AMA Highlights #01: January 2023
Join us as we recap our first AMA of the year!
Check, check, one, two! Is this thing on?
First of all, Happy New Year mortals! Welcome to our January AMA recap. This article will be going over our first AMA of 2023 for those who couldn’t join us live, highlighting the questions that our CEO Jamie answered and the key takeaways for the coming months.
If you want to watch the unabridged AMA, you can do so here:
We compiled the list of questions from our Discord, so if you want to submit questions for next time, make sure you join us there!
Setting the Scene
Before Jamie gets stuck into answering questions, he goes over the high level situation with where we are at as a company. In case you missed his holiday video message over the New Year’s break, we’ve been doing some restructuring behind the scenes to reflect our growth strategy for 2023 and beyond.
Essentially, the company is now structured like this:
- Vulcan Forged is now the high-level parent company
- Underneath Vulcan Forged, you now have Vulcan Studios, which produces all our titles including our flagship games VulcanVerse, Berserk, and more
- You also have Elysium, our Layer 1 blockchain, as a separate entity with its own individual branding and style
- Finally, you have MetaScapes, which is our separate metaverse project
It’s been a challenging macro environment over the past year, but unlike a lot of other companies who are cutting staff, we’ve actually expanded.
In fact, we’ve never been busier and have never done things at a better and more efficient pace.
What will the utility of $PYR in MetaScapes be?
Jamie believes MetaScapes’ potential is limitless and it will be quite different from our other games to date.
Compare it to VulcanVerse, for example: VulcanVerse has ten thousand plots (increasing to more than twenty thousand when Troy comes in), has plenty of gameplay and planned features, and is a lot more fantasy / Greco-Roman oriented in its aesthetics.
In contrast, MetaScapes will be a lot more open-ended. Anyone can make MetaScapes from one plot to a million plots! MetaScapes is quite stylized and will have minimal gameplay, with a deeper focus on building and assets. Think about it more along the lines of Minecraft.
$PYR will effectively be the in-game currency, and is planned to allow you to buy skins and new assets, upgrade your plots to allow certain functionality, adding paintable functionality and more. We will share more details as we continue development.
Our goal with MetaScapes is to have it be universally accessible, across as many demographics as possible.
How will VulcanVerse compete with other metaverses like Zuckerberg’s metaverse?
We wouldn’t say that VulcanVerse is a competitor to Zuckerberg’s metaverse. By design, VulcanVerse is a hybrid between a sandbox-style game and an MMO such as World of Warcraft. While we’re not at that level of polish yet, Jamie views it as more of a game / sandbox / economy within a virtual world, whereas metaverses tend to be based more around VR technology and exploring.
We view MetaScapes as the more direct competitor to Zuckerberg’s metaverse (Horizon Worlds, with approximately 200,000 users). Jamie believes that MetaScapes has the potential to compete with Horizon Worlds very quickly as VR is not needed to get started, reducing the friction of onboarding.
What is the future of gameplay in VulcanVerse?
When we called out for questions, we got a lot about VulcanVerse gameplay. When are day and night cycles coming? When is Level 4 coming? What’s new with foraging and battle systems? Are there plans for actual gameplay in VulcanVerse? Before we tackle these, we wanted to add some historical context.
Two years ago, Jamie had the idea to make a sandbox-style game, and only after putting the foundations in place were we able to turn more of a focus towards gameplay itself. Jamie says it’s no secret that he is not from a game design background personally, but he had the passion and drive to identify a niche market and build something that had never been done before – a fantasy gaming setting for a concept like Decentraland or Sandbox. With this vision, he dived straight in.
It’s a massive task to create a MMO that’s both fun and performs well. In the initial stages, we didn’t hire the right sort of game leads and actually went through two or three full game development companies who took months to deliver assets that, although fitting our theme, proved to be unusable as they were too high in polygons.
As Vulcan Forged has grown as a company (and its community alongside it), we have been able to introduce better processes to formalize things. We’ve learned a lot along the way from our own experience and knowledge from our new hires. If we could go back in time, we would probably have an enormous game design document (GDD) for VulcanVerse right from the beginning. But we’re thankful for all the lessons learnt and the community who have stood by our side all this time.
To address where we are with VulcanVerse right now though – there’s been a giant refactoring going on behind the scenes over the last few months. From a visual standpoint, every single asset has been redone by the staff here in Greece.
Here’s a little before & after teaser of what that will look like:
Unfortunately we can’t give any dates on when these changes will be live, but you’ll soon be seeing these upgraded graphics all across VulcanVerse.
And better still, they’re actually less resource-intensive than the old assets. A lot of the connectivity issues being experienced in VulcanVerse right now are based on things you wouldn’t expect! For example, a single plant design being ridiculously high polygon can have negative flow-on effects to the rest of the game.
The team in Greece has been working flat-out for four months now to redo every single asset. We’re excited to get this live as it will be a massive improvement to visuals and performance.
As far as gameplay is concerned, this is something that we are very conscious of. Fishing was only introduced a month or two ago but it was actually quite a big gameplay update for VulcanVerse. With that being said, it’s important to stress how vital the refactoring work we are doing now is. Without refactoring the code, we can’t keep adding things into the game because this can cause new features to break.
Refactoring is a big deal and sometimes it can be hard to see or appreciate the work behind the scenes. We hope this gives you a bit more insight into where our focus has been for the last few months.
We’re also listening closely to our community! We’re cataloging and categorizing requests from the community, then giving them scores on a range of important questions, including:
- Will it increase adoption?
- Will it delight our players?
- What’s the potential for monetization?
Our list includes both new requests and old promises we’ve made.
We hope this AMA provides a bit of insight into the things we handle daily, so you can get a better sense for how much work is going into place — even on things like bug fixing and refactoring the entire code base. The reason that you may not have felt like there were new gameplay features added in the last few months is because we are literally redoing the whole code base again to make it stable.
Moving forward, we aim to underpromise and overdeliver. Jamie says to expect some gameplay updates coming soon – some new foraging loot boxes and other features coming that we can’t talk about just yet.
In terms of your specific questions:
- Level 4 land: until the refactoring work is completely finished, we can’t reach Level 4.
- Day and night cycles: also on hold until after refactoring is complete.
- New foraging and battle systems: this is being worked on as we speak and has been developed alongside the refactoring work that’s going on and all the new visual updates.
- New music: we do have a few more tracks from Jeff Wootton (of The Gorillaz) that we haven’t implemented yet. Music isn’t our highest priority at the moment, though there is the possibility that we may add or change music in the future.
- Automatically sorted inventories: yes, a solution is being worked on.
Will there be battle squirrels in Troy?
According to Jamie, this is probably the most essential question of the AMA.
There’s the answer.
Which quarter of the year are you looking forward to most?
This quarter (“Hands down!”), is Jamie’s response.
This month we’re planning to deliver a lot, and not just for VulcanVerse. We’re basically restructuring the whole website and hierarchy so that Vulcan Forged becomes more like a corporate entity. This can then lead you into the Elysium tools, the mainnet explorer, Elysium Launchpad, ElysiumSwap… everything Elysium-based, really.
Then with all our games, we’re focusing on ease of onboarding. Between Venly, My Forge, Polygon and so on, it can get confusing and be quite difficult to retain users who are new to the ecosystem. Once Elysium comes into effect, it will be a case of setting up a game account and that’s it. Just like you would through things like Google, Facebook or email for any other game.
Beyond that, we plan to give players the option to play games without having NFTs or a My Forge account by default. Then when players learn more about the ecosystem (like earning $LAVA), they can take the steps to connect their wallets.
That’s our main focus this quarter: making that user onboarding much clearer and easier.
When it comes to Berserk: Vulcanites Unleashed, our focus is making Season 3 the most stable version we’ve ever had, and opening up access without needing to have a My Forge account like we mentioned above.
For VulcanVerse, we are focusing on our refactoring first and then we can add new features later — like foraging, the new Vulcanite summoning, the ability to create your own quests, alchemy, blacksmithing and all the fun stuff — on top of a really strong code base.
We’re about halfway through the Elysium migration and we will change the Vulcan Market to Agora, which will host all NFTs from every Elysium project including all the Vulcan Studios games.
Will there be a challenge to win a full trip for two to New York including VulCon tickets?
Jamie says there is a possibility for something like this.
VulCon 3: The Elysium Chapters will be taking place in New York on Thursday 25th of May, 2023. We are working with Anthony Scaramucci & Skybridge to pull out all the stops and make this one of the biggest and best conferences we’ve ever had.
It won’t be fantasy or VulcanVerse-themed, but instead a bit more agnostic and corporate. There will be great evening entertainment with some exciting speakers and a lot of big announcements of partners that will be joining Elysium (so long as they don’t get leaked beforehand!). This includes everything from celebrities to corporations to supply chains to brands and a lot of other big names. We thank Anthony for the connections and helping us to bring Elysium and blockchain technology to the masses.
What is the team’s marketing strategy to bring in the masses for Berserk Season 3?
Season 3 is a great opportunity to implement key learnings from Season 2 and where our game is at right now.
Marketing and product are working hand in hand to fix some of these key issues before focusing on bringing the game to the masses. We know we have a mass opportunity to make the game easier to access and properly onboard new players.
Berserk Season 3 is a great chance for us to test out the new onboarding strategy, which as mentioned above, will remove the need for My Forge / Polygon / wallets to register, login and play. If that works well, we’re going to use that same user flow for all the other games — especially the mobile games which is obviously an enormous market.
Are you in talks with Binance to integrate Elysium as a deposit / withdrawal option?
Yes, we are. Without saying too much, we are following the correct steps to integrate Elysium with all the major exchanges, including Binance.
There are obviously some things that have to be done to allow it to be integrated. The exchanges know how big we are and how big we are getting. We would bring a lot of volume to these exchanges and we are not a small product anymore so they are eager to help us.
What will be the purpose of the Quad Allegiance on the My Forge website, and when?
This is a great question!
At the moment, the proportion of players pledging allegiance to a Quad is lower than we’d like. It’s great to have that functionality in place for when we do have enough allegiance pledges and a lot of features enabled in our games, so that we can actually make taking part worth something.
When will the community quest toolkit be ready?
We believe this is going to be one of the biggest game changers for the whole of VulcanVerse. We intend to give you the basic mechanics that you need to create your own quests.
It’s not too complex for us to implement this — we can base it off our team’s internal quest editor and put it in game for you to use. However, this is something which will not happen until after refactoring. We’re making great progress with refactoring, so bear with us! One day you’re going to wake up and VulcanVerse will look entirely different and perform much better, and then we can start adding all the cherries (new features) on it.
In the words of Jamie:
“There’s no point adding cherries to a broken cake — or whatever the phrase is”.
Can you update us on partner projects, and those that have fallen at the wayside?
With our new C-Levels joining, we’ve been improving our processes across the board and making them more official than they used to be. We’re ensuring that contracts are signed before we announce who’s joining Elysium, as unfortunately we’ve had a few cases where companies or projects have said they’re coming to Elysium, marketed off our back, and then disappeared.
Jamie gives Vendetta DAO a shoutout as a project that is definitely confirmed as coming to Elysium, but there are a lot of projects still to come that we can’t talk about just yet.
Can we have more info about the Frenzy Pass?
We’re really excited about the introduction of the Frenzy Pass.
You can think about it a bit like Twitter’s Blue Tick, which is a monthly subscription around eight dollars. But in our version, this subscription will unlock the Frenzy Pass which gives you access to do certain things within all Vulcan Games.
We want to make sure we get all the features that are going to be available for Frenzy Pass laid out and marketed successfully, so there’s enough desire and hype behind getting the Pass. The idea is that most people should long to have that Frenzy Pass, and the more users that have it, the more $PYR is utilized every month.
We’ll have more to share about the Frenzy Pass at a later date.
What are some use cases for Vulcan Phalanx?
Feel free to ask more questions about this in the #vulcan-phalanx channel in our Discord. Neswulf, the project lead, has answered this many questions about Phalanx there.
In simple terms, it’s just it’s just a case of: do you have a Phalanx? If you do, it gives you an extra bow or an extra sword, as an example. Vulcan’s Creed is going to be one of the first games to use Phalanx in terms of weaponry, so make sure your Phalanx has got weapons.
Jamie says to think arrows, as a clue he can give.
How many Cronus nodes have been claimed?
Ones that we can publicly announce right now are:
- Anthony Scaramucci / Skybridge
There are four or five other entities with a Cronus node right now. We’ll allow the Marketing team to tweet them out in due course so that we can make a lot of noise about the announcements.
We’re in no rush to give Cronus nodes away. There isn’t a shortage. We had over 200 Cronus node applications so we’re intentionally choosing them to be big and strategic names.
Will new levels be released for Tower Defense?
Yes, for sure!
At the moment we are doing penetration tests with all our side games to see how we’re doing in regards to the upscaled security we did, and see if any additional work is required. Once that’s done we’ll continue the new levels.
In case you missed it – last week we released Vulcanite rentals for Tower Defense as well as a desktop build! So the game is ever improving, ever developing, and ever evolving.
What is the current future of Block Babies and other Vulcan Games titles?
We wouldn’t say that Block Babies is dying, but we’ve certainly picked our priorities now. We have selected the games that are getting the most traction and deserve the development of spending power to progress. That isn’t to say that Block Babies is ruled out forever (in fact, Jamie thinks there is an enormous market for Block Babies), but when we have the amount of developers we have, we need to prioritize our resources thoughtfully. 130 developers and blockchain designers seems like a lot, but across all of our games it realistically isn’t that many.
As a result, our main focuses (for now) are:
- Berserk: Vulcanites Unleashed
- Tower Defense
- Vulcan Runner
- Vulcan’s Creed
These are the big ones for us moving forward. That means we’re putting titles like Block Babies, Forge Arena, Poker and Chess on pause for now. Some of these games are completely playable in the state they’re in, but for them to go to the next level they’d need a real push of developers. This isn’t to say that we’re not going to do that, but again, we’d rather focus all our energy into making our main games great right now and come back to the others later.
How has your (Jamie’s) role changed in 2023?
“Since David, Meals, Jaap, Toby, Joanna (JoEx), all these new people have come on board, I’m obviously not running the social media anymore — which is, you know, quite sad, but I live! Other than that my job hasn’t changed much really. I’m still working the same hours, but that’s out of choice. I’m sure I could take a few days off and things won’t fall over. Yeah, that’s what it is — I could take a few days off now, and I wouldn’t be worried because we’ve got capable people running things now, so that’s good.
I’m obviously still here, doing the same things! I’m talking in Istanbul at the Blockchain Week in a couple of weeks, and Dubai at the Metaverse Summit — we’re looking forward to talking there. But yeah — carrying on, cracking on, doing what I’m doing.”
When will Elysium Launchpad start working?
We try not to give exact dates, but again, we intend to deliver a lot of Elysium-related things this month.
Can you give us some more information about Vulcan Forged skins?
Good question! We’d love to push out a hundred different clothing sets for the avatars, but this is a perfect example of us not setting up the foundational work properly and why the refactoring work we’re doing is so critical.
With the way that things are set up at the moment, we have to do a custom animation for the Avatar in every single new clothing type we put on them. So we’re going to redo the base animation, otherwise it’s just unsustainable and unscalable.
Wrapping Up the AMA
That’s it for now! Thank you to everyone who showed up to our live AMA, and a special thanks to everyone who submitted a question in Discord.
If you have more questions for our team, including Jamie, jump into our Discord and ask away! If you enjoyed the AMA, please let us know in the #ideas-and-feedback channel. We can try to organize more in future.
Some closing words from Jamie:
“Much love to you all — you’re basically all part of the staff in my eyes. We’ve made it this far together and we’ll continue to do so.”
See you next time!