And once again I’m playing a facebook game.    With all the usual intensity shown towards anything grindy.     I give you, Chefville.     For some reason I have quite the affinity to these cooking games – even though, in real life, I never make anything more complicated than TV dinners.     Thus my restaurant’s name – “Junk Food Paradise”.

You are controlling a restaurant, kitchen, and the supply chain

The game rewards you for having neighbors, through by-passing the “wait for your energy to recharge” mechanic, and harvesting items from them.    This, of course, means you post your name to one of the many “!!! ADD ME!!!” groups and friend a bunch of strangers.    I think I have about 75, and perhaps 5 people from my “Real Friends”.

You start out with a little restaurant and decide what to cook.   But it quickly becomes much less about cooking.   Why ?   The lead-me-by-the-nose quests continually require you to have stars, which are earned by cooking dishes a certain number of times.    What once was  a mechanic added for fun, becomes in this game the essential progression mechanism.    Want a new cooking station ?    Better get some stars !     Your level seems to function only to recharge your energy.

It is nothing but a blast anyway.   I madly collected all the different ingredients and cooked everything I could manage.    I expanded my restaurant and completed the quests.    I wouldn’t stop playing to log in to World of Tanks.     Instead I stayed up all night managing timers – neighbor visits, ingredient regens, and dishes finishing cooking.    And the critical inventory size limits too – can’t have more than 15 wheat breads in your inventory, while some recipes require a bunch.

But needing to grind up stars leads to having to “finish” all the recipes.   And they start out seeming sensible – Make hamburgers ?    Have one meat, and one bread. Then the inevitable need to prolong the grind just starts making less sense.    Want to make chicken broth ?   That’ll take 5 chickens – the same amount required to make orange chicken.    I may be a lousy cook, but something’s off with that ratio.   And my favorite is pad thai.

Nine dozen eggs ?

With all of this I find myself keeping it running while I have a spreadsheet or something else in the background, so it’s a fun diversion.    As always, the ability to pause is a big plus.   If anything, it’s even an advantage – I will regenerate without waiting so much !    And as usual, I refuse to pay real money for a Zynga game making it a simple and free thing.