The Biggest Fish, revisited

Friday, 23 November, Year 4 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

As I was saying, The Biggest Fish is a pretty cool javascript game. I've played it a little in the meanwhile. Actually, to be precise : 33.7 BTC deposited, 36.6 withdrawn and I think I still have a 1.3 or so fish left. I'm not sure if this makes me the biggest roller, but I guess it'd have to put me in the list.

All this hasn't been easy, I would like to mention. It was accomplished however, I am proud to say, in the choral blessings of the larger Bitcoin community. Allow me to quote :

Curse you MPEx

I will never forgive you for eating my fish!!!!!

An angry mob has also organised to send me flowers, but luckily they couldn't yet agree as to what epitaph to etch on the note.

Now that all that's out of the way, there's a few things I want to point out to the developer. Chief among them : the biggest fish's risk of ruin is not adequately compensated.

To explain myself : I have a positive net not because I am lucky, but because of an otherwise simple strategy. I just lie in wait. Once a noob puts a few BTC in, I feed a fish to anywhere between a third and a little under his weight. I hit him. If I halve him great, I withdraw to make myself smaller than him and hit him again. If I win great, I wipe my fish (minus .1 BTC) and wait for the next Big Fish to piranha. If I lose... no big deal, attack again. If I lose I attack again. If I die I just put more money in. Eventually I win, and once that happens I wipe the other person and count my profit.

This is the well know problem of Gambler's Ruin, and I don't think it is adequately addressed. Basically, it makes no sense to have a Big Fish, because you are displaying your bankroll to the world, allowing those with more bankroll to pick you out.

The solution (or at least steps towards better balance) would in my oppinion be something as follows :

  1. Lower the bite to 5 or 10% of fish sizes, instead of the current 50% (possibly make two types of fish!).
  2. Dissalow two consecutive attacks of the same fish (possibly also add an attack delay).
  3. Only allow new users to join by clicking the biggest fish.
  4. At a specified time each day give the then-biggest fish half the day's rake. (Alternatively, for while the rake's still small, give it a fixed prize, maybe 1 BTC.)

These are all meant to plug the hole. The problem currently is that the advantage of being top fish is too thin, and the speed at which hierarchy changes is very fast. To make the position worth holding you have to improve the advantage (measures 3 and 4) and also slow things down (measures 1 and 2).

If those were to be implemented it may still not make sense to deposit 1`000 BTC for a top fish, but it will certainly make the undertaking to maintain your top position something worth contemplating.

Category: Bitcoin
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