Edge of Chaos: MetaGravity Studio Community AMA 19/01 [Full Transcript]
Listen to the recording on YouTube
- Edge of Chaos Overview
- Core Features
- Factions of Eorthe
- Character Progression
- Core Game Systems
- Community AMA Question & Answers
Hey guys. I hope some of you were on the AMA we did on Sunday with Jacob from Metaverse HQ. For those of you who are completely new to this, my name is Rashid, I’m co-founder and CEO of MetaGravity. MetaGravity is two things: we are building an infrastructure layer, a decentralized sort of physics layer for the metaverse and the other piece of the problem we’re solving is, we’re also building a game that exemplifies the use of the engine and demonstrates the power of massive, immersive, scalable worlds that this enables.
I spent the last four to six years deep in the Metaverse space. I know for a lot of people, and for the consumer world, in particular, the metaverse has a real priority, and really goes back to 2021, and in particular with the rise of some of the communities around crypto and Facebooks announcement. Many of the tech giants that I’ve been working with like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, as well as Epic, Unity, and a number of other game publishers and studios, as well as tech companies — the priority for the metaverse, has been one that’s been at least four years in the making for them. It’s been a top priority for them for four years, and significant amounts of funding have been invested in the space. Zuckerberg sort of scooped everything by announcing it and then everyone in the consumer world was talking about it but, you know, rest assured, it’s been in the works for a very long time, even if Facebook were the first to announce it, announce their particular designs on the metaverse.
So I’ve been working in that space. In the last company I founded, we took virtual world technology to a level of scale that was unprecedented. In fact, when we were out in the industry saying that we could bring thousands of players into a competitive gameplay match, a single match without instancing or without any sort of cheating, we were told that that’s fundamentally impossible. So, we went and did it very publicly at GDC. That was my last company. The new company, MetaGravity, is set on taking that infrastructure capability much further forward, and at the same time building a game that really exemplifies its use. Having worked with a lot of studios over the last few years, AAA studios, building next-gen MMO games, one thing I can say for sure is there’s such a significant amount of enthusiasm at an executive level within these companies that we need to go there, but at the end of the day, it’s the teams and designers who have to figure out how to build the game systems and mechanics of these worlds. It’s very new to them. Many of the game designers have spent the last several decades, I would say, thinking about games and game development around the concept of constraints.
Games are the rendering, the visuals you see on the screen, and they are the simulation, which is the gameplay, the AI, the physics, the world size, the players that makeup what’s really happening in the world. [04:00] While rendering has, in the last 20 years in particular, exploded at a breakneck pace, thanks to GPUs and acceleration through GPUs for rendering, the simulation has largely been stagnant. The improvements in gameplay since the early 2000s up to now have been logarithmic improvements, very small incremental improvements, as opposed to exponential improvements, like what we’ve seen with rendering. If you look at a game from the year 2000, a 3D game, and look at one now rendered in Unreal Engine 5, it’s night and day thanks to that exponential improvement in rendering. But, the game simulation hasn’t kept pace because it’s a much harder problem to take the simulation side of the game and scale it. And that’s the area that I’ve been working for a long time, with my last company.
But for me, really, the journey goes all the way back to the mid-2000s. I was already working in concurrency by taking a processor architecture approach for it to achieve massive parallelism. Well, it’s called massive parallelism because your program is running at a significant degree of parallelism — not just a few threads, but thousands and tens of thousands of threads. Which of course you do on GPUs today for rendering, but for something like gameplay, AI and physics you can’t really do that. So I contended with the fundamental scientific and technical challenges to overcome these and came up with a strong thesis for how different approaches could be taken to build and scale engine technology. I took one of those approaches very far forward with my last company, [inaudible]. We broke records.
But there are still many open problems. If you guys Google some of the work we did, like with CCP Games, we’ve brought tens of thousands of combatants into the Eve Online universe and created a deathmatch scenario wherein real-time you’re dogfighting with thousands of other players. And this was not just locally — this was across the world. We had players connecting from 122 different countries. Not to local region servers — this is one big deathmatch, globally. We needed to push the boundaries of technology and science to do that, but how do we go even further? How do we build worlds that are truly infinite in size? The aim for the metaverse is to have millions of players, not merely hundreds, or thousands, or tens of thousands. And even beyond millions. How do we eventually get to billions of players? Because the entire world is going to be online someday, and the metaverse would need to be fully online.
Well, that’s the challenge that MetaGravity is working on. We are a relatively small company, but you know, the same was true for us before. We were the Davids to the Goliaths in the industry, and we cracked the hard problems that the goliaths hadn’t and couldn’t, and then worked with them to provide those solutions. With MetaGravity we’re taking a bit of a different route. We’re attacking a different part of the problem from what I did with my last company. And there are many layers to this — we are fundamentally changing how physics is done to make these kinds of virtual worlds possible. One way I like to think of this is we’re inventing the cosmology for the Metaverse, but at the same time, we’re building a game. And for me personally, the game is what’s motivated everything. It’s the thing that got me excited and got me started in terms of thinking about how to build these kinds of technologies to achieve the outcome.
[08:00] So, without much more exposition, I think I’ll just dive into this particular game and what we are trying to achieve with it, and then once I’ve taken you guys through an overview, I’m happy to answer more questions. So, diving in… I’m going to take you guys through the website because we’ve been making some changes to the website since we launched this on Sunday. There were certain bits and pieces we had to correct. I’m just going to do a quick refresh, just to make sure I’ve got the latest version. I’d like to take you through a few different sections and explain what we are trying to achieve with these.
So, if you guys have already had a look at the website, I urge you to click on this and actually go through the detailed deeper dive into the different game systems. Once I’ve taken you guys through this myself, there are a number of AMA questions that I will answer. So what is Edge of Chaos? We are a play-to-earn persistent MMORPG-RTS. That said, our intention is to actually have two shards — one that will be a completely subscription-based standard MMO. You could almost call it a softer mode, where if players really don’t want to risk any resources, and at the same time don’t want to earn money, we want people to be able to opt into that. And potentially that version might also cater to younger audiences. Many of us started playing World of Warcraft when we were still teenagers. We don’t want to close the door for those people. We want people to be able to learn the game in an arena that is somewhat safe. But the main part of the game is going to be the play-to-earn crypto blockchain-based instance. Our aim is to not need even region servers or shards, but to just simply have one giant server and eventually support millions, or even billions of players in this.
So, it is an MMORPG, in the sense that you have a sense of self within this world. You are a character, you are a person. And that is important. I’m a big fan of real-time strategy games myself. The way I got into Warcraft was by playing the first Warcraft RTS. I loved it. I got so immersed in it that I lost track of time. It was six hours later, it was past midnight, and I was with a friend, and it seemed that they were just watching me play, and nobody realized that we had gotten so sucked in. And since then I’ve played Age of Empires, StarCraft, and Company of Heroes, and I fell in love with the genre. I’ve explored MMORTS games, but I’ve always found them lacking in some ways. The notion of an RS where you don’t also have you as a person in that world, as a character, doesn’t make as much sense. Furthermore, I think some of the impact and the edge is taken out of the RTS genre if you haven’t got consequences that are not just about other RTS players.
So, for example, in the game we’re building, because it’s an RPG and an RTS, you might be a hero who goes around adventuring, or you might be a crafter who sits in a city, but at a different level kings are playing — I guess, to use what’s now a cliché, a game of thrones. So, they’re drawing up their battle lines, assembling their troops, and waging wars. Borders are shifting. In this backdrop, the result of these wars will impact the other players, who aren’t even really interested in playing at being kings. [12:00] And you want that because, as a crafter, maybe you’ve suddenly got way more business because you’re a siege engineer and there’s a demand for siege weapons because there is a war brewing. Or, you might be a blacksmith and suddenly there’s an incredible demand for armor and weapons, and you make a fortune out of selling armor and weapons of a certain quality, or you develop a certain process that makes it cheaper or quicker to produce. We want these kinds of dynamics to happen in this game.
So the RTS aspect of the world will impact every player, but you shouldn’t even need to directly participate in that aspect of the game for you to be impacted. So, this is really a highly interlinked, complex system that we’re building. Another way we like to think of it is that it’s a medieval fantasy simulation. So it’s almost like — if we take our ideas about what the medieval times were like, and what fantasy was like, this is a simulation. It’s like you walked into the pages of a book, and you’re living a life in that world. And the world is evolving and persistent. So this term persistence has arisen in the last decade for the idea of MMO games, where when players carry out actions, those actions deeply impact the world, and they are permanent. So, for example, if you move something in the world, that should have moved for everyone. If you build a building somewhere, that building is now permanently there and everyone sees it. If you destroy a building, that building is now gone. That’s the idea of persistence.
And we’re calling this place Eorthe. So that’s the world that we’re going to start with. We’re only starting with a tiny corner of that world, and over time we want to introduce many more continents, many more cultures and technologies, and so on. But that’s all down the line. We won’t be revealing any of that soon. We’re going to focus on the three factions that we’ll talk about in a bit. And ultimately, the emergent effects of nature interacting with itself — so wildlife eating plants and plants growing, and players chopping down forests and hunting animals — all these things have an impact, a ripple effect that’ll ultimately come back and touch everyone, simply because it’s all interconnected, and it’s a complex system. So, the idea is that over time the action of nature and the action of players will change the world in a very fundamental way.
In terms of the political landscape, we’re designing a world that is very much anchored and weighted towards feudalism. You wouldn’t be able to rule a kingdom entirely on your own — you’re going to need vassals. Or, you can try to rule it on your own, but that’s going to require an incredible amount of effort, time, and skill. So that’s what we’re building. Equally, players will be able to build villages. You might start with a few friends getting together, deciding that you want to find a village. You found a nice little spot that is remote from everything else, and you’ve built a little house, and once you’ve done built a couple of houses and you’ve got enough housing, peasant AI might start showing up. They start showing up because they need shelter. They’ll start working for you. You can directly control them like in Age of Empires, you can switch between RPG and RTS mode, but you can also set priorities. So you can say you need wood or more stone, and these guys will work for you, and you will start spending those resources and building up your little village. And you’ll have to face a lot of threats and adversity as well. The wildlife around your village might be not [16:00] welcoming, or you might have enemy villages. If they’re nearby they might come into conflict with you over some shared resource. Maybe there’s a gold mine equidistant from both your villages.
So these are all the kinds of things we want you to contend with. But eventually, you will have villages that do survive and do thrive, and grow and become townships, and over time become citadels. So this would be over a multi-month or even multi-year process to get there. But in doing so you’re going to be acquiring resources, and you’re going to be spending those resources and using all of this in order to grow your village. And as a result, you have more resources, you’ve got more peasants, maybe you’ve got more players who are joining your village and want to be part of it. And say you’re the leader of that village — you move up the ranks. Eventually, a local lord might show up and decide that you owe him taxes. So you’ll have to decide what you want to do. You can rebel, but he is probably more powerful, so it’s probably better to just pay him the taxes. And he’s obviously not going to want to tax you too severely because for him your income, and as long as you can thrive and he can thrive, he gets to earn some income. And in return, he may protect you.
This is very much how feudalism began in old times. It’s very much like the modern mafia. You’ve got a few people with some strength who went around forming gangs, and in the early medieval period started subjugating little towns and villages. And before long, you’ve essentially got people believing that they are born to rule. And that’s how you get the nobility. And so, finally, our aim is to build one corner of the Metaverse. This will be the fantasy incarnation. It doesn’t have to be the only fantasy incarnation, but the one thing we understand incredibly well is the technology needed to get here. We will bring together the right technology to make this real, and as a result build, hopefully, the exemplar. And potentially others will build their own incarnations and own versions of even just fantasy. But there’ll be many other games that can be built around the blueprint that we intend to set. And that’s a blueprint that we have developed a very nuanced understanding of through the years, the better part of two decades of thinking about the problem and working on it. But in particular, the last four to six years of working very deeply in this space.
Now, jumping forward hopefully that serves as an intro for the game and what we’re doing. I’d like to take you guys more quickly through what we’re building here. So, these are the major game features that I wanted to talk a bit about. So, the world setting, the IP is very much medieval fantasy. But it’s also got alternative pre-history. So, the idea is that the ice age never ended. So you’ve still got mammoths roaming the steppes, and you’ve got saber tooth cats, and dire wolves and cave bears and such to contend with. These form an ecosystem. But in addition, there are mythical beasts. The kind of world we want to create is not a typical fantasy game in the traditional sense. We don’t want to just leap to all of the crazy stuff you get in a game like World of Warcraft. We want to be a bit more conservative, but at the same time, give credence to medieval superstition and myths. So, the things that medieval people would have believed existed. If you put yourself in the shoes of a medieval person, we want to take those superstitions and give them life.
One of the problems we’re working on — [20:00] and I can touch on this — that we haven’t yet detailed in this is also a model for magic. We want magic in this world to be like an actual force. So the idea is that not everyone learns magic, and you don’t start out learning magic. You have to make some major compromises in your character stats if you want to pursue the path of magic. And it’s going to be a hard one because in the early days magic won’t pay off at all, and you’re going to be a weak guy compared to if you came out the gate with a character with a reasonable amount of strength and other characteristics. But if you dedicate time to it you can learn magic, and then you can use it, and you can mold it in different ways. We’re working on a system — and I can’t reveal too much about this yet, but the idea is that there aren’t a fixed number of spells. There are an arbitrary number of possible spells, and each individual person can play around with magic and kind of discover their own spells. And they can even inscribe scrolls with some of these spells and teach them to other people and such. And as a result, you develop your magical arsenal and develop the magical sensitivity of the person. So, we want magic to feel like more of a special thing in this world rather than a commonplace thing. So when you encounter a wizard or a mage, you know that they dedicated some upfront time and went through a bit of hardship to get there. So, he wanted to feel special. Magic will be around and you will see it, but if you think of it in the medieval sense where people believed that even healing was magic, that’s the sort of thing we want to create here.
Another idea I’m playing with it is the idea that medicine in this world potentially might work differently. We might go back to the idea that all illnesses are caused by an imbalance of the four humors, that sort of thing. So we want to take these discredited, out-of-date ideas about how the world works, and make them real in this world, like they’re real things in this world, really bring that kind of purity of fantasy and the medieval period to the fore. Another aspect of this — I think I’ve talked about it — our key bread and butter, and this requires engine technology that can scale to enormous size. The kind of design we’re building you fundamentally can’t do if you’re working off of a static engine. We are building on Unreal Engine, but we are building core technology that makes it possible to build this world, and we’re also partnering up with some other really interesting technology companies who will be working with us on different paths. So, for example, if I jump down — Sentients: AI Peasants. We’re partnering with a company that — we won’t announce too much detail at this point, but they’re working on conversational AI, and we’ll be using that to bring the ability for you to converse with AI. Every AI agent will have its own history and understanding of what it’s seen and what it’s encountered, and if you had a conversation with it, it’ll be able to reveal these details to you.
Jumping here, I’ve already talked about how we’re a fusion of genres. I think it’s important for the RPG and RTS aspect to be integrated. I’ll talk a bit more about that in a bit. We talked about feudalism and politics. The idea is that eventually you will have kingdoms with lords, and lords will have your own vassals. You might just be a knight with a village or two that you rule, and the villagers produce enough in economic activity that they can equip you with armor and weapons. So this is what we’re building, but that hierarchy works all the way up, works itself all the way up. And it’s up to you. Where do you want to sit in this world? Do you want to try and pursue the part of the noble, or do you want to just be a citizen somewhere? Do you want to be a hero? And that’s a different path, but even a hero — from time to time, kings might call on heroes to vanquish enemies, or [24:00] might hire and pay them to serve in mercenary companies when fighting wars. And yet others — you might decide to get together with a bunch of friends, hideout in a forest, camp out, and whenever you see people traveling on the road, merchants and such, maybe you rob them, and maybe that’s how you make money.
And finally Sentients: malcontents. We’ve got the idea here that we don’t want to have to create content that’s backstory that’s not really a threat to the world. If you look at pretty much every MMO, there’s a backstory with every expansion. They say that a new threat has emerged and it’s threatening the world, and you have to go kill it or the world will end. And everyone knows that’s not true. We don’t want that. We want threats to be real. So we’re creating a system where you always have these evil creatures, so to speak, evil beings, the malcontents forming. And they’re competing against one another, and left alone they’ll slowly level up. But especially if they are victorious in combat with one another, they level up more rapidly. And if they manage to kill AI NPCs and players they’ll level up even more rapidly. The more you feed them and lose to them without defeating them, the more powerful they become, until eventually, they can imperil the actual world itself. You might be a king and you might have heard about a necromancer in a forest in a village at the edge of your kingdom and you didn’t really think much of it because you had a war on the, say, eastern border, or you had a noble whom you had to quash. After your campaigns, you return a month later and now this necromancer has grown into a powerful lich who’s going to absolutely destroy your kingdom if you don’t bring much more to the table to fight it. And maybe you don’t have the power. Maybe you appeal to other lords and kings to band together to defeat this. So it’ll become a threat to them as well. If they kill you and destroy your kingdom, then who’s next? For every threat, there’s a mechanism that players can come up with to defeat that threat. It’s all there. It’s a question of will they make the right choices.
Factions of Eorthe
And the factions of Eorthe. So, this is the initial set of three that we’ve been working on, and these are the three we will introduce, and we perhaps won’t talk too much about others. But the IP has been designed with much more richness and variation. It’s just that if you can imagine the world we’re building is already quite large. We want to introduce a continent initially that’s roughly the size of Great Britain and up to about a few tens of millions of players. That’s a really good map size because it means that you could never explore the map exhaustively. There’s always going to be a mystery, there’s always going to be wilderness. You’ll never fully develop and occupy all of the maps. There’ll always be wilderness on the map. So that’s what we want to start with. Each faction will have its own faction capital which will be a safe zone. And when I say faction capital it’ll be an entire kingdom, and that kingdom will be a low-risk low-reward region, whereas where you can really make money, but also where you risk everything you take into that region, is the high-risk, high-reward region which is the wilderness, the majority of the map.
Anything that you own will be tied to your game account. This is our current thinking. Some of these details might change because it’s still early, but the approach we’re taking is everything that you own will be tied to a game account, and if you bring something from, say, another exchange or from a decentralized exchange into your game account, and if you want to take it into the game, [28:00] you need to spawn it in into the game. And when you spawn it, it spawns in your capital city, where it’s safe. Now, it’s up to you to transport it to wherever you need to use it. Let’s say you bought 10,000 stones on a decentralized exchange, and now you want to use it to build a castle or finish off a part of your castle. Well, you need to transport it from the capital city all the way to wherever you’re building your castle. And on that journey, you’re placing those resources at peril. so maybe you escort it with an army, or maybe there are people offering to escort your goods for you for a fee. These are the kinds of situations we want actually to happen, and we want players to deal with these kinds of situations through a gameplay mechanism. If these kinds of risks are not for you, then perhaps you don’t want to really choose the path of a ruler and be buying lots of stone and wood and trying to build castles with it. And similarly, if you build a castle, if you build a kingdom, you do run the risk of someone else trying to take it over. But the person trying to take it over is also risking whatever army and the cost of that army that they’re bringing to your gates in order to try and fight you. So there’s high risk and high reward in the wilderness, whereas there’s low risk and low reward as long as you stay within your faction kingdom area. But equally, all of the most valuable reagents and all the most valuable goods and stuff can’t be acquired in the low-risk low-reward area. It’s more of a starter area where you’ll begin and finish your orientation, and if you prefer to stay there and just do more basic things at low risk, you get to stay there and do things in that starter area.
So, moving forward, character progression — these are the archetypes. That’s not to say that this is the only way. So there are three major archetypes. You can either play as a citizen, an adventurer, or a noble. This isn’t a decision you lock yourself into. This is not like a discrete choice you make that you can’t back out of. This is sort of how things will coalesce based on how you play. So if you decide to focus more on your crafting and trading skills and dive really deep into that aspect of the game, then you are more of a commercial kind of citizen person, economic person, and you probably want to seek out safe zones like other player-built cities and stuff and spend your time crafting. And you probably don’t want to spend too much time out adventuring. You might go to the nearby woods to gather, maybe when you’re not as rich in the early days, but eventually, maybe you have people that work for you who do this for you, or you simply buy your reagents off the market. As an example let’s say that if you want to just craft dragon scale armor, you’re going to need to buy that from the marketplace. Or perhaps there’s an adventurer who’s going to brave the dangers of the wilderness and find a dragon, which is going to be rare and far from human civilization, naturally. They might go kill that dragon, get these scales and bring them back — and these will be NFTs at the end of the day — and then sell them. And he might not want to take it all the way to a capital city and sell them. He might sell it in a local market. The prices may be different in a local market versus in the market of a capital city.
Within the game world you can’t just arbitrage because you can’t magic items anywhere you want them. If you buy something you actually have to pick it up from where you bought it and transport it. And there are risks involved. If you’re transporting dragon scales that are very valuable, and it’s just you with a knapsack on your back, and if you get jumped by a bunch of brigands and robbed, well then you just lost something valuable. So you just have to be a bit sensible about where you sell and how you transport stuff. It’s also down to the kings and rulers. You probably want your kingdoms to be somewhat safe, and you want guards and patrols around your kingdom to discourage brigands. Because ultimately [32:00] you want more people to come to your kingdom and work and live in your kingdom because you want them to pay taxes, and you want your kingdom to grow economically. So all these systems are designed to balance off one another, and there are trade-offs. Really, we’re encouraging players to do what they think is best. Similarly, it’s the job of kings to form safe kingdoms and try and encourage more citizens to travel there, but the more civilized the region is, the less wildlife and mythical beasts will favor that region because it’s become overly populated with humans. So they’re going to try and venture out further away from civilization, and they’ll favor the wilderness more. So a little lonely village somewhere at the edge of a kingdom might be closer to where you need to be if you’re one of those heroes seeking adventure and seeking all kinds of mythical beasts.
Core Game Systems
Moving forward, we think of the game design in terms of these major systems. So you can think of this as almost a stack. So there’s the world map, and as I said their current aim is to build a map around the size of Britain. Of course, most of the test maps we’re currently working with are a lot smaller than that, but this is what we’re working towards on the road map, and this is where the engine technology and stuff come into play. On top of that map is the ecosystem simulation of plants and animals. It is- in some ways, it’s simplified from a real ecosystem because there are ways to simplify it and not have to waste as much computer power, but in other ways, it is designed to be as vibrant as a really good system. I spent most of my childhood programming ecosystems so I have a lot of familiarity with the dynamics and how they work, and I also studied them quite extensively even during my doctoral work, the dynamics behind them. We are taking the core, the spine of how ecosystems work, to produce the kinds of varied behavior that we want this world to engender. So, for example, if you take a forest, and you’ve got a village there, and there are deer and wolves in the forest, maybe the deer started encroaching on the farms that are part of the village and start eating the crops. A quest would appear asking for 10 deer to be killed. So this is just like traditional MMOs, but the difference is, when a few players have killed 10 deer each, that quest may disappear because now that it’s not a problem anymore. Equally, let’s say now you’ve over-hunted the deer, and now the wolves are going hungry. You’ve eliminated the problem with the deer, they’re no longer encroaching on the crops, but now you might have the wolves being pulled, and their food sources have run dry. They might encroach on the village and start attacking villagers. So that’s an example of an ecosystem dynamic, where the players and the NPCs in the world are coming into conflict with nature as a result of impacting nature in some way.
Now, a new quest might emerge: kill 10 wolves. And if enough players kill 10 wolves, now the wolf population has dropped. And when the wolf population drops, what usually happens in a lot of ecosystems is the deer population will explode, and they will decimate their resources, and then starve and die. And now you’ve got an extinction-level event. Local, of course, so I suppose you’d call it extirpation. And when that happens, now corruption will set in, because the biodiversity of the forest has dropped. And so you start to have these magical creatures encroach on the forest, like giant spiders and things like that, and the forest will go dark and it won’t be as much of a food source. Now, on the other hand, the orcs favor this kind of environment, and it’s the desire of orcs to corrupt the forests and so on. So, they like to eat spider soup and such, and they don’t so much like deer and wolf meat. [36:00] So you’ve got this problem where you’ve now created a great environment for your enemy faction to potentially encroach on your land and set up camp. Or even if you don’t, it’s not as much of a nice location for a village to thrive anymore. You now have to try and reverse things, where you need to try and get rid of the corruption in the forest. And if you can counteract the corruption, then you can eventually get the light to return to the forest again and for it to return to its biodiversity. So these are called stable points in the field of dynamics. So we’re designing the world around the notion of a stable point. So you have one stable point which is a thriving forest with good biodiversity, and you have things that the players can do to the forest and so on, and some of them are sustainable and others are not, and it can lead to extinction-level events, which can then lead to a different stable point which now is corruption. And corruption introduces a completely different set of scenarios, and an incentive for players, especially human players, is to try and reverse that tide.
So this is what we talk about when we talk about emergence and dynamics. We’re building this world to be that kind of dynamic place where no matter what happens, everything makes sense in hindsight. I talked about games like Rift in the last AMA introducing rifts that just randomly open up and things pour out and occupy villages, and the reason that those things get boring very quickly is that those are just random numbers, and you just randomly generate events, and it’s not fun. After you’ve experienced it once or twice, you know that you can’t really impact it in any major way before it happens. It’s going to happen from time to time, but it doesn’t seem very coherent. Whereas what we’re doing here is, we’re not creating any randomness in the system. It’s a fully deterministic system. If you take certain actions there will be certain consequences, both in the short term and the long term. And whatever those consequences are, when you look back it always makes sense in hindsight. So of course the village is now next to a corrupt forest, because of the things we did. And equally, now the village has come back to a point where it can thrive because of certain other actions we took. And it’s the same thing as when we talked about the malcontents and the necromancer, or the lich. You ignored a threat that was local at the time that you could have perhaps squashed if you had the foresight, but you ignored it, and this particular threat happened to become powerful. That’s not to say every threat will, because who knows? Maybe something else kills that necromancer and then travels to a different kingdom. Maybe it’s an ogre, and it travels to a different kingdom and becomes a threat there. But the point is, whenever an event happens there is a cascade of events that led you there which absolutely makes sense, and that’s what we’re building.
So, ecosystem, flora, resources — the resources are all crypto assets. So, our aim at the moment is to have four tokens which will be the cardinal resources, and then a number of second-tier resources. I gave dragon scales as an example, but linen or cotton might be another. And then from those, you can craft NFT items. And every item, every tool, every weapon, is an NFT. And then finally, the AI NPCs and malcontents exist in this world and are part of the world. And that’s where players come in. So players enter this already dynamic, interesting world, and they get to occupy the niche that they wish to occupy. So diving a bit deeper… So this is just a bit of a blurb. I think I’ve talked a fair bit about malcontents and the malevolent AI.
You guys can go to the website and read it. [40:00] And there’s also a tab here which is very high-level at the moment. But on the economy, you guys, being from the crypto world, probably have a better understanding of this. A lot of games have a one or two token ecosystem. We’re very bullish on having at least a few tokens as the base, because it’s important for balance reasons, and it’s important to make the economy function. I think it’s a mistake to try and stick to one or two tokens. Our aim is to build a real economy, and we want to set things in motion and tune it, but we really want market forces to determine the stability and the dynamics of that economy. We’re very much approaching it from that perspective. A lot of us have backgrounds in economics, and there are some people who we’re looking to hire who are going to be helping us and working with us on this front, some who are PHDs in things like crypto-economics and so on that we’re talking to as we grow the team and as we get the funding through the door. Much more on this will come later with our light paper and white paper for the game, where we will dive into much more detail.
But yeah, that’s about it. Hopefully, that was a useful overview. I’m happy to now go through questions, the questions that have been shared, and try and answer some of them if that’s the best way to go forward. Do you have any other thoughts? Should I do that, or do you want to do anything else in the interim?
AMA Question & Answer
That’s perfect. Let me jump into AMA questions. And if anyone wants to add more, please feel free to do so. I know there’s a 10-minute timer on there. You can ping me in general and I can remove that if needed. Circuit Warden said: “I think Rash mentioned the game will be run from a single centralized server. How will traditional performance limitations like latency, bandwidth, network congestion, etc. be mitigated to be performant on a global scale, when it is all dependent on a singular node?
So, to be clear, we’re not running on a single server. I said single shard, and that shard will be distributed across tens, hundreds, thousands of servers. This is an approach that we’ve already taken in the past, and we’ve been successful with it. We were able to deliver a real-time experience globally to players connecting from 122 different countries. And that’s possible by using edge networks. And these are all new innovations, but we’ve used this before and demonstrated it in 2019 very successfully. So with my last company not only did we break the record for the largest number of concurrent players in a single deathmatch or single game instance, we also did that globally. So we had players from Japan and all the way to the west coast connecting. The only exception is China. It’s very hard to get a good ping even through edge networks in China because of the Great Firewall of China. But with that said, a lot of this crypto stuff is going to not be legal in China anyway. It might be that we do region servers for some of these more practical reasons, but at the end of the day, we don’t want to be limited by region servers. It may be that- I don’t want to 100% commit and say we absolutely won’t have regional service. The current thing is that we don’t do them, and we try as much as possible to keep the world together. But if we need to do region servers for certain specific regions, we may decide to split things up. I guess the summary to that answer is to say we’ve actually done this before very successfully, and it’s not been traditionally possible, but we know how to make things like that work, and we will do whatever is best for the game and for the economy, [44:00] rather than be limited by a legacy technical concern.
Thank you. So more of a game-related question. Eli the Bard asks: “Will there be an overall governance to prevent players who grind and play 10-plus hours a day from controlling resources that prevent new player development?” And he said: “It seems like you need to invest a significant amount of time to have some status in the world. How will new players join the game without feeling like they don’t stand a chance at catching up or reaching the top?”
The kind of world we are building is more like life than a traditional MMO. So there’s no notion of a level cap, in a sense. You improve your RPG skills as you play the game. As you swing a weapon or cast a spell it improves that particular skill. it improves the group that skill belongs to. So for example, if you swing a sword you improve the skill with two-handed swords, but you improve your sword skill, you improve your two-handed weapon skills, your physical skills. There’s a hierarchy of skills it impacts. And if you stop using a skill it decays. And there’s really no cap to how much you can improve a skill, however, it becomes exponentially harder to improve skill as you go up. So in other words, the return on your time investment becomes logarithmic after a point. And really you’re going to be more successful focusing on a handful of skills and really honing them. And the majority of players will be more competent just doing that than trying to be really good and grind up every single skill. Even if you did that, they’re gonna decay. So if you look at the mathematics behind how real-world skills and things work, this is more how these things work, and we’re modeling things more closely on that. So we create some of the same structures and hierarchies. So, someone new can really focus on a core set of skills and improve reasonably rapidly to be very competent at those skills, and then start to be competitive with those skills. And just because you’ve been playing the game for, say, five years, it doesn’t necessarily mean- you would have walked more roads and lived more lives, but it’s not to say that you would be able to shut out players who’ve been playing for three months. A player who’s been playing for three months and really honing a narrow set of skills will be better in that domain than someone who’s been trying to go very broad, even someone who’s been playing five years. That said, what playing for longer does allow you to do is accumulate more wealth and power.
So, how do we counteract this? So, we don’t 100% want to counteract this. We want people to be rewarded for the time investment, but at the same time we’re building a very large world, and there’s always going to be a frontier. And we can keep expanding that frontier and making the world bigger with expansion stuff as we go, such that even if someone holds power over a particular region — say I’m a king, and I’ve got power over quite a large region, and I’ve built incredible wealth — there’s always going to be the wilderness in this world. And the idea that new players- you know, it’s the old adage: “Go west, young man.” So you get to go west and settle in areas that have not yet been frequented significantly by players. So this is one of the reasons for- the world will always feel large, and players will start to you cut a kind of a swathe through a part of it and establish themselves in a corner of the world, in a niche of the world, and that’s where most of the value is going to be, in terms of that’s where most of the players are going to be, etc. But we want there to always be a frontier where… if you’re really finding it hard because everything’s really bolted down, and you want to be a king, but every single corner of the map that you know that’s been settled has been locked up tight and you don’t see a way in, well, go to some new area [48:00] and try establishing yourself there, and try growing that area yourself, and maybe develop your power there. That’s what we’re building.
There are going to be a number of questions. There are balance questions, of course, and there are questions around equality and things like that that will come up. We’re not building a game where everyone gets to be equal either, but of course, we want everyone to be able to play the game they want to play. You may need to accept the fact that not everyone gets to be king. Working your way up to king is going to be difficult, but that’s what will make people covet it. It’s like the real world. You’re going to want it. There are always going to be aspirational things in the world that you’re going to want to work towards. There’s no guarantee you will get it. Skill will play a bigger role in this game than in other RPGs. In other RGPs the combat and stuff it’s almost purely just low-skill, and it’s mostly time investment. The design we’re focusing on, the combat, the action, skill plays a bigger role. So someone who’s very skilled will be able to develop and improve more rapidly than someone who’s just spending time in the game. And equally, not every player path will work for everyone. And we do want players who don’t have- we want players to be able to turn this into a day job, in a sense, if they want to. So we want players to be able to play this game enough that if nothing else you can go grind out a bunch of resources and make a modest living from it by selling it in the marketplace. Those are real crypto assets. But if you’re clever and you know how to play the system and how to game it if you know how to trade in a clever way, or if you know how to find exotic creatures and kill them without getting yourself killed in the process too often and losing all your goods and gear, we want you to be able to do that, and then climb that ladder in whatever way possible. And finally, if you if you’re a guy who’s got a great day job, and you earn a lot, and you want to play the game in a particular way, you want to be a king out the gate you might need to invest a lot of money and buy goods from the marketplace, like stone and wood, and soldiers, and go and build out your little castle somewhere. If you have no skill, you will lose it very quickly. But, if you’re reasonably skilled and you put in the money, then you probably get to hold on to it, and you get to play the game. Playing two or four hours a day you get to be a king, which would normally take a lot more effort if you were trying to do it entirely within the game. But in the course of buying things from the marketplace, you’re also creating liquidity for the players who are just playing the game and maybe aren’t getting paid a million by JP Morgan for working in investment banking or something like that. So that’s the kind of world we’re creating.
Perfect. A good follow-up question: So, follow up on decayed skills. Isn’t there a chance that you burn out because you feel constantly have to stay online to not decay? Will there be a way of pausing it to go on holiday, for example?
So if you’re logged out, your skills won’t decay. The idea is that for whatever time you spend in the game, your skills will decay. And the skill decay will happen over time. We still have to figure out the exact specific details and fine-tune this, but the idea is that the time you spend in the game, if you’re spending your time on other skills and so on, or you’re just sitting around [52:00] cities day after day, week after week just socializing, your fighting skills are gonna drop. Similarly, if you’re kin- let’s say at one point you were a powerful warlord who wrested power from a bunch of others and solidified your rule in a region, and now you’re a king. And for the last three months, you’ve just been sitting on a throne and commanding and administrating your kingdom. You’ve probably grown fat on the throne and you’re not going to be as powerful a fighter anymore. But maybe it doesn’t matter because you can summon an army and send it to war if you need to. So that’s an okay trade-off. But that’s what we’re creating. So it’s not going to be onerous in the sense that you have to absolutely be logged in all the time and there’s an enormous time requirement. We’re designing the game so there’s going to 10% percent of hardcore players, and being something like king probably is hardcore, but you also want to be forming a council and have others who can help rule your kingdom and maintain it. There are not going to be vulnerability windows and such. You can get attacked any time. So, to a degree, you want enough of a council that someone’s around if in case you get attacked. But attacking is also not easy. If someone is marching an army from one kingdom to another, chances are your scouts or your towers and various other things have warned you about it on the path.
And the other thing that we’re toying with, and we’re still not sure about specifics, we may want kingdoms to be able to auto-defend themselves to a degree. They won’t be super-competent, but it’s not like in Age of Empires, which is a much more fast-paced game, where if you get caught unawares, you’re going to get wrecked if you’re not at your keyboard. We’re not creating a game at that pace. This is very much an MMO, so there’s plenty of time to react and respond, and you really need a council if you’re going to rule.
We have another good game question. You probably went over this a little bit when we were talking about the RTS and RPG, but I think it’s good to reiterate, it’s such a big part of the game. “How will the RTS gameplay model and RPG gameplay model communicate with each other? Why have the RTS and not just RPG, or vice versa? Why have both?
I think I answered it. Because it’s about people’s freedom. So, when we say RTS it’s not RTS like Age of Empires. The idea here is that you can be an adventurer, which is all of the MMO experience today, but we want people to be able to build towns, cities, and kingdoms and rule them. And that’s a different kind of playstyle. And you’re still an RPG character. Your character is still in the game, and your character is still tied to the wealth you hold and things like that, but you’re not controlling your individual character and going out adventuring anymore, you’re managing a kingdom. And you might be managing a kingdom that has a population of, say, 2000 players. And they might be living out very different lives in that kingdom. So that’s the kind of dynamic we want to create. And different players will choose different styles of play that suit them, as opposed to needing to go to one. But at the most basic level, you might just be commanding a village. You might just be a knight with a village, and maybe it’s not as much responsibility as managing a kingdom. So now and then you’ll go out and fight, and do things and be on the front line. Your army will be smaller, your economy is smaller, so you’ll be more hands-on if you’re ruling a smaller region. So, it’s kind of a blend between… You might switch it to an aerial view and control your kingdom now and then, or you might jump into your character and directly control your character.
We’ve already implemented how that kind of transition and stuff works, but we are not at a point where we want to showcase it yet. Hopefully, in the coming weeks or a couple of months, we would like to be able to reveal more specifics about how those systems look and work. What we’ve designed is something that feels very natural. You’re your character, but you can then zoom out and you can [56:00] control your troops like in Age of Empires, or then jump back into your character. And when you zoom out your character becomes a unit, and it’s an RTS unit, or hero unit, or something like that, which is less capable than if you’re directly in the driver’s seat controlling the character and using all the different abilities and stuff. And if you’ve got like 10 or 20 troops with you and you’re kind of a lower-rank noble, you might not even be switching to aerial view much. Maybe you’re leading your troops and they’re behind you, and they’re fighting with you. That’s the kind of system we want to create.
We’ll do three more questions. “You talked about having a sort of safe version of the game. Would it be possible to migrate your account from one world to another? Say if a child got the ropes after playing the safe version, will he/she be able to just jump into the play-to-earn world?”
Our current thinking is no, because in the play-to-earn world every asset has value, has a dollar value. So how do we make that transition happen in a way that’s fair? We can’t just give the person stuff that they’ve earned in a game that’s safer and less competitive. And it’ll also create an arbitrage situation where everyone plays a safe game, accumulates stuff, and then jumps into the unsafe version. Your character itself will be an NFT that develops over time. We’ve even developed this cool tech where your character can grow fat or thin, or strong and muscular. Again, something that perhaps in the coming weeks or months we would like to showcase when we’ve polished it enough. But we’ve got that tech working. So even the physical form of your character changes as you play the game, and to reflect the path you’ve chosen. I guess the short answer is, for now, we’re expecting these two to be two separate worlds. The subscription-based one will be completely off-chain and you won’t be able to transfer from that to the Blockchain version.
You just reminded me of a question that no one’s really asked, but do you want to talk about the heir system? Your character is an NFT, and the ability to create heir NFTs?
So, this is still early. It might make sense in the context. We’re thinking that death is also- like, this is still very early, so don’t quote me on this. We’ll still have to spend more time on the design of this before we make any firm determination. Our thinking is that your character can also eventually grow old and die over a much longer time frame, and you can leave heirs. You become your heir, and you leave stuff to your heir when your character dies and you continue on as a secondary character. Exactly how the system works, we haven’t finessed that yet, so there’s much more to be done on that before we can go into depth.
The last two will be more value and roadmap questions. “How would you articulate value to the early investors as opposed to the gamers? What do you see as the main incentive and utility for those who are bullish on the success of EoC and MetaGravity, but may not wish to play?
So what we want to create is a world that is deeply fulfilling for millions, if not tens or hundreds of millions of players for a very long time to come. And if you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we think the human need that- and I think this is generally the kind of the thinking just of the broader NFT space or the broader metaverse space, is that it’s really esteem and self-actualization, which are the two higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, that what we’re building, the digital universes, will fulfill. And we really want to lean into that. We want to create [1:00:00] a world which millions upon millions of players get immersed into for a very long time to come. And in doing so, all of the digital content in this world will garner quite extraordinary value. That’s the thinking. So even non-players building up a stake in this world, building up goods and resources, will be accumulating wealth. And even if they don’t play the game, trading in those goods is potentially going to be lucrative, because there’ll never be a better time to get into and own chunks of assets in this world than in the early days. So we want to create that same goal. We’re a relatively small community today still, 2.3K from what I can tell. 2.36K. We want to grow that obviously significantly in the coming weeks, and appreciate everyone on the call and everyone else, your help in doing so. We want to make this a large community. But it’s nothing compared to where we want to go. We want to be many millions or tens of millions at least in size. And then the value of things and the scarcity of things is going to drive up the value. So even for non-players, accumulating wealth is something that we expect will be lucrative in the long run, and trading in all of these things.
And the other aspect of this is, there are a lot of economic aspects of the game where you may not even need to log into the PC or console game client, but instead, you’re using the mobile app version, and maybe you’re listing certain things on the marketplace, or buying and selling on a marketplace. We want those types of activities to be fulfilling in their own right and not always 100% require needing to be at a computer to play or engage with different parts of the game. And for some non-players, engaging with the trade of goods in the game or various other things, we hope will become very fun and interesting to do.
For our last question, we’ve had several people ask about the status of where we are so far in development and what the roadmap might look like. So just for the recording, that could be a good thing to end.
I mean, it’s still very early. When we speak to VCs and stuff, we talk about the roadmap and stuff, but it’s still very early to be talking very publicly about the roadmap. AAA game development takes years. We’re not trying to get this out the gate in a short amount of time. We’re solving a hard technology challenge at the same time, building an innovative game. So there is a multi-year road map to deliver all the milestones on this. But that said, over the next few weeks and months, we want to-the approach we’re taking to the roadmap is not just to go dark and work on it for years and then drop the full game, but to do things iteratively. The biggest piece, the core piece that we want to get out to the world sooner rather than later is the core economy of the game. This won’t be the full-fledged economy but the core economy, and this will be more of a web type of interface than a fully immersive 3D interface. We will release that along with some of the early assets and so on, and also give our early community the ability to claim a stake in the world and mint our earliest game NFTs and hold on to those And then when the economic game comes out which is the next milestone after that, start using those to reap rewards, and reap additional tokens and things like that. We want to build out that part, while in the meantime, in the background, we’re working on the technology and the 3D game. We would like to start showcasing bits and pieces of the [1:04:00] 3D game, but that will all be early stuff. So I hope you guys see this and recognize it for what it is. A lot will change between now and the full release, but we are taking this iterative approach, because this is not a simple project to build, and we want to build this with the involvement of our community and get the data that we need in order to continue to design and improve and make design changes as we build out the game.
But our core blockchain stuff, we will start releasing that in the next few weeks and months. We’ll first do our genesis collection mint which is based on our smart NFT tech. Following that, we’ll do some Edge of Chaos NFT mints, which will be utility NFTs that you will use in the game, and then release the economic slice of the game. And then, we will keep adding to that over the course of the next few months and years where we add things like the crafting system, the dungeon systems, some of the warfare RTS stuff, culminating in the full-blown 3D immersive experience that we are working towards. So it’s a two-pronged development stream to get there.
Awesome. So, I think we’ll end there. It’s gonna be a pretty long recording, and we want this to be digestible. Thank you, everyone, for joining. Our next AMA is on Sunday at 10 AM EST on Twitter, so keep an eye out for that. We’ll upload this probably to YouTube or somewhere where you can access it via browser. That way you don’t have to download an hour-long video. Feel free to keep dropping questions, share this with your friends, and we’ll talk on Sunday.