Antimatter Dimensions: Why did this happen to me? (first foray into clicker games)

(yes, I’ve searched and I know there’s a thread, let me do my thing anyway)

I guess I was just one of many who, long ago when cookie clicker was released, wasted a couple of days clicking randomly and staring at the screen…

But that experience has always been a kind of “been there, done that” type. Something you do once and then it’s behind you, forever. You develop antibodies against it as if it was a bad virus.

So WHY…?

I haven’t simply spent the last day and half with multiple browser pages open, fiddling with this thing, but I also fell down the rabbit hole. Because this one has… “mods”. And SEVERAL bootleg versions. That for me is a lure worse than the addictive formula of the game itself.

What’s the difference between all these versions? Which one is the latest? Which one should I play? Which one is better? Which one has the most content?

I don’t know how this happens, but from time to time I overhear from a huddle of people speaking secretly between themselves about something that I just don’t know exists. Then I get curious and find out another dark corner of the internet that seems at first like a tiny niche, and then it becomes a gaping maw that devours everything.

And it is what it is. The kind of metaphysical, impossible, dimensional vertigo.

I even started to think there was something wrong with me. So I went to Steam and checked out the other clicker games that seem to be popular. NGU, Realm Grinder… And nope, I’m fine! Those games do absolutely nothing for me.

Yet I’m here, despairing over this game.

It’s well known, I just happen to have never heard of it before: Antimatter Dimensions.

The difference from the other clicker games is that it is well designed, and it doesn’t try to distract you with silly graphics. It’s a concept game, made of abstractions. I was drawn to it because of the “bootleg” feel I got from the people discussing it. It was like an esoteric language I couldn’t understand, something only for the initiates. They were discussing strategies, obscure tiered systems, walls to overcome. The game even has some mystical looking diagrams, and yet when I opened the game myself there was nothing like that… those images only appeared on google.

Because the game… is on Steam. Not just yet. In 5 hours.

I waited 5 hours because I’m a fucking boomer. And this is a fucking meme, but of course they don’t explain it to you. (actually the release might not be entirely a pipe dream, from the more serious dev news I was able to find).

The initiates are waiting for this mytical “Reality” expansion, that took forever to come out. The game was frequently updated after it come out a few years ago. Then it got frozen for years, waiting for this major, hyped expansion.

But in the meantime the code was open source, and it spawned a number of projects, and forks, and fan made expansions and bootlegs. Doing of course completely insane things with it, because that’s the point of mods. And that’s specifically what I like to play: the most absurd versions.

There’s a web version and a mobile version. I thought they might be different because the mobile version seems to have fancy screenshots, but it turns out that beside minor balance choices, they share the exact same content overall. The official game takes around 30-60 days to be completed, and is slow to show its cards. From the very first click it seems simple and straightforward, without any pretension.

This is the official one, where everyone starts: https://ivark.github.io/

But in the meantime I was already lost between the bootlegs, rather than playing one, I was playing ALL OF THEM AT ONCE on multiple browser windows. There are mods that expand the game called NG+, but then someone took the NG+ done by some player, and added content to it, making NG++. And then someone else made NG-, which makes the game “harder” (slower), and then someone took that, and made it worse, calling it NG–. And then it kept going, so now there’s NG–5. But also NG+++, which is considered the “main” expansion. And then someone came and made Post-NG+++. And then someone made another thing called NGUd, that then was remixed in NGUd prime, and then rebalanced again in NGUd semiprime. And then there are NG^ and NG*, whatever the fuck they mean.

So now I’m playing something that I think it’s called NGUdS’–5+++ NG- TheGrandRun Death Mode 💀

And that’s only because the Post-NGUdS’-5 doesn’t seem currently compatible with the harder mode.

It’s fascinating.

I’d usually consider clicker games as garbage-tier. But this is the finest form of game design. At first mechanics are just the addicting type. Here you bypass the mouse destroying clicking, because you move to keyboard shortcuts rather soon to make it work. But the formulas are tight, and it’s actually different from an idle game: the game goes on without you, there are even options by default to make it continue while you’re offline. But the way it works, it just stops doing anything meaningful after five minutes that you don’t actively stare at it (unless you find alternate ways).

So it needs constant nudges, and this makes a very evil formula because if you’re compelled to keep nudging it, you will never stop. If you look away for enough time, you’d forget about it and escape its spell, but if it never makes those chains too loose, then you’re condemned. This is a game that sucks all the attention, and even those moments that seem giving some room, it feels like you’re abandoning a toddler to a sure death. You can’t let it alone.

But… the standard game has basically a day and half of warming period where it doesn’t differ all that much. You stare at a green bar at the bottom of the screen that makes very little progress in the beginning. Thinking… “this is the game”. It’s just about getting to 100%.

Instead it’s a psychological COSMIC HORROR. This is precisely what Lovecraft witnessed. The abyss staring back.

What looked like an impassable wall opens into something like pure dread. And then you look back, and all the effort is absolutely nothing. You spent something like 30 hours climbing over an anthill and thinking it was a major effort in your life.

A game of… dimensions. That not only is good game design, but it’s also metaphysically correct. It shows a game of scales. It’s like looking up at a giant mountain, and knowing that itself is also nothing from a different perspective. It’s like getting constantly sucked inside a fractal. It’s like experiencing the trip in 2001: A Space Odyssey, in first person. You get old in front of this game, then you’re reborn, and then you die again, over and over. You didn’t eat a psychedelic mushroom, you just tripped over the wrong corner of the internet.

I’ve tried to find my way through obscure discord channels, but they all seem generally kind of dead. There are a few versions that might be worth checking out, but beware.

At first I tried an expanded game that seemed recommended. But these do often the thing that is most typical: they add endgame, but also give shortcuts so that you can move right to it. Speeding up the early game, or “compressing” the gameplay might sound a very good move. But these games are built on the concept of time. Not as a “gate”, usually conductive to monetization, but as the experience itself.

While trying to load one of the hardest versions available (because why not?) I actually got exposed to something kind of good: I made a wrong choice early on, and as a result I was stalled completely. The game frozen for 20 minutes or so, waiting to get unstuck. That’s GOOD. Because it’s not an “idle” game. It’s strategy. If you do something stupid you get punished by getting stalled. The time is the currency the gameplay founds itself. Depending on your choices and formulas you can get shortcuts. And as an “hard” mode you seem to get bogged down in impossible situations, and then you have to try to find a way out of that swamp.

It’s really an esoteric game, and I fell into its trap.

As I said, I was able to track a few versions. But speeding up the game only trivializes the experience. And in general the original has a better pace and progressive introduction of elements. Whereas the mods, even with harder and slower modes, still use combinations of further unlocks to create their starting conditions.

The two most recent versions of the most deranged mods mix are these:
Antimatter Dimensions (not so trivial: options > load > new game > other mods > ???)
AD: Post-NG+3R

The first is the one I’ve been playing for more than a day, and has a different early game from default, but much slower and harder to figure out.
The second is a version I just found out, same dev, but is more recent and should integrate the post-NG+++ content. But at the same time it seems to lose the hard mode I was playing, and replaces it with an harder start that I’ve been playing for a few hours… and it barely has moved from its initial condition. It seems more convoluted and I’m pretty sure that if you don’t make the right choices it doesn’t move forward at all.

I’m also thinking that the way these modes are set, if played without shortcuts, they might need… an entire lifetime to complete.

While being lost in discord, reddit and wikis, I also found out about the “Jacorb” side of things. This is another guy who worked on the most known mods and has their own version that is popular:
https://jacorb90.me/NG-plus-3C/

This should be played on the “compressed” NG+++ version, and that’s why I skipped it.
But in the process I also found out at this other branch.

I’ve tried a few, but I think the original (rewritten) seem to play best:
https://jacorb90.me/Prestige-Tree/

This feels “better” to play because it’s so compressed that you aren’t really waiting on anything. And at some point is gets so completely crazy that it becomes a Whac-A-Mole, with buttons lighting up everywhere, faster than you can click on them.

It’s just completely nuts, it’s fun to play, but it’s still not Antimatter Dimensions.

The concepts of game design are nothing new, but powerful: Macrogame - TV Tropes

The idea of “prestige” is used in roguelikes, but as I said it acquires a metaphysical property in AD. There are these continue cycles of expansion and collapse. You always return to the starting point as if this was a rage game like Getting Over It, but there’s no rage of course. The prestige system makes sure you’re making progress on some other dimensional level, and that every loop is slightly different, faster. You get closer and closer to the goal, until you finally shatter that barrier that just the day before seemed impossible to reach. To finally SEE. The beyond.

You’re dead.

Because you wasted all your time playing a game and forgot to eat.

>spoilers<

(more spoilers)

Neither of those are clickers. But it may take more than a few minutes to see that. Both games are fairly to very “idle”, that is, you make decisions that shape progress, but they don’t require constant attention.

Clicker games tend to be very active games where you click the mouse a ton in order to progress (See: cookie clicker). Many idle games don’t use this mechanic, or they start in this mode and within a very short time you unlock automation that removes that clicking. Usually there’s a progression of unlocking some feature you need to think about or play more “actively”, and then unlock ways to automate that feature as a new feature is introduced, which has interactions with the automated feature.

Antimatter dimensions isn’t a clicker game either. But I guess if you’re trying to play a large number of variants at the same time it’ll feel quite active.

AD can be a clicker in certain builds

The most active is the vanilla version.

It’s not a clicker in the sense you just need to keep “M” pressed, usually. But if you don’t, it just slows down and stops rather quickly. It wants to get nudged on. and then combine with a couple other “choices” that you throw into the mix.

Sorry, I meant builds in the skill tree. The mobile game is the only version I’ve put meaningful time into.

I played all the way through Antimatter Dimensions a few years ago, which took me about 40 days. Ever since I’ve been waiting 5 hours for Reality to release. I’ve dabbled with mods, but there are other clickers to play instead. AD does remain one of my favorite clickers ever though.

Lately I’ve been playing Distance Incremental, which is inspired by Antimatter Dimensions. It’s pretty good.

EDIT: Sorry I’m using “clickers” loosely to refer to all idle/clicker/incremental games.

I can’t deal with Clicker Games, unless they have a fairly well defined ending point.

I sometimes fall into trying Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms, a somewhat Idle Clicker, and end up spending loads of time and attention on a make the numbers get bigger game with no end in sight.

For idle games with an end both Paperclips and Spaceplan are great.

https://www.decisionproblem.com/paperclips/index2.html

SPACEPLAN PROTOTYPE for the prototype and
SPACEPLAN on Steam for the extended version.

We do have a thread for these games. Well, it used to be for these games until it became a thread about Incremental Epic Hero 2. But the first couple of hundred posts discuss others, including Universal Paperclips and Spaceplan.

This one is specifically about anti-matter dimensions.

Right and that’s fine, but we were veering into recommendations, which is fine; I was just pointing out that those recommendations and many more are also in the other thread.

Ah, there’s that thread! I was looking for it yesterday. I’ll post my irrelevant link to AD over there.

I love this writeup of Antimatter Dimension. You almost convinced me to start playing again. I felt the same cold abyss.

Wow, that original post had a whole thread’s worth of content.

HOLY SHIT!

It was fated by the gods, Reality Update is now actually out. Some people have been waiting this for years. For me it’s just a couple of days after I found it out in the first place.

https://ivark.github.io/AntimatterDimensions/

The free version includes the reality update, but it’s on Steam, free:

Waaaaaaaaaaaaat? I’ve been waiting for that update for at least 5 hours!

I’ll wait for the Android update to replay I think

I got sucked back in. Been playing through the opening hours of AD climbing those fractal mountains to get to new content (which I won’t see for like 2 months.) It’s just as addicting as ever.

Whereas I put the official one on hold and now going through 4 of the alternate versions/mods… I even made local copies to avoid the risk of the sites going down.

I have my own convoluted way to enjoy things.

Also explored a few other ones that seem cool, like Trimps and Synergism.

So, did this thread hook anyone else? Currently about 1e500 from reality 1…

I recently restarted on desktop to experience the Reality update and have now made it to the Automator. Have to say, as a non-coder it’s not really what I’m looking for in an idle game, but I’ll probably “finish” it with the help of some pre-made scripts. The coding looks simple enough that I could probably work out my own with a lot of experimentation and tuning but honestly that’s way more of a time and energy investment than I want to put into an idle game. I’d much rather they’d just built more of the automator functionality into reality perks or achievements to speed up realities that way.