We opened the beta last Thursday, August 10, and MY GOODNESS, it’s been a doozy! We were expecting around 100 signups from family, friends and community members who have been following us since the Alpha. Instead, we got 500 signups (and still going strong before we closed it), and 2000 installs after 3 days (1800 on Android, 200 via iOS Testflight)!
This was helped in no small way by Google featuring us on Early Access, as well as This Is Game Thailand writing about the beta announcements! We were also featured in TouchArcade’s upcoming games section! It’s been an amazing response, and we’re both grateful and overwhelmed!
Karlo and I have been running on alternating shifts and coffee (ok, for me maybe just water – I don’t drink coffee!) for the past 3 days! We’re super high on the love and feedback from the community!
We’ve gotten a lot of great comments and want to organize our thoughts for the upcoming launch. We feel we owe it to everyone following us what our “battle plan” is for the next few weeks!
FIRST: FIX THE BUGS!
Performance is priority numero uno! We’ve gotten a lot of crash reports on iOS (iPhone 6 and lower), slowness and lag on Android, and randomly getting stuck on different parts of the map while doing stuff. On iOS, there are also reports of slight overheating and rapid battery drainage. We believe this is caused by the large amounts of memory needed to keep all the recipes, ingredients, world map tiles, and characters loaded. We’re optimizing this right now and some initial tests show promise! We might also covert to SD assets, but we’ll have to test this out more.
Our top objective is to make the experience smooth for a majority of players, even if we can’t optimize for some older handsets. After all, you guys took the effort to download, explore, and play for hours!
There are also non-performance bugs the community has reported, like deducting your gems but not increasing recipe slots at 19. We’re ticking them off the list one by one – keep them coming!
Finally, Apple has flagged us in the App Review process that since we offer offline play, we shouldn’t force users to connect online to our backend in order to transact gems and items. It should be able to let users buy in iTunes, and store purchases solely on the device. The login should be optional. So we’ll be taking steps to comply with that, although it could mean loss of cross-device compatibility for purchases on iOS.
Overall, these are the ones we consider critical bugs, and non-negotiable for launch!
SECOND: ADDRESSING PAIN POINTS!
There are also pain points that are common to many players! We will see which we can address before launch, while the rest will be improved after!
- Recipe and Ingredient Management – there have been large amounts of frustration inventing specific dishes to win particular battles. It can be hard searching for the right ingredients (which town is “Chickpea” in?), failing at the recipe invention, and having to manage the limited recipe slots per chef (5 at start)! We’re thinking of setting up convenience options or giving more player guidance, for example:
- “Salvage ingredients” mechanic, to restore precious ingredients after a failed invention! For a small fee of course (perhaps 1 gem)!
- “Insta-learning” of forgotten recipes – even to other chefs, again for a small fee. After all, it was already discovered!
- Ingredient Inventory shows the last town where you were able to buy it.
- “Ingredient Selling” – so you can dispose ingredients you don’t want, and get some money back!
- A “Black Market” where you can buy certain ingredients you really need – at a premium!
- Feeling Lost on the Map – we’re thinking of improving the Quest Log so that you can fast travel for free to open recruitment fights and missions! No more remembering where Tubs and Cheswick can be recruited! It’s also been suggested to show town names you’ve already visited on the map / mini-map, so you know which ones you haven’t gone to yet. Someone also told us to put road signs! I’m sure there are many ways to approach this, so we’ll give this more thought!
- Balancing – some folks also felt a bit panicked about the Baronometer, and how quickly it ticks while exploring. While we definitely don’t want want the game to feel too lazy, lacking any urgency to push the story forward, we want to balance that with time for aimless exploration! So we’ll extend the time between Baronometer ticks, have more bosses reduce the Baronometer, and make Baron minion fights easier (these can be found in some towns and reduce the Baronometer too)! So far, the Baron minion fights are harder than the bosses! LOL!
On top of all that, we might be setting up a wiki (or someone from the community can help us!), so that there’s an FAQ or walkthrough for the game’s 900 recipes and 500+ towns!
THIRD: MORE FEATURES!
While Chef Wars is already a massive game, we do have lofty ambitions and want to keep expanding it! We’ve also gotten a lot of ideas from the community, and here are some we’re actively considering! Of course, we can’t keep on expanding the scope now or we will never launch! Haha! So the plan is to update the game over the next few months (years?)!
- PVP and Expanded Social Systems! We’re thinking of a city control feature, where players can compete to be the “Master Chef” of Paris, Tokyo, Bangkok, London, Manila and so on! It will be based on a collection of criteria, such as number of recipes invented for that country, fame earned in that region, and asynchronous PVP battles or “challenges” versus other players. The city rankings will be separate from the existing global rankings, which we plan to expand too (new rankings based on recipes invented, Cheffy trophies won, and so on).
- New Regions, Recipes and Characters – India, Turkey and the Americas may be next on the list! There are also many underutilized ingredients – we want to add more fusion recipes!
- Localization System – so we can translate the game into other languages (or offer multiple languages in the same build)! This one might take a longer time, since we just counted we had about 26,000 lines of text and 340,000+ words! YIKES! And a lot of them are English food puns and jokes!
So there you have it! A lot to prioritize and balance, and lots to do in the next months! We will likely launch the game in September, and anything we can’t add then, we will continue to do so in future patches! And best of all, Chef Wars will remain free throughout its evolution. Karlo, Lois and I are committed to bringing you the best food discovery game the world has ever seen, so hold on to your spatulas!