The Loot Comeback Thesis - 2 Year Anniversary of Loot

Author: @TianranZhang, @fangtingeth, @_eat_apple_, @0xBrawler

From: @AW_Research

The Onchain - A Song of Ice and Fire

‘What is dead may never die, but rises again harder and stronger.’

- A Song of Ice and Fire

Loot has performed an onchain version of A Song of Ice and Fire in just two years of its existence. During the initial frenzy, nearly 300 derivatives made up the Lootverse, and after it cooled off, the Lootverse community ebbed, leaving behind a core of truly creative members who have preserved the story's flame and survived the crisis-ridden bears of Luna, FTX, and others, all with very low overhead. And time has proven that a good story never dies: in the early spring of the fully on-chain gaming, dojo rekindled the flame of Loot, and the Lootverse spin-offs were revitalized, with a significant upturn in the quantity and quality of work.

The winter's gone, and on the eve of the Lootverse's revival, we're going to reread this "eternal story". In this article, we'll cover three areas: the origins of the Lootverse, the evolution of the Lootverse IP and ecosystem, and the bull case of the Lootverse.

The Origin of Lootverse

Two years ago today, on August 28, 2021, Loot was born. Within ten days, Loot's price climbed to as high as 20e at an unimaginable speed. Behind the price was the recognition of Lootverse's value proposition of bottom-up, decentralized, and replacing rich-media NFTs with "txt NFTs" to maximize effective innovation within the standard of "crypto-native" criteria. A few lines of white text on a black background are the "prompt" of a complete world system, and everyone finds their own imagination of a "composable world" through those columns of terms, and more than imagination: Lootverse is mechanically open, and everyone can substantially participate in the collaborative process.

Early History: A Thriving Cluster of Derivative Projects

The result of a completely open storytelling universe and a freely tradable marketplace is a thriving cluster of derivative projects. Within three months, close to 300 derivative projects had appeared in the Lootverse, most of them speculative, but many of them original.

The Genesis Project, initiated by Timshel (who also founded, was one of the major derivative projects, reorganizing the native Loot bag to allow the holder to extract the Genesis Mana, based on the Loot's suffixes. This game of collecting relevant elements and upgrading identities very cleverly mobilized the community, requiring collaborative communication between community members, and driving more creativity and familiarity with Loot's meta-timeline, at which point DivineDAO's timeline grooming was completed. In this newly developed narrative vein, there are 2,540 Genesis Adventurers, and naming rights have been opened up.

Screenshot of Genesis Adventuer and Corresponding Hyperloot
Screenshot of Genesis Adventuer and Corresponding Hyperloot

The opening of naming rights gives GA the potential to be a "universal IP", allowing a character to be named Ned Stark or Jon Snow, creating a true character archetype in the Lootverse. Later the Genesis Scroll writing contest draw considerable attention to piece together the Lootverse of the songs of ice and fire. Dylan field, founder of Figma were among the first to donate to the genesis scroll project.

Hyperloot is a Loot derivative doing visualization with an artistic eye, contributed by a Thai team with an excellent roadmap and product quality, and linked to other Loot ecosystems such as mloot, Genesis Project, etc, as well as CC0 projects like Nouns, Chain Runner and Blitmap. Hyperloot is still worth watching with the release of 3D NFT and its own spin-off game in 2023. Fred Ehrsam , cofounder of Paradigm and Coinbase, even went to the length of Marvel vs Capcom in depicting the CC0 war Hyperloot team trying to bring to life.

Crypts & Caverns is another important on-chain Lootverse infrastructure, created by threepwave in November 2021, and provides combinable dungeon maps. Crypts & Caverns, as universal maps, will not only be available within the Lootverse, but will be handed over to CheDao for management in 2023 CheDao management, see Crypts and Caverns: A Sleeping Giant Awakened by CHEDAO.

The Crypt is a Loot-based Dungeon Raiding for Forbidden NFT Relics that requires players to hold a Loot, mLoot, or GA in order to participate in the game, which has three open chapters. It was the first playable fully onchain Loot game. The team Playmint secured $4 million in funding, and later went on to build its own onchain games.

Screenshot of Dungeon raiding rewards for The Crypt
Screenshot of Dungeon raiding rewards for The Crypt

Loot Realms is the collection of 8,000 procedurally generated NFTs. Realms is developed by BibliothecaDAO, one of the core organizations in the Loot ecosystem, and has been consistently productive, subsequently releasing its own governance token $LORD via staking the Realm NFT. Unlike other games, It chose Starknet as the destination for where its games would land. The first game Realm decided to build is a SLG game called Eternum. More on this later as Realm proven to be the sole pillar of the nowaday Lootverse.

Screenshot of Realm NFT and earlier version of Realm: Eternum
Screenshot of Realm NFT and earlier version of Realm: Eternum

Dope Wars, a fully on-chain Loot-style game on StarkNet, emerged in August 2021 with perama's initiation and now thrives with the Cartridge team's contributions. Inspired by Drug War and GTA, it fuses street culture into a GTA-style universe. "Roll Your Own," the first playable mode, adapts Drug War for StarkNet L2. As a significant Loot derivative, Dope Wars, alongside Loot Realms, began on Ethereum's mainnet on August 31, 2021, distributing 125,000 $PAPER tokens to NFT holders on September 4. Cartridge team is now working on Dojo, the starknet onchain game engine, which will be covered in the 2nd half of the article.

Grants Powering Community-Based Ecosystem in 2022

Until the end of 2022, the Lootverse's community ecosystem continues to thrive on the contributions of its core creators, with more than 30 Community Calls; the seminal Loot Deck released by Timshel in April 2022 continues to reverberate through the community and in a de facto sense serves as the Lootverse's "North Star".

The initial craze has dialed down, within the first 3 month, an estimated 300 lootverse derivatives were created, most of them faded away quickly. However about 10% of the genuine ones stayed, furthur, new ones kept springing up during the entire 2022. There were an estimated of 30 projects by mid 2022, most of them rely on self funding or grants.

From 8 lines of white text on black background, to a web of interconnected projects that together make up an infinitely-expansive yet still cohesive sci-fantasy universe, those projects power the lootverse.

On the right is a dedicated artistic generation for the GA
On the right is a dedicated artistic generation for the GA

Gitcoin has been a consistent partner in nurturing Lootverse through recurring funding opportunities. Across Grant Rounds 14 and 15 in June and September 2022, Gitcoin provided more than $200k in total funding for the Loot ecosystem. Round 14 included support for Monsters of Realms, The Violette of Vitriol Project, The Genesis Scrolls (Involves crafting stories, character backgrounds, and creative content of the Genesis Era, The first Genesis Scrolls round was hosted on June 2022), and The Genesis Scrolls Painted (These projects evoke a strong "Game of Thrones" or "Lord of the Rings" feeling). In September 2022, Gitcoin Grant Round 15 provided $75k to fund 21 projects expanding the Loot ecosystem. With 1,162 donors contributing $9.2k, the total pool exceeded $84k, providing timely backing as broader NFT interest declined.

The list for top 10 projects in the GR15 lootverse round
The list for top 10 projects in the GR15 lootverse round

Mask Network has also stepped up to support 5 key Lootverse projects. In their first grant batch in November 2022, recipients like Genesis Scroll and The Rift received $10k each to advance narrative and gameplay infrastructure. In the second batch in June 2023, Dojo obtained $20k to further its StarkNet game engine, Guildly got $10k for NFT guild features, and Banners gained $10k to transition its text RPG on-chain.

Together, the strategic grants delivered by Gitcoin and Mask at critical junctures demonstrate their commitment to sustaining Lootverse - a community-driven ecosystems. The funding has helped projects overcome market volatility and keep building through the downs of the crypto winter.

One of the more noteworthy grants was Genesis scroll, the grant was used to attract writers to bring lootverse to life, it received close to 100 entry and 100k words total in the span of less than 6 months. A professional editor was later brought in to turn this into a complete loot book and it’s going to be published soon.

You can also check out this article for where things were at 1 year anniversary.

Realm to Bring it Together via Games

If Timshel, with his Genesis Adevnturer and Genesis scroll are the projects that bring lootverse together on the lore level, then Loaf, with his Realm, is uniting the lootverse via product, specifically a suite of games.

Before the release of games, on Feb 21, 2022, Realm demoed the first version of the Realm Atlas (the World Map) as an effort to showcase what was about to come, and it was stunning.

The Realm Atlas
The Realm Atlas

The picture features the Atlas (World Map) with 16 orders (countries) like FOX, Power, and Giants, derived from Loot data. It resembles Game of Thrones' intricate political landscape. NFT projects like Realms, Loot, Genesis Adventurers, Crypts, and Caverns align with these nations in the Atlas.

The atlas featuring Crypts and Caverns as Skeleton heads and Realms on the seaside
The atlas featuring Crypts and Caverns as Skeleton heads and Realms on the seaside

The Atlas was later evolved a few iterations to include features like checking out your major 4 nft bags, fly over to your land etc. It was also the much-needed comfort during the long wait for the development of the main game, Realm: Eternum.

The pre alpha of Realm Eternum was finally released in January 2023, presenting a holistic experience, players were able to exchange resource, form army, build castle, wage wars etc. It was a bit rough on some of the edges, but the game play is there.

Screenshot for first version of Realm Eterum
Screenshot for first version of Realm Eterum

A few days after the pre-alpha release, the Realms team targeted the community with a funding round of $625k. $4m was committed over a 24-hour period, a staggering oversubscription of 6.32x (5.32x was refunded), reflecting the community's strong confidence in Realms' growth.

However, with a series of market crashes and a few other reasons, it was also hard for most of the community projects to sruvive the deep crypto bear, only about 5 out of the 30 Lootverse projects are still active by spring of 2023. Nevertheless, spring is also right around the corner.

Begins the Dojo Era - The Cairo Onchain Game Engine

Building games directly on chain was an immense challenge, as pioneers like Dark Forest and Realm Eternum discovered. The playtest for the first version of Realms: Eternum clearly reveals 2 things. First, the need for a dedicated gaming framework or engine to facilitate game development. Second, the need for a simpler game to diversify the realmverse and have something to go to market faster. The first one confirmed Dojo, the second led us to Loot survivor.

Thanks to lattice folks for pioneering the mud framework since early 2022 to solve this daring issue and introducing the autonomous world concept later which turns out to be a big hit. Dojo started from a telegram group with realm, cartridge and briq folks. Initially it was a mud v1 fork on starknet in Nov 2022. As development resource pour in, Dojo has evolved way beyond.

Dojo Engine is a public good game engine built by Starknet builders. It’s the only provable game engine in the market and provability heavily inspires the architecture & tools built for the game engine.

Dojo provides developers with an entity-component-system (ECS) architecture and integrated tools tailored for Starknet and Cairo development. The open-source engine lowers the barriers for creating high quality onchain games with true ownership and asset interoperability. By fostering a strong community, Dojo aims to drive innovation beyond what MUD achieved on EVM.

Loot Survivor is a text-based adventure game on Starknet created by Bibliotheca DAO. It draws on the procedurally generated elements of Loot, having players adventure through perilous realms filled with monsters, traps, and bosses. The goal is to rank highly on the leaderboards before your character perishes.

The game cleverly implements the Play2Die economic model where characters carry and drop tokens when they die, compensating early adopters and incentivizing participation. Over 500 on-chain characters have already been created.

Loot Survivor showcases creative on-chain game design and community engagement. It is built on StarkNet using Cairo, remaining fully on-chain while keeping gas costs low. Although current interaction speeds are slow, improvements to Ethereum like EIP-4844 will enhance StarkNet's performance and reduce costs for on chain games.

Screenshot of Later stage Loot survivor game play with full +1 Greatness 20 items
Screenshot of Later stage Loot survivor game play with full +1 Greatness 20 items

It was also noteworthy that Loot survivor game item and number design all fits the initial loot and ga settings, as it was both spearheaded by Loothero, a nice lineage that brings flashback for loot diehard to early loot craze after advancing to later stage of loot survivor games. The divine robes, the katanas, the "", the +1s, the 16 orders, it's all there.

Rise of Dojo and Loot Survivor: Realm Folks and the Starknet OnChain Gaming Gang Running it Back Turbo

The onchain game summit on May25-26 in Portugal was a milestone for the loot and dojo ecosystem. Of the 50 people attended the summit, 6 were from Realm, 4 were from Cartridge and 2 were from  briq, representing a quarter of the attendance. 3 days before the summit, Tarrence announcemnt for dojo got major traction and recognition in the starknet and etereum community.  Polynya said that the infrastructure being created for onchain games will open a new paradigm and lead to wider app layer innovation. Dojo presentation on the 1st day of the summit was also a hit and was amplified by the strong community presence. On the second day, during the designated playtest period, loot survivor was introduced out of an internal alpha, it happens to be the only game playable at the time. Despite the poor starknet performance, as it took 3 minutes to perform an action in the game, the leaderboard system motivated folks with a huge desire to win to climb up the leaderboard, Bounties were refreshed as people broke each other's record quickly, it ended  with 0.1eth bounty. The mechanism proved to be a hit. See the photo below for the Realm and Cartridge team.

Later as Dojo gets more mature as a technical infrastructure, more games start to appear on Dojo. (Loot Survivor first version was built directly on StarNet but not built on Dojo. Two hackathons were hosted in June and July, pixellaw was a nice addition to the dojo family. It was initially just brainstorms in the Komorebi Hacker house in Paris.

Both Dojo and Loot Survivor turned out to be pivotal moves to the Loot ecosystem. They highlights the potential of StarkNet for enabling onchain gaming experiences.

Early games like Influence, Dope Wars, and Realms demonstrate Dojo’s potential. As the first gaming engine designed for Starknet from the ground up, Dojo establishes a foundation for the next generation of crypto games. Its open and extensible nature will allow the engine to evolve as Starknet matures. Dojo represents a key milestone in realizing the promise of blockchain gaming.

Crypts and Caverns Revitalized

Crypts and Caverns (C&C), a pioneering procedurally generated map NFT project, has recently been acquired by CheDAO, marking an exciting new era for C&C. C&C demonstrated immense potential with its adaptable generative mapping capabilities. However, progress stalled in recent times. With CheDAO assuming responsibility for C&C, renewed momentum and expanded integration is anticipated.

There are plans to optimize C&C as a flexible mapping module for developers. Through partnerships, the goal is to drive adoption of C&C as the standard for randomized maps in on-chain gaming. This aims for C&C to be widely used by games needing procedural environments.

C&C is poised to fulfill its immense promise as it showcases versatility by integrating into diverse games across the Lootverse and beyond. The focus remains on community participation as C&C evolves. The future looks bright for C&C to empower community-driven on-chain gaming innovation. Progress in integration across gaming universes will demonstrate the adaptability of C&C's generative mapping capabilities.

New roadmap for Crypts & Caverns
New roadmap for Crypts & Caverns

Frontinus House: A Nouns Style Grant Distribution Platform

The Realms Autonomous World (RAW) aspires to truly live up to its name: Autonomous. This autonomy, however, is contingent on the presence of infrastructure - typically referred to as public goods. This understanding gives rise to the concept of Frontinus House, a means through which capital can be deployed and projects funded within the RAW and the broader loot ecosystem.

After the BIP7, Frontinus House officially begins its operation.
After the BIP7, Frontinus House officially begins its operation.

Frontinus House will initiate funding rounds during which builders present the most innovative and compelling project ideas that resonate with the vision, mission, and goals of Loot Realms.

The ultimate goal of Frontinus House is to foster a culture of transparency, accountability, and collaboration in the utilization of public capital. It also aims to back the development of superior public infrastructure tailored to meet the community's needs. By doing so, RAW aims to achieve its vision of autonomy, promote transparency and collaboration within the loot ecosystem, and provide essential support for community-driven projects and infrastructure development.

Grow the Realmpire: Realm Grant Speed Run

With frontinus house ready, the inaugral realm grant application began. The 24 thoughtful proposals submitted for the recent Loot Realm Genesis Grant showcase a revitalized interest and engagement within the Lootverse ecosystem, marking a recovery from the stagnation it experienced over the past year. In the fiery excitement after Loot's launch, nearly 300 derivative projects blazed onto the scene, focusing primarily on cultural and creative initiatives and collectively forming the Lootverse. However, by mid-2022, only around 30 projects, mainly centered around cultural and creative pursuits, managed to survive the initial fervor.

With the passage of another year, a mere 5 of those 30 projects remained active, reflecting a decline in momentum. However, a significant transition occurred when the Dojo game engine was introduced on Starknet. This engine lowered barriers for developers and opened the door for a new wave of projects, particularly within the realm of gaming and interactive experiences. As a result of this shift, a fresh burst of energy arrived, and 24 new proposals have now emerged through the Realm Grant. This new wave of projects, predominantly game-related, has led to a resurgence in Lootverse activity, bringing the current count of active projects back up to about 30. This evolution from 300 creative projects, to 30 cultural survivors, to just 5 active initiatives, and now back to a diverse 30 projects, encapsulates the dynamic journey of the Lootverse ecosystem.

The renewed energy and transition towards gaming-related projects is closely tied to the rise of the Dojo game engine on Starknet. By providing a powerful and accessible platform for game developers, Dojo has invigorated the creative landscape within Lootverse. This, coupled with Lootverse's organic momentum, heralds a welcoming spring after the crypto winter.

List of the 24 Realm grant applications
List of the 24 Realm grant applications

Loot Realm Genesis Grant Applicants ChatGPT Speedrun

Lootverse's resilience through its ups and downs over the past year underscores its deep-rooted nature. With this revived energy and newly reinforced foundations, Lootverse stands poised to flourish into its next phase of decentralized world-building, showcasing the vibrancy of collaborative ecosystems built on open infrastructure - Loot.

The recent news confirms the formal approval of the proposal in BIP-14. The number of qualified grants has increased from 5 to 10, signalling the substantial confidence for boosting the ecosystem within the Realms community.

BIP-14: Increase Frontinus House Proposal 1 Grants to 10

Bull Case for Lootverse and Dojo Game Engine

The Lootverse has cultivated a vibrant ecosystem driven by composability and interoperability between its core NFT primitives. Projects like Realms, Loot, Genesis Adventurers, and Crypts & Caverns establish reusable building blocks that make collaborative worldbuilding seamless. This modular approach lowers the barrier for developers and creators to participate. With shared infrastructure spanning maps, items, characters, and more, the Lootverse empowers imagination to run wild.

At the narrative layer, the Lootverse exemplifies the potential of decentralized storytelling. By designing narrative devices that spark creativity, the community organically constructs an intricate world through collective authorship. This decentralized model resists consolidation under a single vision, instead nurturing a multitude of diverse perspectives. Lootverse demonstrates how blockchain enables perpetual, open-ended stories shaped by collaborative participation.

Complementing rich worldbuilding assets, Dojo provides a robust technical foundation as a game engine tailored for blockchain's capabilities. Dojo's architecture based on recursive proofs, incremental verification, and compressed state storage unlocks new frontiers in onchain gaming. Combined with Cairo's advantages in performance, generality, and similarities to Rust, Dojo establishes a development environment poised to unlock gameplay complexity far surpassing current limitations.

With strong primitives across narrative, economic, and technical layers, the Lootverse and Dojo possess immense potential. As interoperable building blocks accumulate and tooling matures, their momentum becomes unstoppable. We are witnessing the birth of a new creative paradigm that will reshape how collaborative digital worlds are built. When imagination and innovation converge, the possibilities are endless.

The stage is set for the Lootverse and Dojo to catalyse the next generation of community-driven gaming universes. As the spectacle unfolds, it's clear this is still only the beginning.

Screenshot for the remade version of Realm Eternum using Dojo
Screenshot for the remade version of Realm Eternum using Dojo

Roles of Asia-Based Developers and Why Bullish Asia

Lootverse provides a fantasy sandbox reminiscent of beloved Asian gaming themes like the Three Kingdoms. In China, Three Kingdoms games occupy nearly 10% of the gaming market, encompassing diverse genres from RPGs to MOBAs. Honor of Kings (Arena of Valor), the world's highest grossing game, even features over 20% of characters from the Three Kingdoms era.

The cultural resonance of Three Kingdoms throughout Asia can be mirrored in Lootverse's global appeal. As Lootverse expands, Asian developers, especially Chinese, can replicate proven formulas from Three Kingdoms titles. With formidable productivity and successful templates to adapt from, Asia teams are poised to deliver Lootverse games occupying over 10% of the on-chain gaming market, potentially rising to the popularity level of smash hits like Honor of Kings.

Their familiarity with the mass appeal of expansive lore-based gaming universes will prove invaluable. Seeing the thriving ecosystem blossoming in Asia, creators worldwide will be drawn to participate in Lootverse. Their collaborative contributions across technology, content, and operations will complement each other to revive Lootverse's originally intended decentralized ethos.

Screenshot for Loaf’s presentation for Starknet Astro Workshop in Chengdu. The event hit 100 people at one point.
Screenshot for Loaf’s presentation for Starknet Astro Workshop in Chengdu. The event hit 100 people at one point.

With its narrative resonance and composable primitives, Lootverse can become the next breakthrough gaming paradigm empowered by Asia's developer community. Their expertise makes them essential in steering Lootverse towards true decentralization and diversity. By bridging global creators, Asia teams bring us closer to metaverse-scale collaborative storytelling.

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