An innovative turn-based strategy game with deck-building elements, Shardbound originally launched as a Kickstarter project but never managed to generate the capital required to complete the game to the standard required.
However, such was the unfulfilled potential of the concept that US developer Bazooka Tango – whose founders were friends of the original Shardbound team – decided it would take over development, keeping the original vision but adding web3 elements.
BlockchainGamer.biz: Can you give us some background about Bazooka Tango?
Bo Daly: Bazooka Tango was founded in 2019 by Bo Daly and Stephan Sherman, both 20-year veterans of AAA gaming, who came up at places like Rockstar and Riot Games.
Prior to Bazooka Tango, Bo and Stephan together co-founded Super Evil Megacorp, a trailblazing studio that forever changed the world of mobile gaming with 2014’s hit MOBA Vainglory, an unapologetically “core” AAA mobile game designed to exceed the expectations of the most sophisticated gamer and change the way that mobile games are played.
Today, the team is pioneering AAA gaming on the blockchain, ready to blow gamers minds once again with Shardbound, a deeply strategic game and gorgeously rendered world destined to welcome a new generation of core gamers to web3.
Shardbound was a web2 game launched on Steam, but is now making a comeback in web3 form. Why did you think the game still had promise and why bring it to blockchain?
Shardbound is a brilliant game with huge mass-market potential. Sitting at the intersection of the tactics and collectible card strategy genres, Shardbound is the type of game that will keep you playing for thousands of hours. It’s also fascinating to watch and will consume all of your stream-viewing minutes.
Simply put, this is a game that needs to be released to the world. By making smart use of blockchain technology, we’re able to allow players maximum flexibility and ease of expression as they build their armies.
Has it been harder to make a web3 game? What challenges have you been facing?
Everything about game development is hard, so we’re taking the web3 challenges in stride!
Seriously, though, we have been thrilled to get to work closely with the team at Immutable, who have taken a lot of the guesswork out of it and allowed us to focus on the thing we do best, which is crafting deeply immersive, strategic experiences for serious gamers.
What elements of Shardbound will be enhanced by blockchain?
The main thing that you’ll see is that players will be able to mint their units as NFTs and trade them freely on the blockchain.
This gives players the ability to craft exactly the army that they want to take into battle and to try out a million different strategies without ever feeling “stuck” with something that they don’t want to play.
Why did you choose to deploy on Immutable?
The team at Immutable Games Studio is staffed from top to bottom by gamers, like us. They’ve worked on some of the biggest games in the world, also at companies like Riot, Wizards of the Coast, etc.
They’ve brought those player-first sensibilities into every conversation and have consistently supported us as we take the long view of growth – because we all understand that the opportunity ahead of us is not about profit-taking on some slash-and-burn title, but rather to build a bridge to the hundreds of millions of core gamers out there. By building games that exceed every player expectation, we can usher in a whole new era of gaming together.
What aspects of the game did you release in its alpha playtest and what were you mainly looking to get feedback on?
Our alpha test was all about gameplay – What does it feel like to play a match of Shardbound? To win, to lose… and to play that “just one more” match. To obsess over your mistakes and really think hard about the subtle interplay between all of the different factions and their units.
There are no web3 elements in this build – those will come later. For now, we’d love to hear your thoughts about game balance, your favourite units and maps, the different win conditions, etc.
What do you think is the sweet spot in terms of finding the balance between the depth of card ownership and deck building versus the more direct action of operating on a hex map?
This is a great question, and it’s one that we think on a lot. To be honest, it’s probably different for different players, but both elements add a ton of texture to the game experience and allow you to engage with the game in different ways, at different moments in your day.
For me, though, there’s something about that in-world tactical gameplay that keeps me coming back for more. There’s something truly unique about Shardbound, and that moment-to-moment play is something you just need to experience.
What can we expect from Shardbound in the next six months?
We are working hard to get the game ready for launch, so we’ll be huddled in the “development caves” for much of the rest of the year.
That said, we always want to be working closely with the community to make sure that we’re building the game that they want to play, so you’ll certainly see additional public tests as we move from alpha to closed-beta, and on to open-beta testing ahead of our first real launch.
Finally, what are your thoughts on the future of blockchain games?
I don’t think of it as the future of “blockchain games,” really, but the future of games, writ large. Web3 technology has opened up a huge new design space that will fuel the creativity of game developers for a generation. We’re really just starting to scratch the surface of what’s possible here.
As with any new innovation, we’ll see a lot of interesting experiments, with mixed results – good, bad, and ugly – before somebody does something that truly changes the equation for everybody that follows. To draw a parallel with free-to-play gaming, we’re barely past the “annoying Facebook game” stage and waiting for someone to come along and build League of Legends.
As a creative and especially as an entrepreneur, this is a thrilling moment and I’m as eager as everyone else to find out what’s coming next.
Stay up-to-date about Shardbound at its website.