Hi Kyle, thanks heaps for taking the time out of your busy schedule today. Being the head game developer in the midst of development on your new game, Cats in Mechs, I’m sure your inbox is super full! Before we get into what’s filling that mech box, do you mind giving everyone a heads up on your background in game development?
Sure, I’ve come from a background of internet tools-engineering and designing since I could reach the keyboard of a Commodore 64 and Apple IIe. The industry has come a long way since the days of typing in games from the back of “Family Computing” Magazine. I couldn’t afford a disk drive so any time I wanted to play a video game, I had to spend 8-12 hours typing it in to play it.
At the door from a CS degree I was at an Advertising company making E-Commerce and marketing website and intranet tools for their biggest clients. Then to CBS TV where more tools enabled reporters and the weather team to boost content for the midwest region by as much as 400%. While at the TV Station I would race home to mod my favorite game, Neverwinter Nights.
We created a system (tool no surprise) where people could build modules, and characters could move between them with their characters. Their story hooks and save states would persist from module to module…a lot like Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One.
Then at SMU Guildhall, the fellow students would joke with me, if I had 2 questions in an interview with any of the other game studios what would it be, well they were…
- Is the name of your company “Bioware”?
- No? Well, is there any plans to change the name of your studio to Bioware in the near future?
No surprise, I started working at Bioware on Star Wars the Old Republic after graduating SMU. It was a dream come true. For years I needed to touch the walls to make sure it wasn’t just a dream.
After Bioware, the itch to make a true player driven experience drove me to start making a game called “Omegatech: Aspen’s Story” as a hobby project with a Unity team back in 2012. The team got me on board as long as I got to have the gameplay I really wanted…a mech game that would listen to how you as a player would play the game. Fuzzy logic determined things like loot drops, AI behaviour changes, even the environment itself constructs dynamically in accordance to how you play.
That game washed away and has been rekindled as Cats In Mechs, which as you might have guessed is a toolset that makes games inspired loosely on the old Bioware Aurora tool-set.
The game is super fun and is proof that the tool-set works…now with Enjin blockchain friendly technology, this makes a life-long dream of a multiverse a real thing.
Living the dream it sounds! And to think I wasted so many years working as an accountant ha. Lucky you! So your current project, Cats in Mechs, is what’s filling your time these days. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
The vision where players experience a game rich in tailored content originally inspired Cats In Mechs. We made the game atop a platform style set of systems with the intent of flexibility, reusability, and expansion. So instead of hard-coded systems, the content is completely modular and capable of being rearranged and expanded upon easily. It was about giving players autonomy to craft their gameplay and intuitive celebration of their gameplay discoveries.
This modularity lends itself easily to the needs of a tool-set to configure and reconfigure gameplay with extremely fast iteration. We’ve automated several content systems like level generation, item construction, and bot-player generation. 57 more systems are configurable in the tech stack including blockchain integration. Our aim is to press a button and automatically configure/generate an entire game.
Cats in Mechs is now intended to be a working demonstration of the tool-set capabilities.
The game itself, is a top down Mech Shoot-em-Up with some RPG aspects and of course going into the garage to dress up the mech with new weapons found on missions. Who knew cats blowing up mechs was also fun…
Cataria V, is the native home of the Mau, and the only planet where Catmint grows naturally. “Mint,” as it is commonly called, is the single most valuable resource in the galaxy and the ruthless Dr. Priss VonTreat knows it.
Only you and your motley crew of Mech pilots can save the planet. May Ceiling Cat Watch Over You…
Before their inauspicious disappearance, humans smugly believed they had domesticated cats. The scientists of their species speculated this occurred around 10,000 BCE; when humankind transitioned from a hunter-gatherer existence to living in agrarian societies – a proposition that attracted rodents and necessitated some nimble pest control. Although not taken with cats at first, they had not counted on them being so gosh darned cute and fuzzy.
The cats had no such delusions regarding their new hosts. They in fact, initially brought them their prey because they believed they were just crappy cats that were too stupid to hunt for themselves. (You can only begin to imagine what they thought of dogs.)
Youtube and social media became the new religion while things to pump likes and views started taking things to extremes. People’s affection to their pets got insane and Biotweaking became a fad to combine a pet’s DNA with their owners’. Before this, cat videos consisted of roughly 10% of global media and after, 50% of the human population was obsessed with getting closer to their pets. All the Mewtube media is now historical documentation of the cat people.
By the Infobahn Revolution of 2028 – when mankind transitioned to a wholly cyberspace based existence – cats were well on their way to supplanting humans as the dominant species on Earth. Eventually humans either dwindled out or left the planet with their dog pets to chase space-squirrels.
That’s one hell of a setup and a catastic explanation! Now being one of the new wave of games working with blockchain technology. What attracted you to getting your head around this new tech and taking the time out to implement it? Surely creating a non-blockchain game would be easier?
Yes, creating a non-blockchain game is certainly easier for sure. Implementing entirely new tech is challenging to any project. But the tool-set lends itself to the future problems that will soon plague that technology once thousands of games start using blockchain. This is really inspiring knowing that something we’ve been working on for years on faith has a purpose at exactly the right time.
The tool-set is the answer to several future roadblocks. The Cats in Mechs game is the proof in the pudding that it works (It’s not just a tech demo, we need the game to shine like a AAA star so the tool-set gets the rapport it deserves.)
In general, it’s the education to both non-crypto player and game developers that is the tightest bottleneck. There are so many moving parts to cryptocurrency and getting started has so many confusing elements. The Enjin platform is fairly straight forward which is nice. The tool-set handles the process easily to connect gameplay to the cryptocurrency framework, so developers spend time innovating on the technology more than connecting the correct wires.
Fear of the unknown prevents many from exploring. The number of coins, wallets, platforms, marketplaces, and technologies are simply overwhelming. This compounds with most related activities costing real money to get things going. A certain amount of required bravery in those endeavours is needed to experiment and develop. Wrong decisions actually cost something more than time. Our toolset which already has the “wires” connected to items and means to manipulate the data transforms those discoveries into a simple matter.
Another problem is the size of the crypto-aware audience, although growing, it’s still niche. With 100s and 1000s of crypto-enabled games potentially on the forefront, the audience simply needs to grow. An amount of games are needed to welcome the crypto-curious as well as introducing the non-crypto-gamer. This means games co-supporting both those more casual audiences need to exist. Which requires an amount of innovation, though entirely possible, it is time consuming getting all the systems to “play nice” with one another.
And then concerning the Multiverse, communicating is already difficult with six brother and sister studios. Getting assets to map to one another is an exponentially complex endeavour done manually. Without data standardization, each game would be its own town with its own sheriff, and rules without standard roads for which data can dependably flow through. The data itself shared between games in this manner needs to be stabilized, otherwise exception builds upon exception and creating multiple time consuming compatibility issues. This issue straightens out rapidly with our tool-set which arranges the metadata aspects into a clean and dependable manner promoting broad expansion.
And lastly, the amount of potential crypto items for sale will be absolutely staggering with 1000s of games producing them. Players focus on what they know, and tend to limit themselves to the games they’ve already purchased assets. This severely limits the potential broad economy usage. Using psychology item tools, learning AI, and in-game sensors coupled with EnjinX blockchain analyzer, players can be directed to not only the most useful items in their favorite games, but also refer to other games which they would likely enjoy.
To be able to be directed to the games that best suit a gamer and their truly owned inventory will be a sweet feature! Sounds a bit like what Netflix does for your viewing habits. Ease of use is super important for us users! Personally, I’ve been following blockchain progress in gaming for a while now, and I’m aware of the variety of platforms that offer the benefits of blockchain, so for you, why did you go with Enjin in the end? Especially when Ethereum directly and ERC-721 seems to be the most popular route so far.
Primarily the Enjin team made the most difference. I personally drilled each member of the team for hours before pursuing the Early Adopter opportunity. I don’t know if some of the members love me or hate me for that, but it gave me the confidence to go all-in.
- How well would they support their tech.
- Can they get the word out.
- Do they have the experience and organization to do what their whitepaper says they can do.
- How accessible are the people behind the scenes.
- Are they responsive to needed suggestions.
And then the tech is definitely able to get the job done. ERC-1155 spec is exactly what the Multiverse Koolaid needs to work. It could probably work with several other kinds of tech but almost everything on my Christmas list was pretty much already done or in the works by Enjin.
The technology is also primed and ready for things to happen that only ERC-1155 can support without workarounds.
I confess, I was a CCG nut through college (you might know the one I mean). I’d buy a closet full of booster pack boxes and wait until they ran out of print to sell them at x10 prices. There’s probably a special place for that kind of person…But that paid my rent for a year. So the ability to have meta data on the side chain was the biggest Enjin tech feature for us.
Sure you can do normal game things like track an item history, provide bonuses based on how many people’s story something has accumulated, and of course saving stats permanently on your owned item. But we wanted to stretch the horizons a little…and do something no one else is doing and can only be done using blockchain…no central server can do it.
Limited numbered editions from the art industry like Pablo Picasso or Andy Warhol. Gameplay based around that is exclusive to blockchain and needs that side chain to exist. Here’s our blog about it if interested:
I got to say the ERC-1155 and its variety of collectivises is an extremely innovative concept. I heard your game is in the process of releasing its first batch of Cats In Mechs collectables. What can we expect and when? Will they be minted ready for sale? Any fur balls on the cards?
Yes indeed, the mechs, characters, and especially the items are all on the ERC-1155 spec where they are limited edition content which display exactly how rare the item is directly in the wallet. Other Fungible – Non-fungible bundles are very powerful and allow things like mechs to be built from collectable parts with each part having its own battle history and bonuses earned through the player owner’s adventures.
The giveaway where you open mechboxes for ENJ backed limited edition items concludes December 10, where we get to see firsthand how people received the collectability of everything.
Five days later, December 15, the pre-sale starts where everything is for sale including two unique 10,000 ENJ backed characters who’s player owners can literally shape the face of Cataria V for all the other players in the game for the most epic Player vs. Player meta game seen this side of a crypto coin.
10,000 ENJ! That’s up there with the highest ENJ backed item released so far. I’ll definitely be scratching those dates into the catendar (Yup I love a cat pun;) To save everyone from any more of them, do you have any last thoughts you’d like to share before you get back to it?
A vote for Cats in Mechs is a vote for the multiverse and a tool-set that enables game developers everywhere to fulfill their dreams at the push of a button…For free.
Push of a button, that’s what we love to do! Thanks again Kyle, for taking the time out today and the really comprehensive answers. Appreciate it big time. Should anyone want to find out more and follow this cat’s dream, check out the below links. Cheers and Melt out.
A previous published edition of this article had the dates for giveaway and presale as November 19th and November 26th. We all know this scene ever evolves and we try to keep up. Special shout out to David Bingham for bringing it to our attention!
The CiM giveaway ends very soon, Dec 10, so click the kitty link below so you don’t miss out.