?), but I didn’t even have my ‘roid phone then, let alone an iPhone which is where it came out first, if I remember correctly. I’m not really a heavy mobile gamer… I’ve got Angry Birds, as I thought I’d try it out and see why everyone rates it, and I downloaded a version of old school Snake for old times’ sake (it’s not very good, to be honest)… but I’m a PC/Console gamer at heart and that’s my main source of gaming entertainment. These mobile games are just a distraction for when I need them… much like my DS Lite, actually.
But GameDev Story… sweet Jesus. I decided to buy it outright as I’d heard good things and I doubt I’d be disappointed, and to be honest I felt professionally compelled to see what the fuss was about. I just didn’t expect to get so hooked. The power of managing your own studio, putting out games, levelling up your dudes… it’s all so intoxicating. And it was funny to watch the scores come in as well, and get a taste of what it must be like to be on the receiving end. I wonder if there was deliberate social commentary there or whether it was designed that way simply for simplicity’s sake – scores seem to have no impact on sales what so ever, and are only relevant in getting a game into the ‘Hall of Fame’ (which allows you to make a ‘sequel’, which to me is kind of a poor gameplay mechanic, but whatever).
It’s a shame it doesn’t paint the complete picture – I’d love to have seen the Publisher vs. Developer relationship dynamic represented in some way… bigger studios should be able to start several projects at once (and the management challenges that inherently creates). The fact that you have a choice between bug-stomping or shipping as is is kind of diminished because, so far, I haven’t had any disastrous consequences from waiting until it’s all done. I think one time a game that was ‘similar’ to the one my guys were making was released, but you know what, it still sold well. The combination of games is also a bit odd (No strategy genre from what I’ve found yet!)… But it’s fun experimenting and making different combinations.
Anyway, kudos kairosoft, for well and truly surprising me with your insanely fun little game about game development. Well Meta’d. I’ll be honest, I can already tell this probably isn’t going to have much replayability (had to start again, and already I’m feeling the numbing that is repetition), plus now that I know what is in later stages I think I’m obsessing a bit too much about planning for the best outcome, which isn’t good as that tends to just ruin the experience.
Hmm, some of their other games look tempting too….
(AND SO IT BEGINS)