Tip #1: Start on Easy with No Loans
It is natural as gamers to immediately want to jump to medium or above difficulty settings, but do that in this game and you will most likely start with a terrible impression. Starting on easy does two major things that I am aware of: it gives your starting character higher starting stats, and makes cash flow faster into your bank. Additionally, staring with no loans gives you much more time to get your first product out since your starting guy does not have a salary. This sets the game up to be a little bit more forgiving for your first playthrough.
Tip #2: Increase your starting Programmer and Designer Abilities
Adjust the beginning slider so that designing and programming is at a higher ratio than the other few options. When beginning the game, it is recommended to start off with a smaller product suitable for a one-man team. Having a solid designing and programming skill helps you get the product out faster and increases the overall quality of your work.
Leadership, Marketing, and Artist are all very important, but at the beginning it is all about survival. These other skills can be easily developed later on and can be complemented by staff you hire while you’re still learning. Let’s break down why:
Not too much to say here, this really only comes into play when you have a team and your character is designated as the leader. Team leads essentially just have meetings with their group and that increases everyone’s efficiency. Later on when you have the opportunity to get leaders trained with the HR Function, leaders become more important in automating the simple human resource tasks for you. As for the beginning, don’t worry about it too much.
Some people might argue that having a high marketing stat to begin with would benefit your first product, but I disagree. The amount of quality you lose by adjusting this to a higher value is not providing you with a better start at all. Marketing takes money to do well and that is capital you do not have at the beginning. Focus on this for later on products when it isn’t a do or die situation.
Depending on your product, you may actually need to adjust this one as well. However, if you decide to go with the simple products that do not use graphical interfaces, programming and designing are the core. If you decide to go ham on your first product and add in all the graphical designs, then increase this stat to just below the designer and programmer stat.
Tip #3: Set your specialization to 2D or Audio
There are many, many possible products you can choose to get started with, but I have found through dozens of playthroughs and testing that choosing the 2D Editor or Audio Tool to begin with makes it a lot easier to progress in the game.
There are three major reasons for this:
- These two products require the least diverse specialization at the start of the game (only need the 2D or Audio specialization to effectively make either product)
- It is usually easier to create a higher quality product with just one person
- Marketing is not necessary to ensure this first product succeeds
These three reasons are essentially linked in the sense that a one-man team will not have the proper specializations at the start of the game to cover complicated products like Operating Systems, and this resulting lower quality product is not going to succeed without excessive marketing. These issues are resolved by starting with the 2D Editor and Audio Tool options.
Tip #4: Ride Solo
At the start you really do not have enough capital to spend on another programmer or developer. Hiring more employees would essentially bankrupt you before you get halfway through the Alpha stage. Your starting developer (if starting on Easy) should have the capabilities to finish a Good or even Great quality product on their own provided they are given enough time.
This is where the significance of this tip comes in:
With no additional staff, your only cost would be your rent and your utilities. This should be around $700 at the beginning, which should last you for much longer than you need to develop a simple 2D Editor or Audio Tool. As compared to the ~$2000 for just one more additional rookie developer, going solo is a no-brainer.
Tip #5: Expand SLOWLY
Regardless of how your first product sale goes, it is a good idea to get into the habit of expanding slowly. I’ve had so many games end prematurely because I expanded fast right after a decent first sale, and ended up making much less on subsequent products. Look into what product that you would like to “main” and hire programmers/designers/artists with those specialties.
On Easy, it isn’t too hard to maintain a good cash flow, but higher difficulties make it hard to sustain higher salaries effectively. Get into the good practice of tightly controlling all your expenses including servers, staff, heating, rent, and salaries.
Tip #6: Get a dedicated Marketing Team
Managing multiple production lines can get confusing late game, and having a dedicated Marketing team to refer all marketing tasks to makes it easier. You can start with just 1-2 marketers at the beginning attached to your core team, but once you want to get your brand name out there, you should set the team up on its own. Usually a team of 1 Lead and 9-10 Marketers is enough for you to get your marketing to Prominent pretty easily.
Additionally, the Marketing team can also be given marketing contracts to fulfill – essentially paying for themselves. There will be a daily marketing amount that your team has to fulfill, but I have found that as long as you fulfill around 70% of it your client will remain happy. One consideration for this is that you could be marketing for a competitor’s product and that may affect your own sales, but realistically if your product is good enough this won’t matter too much. You could just take contracts for other types of products as well if you are worried.
Tip #7: Utilize the Project function
Once you have a decent cash cushion, it may be beneficial for you to set up an additional team that is managed through the automatic Project function. In my previous post, I went over how the project management function in this game can essentially set you up for passive income. It is especially useful if you set up your project for something straightforward and with little variance like 2D Editors or Audio Tools. This lets you hire exclusively for the product and the end result is a higher quality sale.
Going back to the previous point, having a dedicated Marketing team also means you can set up multiple projects and have all of their marketing needs met by a single team. I have played numerous games where the marketing level for my Audio Tools and 2D Editors reached Widespread with little effort on my part.
Tip #8: Start your own Server
Gotta love passive income. Hosting contracts can be a very lucrative way to sustain your operations and entering into distribution deals with other companies can give you a heft sum each month. Additionally, you would end up paying someone else to host your games if you decide to not do it yourself.
- Buy 3-4 servers and link them. (Can do this by right clicking one server, selecting “select all in room”, then select the “link” function)
- Hire a receptionist and set up the reception (this lets contracts show up on the “Contracts” tab)
- Accept any Hosting deals above ~0.35/mb to maximize profits.
- Go to the “Distribution” tab and click “Open Online Distribution Platform”
- Go to the companies tab and find one with a decently number of fans and medium company worth. (Do not go for the higher end companies yet!!)
- Offer to sell their products on your online distribution platform.
Not going for the larger companies right now is a good idea because they tend to give you a smaller cut and your servers may not be able to sustain their usage. However, it is a good idea to get started as soon as you can since you can re-negotiate your cut each month. Having a longer relationship gives you a better chance to ask for a larger cut. Becoming the sole online distributor also allows you to constantly negotiate for larger and larger cuts as well.
Tip #9: Train new Programmers in a Support Team
A great way to get a solid, well-trained team of programmers is to first set them up as a Support team. What you need to do is hire a bunch of low salary programmers and a lead that have “Amazing” or “Great” compatibility or higher. Next, assign them all of the support tasks for all of your products and see if they can cope with the workload. If you can, then you can get another amazing source of passive income. Get those contracts and start seeing this team pay for itself!!
Over time you will see your support team gain specialization based off of the products they are supporting as well as an increase in their overall programming skill. When you are developing a new product, you can assign them to the programming phase to help increase quality. It just comes down to how much work they have and if they are able to keep up with their support workload.
Tip #10: Send people to training
Training your idle employees!! It may be a little micro-managing, but it certainly helps to cover all of your specializations over time. Another option is to first train all of your Leads with the “HR” skill so that they can do it for you. One option I found that worked well was setting the number of employees gone at once to 2, then setting the number of months to 3, and then setting time delay to 0. When you have a full team, this setting lets you have enough members to get the product moving while still having some people gone for training.
If your style of play is just one team that covers all specializations, you may want to consider upping the number of employees to around 3-4 employees at once and moving the number of months up to 6. This will considerably slow down product development, but it will give you a better trained team faster. This method is usually for late game when you have a cash cushion.
Software Inc is an absolutely fantastic game once you really get into it. Use these tips as a way to get started and figure out your own way to enjoy this masterpiece. Keep in mind that this game is still in Alpha though, there will be updates that change the way this game should be played.