9 March, 2008
This week, let’s talk about an often overlooked part of online game: food.
What interesting designs can we come up with that include food? My thoughts after the jump.
In many games, food is nowhere near as important is it is in the offline world. For example, in WoW you can eat to heal faster than normal, but you will still heal just fine without food. In high-end raiding, most people are happy with summoned food and drink, which traditionally has been rather plain in RPGs. The cooking skill had only minor use at the game’s launch; it’s been recent additions that have made the cooking skill much more attractive, especially with buffs at the higher end. EQ2, on the other hand, has a specialized trade profession with a variety of recipes. This profession focuses on creating food that gives significant bonuses.
Can it be more than something people just keep around for mere convenience? Can it be a more important part of the game? What can a designer do to make people feel more interested in food for more than a minor gameplay element?
This challenge is related to a previous challenge about sensory experiences. Food is definitely about sensory experiences in the offline world. If you want to have more involvement with food in your game, perhaps you should try to engage more senses?
It’s also interesting that some online experiences have gone offline. For example, one site tries to duplicate WoW food with offline recipes you can supposedly make. I’m not sure I really want to try some of those recipes my character makes. I’m especially hesitant about trying anything that requires goblin rocket fuel as an ingredient….
The question in the end is, of course, is this fun? Can you make food more fun that it is in current games? Or, is it fun enough? What improvements can be made? Can it play a greater role in a character’s life? Or, is this a case where it will never have the same impact as offline food due to the lack of it being a basic necessity?