A first for bitcoin: A video game with bitcoin at its core

Wednesday 05 February 2014

As many of us know, bitcoin has got a lot of mainstream media attention recently. However, much of the attention has come from either a technical, political, or economic standpoint. What if there was a new perspective, at least new for bitcoin? This just may be what bitcointalk user, Voodah, is trying to achieve with his latest project: a video game with bitcoin as a major backdrop. Although video games are readily available to buy with bitcoin, I believe having a video game perspective on the currency would be an amazing first for bitcoin, or for the world of cryptocurrencies as a whole, as this has not been done as of yet.

Concerning the game itself, all the information can be found on their bitcointalk thread[1], but I will provide a brief description here. The Fate of Satoshi is a point-and-click adventure game that focuses on an individual named Magnus, who has studied Satoshi and bitcoin history for 15 years. He one day receives an ominous phone call, which sets off a chain of events, which have not been elaborated on so far.

I had the opportunity to ask Voodah, whose real name is Santiago Boselli, a few questions concerning the game. The team working on it is rather small as well; consisting of Santiago, his brother Franco, one other developer, a music producer, and a 3D artist.

Image: Santiago Boselli, Fate of Satoshi

Daniel Mestre: What was your inspiration in developing this game?

Santiago Boselli: Well, I would say inspiration comes from a bundle of sources. Firstly, we are completely convinced bitcoin is deeply intertwined with the future of humanity and the shaping of the world we'll be living in for the next several decades. As many others, once that conviction hit us, we felt a need within ourselves to somehow be a part of it all. There's a revolution coming, and we want to play a part in it.

At the same time, we've been honing our game development skills over the last two years and in doing so, realized or rather confirmed this is also something we are deeply connected to and which gives us a great sense of accomplishment and purpose. We've always been inspired by great games of the genre and the worlds by them created, and we certainly draw upon that for our ideas. We're also devout readers of science fiction and naturally, what better opportunity to meld all of these universes than a game theorizing bitcoin's possible future.

Lastly, there's also a sense of opportunity, given by the fact that apart from gambling, the whole gaming community is as of yet, completely untapped and virgin territory for bitcoin. It is estimated there are about 1.5M bitcoin users, but the gaming community is already upwards 75M people all around the world. Furthermore, it is a very compatible and synergistic demographic, with most of the gaming community being very tech savvy and bound to see bitcoin's virtues once it is presented to them. It is amazing to us that this whole fact appears to still be largely unnoticed by the general public.

DM: Can you tell me any more elements of the story that you have not already revealed in your forum post?

SB: This is something we've thought about for the post and have decided against. This is after all, a graphic adventure, where a big part of the fun comes from the unraveling of the story, its surprises and twists and turns. We are not too keen on giving many spoilers, at the very least not until we have a playable demo. For this mystery, we have to apologize, but we're pretty sure it would only serve to weaken the element of surprise and reduce the joys of discovery for our future players.

We will say however, we have gone through several iterations of the story by now. This project is a bitcoin celebration and also a look into its possible blessings and perils. Yet we realized very early on we absolutely did not want to venture into a completely grim future with negative connotations. We want the serious dystopian undertones (to provide a sense of drama to the story) but very much coupled with extensive use of humor, irony, sarcasm and what have you, in the same way the great titles of the genre have made us laugh over and over (think Monkey Island).

DM: Do you have any sort of time frame that you see this game being finished?

SB: Yes, we do believe time is of the essence. We're going through a critical phase in bitcoin growth and development, and we'd very much like to be on the forefront of it all. We're expecting somewhere between 3-4 months of development, with the intention of having a final release version by the very first days of July.

DM: Would you be willing to tell us what stage of development you are in for this game?

SB: We're still in the very early stages. We started by clearly defining our objectives; both as a bitcoin project and as to what the game itself should be like in terms of gameplay, mood and visual style. We've since been working mainly on the story, concept art and defining the engine. After going through several options, we have settled on which engine we'll be using (hint: same one used for Deponia). Deciding on a technology is always hard, every game genre is different and engines these days offer lots of distinct options, each with its own advantages and cons. Having made that decision, we're already in the actual coding process and working on the very early pre-alpha versions.

DM: Can you tell me more about this “equity” model you are using to fund the game’s development, and why you are choosing this model?

SB: We have been paying close attention to the developments in the crowd-funding area. Even though Kickstarter has been immensely successful, we sense it is not without perils and furthermore, it may be reaching a plateau. We think the value proposition for backers may be lacking, specially when compared with the opportunity of getting in on the equity side of things.

Enter bitcoin and things quickly change a lot. Let's face it, the bitcoin protocol has the absolute potential to complete disrupt the current funding ecosystem. Possibilities are endless, and several projects have already proven this (Mastercoin, Nxt, DarkWallet, etc). We've looked closely at the different models, and decided to make it as simple as possible while using the full power bitcoin protocol and transactions provide us.

Thus, we chose this model, where we offer a percentage of the game equity to our backers, transforming the crowd-funding into an investment opportunity. Once the game is done, they will share on the profits (in the form of public monthly BTC dividends) and it is always in everyone's best interest to spread the word. The more people you tell about the game, the more likely your investment will yield great returns.

DM: If you cannot raise the necessary amount of bitcoins for this game, would you consider using something like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or Steam Greenlight?

SB: We're yet undecided as to what will happen if we cannot raise the capital. We know we cannot use Kickstarter because of US citizenship requirements, but all other options are certainly open. Greenlight is a must. We could also go the route of a single or couple of larger investors, given that we're not realistically asking for a lot. There's IndieFund and there's always the bitcoin whales as well.. We do present an interesting opportunity from an investor stand point in the fact that we're in Argentina, where we have a triple appreciation of currency (BTC > USD > Peso). We can certainly make a few BTC go a long way here.

DM: Do you plan on releasing a demo of your game publicly in the future?

SB: Yes, there is a demo in plan but no concrete date yet. Backers will be first in line to try out beta versions of course, but we do intend for a public demo as well.


Interview by Daniel Mestre for BitScan

Images courtesy Santiago Boselli, Fate of Satoshi

[1] https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=436951[/url

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