Designing the Elfiverse

The worlds of NFTs and DeFi have generally stayed separate, experiencing only minimal cross-pollination. At Element, we believe there is fertile ground at their intersection, ripe with fresh and exciting ideas waiting to be unearthed.

NFTs are an artistic medium of visual and creative expression that we wanted to bring to users of DeFi protocols. Users naturally craft experiences and design a vibrant story in their protocol and community interactions, well beyond their portfolio balance.

The birth of the Elfiverse was born from the desire to weave Element community members into a world of visual storytelling that increases ownership and belonging in a rich DeFi universe.

Design Inspiration

In designing the Elfiverse, we wanted to bring to life the concept of being a living breathing Elf inhabiting the Element ecosystem ( or for short, get it?). The actions that users take in the Protocol had to be visualized in a way that could be compelling to the viewer, while also portraying the key elements of the Protocol’s story.

We gathered inspiration from movies, TV shows, and video games that describe the elements of elvish and medieval culture that we wanted to bring to life. Games such as Runescape gave us valuable examples of the different crafting and inventory systems that we wanted to explore. Games of Thrones was also a good point of inspiration in crafting the different environments to make them seem grand and lived in.

When crafting the scenes in 3D, visual composition plays an integral part. For example, to visualize how vast the Elfiverse is, different depth of field & atmospheric effects are used to craft large enough landscapes and environments to fully capture the expanse of the world. To really show the roughness & ferociousness of the Sea of Liquidity, we created a more violent ocean & darkened the sky with thunder clouds, depicting the treacherous journey to this new land.

Asset Creation

Throughout the creation of this project, we used a collection of assets that were created using pixelated components in Figma. An asset library of over 150 assets was created to be generated with a script to create unique random outputs, resulting in the Elfiverse collection of 10,000 ELF NFTs.

The asset library started with backgrounds, created with Cinema 4D, visualizing the regional ecosystem for environments that spanned across the Elfiverse. These rich environmental tapestries acted as a scaffold upon which a vibrant visual narrative could come to life, with fictional characters whose arcs closely mirrored our own.

Crafting the Backgrounds

As we started to craft the 3D environments, we curated virtual environments that validated the original story components. As an example, the characters of the Elfiverse were continuously traveling and venturing on a journey to build and find fulfilling goods to bring their ideas to fruition.

The first component was a set of portals that acted as intermediaries traveling between different parts of the world that were used to segment the different worlds based on the storyline. This included ‘Clear Skies’ that signaled peace and tranquility and ‘Blood Rivers’ that were shown to those with a future of battle or strife.

Building Out A Grid System

With the generation of the assets, we had to build out a grid layer system so that the assets being exported were carefully crafted in an order that showcased all the possible accessories and features the ELF NFT could have. Creating an array of elves that instituted a variety of appearances, personalities and a multitude of emotions was our priority.

The grid layer system was designed 32 pixels by 32 pixels and originated with different skin tones, weapons, clothes, hair, mouth, eyebrows, eyes, hats, eyewear, add-ons. Ranging from green body skin to red body skin, each body asset was exported as the first layer from the original drawLayer function in our regeneration script.

Designing the classes and accessories

As the ELF character’s journey and environments were being refined we aimed to define a class of elves that mirrored our community and our team. The five different foundational classes crafted were Adventurer, Warrior, Ranger, Cleric, and Mage. These classes were created by the accessories that defined them. These accessories were created in Photoshop and then added to our square layer grid.

The Generation

We built on top of an open source NFT generation script from HashLips, which gives you all you need to launch your own generative NFT project.

Of course, we added some Elf-specific twists:

  • Separate randomness calculation from asset creation, to allow for testing
  • Fine-grained assets and descriptions are stored in a csv for easy editing
  • Debugging code to identify clashing color combinations
  • Test statistical randomness of outcomes
  • A meta-property defined by the NFT’s assets (your Elf’s class)

This enabled us to do quality control on specific outcomes, like generating 100 NFTs all with red background and red hair: does it look good? We decided to keep most of these in, including eyebrows that are a different color from your hair (that Elf used dye from dank strains).

We also built this light-weight spreadsheet to inspect the details of your Elf (this repo updates it, forked from @DarenMatsuoka). It lists each asset that comprises your NFT, including their description (not shown on other sites), which places your Elf uniquely in the lore of the Elfiverse. Rarity score uses a very standard calculation per asset, then added up for your NFT.

What’s Next

More recently we’ve open sourced our ELFI contracts that allow community members to build on top of our existing NFT infrastructure. We’re excited to see what opening up to the Elfiverse for potential collaborations and contributions means for the project.

It's time for the Element community to decide what to build on top of the existing NFT infrastructure. This is an exciting opportunity for designers, developers, and creatives to discuss how to expand the Elfiverse ecosystem. The possibilities are endless.

In the coming weeks, we will be rolling out more content to cover the different aspects of the Elfiverse. This will include:

  • A Technical Deep Dive & Architecture Overview of the Elfiverse NFT Contracts
  • An Open Source Elfiverse & What It Means as a Builder or Designer. Considerations around the future of Elfiverse & Element DAO, and ideas to explore.
  • Transfer of the remaining Elfiverse ELF NFTs to the Element DAO Treasury

We’re excited about the future of the Elfiverse and want to hear from you! Join the #community discord and the Elfiverse forum channel and get involved in the discussion.

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