The adventure began when I started brainstorming ideas for a simple game to make… and turned into an addictive obsession, albeit an insightful one. As I put aside my phone, to ignore the lure of these games, I shall share some of those insights with you. I have been playing several food-based mobile games, simply because I’m a college student and food is ridiculously interesting when I’m starving at 3 am.
These games are Bakery Story 2, Restaurant 2, and Bakery Town. All three are restaurant management games, focusing on filling catering missions, earning money to buy groceries and upgrade the restaurant.
Catering missions are the main aspect that keeps me addicted to these games. There is something very psychologically rewarding about completing tasks like baking x amount of cookies within a time limit. Not all of the missions have time limits, but the ones that do I find the most mentally rewarding. Time limits provoke a sense of urgency and excitement in the player. Beyond the time limit and the substantial reward for these quests, there exists little difference between these quests and the normal unrestrained cooking orders. Observe the two situations,
Game: Bake x muffins at your leisure
Me: Meh, guess I’ll do that…
[End Result: I bake x muffins and feel vaguely positive about accomplishing this task]
Game: YOU HAVE N HOURS TO BAKE X MUFFINS!
Me: Oh shit! Better drop everything and get to baking!
Game: HURRY THE FUCK UP!
[End Result: I bake x muffins in n-1 hours, and lose n-1 hours of sleep or studying time, but I feel amped about finishing it. 10/10, would play again.]
See what time limits can do?
Ruin your life make a boring task suddenly interesting.
I should mention that while these games are free-to-play, the developer hopes that you’ll throw money at the screen when you are blinded with rage. And that happens quite often. Usually because you can’t reasonably cook all those muffins in time or your restaurant looks like shit and all the cute furniture is expensive.
Pictured above: The Dream (my eyes are bleeding; it’s so beautiful!)
And the soul crushing reality.
In general, timed missions carry very high risk, but also high reward. Not so much in the prizes or loot you receive from completing these missions, but in how you feel about the game. A ton of people hate timed missions in games. After all, nothing is more frustrating than losing the mission by a mere 2 seconds. And then there’s the feeling of despair and then resigned apathy when midway through the mission you realize, without a doubt, you will fail this mission. Cue the rage quit.
But winning these missions? Best feeling in the world. The rush of adrenaline, increasing the closer you are to running out of time. The exhilaration of finally beating the shit out of the mission. And the relief of just barely making it in time. Now you feel like a total badass, ready to take on the next challenge the game throws at you. Cue the background explosion, upon completion of all those fucking muffins.
Ok, to be honest, I don’t get that hyped about completing the timed cooking missions of Bakery Story 2. But we’ve all experienced that moment at some point in our gaming history. And as game development students, we can take some notes of what kinds of missions we want to include in our own games.