You may remember Cafe World – Zynga’s original take on restaurant simulations. Well it seems they think there is space for a new restaurant game and so they’ve just released ChefVille. I’m no stranger to chef games, so I figured I’d share my personal opinion on the game.
Ok, first of all, how do I get that violinist in my restaurant???
ChefVille combines three main elements often found throughout many of their games – cooking, farming and exploration.
Cooking is really just ‘crafting’ in disguise. Players must combine ingredients and then wait to reveal a dish to serve to their customers. Players can even cook ingredients together to get other ingredients (like onion and tomato make tomato sauce). This crafting mechanic certainly makes cooking feel more real and in a pleasant way. My one hope – is that food does not spoil. I guess time will tell…
Of course, the player must acquire the ingredients – and there are multiple ways to do this. There is the traditional friend requests, purchasing with premium currency and farming.
Farming in ChefVille is a bit different than farming in games like Cityville or Castleville. Instead, the player can acquire items which produce a single ingredient type. Of course, the player must spend energy to collect that item. This mechanic is functional, and also pleasant since it ties in so well with cooking.
The farmable objects can be anything from onion patches, tomato bushes, cheese carts and bread baskets – they all magically produce items over and over again.
However, more advanced recipes require different ingredients. This is where exploration comes in.
The player starts out with a small restaurant with indoor and outdoor space. However, they’ll soon want to start expanding. Not just to get more space, but to get access to new types of ingredients. I find this mechanic to be super motivating – I can’t wait to unlock the awesome new things that are hiding in each of the exploration areas. For example, I really want to get this candy shop!
These new buildings act just like the other farming items by handing out one ingredient over time. However, these exploration buildings require ‘staff.’ This is one way they tie social into the core mechanic – the player must find friends to accept a ‘job’ at the building before it starts working. So far, it’s not too demanding which is nice from the player’s perspective, though I don’t know how impactful it will be for virality.
Problem – How to I get more tables?
It appears I can not have more tables, but I have no idea why! I’m wondering if this is a bug… take a look at my recent blog post, Cognitive Dissonance in Game Design. Not knowing how to get what I want is a big no-no!
Mastery stars are earned for cooking a dish over and over again. It’s a common mechanic seen in many other games. What I really like is that ChefVille uses the accumulated mastery stars to rate each player instead of the traditional XP meter. I’ve seen other games move away from rating players based on their level and I think it is great. The XP meter is arbitrary and really just shows how LONG the player has played and not how much they’ve achieved. Being rated by mastery stars that the player has decided to earn is much more emotional – plus it’s the easiest thing for the player to figure out how to do and strengthens the core loop of the game.
Final Thoughts… For Now
While I’ve only just begun playing the game, I’m having a good time so far. I like the graphics and animations and I find the music and SFX to be appealing – especially the cork popping sound! It’s not as exciting as Castleville which features a more complex experience, but it’s a nice, relaxing way to spend some time.