I woke up so excited to write this post for you that I was literally singing about it in the car. Out of tune.... and an awkward attempt at a high note resulted in the spilling of my coffee. It is ok, I was parked. Never sing about idle games and drive-- it is the law! BEHOLD... A MONOCHROME TEASER POSTER ANNOUNCING WHAT WE ARE BUILDING WITH CRAZY AWESOME WEIRD COOKIE CLICKER RELATED BACKSTORY!
But what is an Idle Game? It is basically a game that plays itself. Well, sort of. You make all of the major decisions. But the tedious, grinding and farming is done automatically by the game. Because of this, you can leave Idle Games running in the background while you do other important things... like work... or *coughs* play other games, like AdventureQuest Worlds.
Personally, I have been wanting to create an idle game FOREVER!!!! Well, at least since 2005 when I registered IdleQuest.com with aspirations of making an animated, self-playing RPG. There was also the idle game that Rolith and I called, THE BUTTON. What started as an inside joke about my obsession with clicking of DragonFable's big shiny red button turned into a skinner-box style game concept. The idea was you got a point every time you clicked the button. You could use the points to buy upgrades that automatically clicked the button for you or made your clicks worth more. Rolith even made a multiplayer version of this that he posted a few years back (anyone lucky enough to have been there for that?) We had so many weird conversations about making this game but it always kept getting pushed on the backburner. Then late one Friday night, we received a link for Cookie Clicker...
OMG!!!! Some one made it! It was called Cookie Clicker. And they made it way better than ours would have been... because they were smart enough to build it with cookies! Rolith and I are extremely competitive when it comes to Idle Games. We ended up staying at the lab was into Saturday morning racing to get some absurd number of Cookie Clicker's Antimatter Condensors. You know... so we could make cookies from the space in-between space. It did not stop there. I played Cookie Clicker legit and hard core for months. The only problem was, I needed to leave the game up and running in a web browser-- and I switch computers a lot during the day. So I bought a cheap computer that I left on 24/7 that did nothing other than run the game. I could remote into that machine from anywhere in the world to monitor my cookie making progress and buy more cookie upgrades.
Cookie Clicker was an international phenomenon. The game spawned a huge number of other idle games on the web, was imitated by fake knock-offs like "Cookie Clickers" (note the S on the end of Clicker) on iPhone and inspired other mobile games like "Make It Rain".
Glancing at that screenshot above you might have noticed there is an ad for AdventureQuest Worlds at the bottom right corner. WHAT!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
How did this happen? Well... you know how we have super players of our games who go to pretty incredible lengths to send me messages in-game or Facebook or Twitter or at conventions, or send huge packages of candy to the lab etc? Because, yeah... I totally stalked the creators of Cookie Clicker in a simliar way to how I started a friendship with Voltaire, One-Eyed Doll and our other celebrity guests that appeared in our games. You know... I sent videos, mailed a broadsword, and um... man, this sounds creepier a lot than it was. (Maybe.)
It is not like it was really like that in real life...
Cookie Clicker was created by Orteil. He coded it in notepad and did all of the pixel art from scratch. He is also hallarious... but way too humble to ever take credit for his genius. Cookie Clicker is hosted on Dashnet which is run by the incredibly kind and smart Opti. Because both of their names start with an "O" it is really easy to accidentally respond to the correct person if you are not paying close enough attention. Which is exactly why I did five times in a row after luring them into AQWorlds chat.
I am not sure if I can accurately explain this... but Orteil and Opti have that honest and true indie game making spirit. You can see how much heart was put into Cookie Clicker. Just talking to them re-inspired in my everything that made me want to make games in the first place. So I asked them one very important question...
Do you like Dragons?
Artix: Orteil, what do you think about Dragons?
Orteil: they're uh
Orteil: they're radical.
Orteil: then again i call everything radical
Orteil: "dragons : they're alright"
...then I, uh, begged them until they said they would help us with the project anyway :-)
Dragons is an idle game where you hatch a Dragon egg and then raise it to a full size, element-breathing, world conquering, Dragon. Except there is not one Dragon... there are lots. Each Dragon will have a unique story told through the simple Idle Game style interface. Each Dragon is also obsessed with a different type of Gem which is what you will initially click on to earn points for your Dragon until you get upgrades so the Dragon can earn gems on it's own. True to the way of the idle game, we are adding a feature so your dragons will continue earning gems even when the app or website is closed.
Baby Energy Dragon - drawn by Oishii, Painted by Dage.
The Dragons are being drawn by Dage, Thyton and Oishii. Originally we were going to anime-style shade them, but both Dage and Thyton's painting skills are getting so amazing that we asked them if it would be possible to paint them all. So far the results have been breathtaking. Yergen is working on subtle animations to give them even more life.
We painted the interface too. Warlic is coding it as you read this. It is hands-down the most beautiful thing our team has produced yet. Meanwhile, I have been working on the writing the stories and progression system with the Cookie Clicker guys. I *REALLY* enjoy working with them. Hope they feel the same. This game is a lot smaller in scope than our other game projects. So, why am I more excited about this than I have ever been about a game before?
Check back often to find out how you can help us test and brainstorm for our upcoming mobile/web idle game, AdventureQuest Dragons!