Clicker Heroes

My name is Catherine, and I’m a Clickaholic.

Clicker Heroes addictionWhat is Clicker Heroes? A game? A waste of time? A Cookie Clicker rip-off with an RPG reskin? A digital designer drug? What do you do? Well, you click the left mouse button. This gives you gold that you spend to help you click more or buy characters that click for you. Click, click, click, click, click. I clicked so much that dolphins showed up at my house expecting to mate with me. Which isn’t as fun as it sounds. It’s like fucking a slip ‘n slide, but that’s a story for my upcoming spin-off blog “Marine Mammal Bestiality Chick.” There’s multiple “heroes” that you have to level up and upgrade. After a certain point, you’re expected to begin “ascending” which is to say start-over from the beginning, only all the heroes you’ve gilded remain gilded (thus increasing their damage by at least 50%) and you get “hero souls” which can be used to buy different kinds of upgrades. Enemies don’t fight back, so basically you just click a whole lot and watch a handful of different enemy types appear to have seizures and die. After a while, I gave up on manually clicking and grabbed an auto-clicker. I guess some Clicker Heroes purists consider this cheating, but it was either use an auto clicker or have my right hand pull an Evil Dead on me. I wasn’t a total scoundrel about it. I set it to perform ten-trillion clicks a second instead of a quadrillion.

After putting out the ensuing fire and buying a new computer, I realized I was playing the game wrong. Among other things, I had my gilded heroes spread out too much. Some of the heroes’ upgrades benefit other heroes instead of themselves. So I started to move gilds around, stacking 200 on Treebeast, which seemed to give a disproportionate amount of damage for the cost. I also started boosting ancients that would allow me to make a lot of progress with minimal clicks. Mostly stuff that gives bonuses for remaining idle. I also increased the percentage of Heroes Souls I yielded and the percentage of bosses that you harvest them from. As always, games that are based on chance tend to stick it to me, so I rarely yielded the amount of souls I should have gotten in any particular run, though your mileage will vary.

At this point, I had no clue what I was doing. I would have been better served lighting the $20 I spent at this point on fire. At least that would have kept me warm for a few minutes.

At this point, I had no clue what I was doing. I would have been better served lighting the $20 I had already spent on fire. At least that would have kept me warm for a few minutes.

I appreciate Clicker Heroes because it doesn’t really tart-up what it is. It’s a time sink. It owns it. It’s a relatively well-done time sink though. It’s genuinely satisfying to watch your stats grow, to make it further each time you ascend, and to unlock new characters. However, Clicker Heroes has too many walls that pop up, forcing multiple-repetition grinding that saps the entertainment value out of it. It always returns to being “fun” for lack of a better term once the wall is overcome, but each subsequent wall gets more and more grindy. Even after a dozen ascensions and pumping up my stats, I’m still getting utterly brick-walled once I get to around level 2,400. I’m leveled-up enough that I can get back to it in about 90 minutes of play-time. A major problem is the time it takes to get back to those sections you’re stuck on. It should be easier to skip the opening levels once you reach a certain point. You can buy the right to skip those levels, but the cost of it is, in my opinion, disproportionately high compared to other upgrades. It makes more sense to me that skipping those stages should be something earned through progress, not something you have to elect to purchase over making upgrades. It would make the game less tedious. Tedium is the absolute last thing you want your game to contain, even if it’s a grind-a-thon time sink.

I don't recommend trying to upgrade all the heroes. Too much effort for no reason. Degild all but the first hero you get and the last 8 you can unlock. Or not. I'm sure fans of the game will scream that I suck at the game and didn't upgrade correctly. They're probably right.

I don’t recommend trying to upgrade all the heroes. Too much effort for no reason. Degild all but the first hero you get and the last 8 you can unlock. Or not. I’m sure fans of the game will scream that I suck at the game and didn’t upgrade correctly. They’re probably right.

Now then, the money. I put $64.96 into Clicker Heroes. My justification being that I buy $59.99 games all the time and never come remotely close to putting a fraction of the time in them I did in Clicker Heroes, so it “earned” my money so to speak. Which is not to say I got value for my money. Some of that is on me and not knowing how to properly use the gems when I first started, so my initial $25 was burned in a wasteful manner. But, once I did know what I was doing, I still felt what you get for the money isn’t enough. The gems eliminate grind, and nothing more. They eliminate significantly less grind the further in you are. I’m at the point now where I could spend 50 gems (which takes several hours to earn if you’re not spending money, even after you’ve fulled upgraded a gem multiplier) to do a ‘quick ascend’ to get all my hero souls without losing my place and it won’t put a dent in the wall I’m at. The final $19.99 I put in was for the sake of experimentation. How much extra progress could I make late in the game if I skipped a bit of grind and ascended a couple of times? The answer turned out to be not a whole lot. Even though I upgraded damage stats, I’m not sure I helped myself at all.

Here’s a thought for Clicker Heroes and any game going the freemium route: VIP subscriptions that give you substance. It can’t be something lame like “Get a bonus 10% damage if you’re a VIP member.” It has to be something that gives you value over what you could get by purchasing the gems in the game. Since freemium games struggle more and more to convert free players to paying ones, it boggles my mind that many never stop to reevaluate why. It’s an industry where achieving 5% conversion rate is considered a major success. Instead of shrugging shoulders and saying “this is the business we’ve chosen” why not say “5% sucks. Let’s figure out what we’re doing wrong.”

Of course, there’s a crowd who simply will never accept freemium games under any circumstance. I’m going to try something foolhardy and appeal to them directly: games like this do matter. They have a place. Over the last three weeks, I’ve been overloaded with work and I’ve been having issues with my epilepsy. Two things that normally keep me from being able to be a gamer. So how did I manage to put in an eye-popping 300 hours into Clicker Heroes? Well, it’s because Clicker Heroes is one of those rare games that you can have fun with even when it doesn’t have your full, undivided attention.

You can grind up gems or you can buy them. Either way, I've reached point where their effect on my progress is practically non-existence.

You can grind up gems or you can buy them. Either way, I’ve reached point where their effect on my progress is practically non-existence.

In fact, I was pretty dang productive while I was playing Clicker Heroes. My friends were (and probably still are) concerned by the sheer time I put into it. But if you look closer, I didn’t really put as much time into it as Steam says I did. My work involves a lot of paperwork. I could sit with it, look up occasionally and pump the stats up of one of my heroes, then return to my work. Or I could throw on a movie, watch it with my boyfriend, and boost my characters every couple of minutes. And finally, at one point I just left the damn thing running for 24 hours with the auto-clicker going, building a multiplier bonus for keeping a click streak alive. Which didn’t really do as much as you might think it would.

Some people say stuff like Clicker Heroes isn’t really a game. I say it’s the type of title that allows us to always be playing games. In the big tent of gaming, why do we as a community say stuff like this, or Cookie Clicker, or Facebook games have to be relegated to the corner, if they’re allowed in at all? What’s the difference between Kerbal Space Program and Clicker Heroes? My non-gaming father has put around 100 hours into Kerbal since last month. My non-gaming mother plows through each new Angry Birds release. My business partners (none of whom are gamers) and I have our weekly prep meetings while playing Sportsfriends. Games come in all shapes and sizes, and none appeal to everyone. Some are so niche that their appeal is limited to most, especially the indie crowd. We have to stop doing this as a community. Labeling what is and isn’t a game. That’s just snobbery run amok. Clicker Heroes is a time sink without shame. But it is a game. It matters.

Clicker LogoClicker Heroes was developed by Playsaurus
Clicker Heroes is Free to Play, available on Steam

igc_approved1$64.96 will 12 step her way to her next game in the making of this review.

Clicker Heroes is Chick Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.

Go Dubs!

Cookie Clicker and Banana Bananza

Earlier this week, I was browsing the XBLIG marketplace when I came across a game that caught my attention. It featured two lesbians on the cover making out and suggestively wielding bananas like they were dildos. I’m not kidding. The game, Banana Bananza, was pulled today from the XBLIG market place. I guess having two chicks make like they’re going to fuck each-other with a banana is just the sort of thing that gets you yanked. By the way, when that happens with an XBLIG you’ve already bought, they WILL remove your ability to play the game from your Xbox. Check it out. Here’s what it looks like on my “recent” tab from the dashboard.

Banana 2

Here’s what it looks like when you try to boot it up.

Banana 3

Sucks, huh? But that’s how it works. If MS deems a game unsuitable for the marketplace, they can delete your ability to play it. No refund. Welcome to the digital age.

I actually did buy it. I figured, why not? Among other things, I live in the San Fransisco Bay Area and I support gay rights, so I’m going to Hell anyway. More over, I can be just as cynical as game developers. These games get attention, and not just for devs. My most popular reviews are all, sadly, games with anime-style graphics and lots of boobies. If not for the fact that I’ve heard from a lot of regular readers who discovered me and the XBLIG scene from those reviews, I unquestionably would be leaving them alone. It makes me wonder if the boob games have been an overall positive for XBLIG as a whole.

I’m being dead serious.

Anyway, Banana was the worst game I’ve ever played in my entire life. I’m not joking. I found out it was based on a popular free web game called Cookie Clicker. The idea being you would press A to “pick a banana” and watch a counter go up. After picking enough bananas, you could spend those on upgrades that pick the bananas automatically for you. And that’s the entirety of the game. But here’s the weird part: people who were making fun of this lazy version of Cookie Clicker were also warning me to not actually try Cookie Clicker myself. For fear of losing me. “We know you. We know your addictive personality. Please don’t Cathy. We all love you.” I was thinking “oh come ON, any game that could have inspired this can’t possibly win me over.

The original marketplace page for Banana had no screenshots of the "gameplay" so I took one myself. This is the entirety of the game.

The original marketplace page for Banana had no screenshots of the “gameplay” so I took one myself. This is the entirety of the game.

50+ hours later, with my index finger swollen from all the clicking, I have to admit, yea, they were right. I was legitimately addicted to Cookie Clicker, which is less a game and more a narcotic, only more legal and dangerous to your relationships.

So yes, you click a cookie to earn cookies which you spend on “buildings” that produce more cookies, or bonus items that increase the amount of cookies you can earn. I vastly underestimated how quickly and poorly the XBLIG clone was handled, because Cookie Clicker has a lot more going for it than just purchasing upgrades and watching cookies roll in. For starters, the XBLIG clone only had six possible things you could buy, and those things couldn’t be upgraded. Cookie Clicker has twelve, all of which can be upgraded multiple times to be more productive. There’s also bonus cookies that appear randomly somewhere on the screen that set off random special effects. There’s holiday-themed special events that unlock new upgrades. There’s even an end game involving the Grandmas you hire. Plus, you know, it’s free. As opposed to not free.

That thing in the corner is Santa Claus. Don't ask.

That thing in the corner is Santa Claus. Don’t ask.

Just playing Cookie Clicker earned me a lot of scorn and “you’re not a gamer” ridicule from the usual gang of idiots. I don’t understand it myself. How do we, as a community, broaden our horizons if we don’t explore every facet of gaming. Especially stuff that’s popular, and Cookie Clicker is popular. And I can totally see why. Some things are enjoyable on a level that defies explanation. Why do people just sit around and pop bubble wrap? I have no clue. And I have no clue why I spent so long watching a glorified number counter go up like I did with Cookie Clicker. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it.

IGC_ApprovedCookie Clicker was developed by Orteil (who I think is now legally my dealer)

Banana Bananza is no longer available.

Cookie Clicker is Chick-Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard. Banana Bananza is most certainly not.

Check out a review of Banana Bananza before it was pulled from the market from my buddy Tim Hurley of TheXBLIG.com

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