Over the last few weeks, we've brought you the news that Zynga has been toying with the ability to play some of their games with non-Facebook friends, in order to always have people around and ready to help you out in your games. In Cafe World, it looks like things are really ramping up to a final release, as the company has released a guide to the new Chef Circle, that will let you play Cafe World with complete strangers, all while retaining your privacy.
First and foremost, this feature is, as of this writing, only available to a handful of players. As Zynga works to eliminate bugs and other issues, it will be rolled out to more chefs. Once it's available to you, you'll be able to join a Chef Circle populated by strangers, but only your first name and your profile picture will be available to them. None of your profile information will be readily available (of course, this doesn't stop players from searching for you manually and finding you based on your profile picture - but that's why you can make your overall Facebook profile private - and should).
While in the same Chef Circle as other players, you'll constantly have the ability to add those users as Facebook friends, opening both of you up to further gameplay opportunities, like sending each other individual gift requests or accepting gifts from their news feed posts as you do currently with your real Facebook friends. Again, both of those tasks are not available between non-Facebook friends who just so happen to be in a Circle together, so your interaction is limited to visiting their cafes, spicing their dishes and helping them complete all new co-op Chef Circle goals and challenges.
To access your Chef Circle, you'll have a new button in the menu that's specifically called "Chefs Circle," which allows you to view a new in-depth dashboard, where the pictures of your crew appear, and where you can track each user's progress with a particular Chef Circle challenge or goal. You will be able to send these users items that go back to a goal, but these items are random, removing your ability to choose what you send. As for the goals themselves, you'll see a summary of the current goal along the right side of the screen, and can track your own progress as related to the team's overall progress in two meters.
If you see any players in your Chef Circle with "Zzz" under their profile picture, it means that they haven't played the game in order five days and you'll have the ability to send them a reminder to come back and help the team. The first person to finish any team goal will receive a "crown," or a set of stars around their profile picture. After the entire team finishes a goal, everyone will then receive the prize listed (5 Cafe Cash, in our above example), and you can all then move onto the next goal.
Let's say you run into a group of players that aren't very active, or are sporadic at best. You can leave your current Chef Circle for any reason, at any time, and join another to try your luck with other players. You can't handpick your Chef Circles, but you won't be placed back into the Circle your just left either.
As the overall goal here seems to be to allow players to meet other chefs in a safe environment, and then eventually add them as Facebook friends to open up further interaction, you can even chat with users in a chat panel on the left side of the screen. A profanity filter is in place, of course, but you can also report any user for doing or saying something naughty if it slips through the filter (which honestly wouldn't surprise me).
All told, these co-op goals and challenges seem like they could be fun, but then again, so did Co-Op Farming when it first launched in FarmVille, and that feature has been all but entirely abandoned now. Still, Catering Orders are fairly popular in Cafe World, and are updated all of the time, so maybe this will turn into something fun after all. Either way, we'll make sure to let you know when the Chef Circle feature opens up to more players, so keep checking back.
[Guide Image Credit: Zynga]
In the meantime, let us know what you think of this future Chef Circle feature in the comments. Are you looking forward to being able to play the game with non-Facebook friends, even if it doesn't look like we'll be able to help each other with currently released goals and catering orders? Sound off in the comments.