Have you played Candy Box yet? It's a deceptively simple little ASCII browser game that's hooked more than 450,000 players during its brief lifespan. It starts with a candy counter that increases every second. You can hoard them or you can throw them on the floor. Shortly a trader shows up and offers you a sword in exchange for candies. Before you know it you're questing through dungeons, acquiring potions, meeting swawmp frogs, growing your own candy using Lollipops and going on sugar-crazed adventures.
Candy Box is creator aniwey's first publicly released game. He's a first year computer science student based in Caen, France who enjoys building little experimental games as a way of flexing his coding muscles. He had no idea that his little web game would get so big so fast, but he's already planning a sequel. I caught up with aniwey (who'd rather keep his real name private) on IM earlier to find out more about his sequel plans and try and solve Candy Box's biggest mystery - what happens when you keep throwing your candies on the floor?
Candy Box started life as one of a number of little prototypes aniwey was working on in his spare time, which included "an experimental 2D game with pixels you could place on the screen, a game with racing turtles" and "a game in which you control a white rectangle travelling through a land made of milk bottles, birds and fractal trees." It was Candy Box that made it to completion after two months of work.
What inspired Candy Box? "A lot of people ask me this question. I really don't know" aniwey confesses. "I think it's just like a RPG, but the features come to the player in a different way." Candy Box's levels are a good example of this They're depicted as tiny ASCII landscapes. Your adventurer marches from left to right and annihilates everything he can in his path. You can help him out by deploying potions and making sure he's well equipped before heading in.
Candy Box' opening screen betrays nothing of the dungeon-running to come. Candies appear. You can eat them or hoard them. Once you have ten you gain the option to throw them on the floor. Our Graham left Candy Box running overnight to ammass tens of thousands of candies, and has thrown hundreds to the ground, fruitlessly.
PC Gamer: We keep throwing candies on the floor. If we keep doing it do we eventually drown in candies?
aniwey: Nah, it doesn't do anything. (one of the two useless features of the game !)
PC Gamer: What's the other one?
aniwey: The potion which turns you into superman.
Of course! But why introduce this mysterious option if it does nothing? "It's because it's surprising" says aniwey, "this surprise aspect is what I'm trying to achieve in this game!" Incidentally, if you fancy trying the potion that makes you Superman, "you should be able to craft it after the fifth quest."
A follow-up to Candy Box is planned, which will expand on most aspects of the game. "The player will have more choices, the weapons will have more characteristics! There will be more locations to explore." Aniwey suggests that the secret source of all those candies will be revealed in the follow up, so until then I'll stick to my mental image of them raining down from the sky one by one. Perhaps more importantly, there will also be -
aniwey: lolligators in the farm! (It's like alligators, but, you know, there's a bit of lollipops too)
PC Gamer: FEARSOME LOLLIGATORS. What will the Lolligators do?
Aniwey: The lolligators, will, well, probably provide lollipops, since it's part of their names! (I don't want to spoil too much :>)
PC Gamer: Lolligators confirmed!
There's no time frame for Candy Box 2, as aniwey's just building it in his spare time, between responding to the rush of emails he received after the game was widely reported last week. "I'm glad this game had so much success o/" he says. "Really, anyone can make a game like that. I just learned on the Internet, as anyone can do."
Visit the Candy Box site to play for free in your browser.