|Spoilers for Game Dev Tycoon follow.|
| This page applies partially or entirely to version 1.5.24.
Its information may not be accurate for newer versions of the game.
Disclaimer: While this is an excellent guide, just keep in mind that this guide was written before a lot of the game code/mechanics were exposed and analyzed; therefore, some information here may not be completely accurate.
This guide is directed to those who don't understand how the game works, constantly go bankrupt at a certain point in time, cannot get good reviews, etc. This guide that will teach how to succeed in Game Dev Tycoon.
Effects of choices during developmentEdit
Each game size has a set amount of time required to make it. This time is split into preparation time (small period before you get to decide about Stage 1), and three equal development stages. Note that this only includes development time - bug fixing is not included, and will take varying periods of time to complete.
Note: values, where greater than 4 weeks are provided both in 'month + week' (1M 2W) format, and in simply 'week' (1W) format when below 4 weeks, which can be more useful for relative comparisons.
Each development stage is further divided into development fields. From the moment you start development, to the very end of it, all your employees (who are not busy on training or vacation) will contribute Tech and Design bubbles to the development. Depending on what field is currently in development, there will be a predetermined chance for every contributed bubble to be a Design bubble or a Tech bubble.
|Field 1||Field 2||Field 3|
|Design %||Tech %||Design %||Tech %||Design %||Tech %|
|Development Stage 1|
|Development Stage 2|
|Development Stage 3|
When you choose your Topic/Genre combination (or Topic/Genre/Genre), you affect the overall rate of Design/Tech bubble contribution as well. The rate can be anywhere from 60% to 100%, 100% being the "Great Combination" you see when you finish your game and receive experience. You can look up the exact numeric values for those rates in the table on Raw Data page, or you can look up Good/Bad combination tables on Game Development page.
For the purpose of this guide you should stick to doing only Great Combinations - the rationale behind this will be explained later on. That means choosing a Topic/Genre Combination that has a plus in the relative cell in the table on Game Development page (or Topic and two Genres that both have a plus in their relative cells).
After you have made initial decisions on topic/genre/etc, you can influence the development process in three ways:
- By setting slider values, you are allocating different percent of overall stage time to developing different fields.
- By adding enough features to a field, you double the size of Tech and Design bubbles contributed while developing this field.
- By assigning an employee to a field (for medium size and up), you increase or decrease the size of Tech and Design bubbles contributed while developing this field.
Example of how managing project time worksEdit
At Stage 2 of development you've set your Dialogues slider to 100%, Level Design slider to 50%, and AI slider to 0%. This will mean that 57% of stage two will be spent developing Dialogues, 33% will be spent on Level Design, and 10% on AI (remember that sliders themselves are relative, it is the bottom "Time Allocation" bar that shows exactly how the time is allocated). So, for 57% of the time spent developing Stage 2, each bubble produced will have a 90% chance to be Design and 10% chance to be Tech, then for 33% of the time, the rate will be 40% D to 60% T and for 10% time, the rate will be 20% D to 80% T.
Benefit of featuresEdit
- Main article: Custom Game Engine
Each feature has a "Benefit" value that correlates directly with its cost, therefore, one can find out how much benefit a feature brings by looking at its cost in game when choosing what features to implement.
To use this table, look for your feature, see its cost, for example "Joystick (10K)", look up the table in the column with your game size (Medium), find the value, and you now know the benefit value of the feature - in this case, 1.
It does not matter what specific features you select, all the Benefit points of the features selected for the field are summed up for a total amount of feature points applied to a field (so, whether you add a joystick, gamepad or steering wheel to a Racing game is absolutely irrelevant).
Each feature point requires certain time percentage in order to be fully implemented, and while you are working on implementing a feature, you are producing approximately twice as many D/T points, than while you're working just on a field without a feature. So, game size and amount of time dedicated to a field defines how many feature points you can implement.
per % time allocated
Note : despite Medium sized games taking longer than Small to complete, they have the same feature capacity
This table contains benefit point values for the most common time values allocated to a field:
- 10% is the minimum allocatable time to a field (slider all the way down)
- 20% is the threshold over which an important feature does not yield a quality penalty
- 33.3% is the amount allocated to each field when all three sliders are at the same height
- 40% is the threshold under which an unimportant feature yields no quality penalty
- 45% is the amount allocated to two fields with the same slider height, third slider being at the minimum
- 70% is the amount for a field when the other two are at 20% and 10% (minimum)
- 80% is the amount for a field when the other two are at 10%(minimum)
- 300% is the maximum amount of benefit points that can fit in a game.
If you put more than enough features into a field, you should see a percentage value next to its name in the feature selection region - this means you have more features than you can implement in given time. You do not get penalized for not implementing a feature (so having 99% or 33% is identical), however you may want to remove unnecessary features in order to spend less money on its development.
Some features are mutually exclusive - for example, only one of "Simple body language", "Advanced body language" or "Realistic body language" can be implemented in a game.
Example of how features workEdit
At Stage 2 of development, you've set your Dialogues slider to 100%, Level Design slider to 50%, and AI slider to 0%. Remember, this means 57%, 33% and 10% time respectively. You haven't assigned any features to these fields, and during the whole Stage 2, you produced 74D and 24T.
Now, if you had assigned enough features to each field, you would have produced roughly 150D and 50T. If you had assigned enough features to the Dialogues field, but none to other fields, you would have ended up with roughly 118D and 40T.
If this was a game of Large size, in order to fill up a field with features completely, you would need to enable features for a total of 17 Benefit points for the Dialogues field, 10 points for Level Design, and 3 points for the AI. You could get those benefit points by enabling "Dialogue Tree", "Voice Over" and "Advanced Body Language" features for Dialogues, "Dynamic Environment" and "Minigames" for Level Design, and "A.I. Companions" for AI.
Effects of assigning employeesEdit
Assigning an employee better "fit" for duty increases the amount of D/T produced when compared to assigning an employee who isn't. So, for example, assigning a 900D/300T employee to Engine and 300D/900T employee to Gameplay will yield less total D/T points than assigning a 900D/300T employee to Gameplay and a 300D/900T employee to Engine. Since this strategy involves using balanced employees, this does not matter for this guide.
Assigning employees also "uses them up". The rate at which an employee is used up depends on the amount of time assigned to a field, and game size. For medium game, the rate is 1, for large it is 5/3 and for AAA it is 2. The game keeps track of how much of an employee's resource has been "used" and displays it in employee selection screen as a percentage, bar and color. It is not explained here how overusing the employee impacts development, but one can only assume it will decrease either his contribution or everybody's contribution to the project. Therefore, in order to tackle medium, large and AAA size games, you need at least 3, 5 and 6 staff respectively. If you do not use any employee above 100% (and fix all bugs in the end), you will get the "Good management" +0.3 experience bonus modifier (this bonus does not affect reviews, only experience).
Example of how assigning employees worksEdit
At Stage 2 of large game development you've set the Dialogues slider to 100%, the Level Design slider to 50%, and the AI slider to 0%, which means 57%, 33% and 10% time allocation respectively. You assign Employee A to Dialogues and Employee B to Level Design and AI. Employee A will now be used up by (5/3)*(57%) = 95%, and Employee B will be used up by (5/3)*(33%+10%) = 72%.
Effects of an Employee's SkillsEdit
- Design and Tech stats of your employee directly affect the amount of points a bubble produced by them will contribute. Larger stats means bigger chance to generate larger bubbles.
- Research stat affects the chance to produce a Research bubble in addition to a Design/Tech bubble.
- Speed stat is roughly the frequency at which an employee produces bubbles. (The Tech and Design Point Generation Algorithm pages states speed has no effect on bubble production, but affects other things. Pages need to be corrected and made consistent once tests clarify the effects of speed)
Calculating the review scoreEdit
- Main article: Review Algorithm
This is the most important thing to understand about the game in order to succeed. The way the review score is computed is very counter-intuitive. The following explanation will be a simplification and re-phrasing of what you can read in more technical terms in the Review Algorithm page.
When you release your game, a single review score is calculated and then displayed to you by showing you four random variations of it. For example, if your game scores a 9, you will see random values from 8 to 10. However, the game does not just calculate your review score. It rather calculates your game's absolute score first, which will be referred to as "Game Score" to distinguish it from the "Review Score". Once set, the Game Score is compared to a "Target Score" (which is the highest Game Score ever achieved for this company, increased by a value from 11% to 20%). The resulting value, after some manipulations, becomes Review Score for that game.
This means that you compete only against your own "Top Score" (or a value of 20, until you make a Top Score). Your first Top Score is established when you release a game which has a Review Score of 9+ (a bit more complicated than that actually, but let's ignore that for a moment). When you release a 9+ game, your Game Score of that game is assigned as a new Top Score.
Therefore, in order to get a good Review Score, you need to improve over your best previous Game Score. An optimal strategy would therefore be to increase your Game Score by ~11% with each release, and thus get near-perfect review scores every time. However, increasing your Game Score by more than 20% is harmful for the future, because it is effectively wasting an opportunity for getting good reviews.
For example, let's assume your Top Score is 100 and you release a game with a Top Score of 200. This will give you 9+ reviews, but you will have wasted an opportunity to release three games in between with Game Scores of 120, 142 and 170, which would also produce 9+ reviews. If you keep on pumping your Game Score as high as possible, you will keep getting out of options to improve your Game Score further, and thus keep getting low scores with only occasional high scores.
The strategy this guide will be using is thus to improve your Game Score every time, but to improve it by the minimal amount needed to get another good review, and never improve it too much. The most difficult part of this game is not to release awesome games with the best absolute score, but to calculate carefully and always release games just exactly enough better in order to get another ~10.
Calculating Game ScoreEdit
Game_score = Design_and_Tech * Quality * Platform_x_Genre * Topic_x_Audience * Trend_Factor * Bug_Ratio
It is a simple multiplication of six values, which each will be explained subsequently
Design and TechEdit
Design_and_Tech = Design + Tech
The sum of your Design points + your Tech points is a fine approximation for this value to be used in the formulas of this guide. The exact formula can be found in Review Algorithm
This also means that once you develop a larger game (the development of which lasts longer thus spawns more Tech&Design points) developing a smaller game will give poor results (since much fewer points will be spawned).
Quality = 1 + Design_Tech_Balance_Mod + Time_Management_Mod + Sequel_Mod - Miscellaneous_Penalties
So, your quality starts at 1 and three modifiers can add or subtract to it, while the last one can only subtract. Let's see what each individual part does, and then we will sum it up and simplify it:
Design and Tech Balance ModifierEdit
Design_Tech_Balance_Mod = +0.1, 0 oDDDD
|+0.1||Design/Tech is within 0% to 25% of ideal balance|
|0||Design/Tech is within 25% to 50% of ideal balance|
|-0.1||Design/Tech is further than 50% away from the ideal balance|
Each game genre has its own "ideal" balance of Design and Tech. If your final values end up close to that, you get a bonus of 0.1, if your values are very far, you get a penalty of 0.1, simple as that. To calculate your "distance" to ideal balance, first of all note that this modifier is equal to 0 as long as your Design + Tech is smaller than 30. When you exceed that, find out the ideal Tech/Design balance value for your genre (yes, it is provided in Tech divided by Design format, not Design by Tech, which is counter-intuitive because Design is mostly located at the left in the game and Tech on the right). When you found it, multiply your Design value by that, subtract your Tech value and divide by max of the two:
Balance_Delta = (Your_Design * Ideal_Tech_To_Design_Balance - Your_Tech) / (Max of Your_Design and Your_Tech)
Now, this value is compared to 0.25 and 0.5 to determine which modifier will be applied
To find out the ideal Tech/Design balance for your genre, refer to the tables on Game Development page.
Time Management ModifierEdit
Time_Management_Mod = +0.2 or less
For each genre (or genre combination) each field can be important or unimportant. You receive bonus or penalty based on how you have allocated time to important and unimportant fields during the three stages of development. As it is very easy to adhere to, and involves no randomness (you just have to set your sliders correctly) this will, for the sake of simplicity, only tell you how to get the +0.2 maximum value.
You must, over the whole development process:
- At least twice assign over 40% time to an important field
- Never assign less than 20% time to an important field
- Never assign over 40% time to an unimportant field
In order to find out what is important and what is unimportant for your genre, refer to the tables on Game Development page. Adhering to these three simple rules will always grant a +0.2 bonus from time management modifier.
Sequel_Mod = +0.2, 0 or -0.1, where exact value is based on whether the game is a sequel and if it is, what engine it uses.
|+0.2||Game is a sequel on a newer engine|
|-0.1||Game is a sequel on the same engine|
This just gives you a flat 0.2 bonus or 0.1 penalty if you have released a sequel. It is easy to get this bonus, and you should go for it if you need a 15% increase in Game Score that you cannot get from anywhere else. Aside from that, it is better not to release sequels in order to avoid complicating your calculations. This strategy never involves releasing sequels, so it will be assumes this modifier is equal to 0. Take note that it does not matter at all whether sequel is to a successful or failed game, whether game had many or not many fans or whether the sequel has the same topic or genre.
You will get penalized for several mismanagements and other actions. Here is the complete list of what to avoid:
- Do not release same Topic/Genre/Second_Genre combination twice in a row, expansions do not count (-0.4)
- Do not release a sequel or expansion to a game released less than 40 weeks ago (-0.4)
- Do not release an MMO with non-great Topic/Genre combination (-0.15)
Final words on QualityEdit
Quality = 1.3, if you: * don't do sequels * adhere to time management rules * and avoid getting penalties.
It gets lowered by 0.1 if you miss your Design/Tech balance by 25%, and by another 0.1 if you miss your Design/Tech balance by 50%.
This means that if you missed Design/Tech balance by 25%, your Game Score is reduced by 7.7%, and if you missed your Design/Tech balance by 50%, your Game Score is reduced by 15.4%. This also means that you can make a sequel (on a newer engine) and completely go against Design/Tech balance and get the same quality value of 1.3, which can be useful in some cases - for example, you have been nailing balance perfectly in several last releases, but now you want to develop an Action game (very hard to get perfect balance for) - if you do a sequel (on a newer engine), you can completely ignore the balance (aim for Design = Tech) and get the same quality as in your previous releases.
Platform_x_Genre = 1.09 to 0.9, (frequently equal to 1.02 to 0.95, and exactly 1.0 for PC/G64 for all genres)
This value is taken from the Raw Data table, but fortunately it is usually very small or identical to 1. Since this strategy involves developing mostly for PC (1 for all genre) and occasionally for Gameling (1 for Action, 0.97 for Adventure, 1.01 for RPG, 0.94 for Simulation, 0.94 for Strategy and 1 for Casual), this is almost irrelevant - just keep in mind that when you develop for Gameling, your Game Score is decreased by 3% if you develop an Adventure, or by 6% if you develop a Simulation or Strategy.
When developing a multi-genre game this value is 2/3 of the first genre value + 1/3 of the second genre value.
Topic_x_Audience = 1.0 to 0.6 (exactly 1.0 for E/M for all genres except Virtual Pet)
This value is taken from the Raw Data table, but fortunately it is exactly 1.0 for Everyone and Mature audiences for all topics except Virtual Pet. This value is less than 1.0 for Young for quite a lot of genres so when developing for Gameling (best with Y audiences), check with the table in order to not make a mistake. Once again when developing a multi-genre game this value is 2/3 of the first genre value + 1/3 of the second genre value.
Bug_Ratio = 1 - 0.008 for every (Design + Tech / 100) Bugs
The best way to calculate this is to divide your sum of Design and Tech by 20, and assume that you lose 1% of Game Score for quarter that many bugs.
For example, if your Design + Tech = 200, then 200/20 = 10 and 10/4 = 2.5, so every 2.5 bugs reduce your Game Score by 1%. All calculations here are not truncated, so, in the previous example 4 bugs would be exactly 1.6% off your Game Score.
Bugs are your lifesaver, because they allow you to reduce your Game Score in case you end up with too high score. They will be used in the walkthrough for this purpose.
- Main article: Review Algorithm#Trend factor calculation (only if there is a trend going, else factor is 1)
Trend_Factor = 0.85, 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 or 1.4, with exact value based on the kind of trend and whether you have hit it
|0.85||You have not hit a "Strange Combos" trend (made a "Great Combo" game during it)|
|1.1 to 1.4||You have made a non-"Great Combo" game during "Strange Combos" trend (the worse the combo - the bigger the value).|
|1.2||You have hit a Genre/"New Topic"/Audience trend|
|1.0||There is no trend, or you have not hit a Genre/"New Topic"/Audience trend|
Trends are risky : they can always end (you cannot expect a trend to last enough till release), and as the game rewards consistency spikes of Game Score are to be avoided. You don't get penalized for not following most of the trends, so you can just ignore it.
However, as you cannot expect Trends to last till release, you can never expect a Trend to not pop during development if it was not there when you started it. If you end up getting a Strange Combos trend and a penalty associated with it - this will just mean you will not get another highly rated game, but instead a ~8 game, which is usually fine. If you end up getting a positive trend however - you should make sure to compensate. If it happens before Stage 3 was already in development, you can remove some features to decrease your final D/T output. If it is too late for that, you can release with more bugs, or try putting someone on training to make him contribute nothing to the project (the latter is not a reliable solution).
Final word on Game ScoreEdit
The original formula:
Game_score = Design_and_Tech * Quality * Platform_x_Genre * Topic_x_Audience * Bug_Ratio * Trend_Factor
can be expanded like this:
Game_score = Design_and_Tech * (1 + Design_Tech_Balance_Mod + Time_Management_Mod + Sequel_Mod - Miscellaneous_Penalties) * Platform_x_Genre * Topic_x_Audience * Bug_Ratio * Trend_Factor
and then simplified like this:
Game_Score = (Design + Tech), modified by: * -7.7% if you miss Design/Tech balance by 25% to 50% or -15.4% if you miss Design/Tech balance by over 50% ( can be circumvented by developing a sequel on better engine and purposefully aiming to miss the balance goal by >50% ) * -15% if you miss "Strange Combos" trend or +20% if you hit any trend other than "Strange Combos" trend. * -0.8% for every (Design + Tech / 100) Bugs.
All three of those are multiplicative, so if you get a game which is a trend hit with over 50% off balance (+20% and -15.4% modifiers), your Game_Score is not increased by 4.6%, but is rather increased by 1.52%: (100% - 15.4%) * (100% + 20%) = 100% + 1.52%
Remaining quirks of Review AlgorithmEdit
The "Target Score" is what you have to achieve with your Game Score to score a 9+ review. The calculation for it is complex and without performing several calculations after each release, one can never be sure of it, but it can be reliably approximated by the following :
Target_Score = Top_Score + Top_Score_Modifier, where Top_Score_Modifier is: if (not in garage) and (Top_Score - 2nd_Top_Score) > (0.2 * Top_Score) then 0.2 * Top_Score else whichever is greater: Top_Score - 2nd_Top_Score or 0.12 * Top_Score
Meaning, Target_Score can range from 1% to 120% of your Top_Score, depending on how your Top Score compares to your 2nd Top Score.
What this means is that as long as you never increase your Game Score by more than 12% than that of your previous best result, you will keep having a Target_Score of about 112% of your Top_Score, which in turn means that you can either keep releasing games of the same Game Score as the last one over and over, and receive 7+ reviews (with an average score of 8), or releasing games with a Game Score just a little bit higher than before (like, 2% more), and receive 8+ reviews (with an average score of 9), and in order to get 9+ reviews you need to only increase your Game Score by ~13%.
However, if you make a spike in quality, meaning the difference between your newest Game Score and your Top Score is bigger than 20%, you will raise your plank to 120% of your Top Score (In the garage you will raise your plank really high because it's not limited by 20%). And in order to lower that plank back, you will have to develop a game somewhere around 112% of your Top Score, and then it will be set as your Top Score, and you will again have a Target Score equal to ~112% of your Top Score. But in this case, your 112% release will be graded 8+ while it could have been a 9+. If you have raised your plank by over 20% while in the garage - you will have to do this several times (receive reviews as close to 9 as possible) to lower the plank back gradually, and it will be harder to calculate your target - so better not do it in the garage ever.
Therefore, this strategy will try to keep increasing your Game Score by no more than 13% each time.
There is a spreadsheet at the end of the article to automate these calculations.
Next, there is a parameter called "Technical Expertise" that limits the maximum score you can ever get. Basically, the formula of your Review Score (before randomization) is as follows:
Temp_Review_Score = 10 *Game_Score / Target_Score , clamped by 1 and 10 (meaning it cannot go below 1 or above 10)
Final Review Score = Rounded_Down (Temp_Review_Score * Technical_Expertise / 10)
Now, since Intermediate_Review_Score cannot be above 10, because it was clamped, Technical_Expertise value is your absolute review score cap. It is computed as follows:
- Any game that is released before medium game size is researched) has 10
- A small game that is released in garage has 10
- A small game that is released not in garage has 9
- A medium game that is released with less than 100K fans has 9
- A medium game that is released with at least 100K fans has 10
- A large game has
10 - Tech_Level_Penalty_For_Large_Games, where Tech_Level_Penalty_For_Large_Games = 3 - Graphics_Tech_Level, clamped between 0 and 3
- An AAA game has
10 - Tech_Level_Penalty_For_AAA_Games - 0.6 * Specialist_Penalty_For_AAA_Games, where Tech_Level_Penalty_For_AAA_Games = 5 - Graphics_Tech_Level, clamped between 0 and 3 and Expert_Penalty_For_AAA_Games = 3 - Meaningful_Specialists_Count, clamped between 0 and 3
You can look up Graphics Tech Level in the Raw Data page. A specialist is only counted if he was assigned to a field which is important for the chosen genre (or genre combo). Meaning, Graphics specialist assigned to Graphics for pretty much any game, or Dialogues specialist assigned to Dialogues in an Adventure or RPG game.
At the beginning of the game start, Technical Expertise has no effect.
As soon as you research medium size (you must be not in the garage for that), you can no longer get 9+ reviews for small games and have to move on to medium games. But you will not get 9+ reviews for your medium games either until you earn 100K fans (does not matter if you self-publish or not). Only when you get 100K fans, you can start getting 9+ reviews for your medium games.
For large games, technology factor kicks in - you have to use 2D Graphics 4+ or 3D Graphics 3+ in order to get 9+ reviews.
For AAA games, technology must be even better - only 3D graphics 5+ will suffice, and you also have to assign at least three specialists to their respective fields during development (fields that count as important for selected genre).
Here, "9+" means "9 and up" (this is what publisher expects from you when he talks about minimum score), not "9 on average" (what you see on your Game History). Since review score is randomized, nothing prevents you from scoring 9 or more average score with a technical expertise of 9, you can even score 10/10/10/9 with a medium game with less than 100K fans, you just need to be extremely lucky (like, if you make a game that would otherwise qualify for 9+ reviews, you would have 1.17% chance to get 10/10/10/9, or 10.5% chance to get an average score of 9.25+, or 31.6% chance to get an average score of 9+).
To have a chance of getting a "perfect" game (10/10/10/10), you must assign at least two specialists to important fields. Otherwise your fourth 10 will be changed to 9. This affects all games (therefore, you can never get all 10's on a small game, or until you get yourself at least two specialists)
It is possible to get (10/10/10/10) on small game if it is your smash hit.
Recording Top ScoreEdit
The game's Game Score is recorded as Top Score if your game gets a Final Review Score (before randomization) of 9+. Basically, if you see only 8's, 9's and 10's pop up in reviews, you've set a new Top Score. If you see at least one 7, you haven't set a Top Score. If you only see 8's and 9's, you can't be sure. The way Final Review Score is calculated (explained above), you can only have a new Top Score if you get a Game Score higher than your previous Top Score (even if by a very little).
There is a "post-processing" stage which fumbles your score in certain situation just before it is randomized and displayed. There are two different kinds of post-processing passes that can happen.
First post-processing happens in 80% of cases when you make a game with less than 1.1 Quality, or in 100% of cases when you use a staff member on developing a game for the first time. If the first post-processing triggers, and your Final Review Score is greater than 9, then it has a 36.5% chance to become 9, and 63.5% chance to become an 8.
This means that if you assign a "newbie" employee to a game, he will make you get 7+ reviews for your game in 2/3 cases, and 8+ reviews in 1/3 cases. Therefore, right after hiring a new employee, it is useless to try to reach a Top Score
If you use a "newbie" employee when he hasn't rested fully yet (his exhaust bar is showing), the penalty will apply to two games. This is happening because he is not working at full capacity, and thus will not receive full "credit" for the game, and will need another game to stop being considered "newbie".
Second post-processing is even weirder. Since the game is all about competing against your own top scores, but you have no top score of yours to compete against at game start, the game treats your first three top scores in a very special way.
Initially, you compete against a constant Target Score of 40 (using the formula in which Design + Tech is an approximation). Since your game Quality should be 1.3 if you do everything right, this translates into D + T of 31 to get 9+ reviews, or 28 to score a Top Score, or 34 and 31 respectively if you miss your D/T balance by 25 to 50%. However, game fumbles that a little bit.
Until you score a Top Score twice, your Final Review Score becomes 8 if it was greater than 9.25 (before rounding), has a linearly increasing chance to become 7 instead of 8, if it is between 9.25 and 9.05 (meaning 9.15 has equal chances to become 7 or 8), and becomes 7 if it is between 9 and 9.05. It also, oddly, has a chance of 0% to 50% for values of 8.6 to 8.5 becoming 7 instead of 8. What is important is that if your score was >=9 before this post-processing kicks in, it will be counted as a Top Score, but you will not see that. Depending on what you score between 9 and 10, you will get 7+ or even 6+ reviews, but never 8+ reviews.
However, the real key lies in the third post processing event. If you score a Top Score that is exactly your third Top Score, your review score is set to 10. This is your chance of getting many sales with very little effort (and without raising your Target Score too high). This is in the game in order to force you out of garage no matter how you do, because sales for a 9+ game are much higher than sales for a 9+ game.
Preface to Walkthrough & Strategy
I assume that you need to develop every genre once to unlock multi-genre later in the game, and Action is the hardest to nail the balance of D/T for, so do it before you get over 30 D+T and balance starts to matter. I also found that RPG and Adventure genres are the easiest to make, so we will first make Actions, Strategies and Sims, and then start making Adventures and RPGs mostly.
Developing for PC is better than developing for G64, because PC has a modifier of 1.2 for Everyone, and this is the audience you develop for until you research target audiences. And after you research them you can get even better because PC has 1.3 for Mature Therefore, it has less market share but about the same market, and it costs cheaper to develop for. As soon as Gameling is released, however, you will start developing for Gameling and keep developing or Gameling until about Y8 (after that, M games for PC will start selling better than Y games for Gameling). Always choose Y audience when developing for Gameling, and do not choose topics that do not work with Y audience (like, Military).
So, this is how to get through the beginning of the game:
1. You make your custom engine, Use 2D graphics v1 and use Basic Sound feature.
2. Begin the game with developing a Sports Action. Set sliders to 100/50/0, 0/50/100, 0/100/50 on Stages 1, 2 and 3 respectively.
3. Next develop Military Strategy, Medieval Strategy. Slider settings are the same - 100/50/0, 0/50/100, 0/100/50.
4. You should now have about 45 research points, do some contract work, get over 100K cash, then you should have enough research points to begin researching Custom Engine. If you do not then develop next game and then you will have it. If you have - research Custom Engine, then create your first custom engine, enabling only 2D Graphics v2 feature.
5. After creating custom engine you will have enough to research Racing - do that.
6. From now on use 2D Graphics v2, but do not use any other features (Not even basic sound).
7. Develop Space Sim, Racing Sim. Slider settings are the same - 100/50/0, 0/50/100, 0/100/50.
8. Research Fantasy.
9. Develop Fantasy Adventure. Slider settings are 0/100/100, 100/50/0, 100/50/0.
10. From now on you'll develop RPGs mostly. Slider settings for RPGs are 0/100/100, 100/100/50, 100/100/100. You can do Fantasy and Medieval RPGs one after another. Make sure to never develop same Topic/Genre in a row, but aside from that, you can do Fantasy/RPG -> Medieval/RPG -> Fantasy/RPG -> Medieval/RPG and the likes with no problem. If you want to develop something else, you can do Adventures (but they are a bit harder to get the balance right). Do not do any more research in the garage.
11. You should transition to the office when you
- have at least 2M in bank (or 1.5M and a game that just started selling)
- have 3D Graphics v1 research available (important!)
12. Train yourself in staff management, then train yourself in research ("make me think").
13. Once you finished training yourself in staff management, immediately hire four new employees in quick succession. Spend 80K on budget. Select "Game Demo" in order to get balanced employees, and when choosing your candidate, choose the one with lowest Design/Tech, and if tied, with smaller Speed and bigger Research.
YES! I SAID LOWEST!
I hope you remember you need to do better each time in order to keep releasing well reviewed games. The lower your employee's Speed, Design and Tech are, the easier it will be to increase them. Think about it - if training adds average of 30 to the stat, then employee with 100 Speed will get 33% better from Speed training, while employee with 300 Speed will get 10% better. Feel difference? Less starting stats mean you will have easier time increasing your productivity.
Also, when you hire 4 crew members, you will obviously increase your output tremendously. Hiring weak employees (like, 120D/70T) helps to cut overall output down when you assign them to a field in medium game development. And first few training sessions will improve their output very much so you will get very good reviews at no effort at all!
14. When you hire an employee, always train him with welcome training immediately.
15. You should now have five total employees, who are totally wasted (their effectiveness is close to zero). No problem! They can still research as well. Therefore, start researching Medium Games, Target Audience (if available) and 3D Graphics v1 with two (three) of them.
16. As soon as you have researched 3D Graphics v1 start creating new engine, put only 3D Graphics v1 (and all other features in other fields).
17. As soon as you have completed your new custom engine, you should wait until most of your employees are halfway-restored, then start doing Contract Work (start with easiest) until they are completely recovered.
18. Once they are completely recovered, train everybody once in research.
19. After training is finished, do one small game (RPG or Adventure or whatever, but I remind you those two are easiest). Again, use only 3D Graphics v1 feature but no other features. Here, pay attention to how much Design + Tech you produce. You may need to release with many bugs, or you may surprisingly get a quite low amount and even have 6+ review scores with all bugs fixed (newbie employees seem to randomly skip producing bubbles at all for whole stage 1 of development).
By the way, in case you wonder why are we doing a small game - you should remember from review algorithm that new employee forces the game to get 7+ reviews in most case if it would be an 8+ or 9+ review. Therefore, we make one small game so that this does not effect our medium games.
20. Train everybody once in research. If you had to release with bugs in order to not get too high score, do not train in anything else. If you had released without bugs and still got low scores, train everybody in their weaker stat (and your main in both stats - "gems" option)
21. Now do contract work until your first employee becomes exhausted again. Wait until three of them become exhausted, then start vacating them starting with the one who's exhausted most, and vacate next when their "exhausted" meters are about equal, do same for third and fourth employee, this way they should end their vacation at around the same time and demand next vacation around the same time too. Remember when this will happen (they demand it once per year) so that it doesn't hit you in the middle of game development.
If their "time for vacation" happens to be around M6 or M7, this is bad, because you'll probably be developing a game there later because best way to hype your game - G3 - happens at M6W1. If this is the case, you will need to gradually delay their vacation each time so that they vacation somewhere around M9. If an exhausted employee is doing anything other than training, developing and contract work - it is fine, so make use of that (its okay to research or create engine or fix bugs with exhausted employees).
You will have to sync your employee's vacations once more when you hire 2 last staff members.
22. Now develop medium games for publishers, because that allows you to rack in fans much faster than self-published small games. Try to pick a contract that gives you best royalties - rating requirement is irrelevant (even if you fail you pay not that much for it to be an issue), and make sure required topic/genre is a great combo and required audience fits the topic and the platform. Also prefer a platform with higher market share (Gameling, for example). You can research a new genre if that means getting good contract. Note that you would have problems developing anything except Adventure, Casual and RPG properly, because you would be rather likely to fail to meet the design/tech balance. So expect worse scores at Strategy, Simulation and Action genres.
You can also save before opening "find publishing deals" and reload if you don't like the list (but you could also consider this cheating, I personally never do it).
Watch out with your first medium release, do not overshoot with the Game Score through the roof, check it and release with bugs if needed.
Remember, until you get 100K fans, your review rating for medium games is capped at 9. This means that if you get enough Game Score to beat your Target Score, you get an 8+, and if you get enough Game Score to get an 8+ under normal conditions, you'll get a 7+.
Well, this is basically it. You should now be on your steady way towards profits and prosperity. Now, we will talk about general strategy for the whole game.
1. After each game release train your employees twice - once in their lowest Design/Tech stat and once in Research. This will make them generate so many research bubbles that you will hardly have problems with researching later on in the game. If you have an employee with very bad speed (less than 250), train his speed instead of main stat from time to time. Always use most expensive training option available.
2. Do research after you trained everybody twice - this way you can assign research to those who finished training first (which are those who happened to scratch their heads least) and minimize overall team downtime.
3. Your research priorities are as follows:
- Unique stuff like Marketing, Large games, Casual genre;
- Next version of 3D graphics;
- Other features.
If you have over 100 research points and nothing to do with them, you could consider researching new topics, but this is not really that important. Only research after you've trained twice with everybody - this way you can assign research to those who finished training first (who happened to scratch their heads least) and minimize overall team downtime.
4. When you research new graphics version (and ONLY when you do), consider creating new custom engine and putting every feature you have researched by this point into it. Do not put 2D graphics in as soon as you get 3D graphics, and do not put older graphics versions in - only newest.
5. Only add features to your games when you see that you cannot keep releasing 8+ reviewed games with your training only. Like, if you see that your ratings are low (not 8+) even though you have developed a perfect game (balance OK, time allocation OK, etc.), consider adding a new feature into your next game. Start with cheapest features in order to not overshoot with Game Score. Basically, as long as you train your employees every time, you can let go without features for a long period of time and keep getting good scores.
6. It does not matter which employee you assign to what field, but be consistent. If you assign your best dude always to graphics (and something else in stage 3), do it always like that. Consistency is the priority. Do not overuse your employees so you can get the "great management" XP bonus every time.
7. Remember too publisher contracts for Medium games until you have 100K fans, then self-publish Medium (with proper marketing, see below) until you unlock large, if you have 400K fans self-publish Large, otherwise take contracts for Large until you do, then self-publish Large.
8. When you self-publish medium and large games, market like this: 500K Campaign at the beginning of Stage 2, then 50K Campaign every now and then (find out for yourself the interval, if you do it to soon you will see no effect, if you do it correctly you will see immediate increase in hype by several dozen). If you want more hype you can do another 500K Campaign at the beginning of Stage 3, but I don't think it's worth it. Make sure that G3 (happens at M6 W1 every year) will happen during your development (if you can wait a little bit for it, or postpone some research bunch, do it) because that's the cheapest hype you can get. For large games you can do 150K instead of 50K Campaign, for AAA games - 2M Campaign instead of 500K campaign ("Special AAA marketing" is bullshit, do not do it).
9. When choosing booth size at G3, choose the smallest until amount of visitors becomes less than one and a half of your total fans. From there on increase to medium booth, and when that cannot satisfy your fans too - go for large booth. Do not choose anything if you cannot have a game in development during the time when G3 happens (but you better do have a game in development when G3 happens).
10) Do not train Boost. It is useless. You do not need it. Do not train specialists until you want to develop AAA games.
11. On random events: accept offers like "install conditioners" or "new hardware" or "sponsor women", but do not pay 120K to Nigerian scam, do not sue people for pirating your games, and do not stop those who develop fan sequels.
12. When you are offered to go to the big office, do so at once!
Immediately hire two new employees, one Design focused (spend 1.2M on finding him) and one Tech focused. Here, pick one who has closest D/T to 700, because you need him to unlock Hardware/R&D. Train him to get 700, train him as specialist in his field, then start training his other stat only until he becomes a balanced employee.
Don't forget you need to develop one game with them in which your ratings will be capped at 7+.
13. At R&D Research Internet and Grid first, then research everything else as you please, except Own Convention. I haven't found benefit of Own Convention, it costs a lot to organize and G3's largest booth seems to give the same effect (at least until you have more than 1.5M fans, I haven't went further than that). Make sure to lower the budget back to 0 when you finish research - you don't need extra research points at that bizarre cost.
14. Developing your own console is very cool and profitable but very pricey - probably need ~200M to make the best one (and conquer market with it). Put maximum into Q&A budget and all features you can - development budget of your hardware lab would take a significant amount of money so no point saving on features. Probably best to wait with your console until you research 3D v7. After you develop a console a budget of ~500K seems to be enough to fix everything that arrives for service.
15. When you research AAA games, prepare three specialists. I found out that looking at many possible genre combos, most important specialist is Graphics (used everywhere), then Level Design and Gameplay, then Sound and AI, then Engine and Dialogues, and Story/Quests and World Design are most useless. Since you only need 3, you can ignore everything else, it is not important, you only need 3 specialists on 3 important fields to make a 9+ AAA game.
16. Don't forget that 3D Graphics v6 and v7 are researched in R&D lab.
That's basically it. You should keep getting steadily good reviews, with occasional great reviews. Once you get good at calculating, you can increase your amount of 9+ reviews compared to amount of 8+ reviews. You can then make use of bugs every time in order to get 9+ reviews every time! Save/Loading helps but you can go on without it if you calculate thoroughly. Well done, you now excel at this game.
By the way, if you do an MMO, you can break the game even further - MMO is basically a linearly increasing income/expense, so if you don't watch it, you go bankrupt but if you do release expansions every now and then, you start to get insane amount of money after several expansions. Better do an MMO on your own console.
Addendum: Wait, so simple slider allocation works?Edit
As you see, I never told you to reassign your sliders to balance for something. You just set them for 0/100/100, 100/100/50, 100/100/100 and this can carry you all the way through the game from Y1 to Y260 if you keep doing RPGs. Works the same (with different slider settings of course) for Adventure.
So, before I was against the "allocate your sliders like this" table and was one of the people who were arguing it's BS and does not work and should not even appear on the wiki, and now I'm advocating just allocating your sliders and telling you it will work?
Yes and no.
Yes, you can just allocate sliders to some predefined values, and be fine for the whole game, if you're doing RPG and Adventure games. This is because with RPG genre, you can achieve perfect balance, and with Adventure, you can achieve almost perfect balance (3% error on average). This, coupled with the fact that using my strategy you only recruit balanced employees, means that you have a quite large margin for error. And if you add features evenly (which you should do, because that means lesser development costs too, because adding one 4-benefit feature is more expensive than four 1-benefit ones) as long as you can (meaning, you first max out your fields you dedicate least time in, and only then start adding more features to the other fields that have more time assigned to them) then you will hardly ever run into a situation where you screw up your balance.
However, for example, if you will employ employees who specialize in one stat or another (which a lot of people may be doing), then you will need to find your own balance. It will also not work for you if you try to make games of harder genres, like the dreaded Action genre (which is almost impossible to achieve a perfect balance with at all without resorting to hiring employees high in Tech and low in Design, or assigning features heavily into Tech fields, because at the start of the game, without features and with equal Design/Tech score, you will have an average of 24% error - only 1% until you get penalty for not staying close enough to your balance goal). And for other reasons it may also not work very well.
Not to mention, without exact "+" and "-" tables and understanding how those rules of 20% and 40% work, you would never be able to calculate the table in the first place (or know where you can and where you cannot tweak it or deviate from it). So yep. If you optimize like I do, and if you know how the game works, then this simple slider table works, but if you want variety in the games you develop or staff you hire, then simple "Set sliders like this" will be of no use to you. Most importantly, it will be of no use to people who do not know how the game works, and for people who know how the game works, it is irrelevant because they can calculate such a table of their own.
Addendum: Attractiveness of different genresEdit
Basically, every genre or genre combination is equal, in terms that as long as you pick a Great Combination, get the balance right, assign the same number of specialists etc, it will produce the same result. However, in my opinion, there is a big difference between genres. Main factor is the Design / Tech balance you must achieve, and how it correlates with everything.
Overall balance of Design and TechEdit
Factor number one is that the whole balance is skewered in Design's favor. If you order different fields by their Design/Tech contribution rate, you end up with the following table:
|Field||Design %||Tech %|
As you can see, there are more options to gain Design points than there are to gain Tech points. This makes it naturally easier to achieve balance in Design-focused games rather than Tech-focused games. However, this is not all. There is even more tilt towards Design-focused games. For more information, see global market research.
Balance in correlation with (un)important fieldsEdit
Factor number two is how the genres target balance correlates with its designation of important and unimportant fields. For example:
Adventure genre, which has a Design/Tech balance goal of 2.5, has Story/Quests (8:2), Dialogues (9:1), World Design (6:4) and Graphics (5:5) as important fields, and Engine (2:8) and AI (2:(8) as unimportant fields.
RPG genre, which has a Design/Tech balance of 1.67, has Gameplay (8:2), Story/Quests (8.2), Dialogues (9:1), Level Design (4:6), World Design (6:4) and Graphics (5:5) as important fields, and Engine (2:8) as unimportant field.
As you see, both have useless (Tech focused) fields in unimportant list, which is okay. What do they differ by?
RPG has a Tech focused field Level Design (4:6) marked as important, while Adventure hasn't. What does Adventure do to compensate? Require you to tilt balance like half the way further! (2.5 compared to 1.67).
Result - it is very easy to develop a balanced RPG (just set up sliders like 0/100/100, 100/100/50, 100/100/100 and make sure to add features evenly) and you still have a room for tilting balance even further than that (you can do more World Design and Sound and less Graphics, you can do less AI and Level Design and more Dialogues, etc. If you go all-design with your RPG, you will end up with time allocation like 10%/45%/45%, 70%/20%/10%, 70%/20%/10% and a Design/Tech ratio of 2.16 (more than enough to read desired 1.67 Design/Tech balance).
However, to develop an Adventure, you have to assign time precisely on the Stage 3 (give Graphics absolute minimum you can before violating the "less than 20% on important field" rule) and you will still be lacking - your balance, without influence of features or employee stats, would be 2.33 (not enough to reach desired 2.5 Design/Tech balance).
And if you look at Action, things turn out just horrible. You have Gameplay (8:2) and Sound (6:4) amongst important fields, making the best time allocation possible 70%/20%/10%, 10%/20%/70%, 10%/70%/20% for a Tech/Design ratio of 1.46 (way lower than required 1.8 Tech/Design balance). While if you look at Simulation/Strategy, which have Tech/Design balance of 1.6, happen to have the same "weak sides" as Action, so the same 1.46 Tech/Design ratio is much more attractive in their case.
Balance delta calculation formulaEdit
Finally, the game calculates balance delta (how much you missed the balance) by using the following formula:
Delta = (Design * Ideal_Tech_To_Design_Bal - Tech) / (Max of (Design or Tech))
Looks like a fair formula. How does it work in reality? Here's an example:
Case #1: You have developed a game for a theoretic Design-focused genre with required Design to Tech balance of 2:1 and ended up with 100 Design and 70 Tech.
Case #2: You have developed a game for a theoretic Tech-focused genre with required Tech to Design balance of 2:1 and ended up with 100 Tech and 70 Design.
You would consider that you performed equally well on both tasks. Right? Wrong!
Using the formula above,
In Case #1: (100*0.5 - 70) / 100 = 20%
In Case #2: (70 * 2 - 100) / 100 = 40%
Yes, for tech-heavy game the margin for error is twice as small! With the formula this game uses, Tech games are at even higher disadvantage. Their error percentages will always be bigger when compared to the error percentages of their Design counterparts (exact amount of difference depends on the balance - for example, in case of 1.5 and 0.67 balance difference will be 50%, and so on).
Summing up the study, here is the list of base genre, sorted by their attractiveness based on these factors.
|Genre||Main Stat.||Ideal Bal.||Achievable Bal.||Delta %|
However, remember that you can hire employees specialized in Tech, or assign more features to tech-focused fields and therefore it is very much possible to develop balanced Tech games - it is just harder to do and requires more effort rather than doing RPGs or Adventures.
When multi-genre comes into play, you have a lot of opportunities. Combinations like Action/Adventure, Sim/Adventure, Sim/RPG, Sim/Casual, Strategy/Adventure, Strategy/RPG, Strategy/Casual you can get your target balance to be very close to 1 (lowest is 1.02 in case of Sim/Adventure or Strategy/Adventure). This pretty much makes it a piece'o cake to hit the balance goal (mind the fact that tilted error weighting is still in effect, but since target balance is very close to 1, it is almost nonexistent). It seems that best combination is Sim/Adventure and Strategy/Adventure, because it not only has 1.02 target balance, but also only 3 important and no unimportant fields, giving you much creative freedom.
Helper spreadsheet that does calculations for youEdit
Basically, in order not to calculate everything myself, I have made a LibreOffice spreadsheet that calculates everything for me. Get it here.
Fields in yellow are supposed to be typed in by you, fields in orange are output fields that provide you with information.
Using it is simple:
Play in windowed and put it at the bottom of your screen and let Game Dev Tycoon take the rest of your screen. Then just pause your game when you finished developing (hear a ding), input your genre's ideal T/D balance, game size (0=small 3=AAA), amount of bugs, D, T and trend modifier if you hit/missed the trend, your platform/genre modifier, and see how many bugs you need to leave in the game to get maximum possible review rating (like for example if releasing the game with 5 bugs will give it 6.01 rating and with 0 bugs will give it 6.77 rating there is no point fixing those bugs because rating is truncated).
When you have finished your game, on the screen that shows your XP gained, check if the amount of bugs, D and T in the table is correct and type in final values if needed. If table shows you a number in New Delta field, you should type that value into Delta field on the left, and then your game score into top score field on the left.
Table contains these "input" fields:
|Top Score||Biggest Game Score you've achieved that scored 9+ review score|
|Delta||A value by which you should improve over your Top Score to score a 10|
|Bugs||Amount of Bugs in your game|
|Design||Amount of Design points in your game|
|Tech||Amount of Technology points in your game|
|Ideal T/D Bal||Ideal balance for your genre (1.8 for Action, 0.6 for RPG etc.)|
|Size Mod||0=small, 1=medium, 2=large, 3=AAA|
|Trend Mod||0.85 if you missed "Strange Combos" trend, 1.2 if you hit other trend|
Take this from raw data tables, this is based on Platform/Genre Combination.
In case of PC its always 1.
Table contains theese "output" fields:
|Bug Mod||Your Game Score modifier from bugs|
|Quality Mod||Your Game Score modifier from quality (in this case, T/D balance)|
|Game Score||Your Game Score with current values you've input|
|Target Score||Game score you need to reach to get a 10 review score (9+ reviews)|
|Review Score||Review Score you'd get with current values|
|Max R. Score||Review score you'd get with same D and T but 0 bugs|
|Max Bugs||How much bugs can you leave in the game and still get max possible review score.|
In case new top score has been set, this is the value you'll have to improve by next time.
First type this into the Delta field on the left, and then
type your game score into the Top Score field on the left
This table seems to be correct but I can't guarantee.
If it fails, first remember that your first 2 Top Scores are "lowered" by the game artificially and third is transformed into a 10, that new employee screws up his fist (and if he's exhausted, second) game, that you are capped at 9 for small games out of garage, medium games without 100K fans, and that you can be capped at even lower values for large games if you don't have cool graphics, and AAA games if you don't have cool graphics and 3 relevant specialists.
In case you're review-capped at 9, this means that you have to score a 10 (not 9) review score to set a top score. But the table does not know that, so make sure you take that into account (update your top score only if you see a 10 in the Review Score field, not 9+)
Also remember it expects you to NOT do sequels, always do top quality games (assign sliders correctly), always do great combos, always do correct topic/audience combo.
If it fails at close calls (like, it told you that you'd get 9.00 review score (8+) with current amount of bugs, but you've got 7+ reviews), then maybe its an approximation error or display truncation error (spreadsheets do truncate stuff like 9.999 into 10.00 for some odd reason).
If it fails miserably and gives off completely wrong results, write in comments and maybe I can fix it (or maybe you can fix it - it's not that complicated really).
Usage - enter your game information into the purple and blue boxes on the top left area of the score manipulation tab. You can copy-paste (use paste special->values) data from the blue box (your next game) to the purple box (your last high score game) after your next game is finished if it sets a new high score. The sheet is set to use a 13% increase as your "goal".
If you get errors after entering your information, you have probably entered an invalid value and broken the lookups (E.G. Godvodore64 is G64 in the sheet, "S M L AAA" are the size options, "Y E M" are the audience options. Trend options are "no", "normal", "strange" and "miss strange". All of these can be found and changed to your preferences in the tables starting in row AC). "Correct Design" refers to slider settings - if you deliberately break the slider setting rules by, for example, focusing dialogue in an action game, you can set this to "no" and it will calculate the penalty.
The staff list and design plan can be used to ensure you do not over extend any staff member when designing games that are stretching your staff to capacity - medium with 3 employees, large with 5 employees or any AAA. If you write down your staff names in the staff list then set your design plan with staff names and percent, the engine will pick up the game size under "proposed game" and give you staff utilization % under "U" in the staff list box.
After you enter your proposed genre, the planning grabber (below the topic strength box) will update to give you the planning weights including tech/design ratio and important sliders. You can record your game history in the "Game History" box. Topics can be cleared and re-added as you research them in the "topic strength" box, which will then populate the "topic used" box with topic names (but the numbers of games by topic needs to be entered manually). Topics used does not support cross-genre (but by the time you can create cross-genre games you shouldn't need the research bonus of new combinations anyway).
NB. I use "KAOS" as the name of my custom consoles, and the spreadsheet requires that. You can change this in cells AC75 and AJ75 to "custom" or the name of your custom console, if you wish.