8-4-22 - Alex West

Many Hands CEO and Verses co-founder Alexander West discusses his favorite cookies, Verses as a tabletop RPG, and why Verses will be built as a progressive web app.


  1. <a href="#1">What's your favorite cookie?</a>
  2. <a href="#2">Has having card art before a game resulted in more top-down design?</a>
  3. <a href="#3">Has a play to earn model been built out yet?</a>
  4. <a href="#4">What kind of characters will there be? Will I be able to play as a Commedia clown?</a>
  5. <a href="#5">How will blockchain technology improve the game?</a>
  6. <a href="#6">Why did you want to build the game as a Progressive Web App?</a>
  7. <a href="#7">Will there be any community events?</a>
  8. <a href="#8">Will characters have different base stats?</a>
  9. <a href="#9">If you could be any creature, mythical or otherwise, what would you choose and why?</a>
  10. <a href="#10">If you could live in any of the Verses, which would you choose?</a>
  11. <a href="#11">Are you planning to make a tabletop or computer RPG?</a>
  12. <a href="#12">What would you do if you could no longer drink milk?</a>

<div id="1" class="anchor">What's your favorite cookie?</div>

Alexander West  


Alright, so I'm getting just started and on some of these asked me anything questions, which I think are pretty great. The first question we got was a cookie powered tier list. And I spent a lot of time thinking about cookies. I love cookies. I once lived with Britney, our Vice President. And she painted a picture of me eating cookies, drinking milk and playing games, because that's kind of my thing. And number one cookie on the list is the rainbow drop cookie. That's like m&ms in a sugar cookie. So a little like a chocolate chip cookie, but a little bit sweeter. I think part of what makes the rainbow drop cookie exciting for me, the grocery store down the street makes them they're very good. They almost it's, it's unpredictable, and they have them. I think they're really popular. So they often get bought out in the morning. And if I don't go early enough, I don't get any. And so I think there's that kind of like thrill of the hunt to see whether or not there is a rainbow drop cookie. Makes them like all the more delicious when I get them. Number two thin mints, my personal favorite Girl Scout cookie. I like them frozen. But the problem is I'm not very good at moderating my consumption. I'll usually just like plow through a box in a day or two. I've tried buying a lot of them. That just means I eat more of them. So I usually just get like one box is a treat and move on with life. Number three classic chocolate chip cookie. Number 4, For the first time this year, there's a place called a Midnight cookie in Seattle. I have a friend who owns a marijuana store and this cookie places next door and he's like Alex, you gotta you gotta try these cookies. So I had a cookie for a Midnight cookie in Seattle. That was smores like chunks of chocolate and marshmallow. Really good. And number five. Pepperidge Farm remembers Milano cookies. I like the ones with dark chocolate mint, really good. Probably my favorite cookie from childhood. Great. Those are, those are my power list of cookies.

Jed Dolbeer  


Outside of the grocery of this scenario, have you found somewhere else in Seattle that does the rainbow drop cookies at all?

Alexander West  


Now, I mean, we can we can easily make them. They're not hard to make. But I've never found them somewhere else. Interesting. I mean, I'm sure there are other places that make rainbow drop cookies. Like, I bet a different grocery store probably has them pre made. But what I like about the grocery store down the street is they make them fresh. Like they don't have any preservatives or other things that give sometimes I think pre made cookies have a weird aftertaste.

Jed Dolbeer  


That makes sense. The picture you were talking about that Britney drew of you with drinking milk eating cookies and like playing games just like yeah, that's if I had to define Alex by a couple of heuristics it would be that.

Alexander West  


Yeah. Yeah. I should probably post a picture of it to the discord just to like make a point. Yep.

Jed Dolbeer  


Eleanor and I and Andy were talking earlier in the week trying to figure out questions asked you and she was gonna do some personal stuff. I was like, what are you gonna ask him? Why he drank so much milk every day?

<div id="2" class="anchor">Has having card art before a game resulted in more top-down design?</div>

Alexander West  


There's a question here about milk. And it's the one I spent the most time thinking about, because it's a tough question. Sure. Yeah, good morning, guys. All right. So next question has having card art before a game resulted in more bottom up design? So first, I'll be pedantic, I'll say I think this person means has there been more top down design? Bottom up as usually you have a mechanic that you want to make happen, and then you figure out how to make a story about it and art about it. So yeah, top down is more like, I want a card that is like the spell sleep. And then I try and come up with mechanics for that. And the answer is definitely yes. There's been a lot more top down design because we've had art to begin with. I'd say the biggest level of top down in design has been the setting Verses when we had all of these pieces of art that we wanted to use. They're from very diverse settings. And so coming up with a, you know, game universe that could use all those settings was kind of our first challenge. And I think it's actually like, very exciting for the project, just because it means every story, every kind of art can fit into our, our game, because we were forced to do that, which I think is cool. And then just, you know, I think individual characters, because there's a piece of art, you know, the narrative team wrote a story about them. And then the design team was like, Alright, now that that story exists, and these powers exist. You know, let's, let's make mechanics that support that. So, yeah, I think we've gotten very exciting places because of it being kind of a collaborative art project. Great.

<div id="3" class="anchor">Has a play to earn model been built out yet?</div>

Alexander West


Next question on the AMA was, Has it play to earn model been built out yet, and will duels be like a bet where each type puts up X amount of Tezos. So we haven't figured out the fine details of the model, by what we're currently looking at, is something like League of Legends, where as you play, you'll, you know, unlock parts of the card, and, you know, over the course of the season, you'll you know, unlock a few things. Because, you know, all the cards are going to be resellable. We can't quite give out like full cards on a daily basis, like some other games do. But it's, it's our intention that, you know, someone who is playing regularly, will be able to unlock all their cards, just by being a free player. So, you know, more details are not there overtime. As far as what we'll do, we'll just be like, there's gonna be lots of modes of play. And I think the most common way that people will play will just be you know, for free, kind of either duels or a cooperative games with other players. But there, there will definitely be tournament modes. So there won't be we'll never call it betting. You know, the game is a game of skill. And gambling is illegal in lots of jurisdictions. But I think that we've, we can do, and we've seen Magic the Gathering to its Magic Online, is having tournaments of all sizes. So we are both excited about having very large tournaments like the Magic Pro Tour, where you know, their prizes with six and seven figures, and, you know, hundreds or 1000s of competitors and really high level competition, but also really small tournaments. You know, magic had the capacity for you know, two players to enter a tournament, play play against each other and have a like, small prize appropriate to two people. So I think that we'll be able to capture that functionality. If you know, people are like, I am looking to have a high stakes or low stakes experience with one other player that the tournament structures should be on demand and be able to support that.

Thoughts, questions, commentary, or should I plunge on to the next? Next question?

Jed Dolbeer  


For us, yeah, desert the other person that's in here have any questions, let me know we can run through that. Or we can just keep rolling through.

<div id="4" class="anchor">What kind of characters will there be? Will I be able to play as a Commedia clown?</div>

Alexander West  


See a little heart from Dez. Okay. So, next question was, what kind of characters will be in the game? AKA, can I play a Commedia clown? So, like I was saying earlier, one of the goals with Verses is that whatever your favorite kind of character is, it can fit into Verses somewhere. So if if what you are the most excited about is a Commedia clown. You can definitely play as a Commedia clown. When we're making cards, we are going to start with a lot of the most popular tropes. So you know superheroes, fantasy adventure teams, Yeah, teams of spy operatives, starship crews. Competitive ballet dancers. So if if the thing that you want is very specific, I think our features that allow people to customize their cards are going to be the way that you get to be exactly what you want to start with. So, you know, if we had clowns, but you're like, you know, none of these clowns are like a sad crying clown like I want, you will have the ability to find some sad crying clown art. And, you know, rename your card and rename, or, you know, put your art on the card. And, you know, if you want to find a different animated figure, I think there are going to be a couple options in the short run, you might need to find an animator on Fiverr, or something to start with. Maybe in the long term, we'll have, you know, a community tool that allows you to communicate with other people who might make like a custom animation for you. And then, you know, it's not ready yet. But I think that we've been looking a lot at our machine learning systems for making art. Things like Dall-e and Midjourney have been doing cool 2d art. And I think, in the long run, I think that we want to be able to do is allow people to input prompts and mutation sequences, which I'm told might be a couple of years off, but it's not too too far in the future.So yeah. Short answer, yes, you can play as whatever you want.

<div id="5" class="anchor">How will blockchain technology improve the game?</div>

Alexander West  


Next question. So how will you use blockchain technology to improve gameplay? So there are a few things that blockchain does for us that don't directly impact playing the game. Right, that's like being a tool for managing a collection. Being a tool that has marketplace functionality, so people can buy, sell and trade things, as a, you know, as a technology company, and not having to build those things ourselves, is really helpful. And then I think that blockchains give people confidence that their objects are secured, and persistent. So not having to worry about managing a secure database in that respect is also quite helpful for us. In terms of the gameplay. One thing that we think is fun is kind of keeping a record of the existence of the card. And like, what it's done, so if you played it with it in a tournament, or if, you know, someone else played with it in a tournament and won the tournament. And so the the card won that tournament, or like the player is famous, and it was one of their cards, you know, all that probably is recorded. And we've been talking about some modes of play, where as you use a card, it advances in some ways. And so like, that's also, if that's happening will be on the blockchain. Another thing that we talked about is like tournament security. Obviously, in the online gaming, whenever there's money involved, there's a concern that people might be cheating or that there's like a fix in the system. And a thing that we can use blockchain to do is to make it so that the the game is tracked, like verifiable afterwards. And so people have confidence that they're, they're having a fair game.Any questions or follow up about that?

<div id="6" class="anchor">Why did you want to build the game as a Progressive Web App?</div>

Alexander West  


Okay, delving onward. Why did you want to create a progressive web app in the first place?

In general, they're not installable via stores and iOS is pretty low. Maybe they meant slow. So, the reason that we want to create a progressive web app is when you're acquiring a new user. Essentially, every time they click, the rule of thumb is you lose about 10% of the people who either saw the ad or however else they became interested. And we believe that a lot of players are lost in the step where they need to download an app to play a game. And the experience that we want is to show someone an ad, and have them click on it, and to be playing, like their first introductory game. That way, you know, we lose very few people from our, our marketing. And, you know, the idea that was a progressive web app that someone can play, you know, the first few hours of the game or, you know, if they're on an Android device or PC, they could probably just play on the Progressive Web App indefinitely. On iPhone, they would eventually need to download an app, because Apple is, you know, doesn't really like progressive web apps, because they run the phone, and Apple doesn't have control over it. But the point being to create a really smooth, easy onboarding process, so that you know, our marketing is as effective as possible.

<div id="7" class="anchor">Will there be any community events?</div>

Alexander West  


Next question, when should community events start a new practices marketing, would love to host some events, quizzes or writing, but then a reward system would be nice. So our current timeline is that we're building a demo, like a playable demo of the game. We expect the playable demo to be ready in November, and expected to do like significant marketing, then. For the moment, like most of the team is very focused on on building the game. And so we'll be doing a lot more visibility though, once we have a game to show, which is, you know, the the feedback that we've gotten from the community, I love the idea of having quizzes, and, and writing contests. We have a lot of really exciting community events in mind. And I think the community has suggested a lot of really interesting ideas. And, you know, we're mostly like wanting to save those for point when people who come are going to be excited by what they see. All right. Any questions, we should move on to the next one?

<div id="8" class="anchor">Will characters have different base stats?</div>

Alexander West  


Okay, if different characters have different cards, will they'll also have different base stats? Will some characters innately be faster, stronger, etc? So, typically, the answer is yes. In our card file right now the characters have different stats like how fast or strong they are, how big they are also is pretty important. Right now you know, things of different sizes, and a small character might be able to fit inside something big characters might be better at lifting things etc. So big the characters will have different stats from each other and different versions of the card. Like if one version of a character is you know, when they're young and another one is when they're older might also have different stats... will almost certainly have different stats. Great.

<div id="9" class="anchor">If you could be any creature, mythical or otherwise, what would you choose and why?</div>

Alexander West  


If I could be any creature, mythical or otherwise, what would you choose and why? Umm... if I could get any creature I would probably be sorry, I probably be a dragon. I've always thought dragons are cool. I think being able to fly is amazing. You know I've I've been in a hot air balloon. And I've been inside like one of those like diving tunnels, like not actually jumping out of a plane. But those were really, really amazing experiences. And so just like imagine being able to fly around, would make me really happy. Dragons also sleep a lot. And I take a lot of naps, and I find that relatable. And they hoard things. Personally, I would be hoarding books and cookies.

<div id="10" class="anchor">If you could live in any of the Verses, which would you choose?</div>

Alexander West  


Alright, if I could live in any of the Verses, which would I choose? So, of the six Verses, I think the one that I would want to live in is probably Synthex, which is kind of a high technology verse. And the reason I choose Synthex, it's not just technology, it's also kind of future sociology. And when I imagine the future of people, I both imagine that a lot of the kind of like, unkindness, or like political violence, or you know, corruption, most of that has gone away. And people have figured out how to live harmoniously with each other. And focus most of their time on creativity and play, which excites me. And then when I think about the technology of the future, I think that we'll have the ability to have such abundant energy, probably from, you know, fusion, or Dyson spheres around suns, that we can physically have, essentially all of our needs met, and whatever we imagine, we can make. And so I think, you know, in our current existence, we get some time for play and can make some of the things that we imagined in reality, and some of them on computers. But, like, I just imagine a future where we can build beautiful, immersive experiences for ourselves and for each other. And that sounds amazing.

<div id="11" class="anchor">Are you planning to make a tabletop or computer RPG?</div>

Alexander West  


Okay, you've talked about making a Verses RPG at some point in the future? Are you matching a tabletop, RPG, computer RPG, or both? So our intention for Verses is to, you know, is for it to be a franchise across all kinds of gaming. So will it one day be almost any kind of game? Yes, probably. But specifically, I'm talking about making a tabletop RPG. And at that point in the future is probably next week. I have kind of a, I guess, a beta version of the rules written up to test with the team internally. And I'm hoping to take people on their their first adventure, which I'm excited about. Alright, follow up question. If a tabletop RPG, would you design your own system or try to partner with one of the companies that are friendly to third party properties? Answer, I try to partner with a friendly, friendly to third party properties company. I've played a lot of RPGs. Trying to come up with a novel system is really time consuming. And maybe something worth doing at some point. But I personally am a huge fan of the Forged in the Dark system. Most best known gaming is Blades in the Dark. It's a it has enough kind of rules to be media for rules people, but also is a very flexible storytelling engine. The thing that brought me to it in the first place is that it also has really great mechanics for tracking relationships with organizations and building a base. And in my experience, building a base is really fun in most games. Like when I was a kid playing Dungeons and Dragons, the original editions of Dungeons and Dragons when you hit level 12 or so, you know, if you're a wizard, you build a tower if you're a fighter, you built like a stronghold. If you're a thief, you start a Thieves Guild. And and so kind of capturing that you're not just going on adventures, but you're you're reshaping the world around you, I think is really fun. So any any questions about that?

Jed Dolbeer  


No questions here. But we've hit half an hour, we got through about 14 questions. Feel we could save the rest to do for the next AMA, or do you want to keep going?

<div id="12" class="anchor">What would you do if you could no longer drink milk?</div>

Alexander West


Yeah, I think I will answer one more question. And we can move on next time. Especially if there's a comic book character question, which I think we should save for Dan since then I grew up on comic books. But I will stop with, what would you do if you can no longer drink milk? Is there anything that's better than milk? So the answer is, No, obviously, there's nothing that's better than milk. It is the greatest food there is. But if I couldn't drink milk any longer, I think I would completely change my diet. There are lots of things that I think are good, but there's really, like they're good with milk. Like, I would probably stop eating cookies, which I know is wild. But I feel like milk, like cookies without milk are like just unsatisfying. I think I eat a lot more fruit. And I'd eat a lot more Asian cuisine, so I like sushi does not go well with milk at all. But I love sushi. I'd eat a lot more sushi. Thai food also amazing doesn't really go with milk. And some of the best food experiences I've ever had. I was in Singapore. And there's a little part of Singapore called Little India, where it's just like, amazing Indian food. And there's really no milk there, but I was very happy. So that's what I'd do.

Jed Dolbeer  


Follow up there. I'm curious. So in a lot of like, Middle Eastern and some Indian places, they do like yogurt drinks. Have you had those? And was would those be a substitute for milk? Basically?

Alexander West


No, I think they're in that uncanny valley where they're like similar but not the same. Right. Right. Like so. I like I love like a mango lemonade. But like a mango lassi is like, just not really for me. Yeah, interesting. Yeah, don't get me wrong, like, you know, cooking with coconut milk is fantastic. And there are lots of recipes that use cream where, you know, the coconut cream is like a great substitute. But yeah, as a beverage. Like, you know, I tried them all like oat milk, you know, hemp milk, rice milk, but they're really, they're really just not the same. I'm even, like, pretty picky about milk, like my brother's lactose intolerant. And so he has like milk with the lactase. And the lactase like basically just breaks the bond, the lactose molecule, which releases the two sugars that lactose is made out of. But then it's really sweet because one of those sugars is just one of the sweet sugars there is. And like, I can't drink it either.

Jed Dolbeer  


Very interesting. I think that's a good wrap though

Alexander West  


though. Okay, great. Well, thanks everyone for the questions. And we'll be back next month on the first Thursday to answer some more of them.

Jed Dolbeer  


And for those of you that are here, we're going to put this recording up. We'll create a SoundCloud and it'll be there for anybody that wants to listen. Alright, thanks, everybody.

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