Cooking Balance

It seems kind of odd that Cooked Meat is approximately the most enjoyable food in existence. It’s the easiest cooking recipe, made from an omnipresent ingredient, and yet it’s apparently as tasty as chocolate (an uncraftable rarity), and more tasty than complicated high-end recipes like pizza and pie, not to mention those recipes which actually require meat, like meat soup. Cooked Meat probably needs a nerf, to make other cooking recipes worthy of effort. I’m inclined to think that, if anything, the Meat Sandwich should take it’s place… Bread is a high-end recipe, after all, and if you could craft your own sandwiches out of cooked meat and bread, that’d be an appropriately high-level recipe for the quality.

On a somewhat related note, I’ve found that Broth tends to insta-rot for some reason… even when I’m using freshly-picked vegetables to make it, it’s rotten as soon as it’s finished cooking. What’s up with that?

Maybe your skill levels could determine how tasty it is along with a chance of burning it and destroying it or possibly under cooking and getting sick from it. Tapeworms.

It’s not the broth that is rotten, it’s a display bug. The container uses its own age for display rather than the age of its contents, leading broth (fresh) (hot) to be displayed as plastic bottle of broth (rotten).

This is fixed in recent git builds.

Yeah, cooking as a whole could probably use some adjustments.

Each item should have a base value that determines how tasty it is. Also not all meat should be equal: I’d like to see meat be separated into what it came from. Deer meet should be better than cougar meat, and rabbit meat should be better than squirrel meat. And complicated recipes should probably have a higher base than simple recipes.

Then modify the mood-rating of each food item by a skill check by the character. A bad ‘roll’ could decrease the tastiness while a good roll could increase the tastiness.

It’d be kind of interesting to randomly generate the ‘taste’ of each character upon creation. So one character may really love pizza, but isn’t that keen on chocolate for whatever reason. When you look at a food item in your inventory it would tell you what your character thinks about it. Big modifiers (hate, love) should be rarer than moderate modifiers (like, dislike).

Finally, eating the same food items over and over again should gradually impose a negative modifier on their tastiness, until you just can’t get any enjoyment out of them anymore and eventually start to resent them. This negative modifier would slowly return to normal as you refrain from eating it.

That way, if you just keep eating cooked deer meat for every meal, you might love it at first, but man. Get sick of that stuff after a while.

Anyway, just some thoughts.

Characters having varied tastes: good. Support.

Tastes being randomly rolled: Dunno. It’d be nice to have some control over characters’ favorite food, and particularly exotic preferences seem like they might be a 1-point disadvantage. Pizza, for instance, is nontrivial to make. You can’t make pesto in-game, red sauce is chancy, etc.

At minimum, a Vegetarian shouldn’t take morale penalties for eating lots of cooked plant marrow/wild veg, a Carnivore ought to get some decent mileage out of meat, etc.

Eating the same thing over and over in real life can get rather depressing. Be it instant noodles or prime ribs.
Just like KA101 said, support! Variation is the spice of cataclysmic life.

Yeah, there’s probably some interesting ways you could make tastes more balanced, so you don’t randomly end up with a character who dislikes the easily available stuff and only likes stuff that’s really hard to find/make. That said, just because your character dislikes something (or doesn’t love something) doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. If you get a bad set of preferences it just means you won’t get us much mood benefit from food (unless you are doing advanced cooking). There’s other ways to improve your mood, so I’d actually be okay with fully randomizing it. But I’m not against a more nuanced approach.

It’d be a good opportunity to introduce a new flaw: Picky Eater (Has more food dislikes and disliked food has a slightly larger negative impact on tastiness)

It’d could b the opposite of Gourmand, which could be modified to do the opposite and make your character have more food likes. Use the two together and you get a character who loves what they love and reviles what they don’t. We all know that person.

You could throw in a lot of interesting nutritional diseases like scurvy, which would slow down healing and eventually kill you. This would finally provide some use for the tons of vitamin pills lying around.

I’ve never really bothered much with food recipes other than cooked meat and clean water. I fully support anyone who wants to make food prep more interesting (and hence make Cooking stop being “Chemistry, with easy training!”).

I wouldn’t mind seeing a background element to food that breaks each food item into different ‘food stats.’ These would be invisible to the user and can be safely ignored as long as you maintain a relatively balanced diet, but if you drop below a certain threshold (or go above a certain threshold) you get negative modifiers such as…

Protein: If you are low on protein you get a ‘Protein deficiency’ modifier which imposes a significant penalty on healing while sleeping, and you get tired more easily. There is no penalty or bonus for having extra protein.

Calories: If you are low on calories then you get a ‘Calorie deficiency’ modifier which makes you become tired more quickly, and you get hungry more quickly. If you have too many calories you get a ‘Too many calories’ modifier which imposes a movement penalty until your calorie level drops back into a healthy range. Generally speaking, high calorie foods should also be the foods that provide the largest mood bonus.

Vitamins: If you are low on vitamins then you get a ‘Vitamin deficiency’ modifier which lowers your resistance to disease and poisons, and can develop into mood swings (as the flaw) which remain until the vitamin issue is resolved, scurvy (which causes tiredness and pain and can only be cured specifically by consuming some amount of fruit), or migraines (reduced perception and intelligence, pain, and unable to read unless under the effect of pain killers), which come and go until the vitamin issue is resolved. Heightened levels of vitamins can give a mild bonus to disease resistance but also comes with a risk of developing mood swings until the vitamin level returns to the healthy area.

Disclaimer: this wouldn’t be something which would pop up a lot. It’s there to penalize people who stick to an all-meat diet or what have you, and would take a couple of days of poor eating to kick in the negative effects as vitamin levels or whatever gradually decline. The idea isn’t to force people to micromanage, it’s there to discourage people from settling into a routine of collecting squirrel meat from pits for all their food needs. The ‘healthy’ threshold would be quite wide and allow for brief periods of excess (found a bunch of oranges and apples) to sustain through relatively long periods of going without. Very occasionally it might pop up if you haven’t been eating enough of something, and it will give you a reason to go looking for a certain kind of food - that’s not a bad thing. And hey, at least it won’t be as urgent as an infected bite when you don’t have antibiotics. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

It would be possible to add a ‘Severe deficiency’ of all of these with more alarming consequences, but one step at a time.

One issue with this model is that there are existing mutations which restrict or expand your diet. I think there are different ways to handle this. The easiest (and least realistic) way of handling it would be to drastically reduce the requirements for certain types of food stats for certain mutations. Like the carnivore mutation could have drastically reduced vitamin requirements because they can’t eat fruits and vegetables to get them. They would basically need to be able to satisfy their vitamin threshold using the small amounts of vitamins in meat.

Herbivores would be much the same, just regarding protein in plants. The rotten food one (forget the name) simply doesn’t get sick from/vomit from/take a massive mood hit from rotten food like others do. The stats of rotten food would simply be a somewhat reduced version of the fresh food - it’s just that most people have trouble keeping it down and not getting sick from the ‘extra’ crud in rotten food. This method would require some careful balancing.

A more time-consuming (and more realistic) way of handling it would be to give each food item a different set of stats depending on your diet. Carnivores would simply get more vitamins from meat than omnivores, and herbivores would get more protein from plants, but their thresholds would remain the same. This would at least be easier to balance, but I’m not sure it’d be worth all the work of giving every food item three sets of food stats.

But chemistry is just advanced cooking!

Anyway I think maybe take babysteps, the initial post is a good one, cooked meat is pretty overpowered, tbh I would say unless you have the carnivore mutation then cooked meat shouldn’t give you any fun at all because it is just bland, (maybe new recipe to spice meat)

It’s pretty easy to change all the values for foods and drinks to try and make it more balanced. Coding for having diminishing returns on fun for eating same food will take a bit more time but doesn’t sound too challenging.

Food variety aside, have you tasted meat fresh off an animal and roasted over a fire before? Holy frijoles! It is quite close to one of the most enjoyable foods in existence!

Well, sure; you’re getting that Hot Meal bonus on top of tasty meat, I get it. But would you say the same of leftover meat that’s gotten cold after sitting out all night? Not quite rotten, but not exactly fresh? Would you say that that’s as good as chocolate? I, for one, think it likely that it wouldn’t take too long for me to get sick of squirrel-on-a-stick, not so fresh from the pit. It’d certainly be a worthwhile improvement to include a desire for a balanced diet. I’m not sure whether that’s most feasible to do by a “recent diet” system or a “nutritional balance” system (or both), but I’d definitely appreciate the increased complexity in any case.

I don’t personally find chocolate all that appealing, so you might be asking the wrong guy :P. I do eat meat that’s been left over night, though that’s only during the winter and fall seasons where the temperature is low enough that the meat doesn’t immediately spoil when left out. Then again, it is a subjective type of thing, going for a preference list at character creation might work with that.

I, for one, think it likely that it wouldn't take too long for me to get sick of squirrel-on-a-stick, not so fresh from the pit. It'd certainly be a worthwhile improvement to include a desire for a balanced diet. I'm not sure whether that's most feasible to do by a "recent diet" system or a "nutritional balance" system (or both), but I'd definitely appreciate the increased complexity in any case.

I played a very peculiar game when I was small. It was a side scrolling cyberpunk fighting game, but at the end of each level after collecting food stuffs enemies drop, you would then pick some of them to be made into a dish for a bonus in the next level. This might be an entirely different system unimplementable at this point, but I think cooking is far different than crafting tools and such. It’s possible to mix anything you want into a dish supposing you have enough skill to make it taste good. Obviously some combinations would taste better but the general idea of a non-rigid cooking crafting system might be the way to go in terms of giving players the incentive to go for a balanced diet if each ingredient was weighed properly in relation to other ingredients.

Food variety aside, have you tasted meat fresh off an animal and roasted over a fire before? Holy frijoles! It is quite close to one of the most enjoyable foods in existence![/quote]

Just roasted meat? It’s ok because of the grease and fat but you need some herbs and spices or some marinade or flambe to really get a flavour party in your mouth.

Pretty easy to get a cooking mod out though to “balance” foods as well as add many more recipes, I might give it a whirl in a bit.

I don’t want to have to watch my characters diet…I already have to do that in real life…no fun.

HOWEVER, some herbal tea’s should give me a morale boost vs water, cooked meat would be used in higher tier recipes that make it even more enjoyable as just plain cooked meat would be ‘eh’

I support a cooking re-balance, not a cooking/eating penalty system

You find a big bag o’ rice. Oh boy, this’ll last you a long time!
You’ve been eating boiled rice for the past three days. It’s getting kind of gross. You cook up some rice porridge to keep it interesting. Doesn’t help much.
Five days. You’ve found vegetables and made some nice rice salad. Spices are all around when you know what to look for.

Cooking, survival and a hint of ingenuity.

I suggest a “Make Meal” menu. Sort of like crafting only more dynamic. Snacks, light meals, full meals.
The game looks at your inventory, talents and surroundings, gives you some possible selections and tells you how much you’d enjoy them.

This is a Light Rice Salad (fresh). It contains boiled rice, chopped veggy and poppy flower. Enjoyability XX/30
Game recognizes the rice and adds (or penalizes you with) a boiled modifier.

This is a Full Meat Meal. It contains poorly roasted cooked meat and... I don't know, fuckin' tree bark. Enjoyability XX/-10
In case you wanna get goofy and be able to screw things up real good. (COOKING IS HARD!)

You could of course boil stuff in various liquids as well. Wine, anyone?
Chef hats too.

Cataclysm - Culinary Days Ahead

Mmm. A complex cooking system with dynamic recipes sounds totally awesome. I totally support this.

I think the annoying thing with any rebalance and fix is inevitably you won’t get any. Had a hard enough time with pre-3 or whatever versions trying to get a knife before I died to everything, then in 4 I’ve died a few times trying to find carrying capacity, then water. I’d probably stop playing if by day 5 I had to start crafting more complicated cooking recipes, except there’s no flour, no salt, like 2-3 successfully scavenged fruits which I have to eat immediately otherwise my character will get nauseated and throw up eating perfectly good meat.

Only compensation for breaking the eating system would be a contrary chargen boost to not have to deal with it.

Definitely a valid point; any expansion to the cooking system shouldn’t invalidate the possibility of simple, easy recipes. This is post-apocalyptic survival, not high cuisine.