After a mammoth-sized Crypto games to look out for in 2022 pt. 1, the shortly awaited pt. 2 has arrived. Dennis, what are you waiting for!
Also, as a reminder, here is a three-sentence primer on what all this means. The tokens connected to in-game collectibles will be "created" by a program that runs on the blockchain, called a "smart contract." This program ensures the digital scarcity of all collectibles, ensuring that nobody, not even us developers, can ever create more copies of a collectible. Think of the rarity of a Honus Wagner baseball card, Black Lotus MTG card, limited edition art, Off White shoes, etc., just digital and provably authentically scarce.
Upfront on the game below:
Mines of Dalarnia
Mines of Dalarnia - DAR - Binance
I was going to skip this one, but it just has too much of a "why the fuck do I keep playing this" simplicity and reward structure. It's dead simple - you are a miner who mines to get resources you then upgrade and craft to level up, which you need to do to mine higher-level plots.
While it's still in beta, a lot is coming out of Workinman's (the Developer) socials showing what the next iteration of MoD will look like. Since late last year, they've been teasing the updated 2.0 release that will take its art style from 2D (placeholder) to a more stylized 3D. This will also come with a new "Planetary" storyline which I appreciate as a developer that believes in delivering depth to a game via narrative.
Now the reason why I didn't want to include it - it's currently structured around a land grab - literally, and it's planned this way. They want to divide the player base into "Players" and "Landowners." Players mine the resources from rentable plots, while Landowners sit back and collect that sweat DAR. It'll be interesting to see how this is balanced so that it doesn't cause a two-class structure - Those that can afford powerful items in the shop due to those lovely rents... I feel like I've seen this before?
Also, another damn wallet!
If you want to give it a try, you get 20 DAR tokens, but I would advise you to play the first 30-40 mins in your free plot so you can power up your gear. After that, you have to rent other plots to get the rarer resources needed for further upgrades. Not exactly how I would balance on release, but crypto games will need to create new approaches to economic scaling, and it's best to start conservatively.
Regardless, this is a game to watch for the simple fact of its fractured in-game ecosystem and how they make the economics make sense.
Ember Sword - Ember - ImmutableX
From MoD, let's switch it up to something a little grander, like a dystopian Free-to-Play Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game (MMORPG, or MMO). Ember Sword takes place in a player-driven dystopian fantasy universe but seems to be a soft take on the theme. More like a lost outpost (Thanabus is a moon) than the end of humanity.
You will be able to create a character, pick a home nation, and venture into the mysterious world. The options open up from there. If defeating monsters, bosses, and other players gets you going, then get in there and strut your stuff. Exploring is your thing? Be a peaceful forager. Want to be one of those odd ducks that want to become a talented refiner or craftsman? Have at it you goofy SoB.
Unfortunately, with no gameplay currently available, it's a bit tough to evaluate. Although judging from a recent interview with EMber Swords EP on Youtube, it's looking and sounds like they are shooting for an authentic MMO experience with a long-term growth strategy. I believe the art style, procedurally generated content, and community-driven approach buy them a lot of time to do so. This is a clear strategy that Runescape and the sandbox MMO, Albion Online, have pulled off for years.
With a classless and fast-paced combat system, it seems Brightstar (developer) wants you to lean towards developing your in-game skills rather than leveling up class abilities. Yup, time to spend some time to git gud. What will be interesting to watch is how leaning into a higher skill base affects the end-game content in Ember Sword. Brightstar explains their approach to end-game between PvE and PvP oriented players, but let's see in practice.
For PvP players, Ember Sword's end-game content will be competitive (no pay-to-win), skill-based (being "good" beats having great gear), and, for those that desire it, high-stakes (if you die in Outlaw zones, you lose most of your gear). If you're good at PvP and win the end-game fights over Outlaw territory camps, you may be rewarded with scarce limited-edition cards with a unique history detailing the epic feat that led you to acquire that card.
For PvE players, the world of Ember Sword will be filled with unique monsters and fearless beasts. However, if you're among the PvE elite, you'll be fighting every day to become the first to kill the open-world bosses that spawn at random locations throughout the world. Kill the boss, and it might reward you with a limited-edition card that immortalizes your legendary battle against the boss.
Acquiring all cards in a collection allows you to unlock the collectible associated with them. These collectibles are yours to show off, trade or sell to other players for Ember tokens.
Outside of the few gameplay videos, the only evidence of a game is Ember Swords Land Sale in May 2021. At that time, they were only accepting wrapped Ethereum. Then, to avoid fluctuating prices, they only took USDC on Polygon. Now they have migrated to Immutable X for their next land sale. You have to keep up with the updates for games like this as the tech landscape is evolving rapidly and is one of the more fascinating aspects of the team's approach.
Sunflower Farmers - SFF - Polygon
For a time, Sunflower Farmers was a hidden gem that I thought would be the ideal crypto story of the little engine that could. Starting as a Hackathon project in Dora Hacks, it has slowly grown from a few hundred Daily Average Users (DAU) at the start of December 2021 to over 20,000 DAU at month's end.
As the name would suggest, it's a simple farming game with a slew of enjoyable features like crafting, building, and decoration. Everyone gets farming, and adding those features to the mix only makes sense while using a pixel art style broadens its appeal.
Since the game is currently offline (more on that in a sec) and the roadmap focuses on tackling more social gameplay, I would expect some interesting crowd-developed crafts. Which I see as one of crypto gaming's most significant benefits - allowing a third-party artist, designer, or whoever, to develop aspects of the game, features, or items in a more meaningful way and get compensated for that work!
Build a UI which enables pixel artists to deploy their own resources in the game. These will initially be scoped out as limited edition decoration NFTs that require in game resources and/or MATIC.
To incentivise talented designers and developers, we will support $MATIC as a material that can be used in crafting. When an item is crafted, 20% of the $MATIC will be sent to the designer and the remaining 80% will go directly into an automatic liquidity trade operation which will purchase $SFF to raise the price and then inject liquidity to stabilise the pool.
For me, this is a great direction - going heavy into player-generated content, and for an early mover, this is where you can build an advantage.
Now to the... uhhh, interesting part.
One of the prevailing debates with crypto's readiness is the ability to handle high volumes of transactions. But, honestly, it'll be games leading the way in highlighting these network's weaknesses.
Sunflower Farmers is a prime example through its high-volume economy, which has players earn tokens by effectively farming and harvesting crops. The game is built on Polygon PoS (Proof of Stake) and has reportedly seen gas fees on the network rise seven times higher than at the end of last month. Its main culprit is Sunflower Farmers, which accounts for 70% of all the gas used on the network! Unfortunately, this was due to some vulnerabilities with spamming bots in the game and was taken down on Jan 7th.
Why is this interesting? Firstly, it illustrates the incredible rise of gamefi and P2E projects and their ability to generate users and adoption on some of these networks on an unprecedented scale. Secondly, it brings up the scalability issues universal throughout cryptocurrencies. The 'scalability spotlight' has been mainly focused on Etherium gas fees for a while. It is interesting to see solutions to this issue take on such rapid adoption they are having problems scaling.
Sunflower Farmers is a game to watch for many reasons. Still, since this seems to be a lower cost of entry than many P2E games, it makes it ripe for a larger user base, but how do you juggle that against the relative payouts of a healthy economy. Since most early adopters for a game like this will be those interested in the potential earnings and not the gameplay, this makes the tokenomics extremely interesting to watch. Given Axie's Infinity's current state, I hope they learned something about approaching supply and demand.
Aurory - AURY - Solana
With the success of Axie Infinity, it's easy to see many second movers into this Pokemonesque genre as collection, breeding, and battling fit NFT's well. One of these games, Aurory, has a solid chance to make a serious splash on its release, which could be in just a few months. As with any second-mover, you should expect to see some significant steps forward. Judging by their whitepaper, there is a lot of improvement over its counterpart.
The game is a turn-based tactical RPG-style battler using the classic Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock, or in Aurory's case, brute force, support, defense, sabotage, and manipulation.
This JRPG will function like Pokemon with players running through two different areas of its world encountering NPC's and Nefties. Nefties are the analog to Pokemon with a wide choice of Nefties differing in base stats, boosted stats, spells, special abilities, capacities, variants, and positioning on the game board. The core is collecting and developing your stable of Nefties through combat and duels with other trainers.
Neftie progression happens through two methods - story-driven single-player mode or the competitive battleground. One will undoubtedly be the money maker if pulled off right, especially with the Liveops first approach I seem to read into with a clear focus on tournaments and championships.
Sadly I missed the Pre-game launch on Aug 31st, 2021, which gives many benefits, most importantly early access to the game. If you're really into finding out the gameplay, Aurorians (generative NFT avatars name) have a floor price of 22.5 SOL (About $2.5k 😬).
With backing from Animoca, Aurory is set to make some waves in the near term. It's positioning itself to have a large content pipeline with more areas, Nefties, and liveops events. This pipeline is what I will be watching Aurory closely for - a game that has such a need for content it'll have to balance how much it plans and produces to ensure success without going too deep in a specific direction before proving it. Wait too long, and your runaway success is stifled as it waits for that sweet, fresh content. On the other hand, commit too early, and you may have a ton of useless content no one wants. Regardless, it'll not only be interesting to see how quickly this game scales, but how.
Big Time - Currently NFT's Only - Binance
This action-adventure RPG makes the list not just from the growing hype but because I am a Christopher Nolan fan. Jk, he has nothing to do with the game, but this may be the closest to Christopher Nolan and Dan Harmon making a videogame. From the name, you may have guessed Big Time leans into the element of time from a design and narrative standpoint.
The story has you travel through time eras, like Mobius and the TVA in the Loki TV series. Go from battling futuristic AI to more barbaric ages in no time at all, pun intended. Even more of a connection as one of the characters has horns awfully close to Loki himself.
From the Alpha footage I could find, the gameplay is your typical fast-paced action MMO with an open-world feel. One of the more intriguing design elements is allowing players to circumnavigate the usual multi-character juggling act for a more cohesive experience leveling up a single character and changing class on the fly. Anyone that has played MMO's will attest to having to do some monotonous grinding to have character flexibility. It also makes a bit of sense since you can time travel, why not shift classes too!
Add six weapons to the mix, and you'll likely have some interesting variations to gameplay.
Sword & Shield
NFT's will be based more on cosmetics, and the game won't be a fully tokenized economy, thus no current coin listing. So far they have opted for three pre-sale NFT collections dubbed the "Founders Collection." Selling three types of VIP access passes - Jade, Silver, and Gold) along with packs that contain postcards. These postcards are a series of 6 animated locations throughout Big Time. If you collected all 6, you get an exclusive wearable NFT on launch.
What intrigues me is getting a chance to see a team of industry veterans take a proper shot at crypto gaming. I don't think I have seen a game with the team's strength behind Big Time. Name a "sexy" company to work for, and one of these people has worked there, and *gasp* it's not a group of twenty-somethings into all things blockchain! So it'll be interesting to see how some industry veterans approach some of the new and unseen difficulties of this new medium. The industry will learn valuable lessons from watching this launch and approach to ops.
Well, this is another long one on crypto gaming, so it may be a little bit before I jump into another like it. I just wanted to formalize and share my notes on a few of the 40+ games I've taken a deeper look into. Of course, there are tons of great-looking and promising games like SIDUS Heroes, Illuvium, or Battle of Guardians, just to name a few. But this was not meant to be a comprehensive guide, merely sharing some of what's going on in the space. Look out for my update when the inevitable Cookie Clicker + NFT arrives! Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it!