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Indie Games Uprising III: Smooth Operators

A jazzy New York number kicks in, resonating like a musical introduction to a mid-90s US sitcom. But this is no time for canned laughter: we’ve got a call centre to setup and operate.

Whereas I can’t speak on behalf of our international readers, those of us in England will be acquainted with working in a call centre – or alternatively McDonalds – as a right of way from young whippersnapper to fully-fledged miserable adult.

Smooth Operators: Call Center Chaos has you take up the reigns of Head of Senior Management. The company goal is to create a new centre of operations, all delivered with modern faceless communication.

Your assigned starting budget is $20,000. Via the shop menu you can build the foundations you’ll require to get those calls coming in and supported, from buildings, internal transport, office supplies, staff and more. The office begins as a reception area and from here you can build wide and high; however you see fit.

On opening day it’s time for your staff to man the lines. Now there’s statistical data to be monitored on an active basis. Calls both inbound and outbound can be viewed, as well as abandonments. Managing workloads is vital and thankfully more enjoyable than it is in real life. And there are no awkward 1-2-1 conversations about personal hygiene or gross misconduct. If you need to fire some staff you can to it from several floors up and without regret.

To help you make these decisions each employee can be monitored with their output and mood displayed in simple terms. If someone’s slacking it might be time to put in the boot. Workers can resign too if they become fed up; though you’re informed when this happens it doesn’t state whom.

screenshot

Did someone in the audience say Kairosoft?

Well you’re not wrong; this is influenced by their strong heritage of games in a sweet and innocent way. If you’ve ever missed your bus/train/tram stop from playing Game Dev Story then you’ll soon be forgetting to eat once this begins.

Working within a similar environment myself, it’s interesting to see how Heydeck Games have both simplified and kept faithful to running an actual centre. Account Managers can be sourced to gain new accounts and continue business development. Project Managers will run projects and advance new areas, bringing in external training programmes as well as overall internal improvements. The contracts you win setting KPIs (key performance indicators) along with costs.

New staff and offices are slowly made available as time passes, drip feeding each individual element. The game speed can be increased when waiting. Pausing allows daily statistics and client details to be evaluated.

My main gripe with Smooth Operators is the limited speed at which the day can be fast forwarded. There are plenty of uneventful days and nights when there was no need to monitor the office. Watching janitors clean at night on a daily basis slows the pace.

With the speed at full this still led to lots of lingering. Of which I used to do some ironing. Real-time monitoring onscreen of daily stats without pausing would have helped elevate this.

Even with the downtime, Smooth Operators is an instantly accessible sim with plenty to do at a minimal entry cost that’s less than the charges for inbound calls in my growing call centre.

The author of this fine article

is the Deputy Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in December 2010. Get in touch on Twitter @shaneryantb.

Gentle persuasion

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