the cake is a lie.
December 13, 2017 6:57 PM   Subscribe

The All-Consuming Emotions of Food in Video Games [US Gamer] “Food is often seen in games as a means of survival, mostly as health. A piece of bread stolen off a vendor's table in Skyrim will grant you two health; the cabbage stew at the tavern will grant you 10. In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the spicy pepper steak will take the edge off of cold weather. A game like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has a huge inventory of food items, many of which are dropped after knocking out enemies. While the enormous variety adds an element of immersiveness into Castlevania, it's often nothing health or a novelty. Though none of these games' food systems could be considered simplistic, they have a narrow view of eating; food is health, and eating is the mechanic in which it's used. It's easy to see food only as a function of survival, but there’s a whole breadth of games—”

• A short history of food in videogames [Kill Screen]
“What’s particularly notable about Pac-Man as a force for cultural change is that, before it, people could only get points by shooting and killing in games such as Asteroids (1979) and Space Invaders (1978), and since arcade gaming was about being represented by the top three letters on the scoreboard, they would shoot and kill ceaselessly. When Pac-Man arrived, players could earn points by eating pellets, fruits, and ghosts—it’s a small but significant change. It proved that people were not discouraged by a game without guns because what they cared about was the competition to the top; the means of getting there didn’t matter. From Pac-Man onwards, food was transformed in its role in videogames and has been used in several ways. Role-playing games like Chrono Trigger (1995) had food as a source of health regeneration, while some Nintendo titles expanded the usage of food to increased endurance and extra lives, such as Mario’s mushrooms. Some real-time strategy titles like Age of Empires (1997) used wheat and meat as commodities, and survival games like Don’t Starve (2013) give food its more conventional use as an essential item for keeping starvation away.”
• The joy of RPG cooking: why games shouldn't abandon the culinary arts [PC Gamer]
“...I've come to think of cooking and eating as an inherently social activity, and thus I find my greatest enjoyment of its digital counterpart in MMOs. Single-player games might have more realistic cooking mechanics, but MMOs let you share your food with other people. Better than that, you can sell that grub. Hell, there's actual prestige. It's one thing to be proud of making a stash of Elsweyr Fondue in Skyrim that no one gets to see besides you and Lydia, but back in the day, it was quite another to be one of the few proud owners of the ridiculously rare recipe for Dirge's Kickin' Chimaerok Chops in World of Warcraft. I also love the apprentice-and-master dynamic surrounding the craft in Final Fantasy XIV. And much of the fun I get out of Elder Scrolls Online these days springs from roleplaying as a chef with all the rare recipes I've amassed over the years I've played, to say nothing I get out of the fun of surreptitiously scrounging around in crates and cupboards for choice ingredients while the guards are turned away. There's thus a sense of danger involved in cooking that Direnni Hundred-Year Rabbit Bisque or that Planked Abecean Longfin. It makes cooking exciting, and I wish more games followed suit.”
• Iron Chef meets Harry Potter in this delicious Nintendo Switch game [AV Club]
“Battle Chef Brigade’s concept is so irresistible it carried the modest game to a successful Kickstarter campaign that brought in three times what the developers were asking for. It takes place in a food-obsessed world where the most revered master chefs don’t just prepare extraordinary dishes, they also have to hunt down the fantastical beasts and fruits they’re cooking. And to become members of the Battle Chef Brigade, a collective of the most elite cooks around, hopefuls descend upon a single city and engage in rigorous culinary combat, gathering ingredients and combining them into intricate meals that meet the demands of esteemed judges—all within a strict time limit. Yes, it’s fantasy Iron Chef, presented with all the pageantry and ridiculous posing that implies, and yes, it’s as fun as it sounds.”
• The Comforts of Playing With Food in Nour [Unwinnable]
“Be it a bowl of delicious ramen or an overflowing cup of bubble tea, I’m free to interact with the food however I want. No strings attached. In fact, developer TJ Hughes has even taken out objectives that were present in the first few builds of the game, so that players won’t be constrained by these goals. What’s more is that all these dishes are so enticing and exquisitely designed that, like a young child naturally drawn to colorful objects, I feel the urge to reach out and make a mess of everything. Food in early videogames have typically been about nourishment. In between bouts of fist fights and monster slaying, you may pick up a chunk of meat or milkshake, which are dropped haphazardly from the heavens or by downed enemies, to give your health a much-needed boost. It was only in later years that food played a bigger role as a source of comfort for players. Games like Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Final Fantasy XV have a greater emphasis on cooking as compared to older videogames. Coupled with the capacity to own homes, these dishes make your abode feel cosier and lived-in. I’ve spent countless hours arranging boxes of Sugar Bombs and Nuka Cola in my Fallout mancave, even though this doesn’t help me secure any tangible in-game achievements.”
• Nour Is the Trippiest Game About Food You'll Ever Play [IGN]
“Cooking, and consequently food, becomes a taxing ordeal, defined almost entirely by its preparation and rarely on the magic and art of it – we are rewarded with the relief of a completed objective, while the actual meal itself remains largely uncelebrated. That’s where Nour comes in. Part physics toy, part interactive pop art gallery, Nour delivers a much more playful take on food games by centering entirely on the joy of food itself. It’s a charming, wildly-colored absurdist mess played by, quite fittingly, smashing random keys on your keyboard, and I’ve come to love it ever since constructing my first penta-strawed monster milk tea at this year’s Game Developers Conference. [...] Each key triggers a new event or transformation across Nour’s handful of levels. You might start by chucking individual tapioca balls at a cup of milk tea before escalating them into a flurry of bubbles and straws. Popping individual popcorn kernels on a wobbly platform before sending them flying in a hail of salt is strangely mesmerizing, as is piling a shower of ramen noodles, tofu, and halved eggs into a bowl of broth and topping it all off with oversized cuts of pork.”
• A Game About Cooking Eggs And Dealing With The Devil [Kotaku]
“The results are cute at first. Dropping an egg leads it to hatch, and the gameplay shifts to controlling a small chick as they hunt down worms and food. Get enough food and you’ll turn into a chicken. If you eat even more, you’ll lay an egg with a new chick to control. This cycle can go on for as long as you want. When I played the game, I was content to hatch a small army of chickens. It wasn’t until I realized the chickens could stand on each other that things turned dark. I built a ladder of chickens and climbed to the kitchen countertop. There, I fried eggs in a glitched-up remix of the first part of the game before dropping one on the ground and being sent to Hell itself. Arriving in Hell changes the game into a tile-based dungeon crawler all about collecting items, dealing with demons, and learning all of the seven deadly sins so you can light a group of ritual altars. It’s absurd.”
• Dark Souls and doughnuts – what video games taught me about vegan cookery [The Guardian]
“My character, who I call Soul Level One Sally, will remain the mostly pathetic creature in Lothric for the entire game, and I’ll be seeing “YOU DIED” a lot. Before I give in to this temptation to renege, the oven timer dings and I’m freed to tend to a completely different, yet weirdly related task: my latest round of egg-and-dairy-free donuts. I’ve been test-baking various batches of these vegan treats for the past month, each one offering different problems to solve. Too much flour, not enough flour; flax egg proves tough as a binding agent, but bananas are too soft. Parry/riposte. Try again. Experimentation is what I’m about these days, whether it’s going vegan or playing Dark Souls 3 in weird ways. I like a challenge, and more than that, I like taking on seemingly unnecessary self-imposed challenges like Soul Level One. Or, y’know. Veganism. When it comes to games, I’m not alone in my obsessive pursuit of self-imposed restrictions.”
• We found a recipe in Dishonored 2 and decided to cook it [Eurogamer] [YouTube]
“Dishonored 2 is not short on things for you to read as you slink about the place. Just as unconscious guards get stuffed into bins and back alleys, Karnaca is stuffed with letters, notices, diaries and edicts to peruse when you aren't knifing an unsuspecting guard in the spleen. These random texts even, as I was surprised to discover during the game's third mission, contain the occasional recipe. Stumbling across a recipe for hagfish quenelles, I found myself wondering if the instructions were actually viable or whether they were a bit of nonsense thrown together for some flavour text (no pun intended). My curiosity piqued, the only logical next step was to take the kitchen and try it out for myself. You can see how I got on in the video below. ”
• This Guy Is Putting Cooking Mama's Recipes to the Test [Waypoint] [YouTube Playlist]
“ The Cooking Mama series presents the eponymous Mama as a culinary master (and a crafting master, and a camping master, and a babysitting master among other things). But with all those conspicuous jump-cuts in her process as the game moves from one minigame to the next it's always been easy to doubt her actual prowess. Now YouTube creator (and engineer) GameTim is putting Mama's methods to the test, and while the results are seldom perfect it turns out there's still some value in Mama's repertoire. GameTim's setup is straightforward. On the left, gameplay footage from one of the many Cooking Mama games following a recipe from start to finish. On the right, a real-world recreation of the very same process — including a little good faith effort being made to estimate proper measurements and cooking times. Even mistakes are mirrored, like a slip-up with a makeshift pastry bag, an ice cube thrown just past a cocktail shaker, or a dessert that just won't release from its dish in time.”
• Cooking could be gaming's next gold rush [GamesRadar+]
“As David Galindo and Tom Eastman toil away on their respective games, both are keenly aware of appetite that exists for a great cooking game. "It's a tragically underserved market," said Galindo. "No one thinks that food and cooking is anything more than a casual game, and maybe that's because of the success of Diner Dash and Cooking Mama has pigeonholed the genre. I just find it very strange that we're not taking cooking games further. It's going to take a game like Battle Chef Brigade or my game to break through and show people these games can be fun and successful too." "The Food Network is extremely popular and cooking shows are extremely popular but somehow cooking is still a completely underrepresented genre in gaming," added Eastman. "There are so many different ways you can recreate that feeling of making something delicious - Cook, Serve, Delicious! does a good job of that, thankfully in a totally different style. The restaurant sim has been around for a while, but it's never really been about the competitive and improvisational aspects of cooking."”
posted by Fizz (43 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Fishing and subsequently cooking were my two favourite things to do in World of Warcraft from back in the day. I often wonder about the time I should have spent leveling up in something else. Fishing and cooking both allowed for some amazing potions to be made and also made me a shit ton of in-game wealth. So that was a nice thing as well, but mostly it was the kind of zen-like state that my character and I would enter into when cooking in a video-game. There's something peaceful and pleasant about it. Maybe because it's a safe thing to do in an otherwise violent and risky world, maybe that's why I enjoy cooking in video-games so much.
posted by Fizz at 7:06 PM on December 13, 2017 [12 favorites]

Somewhat related: Odin Sphere, an ARPG where you plant seeds, feed them with the essence of your enemies, grow food, and then cook it to level you up. Gorgeous art as well. The remaster on PS4 or the original on PS2 are both worth it.
posted by isauteikisa at 7:18 PM on December 13, 2017 [8 favorites]

Related Tumblr: More Games About Buildings and Food, which has both game food as well as architecture.
posted by codacorolla at 7:22 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you find the Dishonored 2 video as amusing as I did, there's a whole series of them. Relatedly, there's the Level 1 Chef blog, which is the same idea but done by a professional chef with a flair for pastry.
posted by wanderingmind at 7:22 PM on December 13, 2017

isauteikisa, Odin Sphere is also available on the PS Vita and I agree, it's gorgeous and worth playing. I had forgotten about that specific game mechanic until you just mentioned it. You grow magical fruit and then turn them into potions/buffs. There's also some really cool Norse mythology woven into the game. Badass Valkyrie Princesses that fight/fly. Well worth checking out.
posted by Fizz at 7:23 PM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

i am still pretty vexed that there's no trophy in any dishonored for eating everything you can get your hands on

i will cronch every last bastilian fig and morley apple and no one can stop me
posted by poffin boffin at 7:34 PM on December 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

posted by poffin boffin at 7:34 PM on December 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

I play Cookie Jam, a less annoying Candy Crush, in part because I find the improbable confections so soothing.

I remember wondering why food was always supposed to be magical in video games, when I was a kid. It had to be; it healed you, which was more than I had ever seen a turkey leg do. But the few games I played at that age that had a “realistic” health counter - ticking down while you played, filling up when you ate or rested - just irritated me.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:39 PM on December 13, 2017

My all-time favorite cooking game is still the Activision Atari 2600 title Pressure Cooker (gameplay), where you play a short-order chef making burgers using random ingredients thrown at you by a haywire food processor. I haven't played it in forever, but I remember it being very tactile and satisfying to play in a way that a lot of games at the time just didn't share. The mechanics and gameplay are very similar to Overcooked, which makes me wonder if it was one of the influences in the mix for the developers.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:52 PM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Probably my favorite use of food in video games is the Mass Effect 3 Citadel DLC, which starts out in a sushi restaurant ("French-guy-at-the-door fancy", as Jeff "Joker" Moreau puts it), which turns out to be a trap for Shepard. The great part is that the other Normandy crewmembers keep giving Shepard crap about the restaurant being destroyed, as if it's her fault; Tali goes into a long tirade about how she used to hang out near it when she was poor and imagine being able to afford it someday. When Shepard asks her if there's even anything there that Tali can eat (her people, the quarians, have a dextro-amino-acid-based physiology which means that they can't eat human food), Tali angrily mutters, "Not the point, Shepard."
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:15 PM on December 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

a whole breadth of games

I see what you did there.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:23 PM on December 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

*shoots the food*
posted by cowcowgrasstree at 9:05 PM on December 13, 2017 [10 favorites]

before it, people could only get points by shooting and killing in games

Erm.... Pong anyone?
posted by pompomtom at 9:18 PM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Whitney Reynolds wrote about FFXV's food for Eater: Why the Food in ‘Final Fantasy XV’ Is So Damn Realistic
[C]ooking in the game has the same rewards as in real life: It's social. Preparing meals at camp can lead to different dialogues between the game's characters, letting you learn more about them and their relationships. After enough nights around the campfire, Ignis will teach Prince Noctis how to cook — your only contribution is wiggling the controller joystick back and forth to stir, but while enjoying the camp kitchen conversation between the two of them, learning more about how their friendship works.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:27 PM on December 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

I would happily pay for a FFXV spin-off that just focused on Ignis's cooking.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:36 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

If I’ve learned anything from Fallout, it’s that food is unnecessary as long as you can keep shooting yourself up with stimpaks. Whee!
posted by ejs at 10:29 PM on December 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

re: Final Fantasy XV - a substantial portion of the food is also Malaysian.

(I know, I know, if you feel why does this poster always have a Malaysian factoid that's related, imagine how I feel.)

(also hey! I know that guy!)
posted by cendawanita at 10:40 PM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

y'know...with all the fancy graphics and realistic physics we have these days, it's probably an ideal time for a remake of Food Fight.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:34 PM on December 13, 2017

A 20 minute video showing every gratuitously-rendered food item in Final Fantasy XV.

that's some quality digital food, but what the everloving fuck is a product placement doing in a Final Fantasy game
posted by neckro23 at 11:59 PM on December 13, 2017

When I was maybe 14 I found a recipe for coq au vin in Deus Ex. I convinced my mom to let me try making it. Either I did something wrong or the recipe was weird, because I still remember that the end product was purple. It tasted good, but it was purple. I later learned that coq au vin is not typically purple.

But that’s how I learned what a bouquet garni is.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:39 AM on December 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

Erm.... Pong anyone?

Breakout. Lunar Lander. Night Driver. Stunt Cycle. Video Pinball.

And that's just Atari.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:54 AM on December 14, 2017


I think my favorite level of any of the Katamari games was the one where you roll around as a sumo wrestler, rolling over fruit baskets and noodle bowls until you reach your weight goal. That felt very different and more satisfying than other levels for some reason.

I enjoyed the openness of cooking in the new Zelda game. I definitely blew through a ton of resources trying to discover recipes. That was a fun and mysterious minigame. Ultimately, their recipe selection frustrated me, though. If they're not going to tell me what I can make, apparently I'm going to try to make real-life recipes exist in-game, and then fail a lot. I tried making a meaty stew over and over again, and kept ending up with greens. I was only able to make a vegetable curry with certain vegetables. Couldn't make chicken pot pie. It doesn't happen often that I am much better at something in real life than in a video game, but there you have it.
posted by heatvision at 3:19 AM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

that's some quality digital food, but what the everloving fuck is a product placement doing in a Final Fantasy game

I imagine it has something to do with a) the game being in development hell for years, b) it being a AAA game in an era when AAA has very clearly become unsustainable without gambling mechanics, and c) Square-Enix liking money.

That said, the Cup Noodle recipe is not as egregious as the Cup Noodle sidequest
posted by Merus at 3:53 AM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Here is a cool blog of a guy cooking the recipes from Stardew Valley.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:55 AM on December 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

One of my favourite features in Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom was that it finally gave names to the food distributed by the market depending on what foodsources are available (apparently I'm not the only one) .
posted by lmfsilva at 4:07 AM on December 14, 2017

These Gauntlet quotes are giving me the weirdest feelings about the past. It is like time travel almost. Weird how strong forgotten memories can be sometimes.

Related to food in gaming, my favorite, like Fizz, was also fishing and cooking, however I preferred Final Fantasy XI. I don't know why, but I feel like that game had the best fishing and best cooking (crafting as a whole, really) of any MMO. I don't know why, maybe because it was so frickin hard.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:27 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

These Gauntlet quotes are giving me the weirdest feelings about the past.

They mostly make me feel old...but that's okay, because I'm going to USE MAGIC TO KILL DEATH.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:54 AM on December 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

The Cooking Mama youtuber is inspiring me to do my own similarly nerdy cooking series, though I don't know what to do it on. I thought maybe following the book Cooking for Geeks but I feel like people would mostly watch that if it's more educational than I am necessarily capable of. I could maybe do internet shitpost cooking but how many memetic recipes are there even really.

I haven't read ALL the fuckin' articles (I did read the first one at least) but do any of them talk about Kingdom or Loathing/West of Loathing? Their food items and effects are hilarity. I think Fallen London could be placed in a similar category too: the food gives you effects, but also serve to communicate something about the style and lore of the place more than maybe "insert regular food in fantastical environment" would.
posted by divabat at 5:14 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

When I put up drywall, I always hide a fake plastic cooked turkey in the walls, just in case a Belmont visits.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:24 AM on December 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

One thing I'd like to note is the most recent Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Link has the ability to cook at any fire/pot.

Link can combine up to 5 items/ingredients/resources to create a recipe that will restore health and/or give a temporary status effect (boosted stamina, increased resistance to the cold, etc).

One thing I love, I cannot recall many other games doing this, is that you can make a bad recipe by combing the wrong items. You'll still get a minor health boost but Link will make a frown and utter a slight groan of disgust.

And I love this. That the game allows you to screw up in this way. Too often in gaming you gather ingredients to cook this perfectly crafted work of art. But here's a game that let's you mess it all up. Which happens in cooking and life.
posted by Fizz at 5:25 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

If I’ve learned anything from Fallout, it’s that food is unnecessary as long as you can keep shooting yourself up with stimpaks. Whee!

Just to note that in F4 food still isn't *necessary* but they added other effects to food so it can be worth having around. Grilled radstag increases carry weight for a while, frex, so it's useful for getting those last few microscopes to a workbench.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:38 AM on December 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

I do like the idea of the food crafting in Breath of the Wild, but man did I actually hate having to do it. The inventory management and actual process of "cooking" is so cumbersome that I reserved the special-effect cooked meals for situations where they were absolutely necessary so that I wouldn't have to cook more to replace them.

Which is entirely unlike real life, where I will happily cook ostensibly unnecessary things just because the process makes me happy.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:41 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've recently been playing a fair bit of Stardew Valley which is pretty food-centric (farming, foraging, fishing, &c). On rainy days you don't have to water your farm so I usually spend the day fishing, which is quite satisfying -- the minigame actually models how different fish behave, some very easy to catch, some much harder, and you can switch up your bait and tackle to optimize for various things. And then you bring your fish back to your little cottage and go to the stove and you can cook things, but compared to the fishing, cooking is kind of unsatisfying. You want sashimi? Click. There's your sashimi. Fish stew? Clam chowder? Click, it's in your inventory. It's efficient but it's a little bit of a letdown to be honest.

At least in a game like Minecraft (which I also revisited this year) you've got a little bit of time and process involved in cooking, and that makes it a bit more satisfying. Fishing in Minecraft is not quite as nuanced as Stardew Valley, but there's a furnace (which doubles as an oven), and you put in what definitely looks like a raw fish, and you put in some wood or coal, and you wait a bit while it cooks, and you take out something that definitely looks like a cooked fish. (Weirdly, you can put a stack of fish in the furnace but they don't all cook at once, they cook one by one.) While neither of these is anything like realistic, the addition of a bit of delay to cooking in Minecraft actually makes it more satisfying in a way. Maybe because cooking is at least partly about the wait? You put your meal together but then there's a period where you just have to let time and heat do their thing, and modeling that in-game feels right in a way that just clicking does not.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 6:39 AM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

I love the hagfish dumpling video from Dishonored 2. Everything in those games is so dystopian that even the food looks disgusting. Just rats and bugs and filth everywhere.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:00 AM on December 14, 2017

Just to note that in F4 food still isn't *necessary* but they added other effects to food so it can be worth having around.

Also if you play survival mode stimpacks have significant maluses that can be avoided by using food to heal. Stims dehydrate and suppress your immune system, making it much liklier to get sick — getting sick in the early game can end a play though if you can’t find antibiotics or drag your sick ass to a doctor. Regular game I’d walk around with hundreds of stimpacks. Survival mode is all about noodle cups and grilled radstag with stims reserved for, “OH SHIT I’M GOING TO DIE” moments.
posted by nathan_teske at 9:46 AM on December 14, 2017

Stardew Valley cooking is definitely kind of unsatisfying. I like the variety of the dishes, but the inventory juggling required for them is a pain. Wish we could have auxiliary refrigerators without modding.

Breath of the Wild cooking is fun, and the cooking music is great. I kind of wish my microwave or toaster would play that tune while I wait for things. Battle Chef Brigade looks like it'll be fun.

My favorite cooking "game" is America's Test Kitchen: Let's Get Cooking for Nintendo DS. It's cute and works pretty well as a cooking assistant, complete with timer and audible instructions. This is the game to play if you want to get more real-life health points and avoid negative status effects (like "hunger" or "food poisoning").
posted by asperity at 9:57 AM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

I recently played a series of Rimworld games on the sea ice, meaning that there are essentially no resources available to you to gather, nor can you grow anything outdoors. Animals pass through only extremely rarely.

This means that if you want to have to be a cannibal.

Most characters are repelled by cannibalism or even butchering humans in preparation for eating and suffer severe mood penalties for any involvement or even witnessing it. So when you start the game, you have to hit the randomizer over and over again until you get one of the approximately 1% of the characters who actively enjoy cannibalism.

Anyway, it's a very weird version of the game where you spend your time sitting in the tiniest possible cabin researching (since there are no other tasks to complete) and then killing any raiders who come your way and feasting. As a player, it's a grim and quiet experience. But these were actually my happiest characters, since they were constantly enjoying the big mood bonuses for eating other people (normal characters don't get a bonus for eating normal food). The big problem was random wanderers who wanted to join the colony, since they were a little slow on the uptake and didn't realize too late what they were getting into. I wouldn't kill them, as I was trying to be an ethical cannibal, but sooner or later they would lose their minds and either attack me or wander off into the dark and cold. They would be on the menu the next day.

(Eventually you develop hydroponics and manage to get a random resource drop that allows you to build a basin or two, but human has to remain the staple of your diet.)

I just started a game in a more normal climate and it's astonishing how abundant everything feels. Corn! Strawberries! Lavish meals!
posted by praemunire at 10:14 AM on December 14, 2017 [7 favorites]

praemunire, I was just coming here to comment on the topic of food and basebuilding games like Rimworld and Dwarf Fortress. It's a complex topic in these games, because it's about what and how you can gather the basic ingredients and then being able to prepare it in a way that doesn't leave people sick.

In my current Rimworld game, I started in arid scrubland - which, unlike the ice cap, has arable land...but not much of it. As my colony has grown, I've had to start rotating crops to get everything I need - potatoes, corn, berries, but also cotton (for clothing) and healroot and haygrass (for some livestock). Livestock is becoming important because meat is also becoming scarce on the map - between my hunting and the seemingly constant presence of predators (I swear, everytime I kill one, another spawns), there isn't much meat walking around anymore.

Once you've gathered it, you have to have a cook who knows what they are doing, lest you give food poisoning to your colonists. And then you need to be able to use the pawn who cooks for that pretty much exclusively to keep up and maybe bank some meals - just for the inevitable moment when they get sick or wounded (or die) or some other disaster befalls and you need to keep going for a time with limited cooking.

It's vital thing for survival and mood in the basebuilding genre; because when that disaster has happened that has taken away your good cook for a while, everyone is likely already in a bad mood - bad food makes that worse, and the death spiral of the colony can start easy from there.
posted by nubs at 10:59 AM on December 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

Yeah, "lost the game because my best combat character couldn't take it when presented with a plate of kibble for dinner and killed the few remaining uninjured characters" is an unexpectedly tragic basebuilder-genre story.
posted by praemunire at 11:46 AM on December 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

Battle Chef Brigade is really, really good. It’s more of a match-three puzzle game + platformer than something like Overcooked (which I also highly recommend if you have another person to play with) or Cook, Serve, Delicious, but it’s great. The characters are all incredibly endearing & supportive of each other and the art is gorgeous and I would 100% watch an anime based on this game. If you enjoy reality cooking shows like Top Chef or Iron Chef, you will love Battle Chef Brigade.

Uhh I realize this comment sounds like an over-the-top ad, but I just love Battle Chef Brigade a lot. I’ve been picking it up a lot lately as my “comfort food” game for 10-15 minutes here and there. (I mean, I also highly recommend Overcooked and Cook, Serve, Delicious, but those fall more into the ‘cook food to order ASAP FASTER!!!’ genre, which I enjoy but often find stressful.)
posted by angst at 4:00 PM on December 14, 2017

The characters are all incredibly endearing & supportive of each other and the art is gorgeous and I would 100% watch an anime based on this game. If you enjoy reality cooking shows like Top Chef or Iron Chef, you will love Battle Chef Brigade.

angst, I'd recommend Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma if you're a fan of Battle Chef Brigade, but with a slight warning. Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma has an issue with fan service and misogyny. I made a post about food/cooking related anime last year. And that criticism was discussed in detail. Check it out.
posted by Fizz at 7:39 PM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Battle Chef Brigade is amazing and totally my thing. I'm extremely sad that I'm encountering a crash every time I try the Final Three match. I hope there's a patch for the Switch version soon that fixes this so I can keep saving the world by preparing monster meat safely and tastily.

I've never watched a competitive cooking show in my life, but the premise is delightful, and I love that there are untimed puzzles in addition to the hunting-and-cooking-fast parts of the game.
posted by asperity at 3:47 PM on December 17, 2017

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