As blockchain technology sweeps the world of various professional service industries, there is one area where the revolutionary technological development is just starting to make its mark: video games.
The Creative Director and CEO of Fracture Labs, Stephen Arnold, is intrigued by the curious union between blockchain technology and Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) video games.
Mr Arnold, coming from Scotland, is no stranger to living and working in different countries. He sheds light on his experience of launching a start-up in Malta, as the country positions itself to become a blockchain island.
He has a full decade of video game production experience under his belt, having been involved in the development of several large products and contributed towards art animation, cinematics and VFX production. His experience has seen him work on games such as UBISoft’s The Division, 2K Games’ Evolve, and Sony Santa Monica Studios’ God Of War.
While not working directly with the various studios, Mr Arnold managed to gain his experience by working with vendors who organise art animation, motion capture and face animation. Fracture Labs, the video game company based outside of Malta and of which Mr Arnold is the Creative Director and CEO, has been working full swing on developing a multiplayer online post-apocalyptic sandbox survival game entitled Decimated.
Sandbox games are a style of gaming in which minimal character limitations are placed on the gamer, allowing them to roam and change a virtual world at will. Decimated is currently at prototype stage with the game’s token currently available for purchase. The premise for Decimated, as described on its website, is that the Earth has been abandoned after hundreds of years of destructive climate change and catastrophic neglect of the environment by corporations and industry. Political and social unrest have left the old cities decimated and hostile to life. Civilisation has collapsed and destroyed itself, yet a cyborg police force still wields control over the wastelands.
Mr Arnold explains that “players salvage resources, technology and digital currency, repair vehicles, build bases, fortify shelters, hunt, ambush, loot and trade in this hostile post-apocalyptic environment.”
Players can choose whether they want to join the cyborg police force of the world, or whether they want to be part of the human race. Upon winning missions and progressing in levels, players can also earn the game’s cryptocurrency called ‘DIO’ – the Italian word for God, highlighting the importance of it if players intend to survive.
“I have always wanted to make a game like this. The evolution of Decimated came from another game I was working on a few years ago called Dissident – it was a single player game set in the same universe inspired by a game called Flashback from the 90s, where you had a linear story with puzzles, and every step up of the game, something is trying to kill you.”
“When I moved to Malta to develop a blockchain game, I met people and explained myself, and my history. They spoke about their blockchain experience and their enthusiasm for multi-player online games,” he explains. “We discussed how we could combine the two industries of blockchain and video games, and where the value lies in doing so. And the value is that players can earn crypto while playing, and take advantage of the security of the blockchain. Hackers can’t just hack the game and give themselves unlimited tokens or the best space ship in the universe. It’s all digitally scarce – once you own an item and you store it in your wallet, nobody can steal it from you.”
Mr Arnold goes on to explain that Decimated is not built on the blockchain itself; it is built on ‘Unreal Engine 4’. This is the game engine which allows high-quality graphics and super-smooth animation. All programmers and developers working on the game use this game engine, while the blockchain has been incorporated into the game so that its sole task is to manage items and tokens.
The game’s premise is closer to reality than one may think. Mr Arnold and his team of developers have incorporated the notion of digital scarcity so that tokens and virtual items have meaningful value. There will be a total of one billion tokens in the game, without the ability to destroy or create new tokens. Anything spent by players will be re-introduced into the game by developers.
Tokens and items are managed by the blockchain and thus cannot be tampered with. Virtual items such as a spaceship, for example, will also be digitally scarce, with only a set number available in the game. A player could go around destroying virtual items such as space ships in order to increase the value of their own space ship, for example.
“We want to make the game easy for the average user. I believe that video games will lead the path towards blockchain mass adoption because you don’t have to learn how to send 0.001 token to this random string of numbers and letters. We can personalise it, have an interface on mobile or pc, and create a market place displaying the value of items.”
This is an excerpt of the interview which featured in the June edition of Blockchain Island.