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 Miss Management

Think all desk jobs are easy? Try working in this crazy office!

Imagine if you took every irritating thing about working in an office – the gossiping, the slacking off, the back-stabbing co-workers, and the utter monotony - and mashed them all together.

Well that in a nutshell, is what you get with the new game from GameLab called “Miss Management.

Oh, and did I mention that it's your job to actually squeeze some fun out of this mess?

If the name “GameLab” sounds a little familiar to you it’s because they, along with “PlayFirst” developed the smash hit “Diner Dash” three years ago.

With “Miss Management”, Gamelab heads back into the “time-management sim” except this time instead of serving impatient, cranky people within a restaurant, you’re at the beck and call of impatient, cranky people within a new environment- the office!

You play Denise a newly hired office manager in an office that has … let's just say a rather peculiar bunch of workers, each with their own personality quirks, skills, likes and dislikes.

For the most part, it is your job to keep things running smoothly during the day by delegating tasks and delivering incoming color-coded task files to a worker's desk so he or she can complete the work.

Every task that they complete gives you money (petty cash) which is used to buy snacks and supplies for the office. Things such as donuts, which reduce stress; coffee, which makes an employee work faster, chocolate brownies (just for Denise’s stress maintenance, thank you very much!) and energy drinks which make Denise move quicker.

You are also responsible for keeping the workers happy, as well as controlling the workers stress levels. Hmm, sounds more like Human Resources job, if you ask me, but whatever!

And one of the main things that make them the most stressed out is being forced to work on tasks that they aren't good at. You will know what each worker is proficient in by their desks. Each worker's desk has a sort of graph indicator in the front of it which displays the skills they can do. For example Timothy, is a whiz at the green financial tasks but gets stressed out by orange art tasks, that’s Tara’s specialty. This is how it goes:

Orange is art, blue is technical, green is financial, pink is text. An arrow up means that worker is particularly good at the skill of that color, an arrow down means he/she will stress out doing that kind of task. A dot is a "neutral".

In the beginning the office is slow because it is the day after New Year’s and everyone is still on vacation but soon work starts to pile up from the corporate office.

Denise can stress out too; she must make sure all the jobs get done without having a total burnout.

All task files first appear on Denise's desk, she must then assign a task to an employee by picking it up and dropping it on the employee's desk and unfortunately she can only carry one at a time! Given that she clearly has 2 hands, it seemed strange to not be able to pick up 2 tasks at the same time. She carries one thing in one hand, and then uses the other arm for … posing. Not very productive, are we?

Your office will have several different "relaxing" items: a couch, a white board, a water cooler (where two people can meet to chat), an arcade machine, smoking area, kitchen, stereo and bathroom. They can’t all be used at once though, so you’ll need to figure out which employee needs to chill out and relax the most.

You'll have to do a lot of micro-management around the office, balancing completing tasks and giving the employees some relaxing time. The problem is every worker has something they particularly like to do to relax and this is usually something that annoys another worker while they work like dogs to no end.

For example, there's this one guy who loves to nap on the couch, a lady who chain smokes, an artist who prefers doodling on the white board, a techie who will only feel better when playing with the arcade machine, and so on. “Miss Management” is full of conflicting expectations.

SideNote: I used to work with a guy who would sit and clip his toenails right there at his desk once a week like clockwork- I kid you not!

As employees work, their stress levels rise as shown by a little thermometer over their heads. If it gets too high, they'll have a melt-down and go home for the day, leaving Denise one person down.

If Denise's stress maxes out, you'll have to restart the day over again.

There are a few ways of reducing stress around the office; what works and what doesn't depends on the employee's personality. If you forget what they are, you can always click on the tab on the top of the screen that says “Employees Info” and that will give you a reminder.

Mahavir the slacker loves to take long naps on the couch, Winston relaxes by playing a few rounds with the office's arcade machine (probably “House of the Dead”, considering how incredibly stiff he is around his coworkers!) Tara loves to draw pictures on the whiteboard, Luke likes to use the restroom at least 9 times within a round (Huh? do we really want to know?) and Pearl (the ol’ office battle-axe) takes frequent smoke breaks (hey, I don’t blame her! Frankly after playing a few rounds I was bumming cigarettes off her left and right.)

What makes the game challenging and tedious, is that you must be careful with the happiness balance within the office. This is where your “time management” skills are really put to the test. Because what one employee finds relaxing might drive another employees crazy!

For instance, Timothy enjoys making beef stroganoff in the microwave, but Mahavir can't stand the smell, and so his stress level will actually increase as long as Timothy is in the kitchen.

Pearl's smoking annoys Luke. Luke likes to work with the radio on, but Pearl can't stand having distracting music in the background - in fact, she hates any kind of goofing off.

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And the challenges don’t stop there. “Miss Management” is different in that you don't pass a level simply by earning a certain amount of money in fact the game isn’t about getting money at all, it's about completing a certain number of tasks and once again and I can’t say it enough, making sure, everyone’s “a happy little camper” at all times.

You are given a series of goals to complete, like bringing Tara five magic markers, letting Mahavir flirt with Tara at the water cooler for 130 seconds, letting Pearl smoke for 90 seconds, or giving Duncan 10 technical tasks to complete.

Given all the silly and downright petty set of likes, dislikes of each character, juggling everything so that everyone stays happy enough to be productive, and no one stresses out in the process is a major challenge indeed. Ah, the joys of management!

The controls weren’t very responsive; sometimes I would click on an employee to get him out of a stressful situation and my clicks would miss a few times before I was finally able to select him instead of his desk, and that would be enough time to send him completely over the edge.

The graphics in “Miss Management” were very stylish and cartoony; the characters were done in an anime style with huge heads, with big expressive eyes on small bodies.

I must admit, Gamelab really went out of its way to come up with a unique game full of quirky characters, making it play more like an episode of the dark TV show “The Office” than a casual game.

I really do appreciate the effort, but maybe making a game full of black comedy, depressed people, office drama and politics wasn’t such a good “business idea.” Because to be perfectly honest with you, playing the game felt like work, it just wasn’t that much fun to play.

SideNote: The original title of “Miss Management” was going to be called “WORK”, but it was changed at the last minute.

While somewhat similar to “Diner Dash”, in that it involves elements of “time management” and “multi-tasking” the game certainly isn't for everyone. There were some off color, derogatory homosexual remarks here and there, drug references, and Mahavir's behavior towards his female co-workers can only be viewed as blatant sexual harassment.

Hey, I enjoy a bit of office satyr as much as the next guy, but the overall feel of the game just came off as just too “oddball” and “out there” for my taste. I quit!

So in the end I would say that “Miss Management” missed the mark, and misrepresented itself as a fun casual game.

Tips & Tricks

*Too many employees pursuing their own needs will short-circuit your office.

*Have Denise buy plenty of donuts and coffee for the employees in advance.

If you have a day where most of the work falls on one person, make sure that they don't stress out. The donuts will bring down their level of anxiety, while the coffee will make them work faster.

*Don't use snacks when the employees are at low stress levels, but don't wait until it's too late either!

*Denise gets more and more stressed (and trust me that is not a pretty sight!) as tasks pile up. If she gets too stressed, the day's over and you'll lose all the progress you've made. Make sure you give her a brownie to eat if it looks like things are really out of control.

*If someone has to visit the bathroom a lot in one day, let them do it back to back so you can finish that task and get it over with already.

*If you're on a level where you need to turn the air conditioner or the radio on and off a lot, try using an employee who sits right near those things to do it for you. The walk is much shorter and will save some precious time.

*You can stack a pile of folders for an employee to handle while they're away doing something else. Usually they come back to their desks smiling, refreshed and ready to tackle them when they return.

Get Miss Management Here

Graphics C
Sound C
Pickup & Play C-
Overall Fun C-

Posted by oxyjen on Jul 19, 2007


1 Comment(s):

On July 22, 2007, Mindchamber said:
Nice Review, even the tips sounded like alotta work :)


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