On Thursday, October 24th, Blocklords participated in Neo Global Development’s (NGD) English Neo Live event. Neo Live is an Ask Me Anything (AMA) style community event that takes place on the official Neo Telegram channel. In addition to the English event, NGD also hosts weekly Neo Live events in Chinese via WeChat.
Blocklords founder and CEO, David Johansson, participated in the AMA, where he discussed his history in the Neo ecosystem, motivation behind creating Blocklords, current development efforts, and perspective on the blockchain gaming industry.
The full transcript can be found below:
David Johansson (Blocklords founder and CEO): Hey everyone, very excited to be joining this event and sharing my thoughts about blockchain gaming and its future. I’ve been a follower and hodler of NEO since the Antshares days. Joined my first Neo dev meetup in 2017 and was really inspired by the energy and enthusiasm for decentralization that was prevalent in the team. I’m originally from Sweden, but have lived in China for the last 6 years where I’ve worked as a game developer for some of the largest game studios and publishers in the country.
As soon as I started educating myself about blockchain, I realized that the technology would have a huge impact on the gaming sector. Free2play games with dubious monetization tactics squeeze out thousands of dollars from many players and at the end of the day the player owns nothing. With the power of smart contracts and non-fungible token standards, players could now directly own all of their in-game assets and monetize them however they wanted. This technology also opens up the possibility of using assets across multiple games, which is still not prevalent but a very interesting bonus for users.
Inspired by all of this potential, I began sketching out ideas for blockchain games with some friends and former colleagues in early 2018. Cryptokitties had opened up a pandora’s box and the concept of crypto games was starting to take off. But the game was still extremely simple gameplay-wise while we wanted to create something a bit more complex and fun to play. Meanwhile other teams were just taking traditional centralized games and slapping a token onto it. That also didn’t feel right. We wanted to design something entirely around blockchain tech. After a couple of months, the idea for BLOCKLORDS came to us.
In a medieval world, BLOCKLORDS players would create heroes, earn rare items, trade them in markets, conquer cities, and earn taxes if they became city lords. As experienced strategy game developers, this was the perfect game for us to start our studio with. I began writing out the white paper and sending it out to people who might be interested in supporting us. Unfortunately, this was right at the start of the bear market and getting funding for a new crypto game proved quite difficult. That’s when we got a bit of luck.
The Neo.Game event was announced and immediately I knew that we should apply. With no funding at all in place, we put together a team of interested people and started getting to work. After an intense summer of development we submitted a demo of the game and won a top prize! We were granted a $60,000 grant to develop the game. We now finally had some seed funding and begun the very complicated task of fully developing the game.
Now we were able to complete the game and launch BLOCKLORDS. Since then, the game has been able to get hundreds of players, thousands of on-chain transactions, and we have paid out over 2,000 GAS in leaderboard rewards. We know we still have a long way to go before the game is ready for mass adoption, but we are very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far and look forward to improving our game with time.
Some screenshots from the original version of BLOCKLORDS we released.
The first 6 months have passed since we launched BLOCKLORDS and we have learned a lot about blockchain development, crypto economics design, and have figured out more efficient ways to iterate and improve our game based on player feedback. One of the main issues we have faced is that most players are not willing to pay for each in-game transaction, and we are therefore slowly transitioning the game towards a free-to-play model where players still own and trade all their assets and are part of creating the in-game economy with the other players.
But in order for free to play mechanics to work, a much larger player base is needed for the economy to work sustainably. The player count for blockchain games in general is still very low, making things hard for small teams like us. In order to attract more players, we therefore need to focus most of our current efforts on developing more game features and making playing a lot more fun for all players, crypto enthusiasts or not. This is why we’ve decided to completely overhaul the game design while keeping the core blockchain features of our game as they are and working on making them nearly invisible.
BLOCKLORDS 2.0 will have a lot deeper gameplay, heroes on the map, strategic battles, item crafting, and team-based lord battles, as well as future features such as nation kings and even lord family systems, making our game closer in terms of quality to some of the most advanced strategy games currently on the market such as Crusader Kings and Total War.
Here’s a preview of the BLOCKLORDS 2.0 map. Fighting battles and building your base will be a lot more strategic and immersive.
In order to truly scale and accommodate thousands of players, it is also necessary to develop the game on layer 2 solutions based on the current tech. We are therefore exploring several possibilities on sidechains such as the LOOM Network, Celer, and COCOS-BCX. This will allow us to make the game much faster and offer free transactions, while still being able to connect to other major chains such as Ethereum, TRON, and Neo through gateways.
The future for blockchain games is bright, as the idea of monetizing the time you spend playing is a powerful one that undoubtedly will increase in popularity over time. I’d like to think that many common gamers will be able to earn their living through gaming in the next 20 years (other than streamers and e-sports stars). I even think there could be a form of universal basic income paid out through game available to everyone in the future.
For now, the industry still needs to be developed from within, with a stronger focus on user experience and actually completing projects. Too many projects and chains offer empty promises during the fundraising stage and then deliver nothing. We strongly believe that only real builders will be able to change the future of the industry, which has endless potential. More dev tools, community events, grants, platforms, and most importantly great projects are required if blockchain games are to gain a foothold with traditional gamers, but once they do, the adoption rate will become exponentially faster every year.
A lot of people have lost hope in DAPPS and think only DEFI is the solution, but I disagree with that view. They both have a hugely important part to play in the future of decentralization. I actually think that games will begin to adopt DEFI mechanics into their systems in the next few years, but again it needs to be done in a way that will attract users.
On our end, once BLOCKLORDS 2.0 is fully released we will work on polishing the user experience to make the crypto aspect as seamless as possible to new users. Once this formula is perfected, we will launch a centralized version of the game on traditional platforms such as Facebook, Steam and the various APP stores, then incentivize player to try the crypto version instead if they want to earn real monetized rewards for their time.
This is our team, we are an experienced and passionate group of game devs and can’t wait to keep developing better and better games!
We are thrilled to be a part of the Neo community and really look forward to the launch of Neo 3.0. The future is bright for those who are willing to put in true effort and creating BLOCKLORDS has been a rewarding experience. We’ve also really appreciated the feedback we’ve received from the Neo community as it is going to help us make the game better and better in the future.
If you’re interested in our project, you can visit our website here:
To play the Neo version of the game, you can visit:
That’s it from me. Thanks again and I’m happy to answer any questions!
Sharlyne Lee (NGD senior marketing manager): To make it easy for the team to trace the question, please kindly number your questions, following the previous. Please keep the questions about NEO and BLOCKLORDS, we will remain the right to select the questions. Also, the team won’t make comments on the token price.
Q1: Other than the difficulty of blockchain adoption (i.e., wallet log-in), what is stopping crypto-based games like Blocklords from becoming very popular?
David: There are a few things. Other than wallet login and adoption friction, I would say it’s the quality of the games themselves. Most of them are still nowhere near the quality of other popular games, whether AAA games or casual browser and mobile games, all of them have better production value than all of the current blockchain games.
Making games is really hard and requires a lot of resources. Unfortunately small teams like ours are the only ones doing these types of games, but we have to spend a lot of time figuring out technical stuff instead of improving the games, which is an issue. The big studios are really not that interested yet so that will have to wait. Only when a small team is able to make a truly exceptional and user-friendly blockchain game will we start to see the big players join the field.
Q2: What inspired the game?
David: I’ve always been a fan of strategy games and have developed several of them myself. The most popular game I made before crypto was LIBERATORS, which is a WW2 strategy browser game that actually won a ‘Best Game’ prize from Facebook in 2016.
So, I always knew I wanted to make a game like that. I can’t tell you exactly how the idea came as the process is complicated, but I may or may not have been a bit influenced from shows such as GAME OF THRONES and games like CRUSADER KINGS.
Q3: What have you learned since launching the game?
David: We’ve had a small but dedicated following on both the Neo and TRON versions of the game who keep the game fairly active. I can’t share the exact amount we’ve earned but our smart contract volume has been close to 100K GAS on the NEO version, and 2 million TRX on the TRON version.
Q4: How can I play the game?
David: To play the NEO version, you can go to https://neo.blocklords.io/ an O3 wallet is required to play.
Q5: What will you improve in the game?
David: Right now, we feel that we’ve achieved our goals on the smart contract side of things and want to focus the rest of the year on improving game features. Better battles, resource collection, item crafting, and team lord battles will keep players involved and playing every day.
Once those features are fully fleshed out, we will work on making the user experience as enjoyable as possible before we start targeting traditional strategy gamers more heavily.
Q6: What do you think will make blockchain games successful?
David: Quality, better user experience through the early game process, and a focus on the players. Many DAPP projects have far too little customer service. This needs to be improved for people to take these games seriously.
Q7: Does BLOCKLORDS plan to make hero non-fungible tokens (NFT)?
David: Yes, we initially didn’t make NFTs because we wanted to keep item trading within the smart contracts so taxes would go to lords, but we quickly found out this was not the best approach to keep players involved. We recently began experimenting with NFTs on Ethereum and found that making hero accounts into NFTs was a lot of fun. If the concept proves to be successful, we will bring NFT heroes to NEO as well.
Q8: What will it take to get typical gamers into blockchain and crypto?
David: It will take a really hot game where some players are actually earning money. Once gamers start hearing from their friends who made $100 selling a sword in this random online game, people will start feeling the urge to get involved as a way to earn extra cash. This is what fueled the popularity of games such as WoW and Runescape, and Bitcoin as well.
Q9: What made you interested in blockchain?
David: It’s probably a cliche answer, but I came for the tech, haha. It took me a little while, but once I truly understood the power of Bitcoin and its blockchain, I was hooked. It took less than a year for me to change my entire career to revolve around it.
Q10: How much GAS has been given out in rewards?
David: Over 2,000 GAS has been given out in Leaderboard rewards, and approximately 500 GAS from city coffers. I haven’t checked exactly how much has been paid in taxes through sales to players but would guess that’s around 200 GAS.
Q11: Has the acquisition of O3 Labs by www.bitcoin.com changed the Blocklords login method in Neo? Do you see any downsides to the acquisition?
David: We prefer keeping things simple for now and having only one wallet does make the UX flow a bit easier to new users, even if it limits the player base. We are very happy with the O3 Wallet for now and hope they will keep up the good work despite the acquisition. However, we do keep in touch with other wallet providers and will possibly add more of them in the future.
Q12: How did you choose which blockchain to build on?
David: Choosing which blockchain to build on is a complicated choice. It seems like we get approached by a new chain every two weeks asking us to build on their platform. We are pretty agnostic when it comes to chains, and want to use the option that is the most reliable, at the best speed and for the lowest price.
Reputation is an important aspect as well and Neo is definitely one of the top players in the field. For the future I believe most of the established chains will end up being connected anyways via sidechains, so we are pretty open to exploring development on any chain as long as the team and the tech is solid.
Q13: What are your favorite games?
David: As I mentioned before I’m a big strategy nerd! Paradox games such as Crusader Kings and Hearts of Iron are big favorites, as well as the total war series. Tactical espionage action games like Metal Gear are also amazing. I’ve played quite a bit of Civilization.
Q14: When will we get the first blockchain game to reach mass adoption?
David: I’m cautiously optimistic, I think we’re still two to three years away from a real breakaway hit. Blockchains need to improve their speeds, fees, and tools to scale properly. Solid teams need to put in a few years of work. And, I also think game designers need to evolve their thinking about this and really design their games around blockchain entirely.
Q15: Have you looked into integrating other dApp wallets such as NeoLogin?
David: Haven’t looked into that one specifically, but can always take a look. Since we are more focused on improving the game itself at this point adding a new wallet isn’t really priority, but always happy to take a look and discuss.
Sharlyne: Any other questions? So, I think we are done with questions now. Well, thanks a lot for sharing, David. I think everyone in this group will know more about BLOCKLORDS!
David: Please PM me if you have any questions! Thank you, Sharlyne.
By the way, here is the limited edition NEO armor we dropped out to some lucky winners last month! They are all gone now. But might make another soon!
Have a good day everyone!
Note: Some edits have been made for formatting and readability. The full conversation can be found at https://t.me/NEO_EN/28296.