Looking at the list of games in the Indie Games Uprising on Xbox Live, I was intrigued by this little gem called Smooth Operators: Call Center Chaos. The game reminded me of a seemingly forgotten game by the name of SimTower. We had the chance to interview Andreas Heydeck of Heydeck Games and ask him a few questions about Smooth Operators.
Andreas: I’m Andreas Heydeck and I’m 33 years old. I live with my fiancee and our 1½ year old son in the small town of Karlskoga in the middle of Sweden and I run a game studio from my couch.
I developed a couple of games for fun when I was 15, but it wasn’t until 2009-2010 that I took it up again after being enticed by XNA/XBLIG when my fiancee’s brother, Robin, talked about it.
Describe your game, Smooth Operators, to the uninitiated.
Andreas: It’s a sim/strategy game where you get to build and manage every bit of a call center and its staff. You have to balance your finances, client workloads and staff to make sure that you’re running a smooth operation!
You have said that you drew a lot of inspiration from SimTower when making Smooth Operators. Are there elements from other games that we can see in Smooth Operators?
Andreas: There are elements from a lot of different simulator games, some are more visible than others. The most notable are from SimTower though, which is a fantastic game.
Why did you choose a call center for Smooth Operators? Were there any other types of offices that you considered?
Andreas: I work as a developer in a multinational call center and I’ve always thought that it’s the perfect setting for a simulator game. The call center world holds elements that can be translated into core game mechanics, and the layers of complexity found in real life business could be translated into the goals of a game.
What would you say makes your game unique? Does it offer an experience that sets it apart from other games like it?
Andreas: Firstly, I’ve never seen a game centered around a call center before. What also makes the game unique is that it is heavily focused on workforce micromanagement. You sometimes have to go down to individuals, even in a large operation, to make sure that you are hitting your target workloads. Also, the workload fluctuations are based on real life business performance.
Was Smooth Operators a difficult game to balance?
Andreas: Oh yes. There have been countless hours spent on balancing the game. Everything had to be balanced, from the prices of objects to the mood swings of your staff. The game is released with a balance that works well, but there’s an update coming out later with even better balancing.
Do you plan to offer post-launch content for Smooth Operators?
Andreas: I’m not yet sure what it will hold for the Xbox version in terms of additional content, but I have plans for additional content for the PC version that will certainly up the level of complexity. It depends on how it will be received on Xbox and the sales figures, I guess.
Andreas: The easiest answer is, of course, that I hope that it will get more exposure and more sales for my game. In the long run, I hope that for the next game i release, people will look at it and think, “Ah, it’s from that guy who made that cool call center game.”
But the Uprising isn’t really about individual developers as much as it’s about the Xbox Live Indie Games channel. We set out to show that there are some really cool games on the platform, not only junk bulk games. Hopefully the games in the Uprising can help promote XBLIG as a place to get cool games from and also attract new gamers.
How has Xbox’s indie experience been in comparison to Steam Greenlight? Do you have a preference at this point?
Andreas: They are two different worlds, really. XBLIG is a place where you can experiment as much as you want with design and mechanics. Steam, on the other hand, is the world’s largest digital distributor of downloable games. The typical game on Steam has a very polished design and is often well-known with accepted mechanics.
Smooth Operators is currently on Steam Greenlight, and the experience so far has been very positive with good comments. I think it’s currently at rank 150, which isn’t really close to being greenlit. Considering there are around 800 games on there though, it’s a positive thing that Smooth Operators is at least in the top 20%.
Any ideas on your next project? Will it be another simulation game?
Andreas: I’m not sure that it’s going to be another simulation game. I feel like I’ve “been there, done that”. I’ll probably move on to another game genre to develop my programming skills as well. I have a couple of ideas that I’m thinking about for my next project. I think that Smooth Operators will have a bit of a longer life than my earlier games have had with the ports to Windows/Linux/Mac and possibly also to iOS. So I won’t be starting something new for a while.
Andreas: I’m really addicted to the Trials series from RedLynx. At best, I was in the top 300 on Trials HD global leaderboards. I also play a lot of Rock Band 3, which is still a great game because of all the downloadable content that keeps coming out every week.
Diehard Dungeon was released yesterday and today Gateways (both part of the Uprising), which are two of the best indie games to be released this year.
I’m looking forward to Black Ops II. Black Ops is really the best one of all the Call of Duty games. Apart from that, the coming months look quite pale on the gaming front, at least from my personal point of view.
Any last words for our readers?
Andreas: Yeah, get Smooth Operators for your Xbox! =)
Oh, and thanks for reading!