Play to earn

NFT gaming for work

A recent tweet led me to YieldGuildGames, or YGG, described as “a decentralized gaming guild of players and investors who generate yield from NFT-based games.” The Discord server was filled with requests from Filipino players asking for “scholarships” to play Axie Infinity. It cost several hundred dollars to get three Axies, Pokemon-like creatures, to play the game, but players can earn several dollars a week playing the game, and many people in the Philippines have come to rely on it for income. It’s really quite something.

I watched this documentary with the girls earlier today. Elder had a couple reactions to it. The first was to the economic conditions, “is that where they live?” and the other was whether I would buy her some Axies so that she could earn some money also. No.

I did however, look into sponsoring a team. My wife’s brother and father are both married to Filipino women, so I reached out to them so see if either of them had any insight into this. No answer yet, but I also reached out on the YGG Discord and wound up having a long talk with their head of partnerships, who goes by the alias Sarutobi Sasuke. Right now, you can basically donate Axie’s SLP token to them and it will be used to see teams, but there’s no actual investment opportunity available with YGG as of yet. There are other groups that are funding teams for a revenue stake, but I haven’t looked into that yet.

Sarutobi had a long-ranging conversation that touched on a lot of stuff in the blockchain gaming space. He’s keeping tabs on a lot of different projects, and we both agreed that this whole play-to-earn phenomenon is just getting started, and is going to open up a lot of interesting possibilities for people in developing countries, as well as work in general. This is kind of my whole thesis behind Star Atlas, but it did make me question what’s going to happen if the game gets flooded with farmers from around the world trying to eke out a living in the game.

It’s remarkable how far the game industry has come in the last couple decades. I remember Chinese gold farmers getting run out of World of Warcraft back in the day, and now we’re at the point where farming for real world money is actively encouraged. It’s a very interesting development. It’s indeed a very strange world where a seventy-five year old man plays a video game twelve hours a day to be able to buy his medicines. Fucking weird.

Game maker family

Today is Missus’s first full day back at the office, so it’s going to be interesting to see how things go with the kids. Everyone is up bright and shiny today, but Younger has been a bit defiant and got a spanking for throwing the cream cheese across the kitchen at breakfast. I think she was testing me, so better to set the tone early. I don’t have anything to do for Zombie, LLC. today except for a hand-off meeting, so I plan on getting things done today.

I finished the Rustlings tutorials yesterday and started on the Rust track at Exercism, I figure I’ll do one a day to keep the blood flowing and build up a reputation, but I don’t want to spend too much time on it since I need to get working on Solana. The hackathon started three or four days ago, so I don’t have much time. It looks like whatever I’ll be doing will be solo for now, as I can’t really prioritize it until I get a few more things done.

The SAIA Dao has between thirty and forty thousand dollars in it right now. The dao itself has the majority of it right now, plus I have some in a Gnosis multisig, and a Solana wallet. I’m the only owner on the Gnosis vault right now, and the Solana wallet is a soft-wallet, so the first order of business is testing and figuring out how to use Solana multi-sig. Identifying who would be the co-owners is another challenge entirely.

I’ve been floating a couple of ideas around in my head for the Star Atlas Arcade, which is offering some $25k in prizes for the hackathon. I hadn’t really settled on anything solid, but then a friend sent me a message about a yield farm pool called HyperJump. It has a spaceship theme to it, and one thing I noticed is that they have a clone of Asteroids in their arcade. The game is built using Unity’s web player, and that gave me an idea.

I spent an hour or so last night downloading Unity and going through a tutorial to create my own Asteroid clone, which I’m calling Star Atlasteroids. I got most of it done, but there are a couple bugs that are preventing it from running properly. I need to do some research to see what options are available to make it work with the outside world, then I may be able to get it to work with Solana. Storing the high scores on Solana might be the first step, but from there there are a lot of things that need to be done, like wallet integration, printing NFTs and so on. HyperJump is giving me some ideas.

Unity has come a long way, and I was showing some of the demos to Elder. She loves games, and I’ve tried to encourage her to learn how to make them. The most I’ve gotten her to do so far is build one of these obbys in Roblox using off-the shelf assets. Last night I told her I was building a game and she immediately started writing down story ideas for ‘planets” in the game. (This morning she came down talking about a “mummy mountain”.) I’m hoping we’ll have more time to work on these ideas together so I can help foster her creativity. Plus digital modeling and game development could be a very lucrative skill.

Still, Unity is a bit more complicated than Roblox. Besides editing assets in the workspace, she’s never really gotten into the whole scripting side of things. Roblox uses Lua, Unity uses C#, and Unreal Engine, which I’ve yet to delve into, uses C++. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get her to delve into the nuts and bolts on this.

Now that Missus is transitioning back to office work, and my days at Zombie are down the single digits, I hope we’ll have more time to work with her on some of these things. It’ll be fun. Of course Younger will need attention as well, but she’ll be starting Kindergarten this fall. I’ll be starting Elder at Galileo XP when public school wraps up a week after my work does, so this summer will be a test for what could a very interesting family business.

Business plan hack plan

Today has been a bit of a mess. I just finished putting the first application of putty over the hole I made in the bathroom wall months ago when I got mad at Elder. The girls are down the street at a birthday party, and I’ve been messing around with Solana trying to get the week’s Star Atlas poster on Serum and losing my mind.

Solana transactions are nothing like Ethereum’s EVM transactions. I’m at the point now where I can follow the transfers of tokens going in, out and every which way, but Solana is just a completely foreign beast. Seriously, what in the hell is this?

I must have tried five transactions on the Serum DEX before I figured out that I needed to pay for the posters at a higher price as there was an exchange fee in the transaction that wasn’t displayed on the site. Oh well.

I just sold another week one poster on OpenSea, bringing my total to five sold. I’ve managed to sell all of them for at least double the starting price, but I’m going to run out of capital in a week if I can’t move more of them. I’ve already got fifteen of week two, which ends sales any minute, and Ill be able to afford nine of next week’s posters with the starting capital and proceeds that I’ve got now. My business plan is below.

I’ve figured out that I can list on OpenSea without any gas, and allow others to scoop them up from me, covering the cost. Changing the price or cancelling is going to cost me, and then there’s the whole situation with moving them over to Solana when I’m done. I figured that the posters would be works of art in their own right, and non-gamers would be willing to pick them up on Ethereum at a premium, and it’s mostly been borne out. There is a pretty big price discrepancy between the networks, as gas is a huge consideration. So to that end, I bought five of this week’s poster on Solana. I’m not sure how I’m going to split things moving forward, so we’ll just have to see how the price moves.

I got my Ledger wallet yesterday, and moved my IRA funds to it. God, I hate it. Compared to the Trezor or Lattice it is obviously inferior device. Inputting the pin is a pain, and I couldn’t even get it to work on my Ubuntu workstation yesterday. It may have been operator error, but the Trezor’s ability to enter the pin via the keyboard’s number pad is so much better.

I actually started looking at what it would take to bring Solana support to the Lattice. They’re going to be opening up the device’s SDK a bit, so I may try to dig in with that. I signed up for the Solana hackathon, thinking that it might make a good project, but the hackathon starts in a week and ends on June 7th. I had thought it started on June 7, and the device won’t be ready for me. As alternatives, I considered joining up with someone to try to port the MolochDao or Gnosis Vault contracts, but then I saw this Tweet.

So, yea, I know what I’ll be working on during the hackathon! Now to come up with some arcade game ideas.

NFT Flip

Today marks the end of the week 1 Star Atlas NFT sale, and I’ve been trying to figure out what sort of plan I’m going to put in place. I spent some time this morning trying to figure out how many I would have to sell in order to flip my way up the ladder. I calculated what it would take if I was able to get 200% and 150% of the original purchase price. This is if I wanted to have two of the fourteenth poster, one I could sell.

The game theory on this one is hard to work out. We’ve got both Solana and Ethereum mainnets, and no way to bridge assets from one to the other — yet. I assume the Star Atlas bridge will be one-way, but haven’t confirmed that yet. They also haven’t launched the market yet, so OpenSea is the only real place to sell them at this time.

If I hold to my risk profile, I’ve got enough funds to buy a dozen of the first three posters, but that doesn’t account for gas costs to manage the sale, or bridge costs if I eventually have to send them over to Solana and put them to use. It’s a risk, and I’m not sure quite what I’m going to do yet.

There have been a few thousand posters sold on the Solana marketplace, but only a hundred or so on OpenSea. I think Opensea is more likely to appeal to people who are interested in the NFTs so much more than the in-game items. And the starting cost for fourteen posters is only $900, so I think I may go ahead and move forward with that now and see what I can do.

SAIA Dao launch

We are truly living in the future

Well, I feel pretty good about things. I managed to summon SAIA Dao last night with fifty members. I may have padded that with one or two friends without their permission just to make that a nice round number, but anyways. I don’t even know how many hours I spent on the proposal itself, trying to get people on board, and just shilling the hell out of it in the official SA channel, but I think it’s going to work out OK.

I decided on a proposal velocity of twenty-four, since that will allow us to process new member requests and tribute proposals (dao funding) at a pretty quick pace over the next few weeks. Voting periods are five days and grace periods are two. I made one small flub, and didn’t notice that the primary token is not xDAI, but wrapped xDIA. Wrapping it is pretty easy to do via WrapEth, so it’s just a minor annoyance.

DaoHaus has a number of boosts available, including a Discourse subtopic, which will save some money to start with and allow us to break out some of the formal discussions out of Discord. The Discourse server is configured with, which allows one to login using their Ethereum address or an NFT. I had not previously heard of cryptoauth, but seems like an awesome project that replaces OAuth and uses (another awesome service that I’d never heard of).

These type of services, using NFTs and Eth addresses for authentication, really open up some interesting possibilities. Star Atlas is using NFTs for their game system, we already knew that ships and loot would be tokens, but a look at their Genesis rewards indicates that they may be used as some sort of credentialing system for rank.

This brings up some interesting scenarios for guild management. Services like Collab.Land allow you to create token-permissioned chats in Discord using ERC20, 721s, or POAP tokens. It can basically allow server roles based on tokens in your wallet. Completely fascinating.

And if that wasn’t completely bonkers enough for you, here’s an NFT Discord Bot that allows you to mint an NFT by uploading a file to Discord. You can create multiple copies, send them to other Discord IDs and move them to mainnet. It runs on a sidechain called webaverse, which is a “virtual world built with NFTs”. These possibilities are incredible.

As far as the xDAI chain goes, it looks like the most developed project out there for creating NFTs is Cargo, which has pretty slick project management and token creation tools available. I messed around with it a bit last night, but didn’t really get around to doing to much with it, but you can embed audio, video, 3D files within the NFT as publicly available files, or lock private ones that are only accessible to the owner.

Basically, to sum up a pretty winding post, we could use Cargo to mint membership or rank NFTs for the Interstellar Alliance members, and use them as keys to unlock access to forums or provide other permissions within Discord or other applications. This type of stuff is part of a broader conversation that’s been going on with identity and web3 that’s pretty cutting edge.

If we are going to build truly permissionless, decentralized systems, then we’re going to need new identity services that don’t rely on Gmail, or Facebook, or even our state-mandated IDs.

Space Corp

Decentralized Autonomous Corporations in Space Atlas

TL;DR: Read the DAO NFT Pool proposal here.

So yesterday we wrote about airplane crashes, now we move to space ships. Yesterday I became aware of Star Atlas, a new space-themed MMO that is launching soon. It’s like EVE: Online, or Star Citizen, but it incorporates blockchain mechanics and will run on the Solana ecosystem.

I’ve been a gamer for decades, and I’ve always loved space fighters, going all the way back to XWing vs. TIE Fighter and Wing Commander. I spent years playing EVE, but it was a huge time suck. I made a personal decision to scale back my gaming activities some time ago, as I figured that I wanted to spend more time playing the game of life. I still enjoy the occasional causal game, but I purposefully stay away from AAA open ended games, especially MMOs. I’ll admit that my personal and professional life has benefited from this decision tremendously. I treat investing and crypto as a game these days, running up my score via trading and yield farming. It’s much more lucrative than playing in imaginary worlds, and was one of the main reasons that I shied away from games like Elite Dangerous. Spending an hour of my day flying a trade mission across a dozen systems just did not seem like a productive, let alone enjoyable, use of my time.

This Tweet came across my TL yesterday and took up most of my day. The game is still in production so I read through the whitepaper and was seriously impressed. It seems to be iterating on all of the latest and greatest games of the last couple years: EVE, Star Citizen, Elite Dangerous, and No Man’s Sky, among others. It incorporates much of the game play mechanics that you would expect from these games, but then merges with with blockchain tech: in-game currencies, governance tokens, NFTs, and a defi ecosystem that includes lending, AMM and yield farming. As you can expect, I am very excited to see how this plays out.

The game is launching in several phases, the first will be the Galactic Asset Offering (GAO) in which in-game assets will be sold as NFTs on Opensea. Mining, staking and yield farming will be available during this time, but the assets won’t be playable until phase two, when an MVP browser based mini-game will be available. The target is July. There will another phase, a shipyard-configuration module before the final pre-sale before launch. There’s no ETA on when that will launch, as far as I know.

Prior to the GAO will be this ReBirth: Genesis NFT sale. It’s fascinating. They’re going to sell a series of thirteen meta-posters, each one available per week. The price for each series will go up, and they’re divided into tiers that will unlock certain rewards or in-game bonuses. On top of that, anyone collecting all thirteen NFTs will be able to claim a special fourteenth NFT. Details are the NFT rewards are light right now, but I can imagine they’ll be sufficient for the investment.

Obviously, I’m not willing to spend $524,000 on a series of NFTs, but I assumed that there was some group that was. I had read about a DAO that had bought an NFT for $5.4 million, so I went looking to see who was actively fundraising to pool resources.

I popped on the Star Atlas Discord and quickly found a guild named Interstellar Alliance, and found a dao/pool discussion already ongoing. No one was putting any serious proposals together, so of course I went to work and started writing.

The general idea is to use a DaoHaus/MolochDao guild to pool resources. Stake in the DAO –shares — will be proportional to investment. Ultimately, the goal is to purchase all thirteen NFTs to earn the last one. From there the dao can vote on what gets done with them afterward. This could be a speculative play, to sell the collection off or to farm rewards that come from them. The collection can be bundled and tokenized in a way that they can become tradable, or the assets can eventually be bridged over to Solana for use in game. Those details will have to be worked out later, as I’m primarily focused on putting together something that can be done in a trustless manner. There’s been much interest in the proposal, and we already have 19 pledges for a minimum total of over $39,000. We still have a ways to go, but we have enough interest to move forward. I think there will be enough excitement once things start moving that we’ll have no problem finding full funding. For now I’m focused on Kovan testing to make sure that I understand the gas costs needed to operate DaoHaus and Gnosis, and working out additional details with the community.

This project really fascinates me. It bridges daos and smart contracts, speculative investing, community management, and opens up an opportunity to learn how to dev on Solana, (and learn Rust). I’m going to be digging into this over the coming weeks to see whether operating or being a part of one of these in-game DACs could actually become a viable career. Imagine, playing a video game and making enough real-money revenue to live off of. It sounds like the future.

Gaming for dads

I have been a gamer literally all my life. I remember my dad’s IBM PS/2, it had a game that taught me to type, it was like missile command but letters were falling from the sky: a, d , s, f then later: j, k, l, ;. There was another that I was horrible at, it was a robot that turned into a jet and flew around in some underground cavern with enemies. Then came the Nintendo, the Gameboys. Final Fantasy and Mario Brothers. The second-gen consoles, then back to the PC and simulators. Practically taught myself to fly a plan for real — I have the video to prove it! — and still waiting for an opportunity to take a car out on a real track.

The height of VGA excellence in 1987. I was eight.

Anyways, I don’t have time much for games these days. Not with the side hustles and other projects going on. What I have enjoyed is playing games with the kids. I’ve managed to avoid most of the Candyland and Chutes and Ladders type of games, for the most part. I taught the older one to play Carcassonne. Not that she’s good at it, mind you, but she can at least get the hang of it. Forbidden Island was another that she likes to play, although it’s mostly me directing and doing most of the work. So of course I went out and bought Pokemon for eldest’s last birthday, and ran through a couple games. Takes practically 90 minutes with all the setup and stuff, which is hard to do with the little one wanting to have a hand in it. So I put on the computer version, and so far we’ve been pretty good with that. Safe, from a parenting perspective, but the Pokemon show, and the books, are about the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. Not to mention the other copycat shows with things like fighting tops and whatnot that are all designed to sell crap to kids. Of course, G.I. J.O.E. and He-Man were just as bad, but we’ll leave that for another day.

So anyways, I decided to let the eldest start taking a play through some of the games on my Steam collection. I put on some simple, E for Everyone things that I thought she would enjoy, and she eventually took to Hexcells, a great logic puzzle game, and has been playing through that for the past couple weeks. Just an hour on Saturday or Sunday. Eventually she started getting up early during the week, doing her chores without asking in order to play for fifteen or twenty minutes before we go into daycare.

Well earlier this week I heard about WOW Classic getting released this month, and I thought I’d see how well she did with that. We had a bad experience with Minecraft where she kept getting killed by zombies and got really frustrated and I had to cut her time short due to a tantrum, so I wanted to keep a close eye on her and see how well she could do with a close eye on her. So I created an account for her, enabled parental controls, — no chat, time limits — and let her play Hearthstone while WOW downloaded. She got the hang of it after an hour. Not that she was very tactical about it, but she managed to play through the tutorial and and a few practice rounds with me peeking over her shoulder and explaining things. So I thought everything was cool.

We took a break and I told mom what we were up to, and BOOM!! Big fight. “World of Warcraft is not appropriate for a six year old!” “Well, maybe, but I’m gonna watch her and play with her and see how she does.” “World of Warcraft is not appropriate for a six year old!” “Well, I turned off the chat and put on a time limit so…” “World of Warcraft is not appropriate for a six year old!” And things just went downhill from there until I was repeating back “World of Warcraft is not appropriate for a six year old”.

So we were done with games for the day, so I cooked dinner, went outside with the kids to let them play while I read, and they went inside while I finished reading, cleaned up, and snuck in an ice cream sandwich. I went inside, to find the three of them sitting on the couch, watching Jupiter Ascending, with guns and shooting and blasting and torture and all kinds of other stuff.

I just sat on the couch and read my book till it was time for baths.

Game(r) development

So I’ve been playing a whole lotta HearthStone lately. A lot. I’ve been using Icy-Veins for basic decks and card descriptions to up my game, and although I haven’t gotten anywhere near legend ranking, I have been doing pretty well. I started tracking my game history in OneNote, tracking the cards my opponents have played against me to try and some good openers. I’ve been somewhat limited with my success as I refuse to pay for decks and have been spending all of my gold to buy Naxxramas wings, (I’ve just started the Construct quarter,) and I did find an interesting project that will automate that for me. It’s called Hearthstone Deck Tracker, and in addition to showing me which cards of my deck I’ve drawn and which ones remains, it will also record my opponent’s plays and will even allow me to export them into a deck of my own pretty handy. This tracker belongs to a series of programs which have sprung up that utilize Hearthstone’s debug log to pull this information. Another one is a tool created by Elie Bursztein and his wife used data collected from over 100,000 games to predict what card you opponent will play next. They gave a talk at Defcon where they demoed the tool as well as some of their research on valuing Hearthstone cards, but apparently someone from Blizzard was in the audience and convinced them not to release the tool for fear of ruining the game. One of the things that their tool did have was a tracker that shows card, hand and mana advantage between your opponent, and that does look like something that could be integrated into the Hearthstone Tracker, which is written in C. I’ve been delving into the source code to try and and figure out if I can make any contributions to it.

HearthStone was actually created with the Unity3D development platform, and I’ve been playing around with that lately, having finished several of the tutorial projects with it. I don’t really have too much interest in developing a full fledged 3D game, but it has real object-oriented scripting, unlike GameMaker, which doesn’t fully implement OO methods. Unity seems really powerful, and I’m looking forward to delving into it a bit more and seeing if any projects come from it.

I’ve also been inspired to add to my real life collection lately. Reading the blog on the site, I was inspired even more. Every time I’d go into Barnes and Nobles I’d drool over the Android:Netrunner and other strategy games, and a few weeks ago they had copies of Summoner Wars on sale for half off, and I had to go back and pick one up. It’s a cool game; I’ve only had a chance to play a few games with a few friends, including a 2v1 match that ran on way to late and ended in a draw. And I also caved in and bought A:NR off of Amazon and have played a few games with it. I’ve probably spent more time teaching it to other people than I have playing it, but I found that there’s a version of it on OCTGN, which is like VASSAL on steroids, and I’ve had a couple good matches on there. The best part is that OCTGN and the modules are open source, so I can look through the Python code to see how the game mechanics were implemented. Fascinating stuff.

Halfway between the polished gem of Hearthstone’s Unity engine and the arcane workings of OCTGN/VASSAL games is HEX, a Magic:The Gathering clone that is currently in beta. The mechanics of the game seem strong, but the graphics and the game flow itself seem rather clunky. I’ve only played two games against AI thus far, but the interface has a ways to go yet. I don’t really recall how M:TG online plays in comparision, but it seems like the amount of clicks passing back and forth between players each turn is way to much. One thing I’ve yet to figure out is whether all the cards in Hex will be available by grinding the game, such as in Hearthstone, or whether certain cards will only be available through real-money decks, as I hear was done with the latest Dual of the Planeswalker version.