Indie game news, reviews, previews and everything else concerning indie game development.

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Kairosoft’s Latest Pocket Academy Now Available on iOS

Kairosoft, maker of the hit iOS sim Game Dev Story, has released its latest title Pocket Academy–available now on the App Store for $4, and supporting both Japanese and English.

The education system sim has you acting as principal of your school; hiring teachers, recruiting students, and competing with other schools in your district. Level different stats, create classrooms and other facilities, decide on really odd things like “this week’s hot couple”, and more. All on your iOS device.

Game Dev Story ($2), and their other offering Hot Springs Story ($4) are still available on the App Store as well. If you’ve yet to try a Kairosoft game, these folks make them as addictive as they come.

Here’s some iOS sized screens:

[Kairosoft]


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Best of 2010: Editors’ Top Picks

DIYlogoFrom January 1st to December 31st, 2010 was the year that DIYgamer was up and running from the first to the last day of the year. We’ve hit ups and downs and talked about hundreds of games this year, and it’s finally time for the staff to sit down and figure out which games we happened to love the most. The thing about trying to pick our favorite indie games of the year is that there are always more. Every discussion of our favorites turns into a series of exclamations of  “oh yeah!” as each of us remembers other games we had forgotten to mention.

The way we devise this list of our Top Picks is that all of the editors are asked to submit five of their favorite games of the year and write a paragraph as to why they liked it so much. The game that is repeated across the most lists automatically gets our Game of the Year nod and anything else with more than one pick gets a Runner-Up spot. Everything else falls under Honorable Mention and you must know that every single one of them might as well be the Game of the Year.

We are well aware we may have omitted some amazing games, so feel free to add your own in the comments section along with your own explanation. We’d love to hear it and more than likely agree with you!

But without further ado and explanation, here is the DIYgamer Editor’s Top Picks of 2010:

HONORABLE MENTION

Shibuya (iOS)

shibuya

I don’t think anyone has the right (especially Sony and that annoying little shit Marcus) to complain that iOS games are not up to par. The App Store in general took a huge step forward this year with the release of a multitude of successful indie (and mainstream) titles. Shibuya, by Nevercenter Games, was perhaps the most addictive of them all. I’m pretty sure I earned a grade lower than I should have in at least one of my classes because of this game. Nevercenter took one devastatingly simple concept and treated it with absolute finesse, adding polish and an excellent 5-track electronica soundtrack (by Millionyoung) to melt away all other thoughts. When you Shibuya, it’s only you and Shibuya, baby.

Arsen Nazaryan

(Buy it in the App Store)

Hero Core (PC)

herocore-cinema

Iji was one of my favourite games of 2008 (and 2009, for that matter), so I jumped on Hero Core as soon as it was released. It’s a much more modest offering, but a much more substantial game than it first appears to be. An ultra-minimalist Metroidvania, of sorts. Low-res monochrome graphics, a super-limited control scheme and a single-minded, speed-runnable goal hide a wealth of design cleverness, including a whole second campaign masquerading as a Hard Mode, and a multitude of bonuses and extras to unlock through extended play. The aesthetics may be minimalist, but there’s a keen eye for design at work here, and enemies and their shots are distinct and clear, despite the lack of colour.

Dominic Tarason

(Download Hero Core)

Chime (XBLA and PC)

chime

Chime’s simplicity and zen-like need for concentration were completely hypnotic to me this year. Compounded by the fact that its publisher is completely not-for-profit, this indie title is something everyone should give a chance. With a stellar soundtrack including Philip Glass and Paul Hartnoll, everyone should experience this beautiful puzzle game. With elements of Tetris and other classic puzzle titles, this experience is a perfect storm of audio and geometric concentration. If you haven’t yet experienced it you really ought to.

Peter Eykemans

(Buy it on Xbox Live Arcade or Steam)

Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale (PC)

Recettear_Update_October

It’s always bothered me in RPGs that item shops charge so much for equipment when my hero is trying to save the world from total destruction. But thanks to Recettear I now know why: because running an item shop is an adventure of its own. As the comically aloof Recette, players will have to manage their time between action-packed dungeon crawling for loot, and running a successful business selling said loot. And while the game’s humor begins as mere parody, by the game’s conclusion Recettear stakes out its own unique pedestal among the throngs of RPGs out there. From the colorful characters to the fantastic dual gameplay styles, Recettear is a truly fantastic game. Capitalism ho!

Scott Nichols

(Buy it on Steam)

Hydorah (PC)

hydorah

This is not the greatest Gradius game in the world, this is just a tribute. It’s also pretty dang close to being better than the games it is paying homage to. A massive undertaking for one man, Locomalito has lovingly crafted a huge, distinctly retro and remarkably deep scrolling shooter in Hydorah. A broad range of weapons/power-ups, huge variety in levels, a branching campaign map and tons of secrets all held together with beautiful sprite-art and a stunning soundtrack (by Gryzor87). I bought Gradius Rebirth on the Wii earlier this year. A freeware game made me forget all about it.

Dominic Tarason

(Download Hydorah)

LIMBO (XBLA)

limboboat

My LIMBO experience was beset with troubles. First, the game released while I was on vacation in Hawaii (and yet I couldn’t shake wanting to play the game amidst countless umbrella-clad drinks), and upon returning and downloading the game I was welcomed by the flashing three lights indicating that my Xbox would no longer like to be my friend. But three weeks later I got my system back and played through the game in almost a single sitting. Its clever puzzles, complete control of atmosphere and style and moments of absolute unexpected clarity truly make this one of the best games of the year for me. I first demoed the game at GDC back in March, and while I was completely absorbed into the game with thick headphones blocking out the chaos of the conference, I’ll never forget the absolute belly laugh I couldn’t contain when I was first killed by a bear trap.

Peter Eykemans

(Buy it on Xbox Live)

Spirits (iOS)

spiritsipad

If you own an iOS device and you have yet to try out Spirits, then you need to get off Angry Birds and download Spirits now. Within a two-game lifespan, Spaces of Play went from making a good but generic game (Mr. Bounce) to making an incredibly unique game. Spirits defines “hand-crafted.” Its music, its artwork, its design, its feel are intertwined to evoke gloom and hopefulness subsequently. This year was a big step up for Spaces of Play and I can’t wait to see what leaps and bounds they will make in the future.

Arsen Nazaryan

(Buy it in the App Store)

Zombie Estate (Xbox Live Indie Game)

ZombieEstate003

It’s easy to see why Zombie Estate would be on my list. Not only does it include zombies (an automatic qualifier, in my opinion) but it also gives such a charmingly unique perspective in regards to the camera and graphics. Combine all that with four-player, weapon upgrading fun and you have one of the best zombie games to get released in 2010.

Geoff Gibson

(Buy it from Xbox Live)

Kaleidoscope (XBLIG)

Kaleidoscope

From a Dream.Build.Play finalist, it’s reasonable to expect a pretty stellar game. What you may not be expecting though is for it to be as adorable and infectiously charming as Kaleidoscope. Players take control of Tint, a cute bug-like thing as he embarks on a platforming journey to restore color to the world of Kaleidoscope. By collecting colored orbs in the level players gradually bring color back to the scenery. The restoration of color is accompanied by an amazing dynamic soundtrack that builds up adding new instruments with each new layer of color. And though Kaleidoscope is on the short side with only twelve levels, they are spread across four visually distinct worlds, each of which coming to life in the game’s coloring book art style. There’s just something about Kaleidoscope, when the world blooms in color and the music blooms with it. It’s digital joy.

Scott Nichols

(Buy it on Xbox Live Indie Games)

The Oil Blue (PC)

the_oil_blue

Vertigo Games’ The Oil Blue came out of nowhere at me. I had never read anything about it up until its release when Erik drafted up his article for DIYGamer. The demo left a huge impression on me and I decided the whole game would be well worth the undertaking. I was not mistaken. The Oil Blue is just unlike any other game I have ever played. It’s not about the graphics or style, it’s not about the story or music, (and I’m not saying those weren’t good but) it’s all about the gameplay. Half the time I didn’t know what the hell was going on, but I felt awesome doing whatever I was doing. Leveling up was satisfying and each machine handled differently. The Oil Blue is one of the best indie action-sims ever, and earned itself a spot on the list the second its demo was released.

Arsen Nazaryan

(Buy it from Vertigo Games)

Joe Danger (PSN)

JoeDanger002

Imagine if you were to take Excitebike and combine it with the dare deviling antics of Evil Knievel and that’s what Joe Danger is. From the moment I played Joe Danger I was immediately drawn to the pure amount of “fun” that the game contained. There’s no back story, no pointless control mechanisms. Just solid gameplay at its best.

Geoff Gibson

(Buy it on PSN)

Super Mario Bros. X (PC)

super mario bros x

A strange choice, perhaps, but this one really came out of nowhere for me, and was the key inspiration for my current series of fangame articles. It’s an amazing piece of work – an impressive, full-featured Mario game in its own right, worthy of official Nintendo branding, but it goes significantly further than its peers in many respects. The intelligent split-screen multiplayer, the full-featured (but easy-to-learn) level editor and toolset, and now the addition of features and characters from other games are all giving the industrious level-creating community more to work with. I see this one continuing to grow and improve well into 2011. Hopefully it’ll provide incentive for other fangame developers to persevere, and aim high.

Dominic Tarason

(Download Super Mario Bros. X)

Game Dev Story (Mobile)

Game_Dev_Story

How can I not put this on the list? Game Dev Story was secondary only to Shibuya in my case. I spent hours in bed, in the bathroom, in the elevator, etc. playing the shit out of Game Dev Story. I got hooked, my friends got hooked, everybody got hooked. In large part, this is due to the overall theme; it’s a game where you make game. Can there be any more perfect of an idea? Though it was a port of a 1996 Japanese PC title, Kairosoft’s execution was brilliant regardless of the spelling and syntax mistakes that plagued much of the game. Who cares? The quirky graphics and strategic sim set-up helped skyrocket Game Dev Story to the top of the App Store, and it has earned itself a spot as one of the best indie games of the year. Sequel, anybody?

Arsen Nazaryan

(Buy it from iTunes or the Android Marketplace)

INCHES BEHIND THE GAME OF THE YEAR

Amnesia: The Dark Descent (PC, Mac, Linux)

Amnesia_03

I can safely say that no game has impacted me this year as much as Amnesia: The Dark Descent. I’m a big fan of horror games, but all too often the sense of tension in a game is demystified as new weapons and abilities are added to the player’s arsenal and enemies reduced to mere speed bumps along the path to completion. Not so in Amnesia. In Amnesia there are no weapons. The player’s only way to defend himself is to run and hide, preferably in a dark closet. But even the act of hiding, surrounded by darkness, causes the player’s sanity meter to slowly tick away. The atmosphere in Amnesia is oppressive in the most stunning of ways, with small creaks and sounds blending with dimly lit corridors to instill an unmatched degree of paranoia. In my own experience, in a well lit room, I couldn’t play Amnesia for longer than an hour at a time. And yet I loved every second of it.

Scott Nichols

My playthrough of Frictional’s adventure horror game is one of the few “experiences” I had this year, and that goes beyond the realm of video games alone. The developers took great pride in painstakingly constructing an immersive and truly frightening atmosphere for players to take part in. Big risks, such as taking away the player’s ability to defend himself, paid off in spades for this game. An indie that elicits a powerful emotional response and one that really ought to be played at least once by anyone who considers themselves a core gamer.

Erik Johnson

The Penumbra series were easily amongst the scariest games I’d ever played when they originally came out. When the first teaser videos for Amnesia were released, my faith in the developers was renewed and I immediately put my money down on a preorder. I was not disappointed. A lovecraftian psycho-horror spectacular with amazing production values for such a small studio, Amnesia kept me on the edge of my seat, and often leaping clean out of it for the full length of the story. The understanding Frictional have for the raw psychology of horror games is unparalleled – they know exactly how to get the player to look where they want, hide when they want you to, and make you dance like a puppet to their ghastly horror show.

Dominic Tarason

(Buy it from Frictional)

Super Crate Box (PC)

SuperCrateBox001

The beauty of Super Crate Box is its simplicity. The player’s only real goal in the game is to collect crates. Of course, there’s the secondary goal of surviving the torrent of enemies flooding from the top of the screen so players will want a weapon to defend themselves. The catch is that each crate players collect changes their weapon, with some significantly more useful than others. Pick up the minigun or flamethrower and you’re good to go, but get stuck with the pistol or, god forbid, the disc gun and you’ll want to scramble to the next crate as fast as you can. And even when players finally find that perfect weapon, since collecting crates is the only thing that gives points, there’s no way to reach for the high score without giving it up again. Players will constantly be switching strategies on the fly, adding a sense of urgency to an addictively simple game.

Scott Nichols

Released just over a month ago, Super Crate Box has fast become my go-to game for mindless enjoyment on my PC. The weapons, the level progression, everything about the game is a brilliant mash up of platforming shooting glory. The only thing that would make this game better was if it came out on XBLIG. I can only imagine how much fun it would be in my living room.

Geoff Gibson

(Download Super Crate Box)

VVVVVV (PC, Mac, Linux)

vvvvvv1

In a few years, when she’s old enough to, one of the first video games my daughter will play is VVVVVV. You can count on that. It perfects the platformer by seamlessly integrating individual puzzles and challenges into cohesive levels, each offering different takes on the versatile flipping mechanic. Forgiving in some places, tough as hell in most, the game consistently challenges you. I found myself screaming “that’s impossible!” on more than one occasion, but every time after a payment of Captain Veridian deaths and a bit of luck, I’d make it through and deem that the challenge was just almost impossible. It also boasts the soundtrack of the century by Magnus Palsson. Chiptune gold which quite simply takes the game from great to legendary in my eyes (and ears.)

Erik Johnson

VVVVVV jumped into existence at the very beginning of the year yet it struck me immediately as one of the most fun games I’d be playing for a long time. With precise puzzles and an exceedingly well executed control scheme, the game is wonderful in its simplicity. While I initially grumbled about its many difficult sections (like Veni, Vidi, Vici) I now look back on them with glowing pride. After the game hit Steam a few months ago, I played it all over again and thanked my fingers for being able to pull off that epic section without too much trouble. VVVVVV‘s tricks and timing will be stuck in my fingertips for the unforeseeable future and its fantastic soundtrack keeps my head bobbing to this day.

Peter Eykemans

(Buy VVVVVV)

Breath of Death VII (XBLIG)

BreathofDeathVII000

Perhaps if Zeboyd Games upcoming title Cthulhu Saves the World didn’t release the very last week of December we would see the developer’s second throwback JRPG on this list. As it stands, we’ll just have to do with the dev’s first effort, you know, the one that boasts the highest demo to purchase conversion ever across the entire Xbox Live Indie Games Channel. Why? While it doesn’t reinvent the genre, Breath of Death VII presses a nostalgia button that triggers thoughts of early Final Fantasy titles while revitalizing the old school RPG. How? By making a farce of it. It’s the original writing and creativity in the parody that really makes the game unique. It even offers improvements from its predecessors such as a battle limit for each area coupled with the option to call for a fight. It also earns points for raising the bar on what to expect from the Xbox Live Indie Channel, not just shoddy clones and crap apps.

Erik Johnson

As a fan of the original Dragon Warrior games I was immediately drawn to Zeboyd Games’ Breath of Death VII which not only players similarly to the JRPGs of yesteryear, but also takes careful time to make fun of almost every inane aspect of the old genre. Seriously, this game was an absolute treat and I’m very excited to play Zeboyd’s next classic JRPG.

Geoff Gibson

(Buy it on Xbox Live)

Minecraft (PC)

MinecraftLogo001

This was a tough decision, because honestly I’ve barely played the game. Hear me out though. It earns my vote not for the simplistic brilliance the gameplay brings, but rather that it fulfills the proverbial “American dream” for indie developers. Find a solid concept and put a ton of work into it and good things can happen, really good things, like nearing a million copies sold just entering beta good things. Some have made it clear that they’ll never consider the game indie again given its current following from both players and press, but anyone who knows spit about this industry knows Minecraft’s indie roots are as deep as they come.

Erik Johnson

While Minecraft has technically been in alpha most of the year, its ability to be more engrossing and unique than almost anything else out there nets it a spot on my list this year. When I first downloaded Minecraft, albeit later than a lot of people, I disappeared for three days. It got to the point where other DIY writers were emailing me to see where I had gone. The only answer was underground. Minecraft satisfies that childlike desire to build a fort anywhere and on anything and allows you to hoard and create the world of your dreams. I look forward to the game’s progression going into next year and expect to disappear for at least another week into the depths.

Peter Eykemans

Not much that really needs saying here. Minecraft is the new hotness. While I’m not nearly as addicted to it as many of my peers, I’ve still played it at little bit every few days for several months in a row, and it keeps me coming back and looking for more. Combining tactile building, clever crafting and tense combat with that childlike sensation of building a pillow-fort to ward off imaginary monsters, it just presses buttons that no other game can.

Dominic Tarason

(Buy it from the Official Site)

GAME OF THE YEAR

Super Meat Boy (XBLA/PC)

Super Meat Boy Cover

Super Meat Boy is probably one of the hardest games I’ve ever played, and a constant source of anger and frustration. Wait, anger and frustration are a good thing? I’ll admit, they aren’t typically what I look for in a game. The difference in Super Meat Boy that makes it all worthwhile is that I was never angry at the game itself. The levels are expertly designed, and the controls accurate, so my failings in the game were all of my own doing. It never felt unfair. Every death was a learning experience, teaching me how to avoid a trap or properly time my jumps with moving platforms. Trial and error gameplay has been done before, but it’s Super Meat Boy’s pace that raises it from merely a fun challenge to the level of obsessive addiction. Just as my brain would begin to process why I had failed, Meat Boy would instantly respawn, ready to test my newfound knowledge. And once a particularly challenging level is conquered, the feeling is unmatched as you watch a replay of all your failed attempts running simultaneously. Nothing makes victory feel sweeter than reflecting on how hard you had to work to get there, and Super Meat Boy delivers this better than any other game. Ever.

Scott Nichols

I spent more time playing Super Meat Boy than I did any other game released this year, with possibly the exception of FIFA 11. Super Meat Boy packed tons of content through a variety of levels, notable indie characters with their own traits, and one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard in a game (Props to Danny B). There is no doubt in my mind that Super Meat Boy is the Indie Game of the Year 2010. Team Meat’s self-conscious but unpretentious effort to spread the indie love became one of the best games of the year, including the mainstream. Way to deliver on your word, guys!

Arsen Nazaryan

I’m a bit surprised myself to have more than one platformer on my list, but the love child begot from two of the hardest working guys in the industry simply can not be ignored. Edmund and Tommy thought they had something good here when they started on the project and boy were they right. Where VVVVVV strikes the old school nostalgia chord, Super Meat Boy mashes and warps it to its own devices. The game has you laughing at nearly every cut scene and cursing on nearly every level. Plus it’s completionist heaven, the sheer amount of content they packed into (and are still providing for) the game doesn’t get acknowledged nearly as much as it should.

Erik Johnson

Big surprise huh? Super Meat Boy had so much going for it that I’m positive this game will be on most people’s “Best of” lists. It’s challenging, adorable, very fun, and, most of all, uses a protagonist that is a skinless boy. How awesome is that? I guess the cherry on top would be all the amazing little touches the developers have added in like including multiple other indie game characters or the free level packs coming to the XBLA version.

Geoff Gibson

Super Meat Boy grabbed me in a way I never quite expected this year. I’d played the game on three different occasions at various conferences before it released and knew the game was going to be fun. But once I had the expansive world at my fingertips and could take my time exploring its nooks and bloody crannies it took me by the throat and never let go. As of this writing I have collected 100 bandages in the Xbox version and am sitting on 94 in the PC version. I have no explanation of why I put myself through the whole frustratingly-amazing experience over again other than the game is simply fantastic and will be remembered for years to come. And like a true addict I’ll go ahead and admit that I’ll probably do it all over again once it hits Wii.

Peter Eykemans

I bought Super Mario All-Stars on Wii a couple of weeks ago, and after playing for half an hour, all I could think was “these controls are far too floaty.” And it’s all Super Meat Boy’s fault. So thanks for ruining my childhood, Team Meat.

Mike Rose

(Buy it on XBLA or Steam)

So that’s 2010 from DIYgamer! We’re looking forward to an exciting 2011 with all the site’s power under our control and more great games to sink our indie teeth into.

What were your favorite games of 2010? Let us know!


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Game Dev Story $0.99 on iPhone, $1.20 on Android Today Only

Game_Dev_Story

Everybody’s favorite game dev story game Game Dev Story (word choice in hindsight was poor) has been given a big discount on both iPhone/iPod Touch and Android platforms.

For today only the addicting management sim runs just $0.99 on the App Store and $1.20 on Android. That would be 75% off the standard prices on a game Mike called the iPhone game of the year.

Go check it out, and check out our review. Also, once you get into the game Mr. Rose has put together a great tips and tricks guide if you’re looking for some help.

[Kairosoft]


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Game Dev Story (iPhone) Tips and Tricks Guide

gamedevstory2Game Dev Story is one of the most addictive iPhone games available at the moment – just check out our review to understand why. There’s so much depth to the game that sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what to do next.

Hence, we’ve put together this handy guide, answering all the most important questions and proving hints and a good walkthrough for how to get the most out of the game.

Looking for an answer that isn’t provided here? Simply leave your question in the comment section below, and we’ll be happy to help you out!

Which game genres and types work well together?

When it comes to creating your game, combining genres and types is usually a case of using your common sense. Initially, it’s best to use combinations that are obvious choices – for example, any type of RPG will always work well with the Fantasy type, while the Card Game genre works beautifully with the Dungeon type.

Once you’ve got a bit of money under your belt, you can then begin to experiment with more ‘out there’ combinations. Even if the combinations you pick don’t work so well, it’s still worth trying, as every time a genre or type hits level 2, you’ll receive 2 extra points to increase the stats of future games. Hence, leveling up as many different genres and types as possible is a great idea.

How often should contract work be chosen?

Contract work is useful in that it gives you development points, which can be used to level up your employees and boost the stats of your current game. When you first start the game, it’s a good idea to do one bit of contract work between each game project. Make sure to always choose work that is definitely going to be possible – anything with a time limit of less than 10 weeks, and you probably won’t get it done.

Once you get fully rolling, you may never need to do contract work, as your devs may well earn enough development points through build the games. At this point, it’s up to you if you want to do contract work or not – it does a good job of breaking up the main flow of the game, and keeping the addiction a little fresher.

However, there is one tactical aspect to taking on contract work. The best time to release a game is just before Christmas (around month 11/12), and games usually take around four months to develop – although this changes depending on how good your team is. Hence if it’s May, you may well want to take on a few contract jobs to let time pass a little, then start development in August so that your game will be ready at the peak of Christmas shopping.

When should I hire more/new staff?

When you first begin, it’s best to choose whichever are the best staff available to you. Make sure you fill every seat in your offices, as the more staff you have, the better your games will be.

Once you have the option of looking in more classy places for staff, do so immediately – well, as long as you have the cash. Getting rid of staff with poor stats feels harsh, but you’ll be able to find candidates with stats that are 5 or 6 times higher than your current lot, so it’s really not worth keeping them on – leveling them up that high will cost far more than it’s worth.

Check for new staff in between every game project, and by the tenth year, you should have a full team of workers with triple-figure stats. Make sure you take on a good range of skills – at the very least, have one sound engineer, one designer, one writer and two coders. Remember, however, that the better the staff, the higher their salaries will be, and wages disappear at the end of March, so making sure you have enough money to pay them all at that point is essential!

What’s the deal with hackers?

When searching for workers, you may come across hackers. These guys have ridiculously good stats, yet when you take them on, they turn out to be not so great. Basically, they’re massively talented, but don’t have any direction or focus. Take on every hacker you find, then use the Career Change Manual (bought from the salesman) to give them a proper job. Their stats will drop slightly at the point, but it’s still very much worth it.

What should I buy from the salesman?

Every year, a salesman will come to visit, bearing rather expensive wares. Initially you most likely won’t be able to afford the stuff he has to offer, but when you’ve got enough cash together, make sure you start to grab his boosts. You’ll want to buy the Fun, Creativity, Graphics and Sound Boosts, as these allow you to add extra points to your current game.

Once you’ve bought these four, do not bother with anything else other than the Career Change Manual. Buy three of these every time the salesman comes calling, as they are incredibly useful – especially if you want a hardware engineer (see later in the guide).

What console should I choose for my latest game?

This is where a decent knowledge of real-life gaming platforms from the last 20 years comes into play. Every console available in Game Dev Story is based on a real console, albeit with a slightly different name and design. Not only that, but the success or failure of each console is based loosely around how well its real-life counterpart did too.

With this in mind, it’s relatively simple to work out which platforms to develop for and which to stay well away from. Early in the game, developing for the Intendro consoles – such as the Game Kid and the Super IES – is definitely a good idea. Watch the Share percentages, and keep developing for a console until its share has fallen considerably lower than the rest, as purchasing licenses for the later consoles can cost a fair amount.

When Sonny enters the market, it’s a good idea to jump on the PlayStatus, as that keeps going for a good several years. By the time it has run its course, you’ll most likely have collected together the funds and the tools to create your own console. Make sure you put the maximum amount of money and effort into creating your own hardware, but also make sure you have a substantial amount of cash spare too, as console development takes a very long time.

Once your console is complete, make sure from that point on that you only develop for your own console – this way, the share will stay high and you’ll make the maximum amount of cash.

How do I get a hardware engineer for making my own consoles?

Perhaps the biggest secret in Game Dev Story, bagging a hardware engineer is simple – if expensive – stuff. The idea is to level up one of your staff to the max in every type of role. This can be done with a combination of development points and Career Change Manuals (from the salesman). Level your chosen character up to level 5 in whatever role they’re in, then use the Career Change Manual to swap their job to something they aren’t already level 5 in.

Level them up to level 5 in this role, then repeat until they are level 5 in every available role. Now use the Career Change Manual on them once more, and the Hardware Engineer role will now be available for selection. Choose this, and you’ll then be able to develop your own console.

How do I make sequels, and how often should I do so?

Sequels can only be developed if the original game made it into the Hall of Fame. Any game that manages to get a cumulative review score of 35 or over enters into the Hall of Fame, and you’ll then be able to make a sequel to it.

Sequels are very useful in that they start with plenty of points available straight away, meaning that the finished product will most likely be very highly rated and make you lots of money. There are two issues with sequels – firstly, if you make too make sequels to a row, your fans will grow tired of your antics and start to diminish. The way to combat this is to wedge a brand new game in between each sequel, to keep your games fresh.

The other issue with sequels is that you’re forced to use the genre and type of the original game, hence you won’t be able to try out new genres and earn yourself extra points for bumping future games up. It’s best to develop a sequel as every third game you make when you’re doing OK for cash, and when you’re absolutely rolling in it and there’s no money problems whatsoever, you may not even want to make sequels at all.

Who should I choose to write/design/create sound effects for my current game?

This is where having a good range of workers on your team pays off. Writers are always the best people to have script your game for you, while designers are best at graphics and sound engineers are best at sound and music. However, you should never use the same person twice in a row for two games – if you used a person in the last project, it will say ‘Prev’ just next to their name.

Having two of each type of worker, then, is a very good idea – although the likes of Producers and Directors will usually do a pretty decent job too. There’s always the temptation to use an outside source and pay a ridiculous amount for someone with very high stats, but most of the time it’s not worth it at all – choosing these guys can be very risky, as sometimes they’ll do a terrible job, then charge a ridiculous amount.

Just keep your workforce varied, and you should never need to outsource your projects.

Which advertising should I use, and how often should I use it?

Advertising affects both your company, and your current game. Using advertising during development is the best time to implement it, as it adds to both the hype of your game, and the fame of your company.

It’s only ever useful to choose the most expensive advertising going, as the less expensive options won’t add much to your fan count. However, when you first begin, it’s best to use whichever is ideal to your current budget – just make sure you use advertising at least one during each game’s development.

Once you’ve got plenty of money, use advertising lots of times during development, until the Hype rating for the game is close to 100. It can be expensive, but it’s definitely worth it, as your games will sell incredibly well.

When my staff ask to help, should I say yes?

During contract work, alway say no – the whole point of contract work is to earn development points, so using development points to speed up the process is pointless!

For game development, however, it all depends, as failure can result in lots of bugs to tidy up. Early on in the game, your devs will most likely not be skilled enough to pull this off with a success, so it’s best to say no to them. However, later on they’ll be able to do it with 80% success rate pretty much every time – at this point, you should always say yes, as these boosts can be extremely useful.

Hilariously, once you have the boosts from the salesman, you might as well say yes to your workers anyway, as the extra bugs can actually be useful! Each bug cleaned up will earn you one development point, hence if you have lots of bugs to clean up, this may give you the opportunity to use the various boosts you have bought and make the game ever better.

How do I get the Game of the Year award?

Achieving the Game of the Year award can be tricky, but if you focus on one project in particular – usually a sequel – it’s definitely doable. To be in with the chance your game needs to get at least 37/40 points in reviews – i.e. one 10, and the rest 9s.

Make sure all your staff are fully prepared and are not tired, then make a sequel to a very popular game. Give each job to the staff with the highest stats, then use each of the boosts you’ve bought from the salesman to send the stats through the roof. You should gather at least 300 points for Fun, then at least 100 for each of the others – possibly even 150 if you can manage it. Make sure to Hype up your game with advertising too


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iPhone Game of the Year… Game Dev Story [Review]

gamedevstory1The iPhone has proved itself to be the perfect vessel for a management game, allowing for portable diving in and out. Game Dev Story isn’t just any iPhone management game, though – it’s quite easily the most addictive we’ve ever played.

Taking charge of a game development team, your job is to create the greatest games company possible while competing with some hilariously familiar brands. It’s seemingly simple gaming, yet there’s so much depth involved that you’ll have lost around a dozen hours to the game before you finally come up for air.

GAMEPLAY

The main bulk of Game Dev Story involves doing the same actions over and over, but receiving better results each time. Initially you’re presented with a small office, and left to hire several fresh, budding game devs for your company. Your first batch of games will be dire, but this only motivates you to do better, and as you accumulate fans and more skilled workers, the money will start rolling in.

Everything is controlled via a simple menu system, from where you can train your staff, advertise your company, check your latest company stats or start a new game project. It only takes a few minutes to settle into your new job, and the simplicity of it helps oodles in making the experience stupidly addictive.

Starting a project involves choosing the type of game you want to create, and setting a budget based on how much time you spend developing the game. Your staff will then automatically set to work building your masterpiece, as it goes through the alpha and beta stages of development. You’ll need staff with a variety of skills to make sure everything in your game is up to scratch.

Now and again you’ll also need to take on contract work. This provides your team with quick cash, and boosts your technical points, allowing you to level your staff up and create even more interesting games. Working out which contract work to take on is a game in itself, as each will have a set period of time in which it must be completed. Fail to turn in your work on time, and it will all have been for nothing.

gamedevstory2Here’s the thing, though – while it’s all so simple to play, there’s also a underlying depth that must be explored. Special boosts allow you to create even better games, and games expos, magazine articles and awards shows allow you to build up hype for your latest venture. Creating a successful business isn’t difficult at all, but evolving into an incredible force takes a little extra doing. This means that, while it’s casual enough that anyone can have a crack, the more hardcore players will find so much more to be getting on with.

Amazingly, a prior knowledge of gaming over the last 20 years helps considerably. Every event, console, game and company in Game Dev Story is based on real-life – you’ve got Intendro with the Super IES, then Sonny pops up and develops the hugely successful PlayStatus series. Later in the game Microx appears, launching the Microx 480 console. Hilariously, even the game names are familar, with one or two letters changed around here and there.

Hence, when the NeonGeon console appears, it’s safe to stick with the IES instead. It’s such clever stuff, since it gives you the impression that you’re actually a real development company playing through the 90′s and into the millennium. All these points combined mean that Game Dev Story is quite easily the most enjoyable game we’ve played on the iPhone in a long while.

STYLE

Want to know how to pump a serious amount of personality into your game? Simple – just watch how Game Dev Story effortlessly and constantly makes you smile. Your staff will chatter away via speech bubbles, perhaps telling another staff member ‘Good job!’ or saying ‘Morning!’ as they come in well rested. They’ll also occasionally approach your desk to offer ideas on how to make your latest game even better.

Whenever a staff member gets on a roll, they will literally be on fire - it’s such an awesome visual effect that gives a real sense of urgency and power in your game developing skills. It’s as if there is a real office on your iPhone screen that is bustling away, and the effect is very powerful indeed.

The simplicity of the interface and controls means that graphically it feels so tidy. The various options never appear cluttered or thrown together – every has a purpose, and is laid out in the most perfect way imaginable, with gorgeous pixel-art style environments and characters.

STORY

Starting in the early 90′s, you play the director of a new game development company that is hopefully set for the big time. After giving the team a name and hiring your staff, your job is to create the best games possible and be the largest developer around within 20 years.

gamedevstory3In a way, Game Dev Story gives the impression that you are creating your own story. You’re never specifically told what to do next – you can develop any type of game for any available console, and even ship your own branded console later into the game.

On my first playthrough I stuck to fantasy RPGs, and hence found that most of my fans were young males. Yet my next company went more for shooters, and this time around I picked up a much broader audience. There’s just so much to see and do, and creating your own journey is what spurs your enjoyment on.

OTHER

You shouldn’t even think twice about grabbing yourself a copy of Game Dev Storyit’s easily the best iPhone game released this year, and will keep you entertained for hours on end.

I’d say more, but in all honesty I need to get back and create some more games. Fifteen hours in, and I’m still well and truly addicted. Head over to the App Store and prepare to lose a good portion of your life to game development.

Game Dev Story on iTunes