Late to the Party

Note: I wrote this several weeks ago before Verzion announced that it was getting the iPhone. Jerks. 

A few months ago I bought an Android phone after growing tired of the ever-present but never realized rumors of the iPhone coming to Verizon. I didn’t want to give up the good plan I’ve had with Verizon for 10 years. Plus it has good coverage in the city where I live, as opposed to AT&T where I’ve heard nothing but complaints from people who use their service. 

While I very much like the Motorola Droid I bought, it wasn’t really the best move for a gamer like me as Android phones are woefully behind in what apps and games are available for that particular operating system. I look longingly at announcements and reviews of new games that have been released for the iPhone and assert an Android inferiority complex by angrily cursing the iPhone and all those who own one.

But lately, very slowly, some of the hit games that have been released for the iPhone are finding their way to Android phones. Recently, an iPhone game and video game industry darling, Game Dev Story, was made available in the Android App Market and I hungrily leapt to purchase it after long seeing it touted about through Twitter.

Game Dev Story is a game in the tycoon/managerial genre where you manage a fledgling video game development company. In the game you hire and fire employees, manage their salaries, take on contracts, and develop and market video games. You’ll need a full team of coders, writers, sound technicians, and artists to ensure a well balanced and, most importantly, profitable game release. You choose what platform you’d like to develop a game for (if you’ve secured the rights to do so), the genre, and the type of game. A good match, such as a fantasy themed Action-RPG, will sell better and allow you to produce games in those categories for less money later.

What makes Game Dev Story especially attractive to me is that it was designed by people who know the industry and video game history fairly well. The video game platforms you develop are parodies of real life consoles – the Uranus is the Sega Saturn, the Nintendo Wii is the Nintendro Whoops, etc. As time goes on, game companies announce new consoles (you must buy a license from them in order to develop games for their console) and older consoles are eventually discontinued. A knowledge of video game history is very helpful as the game generally mirrors the real-life success of various consoles – you should stay away from the Virtual Kid (Nintendo’s Virtual Boy) as it was a flop in real life, while you should jump on the very popular PlayStatus (Sony’s Playstation 1) as soon as it comes out.

With smart development and management of your finances, you can move into bigger offices and hire more employees. There are many other aspects to the game such as leveling your staff’s skills, marketing your games, taking on random contracts to earn extra money and train your staff, and even developing your own console.

The tycoon/managerial genre works well on a mobile platform as there isn’t necessarily an end game. You’re just striving to grow while maintaining a balanced budget. As such, you can hop in and out of a game without having to worry about too much time passing since your last session and forgetting about what you were doing last time. Game Dev Story follows that mold, though technically the game does end after your company has been around for twenty years. After that you may still develop games but there’s no more company growth, no more new consoles being released (except your own), and you’re really only working to break your own sales records. With the eventual halt in the game’s progress I don’t think I’ll be playing Game Dev Story forever as my interest in it will certainly falter as I accomplish everything it has to offer. For a while longer, however, it’ll be fun to start over with new companies and see what crazy genre and theme combinations I can turn into best-sellers.

It’s great to finally get some solid games for the Android. The Sims 3 and smash hit Angry Birds have recently come over from the iPhone as well and I can’t wait for Popcap to release Plants vs. Zombies (slated for sometime this year). I would like to see more games in the management genre since I think they’re well suited for the platform. 

I do find it a little strange that I want to play games where I manage a staff and a company’s finances as I’m on my way to do the same thing at my real life job… 

In any case,
I’d love to break out some Sim City, Dinopark Tycoon, or even Sim Ant as I sit on the bus on my way to work.

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