Tuesday, 5 July 2011

How do you Meeroo? Game vs. Business

As many as the possible combinations of Meeroo traits are the types of Meeroo breeders. Every avatar has their own style of play, their own expectations and desires for the Meeroos. Everyone has their own theory on what is best for breeding this and that. Loads of people have personal goals to gain a certain number of Regard points each day or to pet all of their Meeroos at least X number of times. Some people are banking on avatar Regard playing a pivotal roll in enhancing breeding and going for high personal Regard by Releasing Meeroos and petting as much as possible. Others, myself included, think that individual Meeroo Regard is quite important in bringing out rarer traits and save their Meeroos until they can not breed any-more. Along side those strategies lay hundreds of personal observations and conclusions that guide an avatars breeding program. The variations in ways to engage with the Meeroos are manifold.

However; with all the numerous ways to play, if you will, I believe everyone who owns Meeroos falls somewhere on the game versus business continuum. Unless you never sell a single Meeroo you are somewhere to the right of the pure game end. I imagine that there are a small percentage of Meeroo owners out there who never have, and never will, sell a Nest. More common are those who only breed Meeroos to sell for a profit. I have even seen what I am pretty sure are some people purchasing starter Trunks and then reselling any rare Meeroos in an attempt to turn a profit without doing any breeding at all. That is the far right hand of the scale: pure business. The vast majority of people fall somewhere in-between.

Most of us will want to sell the occasional Meeroo to defray food costs, or to make enough L$ to buy a new starter Trunk. Some will even start small stores or rent market spaces. They key is not to take the sales aspect of things too seriously. There will be ups and downs, prices will fluctuate, sometimes your Meeroos will produce lovely Nests other times not. As long as you have a healthy dose of game in there as well, so long as you are having fun with your Meeroos, it does not really matter. If your interest is purely business I would offer a caution: Meeroos are not like other breedables currently available. It is a difficult and involved process to breed them, the results are certainly not random. I have seen complaints in Group chat that claim Meeroo breeding is random, I would respond that in my observations it is much less random than other breeding systems.

If you think about it: say you have some cats you want to breed; some everyday cats that you got adopted by and maybe a few kittens a friend could not keep. Now say you want to breed a Sphynx. What do you think your odds are with your collection of random cats? Pretty much nill would be the answer. While the genes for a Sphynx cat may be in there somewhere, it would take many human generations to breed them out from a selection of random cats, if it were even possible. That is exactly how we got those crazy cats in the first place; some people started with a bunch of ordinary cats and bred them for specific traits until the modern Sphynx was created. The Sphynx is a pure-bred cat, if you take two (2) of them and breed them together the result is pretty much going to be another Sphynx with a few minor variations within breed standard. From the Wikipedia article on pure-bred animals: "In the world of animal breeding, to "breed true" means that specimens of an animal breed will breed true-to-type when mated like-to-like; that is, that the progeny of any two individuals in the same breed will show consistent, replicable and predictable characteristics." This is one of my [current] pet pevees: referring to any Meeroo as "pure-bred". I have yet to see a Meeroo pair that A) Are both nearly identical and B) Produce offspring that are, not only reliably similar each time, but almost identical to the parents. Just because your two (2) Teacup Meeroos produced another Teacup does not make it a pure-bred Teacup. Call it pure-sized if you like, but only after it is reproducible down the line, until you get only Teacups from the offspring.

I also take issue with any group claiming they can teach you how to breed specific, or generally rare, Meeroos. If that were the case, if they really held that secret, they would themselves be flush with uncommon Meeroos and would be able to make enough L$ to not need anybody else in their group. If you could, somehow, reliably produce Koi Meeroos through some breeding concept, would you share it with a bunch of people? If you did, how long would it be before loads of people were breeding Koi? How long before it leaked and everybody began using it? My guess would be: not very long. I suspect there is no such method. Meeroos seem to be as close to real life genetics as I have seen in a simulation before. At least to observed genetics. Keep in mind that despite mapping the human genome we still do not really know how genetics work. We have a lot of good information, but nobody has ever claimed we understand all of it. So anything modelled on real world genetics will be an approximation based on what we do know. What does work, in real life, is to establish a pure-bred line, over time. One number I heard, for cats, is eight (8) generations breeding true, without significant variation from the breed standard, is standard for calling a feline pure-bred. There are not many, if any, 8th generation Nests out there.

If you got into Meeroos, or are thinking of getting involved, just to make a profit: Meeroos may not be for you. I am in no way saying a profit can not be made, it can. It will take some work, a lot of work. With the last breedable I participated in you could get almost anything from a breeding pair. After a few breeding cycles you would know what was possible from them, but it bore no relation to the genetics of the parents. It was like breeding two (2) ally-cats and getting a Siamese. It meant you could make easy L$ once you found a pair that bread what you wanted but it also lost a lot of its fun right then. That is what I call random breeding. I know most breedables have hidden genetics, but Meeroos have tons of hidden genetics. I suspect they have more than anyone will be able to map in the sixty (60) days a Meeroo has before it reaches Elder status and stops making Nests.

There will eventually be pure-bred Meeroo lines and some avatars are going to make a lot of money off them. Those avatars will have put in the work to create those lines. Just like in real life, with Meeroos hard work can pay off. As I have blogged before; I believe that the Meeroos system favours the small breeders and the community in general. It is easier to breed for what you want, and keep track of your Meeroos, when you keep a reasonable number and focus on them. Throwing hundreds of Meeroos together and hoping for the best is unlikely to have profitable results, at least in the long term. Remember that Meeroos is a game, the more you enjoy them the less L$ you need to make to have it be worthwhile. If you enjoy them enough you might be one of those Meeroo lovers that never parts with a single Nest!
Meeroos: a Venn diagram (fig.1)
I am not in any way saying that Meeroos have to be either fun or profitable. They can be both. As you can see from my Venn diagram above: Meeroos encompass both business and pleasure. They can be fun while simultaneously making a few extra L$ if you enjoy participating in auctions. All I will say is the money will not be easy. With Meeroos it looks like you get out of them what you put in, the more time and effort you put forth the better your results are likely to be. It was never intended to be easy, and who would want it to be really? If breeding was simple where would Meeroos be a year from now, or two? Stick with it and above all: enjoy your Meeroos, they are for fun!

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  1. At Lennox Hill Pet Shoppe (shameless plug) we are probably right down the middle between game and business. Our strategy is first and foremost to have fun and make friends while doing it. We have tried not to spend much money buying meeroos with special traits and rather instead work with the ones we have and develop them with smart breeding. We just got our first sierra this week and it did not cost us a dime, except for the starter meeroos that we bought when we started. It takes us a little longer but we get there eventually and we have fun doing it.

  2. I enjoyed reading your blog it was very thought provoking. For the enjoyment of thought here are some of mine that were provoked.
    When you say “That is exactly how we got those crazy cats in the first place; some people started with a bunch of ordinary cats and bred them for specific traits until the modern Sphynx was created. I must say I became confused and it caused me to reread the essay several times. The idea that through animal husbandry that ordinary specimens were bred until the desired mutant gene showed its self in their offspring is one that I believe to be rare. Traditionally a “supreme specimen” is selected with the desired mutant trait already presented by nature. Including your example the Sphynx.

    I feel that the difference between developing a trait and completely turning a gene off or on may be small but incredible. So while I agree with you that you can breed a trait to be stronger or recessive and increase it between the generations with nurture, (that follows the idea that like begets like) Even breeding for shorter and less hair over an incredible length of time you may end up with a cat similar to sphynx. But without a lab, man may never be able to produce through intense breeding what nature does on a whim.

    While the study of genetics, biological engineering, and animal husbandry are at the top of my list, I don’t feel that their connection to this game is very strong. I would think that gaining an understand of scripting would be more useful to the player. Because after all meeroos is a fictional creature and we don’t know how many real life facts or ideas were plugged into their programing. While I want to read and discuss how real world about genetics inspired the programers thats all I believe we can do without going into more of the realm of player style which you discussed earlier. Simply to say it again because meeroos are fictional.

    Moving on while I agree with the way you define “pure-breed” and I would like to go further on the topic. I am heading toward the idea that there is a difference in defining what is meant by the word “pure bred” and what defines an individual to be pure of that breed. What is consider to be pure of that breed pertains to whom is doing the considering. Now I would like to point out that there is two parts or way to being consider a pure bred 1 by birth and then on top of that by 2 conformation. I would think you would need both parts and in that order. Not to be a complete @ss but some examples of “pure of breed being defined can be found in - the Third reich would consider you a “pure bred” Aryan if you could prove three of your four grandparents were Aryan. Also a thoroughbred horse if they can trace their ancestry back to one of the three founding sires. The later I found very funny because to me its more like proving you are a smith. But still even though the word thoroughbred is often confused with pure bred a thoroughbred is a bred. :) Then the standard of the breed the conformation can be set. If the standards of the meeroos breeds were to be written down and possible accepted by some of the fellowships then slowly other groups. Then to those who cared would be able to enjoy having breed standards as do similar breeding clubs, like the AKC. :) I really hope this happens someday. It seems so natural. I don’t know why shows with awards have never been a part of SL breeding.

    Well I hope you also enjoyed the lively debating and knowing that someone out there is taking in what you have taking the time to write and thinking it over. Thank you