The Peep Diet: Subsistence Strategies in Primitive Conditions

ABSTRACT:
Very preliminary research into peep likes and dislikes for food and drink has revealed that peeps definitely favor certain shops significantly over others, to the point of making the disliked shops economically inviable. However, this initial study also discovered that location greatly impacts the popularity of shops, and these experiments were not designed to isolate that variable. Thus, it is still too early to state definitively what peeps' favorite food and drink are, and by how much, but general trends are already becoming apparent. Water and slush seem to be strong favorites, along maybe with smooties, while juice and coffee are total losers. With food, burgers and hotdogs dominate and Mexican is also popular, with chicken, fries, and pizza all being hated. Proximity to a ride's exit has a huge impact on shop popularity while proximity to a ride's entrance has a much lesser effect. An otherwise unpopular shop adjacent to an entrance, or reasonably close to an exit, will do more business than it otherwise would.

DETAILS:
I set up a simple sandbox park with a T-shaped path and 3 coasters as follows:
* A "family" coaster (X-Dimension) with a fear of 3.6 at the T path intersection.
* An "adult" coaster (Anubis) with fear 4.3 some distance down the left arm of the T.
* A "teen" coaster (Dive) with a fear of 5.6 about the same distance down the right arm of the T.

The space between the "family" coaster and the other coasters on either side was occupied by all the different types of food and drink shops in different configurations. There was also a single centrally located ATM and 2 restrooms, one on each arm of the T. The whole path was liberally sprinkled with bins and benches. There were 2 janitors and 1 mechanic. All shop prices were left at default and vendors were left totally untrained so their rate of serving customers would be equal and constant. It was necessary to give some of them pay raises to keep them from quitting during the course of the experiments. Park entrance was free and all 3 coasters cost $10. The park stabilized with about 570 peeps in the park for the duration of these experiments. There was zero scenery anywhere, just the naked rides and shops.

Experiment 1: Food and Drink Courts
Here, single paths originating about halfway between the "family" coaster and those to either side led some distance off the main path. At the end of these branch paths, all the food shops (on the side towards the "adult" coaster) and all the drink shops (on the side towards the "teen" coaster) were in a circular arrangement around the ends of the spur paths. IOW, peeps had to walk about the same distance to all shops, in an attempt to establish baseline popularity. The shops were placed in the order shown on the in-game menu alternating from side to side around the court, with those listed first on the menu being closest to court entrances. This configuration is shown in the pic below.




I then ran the game for 1 month and noted the number of peeps served by each shop. In the case of food, only the 4 shops closest to the court entrance got any business at all. At first I thought this was a product of peeps not knowing about the other shops but when I looked at the drink court, peeps had crossed the center and some of the shops near the court entrance got zero business. This was my 1st indication of peep preferences, but they did not hold up in later experiments. Also, the total number of customers for this month was significantly the lowest during all experiments, apparently because most peeps didn't explore up the spur paths to the courts so were unaware that food and drink shops existed. Anyway, the results were as follows.

Drinks:
* Total customers: 133
* Soda: 39.85% (front of court)
* Smoothies: 29.32% (rear of court)
* Slush: 15.04% (front)
* Water: 12.78% (rear)
* Shakes: 3.01% (rear)
* Energy (front), Juice (rear), and Coffee (rear) all got 0%

Food:
* Total customers: 58
* Ice Cream: 37.93% (front)
* Burgers: 25.86% (front)
* Mexican: 24.14% (front)
* Hotdogs: 12.07% (front)
* Donuts, Fries, Pizza, and Chicken (all rear) got 0%.


Experiment #2: Linear Arrangment Along Main Path
Here, I replaced the courts with all the shops in a row with minimal spacing along the north edge of the main path. The shops were placed in the order listed in the in-game menu starting adjacent to the entrance (drinks) or exit (food) of the "family" coaster. IOW, for drinks, the order from the entrance (going right to left) was shakes, energy, slush, soda, juice, smoothies, water, coffee. For food, the order from the exit (going left to right) was burgers, ice cream, hotdogs, Mexican, donuts, fries, pizza, chicken. Everything else stayed the same. This is shown in the pic below:




I ran this experiment for 3 months, recording the customers served by each shop at the end of each month. Month-to-month, there was sometimes a large variation in what each shop did. Also, the total number of customers per month changed significantly for both food and drink, generally declining over time for both. I attribute this latter phenomenon to a bunch of hungry and thirsty peeps left over from the court experiment, which gradually went away as more peeps became aware of the food and drink shops. However, despite the changing monthly totals, the trend of selling more drinks than food held true. Anyway, due to the monthly variation, I just averaged all 3 months together and got the following results:

Drinks:
* 3-month total customers: 499
* Shakes: 40.48% (closest to "family" coaster entrance)
* Water: 20.84% (2nd furthest from "family" coaster entrance)
* Slush: 11.22%
* Smoothies: 10.42%
* Energy: 7.21%
* Soda: 6.6%
* Juice: 3.21%
* Coffee: 0.00% (furthest from "family" coaster entrance)

I was rather surprised to see the popularity of shakes given I've hardly ever sold one in a real game and they didn't do well in the court experiement, either. Coffee's continued utter and complete failure was not a surprise at all. But this made me wonder if proximity to a ride's entrance made a difference, so I pursued that in Experiment #3 (see below).

Food:
* 3-month total customers: 469
* Burgers: 51.39 % (closest to "family" coaster exit)
* Mexican: 15.57% (center of line)
* Hotdogs: 11.73%
* Ice Cream: 7.04% (2nd closest to "family" coaster exit)
* Pizza: 5.54% (2nd furthest from "family" coaster exit)
* Chicken: 4.05% (furest from "family" coaster exit)
* Donuts: 2.56% (center of line)
* Fries: 2.13%

The popularity of burgers was not a surprise from previous experience, but given its location adjacent to the ride exit, which I suspected had skewed its numbers based on the results of the drinks, I decided to move it as well. Mexican again made a good showing, comparable to what happened in the court, which I have not seen in actual parks. And of course hotdogs did quite well as expected. Also note that ice cream tanked compared to its performance in the court. But also note that all 4 shops that got zero business in the court also did poorly in the linear formation.

Experiment #3: Swapping Shops
I've never sold a cup of coffee in a real park so it's utter lack of business in the experiments so far were not surprising. However, I've never sold many shakes, either, so I suspected that being positioned adjacent to a ride's entrance was artificially inflating the popularity of shakes in Experiment #2. Therefore, in Experiment #3, I swapped the positions of the shake and coffee shops. Thus, reading from right (adjacent to the ride entrance) to left, the order was now coffee, energy, slush, soda, juice, smoothies, water, shakes.

With food, I knew burgers were always popular but not so overwhelmingly so as in Experiment #2. And I've never sold a donut in a real game, so while donuts weren't quite the lowest performer in experiment #2, I decided to swap them with the burgers. This made the order from left (adjacent to the ride exit) to right donuts, ice cream, hotdogs, Mexican, burgers, fries, pizza, chicken. And due to path issues, the burger shop had to be set back 1 square from where the donut shop had been, so peeps had to walk the farthest to reach it.

The configuration for Experiment #3 is shown below. Again, I ran this experiment for 3 months, noted the totals for each month, and averaged the results.



Drinks:
* 3-month total customers: 514
* Slush: 23.35% (3rd closest to ride entrance)
* Water: 17.51% (2nd furthest from ride entrance)
* Smoothies: 15.37% (3rd furthers from ride entrance)
* Energy: 12.06%
* Coffee: 11.09% (adjacent to ride entrance)
* Soda: 9.92%
* Shakes: 5.45%
* Juice: 5.25%

Food:
* 3-month total customers: 311
* Donuts: 26.05% (closest to ride exit)
* Hotdogs: 23.79% (3rd closest to ride exit)
* Ice Cream: 13.83% (2nd closest to ride exit)
* Mexican: 11.58% (the rest in order further away from ride exit)
* Burgers: 10.29%
* Fries: 5.47%
* Pizza and Chicken: 4.50% each

CONCLUSIONS SO FAR:


1. Proximity to Ride Entrance or Exit
Being adjacent to a ride's entrance increases sales but being relatively close to, but not adjacent to, the entrance doesn't seem to have an effect and peep preferences for specific types of shops control decisions. However, when exiting a ride, peeps have a very strong tendency to patronize the 1st shop they encounter whether they really like it or not. And if that 1st shop's queue is full, they'll go to the next and the next, again without preference seeming to be a major factor in the decision.

2. Peep Drink Preferences

I have previously said that peeps like water and soda the best. That seems not actually to be the case. They definitely like water but also slush. The other top-3 pick seems to be smoothies instead of energy like I used to think. As to the others, coffee and juice seem to be complete losers and the rest are somewhere in between. Both coffee and energy fill peep energy needs but so does sitting on a bench, which costs them nothing. So in parks with lots of benches, you won't sell much of either energy-providing drink.

3. Peep Food Preferences
I have previously stated that peeps like burgers and hotdogs the best and I stand by that. However, Mexican seems to be amongst the top 3 as well, when I used to think that was pizza. Ice cream is also surprisingly popular. But pizza, fries, chicken, and donuts are all failures unless placed adjacent to a ride exit.

4. Shop Ratio Recommendations

Having 2 drinks per 1 food still seems to be a valid ratio in general, although you might tweak this for to 3 drinks and 2 foods where teens are in abundance. For the main areas of the park, having one each water, slush, and burger shops would seem the best bet. In the teen-heavy areas, do that and also maybe add a smoothie and a Mexican shop.

FURTHER RESEARCH
The next obvious steps are to put the drinks on the exit side of the family coaster. Also, putting all the shops on the south side of the main path. And all sorts of other permutations. None of which I particularly want to do and hope to leave as exercises for interested students. I can upload my text park as a Workshop thing if anybody's interested in carrying on with this.
 
When I was playing around with food courts, I had every shop placed and just watched, and my results were very similar. I also played around with the extras to find a sweet spot for the less desirable shops.


Pizza was interesting because I wondered if the guest brain would be advanced enough to include personal veggie options. So after much tinkering, I set each pizza extra to 'a lot', and upped the prices:

Margareta: $9
Pepperoni: $9.50
Hawaiian: $9.50
4 cheese: $10

I have since added these settings to my new park and it does suggest tinkering with the extras does increase shop attraction. But, obviously, you can become a little bogged down with tinkering like this, especially if you suddenly witness takings are down, perhaps due to a new shop taking another shop's business.


But using this basic formula of increasing extras and adding $0.50 increments to the prices, can prove useful, albeit time-consuming. But you don't necessarily have to wait until the end of the month to witness profitability - if you have found a sweet spot, guests with visibly head to the shop quite quickly. I did this with the unattractive coffee shops, and business also improved.
 
One of the steam achievements is "Salt to your senses" Adding maximum salt to your fries. I noticed when I did that peeps appreciated the fries shop more and became thirsty after eating fries. I have not tested it for legit results, But I think you're right bullybeef, goodies do seem to help make shops more attractive.

Another very nice thread Bullethead. Thanks for running your experiments.[up] I always thought the Pizza shop was a dog. But now I realize it was probably just my placement too close to a other shops. Looking at your results I think your right, its best to only use one or two shops near each other. Maybe competition between shops is just too much for the little peep brain to handle? I already found out the hard way that food courts definitely don't work.
Now I'm wondering how much scenery rating will effect decisions? I'm guessing a plain chief beef wont attract as many customers as a well decorated chief beef, and as with rides, can I charge more for the well decorated chief beef's burgers? There are many different factors weighing into this. Very interesting subject.
 
Really useful analysis Bullethead, thanks for this.

I wish I had the time and patience to perform experiments like this.
 
It's stuff like this that I feel is missing from the Planet Coaster community. If you go look at the wikia pages for RimWorld, Prison Architect etc, they are replete with well researched explanations of items and the mechanics surrounding the gameplay.

You need to let yourself loose on that wikia page; every post you make of your experiments is a superb insight into how the game works, and will be a great resource for people who want to build their parks to take advantage of the mechanics surrounding pricing, placement, and peeps (oh no, an oxford comma!).
 
You're time and patience to commit these experiments are very much appreciated! They definitely help if you want to try and maximize profits!

I'm not sure if there has been a test done on this, but does the amount of space for queuing for the shops affect sales?

For example, in the pictures above, there is very little space for queuing, meaning that the queue itself will spill out into the main walkway. Do shops that are set further back make more sales due to lack of crowd and more space to queue?
 
@Bullybeef:
I haven't ever messed with extras and have barely even looked at the available options. Once I discovered you can't add booze to any of the drinks, I lost interest :) . Thanks for doing some research in that direction.

One of the rules I live by in my real life is "reinforce success, not failure". If peeps like Product A and don't like Product B, I'd put the extras on Product A to make it even more successful rather than struggling to raise Product B from sucking to mediocrity. I'd also bulldoze Product B and replace it with another Product A.

@OCD:
I tend to string shops out along the main path, although sometimes I put a number of them close together. However, when I do that, I usually separate the food and drink shops from each other with restrooms, ATMs, sometimes an info. IOW, it might be drink, restroom, food, ATM, drink, restroom, and some might be on the opposite side of the path.

Decoration seems to have the same effect on food/drink shops as it does on rides. That is, once a peep gets to the start of the queue, the more scenery there is, the more likely the peep is to wait in line.

Generally, however, food/drink shops don't have full queues unless you put them directly adjacent to the path like I did above in Experiments 2 and 3. I did that on purpose here to see if peeps encountering a full queue would go elsewhere or not get anything, to test their preferences for specific types of food/drink. Because of this, I think some of the loser shops in my experiments actually got more business than they would have if the shops had been set further back from the main path. I normally put at least 1 full square of queue space between the main path and the shop, like with the Chief Beef set back in Experiment 3.

@danijam:
I've never liked contributing to wikis. First, I'd rather do research than paperwork. Second, I always get into revert wars with folks who have different opinions. So I just post stuff in the main forums and leave it to others to put it in the wikis if they feel like it.

@Jammy:
Yes, as mentioned above, queue length for shops is important. If you put shops right on the edge of the main path, then very few peeps can be there and anybody else wanting that product will become a lost sale. I recommend putting at least 1 full square of path in front of a shop to reduce this problem, at least for the more popular shops. It's less of an issue for like coffee, which peeps seem to hate.
 
I think the difference in popularity between drink options is actually due to differences in how potential demand is calculated:

Drinks are not one group, they're actually a few groups under one heading.

Thirst:
Water, Slushees, Soda and more or less Juice (adding fruit pieces actually curbs hunger as well)

Thirst and Hunger:
Smoothies and Shakes (adding ice cream and fruit pieces respectively curbs additional hunger as well)

Thirst and Energy:
Coffee and Energy Drinks

I have seen a lot of evidence to suggest that the probability of wanting to visit a particular shop is a combination of factors for the mixed shops and only thirst for the basic shops.

In simplified math terms using example math, I don't know the real weights they use or their base:

Weight of visiting regular drink shop:
(100 - thirst)

Weight of visiting shake/smoothie shop:
((100 - thirst) + (100 - hunger))/2

Weight of getting coffee/energy drink;
((100 - thirst) + (100 - energy))/2

Proximity is then used to further weight the initial value.

If you have no food options, I've discovered that shake and smoothie shops do better (satisfying hunger). No benches (or right outside a ride with a very long queue) and a coffee or energy drink shop will do better. Regular plain drink shops perform the best when all of the other needs have already been addressed.
 
I recently noticed it can be a case of horse for course: I started a new Park and put 5 star rides in four corners, along with a flat ride or two. Since these areas were so widespread, I added one food & two drink shops, along with complimentary loo & atm.


After allowing enough time to pass and an area to populate, I randomly click on the odd passing group to check their desires. And if more than most had low energy, for instances, I'd replace one of the drink shops with either coffee/energy drink, and make sure it was well received.


In regards to the extras, I was completely ignorant to them a sometime. It was only when I wanted to test whether I could make less popular shops more attractive by boosting their extras, and it does help, but competition is odd. When I played around with food courts, I had the Mexican/pizza shops outselling burgers/hotdogs! Go figure.


But a one food, two drink ratio (as Bullethead suggests) can work as small food areas nearby highly populated rides, including train stations.


I suppose the game gives gives us plenty options to play around with.
 
I ran a little scenery test.
I tried to make the test as fair as possible by having one path leading to a square with burger shops placed directly across from each other. One with scenery and one without.
From my little test, after one year, scenery played no part in the attractiveness of the shops. For some reason the Burger shop without scenery was more popular. I can only guess that the teenager thrill ride (most popular ride) exit was closest to the no scenery burgers.


 
I think the difference in popularity between drink options is actually due to differences in how potential demand is calculated:

Drinks are not one group, they're actually a few groups under one heading.
I agree that most drinks satisfy more than 1 need but I don't think this really works to anybody's (peep or player) advantage because peep needs run at different rates. For example, peeps get thirsty much faster than they get hungry. Thus, peeps tend to satisfy their needs individually as they occur and are thus unlikely to have 2 needs at once that can be satisfied with a single drink.

I guess the main exception to that would be after getting off a ride with a queue so long that multiple needs go critical while they're waiting. But such queues are usually a bad thing because of all the time the peeps stand there not spending money while their "time to go home" clock is running. But even when peeps have simultaneous needs, do you really want to sell them just 1 consumable that satisfies both or would you rather sell them 2 separately? That might depend on how you price your stuff (free entry and expensive rides, expensive entry and free rides, or something in between).

@OCD
Interesting test. It's like Bitter Jeweler's where price had no effect on shop popularity, either. So I guess shop scenery only decreases the bad vibes of not thinking there's enough scenery.
 
Planet Food and Drink Shop
Well, that's definitely part of it. If you're playing a game where money matters, your ultimate objective is for peeps to think "I love your park so much, my only regret is that even after maxing all my credit cards, selling my car, taking a 2nd mortgage on my house, and emptying my childrens' college fund and my own 401k, I don't have any more money to give you." Proper placing of the right kinds of food and drink shops is an important part of achieving that goal.
 
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