How to Make On-Chain Gaming Competitive: 'Odyssey and Interoperability' [Part 3]
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October 11th, 2022

MatchboxDAO is a collective of developers, artists, and designers building the infrastructure of on-chain games with StarkNet.

This is the third article in MatchboxDAO’s series on “How to Make On-Chain Gaming Competitive”. A new article will be released Tuesday every fortnight and will cover different topics around how developers are shaping on-chain games to become more intuitive and entertaining for gamers. This can include new features, games, onboarding tools and just about anything that improves the on-chain experience in a gaming context.

It’s part of our ongoing efforts to reduce stigma around blockchain gaming and to show the benefits behind keeping these features on-chain in a trustless, accessible manner. We hope this series can drive adoption from new developers and gamers because the future of on-chain gaming will be collaborative. Join us each fortnight to learn where this space is heading and how we’re preserving integrity and most importantly, fun in gaming.

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Introduction:

When we think of the gaming possibilities enabled by the blockchain, tokenization is the first thing that comes to mind. The past narratives around “gamefi” have thoroughly drilled this thought into crypto investors, and gamer’s heads alike (many times in a detrimental way). Visions of excessive financialization inspire speculators, but blight gamers.

Matchbox DAO wants to reframe this narrative towards innovations in blockchain gaming that aren’t inherently financialized. What we’re traversing in this article is composability and interoperability. These features are the next logical step following tokenization. They also address something severely lacking in traditional gaming. Let’s dive into how Matchbox DAO’s flagship game Odyssey plays a role.

What Sets Odyssey Apart?

Odyssey is Matchbox DAO’s flagship strategy game. Myst, the game’s lead developer states that he wants the game to “become a central community tool for people/DAOs/Protocol to see each other in a single heroic-fantasy-themed galaxy.”, leaving endless room for decentralized expansion on this base universe. The key feature that’s left out of traditional gaming is this interoperability.

There is no incentive for traditional gaming studios to make their game assets useable or integrated into a rival studio’s console or universe. Even certain mods for games are disavowed, as studios are hesitant to let users build too much on top of their games. In crypto, there is much more incentive for communities to partner with one another.

The difference in incentive structure is our competitive advantage with the traditional gaming world. Allowing resources to be used across a number of separate gaming experiences is a massive value prop for on-chain games. Odyssey will serve as one of the “base layers” for interoperable gaming experiences in the Matchbox and Starknet ecosystems. For this reason, Myst is working with Matchbox to onboard as many developers as possible to collaborate and use Odyssey’s universe for their respective adventures.

Who Does Interoperability Cater To?

Richard Bartle’s four players framework is helpful for understanding the reason behind interoperability as a use case for Odyssey, and on-chain games as a whole. A brief overview of this framework is that most gamers are categorized into four general categories as shown in the picture below:

The largest of these archetypes is the sociable gamer. Bartle estimates that around 80% of gamers are mainly interested in the social interaction aspect of gaming. Building interoperability is extremely appealing to any iteration of the social gamer. The communities that are built around interoperable gaming ecosystems like Odyssey, and other on-chain games appeal heavily to the sociable archetype, but not exclusively to them.

Bartle’s archetypes are not all encompassing, and the truth is always more complex than what they lead us to believe. That being said, they give us a framework for understanding what value we can provide to gamers and what utility they’ll draw from our projects.

Inter-game asset composability creates another dimension to guild questing, resource pools, loot collection and cooperation. New mechanics and strategies will inevitably introduce themselves as players adapt to a different paradigm. Odyssey aims to make their genesis planets a starting point or launchpad for projects to create new adventures from.

Matchbox DAO has been cultivating game infrastructure projects intentionally designed to further possibilities in blockchain gaming. One project that Myst is especially excited to integrate is Guildly. This project enables shared player accounts that can manage resources, perform in game actions and distribute loot.

Why Strategy Games?

Strategy games are an extraordinarily popular option for on-chain game developers. Token mechanics provide possibilities that expand what traditional strategy games are capable of. Players can stake real ownership of in game assets, and exchange them like any crypto token. Assigning strategic elements a form of “value” adds in more depth to the already complex game theory behind strategy games like Civilization, Starcraft and others.

Two commonly used terms in gaming (crypto gaming specifically) are two mechanics called sinks and faucets. Faucets refer to in-game mechanics that put out new assets into the ecosystem, and sinks are mechanics that take these same assets out of circulation, creating scarcity. Interoperability between games and game assets will force players to consider new ways to manipulate sinks and faucets across platforms.

Odyssey serves as a foundation for multiple grand strategy adventures that DAOs, individuals, and other projects can embark on. Different games that decide to build with Odyssey can make use of shared sinks and faucets. Odyssey is built on Starknet, which offers increased computational power. Myst aims to use this to “bring interesting, spatially based game mechanics that aren’t possible on EVM.”

Conclusion:

Odyssey will be Matchbox DAO, and Starknet’s sandbox for storytelling. The developer community that’s building on Starknet is unmatched. There is no better way to let them shine than to create a way for them to collaborate and share their stories in a composeable way. Room for new developers is always expanding too! So if you’re inclined, feel free to pop in the Discord server and inquire about how you can build your project with Matchbox. We’re looking for developers with interesting projects in mind, and Myst is specifically looking for 3D designers to help with Odyssey.

Matchbox DAO has made itself a key part of the on-chain gaming ecosystem by fostering this composability. Partnering with like-minded gaming projects like LootRealms and Influence serves to further build communities that interact across games. On-chain games are still in their early days. This is why creating infrastructure and building blocks that foster cooperation now, will set a foundation that guides this industry’s development away from the pitfalls of traditional gaming.

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