Naturally, a game about cooking meth would be addicting.
But for Cal State Fullerton student Austin Oblouk and his partner Zuri Mach’s, hitting 2 million players within weeks of their game’s Oct. 1 launch was surprising.
Dr. Meth, created by Oblouk, takes a twist on the hit game Cookie Clicker and pushes it down a darker path more in step with hit TV series Breaking Bad.
The 21-year-old computer science major didn’t stop with meth as the team of two publicly released another game, MrMine, on Thanksgiving Day. As of Wednesday, 1 million people visited MrMine, with 200,000 visiting daily.
As of now, there isn’t a way for the team to profit from the game, but along with adding in a way to monetize MrMine, the game’s content will also be expanded.
MrMine currently has about a day and a halfs worth of gameplay in it, but Oblouk wants to expand the length to a week.
Oblouk doesn’t foresee developing games in his future. In fact, even after Dr. Meth hit almost 1 million users online, Oblouk still doesn’t think professional game development is in his future.
Game development is too competitive, said Oblouk who believes there are too many people trying to break into the industry. However, if his unreleased game turns out to be a hit he may reconsider his website emphasized major.
The goal of Cookie Clicker, the game that Dr. Meth is heavily influenced from, is to click on a cookie to produce cookies, which can be directly used to buy items that make cookies even faster.
Dr. Meth instead has players cooking and selling meth to buy upgrades and items that make the journey to become a drug kingpin easier.
Oblouk said after seeing Cookie Clicker and watching Breaking Bad he knew he had to take elements from both and combine the two together.
While the game may be simple, it appeals to basic human tendencies.
“I think it’s that people’s brains are rigged in a way that when they see exponential growth they just get hooked on it,” Oblouk said.
Clicking Bad is another Cookie Clicker derived game with Breaking Bad references that came out after Dr. Meth, but due to their heavier advertising, most people think Clicking Bad came first, Oblouk said. While Clicking Bad is more popular in the United States, Dr. Meth has been more popular in Europe and Russia, Oblouk said.
Oblouk said it’s strange that it’s such a big hit overseas as Dr. Meth doesn’t have support for languages other than English. There are even popular video casts of his game from a German speaking YouTuber, GermanLetsPlay, with some videos having more than 75,000 views.
MrMine is a similar style of game developed by Oblouk and Mach, but has a lot more complex mechanics built into it, which Oblouk said he hopes will keep players invested in it a little longer.
Oblouk and Mach had trouble making progress in developing MrMine because sometimes they would get distracted playing it.
“When you can’t make it because you’re so addicted to playing it, then you have something,” Oblouk said.
Regardless of its addictiveness, Oblouk isn’t sure if it will reach the same level of popularity as Dr. Meth, because it doesn’t have a pop culture tie in behind it. Oblouk plans to make an achievement for Dr. Meth that will be rewarded to players who play the MrMine.
People have already beaten Dr. Meth and have been asking for more, Oblouk said.
“I don’t know how these people finish it,” Oblouk said. “There is no way they can be hacking it, it’s just little kids who must leave their computer on all day.”
Dr. Meth turns a profit for its creators by giving players the ability to donate money to unlock an achievement in the game. So far the game has made $6,700 through donations, but after server fees and paying his partner, Oblouk has made roughly $2,800.
The game continues to make some money even though the player base is gradually shrinking. What used to be nearly a million active users is now down to 270,000 before Thanksgiving break.
After about a week’s worth of work, with a few all-nighters thrown in, the basic first version of Dr. Meth was released to the public. A few subsequent weeks later were spent fine tuning and adding visual components and fixing bugs, Oblouk said.
Making a game is a lot more dynamic and challenging than a website, Mach said, who was the artist for Dr. Meth. Mach is a childhood friend and has worked with Oblouk on various websites.
More games will probably be in the future for the team, Mach said. But after MrMine gets patched up, Mach said he wants to work on a website that will hopefully make a lot more money than these games have.
Oblouk has been making money off online ventures for a while now. Back when the Internet currency, Bitcoins, were new, he pooled some in with friends and sold them back when they were worth considerably more.
He also created a website that had people fill out surveys, which the survey company would pay Oblouk back for each survey people completed. His website creation has been successful enough to move out of his house and pay for school without ever having a “real” job.
Mach said the only job Oblouk would consider is a programing job at Google, that’s why he is more motivated to make money off these sites.
“He never wants a job, a real job, besides this,” Mach said. “He for sure is the entrepreneur out of the two of us.”