Oct 082018
 

Gods Unchained Guide

Gods Unchained is a new blockchain-based trading card game. It follows the tradition of classic Trading Card Games (TCGs) like Magic the Gathering combined with crypto-collectibles and games like CryptoKitties. Combining them provides a powerful recipe where the result is greater than the sum of its parts. Already, the most desirable card was put for auction that fetched a cool 146 ETH or $60,000. That’s before the game was even launched. Welcome to Gods Unchained.

The Appeal of Crypto

The cards in the Gods Unchained game are represented as a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) which means unlike a cryptocurrency that aims for fungibility (all units of the currency being equivalent), the tokens here are unique and different from each other. Therefore, each card is somehow different from the every other card in the game and this can be shown on the blockchain. The data stored in the NFT is then used to provide the appropriate look and functionality for the cards inside the game.

Before we dive deeper, let’s first answer the question that is probably one we get the most often on this blog – why crypto? What benefits does the blockchain provide over a SQL database, as the question goes? The answer in the case of Gods Unchained and similar crypto-native in-game assets is quite simple – with the blockchain, you have true ownership of your assets in the game. In the case of Gods Unchained, this means you own your cards completely.

Once you acquire a digital card in the game, it is truly yours. No one, not even the team behind Gods Unchained can prevent you from trading that card, for example. The dynamic becomes similar to physical cards in a game like Magic The Gathering. As some of these assets can indeed become quite valuable in the future, having them on the blockchain means collectors know they truly own these assets. It is not just another entry in a database of a startup.

Gameplay Elements

Gods Unchained has everything gamers aspire to. The game has various strategic elements where players need to apply skill (i.e. it is not just random chance). Also, the game visuals are stunning – just go check those out yourself to be the judge. The game is free to play for the basic cards, so accessible to really anyone with an internet connection. Players compete from around the world in a very real sense.

For any advanced cards, players truly own their assets in their Ethereum wallets – not even Gods Unchained team can take that away from you. There is a precedence for a healthy secondary market for these digital assets that players can use even after launch.

Then finally there is real tournament play, with 20,000 tickets already sold out. The pot for the tournament currently stands at around $350,000. That’s real money with real players right there.

If you’re a trading card game enthusiast, you’ll probably love what Gods Unchained has to offer.

Technology

We already mentioned the killer graphics, but there is much more to the technology behind the Gods Unchained game than meets the eye on the website. We’re talking about the blockchain for gameplay of course.

There are various schools of thought here, but in our opinion, Gods Unchained strikes the right balance between on-chain and off-chain elements. This is because blockchains are not yet ready for prime-time scalable applications. We’ve seen that play out in games like CryptoKitties that can become popular and cause an Ethereum network wide congestion, driving up costs to play to significant levels.

In Gods Unchained, the gameplay is offline on centralized servers. This means if there is a popular ICO going on, then players don’t need to wait for 2 days for gas prices to normalize. Also, playing can be free and not pay a huge amount of money to the miners. However, the assets are still held on the blockchain in your personal wallet, so the rare cards are not sitting on a central server somewhere but under your ownership.

The team behind Gods Unchained already has some experience with this – they were the team behind Etherbots, which caused a stir during release but died down due to expensive on-chain gameplay. The team seems to have learned the lessons from that well, and implementing it in their technology behind Gods Unchained.

The VCs are Circling

The VCs are quite interested in the whole NFT space. CryptoKitties raised $12 million from the top venture capitalists in the world – Union Square Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz among others. Marketplaces like Rarebits and OpenSea have raised over $1 million to create marketplaces for all sorts of NFTs. Fuel Games has already raised a $2.4 million venture round.

In addition to venture funding, the company has sold over $1 million in pre-sale cards already, and still counting. This is all raised from real players who are interested in participating in the game, not just institutions. This really shows that players are ready to invest not just their time but their money into the game.

Check out Gods Unchained here. You can still buy pre-sale cards right now.

Oct 072018
 

Axie Battle Feature Release

Axie Infinity, a crypto-game and collectible digital pet game on the blockchain, has launched its much awaited battle feature on the Ethereum mainnet. With this deployment, the feature is live for all players to use. The release follows months of testing internally and via limited and public beta with the community.

The battle feature lets players battle their Axies in an arena, 3 at a time, against an opponent. Axie battles are a complex mix of moves, statistics, and randomness, making them strategic and also including a component of luck.

Next Level of Crypto-Gaming

With the release of the battle feature, Axie Infinity distinguishes itself from the other crypto-gaming platforms like CryptoKitties. With the battle feature, players can actually improve their Axie over time through gameplay. This is a fairly novel implementation in the crypto-gaming space although it is common in regular gaming spheres.

With the battle feature, Axie Infinity has shown that it can become a real gaming platform instead of only a digital collectible. The Axies that participate in battles gain experience points or EXP. EXP is required for certain game features such as breeding and leveling up for the Axies. The Axies of the winning team gain 30 EXP whereas the Axies of the losing team gain 15 EXP. There is a limit of 3 battles every 12 hours per Axie.

Players are better off entering their Axies in a battle even if they lose against a stronger opponent. There is no indication of whether the battles can be fought for higher stakes than just EXP, such as Ether itself. For example, the more recent addition to crypto-gaming, Gods Unchained, has tournament play for Ether.

On and Off Blockchain

The ownership of the Axie is still on the Ethereum blockchain which means that Axie players are able to hold their Axies in their own custody instead of the company holding the assets. The Axies themselves are represented as a non-fungible token i.e. each token that represents an Axie has unique parameters.

However, the tournament play itself is offline on Axie Infinity’s servers. This provides for a significantly better gaming experience for the players as there are no delays and there is no cost to battle for the players. This also helps prevent gaming issues due to a congested blockchain due to scalability issues.

In the future, Axie Infinity plans to run their game on a plasma chain provided by Loom. Plasma enables applications like games to run on a separate ‘chain’ as a sidechain instead of taking up space on the main Ethereum chain. Several implementations of plasma are expected to go live over the coming months on Ethereum.

Oct 012018
 

Gods Unchained

We had the opportunity to interview Tyler Perkins of Gods Unchained. For those who are out of the loop, Gods Unchained is a new crypto-game that has been the talk of the NFT town. It is a crypto trading card game where the cards are stored on the Ethereum blockchain, which means players ultimately own their in-game assets. It has already amassed an impressive pre-sale of assets. The top card has already sold for an impressive $60,000 – even before the game launched! The team is an impressive array of gaming and crypto veterans.

Check out the Gods Unchained game to learn more and participate.

Tell us a little bit about the team behind Gods Unchained and Fuelgames

Currently we have 18 people working full time and nearly 100 contracted artists. Every full-time member on our team has a technical background (from various backgrounds) and most of us are TCG fanatics having played them for years.

What are some of the features of Gods Unchained that you’re most excited about?

I think everyone on the team is excited about different things for different reasons, but generally speaking trading is one of the features we’re most excited about given it’s one of the main value propositions of tokenization.

How much of the gameplay is run directly on Ethereum versus things running on your own servers?

Game assets such as cards and cosmetics will be stored on Ethereum, while the game itself runs entirely off-chain to ensure the highest deliverable performance.

We’ve seen some spikes in gas prices on Ethereum that have disrupted user experience. Any thoughts on how you see scaling in light of games like Gods Unchained being released on Ethereum mainnet?

It’s really up to game developers to ensure their games scale and the user experience isn’t broken under these situations. As we’ve witnessed multiple times in the past, you can’t yet rely on Ethereum’s performance, which is why we’ve developed solutions to both mitigate the frustrations these events have on players as well as moved gameplay off-chain.

CryptoKitties got a lot of mainstream media attention late last year. Did that surprise you? How did you view the success of CK and how did it affect any decisions in Gods Unchained?

It wasn’t really a surprise given how novel crypto-collectibles were and how well Axiom Zen executed on it. CK was a major inspiration for us as it provided the ah-ha moment that gaming would be a killer application within the industry.

You’re also the team behind Etherbots correct? What lessons did you learn from your experience of Etherbots? Would you consider Etherbots a success?

It taught us how hard building games on Ethereum is, and provided us with an environment to develop best practices and architectural solutions to overcoming many of the blockchains limitations.

Tell us a bit more about the Gods Unchained World Championship.

We haven’t announced much about the World Championship yet, stay tuned!

How do you enable free playing of the game, while there are cards that are in demand and trading in the marketplace?

The core set is our untradable free to play set. You receive core cards when you create an account and can earn others through gameplay. Unlike cards you find in packs, core cards are not ERC721’s as we want to minimize the friction new players encounter when trying to play the game for the first time.

Tell us a bit more about how new cards are generated, and how players can acquire them.

We will have 4 seasons every year, where each season we release approximately 100 new cards that can be found inside packs. Once a season ends, the cards found that season are no longer minted. Players will have the ability to earn tradable cards for strong gameplay performance.

Sep 122018
 

CryptoKitties, the popular gaming and collectible app where players breed cats on the Ethereum blockchain has reached the one million cat milestone – less than a year after launch. The game became hugely popular in December 2017, coinciding with the peak of the crypto bubble. It has subsequently lost over 90% of the players active at the peak. However, a set of core players continue to breed and collect CryptoKitties.

On the back of its December success, the company behind CryptoKitties, Axiom Zen, raised a $12 million round led by the famed venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures. During the same time, the game’s popularity led to a significant increase in fees on Ethereum.

Beyond the Hype

Although interest in the game has waned since the peak, the game continues to attract new users. Just last week, collectors bid up the prices of #1 fancy cats in the game to as high as 30 ETH per cat. CryptoKitties was one of the first blockchain games to master the correct use for ERC721 non-fungible tokens. Since its launch, many copycats have launched without much success.

Axiom Zen encouraged players to breed more to reach the one million cat milestone. This was done via a giveaway of 20 exclusive cats. Exclusive cats have a custom artwork on the frontend instead of the appearance of the cat being determined by the genes. These are generally valued by collectors due to their rarity. ‘Kitten Mittens’, the most prolific breeder in the game, won the first exclusive during this giveaway.

Vulcant exclusive cryptokitties

Leading the Way

CryptoKitties continues to be one of the most popular applications built on Ethereum. The success of CryptoKitties has encouraged many other entrepreneurs to work on gaming products on the blockchain. The advantage of using the blockchain is that players are in control of their in-game assets. How much of a game changer this is for traditional online games remains to be seen. The trade-off is the cost. For example, in CryptoKitties, it takes 0.008 ETH to breed a single cat.

Other games are exploring ways to minimize the cost of gameplay by handling more of the interactions off-chain. Even though the ‘genetic’ data of the cats in CryptoKitties is stored on the blockchain, the actual image of the cat isn’t and the ‘owners’ don’t actually have the rights to that image.

Gaming vs. Collectables

CryptoKitties has tried to balance the collecting aspects with the gaming aspects from the beginning. Most of the high value transactions on CryptoKitties tend to be from collectors or speculators. Axiom Zen has introduced ‘fancies’ in the game as a way to encourage continued breeding. ‘Fancies’ are cats with a specific pre-determined trait combination, as determined by the company. This information is not decentralized or stored on the blockchain, however. These fancy cats have their special custom artwork.

These fancy cats also tend to be one of the most expensive set of cats to be traded. This is because of their special artwork and also because the number of fancies of each type are limited.

As CryptoKitties continues to gain traction, there are third-party applications being built on top that help players with the game or for the collecting aspect of it.

Aug 292018
 

CryptoKitties, the popular game of breeding and collecting cats on the Ethereum blockchain, has seen a huge surge of sales over the last couple of days, driven by demand for its ‘fancies’. According to the community created website Kitty Explorer, over 693 fancy cats changed hands within the last week, with the maximum price of 20 ETH.

Fancy cats are special cats created in the CryptoKitties app that can be bred using a specific combination of genes until a limit is reached (limit can be time-based or total number of fancy cats based). Fancy cat recipes are created by Axiom Zen, the creator of CryptoKitties, and is not recorded on the blockchain per se. The actual ownership of the cats in CryptoKitties is recorded on the blockchain, and players use third-party extensions like Metamask to buy, sell, and breed the digital cats.

CryptoKitties received a lot of press in December 2017 when a single cat sold for over $100,000. For a while, its popularity caused significant delays on the Ethereum blockchain and increased the gas price. Since those days, however, the activity on the game has dropped precipitously.

Fancy Cat Craze

Over the last two days, even though the number of players measured by unique addresses hasn’t gone up much, the total sales volume has exploded. This has mostly been due to a few CryptoKitties players valuing specific ‘fancies’ – the ones that were the earliest created. Axiom Zen marks the fancies in the order in which they were bred. The first created fancies of each type are suddenly being valued at significant amounts.

Players have sold the #1 fancy cats for over 20 ETH over the last two days – over $5000 per cat. This may seem like a far cry from its heyday. However, many ordinary players have participated in these fancy sales over the last few days. At least when it comes to the fancy market, CryptoKitties may just be bucking the broader crypto bear market.

Value in the Eyes of the Beholder

CryptoKitties has several dimensions of rarity for the cats. Collectors value different things in the cats, from generation to genes. Fancy cats have a unique appearance on the CryptoKitties app and are therefore valued higher by collectors.

Up until now, most of the fancy cats were valued based on generation and condition. A lower generation was usually valued higher, and cats in mint condition, i.e. cats that hadn’t bred, were valued higher. Over the last few days, however, collectors began swooping up lower numbered fancies irrespective of their generation and condition. Part of the reason may be due to a leader-board created at cryptokitties.city website, managed by a community member.

Whether the trend can last remains to be seen. For one, new fancy cats are minted at the discretion of Axiom Zen, and therefore there is no limit per se to the number of #1 fancies. This is unlike the fancy cats themselves that have a limit. For example, the rarest fancy cat in the game is Schrodinger Cat – only 73 of those exist and can ever be created.

There may also be a rebalancing of value within the game. Factors like generation and condition may once again become more important in valuing fancy cats. At the end of the day, however, cats are as valuable as collectors and speculators are willing to pay for them. If collectors value specific attributes more than others, the market will follow. Right now, it seems like that is lower numbered fancies.