I’ve mentioned previously that I’m a bit of a story-junkie, which is a 100% true statement. However, I’ve recently fallen prey to this horror of an idle game.
Idle games are defined by the fact that they do not require the player to play. They run in the background for periods of time while inventory ticks up and the player wanders off.
Personally, I started on the “Kittens Game” a few days ago because it’s remarkably effective as a micro-break. After some intelligent decision making, I had about eight hours worth of homework, paperwork, and emails to sift through. Since I’m marginally more useful in life sane, I knew I’d need something to help me get through it.
The game starts off with the player having to manually click on “Gather Catnip”, but very shortly, the game is doing so automatically. That’s what makes the joy of an idle game; I come on every ten minutes or so, do two or three actions, and then return to whatever I was doing before. The action of the game is non-action; I’m playing but not doing anything. In fact, it’s when I try to do things that I lose interest in the game because I’m now aware of the fact that I’m waiting for my kittens to get enough wood or for Winter to end so I can move the scholars out of the farm (where they were working to keep up a steady supply of catnip) and back to their academies to go back to raising my science score.
There is no narrative. The game is, literally, a waiting game. There are barely characters; once “Civil Service” is discovered, a census goes out and the player gets to see names and set up a Council and a Leader, but it doesn’t actually affect anything. If there’s a story, it’d have to be told by the player, not the game.
But, I at least, don’t tell a story. I go in, buy whatever new building we need, and return to coding or reading. Little bit later, I check in, and notice that the Winter has killed my catnip crop; I take my scholars out again and send them to the farms with a muttered grumble.
EDITED TO ADD: I was checking on the game one last time before I shut it down and this happened. Ghost dragon, despite the fact that I didn’t have any dragon games open.