Indie Dev Story

You are sleeping on a mangy mattress in a room with nothing else in it but an old laptop, with no money, and no prospects. What do you do? Quit your job, of course.


a photo of my apartment, yesterday

That’s the premise of Indie Dev Story – the soul-crushing joy of the gig economy in a punishing sim/clicker game wrapping, where you rather recklessly try to beat all the odds to support yourself and release a killer game within a month.

The core gameplay in Indie Dev Story revolves around the Sims-like busy work keeping your core needs intact – getting enough sleep, fitting in a touch of fitness, keeping up social appearances, and of course, paying bills. Unlike the Sims, however, everything is utra-condensed – you pretty much instantaneously juggle between 4 activities of sleeping, working out, socialising (when friends are in the apartment) or doing contract gigs for cash at the click of a mouse button.

Of course, much like real life, this just keeps you afloat. None of these things actually help you progress. So, on top of balancing the abovementioned needs, you really also need to slip in some personal coding wherever you can.

For some reason (which perhaps shouldn’t be surprising for someone who apparently decided to quit their job with no money or resources) you also have forced yourself into a goal of completing the game within 30 days. No matter what stage it’s at. Once the 30 days are up its launch day and the game ends… even if you only have a prototype written in QBASIC. Because this all takes place within a videogame, we can only assume the price for failure is in fact death.


the first office – you’ll probably get to at least see this one before dying

It’s a punishing affair, to be sure, but despite that, Indie Dev Story still manages to tap into the fundamental essence of games – that addictive desire to try and try again and figure out how it works, and how to beat it. Perhaps if I can just optimise my routine a bit more.. perhaps if I focus on investing in the bed first? Or how about focusing on saving up cash? Well.. Just one more go, then.

When buiding your shabby flat empire, there are quite a few upgrade options available. Not only things like buying a better bed or some gym equipment to make addressing those needs easier (the bars fill up faster with each click), but renting an office eventually becomes a possible investment. Not just one office, either – later an even larger office is available. And then not only that, you can also pay for desks and start hiring freelancers to help you along with your game!

But.. you’ll likely never see it, or perhaps catch just a glimpse, since Indie Dev Story isn’t about power, but struggle. Forget about even trying to develop a game – you’ll likely be barely paying your bills, let alone managing your needs, and then times up! Too bad. While it’s not as soul crushing as something like Cart Life, it’s a shame that the game chose to be so intense – I certainly get the point it’s making, but it could’ve been fun to play with the office sim side of it. Oh well, I guess there’s always Game Dev Tycoon for that.


proof that an even bigger office exists.. but don’t worry, you’ll never get that far

Even if you don’t care about super indie darling game developers making art games about dolphin poetry, don’t fear – Indie Dev Story is more fixated on the gameplay challenge of juggling your needs and trying to “beat” the game, and thematically speaking, the words “Indie Dev” can almost perfectly be replaced with “Freelancer” here. If nothing else, Indie Dev Story is a startlingly accurate take on the hopeless effort of trying to survive in a gig economy when starting at the bottom.

Indie Dev Story | download


About J.C

I grew up in the dark dingy arcades of the 1980s, blasting heads with Robocop 2, but grew up in an era that spanned the introduction of the x86 home computer, through to the 16-bit revolution, into the polygon age and beyond. I write about food, travel and of course, New Retro Games. I started and contribute to I am also a freelance business researcher, writer, and editor having published academic and corporate articles on innovation and intellectual property.

Posted on March 29, 2017, in Arcade, Simulation and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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