Re: not seeing the game, I didn't have too much trouble keeping track of what I was doing. Where it got complicated was seeing what everyone else was doing, what they were likely to do, how well they were doing, etc. For example, I had a vague sense that things were going well for me, but I had no idea that I was winning.
Interestingly, missing getting an office worked out pretty well for me. It pushed me in the direction of having diverse production - that's a reasonable substitute for an office as a practical matter, as you're pretty much guaranteed to have something to sell, and that then led me to buy a factory, which was very lucrative. Having the factory as an independent income source was also handy in that I could then afford to ship tobacco and coffee, which can block the ships for those wanting to ship large amounts of the cheaper goods (corn, indigo), and force people to ship tobacco and coffee when they might prefer to sell them at the trading house.
There's also lots of synergy between the factory and the harbor, in that the latter also rewards diversity (since you get +1 VP per shipment, not per good, you're better off producing a lot of different goods, as you can then net 6 VP by shipping just 3 goods.