Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Play Cookie Clicker

I got linked to Cookie Clicker from Facebook.  It was roundly derided in the post but I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  Weeks later I have clicked an awfully large number of cookies and again I see a Facebook post linking to an article talking about CC and telling people how terrible it is.  (Here is a post about CC strategy if you want that.)  So here is the thing about CC:  It isn't a game where you can talk about success vs. failure in the normal way.  Anybody can, through brute force and no strategy, get every achievement and accomplish every goal.  It is just a matter of time.  The key isn't getting to the end, it is getting to the end as fast as possible.

If all you want to do is click mindlessly and build things randomly you will always and forever move onward and upward but what is the optimal order in which to purchase all of those upgrades and buildings?  If you restart from scratch you get a permanent bonus based on how many cookies you have previously baked... when is this a good idea?  CC is the sort of game where maximizing every one of these decisions and building yourself a spreadsheet is the fun part.  Heck, there are even interesting decisions to be made keeping your real life in mind.  Your purchasing strategy will change based on your real life schedule and how much time you can spend focusing on the game and when.  Going to sleep for ten hours?  Best recalculate how many cookies to keep banked for that Frenzy/Lucky combo you hope to cash in on when you wake up.  Reaching the end is inevitable but just like in a NASCAR race it isn't very interesting to get to the end; rather you need to shave off every possible second from the time you start until the time you finish.

CC is at its core a game where you make your own rules about winning and losing and decide just how hard you want to play.  Plenty of people get angry about such games because they see it as a waste of time - after all, you never win.  But who cares?  We don't say that Mass Effect 3 is a better game if you finish it vs. only getting 75% of the way through, and in fact plenty of folks would tell you that you are far better off not finishing that last 5%.  It is true that people get addicted to CC and many of them employ no strategy whatsoever while they click randomly.  That makes the game, for them, not particularly educational but not really worse than most other games.  Of course if you actually play the game by figuring out all the mechanics, building spreadsheets, and doing lots of math to decide the optimal strategy at any given point it is a pretty great learning game.  This is why I recommend building spreadsheets for everything!

So CC is a simple and addictive game.  It has potential if you play it right.  So play CC, just play it right!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the cross post, but honestly... strategy? Sure, analysis, but really the strategy for Cookie Clicker can be summarized as "click the things you can click." My post is more of a philosophical commentary on the nature of games. Isn't it?