I recently came across an interesting iOS and Android game, Game Dev Story, which is a simulation-style game where you are managing a small company trying to make it big releasing the best new PC or platform game. At its heart the game is an economic one – you have to balance your scarce funds to hire employees, train them so that they can be better coders or graphic artists, or pay for advertising to increase the hype for your new game before its release.

A key part of the game that stood out for me is how it implements bugs in your games, and how you can deal with them. Essentially at the end of development there are a certain number of bugs, and it is your choice whether to release the game immediately with the bugs, or to wait longer for the bugs to be fixed. I thought you could translate this mechanic into a card-based tabletop game as a sort of push-your-luck factor.

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Day 15: Indie Game Development

Each player is the founder of an indie game company, and is seeking to achieve the most fame and money over a certain number of years by developing and releasing a number of different games. The game is card based, with ‘games’ essentially being hands of cards that you slowly add to as you develop the game, and then are revealed once the game is released. Different cards can show different traits of the game, such as themes or features, but also can be bugs which can be gained through certain risky actions and drawing them from development decks. Players can take actions in the game to develop their employees and their training, to gain new features for their games from the various development decks (with more skilled employees allowing you to draw more cards from the decks to choose from).

As the game goes on, you can choose to reveal some cards from your hand early to gain some hype for your game, but in doing so you are revealing to other players what you are working on. This is important as sales of games, once released, are determined by comparing how well they match the criteria of the public, and how well they compare to other games on the market. So if other companies know you are working on a WWII simulation game, they could aim to try and make another similar game to compete for your market, or try to release their game earlier than yours.

An essential choice for players is when to release their games, and whether it is worth rushing the release without ironing out all the bugs. Once a game is released, the hand that comprises that game becomes a deck that is face up in front of the player, which determines its score in various categories. The number of bug cards will determine the chance that users will discover these early on and dampen the release of the game. This could be modelled through a die roll – the number of bug cards is the number of dice that you roll, with certain results (say, for every 6 rolled) yielding a negative outcome.

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I must admit that I am quite intrigued by the world of indie game design, and a game looking at the process definitely appeals to me! This way way it could be done, but I would be interested to hear how others would tackle this theme.