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Review: Publisher Dream

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Title: Publisher Dream
Price: $1.99
System(s): DSi and 3DS
Release Date: May 9, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Circle Entertainment (Circle Entertainment)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone”

I’m sure anyone who’s ever loved video games has once entertained the though of making them. Alas, it’s not as easy as just thinking, “I want to make a game,” or even grabbing a copy of RPG Maker. Being a developer is a tough job. Yet, we don’t really appreciate that until a game like Game Dev Story, Game Dev Tycoon or Publisher Dream comes along.

With Publisher Dream, 3DS and DSi owners get a chance to manage their own developer on their handhelds. The fate of Triangle is in your hands and, if you don’t manage its money properly, a lot of virtual employees will be out of work.

Welcome to Triangle! Let’s make some games.

publisher dreamPublisher Dream follows a new developer, and potential publisher, named Triangle. Triangle has decided it wants to put as many games as possible out on the cShop, in the hopes of becoming world famous. It can’t be a success without the player’s guidance, however, and it’s up to us to decide what games it makes, which team members work on what games, how much to spend on music and promotion and more. As the developer grows, there will even be opportunities to fund and publish other developers’ games.

However, you have to be careful. Triangle has monthly expenses and will only get profits from cShop game sales every three months. Not to mention once someone is hired, he or she can never be fired. Also, money has to be provided up front before a game from Triangle or another developer is published. To survive and grow, enough money has to be available to make new games and cover expenses for each period until profits arrive. Not to mention, you want to save some money to help improve the office so Triangle’s workers will be happier, more skilled and have enough energy to make games.

Publisher Dream is a balancing act, to be sure. However, as long as you’re moving forward, you’ll be fine. Eventually, more complex game genres will be unlocked as Triangle grows and hires more staff. Once you find one you like, perhaps RPG, FPS or FTG, start focusing on that genre so t levels up, you become better at making it and Triangle becomes a famous fighting or simulation creator.

Helping Triangle hit its peak.

publisher dreamThe problem with Publisher Dream is, there’s a sense of detachment. Part of what I loved about Game Dev Story was how personal it felt. I was able to name my developer, name my games, pick my genres, train my workers, hire and fire people and even take part in console development. Publisher Dream is more hands-off. Your company is always Triangle. Game titles are based on their abbreviated genre name. Staff automatically levels up and improves, based on whether you have the right office equipment purchased.

Granted, I could customize the office. As Triangle grew, it received bigger offices and the store offered more accoutrements that would influence the developer and its employees. I could add a personal touch by offering more stress-free areas or educational equipment. Yet still, after a point I felt like I wasn’t really adding a personal touch to the game. I was just working towards buying every possible extra, so Triangle would be more successful and make more money.

By that token, I’d argue that Publisher Dream is a game developer simulation that seems more focused on the monetary aspects. Players get three “chances” where they can fail and be bailed out, and after that if they’re out of money, they lose. Costs for every game are determined before development and, once a game is completed, players set the prices. Triangle’s capital and monthly expenses are always shown, and there’s a comprehensive menu option that shows what the company’s profits look like and how games are selling in the cShop. Managing the developer is a balancing act, especially since funds from sales only come in at the end of every quarter. So while players can decide what kinds of games to make and who to set as the lead programmers, designers, managers and planners, Publisher Dream really feels like it’s about managing funds to ensure the company keeps growing and doesn’t end up bankrupt.

Also, can someone please tell me what a SPG game is? It’s one of the only genre abbreviations I can’t figure out.

This is a pretty sweet Publisher Dream

publisher dreamI don’t love Publisher Dream as much as Game Dev Story, my all-time, favorite video game developer simulation, but it’s a more than adequate fallback for 3DS or DSi owners who are craving a sim. I would have appreciated a little more hands-on involvement with the creation of the games, perhaps getting to name titles or directly train staff, but you can’t beat Publisher Dream for the price. Though I’d like more interaction, it was quite satisfying to see Triangle succeed and pass the $1, $3 and $5 million marks because of my decisions. If you want to see if you can handle the financial burdens of being a developer and publisher, grab Publisher Dream.

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