Patrick Curry’s Thoughts on Game Design

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November 27th, 2006

Game Idea #48: Turkey Trouble

High Concept:

You’ve been living with your host family for a couple months now, and you’re really starting to get the hang of this whole foreign-exchange-student thing. Coming to the USA was stressful at first, but now you’ve made some friends and are starting to get comfortable in your home-away-from-home. That is until your host family decide to teach you all about Thanksgiving… by making you cook Thanksgiving dinner for the entire family!


Nintendo DS

Why it needs to be made:

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The food… the family… the football… it’s just a really great day that deserves its own game. I’ve suggested some cooking-related games before, but the structure of a multi-course Thanksgiving dinner was too much to resist.


In Turkey Trouble, each “level” of the game is a specific dish that you have to prepare. Everything you need to cook all twenty dishes exist somewhere in the kitchen: all the food is in the fridge or the pantry, all the dishes are in a cabinet somewhere, and all the utensils are in one of the many drawers. As you prepare the food you learn your way around the kitchen, ultimately using a little bit of everything to cook and carve the turkey and win the game.

You start the game preparing the simple stuff like cranberry sauce, which consists of opening a can and plopping the sauce in a dish. Once you’ve proven you can handle that you move on to more complicated dishes like mashed potatoes and rolls. Eventually you’re cooking like crazy, making multiple dishes at once, managing stove and oven time, and shooing away family members who want to “help.”

After you cook each dish you can get one of your hosts to come taste-test. They’ll give you feedback like “needs to be cooked longer,” “too hot,” and the classic “it needs more salt.” Refer to the recipes often to make sure you don’t burn the turkey, or burn down the entire house.

Why it will be fun:

Turkey Trouble has some similarities with real-time strategy games, namely spinning plates. At first you’re only doing one little task that you can devote your entire attention to. But as the game progresses you’re doing a couple more at once, and then even more, and even more. And like strategy games you have little beeps and clicks to let you know when tasks are done. There’s fun to be had mastering the cooking game, as well as fun exploring the kitchen and making some mistakes along the way.

Final Thoughts:

Happy Belated Thanksgiving to everyone. Thanks to my folks for their hospitality, and their crazy suggestion that I make a game about this favorite holiday of ours.

3 Responses to “Game Idea #48: Turkey Trouble”

  1. Vargen commented:
    posted November 27th, 2006 at 9:22 am

    You know, I’ve been wondering how to capture the feel of cooking in a video game for a while now. I’d been wondering how to replicate the details & feel of cooking a single dish, and I hadn’t been getting anywhere. The idea of managing multiple dishes at once is one I hadn’t considered, and it’s genius. The aspect of timing everything so that the whole meal is ready at once is a big part of cooking, and it’s one that video games would be very good at handling. I’d love a way to practice that didn’t involve having to eat cold/burnt food for a couple months.

    And for the sequel you can try to snag the Iron Chef license.

  2. Oldtimer commented:
    posted November 29th, 2006 at 12:13 pm

    Don’t forget leftover management. It’s still going on!

  3. Rongo commented:
    posted June 27th, 2007 at 9:30 am

    I would never play a video game where I cooked food the whole time.

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