Candy box is an ASCII-based role-playing game created by aniwey where your goal is to accumulate candies and beat the quests. One of the core game mechanics is that every second, one candy is generated.
As you generate more candies, more options are revealed. You start with zero candies, and as you keep your browser open, more are generated. As soon as you’ve accumulated 60 candies (waited 1 minute without eating the candies or throwing them off the ground), a charming ASCII candy merchant appears.
This inspires a dynamic of patience backed by curiosity; you are encouraged to keep your browser open and check how many candies you have and if any other features have been unlocked for the sake of discovery. That surprise element stems from that core mechanic of revealing more as time passes. In psychology, that is called a variable-ratio schedule of reinforcement, and it’s pretty addicting. In terms of game design, it prompts the fun of discovery, and that personally delights me. I remember being on my computer doing other tasks yet having my browser open, checking frequently in anticipation to see if I had unlocked any new features. Once I invested my candies, I would check even more frequently until the point where I got fully absorbed in the game itself.
After two and a half minutes uninterrupted, a sword becomes available for purchase. Once purchased, an extended menu pops up, and quests are unlocked. Another important mechanic is that if you win a quest, you unlock the next one, but if you lose, you have to wait for up to 3 minutes before being able to do the next one.
All of a sudden, the fun of the game morphs from just discovery to also challenge as you must figure out how to acquire items to defeat the challengers, who start from innocuous “peaceful trees” to mountain goblins to more fearsome challengers. Not only is it incredibly fun to try to get (and use up) scrolls and other objects that help you to strategize and beat the enemies, but you also unlock more of the narrative story and the world around. For me, the most fun lies in the challenge, but the narrative helps to suck one into the game as you explore the ever-growing world. The dynamic is then dynamic, shifting from one of curiosity and patience to one of action and competition, forcing you to actively search for resources to help beat the game rather than just sit and wander.
Garnering more candy and lollipops (and later ways to harvest those) allows you to buy better weapons and beat the quests until you reach the final level. More candy and lollipops unlock special features such as potions and scrolls one uses up to help in battle. There are several other discoveries, and the deceivingly simple interface prompts even more joy and surprises. I highly recommend everyone give it a play!