Soulbonds: the last chapter

Building in the crypto space is challenging when you're not willing to fool people. So, let's share the journey of our project, Soulbonds, and why we made the decision to sunset it. But don't be disheartened, because the end is the beginning, and the beginning is the end.

Please ensure you read (or at least scroll) to the end of this post.

TLDR: This is the end for Soulbonds, but we've learned some valuable lessons (really, read the post fully) and are ready to move forward with a new team and ideas under the Transition Labs umbrella. Soulbonds holders will have various benefits in new projects, and for this reason, the mint is ending, but you still have a few days to choose the final look for Souls in our constructor. See you very soon 👀

The beginning

Soulbonds, an idea that emerged in the seemingly distant October of 2021, had a concept similar to our friends at DegenScore (we even used DegenPass as a placeholder name). We envisioned that users would be able to issue an NFT and modify it based on their actions on the mainnet, a term used to describe a live blockchain network where real transactions occur.

However, we faced an issue. Many of you enjoy the speculative aspect of NFTs, often flipping them for a quick profit. So what would happen to the NFT in this scenario? Should the new owner have the same avatar, even if it doesn't reflect their personal journey? Or should we convert the NFT back to its base state, erasing all its progress?

At the time, we didn't have answers to these questions, nor did we know how to make profile updates cost-effective. Maybe we should have abandoned the idea, but we decided to forge ahead.

The first slide of our product deck
The first slide of our product deck

The rising action

In due course, we formed a team with programmers and an artist. However, our lack of product-building experience slowed us down. We spent months reworking the art and contemplating solutions to the avatar update issue. Then two significant events occurred:

  • Vitalik presented the Soulbound concept, which harmonized with our idea.

  • We discovered that Ceramic Network had launched its production-ready version for streams.

These breakthroughs solved our initial problems, but not the speculative component. So we decided to emulate World of Warcraft (WoW) and introduced NFT burning as a nod to WoW's disenchant mechanism. The idea was that if the market continues to rise, then at some point in the future, you could burn the token, break even or make a profit, while enjoying a unique experience.

Around the same time, we thought it would be beneficial to collaborate with DegenScore, who, fortunately, wasn't moving in our direction. At this juncture, the first projects with similar mechanics began to appear, such as Cheshire Cats from Opyn, and Zerion DNA from Zerion.

The climax

We rapidly advanced towards the production stage and launched our social networks. Progress was faster than in the first six months, but still not quick enough, and we were rapidly depleting our resources.

The market began to cool down, and adversities such as the theft of hundreds of millions of USD by North Korea and the collapse of Terra, affecting many retail users, emerged. The situation was grim, but it seemed we had already crossed the point of no return.

We continued working diligently on our website to launch our beta - World of Soulcraft. The engagement was encouraging, with over 500 mints for the experimental NFT on the testnet and one user completing all activities to gain all possible traits. However, despite our explanations, some users were confused by the burn mechanics, leading us to exclude it from the mainnet version to reduce the mint price.

The resolution

We aimed to make our product more engaging by introducing a leaderboard for a competitive element. Everything was thoroughly tested and ready for launch. However, our last-minute decision to use Safe, coupled with unscheduled maintenance from Ceramic at the time of launch, worked against us.

The delayed launch seriously reduced interest in Soulbonds, which led to the fact that the minimum supply for launching the referral system was hardly achievable. This, in turn, led to discontent, as minters wanted to start making money on the wave of hype immediately.

Despite adding new traits and regular raffles for the community, interest in the project did not begin to grow. The momentum was lost.

The end

We are announcing today that the lifecycle of the Soulbonds project is coming to an end. However, this does not signify the end of our community. You have a few more days to finalize the appearance of your Soul, but minting will cease from this point forward.

First and foremost, we extend our heartfelt gratitude for your participation in this experiment. It was a difficult decision, but at times, it is better to conclude a difficult-to-revive project and steer towards a new direction without forgetting our early supporters. You can anticipate new launches from our team, which will prioritize token holders, and we still plan to share alpha with the community periodically.

Collaborating with industry-significant projects such as DegenScore and Ceramic enabled us to accelerate our progress and avoid starting from scratch. We greatly respect their contributions.

To facilitate further improvement of our experiment, we intend to publish some of our work's outcomes shortly. We encourage you to fork this and use it as the foundation for a project to revolutionize how crypto users visually express their digital journeys.

Lessons learned

  1. Starting a project with friends seems like a great idea because you already know each other well. However, if not all participants have equal skin in the game, it can create internal tensions and problems. Despite any issues, we continue to have deep respect for those we collaborated with during Soulbonds' creation, and we apologize for any missteps.

  2. The creation of experimental products shouldn't span an entire year, even if the goal is to perfect the UI, among other aspects. Deadlines were influenced by the full-time work of some team members, but the process could have been expedited and achieved with fewer resources.

  3. Timing is crucial when launching experiments. In our case, it was practically the ATL in all metrics for the past year, happening after Alameda's collapse. If we had been ready sooner, we could have avoided this scenario.

  4. It's essential to freeze features before the launch to prevent the introduction of new bugs. Who would have guessed that simply using a multisig could cause a bug that would render minting impossible and delay the launch by ten minutes?

New beginning

So, where has all this brought us?

Our journey as a web3 collective has just begun, and we've already gleaned some invaluable lessons. The launch of our new project is slated for next week, and we eagerly await your feedback. As we've mentioned before, the Soulbonds community will have benefits you can capitalize on.

We decided to call ourselves Transition Labs to show the connection between all future projects clearly. The next thing will be launched soon…

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