Fracture Labs’ grand vision for its blockchain survival game Decimated
Creative director Stephen ‘Espion’ Arnold gives the low down
Success in any sphere is a mixture of ambition, execution and timing.
Certainly when it comes to successful games, finding the right balance between execution and ambition is crucial. But in nascent forms of the craft such as blockchain games, timing is pretty much everything. Just ask CryptoKitties’ developer Dapper Labs.
Decimated is an online survival game using Unreal Engine 4, its own blockchain economy and enabling salvageable cryptocurrency.
Of course, even given the fact it launched just as crypto prices spiked, CryptoKitties’ genius was how it limited its ambition to ensure perfect execution.
Hoping for a larger, more gameplay-focused audience by the time they launch, the next generation of blockchain games such as CSC, CryptoWars and Cryptic Conjure – due in late 2018 – are more ambitious and hence more risky in terms of their execution.
For the generation of blockchain games after – such as Fracture Labs’ Decimated, which won’t launch until 2020 – issues of timing and (to a degree) execution are future problems to be dealt with.
When looking for the funding to kick off development, a strong vision is pretty much everything.
The vision behind Decimated
“Decimated is an online survival game using Unreal Engine 4, its own blockchain economy and enabling salvageable cryptocurrency,” explains creative director Stephen Arnold, AKA Espion, of the headline concept.
“We can assign ownership of digital items and create a player wallet that can be accessed on their smartphone, so they can always keep track of their inventory and be alerted to in-game activity even when they are not playing.”
Originally inspired by classic single-player adventure games such Tomb Raider, G-Police and Flashback, the vision for Decimated deepened as Espion’s early interest in crypto developed through discussion with others in the blockchain games sector, particularly Samuel Visscher, former lead developer of the Skycoin desktop, mobile and web wallet.
The result is a free roaming, post-apocalyptic world in which players enter as human survivors – criminals, pirates, bounty hunters and the like – fighting to collect loot, build shelters and bases, and enhancing their status through item trading with other players and NPCs.
Of course, item trading will happen on the blockchain, ensuring transparency, immutability, digital scarcity and a robust economy, all of which will be in underpinned by the game’s DIO token, which will launch through ICO on Ethereum but then be transferred to the game’s own custom blockchain.
So far, so normal. However, the other main gameplay element is the ability to change your character class, to become a cyborg cop.
Starting out as human survivors, if they obey the rules, players will eventually be able to change class into cyborg cops.
Broadly speaking, Espion says this will result in a game that will play out like ARMA 3 Life mod, in which the civilians will go about their day-to-day grind, with the cops enforcing the sort of brutish law and order you’d expect in a post-apocalyptic world.
“In order to play a cop, you’ll have to be whitelisted in the game in terms of your play style,” Espion explains.
Of course, once you’re a cyborg cop, you still have the option to go rogue. Most likely, the cops in Decimated will spend as much time trying to keep their erstwhile colleagues in check as the rest of the population.
Players can be charged for breaking the law, and yes, there will be a jail too.
“It provides a lot of interesting gameplay options from inmates performing in The Running Man-style experiences to their friends trying to jailbreak them out,” Espion comments.
Certainly Decimated doesn’t lack when it comes to ambition, but for the time being Espion’s focus is on prototyping and launching an ICO.
Based in Malta, Fracture Labs is starting to staff up with experienced game developers. The team includes veteran game developers including Joe Garth (Crytek), Ken Thain (Bioware/EA Motive), Julius Carter (Crytek), Jason Chee (MPC/Double Negative) and Kris Kaufman (Blur/id Software/Bungie).
The first goal is completing its first playable, a process that goes hand-in-hand with fundraising. The latter sees Espion covering all bases from talking to well established VCs, more recently formed groups of crypto investors and even traditional game publishers.
Despite some high profile failures, he says the appetite from such investors for blockchain games remains strong, at least for the right sort of game and the right team. Presumably this means games like Decimated, with the right mix of ambition, execution and timing – but especially ambition.