SNAILTHRONE — the new FIP game on Ethereum

https://snailking.github.io/snailthrone

What’s a FIP, you ask? Excellent question.

FIP is the newest, hottest trend on Ethereum, starting Saturday the 24th: [F]omogame, [I]dlefarm, [P]yramid, all together in a slimy package of snails, eggs and ether.

A few months after the heyday of these games, one might wonder what’s the point. Isn’t the trend done and gone? Aren’t we all betting on Eos or Tron dice apps these days?

It depends if you believe the idea was flawed, or if it came down to execution.

Fomo3D was a great experiment. It held millions of dollars worth of ETH, processed hundreds of thousands of transactions, and spawned dozens of clones. It brought the idea of decentralized gambling beyond age-old games of dice or cards to the mainstream.

And yet, the implementation is lacking. A bird’s eye view of the numbers and mechanics can evidence several flaws.

For starters, my one key investment didn’t make me a millionaire. Big flaw right there.

BUT FIRST, A NOTE

Fomo3D developers pioneered taking an idea that experienced very limited success, and polishing it to the point it exploded in popularity. The following isn’t intended as criticism of their work, but reflections on the model itself and ways it can be improved.

Credit where credit is due. Props, team JUST.

ETH DISTRIBUTION

DApp games are inherently zero-sum: because there is no direct creation of value, any gain experienced by a winner corresponds to the loss of someone else.

In Fomo3D, when you buy keys, a staggering 13% of the inbound ETH is sent to various pots that don’t directly interact with the game. Referrals or P3D holders in the absence of referral, a “community” fund that works at the developers’ discretion, and a fund for the short version of Fomo3D.

Right away, we’re taking a significant haircut. But this is not all.

Depending on team choice, between 0 and 10% of the ETH is sent to P3D holders. The most popular team choice, Snek, also sends the maximum of 10% ETH to P3D holders. Hence more ETH leaving the game; even though it stays within the greater P3D ecosystem, this means nothing to the player who only interacts with F3D.

1% of the ETH is sent to the airdrop pot. However, this airdrop had an implementation flaw. Rather than a game of chance, it became a target for botting. This 1% of ETH can be considered “lost” in the same manner as above, for the purpose of this calculation.

We reach a total of 13 + 10 + 1 = 24% of the ETH inbound.

Almost a fourth of the ETH invested exits Fomo3D right away.

This is a significant weight on the balance. As we already start from zero-sum, ETH existing the system skews the ratio of winners to losers negatively.

This is a metaphor. In this metaphor Spiderman plays Fomo3D.

JACKPOT

At least 20% of the ETH invested goes into the jackpot. This is the minimum value, applied to the most popular Team Snek. Other teams have higher values, bumping the total slightly above 20%.

This is a good thing, right ?

Well… Yes and no.

A big jackpot does a good job at attracting players to the game.

However, the key design of Fomo3D makes it impossible for normal, human players to actually win the game.

Key price in Fomo3D is designed to remain affordable. Even when Round 1 held a staggering 21,000 ETH, the price of an entry ticket to that jackpot was a measly 0.005 ETH.

Again, you’d think this is a good thing: you have a chance! For only 0.005 ETH, you could win a million dollars! Better odds than the lottery!

It’s a compelling argument. But even if you don’t think the lottery is for suckers… You have to consider unlike the lottery, Fomo3D isn’t random.

Because it runs as a smart contract, players with the know-how can design bots to buy keys at the last moment needed, with an accuracy no human player could hope to match, and the round-the-clock availability to go with it.

No humans allowed.

This means that extra 20% ETH directed to the pot is also out of the hands of regular players. We’re now at 24 + 20 = 44% of the ETH essentially gone.

Now the balance starts to get REALLY stacked!

Now Spidey has gone and reinvested at the top. Never buy the top.

DIVIDENDS

At the early stage of the game, it seemed like the scheme could work out regardless: the pot would attract people indefinitely, and because of that dividends would be paid again and again during this endless battle for the jackpot.

However, there’s two problems with that assumption.

First, a big pot can only attract people as long as they believe they have a chance to win. Once it becomes obvious only a bot can ever claim the jackpot, interest wanes. A lottery that never pays out is not much of a lottery.

Second, dividends have no upper bound, and key price only ever goes up. This means early adopters have a neverending advantage over latecomers. Investing 1 ETH in the early stages of the game could net a player over 10,000 keys, whereas that same 1 ETH only netted 200 keys when the pot was at its maximum!

So not only we have only 56% of the ETH in play… But early adopters are paid a mind-bending 50x as much as latecomers.

I don’t want to go… To that joke. Have a puppy instead.

The math couldn’t work out. Despite excellent efforts by the developers, Fomo3D was bound to come crashing down. And so it did.

MOVING FORWARD

This has been a long post already, and you might wonder why releasing SnailThrone takes so much talking about Fomo3D.

SnailThrone isn’t radically different from previous games. It takes elements of pyramids, elements of idlefarms, and elements of fomogames. Rather than define, SnailThrone aims to refine.

Which makes it important to establish the case for the model itself.

The concept is sound. It’s the numbers that need tweaking.

And I know just the brilliant mind to do it.

SNAILTHRONE MECHANICS

In SnailThrone, you start by buying snails. They are the equivalent of a pyramid token. The price for snails rises and goes down with max supply.

These snails will continuously produce eggs, which can be hatched for more snails or fed to the frogking for a reward in ETH. Hatching costs half as much ETH as buying.

Snails can be sold for half of their current price. Half of the ETH spent on buying snails is sent to a reserve fund for snail sales. Only 10% of that fund can be drained in one transaction, which incentivizes targeted sells of modest size over massive selloffs.

The fomo part starts on a 24h timer. To sit on the throne and eventually claim the jackpot, you must sacrifice not 1 snail, but at least 40 of them.

A sacrifice bumps the timer by 8 minutes. Unlike Fomo3D’s 30 seconds, this gives enough time for human players to react given the constraints of the blockchain.

Sacrifices also temporarily increase the number of snails required to claim the throne. Take the number of snails sacrificed and add 40. If you went with the minimum, that means the next sacrifice would take 40+40 = 80. Players also have the option to sacrifice more snails than the minimum, in order to make the next sacrifice costlier for other players and eventually discourage them from claiming the throne!

That increased requirement is temporary, as the number of snails required trickles down back to 40, at a rate of 1 every 12 seconds (5 per minute). But a sacrifice made close enough to the end of the timer will essentially raise the floor permanently — or else the round would come to an end.

While sitting on the throne, the contestant (we call him pharaoh) gets to claim a small percentage of the ETH in any buy or hatch transaction happening under his watch. So there is incentive in claiming the throne beyond the hope of winning the jackpot.

Finally, snail holders receive ETH dividends on every buy and hatch, proportionally to their portion of the max supply.

The elusive red ether, exclusively for snail holders.

NUMBERS, LET’S TALK NUMBERS

On every snail buy, the ETH is split as follows:

  • 50% to the snailpot (token sell fund)
  • 20% in divs
  • 20% to the frogpot (egg sell fund)
  • 2% to the godpot (round pot is half of this)
  • 2% to the pharaoh
  • 6% in referral. If there is no referral, extra 6% to the godpot

On every snail hatch, the ETH is split as follows:

  • 40% in divs
  • 40% to the frogpot
  • 16% to the godpot
  • 4% to the pharaoh

There is no developer’s fee or outbound ETH, save for the 6% in referral should players use a referral. This should allow SnailThrone to have a much more balanced winner/loser ratio.

The jackpot is a relatively tiny sum of the invested ETH. Coupled with the number of snails required, there is little incentive for bot play. Claiming the jackpot over and over would soon ruin a would-be botter beyond the rewards he might reap.

The curve for snail price is gentle, starting at 0.00002 ETH and rising by 0.00001 ETH per million of snails. With sell price pegged at half of buy price, there won’t be the same incentive for buying early and dumping right away as seen in many pyramids. Instead, players are nudged to accumulate dividends for a while and feed eggs to the frogking before finally selling their snails, for a multitude of smart actions to result in profit rather than a quick pump-and-dump.

Which will inevitably lead snails to join kitties as store of value.

CONCLUSION

SnailThrone is a modest, honest (if slimy) attempt at building upon the blocks laid out by previous developers.

Smart contracts give us the opportunity to explore new game dynamics between players, with the guarantee of code executing as written and secure transactions. Fully decentralized games of profit are a possibility, with no “house” taking a fee nor dictating rule changes.

SnailThrone releases this next Saturday, the 24th of November, at 7PM GMT (2PM EST). We hope to see you there!

Someone needs to hatch those eggs.

Ever so important disclaimer: this is not an investment, but a zero-sum game. There will be winners and losers, and refunds are physically impossible.

Don’t play with ETH you can’t afford to lose!

If you’d like to check out the game but don’t want to risk real ETH, a functionally identical version is available at https://snailking.github.io/snailthrone_testing/game.html, on the Ropsten testnet.

While you might miss what is arguably the most interesting part of the game, player behavior in an environment with real risk, the test version is nonetheless useful to familiarize yourself with the game mechanics.

Thanks for reading this far!

If you have questions, feedback, thoughts you want to share, feel free to pop up and say hi on our Discord: https://discord.gg/8h3Emyb
Follow the latest snail news on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/EtherSnailFarm