Ludic Linux

Forager

The attention seeker

I uninstalled Forager today.

Not because its bad but because its very good. It’s so good in fact that I found myself playing it when I didn’t want to. You see… It is well established that I like clickers a lot and use them as a sort of mood balancer. This works well for me. Load clicker, allow endorphins to arrive and work through bad/depressed mood. Its a good relationship that Clickers and I have. Forager however is a different beast and not something that fits into my Clicketty click symbiosis.

Forager is a game about getting more and more resources, that allow you to unlock more resources. Its part clicker, part farming simulator, part resource management with a tiny dose of ARPG combat and Zelda like puzzles (very very small dose of that last one. But it IS in there)

Forager is not a clicker. It is a game that requires interaction. In fact, if you stand still for too long, a little slime will kill you. So you have to keep an eye out for the little boogers. Also, You will want to kill skeletons when they res-up, because they drop bones, also daemons, for horns. Oh, you may also want to plant more trees so they can be auto harvested by your mining poles. There’s also that stack of Royal steel you want to get to make some advanced materials.

Forager is not a clicker. Forager is an engine for busy work. It’s a gloriously satisfying stream of numbers that trickle upwards. Each layer unlocking the next step in the everlasting rapture of satatisfaction (its like satisfaction but with numbers.) Actually, in that way, its a bit like Factorio, but Factorio allows you to literally automate the whole lot then go for a sandwich while you wait for resources to pool. Forager demands your attention all the time.

You can’t leave it. You constantly have to pick at its systems in meticulous ways. But the while time while you are doing this, there is literally no failure state. There is no way to end the game. If you do leave the game to its own devices while you hunt for food in the deepest reassesses of the kitchen that slime will get you. The game will then dump you back at the main menu and the numbers will stop going up. Once you return you have to click on the big load button and get back in moment before your demise. The point is though, that you have to pay attention. The whole time. If you don’t you are not only playing less efficiently but your progress halts entirely.

Clickers are good. Clickers allow you to receive satisfaction and progress. They scratch the itch (that basic desire for progression) while allowing you to be free to do other things (really, see my post about clickers if you want a more full explanation of this.) Forager doesn’t. Forager is less like an interactive screen saver and more like a sweat shop.

Now all of this sounds negative, it is not supposed to be. Forager has found a way to add agency to the clicker formula. Essentially its a system for removing the ‘idle’ from the ‘idle game’ and for most gamers this would be great. For those of us who can literally spin our wheels for hundreds of hours in a ‘proper’ clicker, its a nightmare of attention whoring compulsion.

Today I uninstalled Forager because I could feel a little obsessive bell in my brain telling me I was going to play it until I had grown quite mad. Forager needed to be stopped.

I assume that the mandatory interactivity, the cute art style and the great sounds would make for an engaging game for the less obsessive. Forager is good. You should play it.

Here’s a video I made recently about Forager:


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