I've been playing Game Dev Tycoon a lot recently. Game Dev Tycoon is a business simulation of running a game developer. In this game I was very late in getting a R&D Lab and had just unlocked the ability to make MMO Games. So I would try to make World of Warcraft and it's expansions for some fun. See if I can meet the real world sales of the game and be able to afford to keep the MMO running.
The first stage is to define the game concept. A Fantasy MMO RPG for the PC as you can see here with a bespoke game engine called World of Warcraft. The size of the game was set to AAA and the target audience was set to Everyone. I hit Start Development in Week 4, November Year 50.
Now we enter Development Stage 1 of World of Warcraft. This is the first of the three trinities to be balanced. How much time to spend in development in-between the Game Engine, Gameplay and the Story/Quests?
I ended up doing a 15/35/50 split here. Story and Quests given the most time and Gameplay given substantial time as well. Engine wasn't ignored but wasn't as important time wise as the others.
All the programmer team leaders I assigned to each task are specialists in these tasks already.
Development Stage 2 of World of Warcraft. We are 3 Months 3 Weeks into the project here. This second trinity is to balance the time spent working on Dialogue or Level Design or Artificial Intelligence.
50/35/15 split again in-between the tasks. Dialogue and Level Design given priority over AI. I guess if I wanted the boss fighters to be harder and world mobs to react more cleverly I'd have to bump up time given towards AI Development.
My AI Specialist here is actually assigned to Dialogues since I do not have a Dialogue Specialist. The Game Engine specialist is allocated the AI task instead. All the programmer team leaders I assigned to each task are specialists in these tasks already. The Level Design Specialist is assigned to Level Design.
The last trinity to balance in Development Stage 3. 5 Months 3 Weeks into the project now. This trinity is balancing the time spent on World Design, Graphics and Sound.
The split here is 50/25/25. World Design taking half the time, Graphics a Quarters of the time and Sound the other Quarter. This is the World of Warcraft, not the Featureless Plain of Warcraft. World Design is always the top dog.
I had considered pumping up the graphics here and reducing the sound. Many people play WoW with the sound off. However Warcraft does feature an Orchestral soundtrack in the real world as well as in my simulation. Playing WoW with the game sounds and music on is a very visceral experience that cannot be downplayed.
Finally McTacky is assigned to a Task, his speciality of World Design. My Graphics Specialist is given Graphics and Sound here since I do not have a Sound Specialist.
During Development Stage 3 I show the world at G3 my version of World of Warcraft. 2.4 Million People visit the booth. (Since the real world E3 had only 70,000 people attend in 2005, it seems fictional E3 has a much higher attendance.)
The money spent to attend G3 was not a waste. Hype was boosted from 350 rating to 700 rating. Meaning double the people are now anticipating the game.
Week Four of June Year 51, Six Months after the project was started, World of Warcraft is completed. Just hitting finish will release the game to the public. Except there is one problem. There are 786 Bugs! To get rid of those bugs months of alpha and beta testing will be required.
Week 4 October Year 51. The last bug is removed from the game. Four months were spent on getting rid of those bugs. The game is now ready to ship.
The game ships 3rd Week of November Year 51. A full year after development began. The game itself cost $63.2 million to make with $61.5 million spent on operating costs. Total of
But is the game any good?
Critics! Game Reviews! They will do two things.
First: Score your game out of 10. Unlike the real world, 5 is an average score, not 7.
Second: Feedback. Most of the time the feedback is useless statements like 'bad' or 'good'. Sometimes the feedback will tell you if you focus in the wrong areas.
The reviews and hype influence sales.
World of Warcraft just earned me the Perfect Game achievement. Wow! In my 50 years of simulated game development, this is my first game to get a perfect score of four 10s.
Now lets see how the first half year of sales goes:
|Each Bar is a week. Every 4 Green Bars together are monthly subscriber numbers. Red are the maintenance costs.|
Real Life Quarter 1: 1.5 Million Subscribers
Simulated Quarter 1: 2.76 Million Subscribers
Real Life Quarter 2: 3.5 Million Subscribers
Simulated Quarter 2: 2.1 Million Subscribers
I am barely in the black at 3 months of sales. I calculate that grand total costs are at $144.5 million. Simulated World of Warcraft sales have made $150.2 million.
At six months costs are at $170.3 million.
Sales have made $262.8 Million.
$92.5 Million is an amazing profit, but subscriber numbers are down and are in a downward trend.
Like everyone else who tried to complete with World of Warcraft, after Six Months I am yesterday's news.
Next time. After my team gets back from vacation, we work on the Burning Crusade Expansion, shill some more at E3 and try to get those subscriber numbers up again!