Quick Guide – Game Dev Story PC
The other day I saw a wonderful thread on NeoGAF about an iPhone game called Game Dev Story. It’s a sim game about starting a video game dev shop in the 80s and pushing it into the 90s and beyond. Given this screenshot of the PC edition, you might see why it’s my cup of tea.
OK, sure, lots of Japanese text, whatever. But lookit all those numbers! I forgot to bring up a sales graph, but you can imagine one I’m sure.
Unfortunately, the PC version available here is only available in Japanese and doesn’t have all the features from the iPhone edition. However, it is still incredibly addictive if you can figure out how to play it.
I figured as what passes for a public service on the internet, I’d post up a little guide on how to play it for people that don’t read Japanese.
If you want to see the Japanese text (which is useful for matching genres/themes according to the tables below), you need East Asian Language Support (you can install it via the Regions tab) and a way to start the game using Japanese for non-unicode apps (google AppLocale for the best way).
Starting a game
Open the Menu menu (M) and choose the top option (New Game). The choices are Normal Mode and Beginner Mode; Beginner Mode has a bunch of tutorial-type stuff, in Japanese of course, so it’s unlikely to be much use until/unless the entire game is translated.
That done, you’ll name your company. Using English works just fine (it’s actually best).
Main menu bar
From left to right:
- Save game
- Load game
- Invest in Promotion: Spend money to improve your company’s reputation in your town. Increases your games’ base “desirability” somewhat. (NOTE: You can only invest once per week in any of the three types)
- Invest in Genre Variety: Improve the selection of genres you can potentially get when making a game.
- Invest in Infrastructure: Improve the amount of game units you can manufacture in a single week slightly. This will be done automatically based on your management selection
- Hire new workers. You have to pay their yearly salary on hiring and at the end of March. (don’t hire in March)
- Purchase Technology. Will be explained separately.
- Get a loan from the bank (30% interest!) lists current loans.
- Purchase computers to develop e.g. 16/32/64 bit games. These don’t do anything except let you develop that set of games (and below).
- Buy a license to develop for a particular system.
- Management options: 1 – Auto-investment in infrastructure at 3/100 million cash on hand, or manually. 2 – send workers to rest automatically at never/100/80/60 stress. 3 – Return workers at 40/20/0 stress.
- Personnel menu
- Software menu (Name, Price, Units Sold, Units left unsold)
- Rankings (Game name, Units Sold, Company Name)
If the Japanese predisposition to using ten thousands of things to count annoys you, the settings menu (“S”) then number demarcation (“N”) lets you change to thousands/millions.
Developing a game
You start out with one employee, two game development tables, 8-bit computers and a license to develop on the MSG game system. Hiring a few people is a good move at the start.
Left-click on one of your game dev tables to bring up the development menu:
- Original Game
- Sequel (requires certain # of sales)
- Game based on Manga
Pick a system and a target audience:
Your developers will decide what percentage of work they should devote to each aspect of the game (Japanese left, English right – order is the same)
全年齢 All Ages
小学生 Elementary School
中学生 Middle School
高学生 High School
青年 Young Men
おじさん Middle Aged
Left-click on your developer(s) (resting in the lounge) and right-click on a desk at the game dev area to get them working. They’ll automatically rest when stressed, unless you change it.
Once game development hits 50%, it’s in Alpha. Your workers will suggest several subjects or themes for the game, with more variance if you have more workers and more investment in genre/subject discovery.
I’ve listed several subjects here, but I doubt I’ve found them all:
Game Subjects (alphas)
ゲーム会社 Game Company
学園もの Campus Life
競馬 Horse Racing
風水 Feng Shui
美男子学園もの “Pretty Man” Campus Life
プロレス Pro Wrestling
大冒険 Great Adventure
フットボール Football (yes, American)
トランプ Playing Cards
These each have varying “Point” increases (further development required, more points will generally mean higher other scores) and cost increases (which apply immediately).
Once you hit 80% on your game-in-alpha, it will be in beta and your developers will ask you to pick a Genre. Here is, again, a selection of genres:
アクションパズル Action Puzzle
音楽ゲーム Music Game
ボードゲーム Board Game
テーブルゲーム Table Game
カードゲーム Card Game
占い Fortune Telling
Each genre has a point increase and cost increase, just like last time.
Once you hit 100%, your game is ready to ship – if you’d like. You will probably have a few bugs (red number), and your developers may or may not recommend fixing them. The top option is “Ship”, the second option is “Fix Bugs”.
If you choose to fix the bugs, you’ll be shipping later. You’ll see a balloon over the table saying バグチェク (Bug Check, Debugging) and your bug number will gradually decrease. Your game will NOT automatically ship when the bugs are fixed – you’ll have to ship from the game dev menu (bottom button).
Once you’re ready to ship, you get a cartridge/disc size automatically based on the game’s size in KB, then pick an amount to ship (the number ending in 本) and the price point (in 円). The table shows the cost per disc then the cost for this shipment at the top, and the revenue per sale and then total revenue for the shipment on the bottom. You can also enter your game’s name above the number to ship (using English helps to pick out your game in awards ceremonies 🙂 )
Then you see reviewers’ scores – they include details of why (“It’s a buggy mess” for example). You may get the editor’s choice award if you score well enough.
In the sales graph, the one button you can click on lets you manufacture more discs to sell. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT since you will almost certainly sell your first shipment for your first several games. You can manufacture once per week (each bar of the graph), so you do have to babysit your new game for a while.
Once your game’s on the market, you can start a new one by clicking on the game dev board.
GREAT! You’ve shipped your first game. Here’s stuff you may have run into and ignored:
- Every year at the end of March, you have to pay your team. You will see a bunch of checkboxes next to the personnel info. If you un-check a box, that person will be fired when you click the “OK” button in the lower right.
- At the end of every year is an awards ceremony, for best graphics, music, originality and best game overall. The final category is the WORST game of the year. The four “good” categories have rewards, while the bad one will take away money.
- Every so often you will get notification that an Expo is going on. You can select games and for promote them for 1 million yen each. This will increase the publicity of the games chosen – but they must have passed the Alpha stage.
- Your developers may run into a “risky” situation, and you will have to start/stop the highlighted line. This has a high chance (usually 75%) of giving you 60 bugs (very bad) but it can also have positive effects (+30 or +100 in a particular stat for that game).
- Developers may also inadvertently gold-plate the game increasing the cost (by increasing the size significantly – this is the “star-eyed grin” picture’s effect).
- It rarely occurs, but sometimes a rival game company will try to hire one of your developers. You will have to offer them a salary increase / bonus to stay on. The left button increases salary, the right button is an immediate bonus (which they still take if they leave).
- If you release a game that’s buggy enough, a suit will be filed against you and you will be required to refund a lot of peoples’ money. This is not recommended.
COMING SOON: Technology section, more genres, and so on.