From Clicker Heroes
From Clicker Heroes
AdVenture Capitalist remains strangely compelling, at least for a little while after they add updates. When you can quickly double your earnings, there is something to do, which is a strange thing to ask of an idle game.
After ProgressQuest was the trope-maker for idle games, later games have added variable degrees of interactivity. Upgrades and mini-games seem to be the most common, along with a bit of clicking, usually important at the very start but quickly overwhelmed by passive sources of advancement. Until recently, upgrades were the only interactivity in AdVenture Capitalist. Anti-Idle has a large idling component but also a variety of mini-games. Cookie Clicker is closer to AdVenture Capitalist but has rewards for watching and clicking the special cookies, along with some … unusualness in its late game. Candy Box and A Dark Room both have idle mechanics for advancement but significant game components.
I was originally surprised by offline advancement in AdVenture Capitalist, but that seems to be (becoming?) more common in idle games than I knew. Clicker Heroes and Idle Blacksmith both keep generating advancement while you’re away. Anti-Idle has an offline mode, but when last I played, you set it for a fixed duration like planting Farmville crops.
Lots of little wind-up toys. I cannot say that many of them have much gameplay value, but the steady accumulation of effortless illusory progress is almost hypnotic. Perhaps the strangest thing is seeing non-ironic idle games. ProgressQuest and Cow Clicker were commentary on types of games; new idle games mostly mean it.
In one of the more unusual combinations of ideas, AdVenture Capitalist is an idle game that counts offline time. You do not even need to be idle.
Yes, you could just change the date on your computer to get trillions of imaginary dollars, but at that point, why are you bothering with an idle game?
In general, why are you bothering with an idle game?
Ever have one of those days where you will not commit to watching a full movie, but you end up watching five television episodes? My gaming has been like that lately. If it takes longer than a half-hour, I’m probably not motivated to commit to that, even if I might still sit down and play things for a couple of hours.
Casual games have been helpful for that. You have a break point every few minutes if you want to decide you are done, even if you keep playing “one more round” for an hour. Pixelo? Great. Match-3 games? Stellar. It battles against my intentionality in that I did not sit down with the need to play 20 rounds of match-3, but once I’m in, I’m rolling and having a good time.
Which is the goal.
Trying one of the recent games at Kongregate, I discovered a game (and accompanying achievement) for pure grinding, Mighty Knight. It has the usual more-or-less required upgrades, but some “quests” remove the “more-or-less” by removing all player input. Those quests are to have your NPC companions defeat all the enemies. You cannot command, control, or guide them in any way except for buying them better equipment. Your NPC companions also select targets at random and fight them to the death, no matter what else is going on around them.
As I type this, the game is rated 3.9/5. Either most folks operate on the 7-10 rating scale or the average gamer just utterly baffles me.
Content delivery systems have gamified games by building their own level and achievement systems. Kongregate and Steam are two that I use. Kongregate flash games may have levels, points, and achievements, and then Kongregate itself has badges, points, and levels, and now pets that may appear in games. Steam games have had achievements for a long time, and now Steam itself has a trading card mechanic that leads to crafting, badges, and levels.
Steam has started tying its seasonal sales to those. In past years, you received the seasonal achievement for gaining achievements, voting, shopping, and otherwise using Steam. Those are now mediated through trading cards (and those trading cards now incinerate at the end of the event, rather than sticking around for latter day trading, which I think was uncalled for). And crafting completed sets of trading cards during the seasonal events awards seasonal event trading cards.
I am sitting on five sets of cards and waiting for the next seasonal sale event, because it will be worth marginally more to cash them in then than now. I am gaming the gamification of games, and the absurdity alternately amuses and irritates me.
I usually post after I’m done playing something, rather than the “Wot I’m Playin'” that some game bloggers do. Trying that out:
I have trouble letting go. For long periods of time, I have games that I am not interested in playing but for which I expect to regain interest later. For single-player games, that means shelving them, and I can play Civilization again when I have the free hours. These days, most of my games are online multiplayer games with incentives for frequent play over binging, so I spend a fair amount of time “coasting.”
Efficient use of dailies is a core example. Most MMOs have dailies now, and many have rested bonuses, once per day rewards, etc. You can cash in several of those quickly and call it a day. Most social media games have a daily login bonus, a process you can productively reset every 24 hours, etc. You can bounce off a half-dozen of those while reading your RSS feed. Games with updates frequently have festivals and events, and you can get 50% of the reward in 5% of the time if you just log in, pick the low-hanging fruit, and accept that you are not going to grind enough to get the top tier reward.
This is a reason why I have never run out of karma, money, laurels, etc, in Guild Wars 2 and why I have 600 levels of characters despite having been “on break” for about half the game’s lifespan. In less than 30 minutes, I can get a small stack of rewards. I don’t need to do that every day to have a huge stockpile when I get seriously interested in playing 3 months later. I have a routine of visiting a half-dozen games, seeing if there is anything new, getting double rewards for whatever strikes my fancy, and wandering off.
Because I am exactly the sort of player who likes to play in binges, and nothing fuels that like coming back to a stack of gold pieces, 20 points to assign to abilities, an entire screen of unlocked rewards, a new festival…
The latest update to Dawn of the Dragons is the sort of straight-up slot machine that one expects from F2P games of its like, surprising only in the relative rarity of that sort of thing in this particular game. I mean, they advertise the “expedition” packs with random loot tables for real money currency, but the festival “vortex” is a blind draw from an unknown table, the “fortune teller” is the same for buffs, and the “gambit” is a literal raffle. Adding a “Winner’s Board” to show off the better prizes is a nice touch.
Playing through A Dark Room, I was distressed upon the realization that the resource-gathering portion of the game was an idle game. I went in completely unspoiled, but that is the kind of thing you need to warn someone about. You should also warn them of the scale of idling expected. There is a big difference between games with a few hours of idling built in and a few weeks (or potentially endless).
I am often amused by idle games but I find them insufficiently interactive. That is kind of the point of them, but I do things with my computer. My idea of quality gaming does not involve starting up a game and going to bed. I also need there to be a gameplay payoff at some point. A Dark Room does that. The classic idle game, Progress Quest, does not. Anti-Idle is stuffed full of mini-games, so much so that you could think of it as an anti-i… oh, I see what you did there.
But then, I’ve never seen the appeal of visual novels (versus actual novels) either.