Hello again faithful players and fans! We write to you on the eve of yet another grand step in the ecosystem of Photo Finish™ LIVE. A date rapidly approaches – August 28, 2023 – where the first crop of foals ever “born” in the game reach racing age and begin to find their way onto the virtual track.
It has often been said within the community that the real game begins once this crop starts racing, as the in-depth strategy of breeding and genetics starts to take hold of the ecosystem. We couldn’t agree more and are beyond excited to reach this major milestone with you all!
Welcoming The First Crop
There are over 1,300 foals ready to hit the track in Season 6. We’ve all endured the dark times waiting this long, with all the retirements and aging of our brave generation zero horses, there was always the fear as to what would happen during the first few seasons. Would the market crash? Would we have to change the game entirely? Would we have to PIVOT?
Luckily our initial plan of ‘keep tuning and fixing bugs, don’t change anything’ held. This was in large part due to a surge of new players (thanks again to GVG Stables for being the tipping point!).
Here’s a quick view of the ‘archetypes’ of the generation zero population, compared to the archetypes of the first crop:
It’s worth taking a look at a few of our favorites from the upcoming crop as well, we’ll be keeping a close eye on these Juveniles:
- Lussi Juice (Pocono Stables) – link
Everyone should keep an eye on this colt, specifically for the fact that both parents were rated at S+ speed! Extremely well rounded stats in the bloodline, no inbreeding anywhere in the family tree, with a Left / Dirt / Firm preference…is it too early to see some odds on Lussi Juice becoming a Kentucky Derby favorite?
- Morpheus (JPEG Lord Stables) – link
Another Colt with some well rounded parents and speed in the bloodline despite an unproven record on the track from the sire AquaEggclipse (5 starts and only 1 win). Morpheus has a Left / Turf / Soft preference and we will see if he can live up to his expectations in his Juvenile season!
- Shockwave (Solanaut Stables) – link
An absolutely fearsome colt with maximum preferences on Right / Dirt / Firm, with one of the most impressive bloodlines in the entire ecosystem, Shockwave sure looks poised on paper to make some serious waves. Time will tell!
For months we’ve been preparing for this moment, but really in earnest over the past 3 weeks we’ve all been heads-down as a team trying to make sure we dotted every I and crossed every T. This is a big moment for you as a community and we want to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible (though let’s be real there is bound to be a little thrash, because hey, that’s game dev!). Here are the top 3 things to keep an eye on for Season 6:
1) PEAK AGES
Every generation zero horse had the same exact genetics that determined their “peak age”. Now that it’s passed, we can give you a rare peek behind the curtain and let you know that every single generation zero horse was at their peak from roughly 4½ to 5½ years old. But now, things get interesting! These horse’s genetics have mixed, matched, and mutated in the first crop. Some horses will peak early, some horses will peak late. Some horses will steadily and slowly increase then decrease from their top performance, while others may flash from their minimum to maximum performance in a blink of an eye. Some may maintain their peak for multiple years once they reach it, while others may only sniff their best potential for a fleeting moment. This will be part of the skill for you to find out, and most importantly these genetics are now PASSED to their offspring. As time marches forward, bloodlines will gain and lose value based on how well peak ages are incorporated. Are you building out a ‘Justify’ type horse that peaks very early and can win the Kentucky Derby and retire? Or are you looking to build a Black Caviar type horse that can keep winning and winning for many years into their career? The choice is up to you!
2) DURABILITY / INJURY RESISTANCE
Just like with peak ages, the Generation Zero population had special homogenized genetics that made them immune to injury, but, just like in Jurassic Park, these genes are changing as well. However, we have made some changes to the way injuries work since the beta testing phase to make things easier to understand for the player.
Simply put, a horse gets injured more as it ages, or when it’s tired.
- 2 and 3 year old horses will never get injured when raced at full recovery.
- 4 year old horses will very likely never get injured when raced at full recovery.
- As horses age from 5 to 8, they start to become more and more likely to get injured.
Horses that race while still recovering, regardless of age, have a chance of injury. The chance is higher the more exhausted they are.
Horses have and pass down durability genes. Some are built sturdier than others, and that will be shown to the player as injury history will be shown in their race history
In the beta testing phases, a horse that was injured was a) more likely to get re-injured and b) more likely for the injury to last longer. Both of these impacts are no longer in the game.
NOTE: The “Ready to Race” status bar and indicator will show all of these states so you can quickly and easily make a decision on when and how to race your horses!
3) RACING CALENDAR / SCHEDULE
We’ve made many changes with regards to Season 6 and the arrival of the first crop is with the schedule. It is imperative that we give all these new horses a place to race and PROGRESSION on how to move up and down the ranks, just like real life. You as owners have your work cut out for you already in finding what your horses are good at, so we want to make sure we have a robust racing schedule waiting for you as the new crop hits racing age. Below we have included all of the additions, tweaks and updates to the schedule in season 6 – check it out.
Summary of changes:
- Daily coverage of direction and surface for all grades and race types.
- Each race type will have full archetype coverage within 3 day periods (horse archetype as defined by direction/surface-type/distance)
- Improved entry fee structure, with fees scaled more distinctly between grades and race types.
- The addition of restricted Juvenile races for horses 2 years old, all race types included, 30% cheaper than the base entry fee scaling across race types.
- Our first pass at a ‘Benchmark’ style of racing, called Last Five races. Last Five races are built into Allowance races, with weight allowances based on the amount of times won in the last 5 races alongside grade-based weight allowances. This is put in place to dynamically level the playing field as horses win and lose – we will be closely analyzing the popularity of these races to see how to expand them into future seasons
- Re-organized Allowance races by grade for Juveniles.
- Added: B- to A-, A to S-, S- to S+
- Removed: B- to B+, A- to S-
- Added: Non-winners of 1, 2, 3 Allowance entry conditionals. These conditionals will occur on top of grade-based Allowances to create racing opportunities for horses of differing performance levels.
- Updated Maiden races for juveniles and 3+ horses
- Maiden Claimers
- Grouped Graded Maiden Allowance races
- Updated Claimer schedule, following the new coverage method outlined in 1 and 2.
- Using our updated 3-day full coverage model and a modified version of Oracle that instantly creates a duplicate race upon a race filling (denoted as the same race name + “V2”, “V3” etc..), we have trimmed the schedule of excess races down 41% from s4 and 18% from s5.
Please tune into the upcoming Twitter Spaces with us and Peeb from YSM Racing and crew where our team will be available to take any questions you may have as we get close to Season 6.
Looking Ahead: Season 7
Before we know it, the 2nd crop will be hitting the track and the population of horses will really be starting to take off. We’ve been crunching like crazy to get S6 ready and we’ll continue to do the same for Season 7. Most importantly, we are planning to attack the following areas:
- Fleshed out “benchmark” rating system so that we continue to wean off of Grade-specific allowances and restrictions. Expecting that less than 25% of those race types will use grades, and by season 8 we’ll be down to less than 5%.
- We are ramping up for a marketing push. With 2,700+ new horses hitting the track in the next 2 seasons, we are spinning up ad campaigns through both organic and paid/traditional channels to ramp up our player base to support the population.
- Countless other fixes, tuning, and improvements based on community feedback
We at Third Time can’t thank you enough for your continued support, and of course we thank you for all the kind words and testimonials and passion towards building what will soon be the crown jewel of web3 and real money gaming.
Founder / CEO