I wrote a post before about the unexpected things that I learned from video games. However, being in the game industry myself and a fan of Game Dev Story, I felt the urge to write a separate blog post for the game development lessons that you can get from the said game. For those of you who are not familiar with the game, it’s a simulation for building your own video game company. You start out with four employees, then by releasing games on different platforms you earn more profit and create more quality games and expand your company to hire more employees and even create your own game console. Throughout the game, you’ll have specific events like video game awards and conventions, which adds popularity for your company. It may not be 100% accurate or completely detailed, but it has covered a lot of essential parts of the processes involved in game development. Not interested yet? Well hopefully, after reading this post, you will be. By the way, just to clarify, I’m not an employee of Kairosoft, so I’m not writing this for promotional purposes. 🙂
Source, Risks, and Rewards of Research
There’s a stat in the game called research data. This can be used to apply boosts to the different attributes of the game (namely fun, creativity, design, sound, and bugs) and increase the job level of your employees. Let’s put our focus for the boost attempt mechanic for a moment. This happens when one of your employees suddenly approach you and asks your permission to TRY to increase the points of a particular attribute of your game. You have the option to decline, which will make your employee sad or approve the proposal in which you will bet on him/her that he/she will be successful with her attempt. Prior to the start of the attempt, you will see the probability of success, which can be increased up to 80% using your research data. The starting percentage depends on the skill of your employee corresponding to the desired attribute to improve (e.g. Fun corresponds to Coding). There will be two possible outcomes for the attempt as you probably expected. If successful, it will add points to the chosen attribute which will increase the quality of the game. If the attempt fails, there will be more bugs, which means more time for debugging. In real game development, you’re dealing with budget and deadlines that may give a company some second thoughts on giving more time for research, but if you really want to release a good game, you just have to risk and do it. After all, even if it fails, it will still be a learning experience. This can also be applied for Game Dev Story. Research data can be acquired as you develop your game, debug your game, or get some contractual work. This means that all the bugs that you had in the development process will be converted to research data by the time you reach the debugging stage. Don’t be afraid to commit such mistakes or encounter difficult problems. After you solve it, you hold valuable information that can solve future problems that can be encountered by other projects of the company.
Importance of Human Capital
In the game, the quality and pace of each game project, contractual work, or console development is determined by your team’s collective skill points. Higher skill points will result to faster development and higher attribute points for your completed game. Skill points are acquired by increasing the job level or by providing a training program for an employee. Each type of training aims for one or more skill type of the chosen employee. The training also consumes the power of the trainee. If he/she is already tired, then the training cannot proceed and that trainee will be done for the day. Each training costs money, and the more rewards you get from the training, most likely, the more expensive the price. This goes the same for real-life game development. You’ll spend some significant amount of funds if you want to give formal trainings to your developers, but with the right training programs, the investment will be worth it since they can come up with more brilliant ideas and perform a lot better with their tasks using the knowledge that they have acquired.
Short Contractual Jobs for Main IP Funding
During the early stages of the game, you’ll be needing a lot of funds for your game project, specially if you’re dealing with a genre that is harder to develop (e.g. Online RPG, Action, etc.). The game offers an option to accept a contractual job to earn more money and research data. Jobs range from creating a Background Music up to implementing a design tool. The job’s duration is significantly shorter compared to a complete game project and there’s a given deadline. Failing to meet that deadline will leave you with no pay and affects your company’s reputation. In real-world game development, producing IP’s offer a lot of risks. Since you don’t have a client, most of the time, the funding will be pulled from the company’s own resources (unless you get a publisher but that may require you to involve them with the design process removing part of your control with the game’s design path). Getting outsourced jobs can serve as the company’s seed money prior to a new IP. This way, they don’t have to use up the internal funds plus the developers may possibly learn something useful with the given tasks. It’s a win-win situation. Just make sure that you’re dealing with the proper clients. Choosing the wrong ones will give you more problems than benefits. I’ve experienced that numerous times. XD
Murphy’s Law states that if anything can go wrong… it will. In Game Dev story, there are random events that may affect your development process such as loss of power supply that will decrease the attribute points of your game or another company releasing a game that is similar to what you’re currently working on, affecting your game’s popularity. More risks are present in real game development, and it’s inevitable. You just have to be prepared if something happens and create a contingency plan beforehand, buffered schedule for instance. If the extra time was not used for the unexpected bad events, then you can use it for more research and other attempts for the game’s improvement or simply give your team members some more rest.
Being “In The Zone”
My former colleagues use this phrase a lot. It means, that you’re in a state where you have a rapid flow of ideas, and you have a clear vision of what you need to do with your task. Such state will bring you to really high focus to the point that you have zero awareness with your surroundings. In Game Dev Story, this can be represented by a team member who is on fire while in the middle of the development process. You’ll see an indicator on the additional attribute points that he/she had contributed during that state. A word of advice, in real-life software development, as much as possible, try not to interrupt a developer who is “in the zone” since it’s something that just comes by chance and such interruption may cut that state short.
There, by playing Game Dev Story, you’ll have a better grasp of what it’s like to work in the games industry. To be honest, this game made a good job on portraying the process in a fun way. Game development is hard, but if you’re really passionate about it, then you will survive… and you will succeed. For those of you who are afraid to start your dream of being a game developer, try to treat it like a game but be serious in learning the ways and executing the tasks. Good luck and have fun! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my phone and resume my Game Dev Story session. (~^_^)~