April 2022 State of the Project Report

April 19, 2022

by: 

Good Morning,

I missed making a State of the Project report in March, therefore in this report, I’ll be covering quite a bit of material. The updates I am going to cluster into four groups: Game Design, Infrastructure, Personnel, and Road Map.

Game Design

We finally had the time, resources, and abatement of Covid required to have our first live game jam! Our company has been working remotely since its inception, and March witnessed the first time we got to put all of our designers together in the same room. Dan Burdick, Sam Black, Zac Elsik, myself, Andy Wilson all under one roof, and other members of our team dropping by from time to time.

We took nine days in an Air B&B in Seattle day and night brainstorming and testing prototypes, ironing out concepts, playing with mechanics, and focusing on making Verses a great game. This was just like many of our old days preparing for a Magic pro tournament, renting a house and working to crack the format with a team of talented players.

Amusing highlights:

  • 36 pounds of oranges and 18 pounds of trail mix consumed
  • a trip to Home Depot to get bathroom square and hex tiles to model transformable maps

We knew we wanted our game to explore themes of exploration, adventure, storytelling, and creativity, and worked hard to meet the following objectives:

  • Gameplay with creativity and problem solving at its core rather than violence.
  • Card collection and deck building are core mechanics.
  • Geography is a core mechanic.
  • The game minimizes use of language to maximize accessibility.
  • The game minimizes use of language to maximize accessibility.
  • Realistically has an audience over 10 million+ users.
  • Play is simultaneous, but not twitchy.
  • Game is fun!

As we explored further, we found we were drawn to designs that were similar to Gloomhaven, Clash Royale, traditional TCGs, and The a-Maze-ing Labyrinth. We determined that a card-driven adventure game meets all of those needs. Let me break down what that means:

  • The game has a map with objectives on it.
  • The game has characters who move around on the map.
  • Cards are played to control the characters’ actions and have them perform special moves. A spy from Proxima would likely have cards to Sneak by the sentry, Climb the wall, Find the secret door. A geomancer from Fantasia might Raise or Lower the Water level, or shift the location of a structure. A tinkerer from Synthex might use devices to solve problems, like an Anti-Gravity belt to float through the air, or an X-Ray to see inside hidden spaces.
  • Players can play a solo or cooperative mode, where they play together to achieve objectives before running out of time or some challenge makes success impossible.
  • Players can play in a competitive mode where there are a finite number of objectives that they are trying to accomplish first or best. All kinds of traditional game modes like capture the flag, king of the hill, etc should be able to be supported.
  • Play is simultaneous. Players slowly acquire energy which they can use to power their cards. The result is that there’s enough time to plan your plays and the game is not twitchy, but it is also always “your turn”.

Our tech team is currently working to implement some rudimentary version of this game, and as soon as those are in reasonable shape, we’re looking forward to showing that off.

Infrastructure

Three big updates here: partnerships, wallets, and our website.

We have entered into a partnership with Mint State Labs. MSL is a start-up in the TechStars incubator program that is dedicated to creating resources for TCGs to deploy on blockchains, and creating digital spaces that give the feel of a local comic shop. Creating and deploying Verses TCG is now the top priority of both of our companies. Their team has been around the crypto space for a while, and brings technical and practical expertise to our project. They are all also very nice people, we really enjoyed getting to meet them at our game jam house!

InterPop is nearly finished integrating Temple wallets into their marketplace. We heard the community loud and clear that they wanted non-custodial wallets, and that should be in place before the end of the month. Interpop has also built a custom page for our project, which we hope will lead to a more beautiful viewing experience. Finally, InterPop executed the first payments out to artists and partners, and despite a few accounting hiccups, the system has worked as expected. We were happy to fulfill our promise to deliver 50% of revenues on their art pieces to our artists!

We’ve built out version 1.2 of the Verses website. The major updates are that we made navigation easier with subpages, and have also added new sections for a card gallery and a story archive. The gallery now shows large, lovely versions of the Foundation Edition, Signature Edition, and Universal Editions of our cards. We also found that it was hard to connect people to the amazing stories being written by our narrative team, so we put a library on the website so we could more easily showcase our lore across the web.

Personnel

Many members of our team took vacations or other kinds of extended rest after we completed release #42 in late February. (This is part of why we were so quiet.) The team had been working longer and harder than was healthy, and we took this opportunity to get a lot of lives back into balance.

We hired Scot Anderson, a longtime software developer with experience in games, crypto, and start-ups to work alongside John Tigue and Mint State Labs. We’re excited to have Scot with us!

Hannah Pearlman resigned from the project and is moving on to other artistic endeavors. In part, our company culture around work-life balance has not been what our intentions were, and Hannah felt the brunt of that more than most. We appreciate all of her contributions, and take this as a reminder that we need to walk our talk sooner rather than later. Best wishes, Hannah!

WGMI Solutions, the partner we’d been working with to do community management, changed its pricing model to be cash-up-front rather than equity sharing. Based on those changes, it seemed like WGMI and Verses are not currently a fit to continue working together. We appreciate WGMI’s help, wish them the best in their future endeavors, and hope one day we get to collaborate again. Jed Dolbeer will be stepping up to help communicate and moderate our Discord for now.

Road Map

In terms of our roadmap, I still believe we are on course to have an internally playable alpha in Q3 of 2022, a closed beta in Q4 of 2022, and an open beta in Q1 of 2023. Beyond that, here are some adjustments/notes on where we are on key roadmap items:

Expand Tech Team — With the addition of MSL, I believe we now have all the technical staff required to implement Verses.

Chess on LIGO — With the addition of MSL on the team, there are some items like this that we were going to build as small proofs of technology. With a team that has more crypto bona-fides under their belts, we will likely skip doing this as it won’t be necessary.

Fundraising — Though not on the Road Map, this is a key activity of the business right now. So far meetings have gone well, with everyone we’ve talked to so far offering us money. We’re trying to find the right money on the right terms to maximize success of the project.

Product Sales — We have not yet set a time when we will resume Verses card sales with card #43. The feedback we’ve gotten from the community and from marketers is that it is extremely hard to sell something without being able to see more of what it is. To that end, we are thinking it would be best to get significantly viewable content made by MSL/Scot/John so that players and collectors can see what Verses is before picking back up.

Conclusion

General feeling on the team is optimistic. We are excited about the product we are making, we are enjoying better work-life balance, and we are hopeful about some upcoming funding meetings in the coming weeks.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please post them here. We will also work on getting something like a monthly community forum going, so there’s an opportunity to check in by voice, ask questions live, etc.

Until next month!

Alex West
President, Many Hands SPC
Co-Creator, Verses

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