Below is a screen of my mailbox as I woke up the morning after Godenot, Youtuber with several million subs, published a Let’s Play video of my latest game.
Two years back, I published a beta version of pie.ai, hoping to get early feedback. Unaware that I would need to spend several nights scaling up an amateurish setup and optimizing code in a hurry. A total of 404,690 hours of play time and 3 million players were served since then.
Games like Agar.io have spawned a new genre of massively multiplayer online action games. These IO games focus on casual gameplay, instant onboarding and fast-paced action in the midst of a multiplayer mayhem.
Because of these design features, such games spread very fast (as I learned the hard way). This can be used to design ideal games for crypto adoption. LITEMINT.IO, announced last month, is designed to take advantage of 3 components to achieve that:
- The Stellar blockchain for its DEX and micro-transactions friendliness.
- An open-ended, opt-in approach to reach out outside of the blockchain world.
- A collectible card game with a unique mix of fast-paced and casual gameplay.
The Stellar Blockchain
Stellar has one noticeable advantage over other blockchains, a listing-free integrated decentralized exchange—the Stellar DEX.
Now just imagine that you earned a non-fungible token (NFT) by beating a PVE boss in your favorite game. What if you could immediately list that item, without leaving your game wallet, against a global market exposing tens of thousands of dollars in daily volume of transactions?
That’s what Stellar allows you to do!
The Stellar Network has many more interesting features like virtually no-fee transactions, fast ledger settlements (under 5 seconds), smart contracts, unlimited asset anchoring, free pair matching and address federation protocol (which Litemint uses for your Gamer ID) to name the most useful.
Stellar is de facto a solid choice for building in-game economies, promoting tokenization of digital game assets. Its openness means that such economies are inter-operable—not isolated as is mostly the case in many blockchain ecosystems.
An Open-Ended, Opt-In Approach
LITEMINT.IO is my 11th game title. Six years ago, I was sitting at my desk in London, in the business of developing C++ trading software for banks, when I decided to quit and jump on a new technology opportunity (HTML5 standard had been ratified by the W3C)—I became an indie game developer.
The most memorable moment was when, after months and months of development, I pressed the publish button to release my first game on the Windows Phone Platform. The price was generously set to $0.99; I got 5 downloads the first day. I had some serious work to do.
I learned that for reaching out to the audience you need 2 things, a product that knows its target (I discuss this in the next paragraph) and a way to it.
We are probably going to have to wait forever before Google Play allows developers to issue assets on an integrated DEX freely matching any asset pairs. The current state of affairs at Google is rather going the opposite direction—reminder of Spotify endless pay and policy wars. These are bound to happen when a few platforms control the pay checks of entire industries. And by the way, that ongoing battle between streaming companies, songwriters and publishers is a perfect use-case for decentralized governance, payments and smart contracts, but this is another story.
Instead of waiting, the right approach is to make sure that our products remain compatible with these platforms. For LITEMINT.IO, it means preserving access to the 2.2 billion mobile gamers out there with an opt-in approach regarding crypto features.
To finish my indie story, I was lucky enough to get an appointment at Microsoft offices in London. I came back with a free promotion deal (and more software licenses than I could use, thanks to Microsoft effort to support indie developers at that time). A few months and many updates later, the game ranked 1st paid strategy game in 15 countries so I could continue my indie developer venture.
A Focus on Fast-pace, Casual Gameplay
Traditional collectible card games (CCG) are a perfect fit for crypto collectibles but such games mainly attract players in the mid-core to hard-core skill range (e.g. Hearthstone, The Elder Scrolls…).
There are some exceptions, Spellstone developed by Synapse Games and distributed by Kongregate, is a great example of a CCG successfully targeting casual gamers, even though progression quickly becomes more involved, generating some disappointments from the casual crowd, as shown from the reviews on Steam.
Many successful IO games have been designed for casual gamers and that is also the intended target audience for LITEMINT.IO. However, the mixing of genres and audience requires some precautions.
The first design goal was to make sure that more cards do not mean more complexity, this point is fundamental to keep turns as streamlined as possible.
In LITEMINT.IO, this is achieved by decomposing turns around a 3-round mulligan mechanic. Players adjust their strategy by selecting several items to form a combo. The selected combo is then enhanced with 1 card chosen from their hands.
The mechanic turns cards into buffs, their effects can be complex, combinatoric, lasting several turns allowing a great expression of creativity and adding depth to the strategy without adding complexity to the gameplay. We can have cards as simple as “Double Your Attack Points”, to more complicated “Activate with 6 Defense Points, Double your defense over the next 3 turns”.
I am sure that upcoming beta testing will reveal flaws and trigger adjustments but the feedback from an early prototype tested against extremely casual players was very positive.
All these combined ingredients provide a solid base to create more games that are relevant to the gaming industry while fostering adoption of crypto.
Closed Beta Testers
If you wish to participate in the upcoming closed beta test, feel free to send me an email with a public Stellar key you want to use for testing. There will be some goodies for the most active testers and contributors.
Thank you for reading and keep Posted!
Prev. Developer and Technical Lead for BGC Partners, Crédit Lyonnais Bank (trading systems) and British Government National Program for IT (smart card technology in healthcare). Indie game developer, co-founder of Israeli-based video game company Massive Games (pie.ai) and winner of the Honorable Mention Prize at the 2014 Linux Foundation & Samsung Tizen App Challenge.