Category: Randomness

Consumed by “it”

Yesterday I listened to a pretty unique sermon at my local Church. John Ortberg, the pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, chose to show a video of him running on a treadmill to represent our relentless, neverending pursuit of “it”. “It” are those targets that we expect will solve our lives and fill us with happiness. e.g. a house, $1M, a partner, a new job, a sports car. Unfortunately, once we reach “it” we immediately discover another new target. He used many quotes of Ecclesiastes, one of my favorite books. I encourage you to spend the next 15 minutes watching the video.

Unfortunately life sounds too much like a social game sometimes. Having worked on them for a while I can tell you that most games have an infinite number of levels. Choose the one you play wisely and enjoy it.

 

I’m the Ambassador of Spain!

Spanish Ambassador to CityVille
Does he look familiar?

Well, kinda. If you play CityVille today you will be greeted by the Ambassador of Spain to CityVille. He’s bringing a lot of new Spanish-themed content and looks a lot like me. Thanks to Matt Winalski and Andy Wang from our great art team.

If you want to learn more about CityVille in general and the art process in particular, watch this NBC video.

Farmville treeconomics: is this going too far?

[digg=http://digg.com/playable_web_games/Farmville_treeconomics_is_this_going_too_far]

The farmville date tree. Fill a square with 16 of them and you have a great investment.
The farmville date tree. Fill a square with 16 of them and you have a great investment.

Fred Wilson blogged recently about Zynga, the #1 social gaming company, looking for talent  in Wall Street. He should know, he’s a Managing Partner at Union Square Ventures, one of the VC firms backing the company. I am sure that to many this might seem strange but it shouldn’t. You can put an MBA to good use just to play Farmville.

Adam Nash did just that. He took Farmville economics a step further in his last two posts and Lisa Chan at Zynga took good note of it. The next task in his list is figuring out the economics of trees. I thought I would give it a try.

Like in any financial model we’ll start with a couple of assumptions:

  • Investment period and residual value: like Adam said, people will not be playing Farmville in 2020. Given that the “investment cycle” is daily I thought it was fair to assume that the tree is sold for its residual value after 90 days.
  • Discount rate: I’m a huge supporter of using the NPV investment rule. The problem with this is, like I said, that we have to now find an adequate discount rate. To simplify and given that Adam’s initial analysis was not done on a bang per buck basis, I’ll just do a comparison of investments.
  • Available investments: I still need to level up! Also other trees are available as gifts but cannot be purchased. I’ll base the analysis on the trees I have available to purchase.

First we’ll compare the trees among themselves to see which one has the highest daily revenue:

Cost Revenue/Harvest Days to Harvest Daily Revenue Daily Rev/ Invested $ Days to Payback
Date $800.0 $69.0 3 $23.00 2.88% 35
Lime $750.0 $75.0 5 $15.00 2.00% 50
Lemon $475.0 $41.0 3 $13.67 2.88% 35
Peach $500.0 $47.0 4 $11.75 2.35% 43
Fig $350.0 $33.0 3 $11.00 3.14% 32
Plum $350.0 $30.0 3 $10.00 2.86% 35
Orange $425.0 $40.0 4 $10.00 2.35% 43
Apple $325.0 $28.0 3 $9.33 2.87% 35
Cherry $225.0 $18.0 2 $9.00 4.00% 25

The date tree is the winner, but if we were to rank it on a daily revenue per dolar spent basis (bang per buck) it would look quite different:

Cost Revenue/Harvest Days to Harvest Daily Revenue Daily Rev/ Invested $ Days to Payback
Cherry $225.0 $18.0 2 $9.00 4.00% 25
Fig $350.0 $33.0 3 $11.00 3.14% 32
Lemon $475.0 $41.0 3 $13.67 2.88% 35
Date $800.0 $69.0 3 $23.00 2.88% 35
Apple $325.0 $28.0 3 $9.33 2.87% 35
Plum $350.0 $30.0 3 $10.00 2.86% 35
Orange $425.0 $40.0 4 $10.00 2.35% 43
Peach $500.0 $47.0 4 $11.75 2.35% 43
Lime $750.0 $75.0 5 $15.00 2.00% 50

As a side note, also the crops would look different on a bang per buck basis:

Daily Investment Daily Profit Daily Rev/ Invested $
Super Berries 300.0 900 300.0%
Watermelon 36.3 51 140.0%
Artichokes 21.3 30 140.0%
Wheat 16.7 22 130.0%
Cotton 30.0 39 130.0%
Pineapples 55.0 66 120.0%
Yellow Bell 45.0 54 120.0%
Squash 27.5 33 120.0%
Eggplant 20.0 24 120.0%
Soybean 30.0 33 110.0%
Pepper 85.0 77 90.6%
Rice 120.0 72 60.0%
Pumpkin 135.0 69 51.1%
Blueberries 390.0 156 40.0%
Strawberries 150.0 60 40.0%
Raspberry 420.0 132 31.4%

Back to our analysis. Let’s compare a 90 day investment in a square full of date trees with some crops. Believe it or not, 16 date trees can be squeezed in a square.

Daily Profit Total Profit Initial investment Residual Value Profit
Super Berries $900.0 $81,000.0 $81,000.0
Date tree square $368.0 $33,120.0 $12,800 $640.0 $20,960.0
Tomatoes $174.0 $15,660.0 $15,660.0
Raspberries $132.0 $11,880.0 $11,880.0

Does a date tree square make sense? Sure. The catch? A square full of date trees costs 12,800 coins, you need 35 days just to pay the investment back. If you are looking to optimize your farm on a per square basis it’s perfect. Given that space and not coins is the key constrain in Farmville, it does make sense. Also, the longer the investment period, the better it will look.

Is this over-analyzing and going too far? Maybe, but in a blog about digital media, gaming, VC and randomness, this post fits great. If you need financial modeling to Excel at these games (pun intended), you do need to look in Wall Street to manage them.

Update: you can now see the analysis for Farmville animals here.

Super Berries 300.0 900 300.0%
Watermelon 36.3 51 140.0%
Artichokes 21.3 30 140.0%
Wheat 16.7 22 130.0%
Cotton 30.0 39 130.0%
Pinneaples 55.0 66 120.0%
Yellow Bell 45.0 54 120.0%
Squash 27.5 33 120.0%
Eggplant 20.0 24 120.0%
Soybean 30.0 33 110.0%
Pepper 85.0 77 90.6%
Rice 120.0 72 60.0%
Pumpkin 135.0 69 51.1%
Blueberries 390.0 156 40.0%
Strawberries 150.0 60 40.0%
Raspberry 420.0 132 31.4%

Objective-C and Windows

This is how your desktop will look like

Since the introduction of the iPhone SDK, many programmers, professional or amateur, want to learn Objective-C. Unless you already have a Mac, it will be difficult for you to start.

I wrote a quick e-How article to guide you through the process of installing the right software and reading the right resources to start learning Objective-C on Windows. It is available here.