Despite having been in development for over five years, Blocklords recently reached a significant milestone with the launch of its month-long community beta.
It’s the first taste we’ve had of the mediaeval PC strategy game and its promise of deep, fun and engaging gameplay. And – as with any good starter – it’s triggered an appetite for more.
So what has the process looked like so far and what can we expect going forward? Someone who has done the groundwork and rather sees opportunities than challenges is Metaking Studios’ founder and CEO David Johansson.
Talking to BlockchainGamer.biz, he shared his views about being an early game developer in web3, the opportunities of trying to engage web2 gamers, and the tangible value of blockchain in games.
BlockchainGamer: Blocklords has been in development since at least 2017. What has been the most time consuming aspect of making the game?
David Johansson: Building a game like Blocklords is a complex process, with many components that require careful planning, design, and execution. The most time-consuming aspect, I would say, has been developing and iterating on our game mechanics and in-game economy.
We aim to provide a deep and engaging player experience that balances strategy, economics, and cooperation. We’ve always pushed the boundaries of what’s possible with smart contracts, with over 130 deployed to date. This level of complexity requires constant attention and fine-tuning.
But it’s not just about the technical side. We also spend a lot of time ensuring that our game mechanics are fun, balanced, and engaging. We want players of all kinds to find something they enjoy in Blocklords, from the farmers and warriors to the lords and ladies who shape the world with their decisions. To achieve this, we’ve had to spend a great deal of time testing, getting feedback, and iterating on our designs.
Creating a game is a bit like crafting a piece of art. It requires patience, dedication, and a willingness to refine your work until it reaches the quality you envisioned. This can be a time-consuming process, but the end result – a game that players love and keep coming back to – is absolutely worth it.
With the project being on both the Polygon and ImmutableX blockchains during development, has the adoption of blockchain taken longer than expected?
We have deployed products on various chains including Polygon, IMX, Ethereum, BNB Smart Chain, Sui, Moonbeam, Polkadot, NEO, Icon, Tron, and more. In many instances, we were one of the first projects to deploy on these chains. This often meant dealing with little documentation and having to invent solutions ourselves. This added a layer of complexity and time to our development process that wouldn’t have been there if we’d stuck to more traditional platforms.
However, these challenges have also been opportunities for growth and learning. They’ve allowed us to push the boundaries of what’s possible in web3 gaming and led to Blocklords becoming one of the most innovative games in the space. As we continue to navigate this exciting landscape, we’re better equipped to handle these challenges and create a truly unique gaming experience for our players.
What is the main purpose of building a grand narrative strategy game like Blocklords on chain?
Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine a game where you’re not just playing a pre-set character but actively shaping an entire world with your actions. That’s the magic of a game like Blocklords built on-chain.
I’ve always been a big fan of grand strategy games, where narratives unfold in unique and unexpected ways. But the traditional gaming model has its limitations – like how a player’s role and the game’s outcome are often predefined. With Blockords, we’re stepping into a new realm of possibilities. Here, whether you’re a humble farmer or a mighty king, your decisions have real, tangible impacts on the world around you. It’s not just a game you play – it’s a world you get to inhabit and shape.
Now, let’s talk about the player-driven economy. In most traditional games, you put in hours of work and skill, but the value you generate stays within the confines of the game. With Blocklords, we’re turning that concept on its head. Here, your time and effort can translate into real-world rewards. And because it’s on-chain, players can have access to liquidity, which is a crucial aspect of web3.
“The blockchain elements of Blocklords are innovative and exciting, but at the end of the day, it’s the gameplay that matters.”
Lastly, we can’t forget about the community. There’s a level of transparency and verifiability in Blocklords that builds trust and fosters a sense of camaraderie among players. When you’re part of Blocklords, you’re not just playing a game; you’re part of a community that’s at the forefront of defining the future of gaming.
So, in essence, our main goal with Blocklords is to create a gaming experience that truly puts players at the center. It’s about giving players real agency, allowing them to reap the benefits of their in-game contributions, and immersing them in a rich, engaging narrative that keeps them hooked. That’s the vision that drives us.
How do you realistically value the competition of established web2 strategy games and what is your strategy to onboard those gamers?
That’s a great question. Taking on existing developers and publishing titans is indeed a tough task. They have years of development, established player bases, and a wealth of resources at their disposal. But, at the same time, they also represent a model that’s ripe for disruption.
Traditional games have a very transactional relationship with players. Players pay for the game or in-game items, they play, and that’s it. The value they generate stays within the game, and once they stop playing, their investment is essentially lost.
Now, compare that to Blocklords. Here, players can truly own their in-game assets, trade them for real value, and have their decisions shape the world around them. It’s a revolutionary step forward, and we believe it’s a compelling proposition for gamers.
Our strategy to onboard these gamers is three-fold.
- First, we’re building a game that’s not just technologically advanced, but also fun to play. At the end of the day, a game’s success hinges on how enjoyable it is. We’re creating deep, complex game mechanics that can rival any traditional strategy game.
- Second, we’re actively educating players about the advantages of web3 gaming. We’re showing them how they can truly own their in-game assets, how they can profit from their skills, and how they can be part of a real, player-driven economy.
- Finally, we’re leveraging our community. The Blocklords’ community is incredibly passionate and engaged. They’re our greatest advocates, and their word-of-mouth recommendations are invaluable in bringing new players into the fold.
In essence, we see the competition not as a roadblock, but as an opportunity. It’s a chance for us to show gamers that there’s a better, more rewarding way to play. And we’re confident that once they experience the advantages of web3 gaming, they won’t want to go back.
In regards to the web3 sceptics, how does your ambition of putting the player and fun at the core of the gameplay align with your use of blockchain technology?
We recognize there’s a lot of scepticism around web3, and rightfully so. There’s been a lot of hype, a lot of buzzwords thrown around, and unfortunately, a lot of projects that have overpromised and underdelivered.
Our approach at Blocklords has always been to put the player and the fun at the core of the gameplay. That’s why we’re in this industry in the first place. We love games, and we want to create experiences that players love too. But we also see an opportunity to take things a step further with web3, to break down the barriers between the player and the game and create something truly participatory and rewarding.
The beauty of blockchain technology is that it allows us to create a game where players have real ownership. In a traditional game, the items you acquire, the character you level up, the achievements you unlock, they all exist within the confines of that game. If you stop playing, or if the servers shut down, you lose all of that.
In Blocklords, that’s not the case. The items you acquire are yours. You can trade them, sell them, or hold onto them. They have real-world value. And the time and effort you put into the game can yield actual rewards. More than that, the progression you make, the alliances you form, and the reputation you build are all recorded immutably on the blockchain. This gives a sense of permanence and ownership that you just don’t get with traditional games.
Now, the key to this is to not let the technology overshadow the game. Yes, the blockchain elements of Blocklords are innovative and exciting, but at the end of the day, it’s the gameplay that matters. That’s why we work hard to balance these aspects, to ensure that the blockchain elements enhance the game, rather than distract from it.
To sceptics of web3, my message is this: give it a try. You might be surprised at how much fun you can have when you’re not just playing a game, but actively participating in its economy and community. At Blocklords, we’re not just making a game. We’re building a world, and we invite everyone to come and be a part of it.
How will the blockchain features be apparent in the community beta version compared to the completed game?
The community beta version of Blocklords is really about giving players a taste of the core gameplay mechanics and the vibrant world we’re building. We’ve designed it so that new players can claim a hero for free on Polygon and immediately dive into the heart of the action. They’ll get to experience the farming gameplay first-hand, which is a key aspect of the Blocklords universe.
In addition, we’ve created a set of missions for the community beta, which are designed to guide players through the game and help them understand how everything works. As a reward for completing these missions, players will earn their first warrior heroes. These heroes are not just characters in the game, they’re valuable assets that players truly own and can use in various ways as they navigate the world of Blocklords.
It’s a glimpse of what’s to come, and we’re excited for players to see for themselves the depth and breadth of the game we’re creating.
How will Blocklords and its enhancement by blockchain evolve in the short term, as well as long term?
In the immediate future, we’re working with the feedback and insights we’re gathering from our ongoing community beta. This feedback is invaluable as it enables us to refine and improve the core mechanics and narrative of Blocklords. The beta is already giving us a wealth of information about how players interact with the game, and we’re using that to make the experience even better. We’re also in the process of enhancing the farming mechanics, introducing more economic choices, and adding more features and buildings for Lords to unlock. Things like animal, raider, and knight battles are in the works to bring a richer, more immersive experience to our players.
As we look towards the long term, our ultimate goal for Blocklords is to create a fully decentralized, player-driven economy. We envision a game where players are not just participants, but stakeholders who actively shape the evolution of the game. We’re developing deeper layers of player interaction, governance, and influence, from the Kingdom system to nation wars.
“We’ve been pioneers in this space, and we intend to continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Blocklords is just the beginning.”
The integration of blockchain technology is central to this vision. It’s what enables players to truly own and trade their in-game assets, providing the liquidity that’s so unique to web3. It also allows players to have a say in the game’s development through governance tokens. As we continue to explore and leverage the potential of blockchain technology, the Blocklords experience will become even more immersive and rewarding.
This is a long-term commitment, and we’re excited to see how Blocklords will evolve and grow. We’re still in the early days of web3 gaming, and Blocklords is already demonstrating the huge potential of this new frontier. We’re excited about what the future holds, and we can’t wait to share it with our incredible community of players.
Finally, where do you see blockchain games in 5 years and what part will Metaking Studios play?
Five years from now, I envision blockchain games standing shoulder-to-shoulder with traditional games, with the lines between web2 and web3 becoming increasingly blurred. The unique features of blockchain, such as true ownership, player-driven economies, and interoperability, will be more widely understood and accepted, making them a standard part of the gaming landscape. I also anticipate that we’ll see much more complexity and depth in blockchain games, matching, if not exceeding, what’s currently available in traditional gaming.
As for Metaking Studios, I see us at the forefront of this evolution. We’ve been pioneers in this space, and we intend to continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Blocklords is just the beginning. We’re committed to creating games that not only leverage the unique aspects of blockchain technology but are also intrinsically fun to play.
We will keep challenging the status quo, finding innovative ways to make our games more interactive and immersive, and always putting our players first. We aim to be a role model for future blockchain game developers, demonstrating how to balance complex game design with the innovative potential of web3. We’ve been part of the journey of blockchain gaming from its early stages, and we’re excited to shape its future.
Available until 10th June, Blocklords can be downloaded to PC from the game’s website. No NFTs are required to play although NFT holders can import them into the game to get a boost. Players can also earn an NFT by completing the free battle pass event during the beta.