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Game that simulates employees and salary

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Let's say it's a game where you hire people (restaurant manager, corporation simulator, whatever you find fancy it's not important).

Typically it looks like this:
- you start by recruiting people, you get a list of candidates, see their salary (or you decide from which salary range to recruit) and decide whom to recruit
- after some time you get "I want a raise" event, frequently in bulk, a list of people you don't remember who was who and why was hired and a demand "x,xxx salary". You scratch your head don't remembering why and who and either agree or not (without making a conscious decision here; it's more like a habit for example "always agree to 50% of their demands")

 

It's boring :D How to improve it?

 

 

My thoughts:

I wonder if it's not too individual, like every single employee having an individual salary, it's fine if you have like 5 people, but with 30 you lose tracy who eanred how muuch and why. Maybe a "salary policy" and you set how much they all earn?

Another thought, it's boring when they pop up and demand a rise. It's obvious that they will leave if you disagree, so you automatically agree (or disagree and hire new ones, usually I'm too lazy to rehire and agree :D). Maybe they just quit if their salary is too low (random chance, so not all of them quit immediatelly) and you have to be proactive and increase their salary before they decide to quit?

Edited by frob
Change topic title so it doesn't get moved to Business & Law

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One aspect of the raise event might be too offer something different in place of a monetary increase. For example you might instead offer training, educational courses, an in-house project or some free time to work on their own projects.

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You could have another value for how much in demand their skill is.  So if they've been with you for a while they ask for a raise.

If you say No AND their skill is in demand then they leave.  However if you say NO AND there is NOT currently a massive demand then they continue to work for you but only half as productive and as soon as demand increases they leave. 

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What is the scale? What is the abstraction? 

 

Are we talking about characters who you are directly interacting with on a regular basis throughout the game, or are we talking hiring a dozen employees for each of your hundreds of locations and you have no real direct impact with it?

 

If these aren't characters that you're directly interacting with on a regular basis, then why not abstract that decision away from the user? If you aren't directly managing the employees, then maybe you should be directly managing their managers. - The managers can have stats/abilities for how well they control costs and such, and you could give them targets and goals to work within. Things like a "Turnover" stat could lower efficiency if it gets too high, but letting it ride out a bit could help keep costs down because you would be letting a larger portion of experienced base level employees walk away more often rather than raising your costs. 

 

Include this with simulations on your competitors - You can get hints about what style they're using to run their business, and why customers may or may not prefer their services to yours. Are clients going after price? Quality of service? Design/quality of product?

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If the player can't remember the characters in question, then the mechanic is asking too much of the player or the UX is insufficiently helpful. Perhaps both? If the total number of employees in this game caps out at like 15 (As an example, I'm remembering like two full squads in Xenonauts plus a few backups), then it may be possible for a player to remember all of them as individuals provided that's sufficiently signalled, ie. the UI makes it clear who is who and what is important about them at a glance. If you've got more characters than that, probably better to reduce the magnitude of information the player is being asked to remember.

 

If there's a random answer that the employee will reject a counteroffer, does the player have any way of knowing what that chance is and whether it can be affected by other means? If none of this information is available - or important enough to add to the game - then does it not just make a gameplay action frustrating to the player because they have no control over a success/fail state and therefore might as well not get invested in the decision anyway?

 

Further question: Is this a decision that always has a correct move? If so, maybe raises should be automatic because the decision itself isn't an interesting choice. If the player gets to a point where an employee obviously sucks or they need to cut costs, the player can review their payroll and decide whether anyone on the list needs the boot. This turns the action from random low-interest repetition to much more impactful player-initiated one-offs. Seems like the latter is much more interesting when it happens provided there's something else to do in the game.

 

(Another thought: It seems like a common thought to suggest that the game be made more complex in response to a weak mechanic. In my experience if the mechanic is weak then perhaps it is the mechanic that needs to be removed rather than added to.)

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Are the character's motives visible? This would make a big difference to me.

 

If I as the player can see that a worker is generally unsatisfied with the job, as I player I might immediately reject the character's request.  If I can see that a worker is generally satisfied but would be better satisfied with the raise, I would probably grant the character's request.

 

But if I as the player have no insight to that, if all I have is the memory that sometime in the distant past I vaguely remember the character had some rewards, then I don't think the mechanic plays out very well.

 

If instead the player is managing on a larger scale of setting a general policy, they would need a similar insight to the character's thoughts.  If the characters are generally thinking positive things in all areas except wages, that's a sign to increase wages.  If they are thinking about work hours, thinking about home, thinking about breaks, thinking about work load, thinking about task difficulty, and also thinking about wages, that's a sign that there are other things to change.

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My first suggestion would just be "fewer employees".  If the player can't keep track of them, this will percolate to basically every aspect of interacting with them.

 

If there have to be this many, give them salaries according to their ranks but have them engage in collective bargaining.  Like if you have 10 sector governors or something, all ten come to you and say "Give us a 75% raise or we all quit."  That's a big raise (so the player won't just agree automatically), but also the consequences of refusing are big (losing an entire tier of employees all at once).

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I see moderators have changed the title, well, it's a bit misleading (OK, the previous one was bad too :D). I didn't mean a game that simulates employees and salaries but a game where you run some sort of business (or organization) and employees and salaries are PART of the game (not tme most important part).

Like Theme Hospital for example. It's about curing people, building a hospital and staying profitable, employees and salaries are kind of a side mechanic there. So, let's not oversimulate this and keep it as a smaller part of the game.

 

(Another thought: It seems like a common thought to suggest that the game be made more complex in response to a weak mechanic. In my experience if the mechanic is weak then perhaps it is the mechanic that needs to be removed rather than added to.)

Yes, it's a weak mechanic (at least in all games I have see it was a weak mechanic). But it should not be removed, it's required by the immersion and mood (you run a business, part of it is hiring people and paying them). It's just that part of those games is notoriously boring and annoying :D

 

What is the scale? What is the abstraction? 

 

Are we talking about characters who you are directly interacting with on a regular basis throughout the game, or are we talking hiring a dozen employees for each of your hundreds of locations and you have no real direct impact with it?

I just wanted to talk about this topic/mechanic, I do not have a specific game in mind :)

 

Anyway, a nice observation is that the solution would differ depending on the scale (number of employees)... If you have 5-12 people you could remember them all and keep in mind who deserves how much, if there are 20-30 or more then some sort dealing in bulk would be a better solution I suppose...

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I think repetitive decisions without nuance create what you're trying to avoid.

 

What about improving this with more personalization: Unique dialog expressing character, memorable responses to events and interesting interactions between the characters? There would be no generic "I want a raise" but (scripted) interactions that express negotiation style and savvy/timing or lack thereof with an aim toward trying to create a relationship with the player as boss. I can see this being intriguing when you have a likeable character that is subpar, or an unlikeable character that is a high performer; or when someone who is very meek but knowledgeable versus aggressive/persistent but not as skilled; or even deserving of a raise but expressing themselves as a real jerk etc.

 

Office/work dramas would probably be a good model for this idea, potentially fleshing out an otherwise dry dynamic. Why do they ask for a raise? Because they have a sick child? Lots of debt? Greed? High demand and they know it? It would take the genre in a direction I haven't seen (except somewhat for visual novels) but possibly inject emotion (and therefore attachment) to what is otherwise a dry, clinical decision.

Edited by Wavinator

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Hi

 

And yes, it is boring.

I think the reason being, you did not provide any context to the mechanic.

Without any context, it is very difficult to dicuss a mechanic on its own.

 

It is like asking people what they think about a wrench without telling them what they are gonna use it on.

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