"All these restaurants around me... A sad saturation of food I tell you!"
Once in a blue moon passionate gamers will come up with interesting ideas for a game and there's only so much we can do with our ideas. It's easy to say "Hey! I got an idea for a game!" but there's more to the actual development of a game than what meets the eye. What I would like to do here is to show you guys a skeleton of a concept that I feel would translate well into a video game. It's fun to just talk about different video game concepts and to let things fly once in a while. This concept in particular hits home to me, but it isn't because I am a huge fanatic of the theme.
I like restaurants. I don't absolutely love restaurants. I like it when I have some options in the market of restaurants in my home area. I don't like it when I have way too many options in restaurants. I really like variety in options when it comes to things that I want to do in my home area. Why do I mention this? It's because that is the pretty much the current situation surrounding the small city that I normally go into. It's a small city that has hardly anything to talk about and it's a city that isn't shy at all to bring in many new restaurants... and it's a small city that relies on restaurants so much that it's to a fault.
There is one reason why many restaurants fail in the country of the United States of America. Saturation of competition. It isn't the only reason why many restaurants fail but it's a contributing factor. There is only so much a city can handle when it comes to the restaurant business before the citizens of said city become numb to it and start pushing back.
There are only so many options a person can have. In the small city where I live, I can count as many as around two dozen restaurants that are competing for the love and the money of customers and over the years it has only made me shake my head in disapproval all the more. Wasting opportunities in other fields such as extra curricular activities and general hobbies that people can expand on and replacing them with this weight gain agenda... "When in doubt, add 10 new restaurants! That will make the citizens happy! Derp!"
Now how do we tie this in with a video game concept? Well, here we go. Do you know how compelling a character in a game can be if he or she is created by the player and is customized to fit the liking of the player? That is what we normally see in the RPG genre, building up worlds from the ground up by simply creating the character that we are going to follow for the entire journey. In this case, we wouldn't have to follow a single character but rather watch over an entity. We would be managing our own restaurant, the new kid on the block competing for the love and the pockets of the hungry people.
Using an RPG-like theory, we create our own restaurant and we start marketing our food product in this fictional game. We have options to choose from. What exactly is our business model as a restaurant? What kind of cuisine is our food centered around? General American cuisine? French? English? Irish? Australian? What special deals will we provide our customers? What is our signature dish? How will we promote our product?
Inside the restaurant, gamers would also manage their restaurant staffs. What kind of owner do we want to be? Strict? Laid back? Balanced? Unorthodox? What kind of employees do we want to hire in the initial hiring process? Who do we want as managers? How skilled will our chefs in the kitchen be?
What policies will we have in place for our employees to follow? What will we do if any of our employees goes out of line with our rules?
In this fictional game, we would also be able to observe our competition, whether stiff or casual, and we would figure out what it is the other restaurants do that make our restaurant pale in comparison. What do the other restaurants do that we don't do? What do they do better than us? How are the other restaurants getting the word out on their products? Where are these other restaurants located?
The main goals for a game like this is to:
A) establish an identity for our new restaurant
B) economically strengthen our restaurant to make it viable
C) build on and maintain a positive reputation for our restaurant
Since we are focusing on a restaurant business and not on any one man or woman, it would be wise for the game to center around the entire staff of the restaurant. We would be allowed to witness development of these characters as they perform their deeds and we would get to know some interesting things about our staff members. We would also get to see if any friction develops between staff members or if a sudden resentment arises between the employees and upper management. Some RPGs have something that is called a "Like Meter" which would indicate how well off characters are in their group. A high Like Meter means that a character is well liked. A low Like Meter means that a character isn't well liked.
In comparison to other things that go on in the world, running a restaurant is rather mundane, so the real challenge for development teams would be the act of making such an activity more appealing and interesting. When a gamer engages in a game, he or she wants to have the kind of motivation that will lure them into playing for sustainable periods of time. We gotta have goals and tasks for our custom restaurant staff to perform. We need them to achieve some goals that will advance the well being of the restaurant. Let's make it fun for the gamer who engages in this Restaurant Preservation game.
This could be the kind of game where a "completionist" gamer, a gamer who wants to not only beat the game but complete it 100% with no stone unturned, could sink his or her teeth into. Flipping burgers alone won't make this game appealing as it should only be one small part of the entire gameplay experience here. Successfully completing orders for customers, having good customer service skills and going the extra mile to make sure any mistakes get corrected can go a long way into making the gameplay feel rewarding.
As well as possibly firing employees who don't do their jobs at your restaurant, you can also give your employees promotions if you see fit to do so. If you think that an employee has done well enough to deserve a promotion, then you might just get rewarded for promoting that employee. The overall morale of the restaurant could improve if the right employees are promoted. In a game like this one, we are not looking out for just ourselves and our own interests. We are being mindful of what our customers want, what makes them happy and what they are looking for in service and in options.
Creating a game like Restaurant Preservation... Let's give this a decent name... Restaurant Frenzy... is new in the sense that it ventures away from being a typical run of the mill simulation game like The Sims, which isn't a bad series. Restaurant Frenzy stands out on its own because it only puts a focus on the restaurant business and nothing else. In theory we could design this game to be an educational experience for gamers, to teach them some things about how the restaurant business really is. If gamers ever want to start up their own restaurant in real life, then some of the things they would experience in Restaurant Frenzy would carry over to any business decisions they make in real life. It's a good thought at least.
When you have something that you don't feel so good about, try not to be so quick in dismissing that thing you have. Try whatever you can to turn that thing around and make it work for you. Use whatever that thing provides for you and make it a benefit for you, not a detriment. Gamers could very well be taught that kind of principle when they play this game.
Now I'll have a Wisconsin Buttery Steakburrger with fries on the side... Know which restaurant I'm talking about?