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Videogame / Game Dev Story

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Game Dev Story by Kairosoft is a small indie game for the iPod and Android; a PC version was released but only in Japan. In it, you are the president of a fledgling video game company just after the crash and just before Intendro is to release a new console. Your job is to make as much money as you can within 20 years, perhaps even releasing your own console.

Though released with little fanfare, the game has gone on to see critical and commercial success. As an affectionate parody and look back at the last 20 years of video games as well as poking fun at video game development, ironically, some of the most avid fans are game developers themselves.

Due to the success of the game, Kairosoft has announced they will be making a sequel. In addition, they have licensed out the game to another developer to make on Facebook. And lastly, to prove that they're not done poking fun at the video game industry, they released (in Japan only) a sister game called Waiwai! The Game Dealer in which you play the owner of a video game store who must sell video games to customers.


Subsequently, Kairosoft has gone on to make additional simulation games such as Hot Springs Story and Grand Prix Story. You may notice a pattern here.

This videogame provides examples of:

  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Yeah, the travelling salesman has the tendency to jack the price of his wares up gradually until it hits a ceiling price. For example, the Dead Bull energy drink starts off at 50k a bottle, but late game, after you buy all the boosts, several career change manuals and move buildings twice, the end price of the drink is 550k a bottle. Handwaved in that he's the Only Shop in Town.
  • Alternate History: Although the various consoles follow historic trends, it is possible to change the course of history through successful products. You can even develop your own game console, given the right skills.
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  • Arab Oil Sheikh: King Ackbar, an unlockable character who got hooked on games and ran away from his kingdom to become a game director.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You can only fit 4 employees in your office at first, expandable to 6 and then 8. But it looks like you could cram in at least a couple more desks. And there's no real reason you wouldn't/couldn't expand further beyond the fact that they didn't include the option.
    • Maximum count of employees+you=9. Kairosoft typically has had an average of nine employees. Hmmmmm...
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The hacker class employees. High in capabilities even at level 1 and can practically stand on their own, but by the time you managed to level an employee to hacker class, the game would've been nearing the end since you'd need to have leveled the employee 30 times and change job 7 times.
    • Also, said unlockable potato chip CPU and punch card media console. As silly as it sounds, it's a Lethal Joke Item of a money maker since it's so novel it sells well. But then it wraps back to impractical in that you need six hardware engineers to unlock it, and to get to a hardware engineer, the employee must have maxed out all four primary (coder, writer, designer and sound engineer) and both secondary (producer and director) levels. By the time you get that far, it's likely that the 20 years are already over. Also, hardware engineers have lousy design and sound skills...
  • Beary Friendly: Grizzly Bearington, an unlockable character. He is initially introduced as a menace, but he loves producing video games.
  • Bland-Name Product: Almost all of the consoles, companies, and games in the game are based on real life versions. For consoles, this includes their historical success, failures, and market. There is even a replacement for E3 and various game awards.
  • Captain Ersatz: Many of the developers are based on real life developers or notable individuals.
  • Caustic Critic: In the beginning, you will hate those critics. Their love and respect can be earned, but it will take years of hard work.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Getting hit by a blackout followed immediately by equipment failure, and then with a competitor putting out a product similar to yours when you're nearing the end of the development cycle and think that things couldn't get any worse. It's especially prone to happening in New Game+ mode.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • In the game awards ceremony, games by Kairosoft are often nominated. If you win enough trophies, Kairosoft will enter the console war in an attempt to overtake your products. The Jupiter 512 and GameJohnnote  take up the lion's share of the market, though the player may eke out a majority share if they sell enough units.
    • Kairobot, an unlockable character and the mascot of Kairosoft. He can also be hired to appear at the game's equivalent of E3.
  • Critical Dissonance: In-universe. Just because your game is a critical flop doesn't mean people won't buy it anyway. And conversely, a game can be very good critically but due to various factors, people just won't buy many copies (or you spent too much money on it and it doesn't break even).
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: There are diminishing returns to training employees. To get ahead, you eventually need to fire mediocre employees to make room for better ones.
  • Deface of the Moon: One of the methods of advertising you can pull off is Lunar Writing. Meaning, you can pay someone to deface the moon with your company's ad on your behalf!
  • 8.8: In-universe. Averted if you don't put enough effort into a game.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Chimpan Z Force, an unlockable character.
  • Executive Meddling: In-Universe. The only thing your developers do on their own (other than work) is ask your permission to try something on the current game in development. Everything else, you have total control. What game to make. How to make the game. What job they'll do. Even where they sit. Want to churn out sequel after sequel? Work your staff overtime and burn them out creatively? Go for it. On the other hand, make bad decisions and your sales will suffer accordingly.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Have fun trying to figure out how to get a Hardware Engineer without some help from the Internet. Or how some of the more advanced mechanics work.
    • The requirements for Game of the Year aren't very intuitive. Basically, each of the game's stats must be over 150 (200 is preferred). The only way to do that is to hire the crème de la crème of developers. Sequels are a good way to win GOTY, since you begin with a massive stat boost before development even starts. Having a suitable genre/type combo helps out, as well.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: Some of the comments people make when you fire them (or even consider firing them) are meant to make you feel guilty.
  • Masked Luchador: Mr. X, an unlockable character shrouded in mystery.
  • Mundane Utility: The Jupiter 512 bears a resemblance to NASA's Mars rover. Your assistant says it can be used to explore space, which renders the gaming features almost redundant.
  • New Game+: Starting a new game after playing through 20 years lets you keep the genres and types you've unlocked along with their levels. You still need to get them by having appropriate people but you don't need to train them.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The genre options that the game lets you mix-and-match (along with the consoles you can make them for) can result in some pretty...bizarre games. Unfortunately, the Ninja, Pirate and Robot genres are mutually exclusive.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Inverted; you, as the president of the company, are extremely idle. During the course of the game, you walk to your desk and... that's it. You remain there for the rest of the game.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Blackouts causes data loss, no matter how many times you've been hit. One would think that the manager would have invested in battery backup (UPSes) after being hit twice. Also, equipment failure. What, you're telling me you didn't invest in a source control and backup solution?
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: You can, potentially, level up Newb Ownerton until his stats are higher than the rest of the hiring pool. But all that research data will have gone to waste, because the upper-tier employees are faster, have more energy, and generate more points that go into creativity/graphics/sound.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Given that the game doesn't have any moral checks whatsoever, the possibilities are endless.
    • You can have Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Shigeru Miyamoto, Walt Disney, Lady Gaga, Maria Sharapova, a monkey, and a robot working on an Architectural First Person Shooter for the Dreamcast.
    • Even better: You can do it on a console with a potato chip that uses punch cards instead of cartridges/discs.
    • Did somebody say, "Ninja Racer for the Wii/Whoops"?
    • You can have your team (perhaps the same team mentioned above) create a Music Pirate game that has an ultra-vulgar expletive-laden Take That! against the RIAA for its title. On the PlayStation. No one will care and it will even sell well!
    • If you're feeling like a complete monster, you can create a high-school shooter (yes, these two are not mutually exclusive) and call it Columbine, and even though the staff acknowledges that it's an odd combo, no angry mobs appear in-game to raid your company and it will sell pretty well. Heck, you may even get a letter praising the game!
  • Retraux: The graphics and sprites are all designed to look like they came from a SNES game from the early 90s.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Once you have some money under your belt, it can be easy to throw money around without really bothering to watch the bottom line.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: King Ackbar. Also, it seems that in this game's universe, Prince Charles has denounced his royal heritage and decided to become a game developer instead.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Some players have tried playing with an extra condition that renders them forfeit if they managed to get to the point where their assistant have to sell off her valuables to fund the company. Invariably, this means trying to not dip below $50k in cash (it feels disgraceful because your assistant is selling her valuables to fund your company).
  • Sequelitis: Can easily happen In-Universe if your first game was a big hit. Specifically, in order to even make a sequel (as opposed to a game of the same genre that you simply call "<insert title> 2"), the original has to be so good as to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. This, pretty much, guarantees that the sequel won't be as good, or if you've leveled enough, is just good enough.
  • Take That!:
    • The imitator to the Wii in-game is named the "Whoops".
    • The in-game Bland-Name Product equivalent of the Sega Saturn is called the Uranus. Try not to giggle at the word.
  • Undying Loyalty: Your employees will never quit of their own accord, they only leave if you fire them.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: Averted. If you release too many similar games or too many sequels, your fanbase will notice and stop buying your games.
  • World of Pun: Developers that aren't Captain Ersatzes tend to be this, such as Holly Cow and Callie Fornia.


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