So, it's time to cook up some pizza, a classic dish. But how do I make a pizza? Well, I'll need mozzarella cheese, some tomato sauce, and dough. But wait, I'll also need tomatoes to make the sauce, plus flour and milk to make the dough. Oh yeah, and I definitely need a mixer to make the dough. These are the considerations players will come across in ChefVille, Zynga's new cooking simulator set to launch on Facebook this week.
Zynga GM of ChefVille Jonathan Knight (formerly of RockYou) showed off the upcoming cooking game in a hands-off preview, detailing exactly how players will come to making the game's numerous dishes. From simple meals like pizza and hamburgers to more complex cuisine like Caprese salad and stir fry vegetables, nearly every dish takes at least a few of its major ingredients into account when creating it for the players' endless stream of customers.
For one, players can harvest these ingredients by walking out into the areas surrounding their restaurant. As they level up, master dishes and earn recommendations from customers and fellow players alike, they'll expand into new areas. For instance, if you really want to incorporate Italian dishes into your menu, then you'll have to expand into the Tuscan-themed area, If you'd like access to seafood, then you must venture toward the harbor. Of course, each area unlocks new decor for your restaurant.
The other means of procuring ingredients is, like any good Zynga game, to visit friends. Well, visit them, taste their food, and "borrow" ingredients from dishes to use in your own. "The fun part here is that this is really a discovery game. You are going to see dishes on your neighbors' counters that you are not necessarily even able to cook yourself," Knight tells us. "You kind of help each other, trade, visit and share those ingredients. That's a lot like real life when you are borrowing a cup of sugar from a neighbor. Or picking up the lemons from your tree if you are lucky enough to live on California."
In a macro sense, it's about cooking and earning mastery over dishes, and then customer service and earning recommendations," Knight elaborates. "Those two things go together to allow you to kind of expand your game and unlock new cuisine, new appliances, and new areas on your board."
That's the general hook to ChefVille, especially considering you'll need recommendations to unlock new areas, which are home to new ingredients and new decorations. (You can also earn recommendations by performing Chef Service, which has your chef personally serve customers for bonus points.) But the most interesting feature in ChefVille by far is Game to Table.
A number of dishes in ChefVille have real-life recipes attached to them. When you reach a certain level of mastery in these special dishes, you'll receive those recipes so that you can cook them yourself. "They're created by our executive chefs here at Zynga who feed 2,000 people a day, Knight says. "We worked really hard to bring these kind of high-quality real recipes into the game and make that part of the core fun." And Zynga looks to involve the community even more than in previous games.
"We have a community that Zynga is actually running right now, and we're going to continue to do that going forward, wherein the players can submit their favorite recipes that they've created. We're going to have lucky winners that we'll choose and match those up with actual dishes that you can cook in the game," Knight explains. "Then we're going to integrate those recipes from the winners of the community, so there is a vehicle for the fans to get their own recipes into the game."
All of these features and considerations aside, ChefVille certainly has a level of polish not seen before in simulation games on Facebook. While it's still too early to tell, consider us cautiously optimistic that this is a bright sign of Zynga innovating in social games in interesting areas: community and realism. ChefVille launches this week on Facebook and Zynga.com.
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