Calculating the flavour of a dish in a game

by Ajay   Last Updated August 01, 2020 09:13 AM - source

I'm currently working on a game that sees players cook dishes and are scored on their performance. To determine whether a dish is good or not, I will be looking to see if these elements are balanced:

  • Salt
  • Fat
  • Acid

A dish is made up of multiple ingredients and each ingredient will have its own salt, fat and acid levels. Adding too much or too little of an element (e.g. over-salting) results in a weaker score for the player.

There are also a few other factors that affect the salt, fat and acid balance:

  • The number of ingredients (adding more ingredients should reduce saltiness, fattiness and acidity)
  • Acid can reduce the saltiness and fattiness of a dish.
  • Salt can reduce the acidity of a dish.

This idea comes from Samin Nosrat's book Salt, Fat, Acid Heat. Below is an image from her book where she breaks down 4 popular salads and shows how each of the ingredients affects each element. If the player was to recreate "The Caesar" salad, they should get a perfect score for balancing all those ingredients but if they created a salad with just bacon and anchovies it should be considered too salty.

Texture is another element that the player needs to balance but this won't need to be calculated in the same way as the other elements. My plan here is to check if the player is making a salad it should have some crunch to it, whereas if they are making a roast the meat should be tender.

A Balanced Salad

Given a set of ingredients, I would like to calculate whether the dish is balanced or not. The game will probably have 100s of ingredients and I would like some advice on how to best calculate these elements, score the player and balance the many ingredient combinations a player can come up with.

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