Yes, I’m still playing free incremental game AdVenture Capitalist, my obsession with which I’ve written about twice before. Yes, I’m going to break the habit of my career and willingly use the word ‘addiction’ to describe my increasingly unhealthy relationship with it. No, I don’t know how to put it down and walk away forever.
Graham’s struggling through his own unhealthy obsession with numbers games, as documented in his piece about 106 hours with Clicker Heroes. So I’m not the only one with a weakness for these things, and not the only one who hates myself for it. The funny thing is we haven’t really talked to each other about our mutual addiction. We’ll write about it in public, but talking personally seems too acute. Like a crack addict comparing notes with an alcoholic. We’re going through something similar, but the cravings are too different to entirely empathise with each other. And most of all it’s a private affair. Apart from when I bloody blog about it here, obviously.
So, what’s happened since last I shared my shame? Well, the numbers have gone up. They’ve gone up a lot, into types of numbers I’ve heard of before. Quinquadragintillion, for example. I don’t even know if that’s a real number. I don’t know how many zeroes it would have. I have no idea how it relates to numbers I do know. But I know it’s not enough money to unlock everything. Hell, it’s not even enough to get me to 2,800 shares in newspapers. And this is even though I have 5.167 vigintillion angel investors each providing a 30% boost in profits. It’s absurd. I don’t know if it can end. I don’t know if I want it to. I guess I’d like to feel more confident that I could pronounce the sums in question correctly, but I am too lazy to find out how. By ‘lazy’ I of course mean ‘that would involve leisure time spent not watching AdVenture Capitalist do its endless, cyclic thing.”
Also, I’ve unlocked the moon. Oh, spoilers, I guess? Sorry. Yeah, I’ve now got cheese mines and gravity booths and werewolf colonies churning out a slow profit in space. So far they bring in so much less than my almighty Earth empire, and also the increments at which profits multiply are much harder to follow. Where an Earth investment tends to double or triple every 100 shares, this goes 64 then 128 then 256, only some of them are back on 5 and 25 and 100 and, frankly, I just can’t be bothered to do the maths so there’s much more guesswork now in which will be the most rapid route to greater income.
While I’ve yet to fully embrace it on the Moon, I increasingly realise that there is, underneath the frenzy of seemingly mindless clicking, some strategy as to how to make all this happen and multiply as quickly as possible, so you can get results while playing the game rather than by having to leave it alone to do its own thing for hours or days. Initially, it seemed like leaving it alone for hours or days was the only way to play, but now I realise that what I earn during that time ends up being chicken feed compared to what I get if I rapidly sell up everything as soon as my net total of angel investors has doubled (or more – a tenfold increase in an hour or two is not hard to achieve) then start over, with each of those new blighters doing their 30% thing.
This means that time I tell myself (and my colleagues) is simply leaving the game ‘idle’ while working is in fact nipping back to it every couple of minutes to see what else I can by. Sometimes it becomes a couple of hours of constant play, alternately clicking and waiting for a button to light up. It is a strategy and it is playing a game, though of course any analysis about what I’m doing sees me succumb to my ole chum self-loathing all over again. I could have written that novel by now.
But I know there’s something beyond the moon, some greater area of space I could own all of, if I perservere. There will be no reward, no prestige, there will only be continuance. I might have crossed the rubicon now, though: while that self-loathing remains, Adventure Capitalist has transformed from guilty secret into faithful companion. It is soothing to have it there in a window all the time, despite the guilt.
Also – whisper it – I think I’ve almost ‘completed’ Earth. That’s probably why this thing has its hook in me so damned deep, of course. It’ll spring something new on me, some new, impossible number that keeps me there, convinced something enormous is about to happen, but it never, ever will. I will keep on pushing that rock up that hill, because something in me gets excited about the destination every single time.