Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How to Make a Million Dollars Buying Coke

Why should our understanding of mechanics be limited to a game world?

I was talking with a friend today about mechanics.

A character concept becomes interesting and viable where there are three things:
-A unique gameplay mechanic for the character to resolve around. (Example: Movement, grappling, many spells, powerful spells, healing, AOE DPS, Diplomacy, ect)
-A high chance of success in a dangerous situation (Example: Combat)
-High output for low input. (Everyone gains levels. How much more effective are you each time you level up compared to the next guy?)

So we where talking about mechanics and how it relates to business concepts. We where sitting in a Subway when I looked at my cup. There was code for "A chance to win a lifetime supply of 12" subs" if I entered online. I asked, "I wonder what a lifetime supply is". (Which was translated from my brain asking, "I wonder if it's an at will... or there was a static number of subs to be had... or if there was a cooldown on the sub timer...")

We debated about it, then we got to the viability of "investing" in those cups. Go on eBay or Craigslist or something and purchasing those cups from people. Get the code, enter all of them and get subs for life (or other "great prizes"). We speculated that if we spent a few thousand dollars ($1,000-$3,000) on cups- we could probably win the lifetime supply of subs... or at least one of the "big" prizes that where worth significantly more than the few thousand we put in. (I think one of the prizes was a new car or something.)

That got me thinking.
What if someone made a living that way?
It meet my three criteria...
-Profiting would be "based on a unique gameplay mechanic" ("a relatively non-competitive field"). Who "invests in gimicy prize offers from major companies"? (Not many people is my guess...)
-I don't often save my soda cap or my monopoly ticket from McDonalds when they play it. (Nor did any of my friends) If we buy in bulk, it stand to reason we have a high chance of success.
-Wining things like "a new house" or "a new car" is a LARGE payout for a few thousand dollars. Resale on a new car minus the 1-3,000 dollar investment has to be worth something. Even if you bomb a few times and get nothing other than a fee soda, the investment seems sound. (What you don't have- you resell!) High output for low input.

But is it illegal?
I assume buying 10,000 subway cups directly from Subway (even at full menu price) would SOMEHOW disqualify me.
I'd have to read over the rules for entry to see which ones could be used as profit venues. ("Limit, one entry per person" would negate this possibility)

We talked further on this and we decided the bank probably wouldn't approve a loan for "10,000 bags of skittles" or "14 gallons of Coke".
Still... it would be a novel concept if nothing else.

On the far end of the conversation we decided to talk about "What the hell would you do with 10,00 bags of Skittles". My answer- donate them to the homeless shelter. Hell! Start a charity of your own! (And enlist the hobos to collect coke bottles for you!!!! j/k)

Hay... it has to be less confusing and more profitable than investing in the US Stock Market...

Let me close by saying this:
I don't see life as a game. I see that games mimic life. That's what they are designed to do. If you understand the mechanics, your always at an advantage.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Base Mechanics for a Speedster Base Class

This is just an example of my brain trying to work out the mechanical formula to find what it would take to make a true "speedster" base class. I put two benchmarks. First would be "Can it move the speed of sound by level 10?" The second was "Can it move the speed of light by L10?"

My three formula ended up being:

Base speed + speedster level

Base speed x speedster level

Base speed x (speedster level x 100)

The base speed for a creatures in D&D & Pathfinder is about 30 feet per turn. That works out to 30 feet every 6 sec. (Or about 3.5 mph)

I am using 761.207051 mph for the speed of sound (which is the speed of sound at 60*F and 670,616,629 mph for the speed of light.

30 ft per turn (6 sec) + speedster level (L10)

About 15 mph

30 ft per turn (6 sec) x speedster level (L10)

About 35mph

30 ft per turn (6 sec) x 100 per speedster level (L10) [1,000 x 30 = 30,000]

About 3,400 mph

So... it looks like the 3rd formula worked out (It BLEW by the speed of sound though...)

I have to ask myself. What would the speed by at 20th level? What would happen if I tried to get closer to the speed of sound at 10th level? Say... trying "Base Speed x (speedster level x 50)" or even "Base Speed x (speedster level x 10)".


"Base Speed x (speedster level x 100)" (20th Level)" = About 6,818 mph

This is not past the speed of light.

"Base Speed x (speedster level x 50)" (10th Level)" = About 1705 mph

This is not close to the speed of sound.

"Base Speed x (speedster level x 10)" (10th Level)" = About 341 mph

This is not close to the speed of sound.... however I noticed something. This is a little more than half the speed of sound... hmmm (Speed of Sound is about 761 mph at sea level...)
So... lets see where that goes at L20.

"Base Speed x (speedster level x 10)" (20th Level)" = About 682 mph
This is VERY close to our first benchmark of 761. I bet if I just play with it a BIT I can get something that lands just north of the speed of sound.

This is where it gets tricky though. If I pulled out a number like "17" and inserted it into the formula (so "Base Speed x (speedster level x 17)" (20th Level)") players would just find the math wonky and odd. As a mechanics designer, I attempt to keep number nice and friendly for people. Numbers that end in 5 or 0 make people happy. Makes math easy. 0 is better than 5 mostly too. Espically

So let's give "Base Speed x (speedster level x 20)" (20th Level)" and "Base Speed x (speedster level x 15)" (20th Level)" a shot.

x20 gives us a result of 1362 mph... hmmm close.
x15 gives us a result of 1023 mph.

While the x20 is HIGHER, I don't really mind. This is going to be SO FAR past anything other characters can do, it's gonna be a game maker. I would chose the x20 over x15. However... I am going to try to look at this a different way. A static gain per level in movement speed. I will work BACKWARDS to see if I can get something around the speed of sound.

Goal 761 (speed of sound at 60 degrees Fahrenheit)

Feet per sec: 1117.469

Feet per 6 sec: 6704.814

Square = 5 feet

Turn = 6 sec

So /5

Movement speed of: 1340.9628 squares per turn

Round up: 1340 sq/turn

-30 for avrg base speed

1310 sq/turn

/20 character levels

65.5 sq/turn per level gained in movement speed

So every level a speedster increases it's speed by 65 squares (or 325 ft).

That would be to low...

So every level a speedster increases it's speed by 70 squares (or 350 ft).

(That puts the speed OVER the speed of sound)

The total speed at L20 would be: 30 + 350*20 = 7,030 ft/6 sec

or... 1171 ft/sec.

The speed of sound is 1117.469 ft/sec.


To make a D&D base class with the ability to go OVER the speed of sound- it needs to get +70 squares of movement every level. Wow....