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Behind the scenes: The making of Cooking Fever Duels

Nordcurrent’s project manager Tomas Šiukščius shares on the development process behind the upcoming spin-off PvP game
Behind the scenes: The making of Cooking Fever Duels
  • Nordcurrent's Cooking Fever series is gaining a new PvP entry Cooking Fever Duels on December 7th
  • The game is aiming at a mid-core audience but hopes to capture original Cooking Fever fans and new players alike
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Developer and publisher of casual games, Nordcurrent are plenty of mobile hits, but its biggest to date is the Cooking Fever series, with almost 400 million downloads and 15 million monthly active users. Now, the team is all set to release an online PVP spin-off entry, Cooking Fever Duels, which launches on December 7.

In anticipation of the big release, we caught up with the games project manager, Tomas Šiukščius, to discuss the game development journey from fan request to fully fledged game, touching on challenges the team had to face and what to keep in mind when creating a spin-off. Where did the idea to create a Cooking Fever PvP game come from? What was the initial driving force behind the concept?

Tomas Šiukščius: The answer is very simple – community, the Cooking Fever players themselves! We care about our players and are always open and looking for feedback. The first thing which went after new restaurant suggestions was always a PvP mode. It seems that the players naturally yearn for some form of healthy competition! We didn’t hesitate for long and started development.

“It was one year as a Cooking Fever mode and four years in development as a separate game.”
Tomas Šiukščius

How long has the game been in development for?

The question might be more complicated to answer than it seems. The PvP aspect was first born as a special play mode for Cooking Fever. Later in the development, we realised that PvP is more of a mid-core audience thing, and it might not fit everyone in the world of casual Cooking Fever.

The split happened pretty quickly as we understood that we could cater more to our fans and player base and fix some of the deeper code-related issues in the game itself. Now, as for the time - it was one year as a Cooking Fever mode and four years in development as a separate game. After the jump towards a separate game, a lot was redone and remade, but it still counts. So, five years in total.

The Cooking Fever series has proven incredibly popular. How did the team ensure that Cooking Fever Duels stays true to the essence of the series whilst also inviting in new players and ideas?

There are a couple of things to take into account. Changes in the genre should be carefully adjusted for the spin-off without losing the core identity of Cooking Fever, which people grew to love. But simultaneously, we need to show that it’s new and fresh.

In a sense, the essence should expand on the core series identity, but not too far that it becomes unrecognisable for the audience. Philosophically speaking, Cooking Fever focuses more on the realistic digital depiction of the cuisines of the world; meanwhile, Cooking Fever Duels focuses on what a world of cooking would be like - it’s more magical - introducing avatars and events, upcoming guilds, features that would not fit Cooking Fever directly, but are still very much wanted by the fans and players.

What was the biggest challenge the team faced when developing the game?

Mainly the blending of the casual genre with such mid-core elements as PvP, which both audiences could enjoy and finding a healthy balance between the two. This also had to be reflected in the theme of the game and its stylistic choices, but not too far to become unfamiliar to the fans.

Also, stepping into live service from a single-player game was an exciting challenge for the team to solve.

The game has a competitive nature, given its PvP elements, but you mentioned the blending of genres, so the hope is to attract both audiences?

We aim for the fine line between competitive and casual which is considered mid-core. These games tend to be easy to learn but hard to master. Having a few different mechanics and an easy approach, but a deeper level on how gameplay can be executed and experienced by the player. Usually, casual has a linear gameplay approach, where one style of gameplay is the META. Meanwhile, in mid-core - theory-crafting begins, and players with different play styles try different things, resulting in different outcomes.

“You really have to think and care deeply about the player if you want them to become a fan of both games.”
Tomas Šiukščius

What risks are involved when creating a spin-off? What are some of the core aspects to think about?

The twist, which would differ the spin-off from the original, has to be unique and engaging enough for the player so it doesn’t seem lazy and repetitive. But it can’t be too crazy, or the player will lose their familiarity with the core nature and the essence of the original. The mix of both has to be just right. You really have to think and care deeply about the player if you want them to become a fan of both games. You have to cater to the casual gaming fan and what you could do to attract it more towards the mid-core market.

Do you have plans to support the game after its launch on December 7th? Can players expect new content updates?

Most definitely! We’ve got tons of updates prepared already and even more in the concept stage. We plan on growing this game to the heights of Cooking Fever itself, so be ready for tons of new content. I’ll even give you a little hint - if you always wanted to have your own cooking guild where you could battle bosses and other guilds - 2024 might be your year!

And finally, is there anything else we should know about the game or be on the lookout for from Nordcurrent?

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