Developer: Greenheart Games
Publisher: Greenheart Games
More Info: Game Dev Tycoon
Tim McDonald – Bastard Productions
I’ve discovered the secret to doing really well in Game Dev Tycoon: make games that would get you arrested in real life.
Bastard Productions’ first few games, like Sabre Wolf (a werewolf action game) and Not the Movies (a movies simulator) did fine, because stealing the ideas of developers from the real world seemed like a good plan. But it wasn’t until Undulating Wibbletits and Fucksicle Arsehump that Bastard Productions really took off – the latter getting a clean slate of 10/10 scores from every publication out there, earning us a whopping 5.49 million by itself. I don’t even think most shops would sell something called that, in real life.
Mind you, in real life, this is when I’d retire to an apartment in London (and probably be broke within three weeks, considering what London rent is like) but here it just meant a move to a bigger office.
A cautious move to a bigger office, though. I hired a couple of extra staff members to help out with development, and managed to release a few more hits, spreading out my development across multiple systems – while I still supported PC, I released both the casual dance title Dance Dance Coup d’Etat for the Gameling and artsy shooter Post-Modern Warfare for the Super TES.
But the next two games – PC life sim The Shits and How to Survive Prison, a prison simulator aimed at kids – bombed. Apparently, prison is not an appropriate subject for games aimed at kids. Who knew? Sports casual title Sportsblast and hospital sim Bastard Hospital did equally poorly, leaving me in relatively dire financial straits. We needed a hit, and we needed one now.
We got two. First was superhero action title Kapow Man, immediately followed by comedy adventure Laugh You Bastards. But despite their critical and commercial successes, bringing in a few million each, we still weren’t a mega-wealthy studio. Most of our games were profitable, but only just – a few would make us a million, but most would make us 100,000, and our operating costs were much too high to sustain that sort of thing. So we gambled it all.
First: take a break. Research some new tech. Train up the employees. Create the best game development team the world has seen, with Richard Chariott and Migeru Mayomoto.
Second: create a new engine, and then pile all of our cash into a game for the relatively new Playsystem, as that had the biggest market share. Make it a sequel for some instant recognition. Pour the cash on the marketing. Time the development properly so that we can show it off at G3 and get even more hype. Risk it all on one game.
That game was Kapow Man 2: Kapow Harder. It scored an average of 9.75/10. It made us 24.6 million in profit. It propelled us into MEGA STARDOM.
This wasn’t the end of the journey for Bastard Productions – we carried on for many years to come, dabbling in console development and online integration – but we never forgot our roots. We never forgot where we came from, and the games that made us big. We never forgot our past; our storied history; our rags-to-riches story; our basement-to-billionaire tale. We never forgot to put swearwords in the title.
Coming in 2014: Faceshoot McCocktits.
Lessons learned from Game Dev Tycoon:
Tim: Other than “put swearwords in your title because it’s big and clever,” I learned that timing is oh-so-very important. Games are shown off at G3 – or, er, E3 – because it almost guarantees hype, and that hype will hopefully last long enough for you to get your game out the door before people forget about it. I swear that this and Black Friday are the two big reasons most big releases happen towards the end of the year.
Peter: I’ve learned that games writers are total bastards who are too afraid to step out of line and give a game a different score from the rest of the crowd. Wait … it wasn’t Game Dev Tycoon that taught me that.
I was quite amused and pleased to see that, for all the hype pop-ups you get about AMAZING NEW CONSOLES, sticking with the PC is actually pretty smart. It’s cheap to develop for and never dips too terribly in terms of market share. Meanwhile, you have to shell out cash for a console license that may only last for a few years before the thing becomes obsolete or tanks. All of this is true to life, obviously.
Putting a score on this game just seems weird after playing it. I think that’s the covert purpose of this whole project: make games writers feel uncomfortable about judging things. Well it won’t work, Game Dev Tycoon! We’re going to rate this game no matter how strange it makes us feel.
Paul: I agree with Peter, people who write about games are all bastards. If I ever see the editor of All Star Games he/she is in trouble. The Panther Operative franchise was fantastic! If there was anything learned from playing Game Dev Tycoon its that timing is important and there’s even some important messages there when it comes to business decisions. Never overstretch yourself being one of them and always keep up with technology.
It’s an addictive game that’s for sure, watching little bubbles float to the top of your screen and accumulating numbers has never been so fascinating.
Tim: Hell, I even called my company Bastard Productions.
To some extent it feels like a complete and total waste of time – though that’s not a bad thing! “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time,” and all that. Game Dev Tycoon is very, very more-ish; you’re always just a little bit off your next major project, or the next console, or the next tech advancement. So you play for just one more release. Which gets you enough research points that you can get 2D Graphics V4. So obviously you have to research them, and then it’s 5am and the birds are tweeting. It’s… compelling, for almost no reason whatsoever.
Actually, there is one reason: the sound effect for the bubbles of Design and Technology hitting the top of the screen is basically perfect. It tickles something in the brain.
Peter: Brain Tickling Simulator 2013.