The Little Metal Dog Show

Complete Control – Game Developerz review


I’ve been playing video games since I was about seven, so they’re almost as big a part of my life as their tabletop counterparts. Sure, these day’s I’m not online as much as I used to be, shooting dudes in the face with a sniper rifle from the other side of a multiplayer map, but when you’ve got a copy of Amerigo set up on your table and a bunch of mates ready to play, you’re not going to turn them down, are you? There are still plenty of games out there that grab my attention though. Dark Souls. Spelunky. Olli Olli. It’s been said that I only like video games that actively hate me. I think that’s pretty much on the button.

Thankfully, there’s a lot of fun and humour in video games, and now my two favourite worlds combine once more in a new release that’s now on Kickstarter: Game Developerz. Where a lot of tabletop games take a console release as inspiration – the excellent Bioshock Infinite or the tawdry Tomb Raider one, for example – this new game from the guys at Onion Squire actually takes on the whole industry in a card game where you’re looking to become the biggest and best development studio in the world. This isn’t the easiest task though; getting that first game out is going to be quite the challenge.

(Quick note: this is a review of the prototype build of the game, but I just want to say that it’s probably the nicest pre-release I’ve ever seen – it could easily be the final retail version. The whole thing has a sheen of professionalism about it, with fully finished art, a well put together ruleset… it’s a benchmark for future advance copies and truly impressed me.)

You’ll need staff if you’re going to make a game, and some are much better than others!

Of course, beauty isn’t everything – the game is what’s truly important, and thankfully Game Developerz stands up really well. It may look cute and funny, but this is no lighthearted, fluffy affair. As a start-up studio looking to work with some of the biggest brand names out there, you’ll need to run the day-to-day dealings of your company, deal with your interfering publisher and eventually get your game out. This is done by collecting Feature cards and once any player has managed to collect six of them, the game comes to a close. However, just because you’re the first person to complete your set, that doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily going to win – the player who has managed to accumulate the highest Betascore is the one who’ll claim the victory.

Starting off with a randomly allocated Company card, each of which bestows a unique ability, a handful of Asset cards and a little in-game money, you’ll be hiring staff members who all bring their own talents to your flourishing studio. Each person you add to your team will bring you a little bit closer to completing the necessary requirements to grab one of those much needed Features but – as anyone who has played on a console ever will know – there are always bugs to deal with.

These appear in Game Developerz in the form of Business Development cards. Many of these are good for you, but the real fun comes in utterly screwing over your opponents, forcing them to lost valuable members of staff, messing up their skills, stealing their much needed funds… it’s highly entertaining when someone is on the verge of completing a Feature, then you throw out something nasty and their face just falls. Does that make me a cruel person? Probably. But all’s fair in the world of making games and you’ve got a publisher to keep sweet!

As the game goes on, there’s also plenty of random events that you’ll have to deal with – again, both positive and negative – but all the while you’ll need to keep an eye on that little number in the top right corner of your Features, the Betascore. The game really has this feeling of speeding up as you get further and further along, building up your skills in Coding, Marketing, Art and Game Design, but I really like the way that players can pull the trigger and kill the game when they think they’ve got enough points to claim the win. As long as you’ve got those six features in play, the power is in your hands.

Collect those Features, score the points, win the game!

For what initially appears a simple card game, Game Developerz is actually really rather deep. There’s an awful lot going on inside that little box – cut throat screwing over of your fellow players, auctions of Features that you’re not happy with, collaborations and much more – so I can heartily recommend it.  Throw in the fact that there are bucketloads of nerdy references, in-jokes all over the place and excellent comic art throughout – Game Developerz is a damn good game that, if you’ve even got the slightest interest in video games, becomes even more appealing. I can see this one doing really well on Kickstarter, and not just because it’s solid as anything to play; all it needs is to be picked up by a decent video games site to give it a mention and it could go through the stratosphere. Here’s hoping that it does!

Game Developerz was designed by Marco Tonetti and Ennio De Nucci. Published by Onion Squire, the game is now on Kickstarter and you can get a copy for a mere £12 (or under $20 for our American cousins). Between three and six can play, with games taking around an hour. Get in there quickly, check out the intriguing looking expansions for e-Sports, Indie Games and Mobile Games as well, and prepare yourself for some entertaining times!