MV #19: Defi Game Alpha
PV's Head of Blockchain Gaming and Tokenomics jumped into the Community Call this week carrying bags of alpha
This is MetaVault, the best way to keep up with the Pixel Vault universe: PUNKS Comic, MetaHero, United Planets, $PUNKS, $POW, and lots of DAOs.
I haven’t done PV Community Call recaps because I see them mostly as vibe sessions. They’re more laid back than the Town Halls — a fun way to hang with members of the company and community. I was lucky enough to be asked to share the stage a few weeks back with Ned and Rusty (former guests on the MetaVault pod) along with the PV crew: VGF, economist, Jacob, and Virtunaut. It was a blast. By the way, if you miss the live Twitter Space, someone’s hosting the recordings on Soundcloud.
This past week’s Community Call had more alpha than maybe intended. And certainly more than anyone’s talking about.
The PV team welcomed their new Head of Blockchain Gaming and Tokenomics, GoozEggz, to the stage. He provided a ton of insight into how PV’s approaching the buildout of their defi game. Let’s dive in.
Say Hi to GoozEggz!
Gooz has a great background — a perfect blend of gaming, blockchain, and entrepreneurship:
I have been making games or involved in the game industry since I was 16. I had a family member that was a pretty high-level executive at one of the major game companies that you'd probably know if I mentioned it. And so that gave me a pretty distorted view of reality, where I thought everyone worked in the gaming industry, and that was just normal. I was a designer for a AAA title at the age of 17. And then I was also doing startups when I was 20.
I ended up going into grad school for a PhD and did research in, as it so happens, decentralized protocols for games. Peer-to-peer games were really popular, and particularly cheating in P2P games was a challenge. And so I was really excited about the prospect of allowing P2P games to have trustless play out of games that could involve money. And this was before Bitcoin was even a thing.
I started business out of grad school when I was supposed to be finishing my PhD. I scaled to an over 100-person company doing contract stuff for you know, Microsoft, Disney, DreamWorks PopCap, Real Games — a lot in the casual and social space, and then leading into the mobile.
My company was recently acquired. We got into the real money, gambling space. And now we're a major pillar and one of the larger gambling companies.
In the meantime I had actually rediscovered the blockchain. And for the past five years I've been doing self-funded research into applying some of the techniques that I was researching in grad school to Ethereum-based games. So when I met Sean (GFunk), I was in the middle of actually going out to raise money to build a company around some of those ideas. And after having met Shawn and the Pixel Vault team, I realized that this is where I could do everything that I wanted to do.
The Defi Game Foundation
The reason that I'm aboard and the thing that I'm excited about is Pixel Vault has a lot of interesting assets that are already released, that I would like to turn into this kind of broad scale, universal, real economy using game mechanics. Because once you have an economy ticking over like that, you can actually build all kinds of mechanics on top of it. It's just the economy first has to make sense, it has to be healthy, and it has to create value.
Having the gameplay feed it in such a way that it's a healthy economy versus there are some games — and I'm not going to call them out — that I would say are almost exploitive of their audience, where they're trying to get something out of them, or like tease labor out of them in exchange for as little as they can provide.
Gaming as an Expression of Self
My point of view, and this is getting into some of my philosophy around the blockchain, I see these things as new ways of people expressing themselves. People using their time and energy, getting invested in the things that they really care about, and making money and having a way that they can subsist or do better than subsist.
There's things that you do in games, that you can express skills, your abilities, and creativity — coupled with the right economy and real assets — I believe can be turned into a lifestyle. So it's not just the game, but that's what you do with your life.
I don't think we're going to do that in the first release, but we're going to be building something that gets us there. And I think other experiences can layer on top of that. I'm talking about perhaps a AAA experience. I understand that's a big topic in the community that I don't fully understand yet. But perhaps that can layer on top of that, and you have an economy that can drive a AAA experience. That's totally consistent with my vision.
The plan that I have, involves putting down some key pillars of gameplay and that will start driving the economic engine that I think needs to be in place that will justify future gameplay features — and will not only justify them, but motivate them. I'm also a storyteller, maybe not a good one, but as part of this game, you know, that whole evolution of how one piece of the economy or one piece of the gameplay kind of suggests another piece or adds on and benefits from the addition of another piece.
I'm hoping you don't hold me too heavily to this, but within three or four months, we'll start talking about putting the first brick in place that I think will be an important one. And then part of my strategy is to observe how the economy evolves and be nimble in terms of what the next bricks we put down are.
But I do have a roadmap. We're gonna try and do regular, iterative releases, and try and move to a cadence where we're kind of always evolving the world and slowly building it — maybe it's slowly, maybe too fast — into this kind of cathedral that I have in my mind.
After hearing Gooz say three to four months before even talking about the first brick, I brought up an important question on Episode 10 of the MetaVault podcast: Is it possible PV doesn’t release the defi game in 2022? GFunk, apparently a listener to the pod (!), jumped in my Twitter thread and said:
Layers of Interest
My goal is to kind of add level layers of interest. So start with a really functional core that's fun and add layers of interest and kind of ask you guys where the story, the game should go. Then tell that story in terms of adding mechanics that play off some of the core mechanics that we'll build out early.
Back to the Twitter thread. Goonie asked if we’ll get a basic version first and then the game will evolve, and here’s GFunk’s answer:
Look and Feel
I think most of the defi games — I don't want to throw anyone under the bus — but the production quality is not where I would want to see it. And so I'd also like to push the boundaries there in terms of what a defi game might be, maybe push the market a little bit in terms of what the defi game looks like.
The Virtunaut has talked to this too and I'm super excited to see what the team comes up with. There's a ton of opportunity to develop a compelling, visually captivating game in this space.
Incentivizing Current Players to Bring in New Players
Without going into the design too much, there will be incentives built in for people that are part of the community to bring in new people into the community, and help assist in propping them up to be successful in the game. And then that will benefit current holders and people that have been longer in the game.
Building a Team
We're sourcing our team from, honestly, games you've definitely heard of, but I'm not gonna talk about right now. But very talented artists that can make these titles look — I'm excited, I'll just say that I'm excited, I don't want to leak too much.
I'm hoping to be one of the first titles that falls under the DAO structure, as I understand it, and gets rolled out as a full partnership with Pixel Vault as a third-party developer. But it'll be a game that is run and decided upon in terms of how things happen by the DAOs.
This was the first mention of PV as a “third-party developer.” VGF jumped in after this statement to add some additional color:
VGF: The idea is to put forth the proposal for Pixel Vault to be the quote-unquote third-party service provider in development of the game that would essentially be controlled by the UPDAO. So the revenues and proceeds would flow to the UPDAO and the individual planetary DAOs. And Pixel Vault would then receive its payment and attribution towards development from the UPDAO itself. That is a proposal that would be controlled by the UPDAO in the community. So very much looking forward to that being the first proposal towards the development and incorporation of this defi game by Pixel Vault on behalf of the UPDAO.
Sooo many thoughts on this. I’ll need to write a whole post on what this means, but my initial reaction is: Ugh. I wish the UPDAO had a more limited charter.
UPDAO Community Funds
More from VGF on UPDAO funds used to build and iterate on the game:
VGF: So high level, no community funds will be used — full stop, period — without approval from the UPDAO. So this is something that is being incubated by Pixel Vault. Certainly, we look to be that first service provider for the UPDAO. But in order for any on-chain funds to be moved, it does require an on-chain vote from the community. So the community funds are not being touched without approval from the community.
Again, so many thoughts. We’re not sure an NFT DAO can be operationalized successfully on a small scale, let alone on a huge scale like this. Maybe we take key lessons learned from the formal launch of the PVFD and improve the launch of the UPDAO. But I’ll save deeper thoughts for a future post. More to come.
Punks Comic Universe Game?!
This fun nugget was dropped by Gooz, the first time we’ve heard about a second defi game:
My plan is to use the MetaHero Universe as a testing ground to see if we can kick something like what I'm imagining off. And then, provided that we can, I want to bring some of those same principles to the Punk Comic Universe as well. I want the games to feel different, depending on which brands or verticals you are playing.
Why is there absolutely no chatter in the community about all of this?! Why has PV not blasted this stuff across all of their social accounts?! I’m confused by the lack of amplification of major talking points. It’s one thing to hold back certain information for strategic purposes. But this alpha is out in public. Blast it! Don’t let it get buried and lost in a community call. Help us understand what “Pixel Vault as a third party service provider” means. Bridge the gap between holding a planet (and UPDAO voting governance) and receiving profits via the UPDAO. We’re not looking for more alpha, we’re looking to understand the context for the alpha that just dropped.
Some Disclaimers: None of this is financial advice. DYOR. And yes, I’m obviously a PV collector and long-term hodlr. Not a whale by any measure (maybe a squid?).