Wednesday, June 20

Chocolatier: A Recipe for Success

The other day I heard about a game called Chocolatier over at Big Fish. I downloaded the demo and tried it tonight and, Imust say, I'm fairly impressed. Chocolatier is designed for the casual gamers market, but can be enjoyed by all. After all, even core gamers like me and probably you can still succumb to the addictive qualities of simpler online games. Players build a chocolate business empire in this tycoon sim. After the first few minutes of play, players found a new and rising chocolate business destined to take over the world, free trade and globalization intact. The premise is fun and unique, seting a tone of quality time to come.
The chocolate making mini-game

I have only played twenty minutes thusfar, but in that short span of time I have noticed a really cool gameplay mechanic. Players obtain recipies for chocolate bars and must cook them in a little mini-game at the city factory. The mini-game is simple (intentionally), but certainly fun at the same time. Players shoot ingredients, from an ingredient cannon of sorts, into tray slots to create chocolate bars. The faster and more efficient chocolatier's are, the faster the ingredients will come and trays will renew, allowing players to make more and more bars within a given time limit. When the time is up, players are told how many bars they were able to produce. This could have been a simple distraction from the main game. But what Big Fish has done is meld this with the empire half of the game.

Each week, in game time, chocolate bars are sold from the factory where the bars were produced. The number of bars sold per week are, ingredients willing, the number of bars the player was able to create in the mini-game. Big Fish has merged the mini-game portion of Chocolatier with the empire portion. This is a cause and effect relationship. A player's success in the main empire game is somewhat determined by his or her skill in the mini-game. Its beautiful game design, really. But the real filling in the chocolate bar, so to speak, is the balancing of these two game areas. The mini-game is pretty easy but becomes progressively more challening both in game as the speed ramps up, and as players acquire more difficult recipes. Just about anyone can play the mini-game with good enough efficiency. Second, a player's skill is neither detrimental to the game's enjoyment nor the empire's sucess. Therefore, while the mini-game does effect the main game in a significant way, it isnt a make or break deal. All of this is good for a casual game.
The empire building game

There are other facets of Chocolatier that make the game fun to play and are pretty much guaranteed hits with the casual crowd. One is collection. Everybody loves collection. Poke'mon is proof. Actually, almost any RPG has some form of collection: collection of experience points, collection of new and better weapons and items, collection of allies, etc. In Chocolatier, players collect recipes for a smorgasbord of what-have -yous from chocolate bars to nuggets. Collecting new chocolate recipes is fun. Players look forward to the next recipe because it will allow them to expand their empire further and bigger. A funny thing about collection systems, is that players always feel accomplished after each and every addition, simply because its the newest and best at the time. I was ecstatic to find "Dark Chocolate" as my second recipe in the game. Why? Because its better than normal chocolate in numerous ways. Nevermind that there are thirty-odd more recipes to acquire. I have my dark chocolate now and its better than regular chocolate.

A third system Chocolatier employs is that of exploration. "Exploration is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your gonna get." Chocolatier allows players to create a multi-national chocolate empire. Players visit many cities throughout the world, diverse in look, characters, and chocolate sold. There is also a strategy aspect to this. As it takes time in weeks to travel from city to city, players must plan so that their chocolate stock doesn't deplete during the journey. Its just plain fun.

Chocolatier is a cool little game. I actually want to play right now just thinking about it. Even so, the longevity and replayability of the game are questionable. These probably vary from person to person, so I'll have to play more to determine for myself. Check it out, if you would and discover the casual gamer in you.

On another note entirely, have you guys seen the new Game Trailers. Its even better then before. No more windows and multiple versions of trailers! Yay!

this friendly neighborhood blog post brought to by the word "employ" (because it rocks).

No comments:

Post a Comment