Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Rise and Fall of a Cookie Empire

I have a story to tell you.

It is a story of power. Of madness. Of reaching the dizzying heights of success and then watching those successes collapse asunder like a house of cards.

I saw someone on Twitter, I believe it was @davefaceless, tweet about a game. It was a simple, silly little game called "Cookie Clicker." The conceit of the game is simple--click the giant cookie, get a cookie.

I decided to see how I could get the number and started clicking ferociously until I got about 1000 cookies. I stopped after that because I was afraid of breaking my mouse button. But then I noticed that, in fact, the makers of the game had ways around that. You could buy clickers and Grandmas to make cookies for you.

Intrigued, I bought a couple. But it was still very slow. I realized I could click alongside those add-ons and generate even more cookies. So I did, although slowly, and I continued to purchase more clickers and Grandma's. I eventually realized there became other things as well. Farms you could purchase that grew cookie trees. Industrial plants to manufacture cookies.

I became obsessed. I had to purchase more add-ons to make more cookies. But all the add ons cost cookies. So to purchase more add-ons, I had to make more cookies faster. It was a vicious cycle. The more add-ons you purchased, the more expensive they became, and the more slowly you were able to gain enough cookies to buy the next add on.

Clicking cookies was the worst way to generate cookies, not only because it yielded the least cookies, but also because I didn't want to break my mouse clicker over a stupid internet game.

Much better to find additional hacks and add-ons that others had created to auto-click. And wouldn't you know it? People did.

I added one of the add-ons onto my Google Chrome and let the game auto click for me, setting the clicking function as high as I could. I started letting the computer run all night, waking up 7 or 8 hours later to a massive yield in cookies, which I would then nearly decimate buying more add-ons.

The add-ons became more ridiculous. Gathering cookies from space, from other places in time via time machine, and from other dimensions. I even began battling Santa Claus, revealing his true form as an Elder God of horror and despair.

I spent nearly two weeks coming home and obsessing over my numbers. One day, I realized that to get more add-ons, it would take entirely too many hours to get more cookies. So I just added a bunch of cookies to my pool with a hack that just dumped cookies--no generation required.

At this point, it wasn't even about the add-ons, or the cookie generation. It was about the awards. I needed to to get all the achievements. Once, I even wiped out my entire cookie empire and rebuilt it from scratch--which unlocked two achievements.

But one day, I came home from work and sat down at my computer, watching the buzzing, moving, flickering images of Grandmas and cookies and milk sloshing, and I realized that I had done everything I could do. There was no thrill in the cookie game anymore. I had reached the top.

I got rid of all traces of the cookies and their production methods, then deleted the game and its add-ons.

Part of me remains conflicted. Who knows what cookie empire power vacuum I created by simply walking away from the game. At one point, indeed, the game confirmed that all of existence was made of cookies. Every molecule. Every atom.

What had I done?

But I knew, for the sake of my family, for my future, I had to walk away.

God help those left wanting in the wake of my absence. I hope, someday, they will forgive me.