There are two types of gamers in the world—those who love management games and those who hate them. Those of us who love them enjoy figuring out the best strategies to get as much out of our time and resources as possible. Those who hate them, on the other hand, often find them to be tedious and repetitive. And I respect that, I really do. Management games do tend to be more laid back than other genres, and while I love a good relaxing game on a Friday night, I recognize it’s not everybody’s thing.
All that said, there are things you can do to make your management game more appealing to those apprehensive strangers to the genre. Turmoil is an excellent example of a game that offers all the strategy that management fans love with a bit more of the chaos that other gamers crave.
The Graduated Play Scale
Turmoil operates on what I call a graduated play scale: as you progress, the game gradually adds additional features that you need to pay attention to in order to be successful. As a result, it is nearly impossible to fall into a comfortable rhythm during your first play through. As soon as you get used to one aspect or mechanic, the game adds another.
It starts out very basic at first: find oil, drill for the oil, and sell it. But then you need to decide which additional tools are worth dropping a big chunk of change on. Is it better to have bigger pipes to get the oil out faster or bigger wagons to transport it? Is it worth spending $30,000 on a drill just in case you run into rocks or will you take your chances? And as soon as you are growing confident in your choice of add-ons, Turmoil tosses another wrench into your strategy by adding natural gas into the equation. And so on, and so on, until you find yourself pausing the game just to take a breath.
The gradually increasing levels of complexity serve two important functions. First, they increase the difficulty of the game which makes it more appealing to players who like a challenge. Second—and perhaps most importantly—they dramatically increase the replayability value of the game. It is impossible to become a Turmoil expert on your first play through, which leaves you eager to play through the game again just to see how much better you can do with a better grasp of the mechanics. Additionally, Turmoil does have an end game goal that can quickly become impossible to achieve if you struggle to adapt to the mechanics added later in the game, making it necessary to replay the game from the beginning in order to win.
What Does This Mean for Your Game?
In general, Turmoil serves as a reminder that sometimes breaking away from genre conventions is the best thing a game developer can do. But more specifically, Turmoil has shown that games in the management genre are not inherently tedious or monotonous. By gradually making the game more complex and turning the learning curve up to 11, the developers were able to take an otherwise repetitive game mechanic—find oil, sell oil—and turn it into a challenge. Just how much money can you earn?
If you’re making a management game, now is the time to ask yourself: What is the challenge and will it make your game stand out? If not, it’s time to take a note out of the Turmoil dev team’s book and add another layer or two to spice things up. Not only will fans of the genre thank you for it, but it will enable you to appeal to players who might otherwise not give your game a second thought.