My earliest childhood obsession was with wolves. The fluffy, large, possibly fierce kind, with claws and teeth and tails. I was an animal lover, always gravitating toward books about animals, and somehow I ended up obsessing over wolves, reading everything I could get my hands on – picture books by National Geographic photographers, fiction books like Julie of the Wolves, and classics Jack London classics Call of the Wild and White Fang.
The obsession never completely died – in my early teen years, when I discovered the internet, I ran straight to wolf forums and boards. When I was fourteen I discovered a wolf roleplaying board, which is exactly what it sounds like: I roleplayed as a wolf in the wild, hunting, fighting, and living a wolf life. It was a completely written activity, which paired with the fact that I had been writing stories since I could hold a pencil. I stayed with roleplaying wolves for six years – all throughout high school, into my sophomore year of college. It was my primary reason for using the internet (a reason compounded by the fact that my overbearing father disapproved of the internet nearly entirely and by claiming that I was “writing,” I could weasel my way onto the computer).
During my early college years, I discovered a site that ran neatly side by side with my wolf obsession, a wolf breeding simulator called Wajas, or, as I remember calling it, “the wolf game.” It would be years before I fully understood what the term “simulator” meant; to my 18 year old self, it simply meant collecting prettily drawn wolves and pairing them to create more prettily drawn wolves. My roleplaying friends all joined and I had people to instant message with over AIM, people to trade wolves with and compare and swap notes about breeding and markings and finding ways to earn Waja money to buy more Wajas.
Like roleplaying, my interest in Wajas faded when I was about 22, as I moved onto other interests. Primarily, a new obsession with Kingdom Hearts that led me to video games. A few weeks ago, while reviewing old writing, I remembered my old roleplaying forum and from there, I remembered Wajas. I decided to make a new account and see how things had changed, with my new knowledge and fresh opinions on games.
If you had told 18 year old me that Wajas was a game – a real, living, lush game – I would have been very confused and probably smiled politely while I scoffed inwardly. What’s a game without moving characters? Yeah, there were board games, but that required strategy, and Wajas doesn’t require strategy. You’re just pairing pictures of wolves together to try and suss out desirable traits, while planning for future generations that will have desirable traits, while accruing money by selling extra items and extra Wajas …
Oh right. Not strategy.
Make no mistake, Wajas is a strategy game. I logged into my fresh account and immediately messaged an old friend from back in my roleplaying games, who is probably the oldest internet friend I have. He’s still active with the site and has even created the Wajas Museum, a place that houses historically important Wajas and rare breeds. He sent me a fresh Waja and I immediately started looking around for a pairing for her, because I wanted pups. I posted in a new Wajas players forum, where veteran Wajas players with surplus of Wajas can send you one, if you ask nicely.
While I waited for a response on that, I immediately set about playing the mini-games that offer you Waja credit (WC) as prize money. The Wajas world runs on WC and something called CWP (Crazy Waja Points, which I’ll get to later). You start with a certain amount of WC and can accumulate more by playing the mini-games and selling items and extra Wajas you don’t want. With the WC you can then buy Wajas you want and the items you need. The games are simple: a “guess the word game,” a slots game, a slider puzzle. Most are free to play for a few turns a day, then convert to having to pay WC. Some games give you automatic prize money, with the amount a random generation depending on what you click on. This way, all players are able to get some money. There are a few other mini-games, including a Mining Cave, where you can teach a Waja to dig and it can then dig for you, unearthing items and WC. You can use those items in the Mad Scientist section to create potions that will give you Wajas random visual effects.
If you stick to the games, you’ll have enough WC to function and to slowly build your Waja count up. It’s slow going that way though, with most Wajas costing around 100k WC to purchase. It was too slow for me, so I went into the most cutthroat business in the game: the pear business.
There are several different types of pears (yes, the fruit) in the game: age pears, love pears, male pears. Each pear does something different and some pears are more rare than others. You get pears by visiting the site run pear shop or by browsing user shops, where users sell their unneeded pears to gain some cash. There are a few other ways to get pears (there’s a Leaf Tree, where you get a randomly colored leaf every day, which you can exchange for certain pears), but for the most part, the dealing happens in the user-owned shops. Why? Because the site run shop only restocks pears 4 times an hour, with a scant number of pears each time. When I say scant, I mean two to three pears, for a site that boasts approximately forty five thousand users. In addition, the pears sold in the pear shop can be up to one hundred thousand WC less than in the user shops.
Like I said, it’s a cutthroat business. When the four times in the hour the pear shop restocks roll around, I’m ready and waiting to buy. I maximize my window, make sure that my mouse hand has plenty of room to move quickly, and place my cursor in the approximate spot where I think the pears will appear on the screen. I have the times listed on a sticky note on the side of my computer, so that I remember what they are (though at this point, I have them near memorized). I start refreshing the page about a minute before my clock ticks over so that I’m ready to frantically shop. Sometimes I’ll be too slow and get no pears at all. Sometimes I’ll get lucky and get two or three, but I normally leave from any shop restocking time with at least one pear to my name, which I then promptly put up in my shop, unless I’m saving it for myself. I’m usually able to do this at least twice a day, more or less depending on when I’m at my computer.
My pear business keeps me afloat and gives me the freedom to browse for other Wajas to buy and breed. I also invested about 10 dollars to an upgraded account. Yes, you can invest real money into Wajas, in the form of Crazy Wajas Points (CWP), the other currency on the site. One CWP equals one American dollar, and you do less with CWP; most of the site owned items can only be bought with WC. CWP is mainly used in user owned shops and for buying Wajas. You can upgrade your account monthly with CWP – one CWP will get you an upgrade, which means a weekly allowance of WC and a free monthly item to use on your Wajas.
The main purpose of Wajas is to breed Wajas – it’s a breeding simulator, after all. There are 19 different mutations, from wings to star markings, that Wajas can have. Their colors range the color wheel and a good breeding will enhance the colors and mutations to their desirable outcome. Do you want a Waja with pink wings and wind markings? Pick a father and mother with these markings and breed them using love pears. Sometimes it can take a few generations to get to the Waja that you want. Inbreeding can happen. Unfortunate mutations can happen. Breeding also takes 5 real days to deliver the pups to you. When the pups are born, they won’t immediately show their markings – it takes twelve days for you to see what will be their adult markings, unless you feed them an age pear that will age them up 20 days.
There are also more complicated, much more involved things to take into consideration when breeding Wajas. Wajas can have mutation genes, which will determine to what degree mutations occur during breeding. Mutations can be either visible, meaning they show, or they are carried, meaning it can be passed to any pups that Waja has even if it’s not visible, depending on the mutation gene. Wajas have a “litter quantity” gene, which determines how big their litters can get (the max pups a Waja can have at a time is four). The site helpfully provides a color mixer, where you can input the hex colors from the mother and father, to see the potential outcomes out a mix. The crux of Wajas are these breedings, the potential outcomes, and experimentation with different breeds and colors and markings and mutations. There are hosts of things to consider, and some breedings will end up with undesirable Wajas, and some will end with remarkable results.
My first experimentation that I felt somewhat confident in ended up failing. My friend sent me a green Waja with a skeleton marking that I then bred to a different Waja with a rainbow colored skeleton marking. This gave me a dark green Waja with a sweet rainbow skeleton outline, that I’m creatively calling Rainbow Skeleton Legs for now.
As cool as Rainbow Skeleton Legs looks, I don’t think I’m going to be doing much else with her. In addition to her strong skeleton marking, she has a slew of other markings, but each with less showing strength than the skeleton (though she does have some dramatic eye makeup going on), which I hadn’t counted on. The sheer amount of markings she has will make it so that any of her pups could inherit them and while it might be fun to see, if I want to get a Waja with only a strong rainbow skeleton marking, there might be better options. But who knows? That’s part of the entertainment. If I have spare love pears, I might seek her out a mate for pups. For now, she’s quite an ornament on her own.
My latest breeding is my most successful, in terms of experimentation. I’m calling her Pink Skye Wings. As you might guess, she has pink wings.
She’s a muddy gray color that I don’t particularly like, but she has vivid pink wings and very strong star markings. Her mother has the same pink wings, but with pink stars, and her father has gray wings and rainbow stars. Her mother is white and her father gray, accounting for her dirty gray color. She has potential for future breedings, since she has far fewer markings than Rainbow Skeleton Legs, and very vivid stars and wings. Her gray color will have to be taken into account, since she’ll darken any lighter color she mates with, but overall, she’s my proudest achievement so far.
My safest breeding so far has produced a pair of sisters with similar markings, but with different strengths. Their parents are Wajas that I spent my hard earned money on, not Wajas that were given to me or that I found for lower WC because they had less than desirable markings.
I knew that they would have wings, since their parents both have visible wings, and I knew that the color would be somewhere between purple and pink. I was hoping that either the wind markings or the star markings would come over very strong, but I learned again that if you want strong markings on a Waja, both parents need to have that marking themselves. So my Wajas came across with weak stars and weak wind markings both, though the second had much stronger wind markings, while the first had equal wind and star markings.
I’m still experimenting. I have plans to find a mate with wings and stronger wind and stars markings for this pair, to see the outcome. I don’t know how far I can get with them, considering their already low markings strengths, but I’m curious. It will be a long project, as it will take me at least a month to get two more generations into this line, considering how long it takes Wajas to give birth and for those pups to age up so you can see the markings. In the meantime, I’ll continue my pear business, keep playing the silly, easy in browser games, and see what other Wajas I can acquire in that time period.
I don’t really know what my goal so far is for Wajas. It’s the only browser game I check regularly – I might call it my Clicker Heroes or Cookie Clicker type of game. I like wolves and I like pretty colors and I like that it’s still around, still here, six years after I first discovered it. It reminds me of being young again and being amazed at something the internet had to offer me. I was raised away from computers, for the most part, and so to find something at 18 that was so developed and in depth and to find that it still exists is utterly fascinating.