Well, if ya didn’t know, I love flash games. So much that it’s pretty much all I do. The reason is that I’m an MMO gamer, right, so there is a ton of downtime, and over the years I just played flash games while regenerating or doing anything. So now I always have some kind of flash game open, going as far to be level 53 on Kongregate right now (lol). Anywho, I want to talk about idle games and give some hints on ‘em since they’re crazy popular right now. I'm going to address the column part by talking a bit about the history of idle games and sort of about how they relate to MMOs, then provide some tips if you're somehow completely brain dead like I am and get some minor amusement out of numbers slowly going up while you're busy with other things.

Basics of Idle Games

Aka how does this have anything to do with MMOs?

Okay, so the idea is you idle, this was originally brought to the main stream by IdleRPG on IRC and Progress Quest, which was viral in the gaming community as a parody of EverQuest. You know what, we don’t talk a lot about time = skill, but in the infinite number of dimensions and realities that could exist, I’m sure we’ve probably already done it, so good enough.

Anyway, Progress Quest was a parody of EQ and MMOs by basically automatically playing the game for you, showing your stats and loot, and all that junk. Now, of course, Progress Quest is still around, going as far to have an emulated WinXP desktop on the play online screen, with an emulated version of the program running.

At some point, anti-idle came out, being a parody of idle games, and being pretty much the best idle game. How that works, don’t ask me, it reigned forever. A few years later, Cookie Clicker showed up and sent the ‘net into a frenzy of idling and clicking.

Now, the Internet is crazy in love with idle games again, with most flash game sites being assaulted daily with new ones that are overtaking some of the more classic forever at the top lists. They include Clicker Heroes, AdVenture Capitalist, Jelly Lift, DPS Idle, Auto Turret, Auto-Attack!, and those were pretty much the ones released in the last month.

The core idea is you let it run, then roll in during the day upgrading your stats and your ability to progress, until you want to reset giving yourself bonus stats on the next playthrough. You can have clicking elements (click for extra damage), boosts, and more to incentivize watching the screen and a standard is offline earning.

Idle games emulate an MMO by being a parody, of sorts, to how MMOs work. Clickers are a more active version, but ultimately, it's all about the idea of a character grinding enemies endlessly for higher and higher numbers. That, is the relation to MMOs.

So that’s a bit of history, now let’s talk about core specifics, then break it down to some tips for various popular games.

Basic Tips

There are two types of idle games, the Cookie Clicker style there is one target and the amount of clicks you provide is your income - upgrades are usually auto-clickers. Then there are RPG types where enemies spawn either instantly or on an upgradable timer and you have to manually increase their level based on what you think works.

For the Cookie Clicker types, everything is linear. There isn’t much you can do to get ahead and there isn’t a ton of strategy, outside of the lower down the level the upgrade is, the less efficient it is. You can do the math in your head and see what the efficiency is. Points earned for the time is what you should figure out. Let’s say an upgrade is 100 currency for 10 currency a second, another is 100,000 currency for 50,000 currency a second. You can see which one is more efficient.

It can work in reverse, in AdVenture Capitalist, lemons are the highest earners you can have. In a game like Cookie Clicker, the balance is insane, so it works to be about 4 of a previous upgrade equals 1 of the next one, so it’s really even, over time, except portals and above give way more.

Return on investment is important to, some games have upgrades that will not pay off themselves until you have some insane income coming in, so you have to be careful with the “waking up factor” aka waking up after a night of letting it run. You have all this money and want to buy the most expensive upgrade, but often the cumulative effect of smaller upgrades is better.

Of course all this advice is wrong for the RPG type idle games. Upgrades are usually very linear and there is often upgrades in previous trees that boost everything. Like Clicker Heroes, a lot of low level heroes have 20% damage for everyone, while games like Battle without End and DPS Idle are focused purely on RNG and gear drops.

Game Specific Tips

If you’re insane and want to do something pointless, like 99% of the Internet, here are some tips.

Cookie Clicker

Don’t even play it, just cheat, then rub your great victories in your friends faces. Seriously, Cookie Clicker can take forever to get anywhere with, and there is enough JS cheats and whatever to let you get pretty far ahead really quickly without endlessly spending your entire life clicking a cookie.

AdVenture Capitalist

Upgrade everything and reset often. Angel Investors are so insanely powerful, that even after you get a few hundred, you should reset, since that’s going to double your income. I doubled or even super quadrupled my income on each reset, which lets you climb up a lot faster. When you reach the plateau of it being 10 minutes to an hour for any upgrade, it’s best to reset. You’re not going to get past 600 or so in each item until you reset.

Clicker Heroes

Upgrade your lower level heroes like crazy. Some heroes are literally buff heroes, like Betty Clicker, which provides something like 80% extra damage to your other heroes for NOTHING compared to say King Midas who is a few billion to just get and scales up insanely fast. Outside of that, there is literally nothing more you can do in Clicker Heroes.


Spend the next 400 years of your life learning the ins-and-outs of a highly zealous and inside joke ridden community. The ultimate idle game and I really hope it gets a second version at some point. The amount of depth it has is insane, there is pretty much every other idle game inside of anti-idle, and your progress through everything is insanely quick.

I don’t have much advice, there is just too much. There is wikies and probably thesis on what to do, really, but the general idea is the button and the battle arena are the way to go pre-ascension depending on if you want to be active or passive.

Don’t rush the battle zone and idle, you’ll run into an epic monster you can’t kill if you’re too far ahead and won’t gain XP.

DPS Idle

This game is hard until you get a piece or two of veterans gear. You want as fast of a weapon as possible and you always want to enchant damage, unless late game when you want to enchant critical chance. Assuming you’re not in full vet gear and have 100% already.

More General Tips

Higher level monsters aren’t always better. For games without a GPS (gold per second) counter, you’ll need to manually check how many hits / clicks it takes to reach a certain amount and how long. So it’s not always a rush to the end, it’s about efficiency.

Restart often, depending on the rewards. Some games give insane rewards for starting (Jelly Lift for instance), while others (Clicker Heroes) give very little with promises of better rewards in the future during updates.

The life expectancy of trend games is like a month, before the creator has to refocus on real life. Updates will break your save file.

Back your save file up.

Check before cheating. ANYTHING that has a multiplayer element should never be cheated in. Idle games with leaderboards often have "disable leaderboard" option for those who want to cheat. Cheating includes auto-clickers.

Auto-clicking an auto-clicker isn't a terrible thing IMO if it's at the point where an hour of clicking won't get you anywhere.

Don't play idle games. There is no point. Wait, does that mean there is no point to gaming? Hrm... Maybe entertainment is pointless and comes in tons of forms. Nah. It doesn't. It's pointless, don't play.

Last Updated: Mar 18, 2016

About The Author

Xerin 1
Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.