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Tycoon genre, definition thoughts

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The most basic definition of a tycoon game is one where the player's ultimate goal is earning a lot of money.  And generally the player can't earn the money by killing monsters or stealing from NPCs; the player has to earn money by producing and selling something.  Usually there's some strategy: the player may choose which project to invest their time and starting capital into for greatest profit.  Or the player may choose which upgrades to purchase or build to increase their production capacity, efficiency, project options, etc.  And usually the player climbs a tech tree and amasses infrastructure and abilities over the course of the game.  Story-wise the player is usually pursuing an ambition to become the best in the world at their profession, in a way directly parallel to the typical MMORPG story goal of becoming the best warrior in the world.

 

Condensing that, here's a definition: A tycoon game is a game where the player makes strategic choices about investing time, money, and resources into producing and selling something to an NPC market for a profit, as well as building up infrastructure and abilities to become better at this cycle of production and sales.

 

Now, my question is, can you have a tycoon game about something other than money?  For example there are a few crafting-central MMOs now, and one of their end goals is to own a palatial estate (by building up from your start as a penniless, homeless adventurer who doesn't know anything about crafting).  This palace is a natural product of learning all crafting techniques and carrying out crafting quests, ultimately becoming "the best craftsman in the world" (or at least equally the best as other players who reach the same mastery).  Sales are not the point of this kind of crafting, and it may not be possible at all to sell things to NPCs, though trading to other players is a social activity and sort of like a minigame.  Can you call this kind of game a tycoon game?  Could you call it a crafting tycoon, or an estate tycoon (property tycoon, building tycoon, profession tycoon, whatever)?  Or would that kind of term confuse people by bringing to mind a different kind of game where the player was making money by selling the crafting, property, building(s), profession, or whatever term was used in the phrase "X tycoon game"?

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The definiction is incorrect, it would imply that Capitalism and Imperialism are tycoon games as well (while the first is an economy sim and the other a strategy).

 

In tycoon games money is an important factor but not necessarily the most important one. For example in Hospital Tycoon they player want more money not for more money but because it allows building a better hospital.

 

The term Tycoon is more about the feel/mood than mechanic (like earning money and selling stuff). For example NASA tycoon would be of quite low importance about making money (the funds would be granted by the government, there would be no selling of any kind and the goal would be making missions not money).

 

My definition of tycoon would be a simulation of a real life organization (usually a certain business, but that's because these are easier to simulate), or a simulation of a group of people (so a single fisherman can't be a tycoon, but you can make a tycoon game about a company that process and sell fish or about a harbour that services fishermen).

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Maybe a better defenition would be scale + mood.

 

Example:

- single fisherman - RPG/arcade

- company selling fish - tycoon

- a galactic empire which main product are fish - strategy or economy sim

 

It's interesting that the scale is much more important than the actual mechanic. For example Detroit, Old Timer, Car Tycoon, Crazy Factory, Car Tycoon, Pizza Connection, Pizza Tycoon, Hotel Giant are considered tycoons. While Capitalism 1/2 and Industry Giant are not perceived as such. I think it's because those categorised by players as tycoons are narrowed to a certain very thematic product/activity, when the scope is too wide (like all products in Capitalism) then it is not a tycoon, even though game mechanics can be almost identical.

It's more like "a game that let me feel like in charge of [put a narrow specific single organization type here]".

Edited by Acharis

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I think that tycoon games usually refer to a large-scale economic game where you play from a management point of view. It is one where you basically act as a manager or CEO and manage your company, staffs, factories, retail shops and so on. It also tends to mimic real life which can give a feeling on how it's like to be an entrepreneur

 

On the contrary, Gamers play these crafting-centered game as an individual where you are often times just controlling one character. Often times, these crafting games would be followed by hunting, mini-games(social games) as a method to be able to obtain raw materials in order to craft. Thus, I doubt these games can be deemed as tycoon games, but rather economic-centered games.

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Hmm.  Okay, maybe my definition above is wrong.  However I've played several games I consider to be tycoon games which took place at the level of a single playable character, or sometimes there isn't really a character but the mouse cursor represents one person's hand and one person's decisionmaking.  One person can be a factory, in real life as well as in games; it just means you are making strategic choices about the most efficient order to do tasks in with a single worker, rather than making strategic decisions about worker hiring and placement.

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Tycoon games are about being a tycoon. Its kinda obvious. As much as definitional slippage is making genre definitions worthless these days there isn't really room for interpretation here.

 

You could technically start small and move up, but at some point you need multiple shops and, abstractly, hundreds or more of workers.

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Tycoon games are about making money by running a business. It would be very confusing to leave out the money part and call it a tycoon game.
 

However, the confusion is probably having a strong sub-genre within the tycoon genre. For example rollercoaster tycoon is more a building game. You build amusement parks. Some people even play in sandbox mode with unlimited money. So there you have a tycoon game without money playing a role in it... it says "tycoon" in the name tho...

A very popular sub-genre of tycoon games these days seem to be the time management games. It's still about making money by running a business. But the strategic decisions are not very complex, it's more about not burning the burgers on your grill while you take the order of the next customer.
A lot of those casual games put tycoon in their name... I don't know, but they might have given the genre a bad reputation... If you are thinking about putting "tycoon" in the name of your game, it might be possible you automatically narrowed down your target audience already without people even taking a look at the game... Or you might attract casual players to your complex business simulation game and they leave with frustration.

On the other hand, if I would want to look for a simulation game of a certain business, I would google for "<certain business> tycoon".

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