Unnamed Pyramid Game: History

Online gambling is a multi-billion dollar industry. A great deal of that money is spent on solitary activities such as sports betting or slot machines, but the most entertaining games tend to be the ones that let you compete directly against many other players. Online poker is the most common such game, often with variations like tournaments, where hundreds of people are gradually eliminated until only one remains.

Ongame e-solutions, which provides the software for PokerRoom and its aggregates, is constantly working on expanding into related areas -- well-known games with a long tradition of being played with real money and that can be ported to the Internet. The suggestion was made to come up with a game for a wider audience, i.e. people with very little experience of gambling. The game would need to be so simple that it didn't have a learning curve, yet challenging, rewarding and interesting enough to keep people playing.

A massively multi-player "rock-scissors-paper" tournament seemed like a good idea. The basics of the game were simple enough, and if the entry fees of hundreds of people would go to a single winner, that would take care of the rewarding bit. As for challenging, well ... the jury is still out on whether this is a game of skill or just chance.

I went to work on the final requirement: making it interesting, while not letting go of the simplicity. My first attempts at graphically representing the tournament were rather clinical and frankly boring, like this one:

Eventually I came up with the idea of a pyramid and letting a little animated person represent each player. After that, everything seemed to fall into place and the details of the game practically designed themselves.

On the right is my first and very rough sketch of this concept. It got approved by the execs and I started coding. This first version would not need to be a complete game. It only had to be contain enough elements of the future final product to let people evaluate the gameplay. In the real game you will start out from some kind of lobby with several different types of pyramids (varying in size, type of money, maximum players, etc.) to choose from.

Good ideas hardly ever come out right the first time. They evolve. So even though I happen to be pretty darn pleased with this game prototype, odds are there are still a lot of things that can be done to improve it. And that's where people who visit my site come in. I need impartial feedback. Is the game lacking something? Too slow? Too fast? Does it need more bells and whistles, like a progressive jackpot, or would that just ruin the simplicity and confuse people? And would anyone be willing to play for real money if the entry fees started at, say, 25 cents? Let me know.