Help For Baking Contest Puzzle

I want to create a baking contest in my game Scales and Tales. I had the idea of trying to implement it like a logic puzzle but my brain isn’t quite engaging in the way to make it fun or challenging.

I also remember this game my sister had based on Top Chef that assigned different characters to ingredients and you had to make a dish that incorporated those flavours. My sister had an RPG which had a cooking competition in it too, but I can’t remember the name. I think it could have been Suikoden but I’m not sure. Has anyone played that? Has anyone got any ideas of how I could turn a baking contest into a puzzle? Or how I could make it interesting.

The contest is cake-making. The prize is the chance to become the greatest baker and be able to make the Royal Wedding Cake.

Any ideas? Has anyone played any games with this as an element? Does it sound like the most boring thing ever and something you’d just rather skip? I am planning for a separate path which involves cheating your way through the contest. And a third which involves just trying your best.

This sounds interesting, especially if you offer fabulous prizes and keep up decent level of tension.

I’ve got an idea, but it might be a bit too complex.

@FairyGodfeather I think you could use something as simple as someone gives vague hints on what they want you to put it in the cake, possibly using puns to make it interesting. You could have a list of something like ten different ingredients that are possibilities and randomly choose three of them that your partner in the contest asks the character to get for them.

How about a nursery rhyme/ultimate-cake-recipe-of-deliciousness? Of course, the rhyme would tell the recipe in such an unnecessarily convoluted way that most sane people wouldn’t even realize that it was a cake recipe, but, hey, the Player Character is special like that. :slight_smile:

To be more specific, if you can encode what ingredients in what ratios in a rhyme and let the player solve how much of what to put in. It seems like a fairly easy thing to implement without having to go too far into complex coding, while still giving a fun little challenge.

That sounds like a great idea!! Although I think I like the possibility of randomness so that the player will never get the same exact solution to a puzzle or else every time a person plays they know exactly what to do without reading and solving the riddle.

@Cataphrak There’s no such thing as too complex. What’s the idea?

@Galador What ten ingredients would you suggest? I think I’ll need a

@Cs_Closet Like an ultimate recipe? That sounds fascinating. Of course then I’d need to make up a poem. Hmm actually that ties into my idea of assigning different qualities to different ingredients. If I had key words in the poem.

I really like that idea. I suppose I could somehow put randomness in. However it would mess up the rhyme structure. But that should be doable. Hmmm what sort of flavours are there? It looks like I’ll need to find a list of flavours and start from there.


What other flavours are there?

Nasty lol

I would change Fresh to Moist. Remove Dark, because I can’t think of when I would call a cake “Dark,” even in fiction. Burnt and Gooey might be considerable additions.

I’m interested in seeing the result of your puzzle!

This is sort of a multi-layered idea which I’m not particularly sure I can articulate fully. For the sake of making it understandable, I’ll break it down into 4 levels:

Level 1: Information Gathering
The first part of the puzzle would be to gather information on the judges and see what they like, just asking around and getting information like “Lord X likes sweet foods, but detests pastries.” or “Dame Y enjoys sour foods, but is a strict vegetarian: she will give a zero to any meat dishes she sees.” This gives the player the information they need to pick a recipe that will impress enough judges to win.

Level 2: Picking a Dish
The player now has a choice of picking what they want to make. Give them maybe four or five things to choose from. The recipe tells the player three things. First, it tells them the components of the recipe: not the actual ingredients, but stuff like “Pastry: Requires dough, water and filling.” Secondly, the player is told what needs to be done first, second, third etc. Lastly, it tells them the “ideal taste” of the recipe they’ve chosen. For simplicity’s sake, you could use the “harmony of five flavours”: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and spicy. Each recipe would have a target score in each of these things. The closer the end product comes to the target score, the better.

Level 3: Cooking
The player is then put on the spot and allowed to put their dish together. This means that the player has to remember the proper order when it comes to cooking their recipe. In the relevant stages of cooking, they’ll be able to pick what specific ingredients they want to put in. Each ingredient will add to at least one of the five flavour scores. The ultimate objective is, of course, to cook the recipe in order, using ingredients that place the final product as close to the target flavour scores as possible.

At any time in this stage, the player can consult their recipe, but doing so expends time. Check the recipe too often, and the player may find themselves out of time with an incomplete dish.

Level 4: Judging
This is where it all comes together. The judges taste the dishes. Judging is based on penalty points. If the player’s dish doesn’t fit the target taste profile, they lose points based on how far off the mark they are. Additional penalties are added by presenting a recipe or using ingredients the judges dislike. Prior social actions could also mean that some of the judges are holding grudges or are more inclined to judge generously. Lastly, penalty points are nullified if the player cooks a judge’s favourite dish or uses their favourite ingredient. Finally, the points are tallied. If the player’s penalty point total is below a certain amount, they win. Runners-up are similarly calculated.

This should all be possible in ChoiceScript, but it’d mean keeping track of something like three dozen variables and writing a *lot* of branches.

Oh! Textures are well. So Dry. Moist. Light. Dense. Heavy. Gooey. Does anyone actually like burnt?

Fresh I was meaning more like, mint tastes fresh. But also fresh ingredients. Fruit is fresh. That’s different from moist.

Dark. Coffee, chocolate. Dried-fruit cake. That’s the sort of thing I see as dark cake. But there’s probably a better word. Maybe just Rich.


Brilliant! I actually love those ideas. Although it’ll all be cakes, there are a variety of different types of cakes. Oh! Time would be a resource of course. I had been thinking money would be a resource but time is the resource that makes more sense. Also a limit on the number of ingredients you could take.

I do think @CS_Closet’s idea will be far easier and less time consuming to implement.

But your way would be a challenge. It would probably take me and my poor coding skills a lot of time to get it to work. It would make for a good game. Maybe if I decide to do Choice of the Chef! where you’re competing in a cooking contest.

So what sort of cakes are there? What sort of ingredients are there in cakes? My brain’s drawing a blank again.

I suppose dividing the cake up into four with the cake, the filling, the icing, and the decoration. My brain says there should be five but I can’t think of a fifth. And for simplicities sake I’ll say there’s five different choices in each category.

So maybe flavour, texture, filling, decoration, frosting/icing. Or is that getting too complex and it would be just easier to have cake, filling, decoration?

Flavour: Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Salty, Spicy.
Texture: Light. Dense. Crispy. Moist. Chewy. Dry.

Ingredients: Fresh Fruit. Dried fruit. Preserved Fruit. Nuts. Alcohol. Caramel. Coffee. Spices. Honey. Flowers. Herbs. Oats. Cream. Butter. Cheese.

I’m missing lots of things that should go into and on top of cake. I may just go with a simple, basic cake flavour, accent to that flavour, and decorating style. With it all coded up in a rhyme and keywords hinting at which ingredient should be used.

Have you heard of the Einstein problem: Who owns the goldfish? Alternatively called the Sherlock problems? The idea is you have a list of items that need to be married up via several clues. The more clues you give, the easier it is to solve.

You could have your game set so you need to pick the right 4/5/6 ingredients using the knowledge from the clues that you have (find?).

Each ingredient being a different ‘type’. For example, choose the correct liquid. Choose the correct sweetener. Choose the correct flavouring.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

The puzzle at the end here has lots of clues that allow you to solve the problem. I can help you set up your clues for your own similar problem if you are interested.

Flavours: Chocolate, Cherry, Vanilla, Cream, Walnut
Flour: self-raising, plain, wheat, corn, gluten-free
Sweetener: Cane sugar, icing sugar, brown sugar, saccharin, (1 more???)
Decoration: flowers, circles, musical notes, birds, bells
Secret ingredient: Cointreau, evaporated milk, cinnamon, lime juice, coffee

Honey is a natural sweetener.

There you go! 25 choices in 5 categories. If you’re interested, @FairyGodFeather, I can create a set of clues for you. Just let me know the correct answers you would want.

@Andymwhy I do love those sort of problems. Thank you so much for writing all of that out.

However, I can’t see a way of implementing them well in a choice game. People would need to grab a pen and paper in order to work everything out and that would push them away from the story.

So I think if I was going that route I’d need to do things an awful lot simpler. I’d just need to have 2 categories or something. Something easy enough for people to be able to work out in their heads, but still with a puzzling element to it.

Or where you get the five flavours:

Lemon, Walnut, Strawberries, Vanilla, Coffee

Anna doesn’t like the colour red, but enjoys sweet flavours. - Lemon’s sour, coffee’s bitter, and strawberries are red.
Bob is allergic to nuts. Walnuts are a nut.

Which leaves the player with just vanilla to choose as the right answer. I think that was the level of complexity that I was looking for.

Also it’s a ‘fantasy’ world so a lot of those ingredients aren’t available.

@FairyGodfeather Sorry for the long time in replying! I loved Cataphrak’s idea as well, but, like you said, I think it is more suited to making an entire game based off of that idea.

You asked earlier what goes into a cake. Well, a basic vanilla cake will have milk, flour, eggs, butter, salt (optional, I think), baking powder, sugar, and vanilla. Fairy cakes, on the other hand (basically small cupcakes, as far as I can tell. I THINK there’s supposed to be a difference between the two though besides just the size) can be made with just sugar, butter, flour, eggs, and vanilla.

I think what you currently have is great! I still encourage the randomness though, so that every time a person plays, there is still a puzzle to figure out.

I would advise to make some hints that really don’t turn out to mean anything and are there just to confuse a player and make it more of a puzzle. For example, above you could have added a line like “Gregorio won’t eat anything that grows on a tree,” which is a completely unnecessary clue since the other two already have it solved, but adding in that last part might make a person second guess themselves since vanilla vines do climb up trees and are “on a tree” in the sense of “the vine wraps itself around a tree.”

Galador! I never knew vanilla orchids grew as vines on trees. I learned something today. And thanks for the cake stuff. It’s helpful.

I’m thinking what I’ll do is do a rhyme. The rhyme will have 3 sections. The first will decide the flavour of the cake, the second the texture. the third the decoration in order to make the Ultimate Cake. Each playthrough those sections will be randomly assigned.

Then during the baking contest you’ll be asked for the main ingredient you want to make your cake with and given a list.

For simplicity’s sake I’m just having one item in each category. (Apart from those that belong in two categories.) I’ll likely also code it up so that if you put in toffee as your texture, it also counts as a sweet flavour. So it’ll probably just be a rhyme that suggests two ingredients to go in and one that will decide the decorations.

Is this a puzzle that would be workable do you think?

I’m still trying to work on the specifics.

Spicy: Ginger
Bitter: Coffee
Sweet: Honey, Strawberry.
Sour: Lemon
Fruity: Strawberry, Lemon
Salty: Salt? Olives? Bacon?
Plain: Nothing.
Floral: Rose
Boozey: Whisky
Nutty: Almonds


Light - Just lots of beating, no extras. Or extra egg?
Chewy - Toffee
Crunchy - Nuts
Crispy - ???
Moist - Syrup
Gooey -
Creamy - Cream. Butter.
Gritty - Seeds.
Dense -
Dry -

Is there difference between crispy and crunchy?
Is there a difference between moist and gooey?
Is there a better word than gritty? Grainy? Sandy?
Are there other textures and if so what could create them?

Then decorations.

For dense, you could have extra flour in the mixture.
For dry, you could cook it longer or use less milk/water.
Gooey could be honey (in both, the same as toffee).
Crispy… puffed rice?

Oh! Sticky! That’s another one. Like sticky toffee pudding. I think chocolate when I think gooey and those melt in the middle chocolate desserts. Mmmmm.

Yeah I was thinking toasted cereal for the crisp.

I don’t think I can use dry since it has two meanings. It can be sharp or it can be lacking moisture.

I think some of these I just won’t use. It’s brainstorming phase at the moment. Carmel is gooey too. And sticky. And treacle and molasses and maple syrup. I think textures are starting to get propblematic since a lot of textures are very similar. I may need to just keep it rather simple.

If I can work out some rhymes I’ll start working on a prototype. Which I know is kind of stupid since I can do the prototype without the rhymes. I just really want some rhyming first.