Sunday, May 31, 2009

Restaurant City: Latest Playfish Game in Facebook

Playfish has created yet another popular hit with Restaurant City in Facebook. Restaurant City is a simple and yet addictive game where you operate a restaurant with choice of your own friends as cook, waiters, and cleaners. Dishes are created from ingredients, and there are a few ways of getting them.

Starting Out:
When you first started in the game, you would be prompted to select two of your friends to be employees of the restaurants. You could also choose yourself as an employee. Be careful who you choose as employees since sacking an employee requires a severance pay of $200.

After selecting the employees, you could assign them jobs as waiter or cook, and voila the restaurant starts operations! Once you have enough cash you could buy nicer clothes for the employees, e.g. chef's hat, sushi master' stop...etc. As the restaurant operates, you would also earn gourmet points. With sufficient points the level of the restaurant goes up. Leveling up the restaurant means you could hire more employees or get a bigger restaurant.

One thing to note is that gourmet points are earned only when the main restaurant is operating. If the player visit other restaurants, or go into the dish selection menu, or restaurant decoration menu, only coins will be earned and not gourmet points.

Coins are earned when your waiters cleared the empty plates left by customers. Each plate earns you 2 coins, regardless of the level of the dish. You could also shake the trees (similar to Pet Society) and 1 coin may drop out of the trees. Leveling up or earning awards will also entitle the player to coins / cash. There were some sites that advertise about cheat engines and such, but I think it is not much point cheating a game like Restaurant City since there isn't exactly a win / lose concept embed in the game.

Dishes & Ingredients:
The restaurant serves 3 types of dishes each time, starter, main and dessert. You could earn new dishes, or level up the existing dishes via the use of ingredients. Higher level dishes give more gourment points per customer served by 0.2. Thus a level 6 dish will earn the player 2.0 points per customer while a level 1 dish earns only 1.0 gourmet point. Higher level dishes also comes with nicer sounding name, e.g. luxurious, delicious...etc. The plates design for higher level dishes are also nicer.

Getting Ingredients
There are four ways of getting more ingredients. 1) Every day as you logged into the game, you would be rewarded with an ingredient. 2) There will also be a food quiz everyday, and answering correctly at the quiz earns you yet another ingredient. 3) First visit to new restaurants started by your friends will also earn you with a new ingredient. 4) Restuarnt City has just started a new function of 'Ingredient Market' where 3 different types of ingredients could be bought with coins each day.

More likely than not, there will be extra ingredients and players could trade among themselves for the correct ingredients for their dishes. If your friends didn't locked their ingredients, you could trade with them freely. If the ingredients are locked, a message will be sent to inform them that you requested to trade these ingredients.

Decorations & Layout:
Restaurant City offers many different ways of decorating the restaurant. The external view could be changed quite easily with coins to create different themes. New windows, decorations, trees, signboards are available often.

Similarly the interior layout of the restaurant could be changed. Unlike the exterior decorations, the interior layout plays a more important role. Functional items like toilet are needed once you reach certain levels (8 if I am not wrong).

The layout of the tables and chairs also determine how customer walk around the restaurant. Some players have suggested to arrange the restaurant like a maze, so that customers take longer to walk to the chair. It is also useful to arrange the tables and chairs such that the waiter minimises the walking distance from the chef to the customer.

One thing to note is that the stove design does not change the speed of dish cooking. The different designs are purely aesthetic.

So it may be better to arrange the chairs and table such that waiters are confined with a smaller space. Leave the corners for toilets and such.

Each satisfied customer will add to the popularity index, which means new customers will come in faster. Each time the customer is disappointed, e.g. too long a waiting time, or dirty restaurant, points will be deducted.

Give Restaurant City a try! The game is fun, and the only drawback is the slightly longer waiting time to load the game. New functions are constantly added. There is now a rating system where other players could become critics and rate your restaurant as well.

See also:
- Restaurant City is up! Added Photo Feed & Gourmet Street

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dragonica - Simple Review

Having played in the recent Closed Beta Testing, here is some of the screen shots, details and views about Dragonica.

Character Choice & Tutorial
The game is pretty simple to learn with good graphics and background music. There are four characters (warrior, archer, magician, thief) to choose from at the beginning. As the character levels up say level 20, there are other 'split professions' to choose from. This reminded me of Maplestory somehow. The characters vary in skills and I think Warrior class is an easier class to start with. Magician is long range, while thief is fast and short ranged. More description could be found on Dragonica's site.

Dragonica is easy to learn because of the tutorial. Once a new player enters the game, there are on-screen instructions about the movement and other keys. Skills will be learned along the way, and can be assigned to keys (e.g. Q,W,E,A,S,D) for ease of activation. Oh, when one press direction arrows twice follow by the jump key, the character actually fly into the air to cover a long distance, quite cool.

There is also a floating pet that tags along with the character and give instructions and advice on what to do next. This pet is quite helpful in towns in the beginning, especially for those who are not familiar with how MMORPG works.

Towns, Shops & Mission Quests
Navigation in the town is not that difficult. There is the general map on the upper right corner, that indicates NPC with "!", i.e. quest givers. In any map, the player can press 'N' to bring out a mini map version of the area. I've only visited the first two towns in Dragonica, and I read somewhere that there are a lot more towns, and a few continents to explore.

In towns, other than quests givers, there are other NPCs, including shops, guild master...etc. Some quests can class specific, i.e. unique to Warrior, Magician...etc. Generally I think the items and equipments provided in mission quests will be better than those in towns.

Speaking of mission quests, other than those quests that ask for monsters to be killed in the general area maps, there are also 'mission quests' that teleport a group of players (up to 4 normally, but I heard as many as 25 for PvP) to instances.

There are a couple of maps in such mission quests, and other statistics like combos, attacks, damages ...etc will be tracked. Try to complete the quest faster in order to get higher rankings. The rankings will also be tracked at the end of the game, and different groups will be ranked accordingly.

There will be a boss monster at the end of the mission map, and that can be quite a pain to kill depending on your character's level. Of course, there are minor / normal monsters in the same map as well. Having potions and boosters will be useful.

At the end of the quest there will be rewards. Higher 'ranks' will earn the player more rewards if I am not wrong. The rewards given is random, and you could see the 'scrolling' of the rewards on the screen. Different mission maps will give different types of rewards, with higher level mission quests giving better rewards (of course).

Generally Dragonica is fun. Other than the normal hack and slash, there are other minor in game play e.g. cooking that is pretty amusing and yet provides boosters that is useful to the game. Their combo counts, as well as monsters killed counts, provided more incentives for players to 'kill' better in the game. High combos gives more experience per kill, while monster kill counts hitting bars like 100 monsters, will give an in game box with random items.

The GMs are quite responsive to gamers' request. For example, many gamers have asked for their character names to be retained even post-CBT, and GM agreed. There is also an on-going competition to develop game guides with attractive rewards.

I hope the Open Beta for Dragonica will be released soon. :) Looking forwad to the game. Want to see a YouTube of the PvP war: Emporia War for Dragonica? here's it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ikariam - Simple Review

After playing Travian and pretty much enjoyed myself, it is only natural that I started looking for other city building games. One that caught my eyes was Ikariam. Ikariam is a real time city building games centred around Greek mytho.

I gave it a try, and the game is generally alright. The goal is not exactly clear, i.e. no particular objective except to grow the cities you own. Cities in Ikariam are grouped together on an island, like the picture shown below. Each island will have two particular resources, wood and another e.g. wine, sulphur, crystal. Players on the same island can help each other by upgrading these two available resources on the island, thus allowing for more of these resources to be harvested.

Within each city, there are empty plots where buildings could be sited. Initially the range of buildings is limited. There are some default plots for walls and harbour. After some 'research' in one of the 4 areas, buildings options (e.g. embassy) will appear. Buildings could be upgraded for better functionalities later. News and updates will result in one of the 4 advisors (the 4 faces on top of the screen) having a lighted background.

In Ikariam, resources can be traded easily or shipped among your settlements. If you clicked on the main townhall, a report is shown containing coins, happiness of the citizens, housing left... etc. It reminded me of SimCity somehow.

While gamers in Ikariam are generally cooperative, the existence of battle options mean players will get attacked. I haven't exactly see the benefits of attacking, except perhaps to loot the resources. Walls are useful to up the defence attributes of your troops. Various troops are available, e.g. slingers, archers... etc. Players need to upgrade their barracks level before troop options are available to be built. If the level is not high enough, the game will indicate that.

There are many other islands in this Ikariam world, which contain the default wood, as well as another resource. So players will colonise a few more settlements, partly to reap these other resources. Wine (and taverns) is useful to keep citizens happy, and thus allowing for bigger settlement. Sulphur allows for troops to be built (I don't understand the logic of this but oh well), and crystals can be used in research to improve the attributes of the troops. Stone blocks are needed to upgrade the wall and for higher level buildings.

One thing to note is that when players want to colonise more settlements, remember to send wood piles along with the ships. Once settlements are built, it will be ideal to build governor building soon to reduce corruption. The number of settlements allowed is tied to the level of the palace built in your capital. Also, when more settlements are built, the respective governor buildings have to be upgraded to reduce corruption.

Generally the game is not fast paced enough for my taste, and so after 3 settlements are built, I left the game. :p Give it a try and see how you like it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Video Games Live - Full Concert Orchestra 19 June 09

The Video Games Live concert is going to reach Singapore shores in about 1 month's time! The music from World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, Donkey Kong...etc will be played by a symphony orchestra on 19 June at the Indoor Stadium, 830pm (Friday)

Tickets are selling at $55, $70, $85, and $115, but those who are students will have a 10% discount for their own tickets. More details can be found at the Singapore Video Games Live website. Online sales can be done via the SISTIC outlet, and SISTIC added a $3 charge per ticket (ouch!).

Afternote: The Straits Times ran some articles about the event on 19th June itself, and here's two pictures of the articles.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Paid to Scan Porn at Facebook!

I read from Slashdot about a Newsweek article that there is actually a 'cyber patrol / porn cops' at Facebook! They do more than checks for 'graphically challenging content' and include protection against spam, phishing attacks, and investigating users' 'harassment' complaints, i.e. when you click 'report this' someone at Facebook actually investigates it. They also check names against a blacklist, e.g. Batman cannot be used as a user name.

It's quite an interesting job, they have even help police locate run-away children for reconciliation with their families, since the kids do log into Facebook and leave a treacbale IP address.

More importantly, these folks are paid about US$50,000 a year! Wow, interesting jobs with a decent salary is surely attractive. Hmm wonder what they will put on their resume, 'porn cops'?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dragonica Closed Beta Testing from 7 May 2009

Hurry! For those who are interested to try Dragonica, they are opening Closed Beta Testing from 7 May 09 till 18 May 09. The announcement is on their website.

Those who have signed up for their newsletter will also receive this email (picture below). I've downloaded the 700+M of Dragonica installer, which took about an hour or so.

Have fun!