“I want to make games.” Most gaming professionals hate this statement, and all the ignorance it usually implies. Trying to disabuse the person making it does nothing to dissuade them from wanting “to make games.” Drecom, in association with Kairosoft, has had a successful simulation launched in Japan that responds to this statement, and is attempting to translate it for an American audience.
Game Studio Story is an ambitious simulation of the basics of what it takes to create a video game, any video game, from platform consideration to budget to time constraints. Players begin with a studio of four developers – not necessarily friends. More than four friends can be playing the game, but only four slots are open to be team members. Any team members who are not players reduces the number of studios the player can visit.
General play is the flow of developing a title: choosing the platform, the genre, the theme, distribution of points, and then choosing whether to spend money on quality, time, or research. Though Game Dollars are the primary currency, Research and Time are just as important. Research can be thought of as intellectual property and is terribly difficult to obtain. It’s spent on leveling up members of the team, increasing specific qualities of a game (fun, sound, art, etc.), or to ensure attempts to improve a game in production.
As a player levels up, he can add more team members, assigning duplicate roles to those already on the team – sound, designer, programmer, or story writer – or advanced positions later, such as producer or hardware engineer. Events representative of E3 and DICE occur, marking just how well (or poorly) the team is doing. Sequels can be produced, licenses purchased from other studios, team members contracted to other players.
A myriad of reports are available to the player: demographic popularity, effectiveness of PR campaigns, sales history of active titles, bulk history of complete sales, awards, and rankings according to other players. Each game is ranked with a Metacritic-type score (including a negative bent towards less popular genres regardless of quality and vice versa) that affects sales and awards.
Game Studio Story is faithful enough to the overall reality of game development, but after nearly eight weeks, the game is still in alpha and shows little if any signs of further development, with features like virtual currency remaining unfinished. Of course, one might easily complain about the faults and holdups, but a quick play of the game itself should serve to disabuse players of the notion that progress is easy.