Double Coconut’s David Fox on building out Splinterlands-based TD Soulkeep

Originally designed as work-for-hire companion game using the lore and assets of blockchain TCG Splinterlands, Double Coconut’s tower defense title Soulkeep has had an interesting genesis.

With its planned launch impacted by the bear market of 2023, the title has since been bought back by Double Coconut, which is now putting on the finishing touches as it prepares for a Q2 launch, including via app stores.

We spoke to Double Coconut CEO David Fox to find out more. How did 2023 impact Double Coconut and Soulkeep?

David Fox: We definitely saw a lot of projects – some which we were involved in – fall apart quickly without a viable source of funding. But we remain inspired by folks like Splinterlands, who have been experimenting with NFTs and tokens well before web3 gaming was hot and have continued to do so throughout the crypto winter. 

It’s impossible to know if another hill of hype is ahead, but we firmly believe the trend line of crypto gaming is growing exponentially – and just in the early days of the curve, with a very small audience aware of the benefits and fun to be had.

You’ve phrased it as a re-prioritisation from Splinterlands made the initial launch of Soulkeep impossible. Did either of the companies ever think of giving up on the title?

No – especially not after having come so far. Our two companies maintained a strong relationship and mutual understanding during the ‘sorting out’ period. We just had to find a viable path to get the game to market. 

Very few details have been revealed about the game. Can you tell us more about its lore?

The game’s story centers around a young girl from a remote village whose sister has tragically died. Their culture’s way of dealing with grief involves wrapping one’s eyes and sitting in blindness for a full moon cycle. The girl starts seeing visions of devious and single-minded fiends who are breaching the underworld and stealing fresh souls, including her dear sister’s, forcing them to join the evil hordes. Our heroine uses guidance from her ancestors to summon ethereal towers and cast powerful spells to help stop the fiends before they can reach a critical mass.

Our art team put a lot of love into each tower and spell — all of which are living creatures, not just cold structures – and have their own backstory and lore.

In what ways will Soulkeep be integrated with Splinterlands?

All of the crypto aspects will utilize the Splinterlands platform at first – pack purchasing, NFT trading and renting, and more. Players can use their existing Splinterlands account and Hive wallet to play and use the Splinterlands stable-coin (DEC) or Credits (a hard currency bought via PayPal) to make purchases.

Finally and most important, there will be a reward pool of SPS tokens, with a good chunk given out to top players each day. The main feature we’re working on now is a daily multi-player tournament where players – segmented based on their skill, NFT ownership level, and other factors – can asynchronously compete to reach the top of a leaderboard. 

Double Coconut has more than 10 years experience of building games for mobile apps, how is it different to building games on blockchain?

It’s no exaggeration to say that this is the most complex game we have built as a studio. Even a “simple” single-player tower defense has much deeper mechanics than many may think, and with subtle stats and variations that make every level a real exercise in balancing playability with challenge. 

We had to build a complex suite of tools to help our designers deal with the endless varieties of fiends and defenses, ‘gaming out’ the many paths, giving each level its own feel. 

But the largest challenge – as with many web3 titles – was finding a format that properly utilizes NFTs, encourages players to level them up, and properly rewards players with valuable packs, potions, and tokens as they push deeper and begin to excel at the game. 

Luckily, we were able to lean heavily on what we saw work with the core Splinterlands tokenomics, especially seeing the changes and what has and hasn’t worked over the game’s many years. We think players who appreciate the depth and thoughtfulness of Splinterlands‘ ever-evolving tokenomics will really enjoy Soulkeep, as well.

Technically, we were able to leverage so much of the hard work that the Splinterlands platform team already built, in terms of actual on-chain transactions and helping players onboard, able to buy assets using credit cards or most other cryptocurrencies, and able to trade assets with other players in an extremely friendly, easy manner. 

You have said you’re planning to further segment web3 elements from web2 in order to enable app store distribution of Soulkeep. What makes the game stand out among the vast number of already existing web2 mobile games?

To be clear, this is a web3 game at its ‘soul’. We do believe that there’s a huge opportunity, however, to create a strong free-to-play experience to onboard new players looking for solid tower-defense fun and get them to understand the excitement and benefits of digital ownership.

Finally, will Soulkeep launch gradually, and when can we expect the first playable?

The game was actually ‘done’ in an early release sense a while ago – some of our top community members/pack holders have already played. But we will spend around two to three months to properly test the final Splinterlands platform integrations and to add in the multi-player competition we feel is needed to make the game a truly viable and fun experience.

Like many games-as-service, there may be no real delineation line between the soft launch and hard launch. We’ll continue iterating, balancing, and bug-fixing week-by-week, listening closely to the community for guidance.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.