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Food truck owners expect to face a variety of challenges daily. But perhaps one of the biggest challenges they face is terrible weather. Keeping the truck open and customers satisfied can be extra demanding when it’s freezing or pouring outside.

This episode is about how we designed the game’s weather system to simulate city-specific weather conditions.

The Challenge

As you know, there are several major cities in the game. To improve the player experience and game difficulty, we had to ensure that each city’s in-game weather mirrors the historical weather conditions of their real-life counterpart.

Getting this right was quite the challenge. 😅

Solution

We first tried to implement a replica of historical weather conditions in each city. But we quickly realized this would pose a problem with replayability as players would eventually find our data source 😨 and have an unfair advantage on the leaderboards.

So we decided to discard this method. 🚮

Our second and final approach was to use the normal distribution and the average temperature and precipitation values in a city to generate the weather condition. For example, let’s take Washington, DC, as a case study.

Below is the actual data for Washington, DC:

By taking the average temperature as a mean and using a standard deviation of one, we randomly generated the temperature to fit within the high and low ranges. The Box–Muller transform was particularly useful here.

This method helped us account for the rare occurrence of a very high 🥵 or very low 🥶 temperature, which happens in reality. Similarly, for the precipitation, we used the average as a mean and a standard deviation of two to generate the amount of rain 🌧️, which directs the cloud volume. ☁️

 

Result

You can observe a clear jump ⬆️ in averages as we move from month to month, which shouldn’t be so. To resolve this, we employed weekly peak averages instead of monthly, which made it work as intended.

Below is a yearly temperature simulation for Washington DC for the morning 🌅, afternoon 🕑, and evening 🌆.

The simulation for the rain/cloud below is for the mornings alone in Washington, DC. As you can see, most mornings, there is a light shower or an overcast, followed by sunny conditions and light rain.

We think this method strikes the right balance between fun 🕺💃 and computing requirements. 💻

In-game impact

The presence of rain ☔ and snow 🌨️ reduces the outdoor population in the game, thus reducing the number of sales possible during the period, just like in real life. You can always invest in upgrades to reduce the impact of weather on your business.

However, it might not be a profitable investment if your chosen customer segment is not big enough. It will take strategic thinking 🤔 and astute decision-making to discern the best time for such an investment.

That’s it for this episode!

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Live Long and Prosper 👋,
Team Visionaries

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Successful food truck owners all know one thing. Poor food and service quality will kill a food truck business faster than you can say, “Rest in peace” 😵. This news update is about preventing your food truck company from death by poor service.

After every sale, customers give feedback about your Stand’s quality of service. This feedback increases ⬆️ or decreases ⬇️ the Stand’s total quality 🌟 depending on if it is good 👍 or bad 👎. Negative feedback shows you areas of the Stand that need improvement.

A business that consistently ignores negative quality feedback from its customers cannot expect to survive for long. This is because the Stand’s overall quality forms part of its Reputation. An excellent reputation allows a Stand to attract more customers farther away from it. You can read more about this here.

A higher Stand quality has a positive effect on Stand Reputation. So, what makes up Stand quality? A Stand’s overall quality is based on its Service Quality and Food Quality.

Service Quality

Service quality measures how a business’s service delivery compares to customer expectations. Quality service leaves a strong impression in the customer’s mind. 🤩

For a food truck, this means delivering speedy service in a friendly and helpful manner 😊. That’s why we divided Service Quality into service speed and customer service.

Service Speed 🏃💨

This measures how long it takes a Stand’s employee to serve customers. New Stand employees start with an average service speed.

You can improve their speed through training 🧑‍🏫, increased employee happiness 😁, and Stand upgrades 🦾.

Bad customer feedback 👎 and employee unhappiness 😞 will worsen your employee service speed. So it’s best to address them immediately.

When a Stand has two employees, the Stand’s service speed is the sum of both employees.

Service speed is inversely proportional to the time ⌚ employees take to serve customers. As service speed increases, the time (measured in milliseconds) to serve customers reduces.

We are using milliseconds because we compressed time in the simulation.

The formula for this relationship is:
Here’s a graph showing the result of the formula:
You can see that the time to serve a customer reduces at higher employee service speeds.

Customer Service 🏅

This shows the employee’s ability to charm customers. Excellent customer service guarantees positive feedback 👍 from customers.

Like service speed, new employees start with an average customer service rating. You can improve their rating through training and increased employee happiness.

Bad feedback 👎 and employee unhappiness 😞 will also worsen customer service if left unattended. Unlike service speed, there are no Stand upgrades to improve customer service.
The customer service quality for Stands with two employees is the average of both.

Improving Service Quality

One of the best ways to improve your food truck service quality is to train 🧑‍🏫 your employees. Training helps improve service speed and customer interaction.

Impact of Training on Service Speed

Employees start at training Level 0 and can be trained up to Level 6. Each new training level increases the employee’s service speed by a certain amount.
In the table below, you can see how different training levels impact service speed and the equivalent time it takes to serve a customer:

A new employee with zero training and no Stand upgrades has a service speed of 40. At this speed, it will take them 4256 milliseconds to serve one customer.

But at training level 4, it will take the employee only 3511 milliseconds 🤯 to serve a customer. As training and speed increase, service time reduces.

Impact of Training on Customer Service

Like service speed, each new training level increases the employee’s customer service by a certain amount (as illustrated in the earlier image). The table below shows the progression:

Happy employees, happy company. 😁

Employee happiness measures how enthusiastic and dedicated a worker feels toward their job. Happy employees are present, and they perform better. We kept things simple by tying the employee’s happiness to their salary and bonuses.

Employees begin with a certain happiness level. This level increases or decreases based on their salary, bonuses, and random events.

What’s the market rate got to do with it? 🤔

As in real life, there is an average salary expectation or market rate for the position of a food stand employee. This amount differs from city to city.

An employee’s happiness depends on the difference between their salary and the market rate. Paying your employees higher than the market rate will make them happier and vice versa.

What happens when employee happiness drops? 😓

When your employee’s happiness is average and above, they feel engaged and motivated. Their probability of not showing up for work is 0. As their happiness drops below average, they begin to lose motivation. So, their likelihood of not showing up for work increases.

The screenshot below shows Sophie being absent due to employee unhappiness.

Here’s the formula for calculating the effect on employee happiness due to the difference between their salary and the market rate:

And the result of the formula in a graph:

You can see that at 5% above the market rate, there is no effect on the employee’s happiness. Their happiness improves or worsens as the difference increases or decreases.

Happiness affects speed 🏃💨 and customer service 👍

The table below shows how employee happiness affects service speed and customer service.

Happier employees gain one extra point in speed and service quality across all training levels. They are faster and treat the customers better than their colleagues in the same training level.

Food Truck Upgrades 🛠️

Upgrades are extra facilities that help to improve a Stand’s performance, offering, or value. Various upgrades are available. From cash registers, sound systems, and Umbrellas ⛱️ to cooling fans, nitro boosters, and organic veggies 🫑🍅.

Some upgrades improve employee efficiency, the Stand’s appeal, or food quality, while others comfort or entertain customers.

Some Stands have certain upgrades built in (like in the above image), while they need to be bought for others. Such purchases are based on compatibility, as not all upgrades are compatible with each Stand. All upgrades with a padlock in the above image are not compatible with Isabella’s Stand.

Food Quality

Food quality is based on the taste and freshness of the Stand’s burgers. Every Stand starts with average food quality. As you change your burger recipe for your target customer segment, your food quality will increase or decrease depending on their feedback. Random events can also affect food quality positively or negatively.

The most satisfactory feedback customers can give is called the Perfect Recipe. Customers give this feedback when the ingredients in a burger recipe match their taste in size and composition. However, because customers have different tastes, the Perfect Recipe for each segment will differ.

Customer Experience and Feedback

Service Speed Feedback

Customers measure a Stand’s service speed by the amount of time ⌚ they are willing to wait to buy a burger 🍔. This time is called Customer Patience, and it’s different for each segment.

For instance, Students 🧑‍🎓, with limited cash and time to burn, can wait for 15000 milliseconds (about 90 minutes in real life) to be served. But Managers 🧑‍💼 will only wait for 6667 milliseconds (40 minutes in real life) before leaving.

Service speed 🏃💨 is one factor that determines how fast your burger queue moves. If the time to reach the front of the queue exceeds a customer’s patience, they will say that the wait is too long 😡 and leave. The image below shows a manager stomping off because the wait is too long for him.

But if the customer is first in line, they will buy the burger and say that the service is too slow 🐌.

Customers become more patient when the Stand has certain upgrades. Things like sound systems, TV screens, and cooling fans all help to improve patience.

Customer Service Feedback

It works the same way for customer service. Each customer segment has a minimum customer service need. Service below this threshold will attract bad customer service feedback 👎.

The customer service threshold for Parents is 25, and 50 for Tourists. If your employee’s customer service is below 50, Tourists will keep complaining about it. But as long as it is not below 25, Parents will be okay with it.

The gif below shows a Tourist leaving bad customer service feedback while buying a burger. Judging by the previous customer’s reaction, the burger is terrible, and they will complain about that too. 🤣

Food Quality Feedback

Recall that the Perfect Recipe for each customer segment is unique. The perfect recipe for one customer might be a burger with too many or too few ingredients for another. Customers judge your recipe by the quality and amount of ingredients in it.

When one or more ingredients are too much or too little for a customer, they will give an ‘excessive ingredient’ or ‘insufficient ingredient’ feedback. Both of which reduce your Stand’s quality.

Excess ingredient feedback

Insufficient ingredient feedback

For quality-conscious customers, their perfect recipe requires special ingredients like the softest buns. You will need a fresh bun maker installed on your Stand to produce these buns.

Conclusion

Delivering excellent quality in your food Stand begins with paying genuine attention to your recipe, employees, and customers 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦. When you prepare tasty recipes, train your employees, keep them happy, and make your customers comfortable, there will be no end to the positive feedback and recommendations your company receives from customers.

Don’t forget to join our community to get these behind-the-scenes specials delivered directly to your inbox. Plus, we’ve got other exclusive perks waiting for you.

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