My Addiction To AdVenture Capitalist: An Update

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.


  1. Akbar says:

    Have you considered just wiping it off your hard drive before you can stop yourself? Like just clicking the folder, then SHIFT+DELETE before anything stops you? Because it seems clear that you don’t see this as good, and I think that might, as rough as it may be, be a damn good option.

    • Jeeva says:

      I had it on my phone and, as soon as I had uninstalled it, felt… nothing. No urge to continue.

      It’s blissful, this click-free existence.

    • Minglefingler says:

      I was spending too much time with Cookie Clicker a while back. A few weeks in I got freaked out by Youtube’s suggesting videos on articles that I had literally just read and so I deleted all my cookies. I opened the Cookie Clicker tab, found all my progress was gone closed it for good. It’s the only time I’ve been grateful for an accidental saved game wipe.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Eh. I for one, am still playing it. I’m at the point where the numbers go up so slowly I can’t do a single thing until at least several days have passed. It’s cool, I can check it very occasionally, click like two things, and say, “Yeah. Keep at it, numbers,” with a fatherly nod.

      • Kitsunin says:

        So yea, it loosens its grip on you eventually. Takes a while, but the game itself allows that addiction to fade into mere curiosity at how your stuff’s doing.

  2. jezcentral says:

    I played 67 hours of it, and also found leaving it to idle just meant that I kept clicking on it every few minutes.

    I finally broke the routine at a LAN party, where I spent/wasted a load of time “playing” it. I got the last-but-one achievement (get 3,000 of everything), realised the chart went up to over 10,000, and finally deleted it. Bliss. I now have time to do other stuff. It really got in the way. I found it utterly compelling, and the satisfaction of clicking on something was only outweighed by the increasing feeling of self-disgust. At last, the disgust won out.

    I still think of it.

  3. melnificent says:

    Got every achievement and quit…. but now there is the moon.

    • jrodman says:

      I am in this boat but I deny the moon exists.

    • The King K says:

      For me, the moon finally broke the spell. Progression there was just so slow. Sloooooooow.
      I still have it and check in once a week for 15 minutes (longer if I reset, shorter if I just buy some 100s) but don’t keep it active.

      Unlike Clicker Heroes, since is at least encourages having it running with how ancients work (or how I understand them) and constanly buying additional hero levels. Popping it up every 5-20 minutes to do that doesn’t really take too much time away from whatever I am playing in my main window. It really works nicely whenever somebody in Rocket League doesn’t click ready/rematch after the match or when FMC autosaves again.

      • penryn says:

        Same here. I stuck with the moon for a while, but progress was slow to the point of frustration and then, really, why play at all? I deleted it and only have the slightest of regrets.

  4. James says:

    Well, if you want to surrender all of your tablets of choice I’m sure I could ‘relieve’ you of this terrible burden/make some money on ebay :D

  5. qrter says:

    It’s funny, because clicker games seem to be exactly what I quit a ‘normal’ game over – when a game starts to feel less ‘alive’, and more like a couple of numbers systems bouncing off of eachother (this is basically why I stopped playing Dragon Age: Inquisition after playing it feverishly for weeks – the world feels dead, just a bunch of mechanics merrily scrapping with eachother).

    The only one I’ve really played is the Steam Summer Sale one, and there I could aaaaalmost see why it could be fun: you were working together as a group, to unlock more games.

    As soon as that part of the sale was over – no more games to unlock and add to the sale – I dropped the clicker game instantly. I guess I just need my numbers to be all dressed up ‘n lookin’ fancy, so you get a Victor Vran or Grim Dawn.

    • Beefenstein says:

      I played VV for 12 hours and then got to the point everything seemed like rehashes of what I’d done before (as I have legendary weapons so don’t need to change up my playstyle, even though I had all hexes on). To be fair I only played Diablo 3 for about 20 minutes before getting similarly bored.

  6. liceham says:

    So, AdVenture Capitalist hides upgrades and purchases that are too far out from your current state, so it will look like you’ve almost got everything, until you approach those numbers, and it will show you the next set of unlocks you haven’t achieved. I also got very close to ‘finishing’ the entirety of Earth, and then they updated the game so there was more. I guess some people want that, but when I realized that, I just uninstalled it and haven’t gone back.

  7. floher says:

    Sextillion! A fellow Saga reader!

  8. Lionmaruu says:

    I like clicker hero more, adventure capitalist dont really give you a reason to play it, apart from once a whatever time do some clicks.

    I am still not happy with any of those, I think there is much more potential on the genre, if you could assign missions and colect results and plan adventures it would be better, there is one that ssems to be like it but is paid and I am not spending money on it just to try

  9. Mischa says:

    Spoilers, I guess:
    No, you are not close to ‘completing’ earth. You might be close to getting rid of your addiction, though. Soon, doubling those angels will take days instead of hours, and as people mentioned, progress on Moon is very slow. And I think there is nothing after Moon *yet*. So why continue, without any ‘progress’?
    It was enough for me to quit with newspapers at 2900.

  10. heartnotes says:

    You should play sandcastle builder, it’s gotten more updates and it has way more content than AdCap. Also no freemium bullshit. Win win!

    • Deano2099 says:

      Sandcastle Builder is properly fascinating and I’d put it in a different category to most of these. It’s essentially a game about trying to comprehend the most complex idle game known to man.

      Nothing in it makes any sense, it’s full of utter nonsense, you can leave it idling for days and get nowhere because you haven’t figured out how to properly do something. I loved it, but gave up around Dragons because it needed me to be too active and it was about the limit of what’s actually documented at the time.

      Here’s an example paragraph from the strategy guide:
      “Construct from blackprints as often as you can; your goal is to get to Automata Assembly, and Automata Engineers right after it. Get to 5000 NewPixBots for Production Control and, as often as you can afford to make another set of tools, increase it. With all ceilings off, it takes 78M chips per NP per 12 tools, so do a bit of napkin math if you have to to see if it’s worth increasing. Before long it will be pretty often that you want to push it up, and remember the bigger the increment the better. Production Control levels are one of the few things retained when you molpy down, so this is a big priority. Your first big break will come when you get about 2M beanie builders. Immediately trade them in with recycling beanies to get it to inf (assuming you have a few T blocks to buy the boost with) and then rebuild only beanies till you’re back up to snuff. This will give you tons of chips. You’ll want to do the same with scaffolds and window washing beanies, but you need about 50M of them so it will happen a bit later.”

  11. ninnyjams says:

    Yeah the moon is ridiculous and not fun. I waited three weeks and didn’t have enough to make resetting reasonable. I too am pretty close to done with Earth. My lifetime earth earnings are 3.262 quattuorsexagintillion. My lifetime Moon earnings are 326.562 decillion.

    So yeah, you’re not even remotely close to beating Earth. You will slowdown A LOT when you get into Duo/Tresexagintillion. I’ve got 238.895 novemvigintillion angels.

  12. aleander says:

    Reading this all, I just deleted Clicker Heroes.

    I am FREE! And I didn’t google that Sandcastle Builder thing yet! I haven’t played an idle game in (checks) 3 minutes!

  13. Ejia says:

    What about that kitten game thing? Was there ever an end to it?

  14. twaitsfan says:

    Wow – I find this morbidly fascinating. I’ve found myself close to addicted to things like slow-advance RPGs, but nothing like AdVC that has so little point. I started playing Merchant on my android which seemed similar but got bored after I saw the pattern that I’d be doing over and over and…

    This kindof thing is clearly a brain worm/skinner box that short circuits our dopamine drive. Sounds like you need to turn it over to a higher power.

  15. racccoon says:

    I haven’t even swapped for the angels investors yet :( I only began a week ago though trying to muster them up before I go restart, which I think is only a half loss of current standing.. I go into the game every other day though. I have two running one in flappy Facebook which is still in development, so I have to put with some crashes and a popup saying this fact. but restarting fixes it enough for you click like mad and repeat.. and the other of course is set inside that monopoly ridden tool thing.

  16. therighttoarmbears says:

    “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.”

    This, actually, is how I feel about a lot of television shows, oddly enough (not regarding numbers, mind you, but same idea). It’s why it’s very hard for me to ever bother with watching any TV series until it’s done, mostly, as I don’t know that they’re actually telling me a story so much as trying to spin an endless, devolving yarn of mush. So, perhaps you could take some solace in the fact that many of us have had our More! Buttons pushed by things we aren’t even sure that we liked (and caused us to be deeply concerned about not liking ourselves).

    • aleander says:

      Interesting. I did have several games get me (for a few weeks, usually) like that, but this is the exact reason I barely ever watch tv shows. It kinda makes me feel like a weirdo, but so does me being an (almost) non-drinker.

  17. alms says:

    Hey Alec,

    if it helps, I’ve managed to break free from my Time Clickers addiction: it wasn’t so hard, the thought it was getting in the way of spending time with ‘quality’ games was enough for me (still logged about 150h, mostly in the background, though many spent listening to Radiolab – it’s not a total waste, you see)

    Anyway, I’ve ahead of you with AdVenture Capitalist (basically, I sneeze at the pittance that is your quinquadragintillions) and I have good news: soon the game becomes so slow the only option is to pay for gold.

    I’m currently playing about 2 minutes per day, because there’s absolutely nothing to do and I close it soon as I’ve made sure that is still the case. Except wait for angels to pile up significantly, of course, which takes a loooooong time. Moon is even worse.

  18. Ed Burst says:

    A quinquadragintillion has 138 zeroes.

  19. harvb says:

    I’m totally hooked on this game too, only because the RPS hivemind said to play it. I’m a sheep, I’m playing it. Once I mocked friends for playing spreadsheets and branding them foot-the-ball management sims. Now I find myself playing a corporate finance board room simulator.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Most RPGs are spreadsheets too, think about the actual mechanics involved. All you do is balance numbers and the payoff is that you get to see spells and swords flying about and stuff going splat – or get a little bit more story revealed.

  20. Bugamn says:

    I tried Time Clickers for a while. I liked clicking things and seeing them blow up, but I after not seeing anything new and noticing it would take too long to get new upgrades I simply deleted it and went to play the next game. Cookie Clicker was easier to get rid of: I learned how to cheat and get cookies on demand. If I can get cookies whenever I want I can see everything and sate my curiosity about the elder mysteries.

  21. JamesTheNumberless says:

    Same here, the moon seems completely wrong in terms of how things are balanced. There seems to be a huge cheese and cocktail shaped void where there should be affordable upgrades before you’re able to level up the most expensive things to where they’re actually worthwhile. I’d like to believe they’ve just made a mistake and will fix it later but I’m afraid it comes across as an entirely cynical attempt to get more money. Well, they managed to lose my interest and I’m someone who likes to spend money on free to play games when they’ve given me many hours of fun (or at least, diversion) deleted it from my ipad a while ago now.

  22. namad says:

    to all the adcap fans out there… if you wanna play a similar but much deeper game… play kittens game.

    if you wanna play a game that’s lightyears deeper and therefore not nessassarily similar at all play the absolute king of idle games “anti-idle”

    stop writing about adcap and hero clicker, yes they have a few cute pieces of art but they’re NOTHING mechanically compared to kings of the genre.

  23. Mr Coot says:

    You might need an intervention, Mr Meer. May I suggest Card Hunter?

  24. drewski says:

    I quite enjoy just watching my empire slowly accumulate. And I don’t really see the problem with a game that only takes 20 seconds once a day to “play”? And you don’t need to buy gold unless you get addicted to that rapid progress feeling (and, of course, that’s exactly what they want so you keep coming back for another hit of rapid progress).

    Pro-tip – later on for both the moon and earth it’s faster to reset when you have 25-50% of your current Angel total ready to acquire, rather than trying to always double, as the progression curve slows down. Just depends where you are in the cycle of slow and fast progression.

  25. dontnormally says:

    Would you fucking stop with this bullshit please?

  26. Clement says:

    In a sad state of I-don’t-really-want-to-click-the-things-because-I-am-too-lazy-even-for-that, I wrote a hotkey script to loop through and click each buy button and the E-Z upgrader upgrade button. This has the effect of always buying the cheapest thing, but that’s what I tend to do anyway. I just watch it do its thing. It is strangely intoxicating.

  27. MrMoglin says:

    Almost finished Earth,
    Not even close….
    I have 6000 of everything with no end in site