REVIEW: Smooth Operators

Before you blow off Smooth Operators (80 MSP), convinced that living and breathing the call center lifestyle is not for you, ask yourself how many cities you built and ran into the ground, how many sims you deliberately walled off from the outside world while watching them squirm, or how many worlds you’ve minecrafted into a blocky paradise; your answer is probably ‘quite a few’. That need to create something on your own is fully represented and open to you in Smooth Operators, even if its choice of careers doesn’t immediately breed excitement.

There are similar games available elsewhere that do roughly the same thing, but the (somewhat) brief rundown is as follows; Build and manage a call center, accept contracts, expand. Do well, and you’ll complete challenges, gain unlocks and cash bonuses. Fail to meet the quotas set by your clients or keep your workforce happy, and expect to pay a penalty at the end of each day. And yes, you sick bastard, you can try to torture your peons into submission by cutting their salaries or forcing them into offices they don’t belong. Demolish the restrooms if you so wish. Wanton mismanagement is entirely legal, and occasionally fun (I had nine resignations in one day).

So needless to say, the early days of my first call center didn’t go well. Partially I was to blame (I tried to go too big too fast), as the game really only allows baby steps. I quickly realized this was for my protection. The limited cash and capacity to build (and thus expand my workforce) meant I was constantly struggling to meet the quotas, incurring fines and slowly bleeding my cash reserves as I tried to tear down and rebuild to better fit the client’s needs. Smooth Operators‘ tutorial gets the basic gist of the game across, and the in-game descriptions of each object and person help, but I was still sometimes lost on how to get a rolling start or to unlock more upgrade and building abilities.

Words on a screen can only do so much though. There’s never any experience like first-hand experience. My dad loves that line, and if ever a saying applied to a game, it’s here. So I cut my losses and hit restart. Version two of my call center did much better, striking a better employee balance and a focus on steady efficiency (starting and thinking small). And lo and behold, as the client’s workload increased, I was able to handle it, building a nice reserve and a happy workforce. Soon I was running a labyrinth of offices and a hundred different managers, janitors, IT guys (their repair work is hilarious) and call specialists.

Once your company is consistently in the black, and the day to day operations and issues become less immediate and more about careful growth, the game hits its stride, giving you access to building upgrades (each office can be spruced up to increase productivity) and the option to educate your workers, which is win-win for everybody’s bottom line. The visual leap of transforming from a small, fledgling brick house into a fancy, bells & whistles mega-corporation is awesome and worth the blood and sweat to get there.

But by the higher day counts, 55 or so, you reach a level of self-sufficiency (yeah, fine, sooner for you experts out there :p), and this is the point where sims like Smooth Operators tend to drag. You hit a comfortable plateau, a boatload of money, where your job as ‘omnipresent overseer mother’ isn’t as needed, and like a chick leaving the nest for the first time, you’re both filled with pride to see your creation fly on its own, and saddened that this means you’re past the more exciting times of the game. I found myself leaving it to run on its own, stopping only to see the daily report or do a few mundane changes. You can still grow further and accept more clients, but it just adds to your money pile.

Smooth Operators is nonetheless an addicting (it’s digital crack) sim game with incredible depth. It stumbles slightly in its initially-overwhelming list of to-dos and fix-mes, hits an excellent middle ground and pace, then just plays itself after awhile. This is after you notice you’ve sunk hours into it, and will continue to do so gladly, turning your paltry 80 MSP investment into a fun and healthy return.


Review on Clearance Bin Review

Review on The Indie Mine

Review on Indie Gamer Chick

20 thoughts on “REVIEW: Smooth Operators”

  1. Oh and Tim…why does it show an extra response. Like now with this it will say 10 responses to the review but I can only find 9? LOL Am I missing something?

    1. Those would be from ‘pingbacks’ (like the one for Indie Gamer Chick at the end of the comments here), links to other website’s reviews. We’ve all banded together to trade reviews on the Uprising games between each other, and each pingback counts as a comment. 🙂

      And I had the same thing happen to me with contracts, making less per call than the one I started out with. I figured I’m still making more money than without it, so hell, I went for it.

      The developer, Andreas, commented below on the ‘names’ glitch and about a few fixes. Sounds like the PC version is going to have even more options, which will suck up more of people’s time. I don’t know which Uprising game will end up being the most popular, but I have a pretty good idea which one will have the most hours logged in it. 🙂

  2. OK so I decided to start a new one over and I noticed my first contract isn’t as lucrative as my first contract before and I’m needing an account manager faster to get more contracts. This just brought to light the fact that every game you play will not be the same (although maybe only slight differences) and for some reason this time I’m not losing employees as fast as I was before even though I’m playing on the normal level again. I’m guessing there is variances that are not so noticeable and make every game play out a little different. I like that touch.

    I didn’t notice all male names either but will be checking that out today. (Day off and plan on logging some substantial time into the game today)

    To give ya’ll a perspective of what this game has done to me. I put 1600 points on my account (last Friday when this came out) expecting to buy this game and I had my eye on an arcade game and another Indie game. I did buy the second indie game at the same time I bought this but have been holding off on buying the arcade game because this is taking up all my playing time when I turn on my Xbox.

    I would have already considered myself a simfreak but this is even more addicting then Sim City was when I first got my hands on it back in 1990.

  3. I’m glad you are all enjoying my game! =)
    Yes, there are some glitches, and yes all staff has male names which is also a glitch (i forgot to flip a switch when releasing).
    Anyways, an update to fix the glitches and improve on the controls will be out in a couple of days.
    Also, even more events and stuff will be put in to the PC version of the game, to be released in a couple of weeks on Desura and my website.

  4. Our review will be going up early next week since we have other stuff slated til then, but man am I enjoying the hell out of this game. I found it had the same flaws that you mentioned, but I’m still playing it like a madman. Think I’m about 120 days in or so.

    1. Man, that is dedication 🙂 I was perfectly happy with every minute I spent with the game, but there’s no way I could make it up to 120 days. Always played longer than I set out to, though. And I did not notice the male names thing, either. Hmmm. Curious.

      No worries on the review. Get up to 200 days, gives us a perspective from the very top. 🙂 I’ll gladly add the link when I see it.

  5. I’m playing this game non stop. I AM a call center lifer. My first office job was in a call center at 18 and now almost 30 years later I have held almost every possible position within a call center. I’m now working from home doing customer service and in reality in the near future call centers will be a thing of the past with most jobs being handled at home. But I digress.

    I was so looking forward to this game when I saw it on the Summer Uprising list I about tinkled a little bit when I read what it was about. Since it came out I have logged so many hours on this game it averages out to have cost me less than a penny per hour of entertainment. You stated in your review how at first you tried to grow to fast…I did that too. You also stated how it just starts to become almost second nature for you after awhile and seems to run itself for the most part and that’s when I started challenging myself by design. Tear down and rebuild sections so things are more ascetically appealing. Kinda what large companies do when money is flowing.

    Anyway…enjoyed the review and am enjoying the heck out of this game. Would like to see updates made with more types of office space and recreations and maybe some upgrades to personal. If not updates maybe another game. I would have spent $10 on this game in a heartbeat.

    1. Digress all you want 🙂 it’s always interesting to get a perspective on a job or event, particularly when it relates to a game or review. Thanks for reading.

      I was starting to do that with my buildings too, more so changing out the personnel to have whole wings of nothing but IB call people, or OB, managers, etc., but I had to move on to the next Uprising game if I’m ever going to have a chance at completing all nine 🙂 I’d totally be for any update to the game, even if it was more decoration or visual flair than additional personnel options. It needs more unlocks at the higher day counts to keep people involved, although, like you said, you’ve already gotten your money’s worth out of it. I’d imagine there’s a lot of people that feel the same way.

  6. Pretty certain this was a glitch (either that or the developer has an incredible sense of humour):
    One of my employees went into the bathroom and never came out again. I know he or she is still in there because the counter permanently shows at least 1 occupant. I like to think that they are sat in a cubicle going “Yeah, I beat the system!”.

    1. Haha! That’s great. I hope that’s NOT a glitch. And if it is, I’d rather Andreas (the Dev) change it to make it a permanent feature. The worse I had was a permanently smoking / broke-down computer on the second floor. Visually, it drove me nuts, and I wanted to go all ‘Office Space’ on it, but the bathroom trick, that’s just classic. 🙂

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