Tycoon games have been around for a good few decades. Nearly every conceivable subject has been covered, whether it's as a fully-fledged title or a small flash game on Newgrounds. Vile Monarch and Devolver Digital have teamed up to bring a somewhat controversial topic to the genre with Weedcraft Inc, a game that explores the business of growing bud.
While Devolver is well-known for finding interesting indie games and bringing them into the fold, Weedcraft Inc was specifically commissioned by the publisher to be created from the ground up by Vile Monarch, a Polish developer who is perhaps best known for the game Oh...Sir!! The Insult Simulator. I was one of the fortunate press people invited to the Freedom Tower in Manhattan to meet with some fine folks from Devolver and the game's writer in a space where I could get hands-on with this upcoming title.
Weedcraft Inc treats the cannabis business just like any other business is treated in a tycoon game. You'll have to worry about supply and demand, creating your product, and eliminating your competition. The demo I played was an early look at one portion of the game where an unemployed MBA student moves back home to Flint, Michigan to help his ne'er do well brother make some green by selling weed.
The beginning of the demo had me growing and selling everything myself. This involved either clicking or holding down on a button. Some of the "hold" buttons took time as a way to represent the work you were doing and generally felt like a bit of an inconvenience. Others were a bit more like quick time events - holding down the "trim plant" button for too short or too long can result in a less than ideal yield for your plant. This work quickly grows beyond the point where you can do everything yourself; I would have been able to hire employees had I completed a series of objectives laid out before me. Unfortunately, I got a bit too caught up in trying to make the dankest bud.
You see, there was a brief time in my life where I went in way too deep into Facebook games. For several months, I clicked thousands of cows, planted countless cauliflowers, and conquered who knows how many kingdoms. I felt the same sort of pull from Weedcraft Inc and found myself enraptured by the game's mechanics. A particular point of interest was adjusting the base chemicals of the soil to improve the yield and quality of your crop, something that I experimented with quite a bit before hitting a sweet spot. I racked up a bunch of cash with my high-quality herb, but I also lost track of time and found my allotted time running short.
Thankfully, Devolver comes prepared and there was a second machine available a little further on in the game. It was here that I got to make use of employees for the first time. Employees have different levels of skill in selling marijuana, growing it, and research. Hiring these people will mean that you have to pay them, but they'll free you up to focus on the bigger picture. And heck, you might not even have to pay them—an in-game morality system gives you the opportunity to blackmail them into working for free.
I spent a bit over an hour with Weedcraft Inc, and all the while I was firing off questions to the game's lead writer Scott Alexander. Just exactly how much thought went into this game? Well, the team at Vile Monarch did an awful lot of research about the various different kinds of legality around the world. Although the demo I played focuses strictly on an illegal enterprise, other storylines will take you to locales where the growing and selling of cannabis is legal in one way or another. These varying legal situations will mix up the gameplay and change just exactly how you run your business.
It was clear to me that a lot of work went on behind the scenes to make Weedcraft Inc a reality. This wasn't going to be a lazy reimagining of Drug Wars or a simple tycoon game with a narcotics theme tacked on. Mr. Alexander told me about the experts they've consulted and research they've read in an effort to paint a realistic image of the cannabis business. That knowledge was used to make Weedcraft Inc a deeper and richer experience than I had expected it to be.
Suffice to say, cannabis has always been a big business. The tides are turning for making that business legal, and both Devolver Digital and Vile Monarch are confident that this is the right time for a game like Weedcraft Inc. to be making its debut. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on it when it's out. Weedcraft Inc will be coming to PC sometime in 2019.
Disclosure: Weedcraft Inc was previewed hands-on at the Freedom Tower with press access provided by Devolver Digital.
What do you think of Weedcraft Inc? Does the idea of a tycoon game that's all about ganja appeal to you? What would you hope to see in the game? Let us know in the comments below!