Patrick Curry’s Thoughts on Game Design

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May 14th, 2006

Game Idea #20: Family Restaurant

Welcome to the twentieth game idea of the year.

High Concept:

Family Restaurant is a microcosm game: The entire gameworld consists of a single small restaurant, owned and run by a family: your family. Watch as your restaurant, your family, and your community grow around you as the years pass by.



Why it needs to be made:

I’ve always liked the idea of a game with a very small physical space, but a very large possibility space. Family Restaurant would test the limits of this idea, but with the help of proven sim and minigame mechanics.


So you’ve decided to open a restaurant. You’ve spent what little money you had buying and cleaning up a small building on the corner. Now the real work begins, interviewing people, hiring some help, and getting your restaurant off the ground. As word spreads, you begin to recognize some people from the neighborhood, and before too long you have regulars who you’re on a first name basis.

Your customers are there for the food, and cooking is an important part of the game. Different cooking mini-games are played when your customers order different things. Some items on the menu are cooked via a puzzle-based game involving mixing ingredients just right, but other items are cooked in a reflexes-based game involving flipping items on the grill with precise timing.

As time goes on your relationships with your customers grow. You get to know them, introduce them to each other, and contribute to your community. Watch as a couple meets for the first time, goes on dates, and then eventually gets engaged right in your restaurant. The game isn’t just about good cooking, it’s also about good people and good times.

Why it will be fun:

Cooking is a pretty fun game to play in the real-world, so why not in a video game? Of course you wouldn’t get to taste the fruits of your labor directly, but watching a satisfied customer lean back in his chair with a big grin on his face after a great meal would be very rewarding. But it would be even more rewarding to hear how you helped that customer out in his personal life, or how he always feels like he’s at home when he’s at your place.

Final thoughts:

Family Restaurant isn’t a business-sim. It’s a game about socializing and interacting with people. It just so happens that a restaurant is a fantastic excuse to get people talking with each other, and interacting in a meaningful way.

Thanks to Patrick Moran for his help with this week’s idea. It was great catching up out in LA!

4 Responses to “Game Idea #20: Family Restaurant”

  1. Mason Dixon commented:
    posted May 14th, 2006 at 12:19 pm

    I wonder if you could hire DJs for the restuarant, so that you will have good music to listen to during gameplay. Would be nice to decorate the walls with your own photos too.

    There has to be a cleaning mini-game, with the inspector hot on your tail.

    You might have to call the police some night; maybe save a neighborhood boy from some bullies. Or maybe some ruthless land developers come to buy you out. Oh, am I sneaking some ‘action game’ into the idea? Might be needed. It cant be all ‘Desperate Housewives’ and Tetris. ;-)

    I could see doing interviews with real small resturant owners to get actual stories of memorable things that have happened to them, or ways they have grown with their community.

    Another gem, patrick. Thanks!

  2. Joel E. commented:
    posted June 17th, 2006 at 2:13 pm

    Excellent idea.

    Perhaps you could put a bit more emphasis on the family as well? The teenage daughter only works at night, brings in more young customers, and will some day quit to go to college.
    Mom, dad or grandpa could be extra good at cooking (bad stereotype, I just realised), making the mini-games easier.

    The daughter could perhaps go to a cooking college, and after a few years, there’s a possibility of her coming back as a full-fledged chef, giving the player a way to make it into a more high class place.

    Which of course brings us to decorating the place! You can buy new decor for your place with the money you own, and attract different sort of clientele. Start out as a simple pizza-place, and thirty years later, the place is a fancy, expensive place for the rich people.

    Fascinating concept.

  3. David Provost commented:
    posted June 18th, 2006 at 8:49 pm

    Mini games similar to those in “Puzzle Pirates” would be great for cooking different kinds of food and doing other restaurant tasks.

  4. Alexis commented:
    posted March 21st, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    i think diner dash copied you! snowy’s lunch rush, and cake mania go that way too! :(

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