DoFuss 2010 – A Story of Game Devs

I am sure that soon ‘DoFuss’s games of 2010’ will draw to a close but until then I have another one of these prefaces to write explaining exactly what is going on. It maybe late, but having finally put the emotional turmoil of last year behind me I was gripped by a need to revisit it in gaming form and recall the titles that had an impact. No, they may not be the best games (but they could be, as in this post) but they are the games that affected my year beyond being simple distractions.

Some games are wonderfully addictive. Complex or simple when a game has that right mix of ‘I get it’, ‘just a bit more’ and ‘damn I was so close’, they can be very hard to put down. Introducing Game Dev Story, the fascinating and addictive game development simulation game, which (and this is important later) I played on my iPhone.

Welcome to the tiny world of Game Dev Story.

It is such a simple concept it is amazing that Game Dev Story was the first to do it. Creating a game with the same addictive hook as Roller Coaster Tycoon but skinning the whole experience with videogame production, it provided an instant hook for thousands of life-long gamers who believe that they could do better (which for the record they probably couldn’t). Adding to this the cute little characters in their isometric office, a range of controllable and random variables, and a scoring systems that sees your creations rated by magazine critics, gave Game Dev Story all the elements required to keep me totally enthralled.

With a simple menus leading the action, helped no end by the touch interface of Apple’s short cut to your wallet, it was hard to play Game Dev Story for less than every second I possibly could. That was until reality struck. With the best will in the world, using an iPhone as anything other than a phone will see the battery dead long before is optimal. This is especially true of games that place a high demand on the little machine demanding pretty graphics or (as is the case in Game Dev Story) with a lot of number crunching quietly taxing the processor.

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Yes, you may well be screaming the obvious solution at me ‘if you need your phone don’t play the stupid game, Alex’, but anyone familiar with this kind of game will tell you it isn’t that simple because I was addicted. Given the choice of playing for thirty minutes on my commute or being out of power, I would chose my half hour fix every time. And while most games would allow me to play and leave me a little power to reach the end of the day Game Dev Story drained the battery faster than I believed possible.

I do not exaggerate when I say that after waking at eight one morning my phone was dead by ten because of Game Dev Story. Between my addiction driving me to play on my journey to work and my phone’s crappy battery, I became disconnected from the world until I got home that night at eleven o’clock. Now it’s not that anything especially important happened this day, but try forgetting your phone one day and see how naked you feel.

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The loss of my phone made edgy and irritable because of what I might be missing and I felt a sense of dependence that made me uneasy. Truly it startled me and so I began making a conscious effort only to play Game Dev Story at home.

Strangely, having to control my addiction broke me of the habit. Rather than just being able to dip in at anytime, the necessary restrictions I had to place on my time made it feel like a bind rather than a treat. Despite perfect the Game Dev Story was my inability to steal illicit moments with it drowned the pleasure of it.

Much like my time with Limbo where having to review it on a short time schedule ruined my enjoyment, finding restrictions that were antipathetic to the dip-in-when-you-are-bored design of Game Dev Story broke the magic. It is still incredible, but I just don’t have the nerve (or perhaps the self control) to put it on my new phone. I still recommend it, but stay well clear if you ever want to receive a call.

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