Published on February 28th, 2014 | by Nicole Jekich1
Game Developerz Review
Game Industry Jokes Galore!
Game Developerz is a Kickstarter card game by Onion Squire that is a king of the mountain competitive card game. Strewn throughout the cards are references to the gaming industry with humorous cartoons and awkward business scenarios that could only be a card in this game because it has happened before. The developers wanted to make a game that would appeal to those in and around the gaming industry world. Across The Board Games is based out of Seattle, WA which is home to major gaming companies like ArenaNet, PopCap Games, 5th Cell, Bungie and more; and of course is home to the massive PAX Prime convention- the largest digital game convention outside of E3. With a large gamer and game developer population we are very excited to play a game that covers a subject very close to our own experiences and backgrounds.
Across The Board Games received an exclusive prototype from Onion Squire before their Kickstarter campaign. Only 100 copies of the prototype were made and we are very fortunate and excited to have a copy to review and share. The quality of the game pieces, art and gameplay are all subject to change as Game Developerz’s Kickstarter progresses. Also their are expansions available through their Kickstarter that look great and we suggest you check them out!
The card layout design is easy to read while including art, stats and captions without any information being too distracting or busy. The chibi-style character design is very endearing and the art really gets across the mood and action each card is portraying. The tokens are basic cardboard tokens used for currency and color-coded for the different tiers. All in all the prototype reflects the professional quality found in a finished game.
Set up for the game is easy. There are four card types: Assets, Companies, Features and Random Events. Company cards are dealt at random to participating players and will determine the advantage your company brings to the game. All the company names are parodies or a compound name of real game companies like YouBeFlop, Electric Farts and others of equal silliness. The game can support 3-6 players and typically lasts one hour which is a large promise from a card game. The object of the game is to have the most Beta points at the end of the game, however a game only ends when a player completes 6 Features successfully.
Players are ready to manage their game company with the ultimate goal of creating the best, most perfect digital game. Of the pile of purple Asset cards, players can draw Staff cards which bring specialized people with the right skills needed to successfully complete features or Business Development cards which are instances that alter the game state and development for better or for worse. At the start of a turn players have two options: 1) Pre-production or 2) Feature Development. Pre-production is intended to help a player ramp up for the Feature challenges. The Feature Development action means a player is ready to take on the challenge of completing a Feature for their game. When attempting to complete a Feature, the player can barter with the other players for help. Anything is up for grabs and any deals made during this challenge must be fulfilled. Bartering is usually done for assistance from other players’ staff members or additional cards in exchange for a share of the reward, a staff member etc.
Gameplay continues in this manner, however if at any point a player takes on a Feature and does not meet the requirements, an Event card is drawn. Events could be a positive addition like winning an award or an influx of assets from a financial gain; however these Events could be as catastrophic as losing all coins, discarding an Assets or a previously completed Feature. Game Developerz is a random, wild ride that mirrors the challenges and expectations of those in the game industry.
If Game Developerz’s intention was to focus more on its over-arching commentary on how tough making it in the gaming industry is or pointing out some of its shortcomings, they succeeded. However if the focus was to make a long-standing, casual card game, it has some shortcomings of its own.
The gameplay of Game Developerz is very similar to Munckin by Steve Jackson Games. Both games involve bartering with other players to succeed, both suffer from too many random card draws and both have gameplay that is too easily dragged out to an hour or longer. Many of these features can be easily altered with rules variations. Our first game involved a player who was constantly staff-less despite investing in multiple card draws. To avoid this issue, I would have the staff as a separate pile and cost more to draw from. Also some Features are insanely difficult for an early game challenge. Having tiered decks of challenges ensures players will know more of what they’re in for and help them better prepare for that challenge.
There are many features that I found to be works genius for this theme. Drawing additional cards cost money in Game Developerz. Companies taking this action are investing in more staff and their business. This same action can be performed while a player attempts to complete a Feature and is known as a Risky Investment where all cards purchased on this turn are discarded at the end. The game also brings the madness of card combos and player sabotage which are invaluable to the competitive card game experience.
Game Developerz captures the stressful management, joyous victories and rock-bottom experiences better than the creators may realize. While the game is simple and competitive it has too many random elements which are not well-balanced. For those looking to add a card game with a small barrier of entry or looking for a cutesy-style parody of the game industry, Game Developerz has you covered.
Game Developerz is now on Kickstarter! Funding lasts from late February and ends April 5th. There are plenty of added features to the base game so there is sure to be a reward tier perfect for you!