The Five Main Systems and Strategy For The Early Access Launch!
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At this point the game development has been focused on the 5 major systems of the game. Those 5 systems are, for the most part, completely coded out and fully functional within this initial early access release. From this point forward, the plan is to make them more and more useful with every early access update. All of them are quite intricate and you can see them all working in real time right now with the current build. I thought explaining them might be very helpful for new players to have a little strategy and also make the user appreciate what is going on under the hood, given their uses may not be too apparent while we are in the game’s infant stages.
- The Ability System
This system may right now come across as just a percentage you see when you hire someone, but there is so much going on with it (even in this early stage!). I guess there are two main points here: “What it is” and “What it does”.
I will tackle “what it is” first. The ability score is a very in-depth percentage on what that employee is able to achieve. It takes quite a lot into account! When you hire employees, you see their resumes. First is education. This starts with high school graduate as the base (and the majority of people you will find going for non-corporate cellular retail jobs are in this category). After that, there are 51 colleges currently in the game. Each one of them have their own separate ranking. That ranking is the first part of the Ability Score equation.
Next you will see experience. Each candidate lists 4 previous jobs they have had in their life. Each job is split up into four different parts, all of which are extremely important. The first stat to look at is the Industry. This can be either Food, Service, or Retail. Each one of those categories have 20 different places of employment and 30 different job titles for each place! After this you will see their length of employment for each job. Every Industry, Job Title, Place of Employment and Length of Employment are all individually ranked.
Now the game throws the Education, Job Industry, Job Title, Place and Length of Employment rankings into the equation and spits out an Ability Score. So when you see the score sitting there on the resume, it is in a range of what it possibly could be. You can call references if you want to see what the actual ability score is. You know what? Scratch that. Talk about an on the fly change. Just typing that out, it kind of seemed stupid to know without doing anything what the ability score is. I literally just stopped writing this, opened that script and changed the whole way that works! Now, you can’t see what the ability score is at all, you have to actually read the resume and if you want to get a range of what it could be, you can pay to call the references, and that range may or may not be helpful. Much better!
So let’s move on to the “What it does”. The Ability Score actually handles a lot right now in early access. The employees deal with the customers all completely different. Sometimes they will spend 5 seconds with a customer, other times they could spend an hour! The Ability Score dictates this. It also dictates whether or not said employee will be able to switch a customer from their first choice phone, into their second choice phone if you don’t have the first in stock. This is major, especially if you have inventory shortages. The higher ability scored employees can also manage stress better. The Ability Score will, in the future, increase with the length of employment (maybe) or he might just stay the same depending on how you are managing them.
- Store Rating
So obviously the customers are going to play a very large role in a retail simulator. The system in play here that controls how often and when customers come in is the Store Rating. Each day there are random peak hours that will drive in customers. Though you may not get too many if your rating is low. The three biggest underlying variables of the rating are:
The employee Ability Score of those that are working that day. Customers will be much happier if there are competent employees working, getting them in and out of the store as quickly as possible and putting the correct device in their hands.
Next is the marketing. Everyday you have 6 choices of how to market your store. This isn’t as straight forward as it sounds. Sure you can bring in a ton of customers by spending the most amount of money on marketing, but what is the point if you have crap employees? They key is to balance the marketing to your employee’s strengths. If you have average employees, you need to spend a mediocre amount on advertising so they can keep up with the flow of traffic. When you have excellent employees, you again need to evaluate the situation. Sure they can keep up with heavy flows of traffic, but what is the point if you are lacking in the inventory department? You need to be diligent in keeping up with all these aspects if you want to make money.
The third is all about the store. Upgrades. Yeah, the bulk of them aren’t going to be in the first early access release but there are a few. You can upgrade your tables to have either dummy or live devices and you can upgrade the wall displays with proper advertisements geared towards particular manufacturers. Having all of these upgraded to the fullest will ensure a good customer rating.
There are more items in play here, they just don’t merit that much explanation, such as customer satisfaction. That is just a percentage of your customers who leave with the device they want in a timely fashion.
Inventory is very important when running a retail store. Right now in the initial release you are only managing the phones. In future releases it is going to cover accessories as well. How inventory works in this game is based on a delivery system. When you order phones they do not come until the next day. We don’t have our Amazon Drones delivering our items in 30 minutes just yet! You must, must, must, must pay attention to this or you will be doomed.
People also don’t realize just how expensive phones are, even to the store. They don’t make much money on just the phone alone. The mark up on an outright phone is generally around the $50 mark in real life. The bulk of your profit is from the plan and accessories. Given accessories aren’t in this build just yet here is how it works: It is all based off of your employee’s ability (again, see how important that score is?!). The higher the ability, the more profit you can bring into the store. You will as well be able to control the price of the phone if you want a bigger markup for more profit. Though that has its downfalls, more on that in the next section.
- Employee Stress
Here is an interesting one. At this point in early access, this is a little easier to manage. There are really only three things you need to worry about here. They are:
Price of the phones. Employee’s do have morals, you know. Jacking up the prices are going to make employees uncomfortable. They know they are ripping off their customers for a quick buck when all the competition is selling the phones for way cheaper. Each transaction will raise the employee’s stress level (granted it’s a very tiny amount, so you can get away with it a bit). Its all based on just how much you raise those prices.
Next is the stress from working. Work your employees too many days in a row and they are going to get tired and very stressed out. Same goes the other way. Give your employee’s too many days off and they are going to get stressed because they aren’t getting paid.
The third biggest factor is going to be stressed from too many customers! Earlier we talked about how marketing a bunch with low level employees will cause an overflow. Those employees take too long with each customer and when this happens the store is going to get really full. When the store is full you are going to stop getting customers wanting to come in! When this happens the employees are going to get stressed just looking at the daunting number of customers getting impatient and wanting to be helped!
So at this point you might ask, well how do we relieve stress? The answer right now is quite simple. Give them a day off! And if they are stressed from not working enough? Schedule them! Giving them a day off will cut their current stress levels in half. Remember too, you can check their stress level by clicking on them and scheduling an employee meeting.
Keep an eye on this. I bet now you are probably wondering what happens when the stress level gets too high. Well, they quit obviously! Nobody wants that. It would stink if you found an awesome guy with the elusive 90% Ability Rating and then forget to give him days off so he quits on you!
- Store Upgrades
Store upgrades are the weird ones of this group. At this point in early access they are only partially implemented. Their functions are, for the most part, fully coded and in the game, I just am working on the actual models so the bulk of them aren’t there. First, I am going to talk about the ones that are in the game as it stands and then afterwards I will go into what is coming.
First we have the two major upgrades that are currently in the game. Table and Display Upgrades. Table upgrades refer to the 4 main tables that are in the middle of your store. When you start, these are completely empty! Well that’s not very aesthetically pleasing to your customers! Clicking on the table will give you a couple of upgrade options. You can either stock them with live or dummy devices. Dummy devices are a lot cheaper because they are just the plastic mock ups of the phone. It gives the customer the correct feel and looks of the phone but they can’t use it. Live devices are just as they sound. They are the actual devices on display. These are a lot more expensive but they make the customer a lot happier given they can actually get a feel for those devices. The downsides to live devices are not yet in the game, but in upcoming builds it is going to make you more prone to theft. There will also be certain upkeep you are going to have to pay attention to. The other available upgrade in the store are the wall displays. These are advertisements geared towards certain manufactures. They will always have live devices on them but it is up to you on what company you would like to sport. Currently in early access there are 4 different advertisements to choose from. All 8 will be available very soon.
Now on to the upgrades that are coming in the future. This section is purely for what is planned, so don’t expect these right away. You are going to be able to upgrade the individual tables, wall displays, and point of sale desks. These are all going to boost the customer rating all depending on how much you want to spend. There are also upgrades to benefit the employees. Currently their break room looks a little bland, and now that we are talking about it, so does the managers office. You will be able to upgrade all of these things and it will boost the employee ability score of the employees scheduled to work that day!
The biggest thing coming in the future are multiple stores. You are going to be able to manage 6 locations at a time, and that is quite the challenge, hence it not being in the game right now. What is being worked on is how exactly to manage all of these without making it too overbearing on you, the player. You are going to be able to hire individual managers for each store and they can take care of the micromanaging to your liking. Stay tuned for more information on this, like I said, this is going to be the meat of the game once it is implemented.
So there it is. Those are the 5 main systems currently in the game and I am really hoping that reading through this gives you the edge you need to succeed. Given these things are under the hood and not really in plain sight, it makes the game extremely difficult for new players. That is kind of why I wanted to write this up. Take it as half kind of explanation of what the game is, and half as a strategy guide for how to play. I am going to post this in the Steam Forums in a sticky post as well, so I can better discuss with you guys. Its hard to keep track and answer questions in a comment section.
I hope you guys enjoy the current state of the game, and what is to come in the future! As always you can post feedback and what you want to see in the Steam forums and on the main site storemanagerthegame.com!