Today I’m chatting with Chris LoVerme, who is the head developer on the blockchain based game, Age of Rust.
Firstly Chris, what a beautiful looking game your team have created! It’s probably the best visuals I’ve seen so far that have come out of the Enjin Early Adopter Program. Chatting to others in the Token Gamer virtual office, we feel it’s up there with the Half-Life series. Seriously, well done on the atmosphere! AAA stuff. Anyways I’ll gush no more, for those that don’t know who you are, can you scrub away some rust and give us a little insight into your background?
Thanks, as an indie game developer, it’s always great to hear that people like what we’ve shown so far. Late nights and weekends are often fuel for the never-ending forge of game development, so it’s natural that these things come at a high price in terms of personal time. We’re over the moon with the kind things people have been saying about the game, so it makes us happy to hear it.
As far as background, I’ve been in IT for over 20 years, I worked for NASA/JPL on the Cassini, Mars Rover, and Stardust projects. From the entertainment side I provided consulting to Microsoft Studios, 505 Games, Ticketmaster, and others. From a crypto perspective, I got into the Bitcoin mining space back in 2013 and worked on a few different crypto related projects over the years like Bitcoinstarter which was a crypto kickstarter site until ICOs became popular.
Wow that’s really fascinating, I could fork into the whole NASA aspect really quick but I won’t…not now anyway! I’ll stick to gaming. Can you share with our readers, what the premise is for Age of Rust, and a layman’s overview on the mechanics of the gameplay?
The game puts you far in the future, where humans have been asleep aboard colony ships for millennia travelling out to exoplanets in distant solar systems. However, rogue AI has taken over ships, colonies, and worlds through robots, called mechs, and turned them into a technology consuming legion in order to survive. As people wake up from these long voyages, they discover technology, culture, and progress halted long ago, resulting in things breaking down, which is called the Age of Rust.
So the game mechanics are a lot like some of the first person adventure games in the earlier days of gaming. If you’re familiar with the Myst series or more recently, Firewatch, the game is like those kinds of games. However, in order to break up some of the gameplay, we’ve put in some stealth/combat gameplay, so if you have played Splinter Cell or Assassin’s Creed, the game has some of those stealth strategic combat mechanics.
I got to say, seeing the gameplay in action it offers an interesting world, even more so now considering your space background. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I read you guys were building this game before joining the Enjin EA program, and impressively had already designed your own in-house blockchain mechanics, based on a token you created Rustbits. I hear these Rustbits are to be backed by Enjin soon. Why the switch over to another platform, especially when you had done so much development on your own blockchain solution? Are you finding it an easier process in developing blockchain aspects to your game by utilising Enjin?
Well, when we built out first blockchain game, spacepirate.io, it was built on the Counterparty blockchain. From a developers perspective, it could not be easier to create, send, receive, and manage our tokens like Rustbits, it’s literally less than a dozen lines of code. However, Counterparty lacked fiat gateways and the decentralized exchange was well, not very easy for gamers to use. Also exchanges refused to add Counterparty tokens because in order to do it, they had to maintain a Counterparty server. As a result, adoption languished and Rustbits became very difficult for players to find, buy, sell, and trade.
So the move from Counterparty to Ethereum is not an easy migration, but so far we’ve been managing through the obstacles. With the advent of the Enjin SDK, we’re able to create tokens using their ERC-1155 smart contract, so we’re moving forward and we’re excited by all the amazing things Enijn has to offer as a blockchain game platform.
Something I found really cool for us gamers, is there’s already a released playable version of Age of Rust. I’ve played it and found it very engrossing, especially for a still framed setting. It reminded me of playing the original Zork back in the day, you really feel like you are all alone on an isolated planet. Can you tell us more about that, and is it true that crypto based prizes are on offer for those clever enough to solve certain puzzles?
Thank you, yes, that’s right, we released a text adventure game last year, that is kind of a prologue to Age of Rust called SpacePirate.io. I grew up playing adventure games on Commodore like The Pawn and later “Adventure” on the Atari 2600. These games captivated the imagination and got me interested in computers, then playing games like Kings Quest and Space Quest really got me interested in computer adventure games. Many, many years later, when crypto came along, I thought it would be fun and interesting to combine those two things. Yes, there are some cryptopuzzles in the game which are coded ciphers with hidden keys. There’s a group of players that are very good at these and spend days, weeks, and months collecting hints and clues to unlock the crypto rewards inside the game. The big puzzle in the game that people are trying to solve is the one worth 4 Bitcoins.
That’s an awesome prize, with the current price of Bitcoin it equates to about 25K USD, and who knows how much more in years to come. Good luck to all the budding Sherlock’s out there! Now for the main version to be released of Age of Rust, it will of course be way more sophisticated and AAA quality, you only have to watch the video from Enjin – Early Adopter Showcase and Gameplay to see that, but due to its apparent quality, it opened up the discussion in our office on what game engine you are using. Is it Source or Unity? Or something different again?
We decided to build Age of Rust in Unity after looking to see what would make sense not only from a blockchain integration perspective, but also something that we felt would be achievable from an indie game studio perspective. So Unity was the natural choice given the requirements of the game.
Pre-sale items are all the rage now in the crypto gaming world. Will you be having a pre-sale too?
We may offer some of the other game tokens up around the launch of the game, but as far as a pre-sale, we don’t have any plans for the time being. After we go through our token conversion from Counterparty to Ethereum, players should have the ability to pick up Rustbits more easily than they can today, which will also have Enjin Coin embedded into them as well.
Sweet! I’ll be keeping a close eye on those developments. Truly owned digital collectibles with functionality is such a cool concept, especially now that the Enjin Wallet can both receive and send these items. The future is looking very bright on this gaming planet. Before you jettison off to your world, do you have any last thoughts to share with us all?
This is a great time to be a gamer again as well as a crypto enthusiast. People have been looking for the “killer app” for blockchain and a lot of us in the game development world, especially on the indie circuit, think that blockchain gaming is set to take off in the future. It really empowers the players and brings decentralized ownership to games. I’m sure this isn’t something that the AAA studios are all that excited about yet, but I think as time goes on, they’ll understand that this is the future of gaming.
Thanks again for taking the time to talk to us about the game and blockchain gaming, we really appreciate it.
Awesome, and thanks again to you for the chat today. Next topic – NASA! But in the meantime, if anyone is interested in more details on what Age of Rust is doing to change this world’s gaming landscape, please follow the links below. Especially check out the video links, the visuals are slick. Melt out!
Vimeo Video Links: