I’ve played so many different management simulators where your goal is to start from nothing and become an amazing game developer or a great business person, running your own company from humble beginnings. Startup Panic by Algo Rocks and tinyBuild is a management simulator like these, but with no fear of ramping up the pace.
The story begins with you having to work at a big company, which required a lot of crunch and working weekends. You finally hit your breaking point and quit your job. From there, you started your own business in your bedroom, with a small amount of savings that you have kept. As it all kicks off, your character seems to be developing Facebook or a similar social media platform, from the ground up.
You’ll need to select what features you want to add to your site, then decide how much effort would be going into each of the categories: Technology, Usability, and Aesthetic. Depending on how many points you have in these categories, you will get a score at the end of development. If this score is high enough, you’ll make a profit if users use your website, otherwise, you might end up paying too much in maintenance.
The entire game, like many simulators, is all about balance. However, you can’t expect yourself or your employees to grind their days away. You will need to assign holiday time, pay for them to go on trips, and keep them motivated. Failing jobs or failing contract work can really put a downer on their motivation! With lower motivation comes lower outcomes.
When it comes to making money, you can do so through your website, but you will often find yourself taking on contract work. These jobs come with different needs, skill sets, and recommendations to how many people should be working on it, so you will need to pay attention to these requirements when applying.
Your day to day job is mainly managing all of this, while looking at the tree of different features and requirements for your website, revising some aspects of the site as they get old, fighting off hackers, and filling in reports that let you know what exactly could be improved. There is a story within the game - a rival (or two!) who think you are doomed to fail, competitions where you can rise above them all (or cry in a corner) job offers which will bring you to new places and events which seem quite similar to real-life but can often provide negative or even no real changes at all. You are the boss, so every aspect is down to you. I feel that the story in Startup Panic is very well written, with a paperclip character telling you about other AIs in technology and individuals always having cousins with birthdays.
My biggest issue, though it may just be me, is that when I start to fail, I keep failing. Once my character is demotivated, it seems like if I don’t have enough money to pay for vacations, there isn’t really a way out of it. It’s nice that the paperclip character, and even your grandmother, are willing to just give you more money, but it’s often a losing battle for me at that point and I have no idea how to turn it around. It feels like fighting against the clock!
There are several different endings to this game, something that I have not previously experienced in this genre, which is quite fun! Some can be discovered early on, while others take a while. Either way, if you like these sort of management sims, you’d enjoy Startup Panic!