Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Out out brief candle…

A corner has been turned, because when I last tried to sign in to the game perfectcompetition.net, at about 7:20 PM ETS a.k.a. 11:20PM UTC today 3-27-2007, I read this message:

Account deleted.

I went to the list of players that had recently signed in, and lo and behold, where my name should have been, there was nothing. I navigated to a post I had made previously, and to my disappointment I found that instead of my player’s name, ProfitMonster, the quote was instead attributed to Anon.
And I was doing so well in the game. Number 8 in wealth. Over $400,000. And my company was number 6 in wealth. I had just made a killing on a purchase of shares on behalf of my company (mine was a stock holding company which I had most recently named Monkeys That Throw Darts). All for naught.

I think it was the mission statement that I made for my company within the game that set them off. In it I listed the url to this blog, and my email. Perhaps the autocratic administrators did not approve of this ‘misplaced’ communication to other players. I received no warning emails or correspondence of any kind. So I really can only guess as to the motives behind their decision to delete my account, effectively barring me from further play. Of course, no matter what the particular details, the underlying cause of my account being deleted is that it is so easy for an administrator to sit and click a button deleting an account, the costs of deleting innocent accounts is so low, while the costs of not deleting a potentially threatening account are so high. In the extreme, the administrator could lose his job, by firing or by senescence of his company, then firing. The reason he does not take the time to differentiate between the innocent and the guilty user is that he has a transaction cost for obtaining that information. Thus the administrator is better off with the philosophy of "kill them all...".

In the game, there are two main types of risks to perfectcompetition.net that come from players: 1)There is a real risk of someone setting up multiple accounts. Because each player account grants them with an initial endowment of in-game play money, setting up multiple accounts is unfair. Let me make clear in all seriousness that I have never broken these rules, or any other guidelines of the game. 2)And then there is the second kind of player risk, the risk that a player could develop their own competing software game product and then take customers away from perfectcompetition.net. It is this second scenario type of threat which I believe they believed me to represent. This was not accurate either, because my tools which I have developed and which I said I was going to develop, and which I have yet to make up my mind on whether or not I will continue to develop, were never intended to compete with perfectcompetition.net. They were meant to be little excel tools, i.e. documents, to make the existing game play within the context of perfectcompetition.net more fun, informative, and powerful. They were never intended to be standalone documents.

That being said, the sunk costs I have made in product development, combined with the inability to continue to play the game pushes me towards making one of two choices, either: 1)abandon all my work or 2)continue development in a more independent, standalone-type style. The third choice which I am pushed away from by being unable to play is that I continue to develop what I have made as I had originally intended: as sidekick software. But that would mean I could not test my product or even get much fun out of it.. That would just be an exercise in finishing what I had started.

The funny thing is, the only people who probably ever thought anything of this blog were the very people who felt most threatened by it. So here is a proposal (if you are reading…) how about a job?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Art of The Snipe

Playing a business simulation game and trading stocks run by other players in the game, i have accidentally stumbled across the wonderful world of the snipe. Actually, I recall reading an article or seeing a program on TV about sniping on Ebay. Sniping is a bidding practice in which the bidder(sniper) waits until the last minute of the auction, and then places a bid a penny or two higher in order to win the auction with the smallest possible bid.

The sniper avoids the majority of the risks of an early bid:
1)triggering a bidding war
2)not obtaining the item
3)having money trapped in escrow during the bidding time period not being useful.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

MapSmart for the perfectcompetition.net gamer

What is MapSmart?
MapSmart is my attempt to bring power and fun to the perfectcompetition.net gamer.
As the name suggests, I started out focusing on the map. But there's more. As listed below, I have some excel projects under development, and only the last one is in anything resembling presentable status. However the future of MapSmart will most likely develop into something different from anything I have begun so far, and most of the things I have started will probably never be completed. That's how it works, you try things out, most directions fail, and through an iterative process, you make something better, something perhaps unanticipated.

1)Time Estimator
estimates real world time at which periodic in-game events occur.
this is useful if you want to log in just prior to the turn of the game-year, or other similarly periodic in-game event.
Status:Under Development

2)Gamer Query
collects information about the last time each player signed in, indicating when they are active. This would be useful for selecting other players to create 24/7 management teams. Or to time the pricing or other action against a competitor.
Status:Under Development

3)Production Planner
given constant information about the relationship between the Inputs and Outputs of each good in the production process, and given also the updated information about supply shocks, automatically and immediately show which goods are desireable to produce to avoid producing a good which requires an input which is currently under a supply shock. As an added feature, list the required buildings to produce a selected final good.
Status: Some data collected, development not begun.

4)Apartment Building Planner
Shows where the best place is to put an apartment building
Status:not started, tools in place

5)Anything Locator/MapSmart Proximity
Take whatever jumbled manually pasted map data there is from the game in a microsoft excel sheet, and automatically clean it and digest it and remove duplicates and produce a big map. Then allow this map to be searched and allow the user to paint a perimeter around the desired objects of a desired perimeter square distance. This is useful if you are trying to look at the big picture of where things are located, especially relative to each other. This one was(and is) a bit of a chore. I learned some new tricks, namely how to retrieve the tips that pop up when you scroll over.
Status:working, pre-beta

6)Real Estate Price Checker/Theoretical Leasehold Price
Avoid overpaying for land or selling too cheaply by checking what the game's government would offer you as a leasehold price if that plot of land were being sold by the in game government. The theoretical leasehold price. This is nice also for seeing at a glance where the rock-bottom prices are, and also where an apartment might be best(see #4 above).
Status: beta, some polishing make-pretty work possible.

I intend to provide a free copyrighted version of some of this online soon.

Monday, February 19, 2007


after discovering a game called perfectcompetition.net, i wanted to use excel to make the game more fun and efficient to play. here is a picture of one of the features in excel that i have created. this particular feature shows the hypothetical leashold price were the game's government to sell a plot of land to a player. prices for each plot(cell) are in units of thousands(in-game currency).