My sister has a yearly subscription to shockwave.com, about $30, which lets you play any downloadable flash game for as long as you want, without having to buy it. This is a great model for the casual gamer who just wants to play games to its completion, and then throw it away. Honestly, these games aren’t worth playing again, with all the sequels and iterations that they go through. I wish they had this type of purchasing model for Mac.
On one of my visits home, she introduced me to this strategy simulation game called Chocolatier. It’s a great concept for anyone who loves chocolate, and allows a high level, albeit romantic and fantasy, look at the chocolate industry. The setting is in the first half of the 20th century, where they still use trains and ships for travel. You play as an apprentice to young family member of a chocolate empire family who wants to rock the boat. The gameplay features in this game includes a wide variety:
1. Quick response organization: To make chocolates, you have to “set up” your factory to make a certain amount of inventory. Depending on your recipe, you recreate a template of ingredients into trays. The trays move around and you shoot whatever the next ingredient is into the appropriate tray. The recipe can range from 3 to 6 ingredients, so you have to make sure each tray gets the right number of ingredients, otherwise, it may get thrown away. To add another layer onto this, each ingredient is color coded, so if you make a tray with all blue, red, or yellow ingredients, you get bonus inventory.
This gameplay is pretty addicting, especially if you know you could do better and make more chocolates by achieving bonuses, so you’re given the chance to organize your ingredients as many times as you want
2. Collect them all: The player is given a recipe book to make chocolate square, sauces, pralines, truffles, and exotics, each with 12 different recipes. Many are locked, and you’re expected to unlock new recipes by testing ingredients that you’ve found in a tasting lab, or by encountering people with secret recipes that you chat up with in pubs and landmarks in the locations you can visit. The more you mix up the chocolates you make, the more money you can sell them for. It’s like introducing a new product to the market and getting big bucks for it.
The hook here is discovering what new recipes are available and what new ingredient you’ll have to hunt for next.
3. Shopping: There is definitely an element of shopping in this game. Every location has a market: locations near the equator sell cacao, almost every location sells sugar, and almost every ingredient has 2 locations where you can pick them up. Special ingredients sell only at certain places, like Cognac is only available in France, and every location that sells regular cacao also sells their own local version of cacao. Prices go up and down a couple ways: Items can be seasonal, or random events can happen, such as failed exports/imports or unexpected surplus (which is only messaged to the player through simple text).
For a flash game, Chocolatier is fairly robust in its story and gameplay, and the art is simple, though sometimes inconsistent, especially with the character art. It definitely kept my interest, and is easy to play when I have 15-30 minutes to kill. Saving is automatic, so you can pick up where you left off.
Probably the most important lesson anyone will ever learn is this game (if they haven’t already) is networking. Networking gets you places, it gets you sources, it gets you support. Money becomes no object when you’re making good use of your connections.