Play “Overcooked” efficiently

I got a Nintendo Switch from my friend (for a research project). Meanwhile, I enjoyed the game “Overcooked” on Switch. In this game, you control cooks to perform variety tasks and then deliver orders in time. If orders are delivered in advance, some tip will be given. 1-4 players can play the game simultaneously.

It’s clear that you have to do everything as quick as possible to achieve high score in the game. Every task (e.g. cutting meat) need some time to complete. Certain task (e.g. frying) depends on other tasks. To eliminate unnecessary time cost (i.e. waiting for cutting to complete), I use the following strategies:

  • Minimize workers’ stall time (doing nothing). For example, it is not necessary for workers to wait for frying process (polling is not efficient). Like interrupts in modern machines, they can do something else like washing dishes and cutting meats while waiting for cooking. Once interrupt signals (frying completes), they enter interrupt servicing routine: get the food put into a plate. In most cases, the food is ready to serve then. Finally, they returned to what they were doing.
  • Again, make sure everything is doing something. This is especially important if you are playing with your friends. You had better analyze the dependency chain and discuss strategies with your friend before starting the game. Of course you should issue instructions to your friend during game if necessary.

Not all kitchens are easy to deal with. Some have dynamic arrangements – contents may change their location during the game session. Some kitchens have no constant light source. Other have isolated workspaces with conveyor belts or tables for swapping materials (I call it a “bus”).

  • Tables for swapping are usually space-constrained. If you are playing with your friends, you are probably simulating a Symmetric Multiprocessing system, and the bottleneck will be bus bandwidth. In such cases, you should consider the priority of materials. Once transfer finishes, get them as soon as possible.
  • Conveyor belts are high-latency bus, but they have relatively high bandwidth (Hey DDR4, I am looking at you). In some kitchen scenarios (e.g. making burgers), you can put everything on the belt in batches and fetch in batches too.
  • Some conveyor belts connect to trash can, which means materials must be fetched before the expiration. But some cook utilities will appear again if you put them into the trash can. In this way, you can prioritize the transfer of contents on the conveyor belt.
  • Try achieve full-duplex transfer and prefetch to save time. Consider the following scenario: you have a pot that cooks rice at once side, and food materials (rice and flour tortilla) on the other side. For the first time, you get rice and put them into pot. Once rice finishes, you carry cooked rice to the other side and wrap them with tortilla. Don’t get tortilla separately in another transfer. If you really have to do that, you can instruct other cooks (if exist) to prefetch some for you.
  • Prefetch might not work for all kitchens. In the case of cooking soup, mice will steal your food if it is unattended for a while. But you can secure processed food in pots so it won’t get stolen.

Get familiar with your kitchen and good luck! (Well, it is a bit boring if you have learned Machine Architecture and Operating System internals).