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MV #18: Building at the Speed of Lore
Approaches to world-building, time, mediums, and decentralization
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’ve been thinking about the stories within the MetaHero Universe (MHU) a lot lately. Planets. Cores. Generatives. $POW. Mint Pass 2 was the catalyst.
We got an amazing claim site that introduced an MHU-based company called GeneSynth Industries and their patented Fabricell technology. The companion post on PV’s MetaHero Medium page provided some additional story background on the company:
Genesynth Industries (GSI) is a company in the MHU that has developed and perfected the biosynthesis technology required to create the MetaHero Sidekicks. GSI is able to use subscripting — the process of reading and writing information at a subatomic level — to create organic forms from available environmental resources. GeneScript is GSI’s proprietary architecture for this process.
Between the claim site and the Medium post there were additional hints to Sidekick leveling-up and utility. New terms were introduced like GeneScript7 and FTER. What does this mean? And maybe more importantly, how does GSI fit into the MHU? Who runs the fictional company? Is it a Core? Is the company good or evil? On which planet are they mining the referenced “environmental resources”? Is the resource so valuable that others want to use it for a different reason? Could this be why the MHU devolves into war? Wait, do we even know if there is a war?
The Medium post included the following:
Where can we Learn More about the MHU?
All in due time. The MintPass 2 claim experience is a teaser into the lore around the MetaHero Universe. We have classified Pixel Vault as an IP development and media company, and we have much to share with our community as we build out these worlds together.
All in due time.
Let’s dive into building lore, the time it takes to do so, storytelling mediums, and decentralization.
Building Lore: Top-down or Bottom-up
The illustration above blows me away. It’s the reason I’m so excited for the next 12 months… and 12 years. PV oozes creativity. The directions these characters can go is endless.
Yet, this illustration also reminds me that we know very little about these characters or the world they live in. Lore is king. How will PV approach building out the story?
There are two primary methods for building lore: top-down or bottom-up.
Top-down. The grand architect establishes the core concepts within the world and the characters then inhabit the “system.” We get the big picture of what is possible and why things happen the way they do. Applying this concept to the MHU:
Planets. What are planets? What’s their relationship to each other? Are certain things possible on one planet and not another? Do planets have a particular vibe — Is Pluto a vacation destination for the rich? Is Mars full of warmongers? Are certain resources planet-specific? And when is the current timeframe? Are we in the distant past? Near future?
Cores. What’s the significance of their traits? How does their origin planet play into their strengths? Why are there multiple variants of each CryptoPunk? Do they have day jobs? Are they more powerful than Generatives? Why? Are they the head of a particular faction?
Generatives. How did they come to be? Were they created by the Cores? What’s the connection between Generative and Core traits? What’s a mutant? How did they mutate? When? At birth or during an event? Why are some heroes and others villains? Why are there more villains? Can a Generative be more influential in the world than a Core?
Sidekicks. Is there a direct tie between a Sidekick and their MH Core or Generative? Would the right kind of Sidekick improve the ability of their MH? Can they speak? Do they have more magical powers? Considering some of them will be more animal-like, do they more naturally connect with a given planet? Where’d they come from? What makes them different than MHs?
Thinking about these high-level topics can help frame the history, geography, biology, religion, politics, and technology of the MHU. And as the specific stories within the MHU are built, these frameworks provide guardrails from which to expand.
Bottom-up. The storyteller starts with a story idea and builds the world around the idea. The mechanics of the world are built while in flight. Applying this concept to the MHU is easy: the Mint Pass 2 claim page. As I mentioned above, the story is built around this company, GSI, who invented a technology to create Sidekicks. From there the team came up with some specific lore matched to the Mint Pass utility dynamics they’re planning. You can feel the specifics of the story in every aspect of the claim site.
To be clear, storytellers and world-builders use both primary methods very successfully. There’s no right answer here. And maybe PV is using a mix of both. Here’s Virtunaut from a recent PV Community Call:
It's like we're floating in the ocean with a bunch of pieces to build a ship. And we're assembling the ship as we're floating through the ocean. Things come together over time. I think that style, when you have a universe, there's lots of ways to peer into the universe. And so having an underlying narrative framework and architecture that can be experienced in a multitude of ways, I think, is probably the best way to go. Look at Star Wars. It's a universe that has rules and characters. And then you can peer into that universe in a bunch of different ways with a bunch of different styles. The Bad Batch looks completely different than the movies. Comic books look completely different from each other because there's different artists. We're going to have an encyclopedia of interpretations and styles that will all be valid. And right now, because the team is growing, and we're spinning things up, and it's a process of discovery, it's a process that takes time.
Back to time. All in due time. A process that takes time. Let’s talk a bit about time.
Speed of Storytelling
Creating compelling stories doesn’t happen instantly. Think about the mediums for storytelling. Movies typically take around four to five years to produce from beginning to end. A TikTok video? Maybe 15 seconds. Comic books are closer to 15 seconds than five years.
We’re approaching the one year anniversary for PV (🍾) and we’ve seen two full-length comics and one six-pager. Their stated plan is to release one Punks Comic every quarter and an Origin Stories once a month. That may expand out with Elite Apes and MHU-focused verticals. But the question becomes, can they build out a world of stories just through comics? Will the community continue to be excited with bottom-up releases?
What other options are out there? Well, they could go the Jenkins the Valet route and write a book. They haven’t talked much about books, though GFunk and the Jenkins crew are certainly friendly (impending cross-over?!). Would a novelization of the MHU establish the underlying framework for the universe in a compelling way? How about a graphic novel? Something closer to 300 pages instead of 30. Though this doesn’t help immediately solve the timing problem. It could take 6 - 12 months to write a good book.
Ok, maybe not a novel, but what about an ebook? Another project I’m a huge fan of is The Boring Ape Chronicles. They recently released a 66-page ebook that brought to life the six NFTs they released as chapters over the past five months. Super cool. More achievable than a 300+ page novel within a decent timeframe. And a fun way to be immersed in the environment.
How about audio? Back to Jenkins. They partnered with Salt Audio (collaborators with huge talents like Dave Chappelle) to soon tell fictional stories in a podcast format. Far more nimble. I could see 6 - 10 episodes released maybe twice a year. Now we’re talking!
Then we get to the lightest of lightweight — the vaunted web2 options. Could we see a series of mysterious websites, YouTube videos, Twitter campaigns, and…gulp… TikTok videos featuring stories from the MHU? Daily or weekly posts containing bits of the universe would feel like an all-out attack on the senses.
The answer is painfully obvious: decentralized storytelling. Shouldn’t we all tell stories about the MHU? It’s not just choose your own adventure; it’s build and write your own adventure. If PV leaned into this approach, it’d be like the Large Hadron Collider smashing high-energy particles together. Top-down and bottom-up approaches fuse together.
Some tell discrete stories on base stations in Jupiter — like the Pinballer project, a MetaHero derivative by Riley. Maybe others write long Plutonian histories about the family origins of Matta-0 and Surge-0. Maybe the PVFD uses some of our $PUNKS bag to fund interesting stories developed by community members — and we package them at the end of the year and sell them as an NFT. Maybe SpaceWalk, FilmBook, and frens grab the microphone and start a weekly podcast that tells stories within the MHU, interviewing Cores and Generatives on what it’s like out there during the Great War.
After 12 months, PV hosts their first annual MHU Awards and gives out PVFD and Moon DAO tokens to the best storytellers in the universe. Reward those who build alongside you. Let’s dream together.
I’ll leave you with another Virtunaut quote from a PV Community Call:
How did we come to terms with the world that we found ourselves in? Myth has been something that's with humanity for as long as communication or even the written word. Without a narrative, we’re just a little squishy life form on a planet. I think embedding oneself in a framework that provides meaning is very comfortable for a lot of people. Narrative is something that's inherently human. It's how we understand the world. And when we can shift that myth and play with that myth and make people feel as if it's real, as real as possible — that's when you start to get really interesting stuff happen.
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?).