Game-related ramblings.

Scratching That Itch: Flufftopia

This is the third entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1704 1741 games and game-related things included in the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,175,279.81 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

My next random selection from the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality is Flufftopia, from German developers SmokeSomeFrogs. Its tagline in the bundle reads:

Clicker Game with Story

Very well, SmokeSomeFrogs. I will click on your game and follow its story. Let’s go.

If you are unfamiliar with clicker games (which I have just now learned are also called incremental games), they are a rather specific genre centered around clicking things to make numbers go up, and then spending some of the numbers on upgrades to make the numbers go up even faster. The genre started with early entries like Candy Box!, Cow Clicker, and Cookie Clicker. Ian Bogost, creator of Cow Clicker, made it as a critique of Zynga’s Farmville, an incredibly successful social network game that he felt was devoid of artistic value, instead encouraging players to spend money on virtual items through endless incentivization. To Ian’s surprise, Cow Clicker was a hit, proving that even when this design strategy is stripped to its most transparent core, people can be enticed to play.

OK, perhaps I’m a bit prejudiced against clicker games, sharing Ian Bogost’s sentiments despite having barely played any of the genre (I briefly tried Candy Box! but didn’t play long). They seem like an encapsulation of the dangerous allure of capitalism, chasing ever increasing profits in a cycle that is ultimately destructive. But it’s not all bad! The clicker game genre has greatly expanded since those early days, and many titles feature humor and self-awareness, like Universal Paperclips. Others have lovely themes, art, and music, and revel in the inevitable sense of accomplishment provided by the ever increasing numbers, letting players progress gently as a way to relax and unwind. I endeavored to keep an open mind whilst playing Flufftopia.

Flufftopia has a very traditional clicker game structure. I started by clicking on a piggy bank to generate fluffcoins, until I had enough to purchase a fluffonade stand, which started generating fluffcoins automatically over time. Slowly more workers appeared for me to hire at the stand, which increased my income rate, until I had enough for a bakery. Naturally, the bakery works just like the fluffonade stand, but better. All the while I was guided by my host, Happy, who sits in the top left corner of the screen and offers helpful hints, explaining that if I can afford a fluffidol, my flufftown will officially be eligible for the title of flufftopia. Better get to it!

Happy is also the source of the game’s story. Most of the time he just offers up facts about fluffs and my flufftown, which seems to be a cute as possible. Fluffs are given awards for being the best cuddlers. When they are hungry, their pancakes make pancakes for them. Their economy runs on taxes of kisses and hugs. That kind of thing. As I progressed through the chain of upgrades, however, Happy would start to tell me more of the story, which was my main motivation to continue. One slight annoyance I had with Flufftopia is that Happy’s comments in the corner of the screen could appear when I was busy clicking through menus to hire more workers, or buying upgrades in the shop (which obscures Happy’s corner when open), so I occasionally missed things. But I suspect these were just incidental factoids, rather than the more important story tidbits.

I was excited when I built the mine, and realized that it not only provided a much better income per employee than the bakery, but also increased the number of fluffcoins I got per click on the piggy bank. It wasn’t until I’d sent dozens upon dozens of fluffs to work in the mine that I started to wonder if I was really helping my flufftown. Everyone loves fluffonade stands and bakeries, but a mine? Mines aren’t usually on the top of the list of dream workplaces. Maybe I shouldn’t just keep clicking. Maybe I should stop and think about what I’m actually doing.

Those thoughts, of course, were nonsense. Everything is great in flufftown! All the fluffs are happy, just like Happy! There’s absolutely nothing sinister going on. I don’t even know why you would think that. We’re just trying to make flufftown an even better place. Every fluffcoin sings a little song when it is spent, and all the fluffs are friends and everything is fine. And we’re making it even more fine! Into a veritable flufftopia, in fact! Don’t worry about a thing. Just keep clicking.

It takes about 30 minutes to play through Flufftopia’s story, but you’ll have to do so in a single sitting as there is no way to save the game. So keep that in mind. It’s a simple game, executed well, and the story meant I enjoyed it more than I expected given my anti-clicker-game sentiments. A few of Happy’s comments betray that the developers don’t speak English as their first language, but it’s nothing major, and if you happen to speak German you can play it in German instead. There’s even an original soundtrack, which is offered separately as a pay-what-you-want download. If you missed the bundle, Flufftopia itself has a minimum price of $1.50 USD, so you only need to pay a few coins before you can start earning fluffcoins. If you like clicking on things, why not check it out?

I may not get that excited by the increasing numbers in clicker games, but I do get excited by the decreasing number of games left in the bundle. Only 1701 1738 to go. Let’s do it.

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Scratching That Itch: Black Heart

3 Comments

  1. Thank you very much for the review, I completely missed it and just found it by accident! Everything is great in Flufftown and everything will be even better in Flufftopia!

    • You’re welcome! Really you got lucky though, there was only a 0.17% chance that Flufftopia would be among the first three games to get randomly picked from the bundle.

      • Daniel da Silva

        Ah you selected it random – oh man, I really got lucky haha 😀

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