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61  Economy / Gambling / Re: Dragon's Tale - Lotteries and Unintended Consequences on: October 13, 2013, 01:53:28 PM
For simple games in Dragon's Tale, it would be possible to implement provably fair bets, and I may do this at some point for those.

Most of the games are much more complex or intentionally make use of hidden information as part of gameplay: For example in cow-tipping, each player has their own paytable representing which cow-tipping techniques are known, and how well each is known. These knowledge units are called "facets," and once you have 5 facets of a technique, you are able to perform that technique and teach facets to others. Each paytable is computed on the fly and balanced to 95% EV (plus Dragon's Treasures, a whole different discussion), but is not transmitted to the player: You have no way of knowing which techniques your character is capable of, though you get closer to this knowledge over time. Cow-tipping is a cross between gambling and a collection game!

In other games the logic itself is hidden (server-side only) - part of the game is (collaboratively or individually) figuring this out. For instance, each of the berry types has it's own hidden rules which influence the harvest (jackpot.) Some berry types are considered "solved" while others are not, yet nobody knows for sure.

Making all of Dragon's Tale provably fair would be the equivalent of making any other MMO provably fair.
62  Economy / Gambling / Re: Hosting gambling site in the US is legal. on: October 11, 2013, 06:50:58 PM
Dragon's Tale was initially hosted in the US - we concluded the same thing, for the same reasons. I also had 3 lawyers read the various laws (the ones you reference, and in our case the applicable Pennsylvania laws,) and each of them also felt that as long as we were Bitcoin only, it was fine.

We then decided to take credit cards, and that would have clearly crossed the line, so before doing that we moved everything to Costa Rica.

Glad to chat offline if you'd like - Bitcoins and gambling are a great fit.

63  Economy / Gambling / Dragon's Tale - Lotteries and Unintended Consequences on: October 11, 2013, 04:29:10 PM
I'm writing to describe the latest "game" in Dragon's Tale, but also to share an interesting unintended consequence of a decision that I made months ago. (these effects are so interesting - this is why I love designing MMOs.)

Since early on, large jackpots in Dragon's Tale have been announced game-wide and accompanied by fireworks displays. Announcements like "A Major Jackpot of 1.450 BTC by Emperatorzs on Fence: Watch Beetle Downs for a display of Mmmmmm Donuuuts in 15 seconds" would be heard several times an hour.

The first unexpected effect was after I added drinks to the game: These were a way to buy yourself a fancy visual treat that pays off - sometimes less than the cost of the drink, sometimes more. Drinks could also be bought for friends in the game, and it became a popular custom to buy a round of drinks to celebrate a particularly large win.

Over time, some of our top players began to notice that these "rounds of drinks" were sort of expected, and it was always by players that themselves seldom had large jackpots (because they only played for low stakes, didn't deposit, etc.) And so they asked if I could give a way for them to turn off these jackpot messages so that they wouldn't be constantly pestered for free drinks. These were our top players, so of course I accommodated the request.

So fewer and fewer jackpot messages were displayed. The amount of play was still great, but players commented that the game seemed very quiet, and I noticed a fall in active players. It was logical to conclude that this was causal. My dilemma though was that I could not simply remove an option that many players liked.

I explained all of the above in-game, and brainstormed with players about solutions - at the suggestion of Zebedee, we created a sort of lottery: Daily drawings for 50 BTM (0.05 BTC), weekly drawings for 500 BTM (0.5 BTC) and a monthly drawing for one Bitcoin. For each "Major Jackpot Message" that you generate, you get one ticket to each of the three drawings.

Immediately nearly all players turned their Major Jackpot messages back on; numbers improved across the board, and the game once again felt alive. Yesterday's peak was 44 players.

64  Economy / Auctions / Re: [SELL] Advertise on on: September 24, 2013, 11:22:34 PM
2.5 BTC for a Dragon's Tale banner.
65  Economy / Gambling / Re: Dragon's Tale - a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG/Casino on: September 08, 2013, 08:42:32 PM
Financisto: Tournament Organization, available to Level 10+ players, allow you to *almost* run lotteries. I'm working on a more proper lottery mechanism though, which will also be available to high level players (to organize; anyone can play.) They will allow nearly as much creative customization as Tournaments do now.

66  Economy / Gambling / Re: 1000 BTC BET! on: September 08, 2013, 08:37:36 PM
In Dragon's Tale we've had at least two bets of 200 BTC each, and each one came up a winner (950 BTC paid out each.) Also at least one 100 BTC bet on a coconut tree (which I think was a loss), and a bunch of 60 BTC bets on benches.

67  Economy / Gambling / Re: Dragon's Tale - a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG/Casino on: August 08, 2013, 03:19:11 PM
We did do the Malaki event, but you need to understand the context: A Tale in the Desert II was a non-combat game about building a perfect society in the face of social challenges constructed by the developers. There were challenges that required game-wide cooperation (building the Seven Great Works), while a mysterious stranger ("Gharib," played by me) did things to cause turmoil among players. Malaki was (as many players suspected) one of Gharib's agents, though the event was constructed to make this uncertain.

Players had a number of tools to deal with Malaki, including the lawmaking process and the power of the Demi-Pharaoh. Either of these could have banned Malaki from the game, but players were reluctant to do so because there was a chance that the rare goods he offered would somehow advance (shortcut) the technology tree. It was a genuine case of moral ambiguity. More details about the event itself are here:

Though neither formal tool was used, community leaders created enough social pressure on would-be defectors to run Malaki out of town, thereby "winning" the scenario.

ATITD explored all sorts of socially difficult puzzles, including the acquisition of power ("The Test of the Demi-Pharaoh,") online trust ("The Test of Marriage,") Monopolies ("The Test of the Funerary Temple"), the tragedy of the commons (mushroom ecology) and addiction (Speed of the Serpent.)

A Tale in the Desert, now in it's 6th telling, still runs, though most of my attention these days is on Dragon's Tale.
68  Economy / Gambling / Re: Dragon's Tale goes to Beta on: July 09, 2013, 02:36:37 AM
No dramatic content changes - I like to develop continuously and then when I think the game feels like Beta quality, announce Beta. I am going to do a bunch of freerolls, some higher stakes tournaments, load the soldiers with free coins, etc. A big party basically.

We've never done a cigar smoking contest - that would be pretty twisted because the prize pool means an incentive to smoke, even when that's usually just a pure giveaway to those at the same bar.

69  Economy / Gambling / Dragon's Tale goes to Beta on: July 09, 2013, 12:43:34 AM
After nearly 3 years in development (October 2010), 17,000 players, 400k BTC won, the first Bitcoin gambling game is going to Beta!

It all starts Friday, July 12 at Noon EST. We'll have freerolls all weekend. The news has already hit The Guardian, Gamasutra, Joystiq and other sites:


eGenesis announces Beta for Dragon's Tale, the Gambling MMORPG

July 8, 2013, Pittsburgh, PA

eGenesis, developers of A Tale in the Desert annoucnce their next game, "Dragon's Tale." As the first MMORPG based on real-money gambling, Dragon's Tale brings a creative and intensely social experience to online gambling. Lead designer Andrew Tepper ("Teppy") explains:

"The first thing that struck me about online gambling today is that it's a pretty lonely experience, typically one player in a web browser, watching a 2D slot machine. I've taken what I've learned in the last 15 years building MMORPGs and for the first time applied that to gambling. I've created an intensely social world where players can explore the game world together, share techniques, and rely on each other as they level up by completing gambling quests."

"Furthermore, every game in Dragon's Tale is novel, and is designed for a 3D environment: You can tip cows, hunt for Dragon's Eggs, catch fish, run monkeys through mazes, feed ducks. There are 60 different games so far, with new ones being added all the time, and every one of them is a new take on gambling. About half the games are luck-based and half are skill-based."

In addition to quest-based levels, Dragon's Tale features a complex tournament system, a student/mentor system, and a form of player-controlled governance that will be familiar to those that have played A Tale in the Desert.

Dragon's Tale offers a free trial, and for those that wish to gamble, supports Bitcoins and credit cards. Beta testing begins Friday, July 12, 2013 at Noon EDT.

Native clients are available for Windows, Linux and OSX:
70  Economy / Gambling / Re: Dragon's Tale: Buy Bitcoins on a Credit Card (sort of!) on: June 19, 2013, 11:15:19 AM
Darkmule is correct. And if you don't do the full 6x playthrough, the withdrawal fee is based on the deposit amount, not the withdraw amount. So for example:

Buy 2 BTC on a Visa card for $200 [Balance is now 2 BTC]
Bet 1 BTC on a Trash Can, win 10 BTC [Balance is now 11 BTC]
Bet 1 BTC on a Trash Can and lose [Balance is now 10 BTC]
Bet 2 BTC on a Trash Can and win 6 BTC [Balance is now 14 BTC]
Sell 14 BTC back to the house for $1400
  [At this point you've only made 4 BTC of bets, or a 2x playthrough, so the fee would be 2.00 BTC * 12% * ((6-2)/6) = 0.16 BTC = $16]

So you'd actually only get back $1384 rather than $1400 because of only doing a 2x playthrough.
71  Economy / Gambling / Dragon's Tale: Buy Bitcoins on a Credit Card (sort of!) on: June 18, 2013, 09:49:36 PM
Dragon's Tale is once again running from Costa Rica. This means that non-US players can now buy Bitcoins in-game at any of the ATM machines using a credit card. As always, US players can play with Bitcoins. Each of the Governed islands has an ATM, as does Xinren Tang. The minimum cash-in is 1 Euro worth, or about 12 BTM as of this post.

We sell and buy back at exactly the midpoint between the current MtGox highest bid and lowest ask prices.

There are some rules:

* If you buy Bitcoins on a credit card, then you can't withdraw them as Bitcoins; you can only cash out to the same card you last bought them on.

* If you're from the US you can't use this feature, because only brick & mortar casinos that pay what are essentially multimillion dollar bribes to politicians are allowed to do gambling. It will be sweet revenge when Bitcoins replace the dollar as the world's currency. Smiley

* If you buy Bitcoins and then immediately sell them back without gambling, we'll charge you 12% of the amount you bought them for. The 12% is our cost, and factors in credit card fees both ways, MtGox commissions, typical market spread, and a 3% estimated fraud rate.

* If you play through the purchased coins six times (raked games) we'll waive the 12% fee. We'll even pro-rate it, so if you only play-through three times, we'll charge 6% of the purchase amount when you cash-out.

* With Visa cards you can cash in and out on the card. For Mastercards, we'll send winnings by wire transfer and charge you whatever our cost is for that, around 250 BTM ($25) as of this post.

* We can waive any of these fees/restrictions on a case by case basis.
72  Economy / Gambling / Want your first full Bitcoin? Dragon's Tale mini-event on: March 28, 2013, 01:07:45 PM
When Dragon's Tale started, Bitcoins were five cents each, and even in those early days we'd say "you know, one day we're going to look back and realize that we were gambling with $100 bills."

So a little mini-event: the moment we hit $100, I'm going to pick someone at random among those logged in and hand them a Bitcoin. (I'll filter out mules and those playing over a proxy, just to make it fair.)

I'll also do a freerolls tournament with 1 BTC in prizes which will start at the same time.

Teppy ("Di")
73  Economy / Gambling / Re: Dragon's Tale - a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG/Casino on: March 07, 2013, 01:51:33 PM
74  Economy / Gambling / Re: Dragon's Tale - a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG/Casino on: March 06, 2013, 02:35:02 PM
1500mbps attack last night. The game should be back online within the hour, assuming the attack has stopped.

I'm testing code this morning to allow our client+server to work over DDoS-protected (proxied) connections. I don't yet have the contract from the DDoS mitigation company, so I'd guess were still at least a couple days away from being protected.
75  Economy / Gambling / Re: Dragon's Tale - a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG/Casino on: March 04, 2013, 12:05:05 PM
Same thing, 1100mbps this time; I had the ISP null-route the game server for the evening. I'll contact DDoS mitigation companies this morning.
76  Economy / Gambling / Re: Dragon's Tale - a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG/Casino on: March 03, 2013, 11:09:45 PM
Withdrawals are back up, game is back 100% with the exception of the ability to buy Bitcoins on a credit card at ATMs. (Can't do that until the servers are back in Costa Rica due to silly US laws.)
77  Economy / Gambling / Re: Dragon's Tale - a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG/Casino on: March 03, 2013, 02:56:31 PM
Yeah. The difficulty is that bandwidth out of Costa Rica is quite precious, and these files are huge. Doing offsite backups with any regularity would drastically increase our already high hosting costs. I'm looking into more exotic solutions like differential backups, and partial backups (players' level progress and a few other key pieces of data.) We already write backup files to different media (odd numbered backups go on one drive, even on another.) So aside from a "Katrina Level Event" (or malicious ISP!) we should be fine. We will need to buy some sort of DDoS protection service.
78  Economy / Gambling / Re: Dragon's Tale - a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG/Casino on: March 03, 2013, 05:43:24 AM
I've got access now, servers should be back up in 30 minutes or less.

Yeah, I'll of course reimburse for Feather Tree, herb licenses, etc. Also planning to do a nice freerolls tournament after we're back online for a day or so. I'll announce that here as well as in-game.

When the game first comes back online it will be in a no-withdrawals mode because I want to have my IT guy reconfigure the compute server<=>Wallet firewall to lock out the Costa Rica IPs. (I was getting suspicious of the ISP itself, and transferred most funds from the hot wallet machine which trusts the game server to the warm wallet. Sending from the warm wallet requires physical access to that machine,
79  Economy / Gambling / Re: Dragon's Tale - a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG/Casino on: March 03, 2013, 04:11:04 AM
Ok, finally got an email from their CEO who promised access to the server by Monday morning. I told him that a 72 hour downtime was unacceptable - waiting to hear back.

Our other game, A Tale in the Desert, has had less than 72 hours of unscheduled downtime, cumulative, on over 8 years.
80  Economy / Gambling / Re: Dragon's Tale - a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG/Casino on: March 03, 2013, 02:59:29 AM
We split funds into a hot wallet which is on a machine that we have physical access to, a warm wallet that is on a machine not directly connected to the internet, and a cold wallet which is not connected at all. All three wallets are safe and in our control. No Bitcoins have ever been kept on the DDoSed machine.

What I don't have access to yet is the checkpoint (savegame) files for Dragon's Tale which are generated every 3 minutes while the game server runs. These are on a machine at the same colocation facility as the compute servers. Once I do have access, we'll have Dragon's Tale back up within 30 minutes. (Plenty of backup hardware in the US is always ready to go; I just need the most recent checkpoint file to flip the switch.)

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