Greenlit: Game Dev Tycoon, RIOT, More

By Nathan Grayson on May 18th, 2013 at 9:00 am.

Riots are less scary when you can imagine all the participants as little baby ants.

There are so many videogames! More than I can count with my entire, exceedingly creepy plaster hand collection. Valve tries its darndest to get the best ones on Steam, but they just keep coming. Perhaps throwing the towering Select-O-Tron 9000 and 3/5 into hyperdrive is the answer? Valve’s having a go at it, at least, and so far the result’s been smaller batches of games at an appreciably speedier clip. Last time, that meant three games, but this time it’s six. Hooray, progress! Standouts include the piracy plagued Game Dev Tycoon, Harvest-Moon-meets-Minecraft standout Stardew Valley, and the creatively named RIOT, which is about riots. Details after the break.

The full lineup also includes Contra-ish action-platformer Bleed, CryEngine 3 horror adventure The Legend, and medieval strategy Legends of Eisenwald. Those sound super action-packed and dramatic, but yeah, I’m all about the one with farming. I mean, is it not human nature to collect, build, and loudly fawn over pixelated cows?

Valve also posted a reminder that your votes do count. Just, you know, maybe not as much as you’d expect:

“These titles were selected on the same criteria we have been using in the past: Votes in Greenlight give us a hugely valuable point of data in gauging community interest along with external factors such as press reviews, crowd-funding successes, performance on other platforms, and awards and contests to help form a more complete picture of community interest in each title.”

Ultimately, though, it means more interesting games get exposure, so that’s something. Greenlight will probably never be perfect, but it seems like Valve’s at least trying. Just, you know, kinda slowly and perhaps too methodically. But then, this is Valve we’re talking about. When have they pretended to be anything else?

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45 Comments »

  1. elevown says:

    I’m very happy Stardew valley got greenlit – been followings its development & really looking forward to it.

    • MondSemmel says:

      Same for me with Bleed. I played that game, and loved it. Once you get used to the quadruple jump (or rather, jump + 3x air dash) and slow time abilities, it’s really enjoyable :).

    • realitysconcierge says:

      Stardew is the game that I want above all others right now.

      • elevown says:

        Me too :) I want to play stardew valley more than any AAA game in development atm.

  2. honuk says:

    I’m surprised Riot doesn’t own the URL being used for RIOT

  3. Crosmando says:

    Funny that Riot “game”, neither it’s website or it’s Greenlight page actually tell you the succinct details of what type of game it actually is. All I can gather is that it looks like some badly-disguised left-wing political propaganda.

    • Clavus says:

      Really now? I think you’re reading too much into it. From what I see you can control both sides in this game.

      • Crosmando says:

        Yes but where is the actual information about the gameplay itself. I mean, is it some kind of RTS where the objective is to control rioters/policemen and beat up either side… I can’t seem to gather what kinda game it is from any of the sites

      • robotslave says:

        Perhaps, but if there are asymmetric win conditions (and it seems to me there would have to be) then the systems and mechanics might still be interpreted as presenting a particular political point of view.

        It’s pretty clear that when you play the police, the goal will be to quash the riot. But if you play the side of the rioters, what’s your objective? To get a high score based on how long you can keep the riot going?

        Are the police armed only with pepper spray and batons? If they ditch those and mow down the rioters with firearms, who wins?

    • stahlwerk says:

      Damn those birds with their feathery, political appendages!

    • Cryptoshrimp says:

      From what I saw, you could play as the police as well, so that’s your right-wing perspective? It seemed ambiguous as to who where the bad guys.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Liberalism promotes the right of the government to exert a monopoly of force, while in the US many right-wingers despise the notion of a powerful government and want to see some level of vigilantism. So the notion that riot police represent only right-wing ideals isn’t necessarily true. After all, the Paris police teargassed some homophobic right-wing protesters a month or so ago when they became violent.

      • robotslave says:

        It always amuses me to see Max Weber grossly misquoted like this; he doesn’t merely observe that government “has a monopoly on force,” but rather suggests something far more interesting: that government is a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

    • Ansob says:

      Apparently, while busy ranting to yourself about how evil “political correctness” is and how everything was better in the 1750s, you managed to miss the fact that their Greenlight video has bits of gameplay in it (from 40s onward in case anyone missed it). It’s a strategy game, basically (you give orders to your policemen or rioters, then hope they win).

      Also, it’s gorgeous.

    • JohnS says:

      Typical bolshevik rhetoric.

    • Ninja Dodo says:

      Yes because another perspective than your own is automatically propaganda. Hello cognitive bias!

      • robotslave says:

        By this standard, of course, “propaganda” is a word without any meaning at all.

        But then, that’s what you meant, right?

    • dE says:

      Be ever vigilant my brother. Those insidious parasites are eating away at our wallets. Just yesterday I talked to my lawyer if it was possible to sue my parents for communist left wing propaganda. They had the nerve to hand out free food to me as a kid and made it seem like a natural thing to do. My lawyer laughed! That’s how deep this conspiracy goes!

  4. Zyx says:

    I’ve never SEEN any pixel game with such beautiful lighting! :O

    Can anyone point me to some more? This looks beautiful!

  5. SKapsniak says:

    I voted for Stardew Valley and Legends of Eisenwald so I’m happy to see them get in.

    Bleed looks like a super-fun game that I will utterly utterly suck at. I really like the design and animation of your character a lot. I would probably have voted for it if it had come up for me.

    Survival horror is completely not my genre so I’m honestly not able say ‘yes, would buy’ to any that come through my green-light queue, but The Legend seems really light on detail other the ‘wooooo scary! darkness!’ compared to the ones that did end up there. Presumably survival horror fans are seeing something there I’m not?

    Riot could be good or awful depending on what the gameplay actually is, which seems a tad obscure, unless there’s a treasure trove of explanation of it I’m missing (quite likely).

    • belgand says:

      That’s an excellent way of describing it. It’s fun, but the controls can make it a bit challenging. You sadly missed the boat on it though as it was up on Indie Game Stop this past week as pay-what-you-want for as low as 25 cents US.

  6. Zealuu says:

    Piracy or not, Game Dev Tycoon is surprisingly fun and addictive. Although the actual tycoon aspect is a bit underplayed, the game simply doesn’t have the scope to make you feel like you’re managing a huge business, even after you become a ridiculous powerhouse of gaming.

  7. Gravy100 says:

    These are all very nice and all but i just can’t settle until Rogue Legacy comes out HURRY IT UP VALVERINO!

  8. Jimbo says:

    Game Dev Tycoon is pretty good for what it is, but badly needs to give more feedback to the player. There are so many vaguely explained variables that you often have no idea (in game) why something worked or didn’t work. A bit more information in the ‘reviews’ or from your employees would go a long way.

    • Zealuu says:

      I wholeheartedly agree. The sliders don’t always represent what you think, and the algorithm for the critic scores tend to judge you in ways that don’t necessarily have anything to do with reality, making it hard to predict based on intuition and what you know about games in the real world. The wiki is good for both getting an idea of how the sliders work, and for some insight into the more arcane aspects of the critical reception. There’s always a lot of factors, but even with all the sliders in the right positions, the reviewers still want a good tech/design ratio for your genre, good platform/audience/topic/genre combinations, consistency of quality, and a certain level of advancement (in engine, features, whatever).

      And later on, as you advance to big/AAA games, they want specialist staff tackling the important bits of the game.

      http://gamedevtycoon.wikia.com/wiki/Game_Development

      I suppose it says something that on my most successful save, I had to advance to well past the ending point of the scripted story to develop my first “perfect 10″ game (a AAA fantasy ARPG MMO for my own console).

      • FriendlyFire says:

        I have to say that reading the wiki spoiled the game for me, and not because it told me how to be more efficient. I was dumbfounded by some of the balance choices.

        The two biggest issues I’ve seen before just stopping reading entirely were (SPOILERS?) that
        1) The game makes no difference between, say, gamepad, joystick and mouse. They’re all “advancements” that give points, but that’s it. There’s no bonus for using a mouse with a RTS, or a racing wheel with a racing game, or a malus for trying to use a gamepad in a text adventure. It’s just a matter of piling on as many things as possible to give more points, which the game doesn’t tell you at all and which is utterly counterintuitive.
        2) The review scores are entirely opaque, give no good information, and when you dig you find out that they are heavily affected by your previous performance. If you make a good game (say, 8+ average), you’ve just locked yourself out of getting other good scores for a while because the game expects growth with each new game, which is unattainable. It makes no sense that reviewers would become suddenly a lot more critical of all your games because you’ve had one good game (and really much more critical, we’re talking going down from 8-9 to 4-5 for NO REASON). Give a malus for repeatedly making the same game, sure, but not that…

        All it does is make me want to make my own “game dev tycoon” with more sane gameplay choices.

    • AngoraFish says:

      Game Dev Tycoon is fantastic as a mobile game, but seriously underdeveloped for something I might want to invest time in on the PC.

    • Nickel says:

      The problem is that once you have taken a look at the wiki to find out how the game works so you don’t just stumble around in the dark it gets boring very fast.

    • ZyloMarkIII says:

      I was expecting a bit more “under the hood” in terms of gameplay depth, but the algorithms for creating a solid game seem to be set in stone. Still, I had my fun with the game and wish it well when it goes on sale on STEAM. I think a resurgence in the “tycoon” games akin to Theme Hospital and Roller Coaster Tycoon would do well with today’s gamers, especially after SimCity left a sour taste on a lot of people’s palette.

    • Wisq says:

      Yeah, it’s not really a particularly deep game. Or even sensible, in some parts. A nice walk down memory lane, but not the sort of thing I’d replay now that I’m done, or even continue playing past the end.

      I picked up Game Dev Story and was playing it on my iPad to compare. I haven’t finished that one yet, but the differences are already pretty apparent.

      Tycoon:

      * You’re a dev yourself.
      * You start in your basement
      * … but your stats aren’t very good and you rapidly become obsolete anyway.
      * Leveling is weird: You’ve got base stats, and your level effectively multiplies those stats, but if you hire a new guy at level 2, his base stats are 2x the base stats of a level 1 hire, so WTF?
      * They seem to expect you to either fire your guys and hire better ones a lot, or invest impossible amounts in training.
      * Characters start as generalists, eventually become specialists (permanently).
      * Research points are just a throttle.
      * Bugs are meaningless unless you have so many that it gets noticed.
      * There’s lots of nifty engine features (cutscenes, voice acting, controllers, etc.)
      * … but they’re all 100% flavour, and you’re really just expected to play Feature Tetris trying to cram as many as you can within your time budget.
      * Contracts are tiny — by the time you can reliably do them, you can’t really make a living off them.
      * Console licenses are pretty cheap, so there’s not much risk in choosing them.
      * You’re competing with your own high score, so your scores start high, and if they peak, chances are you’re going to get crap scores for a while. (I’d be more okay with this if it was score only, and had less effect on actual sales.)

      Story:
      * Leveling actually works like you’d expect it to (+stats).
      * Characters start as specialists (coder/writer/designer/sound engi), move towards high-end generalists (by changing careers — director = coder+writer, producer = designer+sound, hacker = everything).
      * Research points actually mean something: they’re how you level your devs, and you can use them to make games better.
      * Bugs also actually mean something: they’re your main source of research points.
      * Devs will sometimes come to you and ask if they can try to boost a feature. You can spend research points to help their odds. On failure: bugs added.
      * Contracts are huge, and they also get you some research points.
      * You can outsource work to contractors of varying stats
      * … although the actual effect of those stats is so random that it’s rarely worth using the expensive ones
      * … but sometimes you do it just to take the load off your guys, since they can’t lead a game phase multiple times in a row without fatigue.
      * Your scores seem to be measured as absolutes, rather than relative to your best, so you start low (4ish) and gradually increase over time.
      * There’s an awards ceremony that awards for various categories.
      * Your game can be particularly good or bad in areas, rather than just an overall score. (This can net you awards.)
      * Getting in the top-10 game chart gives you an extra sales boost for the visibility.
      * Console releases happen at actual press events, instead of just popups, which is a nice touch.
      * Console dev licenses are MASSIVELY expensive. There’s a strong incentive to milk a license as much as you can, even on a slowly dying platform.
      * People actually say stuff when you fire them. I feel really bad doing it. :(

      Overall, I think Game Dev Story is probably the better of the two. Tycoon looks flashier and has more polished graphics, but Story’s graphics are cute and retro, and the ability to actually sensibly level your staff makes things much more interesting. Story’s just got more balanced gameplay overall, and it feels like more effort went in to the game mechanics rather than just the presentation.

      Also, this is neither here nor there, but I happened to discover a lovely bug whereby Tycoon would crash if you hired too many women. Ouch. I reported it, and they were pretty apologetic when they fixed that one. (Frankly, I think I have a pretty good idea of why it happened, and it definitely wasn’t malice or sexism on their part — just a really unfortunate bug.)

  9. AngoraFish says:

    Now that Valve is increasingly downplaying the role of public voting in getting projects greenlit I’m going to find it harder than ever to justify casually scanning through the games on a whim.

    • KDR_11k says:

      I always thought the point of Greenlight was to highlight games for Valve’s approval process, not automatic admission.

      • Dominic White says:

        Yep, the idea was always that it was providing Valve a shortlist of games that are currently popular choices. It was never meant to be a robotic, automatic process, but they did that for the first couple months and people assumed that it was always going to be that way.

  10. Crimsoneer says:

    Aww, no Drox Operative yet :(

  11. Jerppa says:

    Would you like to see my collection of ventriloquist dummies, Mr. Grayson?

  12. Eater Of Cheese says:

    ‘Standout’ Game Dev Tycoon… Really?

    Hmm.

    It seems to be essentially a clone of Game Dev Story, with some modded mechanics. Their piracy issues, while cute, sound a little hollow to me…

  13. tikey says:

    What is Robert Smith doing in that riot?

  14. Lethys says:

    I honestly had no idea the Dev Tycoon game was real. I only ever read about the fact that people couldn’t play it correctly if they pirated it, so I thought it was some kind of a joke.