Game Dev Story : emperor’s new clothes? crippled tamagotchi?

(this was posted initially as a response to gamasutra’s best iOS games of 2010)
I’ve heard nothing but praise for Game Dev Story (GDS), but disagree heartily.

Isn’t it more like some sort of simple limited tamagotchi than a real game? (is there a better term? “micro simulation with minimal input allowed”?)

I bought it when it first came out, because I love the concept of playing a game about “the business of making games.” I’d wanted to make one called “Start Up” where you basically play tetris to manage your company’s finances/stock, and take breaks to walk around and RPG your office.
but.
I felt GDS was about spending money on a couple barely different things, with no idea what the differences are really, then wondering if you failed fairly – or if it was all just random.

I’m primarily a FPS and adventure gaming guy, who’s taken tenative steps into RPG land through Mass Effect and Fallout3. So I’m just not the intended audience?

Felt like I was swindled.

I’m sure it’s because I haven’t played the proper games to teach me how it all works. But, still, I was horribly confused and frustrated by GDS. Their in game instruction manual is a joke. 20 “pages” of basically a single sentence each. Left me wondering if I could find a real manual on their website (which then made me angry).

the whole thing seems based on the idea that you already play this sort of thing/game/app and know what to do.

So I stumbled through trying to figure out how to move the process/story forward, wondering when I’d get more money to buy more things, wondering what signs there were (?) to inform me if I was making good/bad choices with my purchases. …and apparently part of the game involves staring at the screen and waiting? After my first title bombed, I wondered what the incentive was supposed to be to spend any time in GDS (apparently telling other people how I interpret it’s quirks, around the watercooler, is the only reward this game offers? no built in story? no gameplay challenges?)

I hesitate to say it is “bad”. Just that it was not at all what I was expecting (or wanting).

(my goal with this comment is simply to say: If you are on the fence about it, because you’ve never been into that genre of game – I’d strongly suggest staying away.)

(Also, if I didn’t play long enough to “get to the good part” please let me know. I think it’s interesting that it’s offering in-jokes around the industry’s history. really wanted to enjoy the title. Just don’t see how.).

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