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I spend a few minutes watching the /r/thebutton (non presser) every now and then. My SO said WTF are you doing. I replied that watching the timer was just a valid form of entertainment as watching TV or playing the sims. She gaffawed. Boredom plays a big part in lots of interesting online 'games'? Art thingies? Social experiments? April fools?

The one I go back to over and over is Cookie Clicker (orteil.dashnet.org/cookieclicker/) any time I feel like getting a watch that counts my steps or a Tesco Club Card or any other gamification device -- I play the master of gamification. Or I watch the button, 13 days in and 55, 54, 53, click! Idiot, 59, 58, 57, 56, 55, click! Idiot, 59, 58, 57....

Agree that Cookie Clicker is absolutely fascinating. Two of us in the office, busy and capable people, became competitive bandits for Cookie Clicker. It makes for an almost perfect study in drip-feeding content/upgrades no matter how pointless and mundane.

Hints to me that the Great Filter could well be addictive and selfish behaviour transfixing the instinctive and basic aspects of our minds.

Also Cookie Clicker raises an interesting mathematical problem. I wonder if there is a closed form solution to it, or even a polynomial-time algorithm, or if it's NP-hard.

I posed this question once when I was copying and pasting a pixel to fill a line. Given a time cost of selecting & copying vs pasting, what is the optimal number of pastes before I should select and copy? What if the cost of selecting & copying is a function of the current size of the line? That is what Cookie Clicker raises, but with more kinds of "boosts" and whose costs also increase based on how many you've purchased.

Or perhaps you can also pose it in higher dimensions later (copying and pasting to make 2d squares, or even more complicated shapes).

I wonder if algorithms can be written to compete in Cookie Clicker-type games.

It's a relatively easy polynomial problem - there was a google code jam question based on a simplified version last year


Cookie Clicker really shows how game mechanics by themselves (and boredom or need to take your mind off something) can motivate people to play.

But also, it can be even more addictive if the game would go back to zero after a period of inactivity (like a tamagachi pet "dying" without attention, or a Flappy Bird). Maybe not going back to zero but to some lower "saved" level like Mario.

This is the kind of stuff that makes people see how high a score they can get, for no reason other than the score!

Cookie Clicker has a heavenly chips mechanic, where you essentially reset all progress (except achievements maybe?) in exchange for heavenly chips that give a minor % boost.

As a hacker, my goal for some reason was to get enough cookies to make 3 rows of "pointers" :)


Just to see what it would look like

I also looked at the source and sped up the game by running the game loop much faster with an extra setTimeout :)

Try `Game.RuinTheFun()`

What made Cookie Clicker fun for me was automating the whole game. There were little bookmarklets out there that could purchase upgrades at the optimal time, and I had some fun making one for myself. I'd just sit in class and watch my little cookie empire grow.

if you like clicker games check out CERN's particle clicker:


as you click away you accrue data and grant money

the data publishes real scientific discoveries as if you were the researcher and the grant money buys you grad students to click for you

Ever since /r/thebutton reached HN we noticed 3 times the number of clicks we normally have around this time.

Didn't finish reading the article, opened up the subreddit and then clicked the button. Wondered why I couldn't click it again and seen the side bar. So impatient. Forever purple.

"You only get one click" or something right next to the button would have been awesome.

That was the point I think. Just a button with no instructions. Do people blindly click a button for no other reason it is in front of them? Without knowing what it does?

That's it to me.

It proves my personal theory of trust. If you create something so large and peaceful(ish) that people instinctively trust it, you can get away with anything. What if the button ran something malicious on your machine? What if it permanently deleted your account and banned that username from ever being used again? What if that button permanently banned you from reddit?

These are things no one considered, because reddit is just a big, friendly Lenny.

Put that button on 4chan. See what happens there.

> instinctively trust it,

And their own knowledge

> What if the button ran something malicious on your machine?

presses button 'This site attempted to download something to your computer. Download?' no

> What if it permanently deleted your account and banned that username from ever being used again?

'reddit pissing off thousands of users over an april fool's joke' -> I'm guessing not

> These are things no one considered, because

It's not in flash, we know what HTML's limits are, etc etc

You might now that, but do those thousands of other users?

The instructions are right there. Perfect demonstration of what happens when you don't create a linear expectation for the customer. :)

More that that - do they have any curiosity at all? My first instinct was 'what is this?' and I waited and watched.

It's amazing how many people don't have that. Their first instinct is click oh, what have I done?

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