You weren't going to do anything today anyways.
June 2, 2023 9:34 AM   Subscribe

It's Friday. What time could be better for an incremental game? Array game does away with all of the useless decorative paperclips, fish, buses, drugs, llamas, wizards, cookies, elves, rockstars, corn, Rembrandts, skyscrapers, cows and trees that other incremental games have. Just a pure hit of numbers going up, things to make the numbers go up faster, and things that make the things that make the numbers go up faster go up faster.

I haven't played it long myself, but I see from the changelog that it goes up to F and has an endgame, so that sounds good to me.
posted by Superilla (77 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I keep looking for someone who expresses these games in terms of coupled differential equations. Maybe with an analytical closed form solution for the simpler ones.
posted by Nelson at 9:59 AM on June 2 [3 favorites]

“Cookie Clicker regression analysis” and “Cookie Clicker functional analysis” turned up this, Nelson. Haven’t read it but I think it’s what you’re looking for.
posted by Ryvar at 10:22 AM on June 2 [3 favorites]

I keep looking for someone who expresses these games in terms of coupled differential equations. Maybe with an analytical closed form solution for the simpler ones.

Dating is hard.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 10:22 AM on June 2 [23 favorites]

The spiritual successor to Progress Quest.
posted by lothar at 11:00 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

line goes up
posted by gauche at 11:18 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]

I stopped playing when I realized i was looking at billionaire wealth. No matter what buttons they pushes, the numbers just go up. And I felt gross.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:36 AM on June 2 [4 favorites]

No matter what buttons they pushes, the numbers just go up. And I felt gross.

Since it's just numbers I assumed it was Units of Human Kindness and not money.

Why do you hate kindness?
posted by phunniemee at 11:43 AM on June 2 [8 favorites]

> I keep looking for someone who expresses these games in terms of coupled differential equations. Maybe with an analytical closed form solution for the simpler ones.

I implemented a closed-form equation for polynomial counters like the one in this game.
posted by Phssthpok at 11:53 AM on June 2 [4 favorites]

“Fork me on Github,” huh? Maybe dating isn’t so hard after all…
posted by Ryvar at 11:55 AM on June 2 [4 favorites]

I haven't played it long myself, but I see from the changelog that it goes up to F and has an endgame, so that sounds good to me.

thank you for that note, because i'm now really curious about how a game like this ends.
other than, you know, some kind of grey goo apocalypse.
posted by ZaphodB at 12:11 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

I look at these games and I consider my own and other perfectly good brains spending entirely too much entropy distracted by them from likely more important things.

What are you doing, Mother Nature? Can't you just explode a few supernovae randomly instead?

Is this really what you and we want?

Is this really why I earned some money to pay for this novelty account to ... wait I wasn't really supposed to be esoterically cruel to myself.

Brb checking the other tab because hopefully I now have enough A to pay for more B.
posted by esoteric cruelties at 12:37 PM on June 2 [5 favorites]

At least in Kittens Game, the apocalypse is only a step to take, one of many....
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:49 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

I like that it has Import Game and Export Game features, and I like that an exported game is just a bunch of base64-encoded JSON that I can decode, edit with a text editor, re-encode and import again.

Starting with a game exported right after a hard reset and figuring out the minimal set of edits to jump straight to the end game is much more fun than hanging about while all the numbers go up on their own.
posted by flabdablet at 1:43 PM on June 2 [6 favorites]

English major, hobbyist at best in math knowledge here. Is it better to start the B array going as soon as you can or to wait until you have some number of B (10? 100? a bazillion?) before doing the "reset all A content" button?
posted by joannemerriam at 2:23 PM on June 2

In this case it turns out to be better to get that first B as soon as you can since it lets you buy a little accelerator thing on the B tab that significantly speeds up future progressions of A.
posted by cortex at 2:31 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]

> I keep looking for someone who expresses these games in terms of coupled differential equations

I think you're looking for Exponential Idle, which I liked a bit better than this one.
posted by Pitachu at 2:45 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Thanks, cortex!
posted by joannemerriam at 3:10 PM on June 2

I think you're looking for Exponential Idle

Correct! Thank you.
posted by Nelson at 3:22 PM on June 2

That first B1 generator was a very satisfying purchase.
posted by box at 3:34 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

it lets you buy a little accelerator thing on the B tab

I'm not seeing anything cheaper than 3B, but even having 1B seems to automatically speed up A production.
posted by advil at 3:44 PM on June 2

Look past B5, there’s an A Accelerator or something like that.
posted by egypturnash at 3:50 PM on June 2

Yes, the first tier of that costs 3B?
posted by advil at 3:55 PM on June 2

(To be clear, I think getting 3B on your first A go-round is not practical, even 2B is barely within reach given a single B multiplier. So resetting for 1B probably still is the right call..)
posted by advil at 4:05 PM on June 2

Here's what I've figured out, instead of doing work today:

The multiplier once you have more than 20 can be useful; it starts at 1.15x. Note that 'buy all' buys as many of the biggest thing as you can, then as many of the next biggest with the 'change' and so on. Once you are in the 20+ range of A1, it's worth it to buy max for just A1 which will buy a bunch and get them scaled up.

If you just have any B, you get a multiplier for your A; it starts at 1.6x (but drops off fairy quickly; 5B is 2.14, 21B is 3.03). So get that as soon as you can.

The A-boosterators scale up in an increasing fashion (where most things are decreasing); 1 gets you 1 booster per second, 2 gets you 6.4, 3 gets you 32, and so on. Unfortunately the boost they give to A has a reducing effect. But a couple levels of this are worthwhile.

Both the first B1 and B2 are game changers.

The vague 'improve the formula' for 50B is fairly beneficial; it not only increases the scale by a fair bit (e.g. 45 goes from 1.92x to 7.35x), it also reduces the marginal reduction (so in my example having 45 is improved 3.8x, but having 365 is improved 11x). I strongly suspect the 200B '20% gain' improvement will be a complete game changer.
posted by Superilla at 4:16 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]

Is this what it feels like to mine bitcoin?
posted by mmrtnt at 4:21 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]

This fully touches my tra-la-la, thank you!!
posted by riverlife at 6:05 PM on June 2

Oh, it's like Derivative Clicker.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:37 PM on June 2

Shark Game.
posted by bendy at 6:52 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

Since it's just numbers I assumed it was Units of Human Kindness and not money.

A is human kindness
B is trumpster tears
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:52 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

I feel I should note that this tends to demand all of Firefox's resources and makes it impossible to even switch to other tabs after it has run for awhile.

This is not a joke about its addictiveness; it actually seems to affect Firefox adversely, maybe it's if you have vast numbers of tabs open, as I do?
posted by JHarris at 8:19 PM on June 2

Jharris, I have three tabs open in FF, as is my wont (I don't do "permatabs", that's what bookmarks dumped into "other bookmarks" are for, for me), across two windows, and I don't see anything weird going on, and it's been running for a few hours now.

This has been amusing, but not wild about how you gain "B". Have not gained enough B yet to even investigate "C".
posted by maxwelton at 8:27 PM on June 2

i need a lil bit more theme to get into this

my favorite was the dark one where it started out as just motion but eventually you were an evil necromancer, the master of Time and Space, dragging yourself back and forth across the big bang and stuff
posted by glonous keming at 8:31 PM on June 2

Been running it in Firefox for most of the day with probably ~200 other tabs open (don't ask), and it seems fine to me. No performance issues that I've noticed.

200B upgrade is indeed a huge gamechanger. The 2000B upgrade seems less so, but I think by its nature it's going to be more of a long-tail improvement. Once I realized that B generators don't actually generate any B, I've been a little down on them even though you 100% need them.
posted by chrominance at 8:31 PM on June 2

On Firefox performance, it's weird, although I did just notice I had a second Array Game tab open among my many. Maybe it's something that happens if the game is running twice? Maybe it's something if you have a video playing in another tab (I'm listening to SGDQ 2023 too).
posted by JHarris at 8:52 PM on June 2

I have noticed that Twitch livestreams in general and YouTube livestreams with heavy chat activity WILL tank Firefox performance, so that would be my prime suspect for sure.
posted by chrominance at 9:00 PM on June 2

What's the point of the big multiplied-out number at the top (eg {x, y} = z)? I haven't seen anything you can buy using that number, is it just big to make you feel happy about a big number?
posted by rivenwanderer at 9:26 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Mark my words, this kind of game only leads to one place.
posted by mubba at 9:58 PM on June 2

I’ve forked Shark Game a couple times to change the UI. I had no idea this was a genre.
posted by bendy at 10:32 PM on June 2

What's the point of the big multiplied-out number at the top (eg {x, y} = z)?

It looks to me like that is the amount you have in a, b. So, when you reset your a to get another be, the "x" will go back down to 0, while the "y" goes up one.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 11:41 PM on June 2

This is fantastic thanks for sharing!

Bendy, this is a huuuge genre- if you like it you should check out one of the master list on the incremental game subreddit. Off the top of my head there's:
- a dark room
- infinite paper clips
- candy box
- cookie clicker
- progress knight
posted by Braeburn at 11:49 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


Now that I look at it a little bit more, it appears to be taking the total of A you have plus the total of B you have to let you know all of the... whatever the number is supposed to be... that you have. So, because A is equivalent to 1.00 ^10 of B (I think? Doesn't matter for illustration purposes.) It's letting you know what the total of A and B would be if converted to same thing. Similar to if you had a stack of $1s and a stack of $20s. They would be the same size, but have vastly different worth.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 12:01 AM on June 3

Is this what it feels like to mine bitcoin?


I have 2e128 A that I'd be willing to let you have for $100.
posted by flabdablet at 2:10 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

The {a,b,....,z} notation is an invented notation for extremely big numbers. There's a link in the sidebar of the game site to a whole site about this notation, or head directly to bird's linear array notation for a head-spinning explanation.

In short, {a,b} is the same as a^b in more customary notation, but {a,b,...,z} is defined in such a way that even when a, b, ..., z are "modestly small" numbers the resulting number is extremely big; the bigness of this number grows much faster than other notations such as "conway's chained arrow" a→b→...→z.

In this game, the only numbers that matter are of the form {10,x} which is just the same as 10^x. {10,9} is 10^9 is 1,000,000,000 in standard notation. "early" in the game you'll see the value computed out into exponential notation (and then in nonstandard "ee" notation, and finally as nothing because the value is too big for other representations) but this value doesn't ever come into play.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 7:17 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]

Nice. I played this earlier when the endgame was at like 10 D.

For people who are into this but unaware of the incremental game genre, Antimatter Dimensions just got completed with the recent Reality update (although not available on mobile yet). I'm more of a genre purist (only numbers, no story), but there is stuff out there to fit almost any tastes.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:26 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

Oh, and creator of this also made dodecadragons, which is cool although I don't think it was ever actually finished.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:06 PM on June 3

Oh man! I really loved dodecadragons, though yeah I think I hit end of content and closed the tab. Antimatter Dimensions is also a good time.
posted by cortex at 7:52 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

Has anyone gone through to item C production? I have enough B to get 1 C by resetting everything, but that early B is such a grind I'm hesitant. I imagine to do anything useful you need 10C if it's anything like B, and I'm 56, not sure I have the time left before the grim reap comes for me.
posted by maxwelton at 12:53 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]

I just reset for 1 C, it resets everything but you start with 1B (x1. 6 boost) and 1C (4x boost for A and B).

It's definitely a big step back, but I've already started building up B again after about 15 minutes.

The first C purchase is 10C for a B-5 generator.
posted by twirlypen at 1:56 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

I feel like I must be doing this wrong, because I've had the tab open for over a day and I still haven't hit a point where things happen idly; the B growth is suuuuuper manual, with my having to click the max all on the two doublers over and over again. Is there something really obvious I'm missing?
posted by ChrisR at 8:44 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

the 200B upgrade gives you automatic B
posted by Happy Monkey at 8:56 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]

Does anything ever automate the "Double A" maximizing? Because if I don't do that the A generation is ridiculously slow.
posted by ChrisR at 9:36 AM on June 4

Yeah, the 200B upgrade totally changes the game from "reset A to gain B" to "don't reset A to gain B".
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:59 AM on June 4 [5 favorites]

I was about to get my third C which he would allow me to keep some B upgrades on reset, but apparently my pocket did a hard reset and I had never saved.

So, make sure to save.
posted by twirlypen at 10:07 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Automation of A upgrade and generator purchasing happens a ways into C, it looks like.
posted by bassooner at 4:08 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]

Has anybody tried the challenges that show up after you start on C? "Ch-A1"?
posted by joannemerriam at 10:24 AM on June 5

I've done three levels of Ch-A1 so far -- the first completion in particular really helps with early A gain. The main thing to remember is that entering (and leaving) an A challenge resets your A and A generators but not your B or B generators, so you should enter them when your B is high, likely right before you reset to get a C. You pretty much have to do this for Ch-A1 because that challenges disables buying A generators, so the only way to get A is through B generators making A generators.

I'm currently at 7 C. Getting to 3 C was a big help because you then start generating B basically right away after a rest.
posted by bassooner at 10:53 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]

Challenges are basically necessary, I think -- they provide in some cases really huge boosts that seem critical, e.g. I think it's very unlikely to be practical to get to 1e10C while skipping them, though I didn't try. Also, once you've unlocked the A automation in the C milestone list, dipping in and out of them becomes very quick.

Currently on 2D. One UI thing that may be useful for people to know is that C milestones do not go away once you've achieved them, regardless of your current total C. I definitely found early C a bit of a grind, perhaps because of misunderstanding this. Also, the A challenges will reset when you get 1D -- this was worded confusingly as "are kept on B and C resets", but this means when you reset for Cs, not reset C. (And in retrospect, this makes a lot of sense, as the challenge rewards are kind of extreme at high levels.)
posted by advil at 11:03 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]

Agreed, challenges are essentially part of the expected progression from what I can tell. I'm in mid-late C (close to the last C milestone) and my usual runs now are basically to pump B as high as I can, and do challenges whenever it seems to make sense. The cost of not being able to achieve a particular challenge target is basically nil at this point thanks to A automation and not losing your B/C amounts, so you're pretty much encouraged to try out challenges to see if they're achievable or not. I wouldn't spend too much time in any particular challenge, that's probably a sign that you need to improve something else (like if it's going to take you hours, I'd bail).
posted by chrominance at 11:15 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]

Into D now.

It's kind of disappointing that at first glance, the progression is basically "do all the stuff you did in the previous tiers again, including all the tedious clicking you managed to automate away before!" The best incremental games I've played manage to introduce something new to you even as it adds back a bunch of clicking that you managed to automate earlier. To be fair, C felt like this too until the challenges were introduced, so maybe there'll be a new wrinkle in D as well.
posted by chrominance at 1:31 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]

The main thing to remember is that entering (and leaving) an A challenge resets your A and A generators but not your B or B generators, so you should enter them when your B is high, likely right before you reset to get a C.

This was really helpful, bassooner, thanks. I waited til I had my first 3 C then right before I converted them, I did the challenge and ended up doing 3 challenges in a row very quickly, then converted my B to C.
posted by joannemerriam at 7:15 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]

At separators/E now, and I think I might stop soon. True to form, once you finally get enough D to unlock separators, the next part of the game is... doing exactly what you did at the very beginning of the game, sloooooooooowly ramping up A yet again by hitting the Max All or Max buttons constantly until finally you earn enough to start maybe not doing that anymore.
posted by chrominance at 12:38 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]

The content is currently out to F, with G & H showing 0 but not gaining.
posted by Marticus at 4:55 PM on June 6

I thought it was supposed to end with F? Not sure I want to keep playing if it just goes forever.
posted by joannemerriam at 6:50 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]

The "Array Items II" tab (unlocked with Separators) has space for G and H, so maybe they'll be added eventually. But as far as anything I can see in the UI, there's no way to gain those letters, so it (appears to) currently stop at F.
posted by advil at 7:12 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]

I got to F as well and realized that that's all there is. Admirably stripped down, and my brain enjoyed Tap Buttons Make Number Go Up for some reason, but honestly the best thing about this was the pixel font.
posted by phooky at 8:18 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]

I played a little and gave up at C3. There's not enough complexity for me to justify that much tedious clicking of "buy max" buttons. I feel like an automation solution for the game would just be click all "buy max" buttons every half second. Whereas my Kittens Game auto-player was like three thousand lines of javascript.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:39 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]

I'm in a tedious growing-of-C phase but am keeping with it because I need to know what "Infinite A" means.
posted by joannemerriam at 3:51 PM on June 7

Got to F as well. I read on Reddit that the dev has apparently moved onto other projects for now, so I'm gonna call this one done. In the Reddit announcement post they'd said that content may or may not come due to working on a bunch of games at once, so it's possible they might return.
posted by chrominance at 11:00 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]

I got to F too, and yeah looks like there's nothing else to unlock. I wish G and H weren't sitting there tantalizing at the bottom of the screen though.
posted by aubilenon at 6:21 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]

Really the game is over as soon as you get "automatically gain separators"; Array Items II is really just an appendix, and only briefly relevant in that getting the first few D speeds your progress towards auto-separators. If G and H were to be more of the same but bigger numbers, meh.

I feel this game illustrates how hard it is to balance these things so that the player feels steady progress -- not too grindy, not too wait-I'm-missing-it rushed. Auto-separators are a very sudden game-ender; some of the challenges were also hugely discontinuous game-changers also.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:35 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]

I feel this game illustrates how hard it is to balance these things so that the player feels steady progress

I just replayed Universal Paperclips, thanks to the inspiration from this post, and am really struck by how well the game does with keeping the player engaged. On mobile it's not even an idle game; you have to have the game running live on the phone for it to progress. And there's pretty much always a meaningful button to press. Not just an idle clicker to keep your thumb busy but choices and timing that reward constant attention. It's remarkably well done. Part of how that works is it's really three separate idle games glued back to back, you finish one and mostly move on to the next.

I also have Exponential Idle still running, mentioned here by Pitachu. I've been "playing" it for 18 days still and am still engaged. It's a true idle game and there are stretches where you only need to push a button every few hours. But it too has engaging complexity all along, and multiple game stages although the old ones stay active and relevant all through. Also being pure math the game is free to engage in enough complexity to require guides while still being really pretty basic math equations I can sorta intuit.

I keep toying with the idea of creating an idle game. I think there's some unexplored game design potential in coupling the growth equations so that sometimes the numbers run backwards. Also in making the scale a little more relatable; that's one thing nice about paperclips, the scale is always fixed to inches of wire and numbers of paperclips (even if it's 1036 of them.) And finally in making graphics displays out of what's going on. Paperclips has an interesting graphical zero player minigame built into it (combat drones) that points to some interesting possibilities.
posted by Nelson at 10:24 AM on June 20

I bailed after the first reset to get separator points. Going back to square one with just a very mild boost to production, and facing the prospect of having to do all of that all over again several more times until I could buy the first E generator, inspired me to ragequit via hard reset.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:40 AM on June 21

Yeah, that was tedious. Spending SP on "keep challenges" and "keep upgrades" makes it quicker to get back to being able to buy 1 SP but it was a grind to get those.

The E and F generators are kind of odd in that you don't *spend* SP to buy them, you just have to *reach* the required amount of SP. They're more like the C and D milestone unlocks.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:16 AM on June 21

I love clickers/incremental games and had been enjoying watching the numbers go up, but it drew me in with the promise of an endgame in the changelog file. There is no endgame. It just peters out to endless nothing, and I hit it early last week.

I exported the save and dropped it in a note on my phone, so if this thing ever makes it across my awareness feed again I can pick it back up, but there's nothing there to actually do. Unfortunate.
posted by phunniemee at 9:42 AM on June 21 [2 favorites]

have you tried ngu? it's good up through late sadistic, which took me around a year.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 10:15 AM on June 21

Just rage-quit halfway through the SP grind (endgame?) on realising how tedious it was all suddenly seeming to me and how much, to be honest, I really Did Not Actually Want To Buy An E-1 Or Indeed Be Here Any More even though I finally had 10E.

Been avoiding these games for a while because they suck me in waaaay too easily and I'm kind of glad that the first time I succumbed and tried again for a while was with a not-so-good, or to be more fair, because that is not fair - this game is brilliantly done as far as it goes - an unpolished and unfinished one. Hopefully that'll teach me. (It won't...)

Yes I've kept the save file in case I change my mind. But I hope I don't.

Striking the balance between addictiveness and actual sadism is hard with these things.
posted by motty at 2:33 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]

NGU is great. I recommend, if you're into it, the $10 "newbie pack" that comes with the loot filter and some "Arbitrary Points" to spend in the cash shop, but AP also comes from in-game sources at a generous clip and by the time you get about 75% of the way through the game you'll be out of things to spend it on even if you never spend a dime of real cash. It's a great, deep, and very long game that took me about 18 months, I think, to complete, and that with me mostly playing pretty actively, so I figure it's worth throwing a few bucks at the dev.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:24 PM on June 22

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