We interviewed the Aethia team about their new game, Aethia, built on the Ethereum blockchain. After the success of CryptoKitties, we were looking for other gaming efforts that can really be benefited by the blockchain. Aethia stood out in our mind in terms of details and depth of play. It is also not really a ‘battle’ game, like some other efforts but instead is an elaborate game world. If the team can pull it off, Aethia can be a great game for all types of players.
We also did a comprehensive, in-depth article on Aethia that you should check out, if you’re new to the game or want to learn some details and specifics. Check out the Aethia site here, which will start its alpha soon.
Here’s the interview by the team. The team consists of –
- Ayuni – product manager, ex-developer, game freak, Pokémon lover. Responsible for the overall game.
- Matías – developer, responsible for all game interaction
- Fionn – marketing
- Estelle – designer, head of the art department
- Joseph – cryptocurrency expert, insights into blockchain games
BTC Geek: Tell us a bit about how the idea behind Aethia came to be.
Aethia (Ayuni): I’ve had the idea brewing in my head for more than two decades now, really. I think I was an eight-year-old when I got my first Tamagotchi. I loved that thing. I didn’t understand any of it, but I knew my ‘gotchi was mine and mine alone. I fed it, I cleaned up after it, I took care of it. I raised that Tamagotchi, and I loved that Tamagotchi. That experience, which was not just the game, but the game coupled with my age, I suppose, is something nothing else has made me experience.
And then, a few years later, maybe two or three, my parents got me Pokémon Red. That was amazing! That game I understood even less. We had just started with English in elementary school, and I could hardly understand any of it in the game, so I suppose Pokémon was one of my English teachers as well (and a crappy one at that).
I suppose that’s what really drives my core ideas on Aethia. Of course, there’s the stuff we learned during actual game development courses, but the core idea behind Aethia is powered by those two different themes. Oh, and of course World of Warcraft, how could I forget. The feeling of doing raids together with everyone on comms, and the whole guild vibe, that was amazing. Community bonds is something I think Blizzard did really well with WoW, and is something that will be core to Aethia as well.”
BTC Geek: Can you describe what Aethia is, in short?
Aethia (Ayuni, Matías): Well, the thing is, there are two Aethia’s, Aethia, or however we decide to pluralize it. You have Aethia, the world upon which everything is happening, with its many continents, its rich history, the different civilizations as well as their interaction with the plethora of Ethergotchi, and then you have Aethia the game. In hindsight, we should’ve called the planet something else, I guess.
If we’re talking about game mechanics, we can say that Aethia is Spore-like in the sense that different stages of the game have different interactions. It starts with pet-raising mechanics, like Tamagotchi, and as you progress in the game you start being able to interact with the world more in the form of Pokémon and something like the Sims. Let’s say that Aethia is a pet breeding game where pets, the Ethergotchi, have an RPG and simulation game aspect as well.
BTC Geek: It seems one of the big differences between Aethia and a game like Cryptokitties is that you make decisions that affect how the Ethergotchi evolves. Why is this important?
Aethia (Estelle, Ayuni): How about common sense? Of course any sort of interaction with a creature changes its perception of the world. My cat didn’t miraculously end up as awesome as it is now, you know. When you receive your Ethergotchi egg, you will most likely be there for the entirety of its first life. Maybe even longer if you properly care for it. All actions imprint upon the Ethergotchi and affect it in some way. This allows for a myriad of ways to play the game, which, to me, makes it extreme fun and gives it a ‘replayable’ factor. Also, I would refrain from saying evolves, as that’s a rather special word in Pokémon. The better word would be ‘grows’. Ethergotchi can also ‘evolve’ in a manner of speaking, but that’s more of a transition from one stage of life to another, as they have three stages of life: egg, child, and adult.
BTC Geek: Can you explain star alignment and how new star alignments get released over time?
Aethia (Estelle): You bet your ass I can, Fionn, you know that! Star alignments are my jam! They’re heavily influenced by hexagrams from the I Ching, as well as astrological signs, and magic circles from various sources. The I Ching book consists of sixty-four hexagrams. Compared to those sixtyfour hexagrams, we only have a meagre fifteen different star alignments in Aethia. A star alignment is set at the time of egg creation, and here I mean when the horizontal tango has been done, and the fastest swimmer has won, you know?
Anyway, the star alignment of an egg depends on the alignments of its parents, as well as the time it was conceived. The eggs we distribute for the alpha stage are from specific parents and have been ‘created’, hehe, in a specific time range. For this reason, there are only five possible outcomes for the referral eggs. The alpha egg is set to an awesome star alignment as a thank-you to the initial player base. Star alignments affect the growth rate of various Ethergotchi base attributes. So depending on a ‘gotchi’s alignment, it would be more or less inclined to follow a certain play style or career path.
Ayuni adds, “Yes, and regarding the release of the other star alignments, players will have to find out by letting their Ethergotchi interact with each other, and ‘creating’, as Estelle so nicely put it, new eggs.”
BTC Geek: How does the Aethia team make money if it is free to play?
Aethia (Joseph, Ayuni): Like all other greats we will be living off of the in-game shop and micro transactions, baby! Also, there will be items available for purchase using the CHI token, which itself is a purchasable item.
BTC Geek: Can you explain the reincarnation system in more detail? Do the players choose when they are reborn?
Aethia (Estelle, Matías): The reincarnation system is actually pretty simple. Ethergotchi have a lifecycle that consists of three stages: egg, child and adult. At the end of its adulthood, an Ethergotchi contemplates the life it has led up until that point. If it concludes ‘Yo, my life was freaking awesome’, it will turn into an egg again but retain some of its attributes, and all of its growth rate. Think of mythological phoenixes, and how they are reborn, but without the whole fire-and-ash thing. Oh and if its life was kind of crappy, because it didn’t get properly fed and cared for, had no toys, didn’t play, bla bla, stuff like that, it will just die.
Ethergotchi can die during their child stage as well as their adult stage from being malnourished for too long, or from loneliness because its owner didn’t spend any time with it. Luckily, the in-game shop has ‘Ethergotchi Crystal Cores’ in stock. A single core can be used to revive an Ethergotchi, if used within a week after its death, or well, within six-hundred-and-four-thousand-eight-hundred seconds, which is equivalent to a week. We understand that some people might not be able to access their ‘gotchi for a while, like going on a holiday. More than a week is too long, though, so then you’ve really lost your ‘gotchi. Or well, with lost, I don’t actually mean lost, the token will of course still be assigned to you, but you will not be able to interact with it any more. Its function within Aethia would cease.
BTC Geek: What parts of the game are on the Ethereum blockchain, and what parts are going to be run centrally?
Aethia (Matías): Alright, that’s actually a difficult question. This has been a bone of contention within the crypto community for a while, ‘How much do you decentralise?’, and has no clear answer. For us, however, we are building and designing everything as we go along, giving us extreme flexibility in rolling out the game architecture. We built it in such a way that we can easily replace various game components for up- or downgrades. For internal play-testing we always build everything blockchain first. The more we can run on the blockchain, the better for us, and the ecosystem. However, this is only the case if it does not detract from the game experience. If we doubt the scalability of the network at some point, we will be forced to centralise parts of the architecture, and send aggregate data to the
blockchain, until such a time the Ethereum network is ready to handle it. That being said, alpha stage one will be fully played out on the blockchain. I’m pretty sure the network will be able to handle it fine.
BTC Geek: Is there a limit on how many Ethergotchis exist in the Aethia world? How are new Ethergotchis created?
Aethia (Ayuni, Matías): There is a technical limit, which is the maximum amount capable of being stored inside of an two-hundred-and-fifty-six bit unsigned integer. This is in the one-hundred-quattuorvigintillion range, and I know that word for reasons, but to put in layman’s terms, it’s big and we won’t reach it. And about the latter question, that’s like how Estelle put it, done by two Ethergotchi performing the horizontal tango. Ethergotchi are genderless, and the act is always initiated via a mating dance by one Ethergotchi. If the partner Ethergotchi accepts, the mating ritual is performed, and an egg is created from that.
So what happens under-the-hood is that the owner of an adult Ethergotchi first buys the ‘Ethergotchi Mating Potion’ item. Using this item will allow the Ethergotchi to mate. Each Ethergotchi can only mate once during its adulthood. After using this potion, the owner requests a mating ritual by calling the Aethia mating contract with the identifier of the Ethergotchi it would like to mate with. This can be coupled with a payment in any amount of ether. The other Ethergotchi owner will be notified of this request, and may choose to accept or not. If the other person accepts, both Ethergotchi will be unavailable for a few days, while they perform the mating ritual. After this period, the owner that initiated the request will receive the resulting Ethergotchi egg. The breed and type of egg depend on its parents. The other Ethergotchi owner will receive the amount of ether that the requester put forward during the request. The requester can cancel the request if the other owner has not accepted yet. The owner can then hatch the egg via the normal game system again, or sell it.
BTC Geek: How does CHI as a currency work? Is it an ERC20 token? Is it limited in supply?
Aethia (Matías): CHI will be a nonmineable, non-mintable ERC-20 token. In Aethia, everything costs CHI. You want food? Then you buy it with CHI. If you want toys for your ‘gotchi, you buy it with CHI. That being said all egg owners can receive a monthly allowance of CHI by requesting it from the Aethian Crystal Bank, this allowance is what keeps the game free-to-play. The amount of CHI you receive depends on the types of eggs you own. If you want specialized food, potions, or items, you will have to buy more CHI. Adult Ethergotchi are able to work for CHI, this however does lower their satiation and happiness bar, as well as making them unavailable for other interaction whilst they’re working.
BTC Geek: What are the factors that affect what an Ethergotchi becomes in the Aethia world?
Aethia (Ayuni): Ethergotchi are a bit like us humans in the sense that they’re more inclined towards certain aspects of life. I don’t have the super gene that apparently all top athletes have, for example. Ethergotchi are born with a certain distribution of attributes, as well a growth rate for those attributes; this depends on its parents as well as its star alignment. This doesn’t mean that Ethergotchi will perform certain tasks better, per se, but it does mean that they would progress easier if they followed a different career path. Don’t let this stop you from achieving your ‘gotchi’s dreams, though.
BTC Geek: How do different Ethergotchis interact with each other in the Aethia world? Or are they just separate beings without any interaction?
Aethia (Ayuni): This is actually really interesting. As players might have deduced, the egg stage of a ‘gotchi’s lifecycle is a rather one-on-one affair. It’s up to the owner to guide the egg towards its child phase. Even then children are mostly sheltered, but they could be sent to a daycare or school to interact with different ‘gotchi. Some owners don’t have the time to look after their ‘gotchi continuously. These experiences are things an Ethergotchi remembers over its lifetime. Afterwards, during a ‘gotchi’s adulthood, there will be many ways of interacting with other ‘gotchi. Let’s keep the mystery of that alive for now.
Matías adds “Just to cut in a bit, and give a bit of insight into the technical aspect of things, all types of interactions occur in their own contract, which makes it an incredibly flexible system to build, deploy and maintain. New patches could introduce entire new faculties to school, a gym to perform sports in, a battle arena, a chapel, etc.”
BTC Geek: What are the differences between the various types of eggs, such as common, rare, mythic, legendary, etc.?
Aethia (Estelle, Ayoni, Matías, Joseph): That’s an easy one! The higher grade your egg is, the more awesome it is and the more amazing it looks and the higher its initial attribute points and growth rate is. Anyway, there’s also a limited amount of legendary Ethergotchi. Specifically ten. Additionally, it’s impossible to get a legendary ‘gotchi egg from a mating ritual, it will be mythic at the highest. Oh, we might also want to add that, of those ten legendaries, one will be sold on a first-come-first-serve basis at some point during the alpha. It’s to satisfy that one dude or dudette that wants to start off with a legendary ‘gotchi, and keep us fed for a while at the same time.
BTC Geek: Did the success of Cryptokitties take you by surprise?
Aethia (Ayuni): Yes, and I think the success of games in general was a surprise. I still think it’s somewhat strange for interactions to be so costly. Looking at the network now, though, it appears it has stabilised and is ready to try a more interactive game.
BTC Geek: After the success of Crytpkitties, it seems that are many new cryptocollectible games being built. What are your thoughts on those, and how does Aethia distinguish itself from these?
Aethia (Ayuni): We’re not positioning ourselves as a so-called ‘cryptocollectible’. It’s not that I find it demeaning, but I don’t remember anyone calling Pokémon a collectible game, nor was Tamagotchi a collectible game. Aethia is a simulation and role-playing game on the blockchain! We believe players will get attached to their ‘gotchi, and raise them correctly over their lifetime, instead of seeing the Ethergotchi as simple collectibles.