As before, I'm not really going to go into every teeny tiny aspect of each game, trying to give a broader idea of how they work rather than go into every fiddly bit. But if you want to discuss the fiddly bits in more detail (which is always fun, *ahem*) have at it in the comments.
Game type: Facebook Application (Playfish)
Time demand: Short periods, every few hours
Cost: Free (Can pay for premium items)
What it is:
Playfish is in a bit of an odd spot in my heart where Facebook games are concerned. On the one hand, the games from them that I've tried so far are some of the ones that I've enjoyed most. On the other hand, while most of the games usually have at least *some* way in-game to earn their special premium cash to buy other items with, Playfish has none. You either shell out actual money, or just don't get specific items. In some games that doesn't really matter much at all, in others... it's a bit more galling.
(And while in theory I understand and sympathize with the idea of actually supporting games monetarily, this particular method feels too bait-and-switch to me, and pisses me off. "Hey, come on in, it's a totally free game! Oh hey, look at these really cool items you might want! Oh wait, you gotta pay if you want the FUN stuff!")
In this particular game it doesn't annoy me as much though, because said premium items are basically ingredients bought instantly (which you CAN get in the game, you just need luck or trading, so it takes longer), or certain decorative items. Which, woo.
Aaanyhow, tangent aside. In this game, you are given a tiny restaurant, and it's your job to get the place a) running and b) profitable. This means hiring a chef and a waiter to start with - the chef cooks the food at a stove in the restaurant, and the waiter serves it to customers. Customer satisfaction goes up as customers are, well, satisfied - no wait for seating, no long waits for food, the plates get cleaned up quickly, enough restrooms... and so on. Plus I imagine the quality of the food also factors in (like, duh), although it's not explicitly stated. The food itself is chosen from a menu, and you require the aforementioned ingredients that you get in a few methods to unlock meals, and to level them up to better quality.
And this, really, remains the focus of the game - things just get tougher and more complex to juggle as you go up in levels. As customer satisfaction rises, more customers come in to your restaurant, which means a better chance at profit but also more staff, seating, facilities, and so on required to keep the satisfaction high.
As you serve customers, you slowly gain experience points as well, going up in level once you reach a certain point. Levels do things like let you hire more staff, expand your restaurant, and unlock garden plots to grow certain ingredients. They also unlock some aspects of the game earlier on, like outside sections to the place, more/different types of menu items, and things like restrooms which customers won't require at first, but will once you start to get better-known.
Rather than micro-managing everything, this game is more about broader management. You hire staff (from among your Facebook friends list, although they don't have to play the game - and don't get bothered with game messages even if they're on your staff), give them roles, decorate the restaurant and lay it out so that you have a short delay between cooking and getting everyone served, plan the menu.... and that's about it. The staff does most of the work. You *can* do a few more things like click on empty dishes or broken toilets by hand to clean/fix them, but generally the place runs itself, and it's just a matter of checking in every few hours to rest or feed your staff, so that they'll keep working.
This... is actually one of the games I generally enjoy more. The only thing is that it's *not* very demanding, so if you're actually in the mood for something that takes a lot of focus and kills time, it's not really as useful. But for something to just deal with very briefly a couple times a day, it's fun.
Game type: Facebook Application (Zynga)
Time demand: Short periods at a time, but up to fairly frequently through the day
Cost: Free (Can pay for premium items)
What it is:
Another take on the restaurant game theme. This one, though, is a bit more micromanage-y.
You start out as the chef in your new cafe (and unlike Restaurant City, you stay with just one chef throughout), hiring a waiter (again from your friends list) to serve dishes. In the previous game, the management mostly comes from managing your staff and layout, keeping everyone working and the profit rolling in, while the menu slowly gets more complex but generally remains static from day-to-day.
Here, however, the management is more in the food itself. Layout comes into it somewhat, as you still want to have enough seating, paths for your staff to move through to serve the food and so on, but rather than have one fixed menu, instead you have a number of stoves and counters. Each stove means one dish that can be in the process of cooking, and each counter lets you have one cooked dish being served at a time.
You'll start out clicking on each stove to cook up a dish from a short selection, with varying times (anywhere from a few minutes to a couple days). Once you select the meal, you click through a couple stages to prepare it, then it's just a matter of waiting however long the meal prep time is, until it's ready. Once it is ready, you have a certain amount of time (I'm guessing probably around the same as the prep time) to get it off the stove and onto the counter before it spoils. Each meal has a certain number of servings to it. Once it's served, your waiter(s) serve the food to the seated customers, and clean up the plates once they're done. When the number of servings of a dish runs out, the dish disappears from the counter, and you can serve a new one in its place.
And that, in a nutshell, is the heart of the game. As you gain money and levels you can expand your cafe, decorate, buy more seating, and slowly increase your staff, stoves, and counters (which are strictly limited by experience level). You also gain a wider variety of meals you can cook, giving you more flexibility in prep time to try to stagger the food so you're constantly having something served, and nothing going to waste.
The main thing to this game though is that it takes more logging-in, unless you just want to cook up some dishes with looong prep-times and just not worry about your cafe making money in the meantime. This game, too, is generally fun and enjoyable, although it's more active than Restaurant City. Still, there's only so much you can do in it at a time, so while it eats up time more frequently, it's still not a long-term time-waster if you're dreadfully bored.
And that should do it for now. Just two for today, sorry! I'm sleepy. :p