Behind the scenes of the first AAA shooter game built on the blockchain
In anticipation of the next paradigm shift for gaming, Neon Media focuses on building responsible systems, messaging and engagement, as well as product evolution.
Shrapnel is the world’s first AAA shooter game built on the blockchain, at the intersection of community, creation, and ownership. The team is comprised of BAFTA and Emmy award-winning talent that has worked on blockbuster franchises such as HALO, Call of Duty, Madden, Bioshock, Destiny, Star Wars, Hawken Skylanders, Westworld, and more. It is built on blockchain gaming platform Forte. In an exclusive ask-me-anything session with Cointelegraph Markets Pro, Don Norbury, head of studio at Neon Media, the game’s developer, offered an in-depth take on what the game has to offer.
Cointelegraph Markets Pro User: When I think of gaming, I think of Galaga, Pac-Man, Tomb Raider, Timesplitters. These games were fun and puzzling and contained adrenaline-filled additions. So how do you keep “Play-to-earn” (P2E) from being button-pushing for dollars?
Don Norbury: Shrapnel is currently a core PC game for the primary game client. We have a rich website for everything beyond the “shooting people in the face” elements. Our longer-term goal is to target a mobile client, but early scoping/focus for a project’s primary game client is critical to success, given the other elements we’re tackling.
We’re not making Cow-Clicker 9000 over here… we’re making an intense extraction-based shooter with creator tools. I think the P2E tracks that have been laid out are a fantastic concept and framework to understand and take into account when designing economies or understanding player/human motivations and incentives. However, the pure versions of games in that space are wildly different experiences than something like Shrapnel.
Our team comes traditionally from a space where we work on something for three years before the public becomes aware of it. While we still believe a certain amount of baking is required (and creative chaos contained), we think there are fantastic ways the community can become involved in the process and grow with the project as features, utility, and agency are built and iterated on.
CT Markets Pro User: Can you give us an idea of your roadmap going into 2022 and beyond?
DN: We have been planning and building this project for a long time now, and you’ll see more details around the roadmap and engagement very soon — so keep an eye on our social channels. We believe tokens of both utility and nonfungible natures are table-stakes at this point, and we’re excited to share innovation in the space on the decentralized protocol front in addition to our work on making a fantastic extraction shooter.
CT Markets Pro User: What makes Shrapnel different from regular multiplayer shooting games?
DN: It’s an extraction shooter, lose-your-loadout high-stakes-treasure-hunting design. You bring in your gear, and you need to get loot out. There are a couple of examples of this genre in the space already, such as Escape from Tarkov and the Dark Zone mode from The Division. Still, it’s relatively unexplored and is ripe for a AAA approach where we sand off rough edges and bring a flair for the dramatic equation around world-building and mechanics. Additionally, we have a range of user-generated content tools that range from access to more complex across various asset types in the project. Finally, Shrapnel will be partially built, quite literally, by the community in ways that allow them to own the platform and their creations and to be recognized for their contribution and participation.
CT Markets Pro User: What experience does Neon Media have with games?
DN: Our entire careers are based in AAA game development and transmedia production. So we all have multiple decades of experience building studios, executing globally-distributed publishing projects, and building some of the biggest franchises in the industry. Studios/companies like LucasArts, Xbox, Activision, Irrational, EA, HBO… and projects like Halo, Call of Duty, Bioshock, Star Wars, Madden, Westworld. So I suppose we’re a little obsessed… maybe overly so.
CT Markets Pro User: What can the Forte blockchain/NFT platform, or a Neon/Shrapnel investor, bring to the table?
DN: One of the primary issues preventing wider-scale adoption of games in the crypto space is frictional elements and risk. When we think about aspects like wallet/key management, KYC/AML, or transportability of assets, these are spaces for crypto-savvy people. There is an element of familiarity and acceptance. Still, for the average gamer, this is faaaaaar too much. When we build games, we want the player to get in and experience the visceral emotional moments rapidly, even to the point of minimizing the initial install size of a client so you can get in and shoot someone in the face as quickly as possible. Forte is focused on reducing the typical friction and ensuring compliance and future-proofing to allow the game experience to thrive.
CT Markets Pro User: How do you view the future of interoperability? Will this project live on one chain or several?
DN: This is a great question that is near-and-dear to our hearts at Shrapnel. We are building the protocol with interoperability in mind as much as possible. One of our core pillars at Shrapnel is: “We’re not the metaverse; we’re part of it.” We see blockchain and DeFi as the TCP/IP of the metaverse, and most projects that claim “metaverse” are mostly referred to as “sandbox games.” We want every future platform to enable their expression of Shrapnel, both the parts created by our team in Seattle and all the future imaginings of the creators within the Shrapnel platform.