GameDev Story was one of the first tycoon games that hit the mobile market. It’s a simple management simulator on the outside but it provides players with their fantasies of creating video game studios of their own. KairoSoft certainly followed this format of fulfillment to make their franchise of “Story” games. Game mechanics are almost non-existent. This is just about a lot of choices being made; but those choices are very compelling thanks to the good art and flavor texts.
Right off the bat, we are given a look into the game’s dialog system. More importantly the primary motivation is stated: To make the best-selling game that will take the Grand Prize in the Global Game Awards.
All in-game actions can be taken from the main menu in the top left corner of the screen. Information is always displayed at the bottom. It is divided into multiple rows that can be scrolled through.
Selection screens follow the same scrollable format with two columns. Price or Rewards are on the second column. Selecting one displays a more detailed view with some flavor text.
Passing and Failing the Contract results. Small animations give this game it charm.
Recruiting new staff, more expensive options attracts people with higher stats. A little flavor text to add some character too.
The magazine. Delivers in-game news regularly. New trends, new console announcements, and new events. It presents the main chunk of story text and sense of progression.
Training the staff with just cash for plain stat upgrades. Different activities give different combinations of stats. Research data can also be used to level up character classes. Multiclassing is possible and can result in entirely new classes.
Higher level Staff can also volunteer on certain Contracts to provide boosts. Passing or failing this is kind of binary based on a stat check and Research wager.
And here’s the meat of the game: Making an original game. The proposal stage is basically where the initial of choices are set. A ‘game’ is made up of a combination of four elements. Those elements are acquired in different ways. Console licenses are bought with cash, they may be the most expensive products which time is spent earning for. Types and Genres are unlocked by increasing the staffs levels and giving them different classes. Direction is a point based stat system, it can be fine tuned to determine how the target audiences receive the game.
During the development phase, the stats for the game are gained based on the individual stats of the staff. On each tick or time frame, they give out their own share of points. Individual staff can also be picked out in certain tasks to provide their own boosts. This is where specializations and class choices stand out. Outsiders can also be sourced for a higher fee. Development time can vary depending on the last phase, which is debugging. It’s important to note that Development can be started at any time of the year. There are certain time windows that can be hit for the maximum profit, though. This is where optimization comes in. For example, Console generations reach their peak audience and on the other hand newer Consoles can be introduced to steal the audience from more recent ones.
When a game is shipped, it is immediately followed by Review scores. These are based on stat checks, genre, and type combinations followed at the beginning of development. Sales are primarily based on the audience demographic too. These can be raised outside of development through advertising campaigns. There are a few weeks of sales and rankings in which other activities can be done such as making another game or doing more contracts.
And that completes the loop of GameDevStory. The player spends the next years doing the same actions: Recruiting and Training better Staff, doing Contracts, making bigger Games. At certain stages of the game the studio moves into bigger office spaces. It can even grow large enough to produce their own Console.