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  • Results from Game Design Challenge: Restaurant Game

    [02.26.09]
    - Manveer Heir
  • Title BoxRunning a restaurant is one of the most difficult and often tried businesses in the world. There is something universal about the restaurant (possibly that we all have been in one) that makes people feel they can start their own restaurant even if they don't have experience.

    Our "Game Design Challenge: Restaurant Game" asked you to help these future restaurateurs by designing for them a game that would simulate the difficulties of running all or part of a restaurant.

    Many of the entries focused on the management aspect of the restaurant, how to stay profitable and keep customers happy. It's certainly one of the most important parts of the business. If customers aren't happy for whatever reason (service, food, location, price), they don't come back and you don't make money.

    The difficulty the player should feel when playing this type of game should come from trying to juggle a large variety of tasks. Much like game designers, owners often have to wear many hats: hostess, expediter, manager, short-order cook, busboy, and any other job that needs to be done.

    The best games of this category forced the player to juggle many things back and forth, but in a way that wasn't obscenely difficult for a game or uninteresting.

    A good number of entries focused on the waiting and cooking of the food, with Cooking Mama-style games being popular in this category. We found many of these entries, unfortunately, to be knock-offs of games that already exist, though there were still some good designs to be found. The best games of this category concentrated on making the customer happy with food quality, service, and timeliness, and put obstacles in the player's way continuously to make completing the tasks difficult. The service industry is rife with obstacles and hardship, so it makes sense that a game about this side of restaurants would use that as the primary way to combat player success.

    It was rather amazing how most entries almost universally discussed choosing a location and even referenced games like Theme Park that threw that at the player as well. No entries really only focused solely on this aspect, which was right on, as there probably isn't a ton to do with just choosing location. Good design minds all around there!

    All in all, we read a lot of really interesting designs this time and it was hard to choose the best, but here were the ones we thought were the top three as well as a few honorable mentions.

    BEST ENTRIES
    Christopher Plummer, Lead Game Analyst, Fork and Spoon
    (see page 2)
    In his submission, Christopher Plummer explains very well what the player will do in the game and how success is measured. He breaks down into component parts some of the larger ideas of running a restaurant: customer satisfaction, popularity, kitchen chaos, and more. One thing that made his submissions strong is the amount of action used in his description of the game play (see his list of seven things that can go wrong, for example), giving us a clear idea of what the player will do and what will be happening on screen as someone plays this game.

    David McClure, Unemployed, London, The Best of the Worst (see page 3)
    David McClure may be a little bit jaded from the time he spent working in a take-out restaurant, as he mentions, but he's got a clear idea of where he would go with a game about the restaurant and food service industry. He knows what the game would consider and what it would leave out. His ability to refine what would be put in the game is nothing more than a matter of being clear and rigid about the scope of the game, something we look favorably on in these challenges -- and in real game development, too!

    Garrett Guillotte, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Restaurantris (see page 4)
    Another entry that had a clear focus and scope was sent in by Garrett Guillotte, who pounded the words, "location, location, location," and to very good effect. Guillotte took some time to explain how players accumulate points and what the points stand for, which was also a selling mark of his idea, tying the game design principles to the content of the game clearly and neatly.

    Honorable Mentions
    Liam, Designer/Music Specialist at Zoe Mode, Kitchen Panic (see page 5)
    John Gordon, Aspiring Game Designer, Entree-penuer (see page 6)
    Kayleigh Oliver, Software Technician, Restaurant Success (see page 7)

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