What game can you play when your wrist hurts and you start feeling a dangerous tingle up your arm and fingers?
There might be some irony to this new year’s first game being an idle game.
It does, however, fit neatly into the interstices of my life at present.
Especially because I started experiencing mild carpal tunnel-esque / RSI-y symptoms two days back, possibly from too much posturally-wrong Pokeball flicking over the holiday season.
Voluntary enforced rest on the wrist to let it heal seems to be the order of the day/week/fortnight since I’m terrified of it progressing from not-that-good to worst.
This rather knocks off all action-y games that require heavy mouse clicking or click-and-holding from current consideration, as even ordinary work day mouse usage started to give my wrist problems after half a day in.
Fortunately, playing A Tale in the Desert way back when taught me the joys of Autohotkey and other such automation, so a quick download and one line text file later, and I am now using a spare key on the keyboard as my mouse click button for the time being.
Along this vein of keeping the strain on one’s hand minimal, this free Steam game that I downloaded on a whim comes in surprisingly handy (pun intended.)
Truth be told, I used to deride the idle game genre for being something akin to Progress Quest – ie. do nothing, watch numbers go up, feel oddly good for having done nothing.
The initial clicker/idle games I sampled did not buck this trend. You clicked all the buttons, bought all the upgrades, numbers went up exponentially, unsoweiter. No choice, decision-making or strategy came into play.
Apparently, the genre has moved on since that time.
Seeing a Steam friend “play” Clicker Heroes for days and weeks on end did not immediately change my mind, but did set it up for my eventual decision to *oh, what the heck* try out Crusaders of the Lost Idols.
I am glad I did.
I am by no means a connoisseur of this genre, so I have no idea if other idle games these days are doing what Crusaders of the Lost Idols does.
What Crusaders does differently from my imaginary concept of “do nothing” idle games is offer choice and strategy through the interaction of various characters’ skills/gear/other factors in formations.
Some characters strengthen other characters if arranged in a certain way or when playing together. Other characters are happier being alone or not surrounded by humans and so on.
Crusaders can be played fairly happily (and sub-optimally) by clicking all the buttons and watching numbers increment while leaving the game running. (And you can also turn it off and check back in later to see what your characters earned while you were away.)
The key is that it also possible to play Crusaders with an eye towards optimizing, with proper consideration of multiplier buffs that send your team’s damage ever skyrocketing high, and best usage of the gold earned per hour – what should you spend it on to give the most progress bang for the buck.
Some planning and strategy is also warranted. One character is often designated dps-er, while the rest of one’s formation becomes centered around either buffing that character’s damage or buffing gold earning rate.
I’m on my second run through, and the rabbit hole goes ever deeper.
When you hit a wall of where your current damage can take you, it is part of the game to reset and begin another run.
Each 500 levels of a character earns you an idol, which is kept throughout runs and buffs your dps and gold found.
This leads to ever so much number incrementing over time, and with larger number increments, you unlock ever more special objectives and formations that will no doubt shake up established strategies and encourage a different arrangement of characters.
I can easily see somewhat more dedicated than me math fiends setting up spreadsheet calculations to optimize every last drop of dps.
For me, it’s sufficient right now to just check in every now and then, setting stuff up with a few strategic clicks and decisions and then wander off doing more constructive and less wrist-intensive things.
Coming back to see how things have gone while I was away ticks off that MMO/RPG Progress Quest urge.
Actual gaming (aka choice and strategic decision-making) takes a couple minutes here and there.
The rest of the time, the game plays itself without me.
I’d previously thought this to be a rather ridiculous state of affairs, but you know what? Right now, at this current point in my life, it’s win-win.