It’s been a year of big changes for me personally. A separation from my co-parent, moving to a new place, engaging in self-reflection and attendant personal growth. I’ve gotten better at holding boundaries, deeply honest conversations, and making hard choices; and I’ve brought all of that experience to work to make the business behind Verses better.
For Verses, it’s been a good year of development, both in terms of our business and our game project. The short version is that we are close to having a playable demo to show investors for our next round of fundraising.
For the long version, I’ll talk through a timeline of major events over the last 5 quarters, and then get into our current strengths, opportunities, risks, and weaknesses.
Found an investor who believed in our project. We made an agreement to sell up to 20% of our company’s stock for up to 5 million dollars to complete our demo and serve as a bridge to the next fundraising round.
Reassessed our relationship with Mint State Labs, which had been purchased by Orange Comet. Because Orange Comet has access to globally prestigious IPs, they wanted to shift their engineers from working on our project to those properties. We independently determined that we would benefit from building out our engineering team internally. It was then an easy choice for both companies to transition the game engineering collaboration out of our partnership. We still expect to work with them as our blockchain integration partner and a marketplace provider, and are interested in the possibility of incorporating some of their IPs into Verses.
Began a hiring initiative led by Vice President Scot Anderson where we identified key skill sets and positions our team was lacking and brought in people with shipped mobile games experience to fill those roles. These included Unity engineering, assorted graphic designers, and a product manager/producer.
Received notice from InterPop that they would be closing shop and no longer providing support as a marketplace.
Under guidance from Product Manager Meredith Fletcher, we reorganized our project team into three departments: Engineering, Game Design, and Art and appointed Scot Anderson, Ben Lundquist, and Eleanore Drummond to direct those departments. This brought marked productivity and communications improvement across the project.
Transitioned to using Jira as our project management suite, and to having regular sprints.
Our investor informed us his fund was having liquidity issues and they were giving us 180 days notice that they would end our stock purchasing agreement. As a result, we accelerated our demo development and paired down features in support of fundraising in Q1 of 2024.
Forgia, our machine learning assisted tech stack, built under the guidance of our technical co-founder John Tigue, achieved sufficient maturity and stability that it has widespread adoption within our art team. This is currently a web-based UI using AWS GPUs that has a graphic editing tool combined with Stable Diffusion generative AI based text-to-image and image-to-image inputs for prototyping and iterating on artwork. The goal is to keep using and polishing it internally so that it can become a player-facing tool for customization down the road.
We have a group of TCG designers with deep experience on some of the worlds’ most successful properties.
Our fundamentals around using new technologies to deliver better gameplay and better economics to players and collectors remain sound.
A team that works well with each other and communicates well with each other. It’s a genuinely nice group of folks who are bringing their many talents together effectively.
We have built a playable demo, proving we are able to execute the ideas we had previously described only in documentation.
We haven’t recruited a community builder/marketing type person onto our staff yet. This has led to not connecting with players and collectors as much as other Web3 projects,
We have limited runway remaining and are under pressure to find investment to continue development.
Our engineering team is still relatively small compared to other departments.
As crypto prices and confidence begin to recover from the “Crypto Winter” we may be at the right place and time to build a deeper following and enthusiasm for our project with crypto enthusiasts.
Having built a WebGL based game, we are in a position to bring a game with blockchain and machine learning to market without obstruction from intermediary services like Steam, Epic, or Apple.
With our WebGL based progressive app approach we will be able to embed our game directly in advertisements/our marketing funnel without needing to send people to download an app.
As machine learning continues to advance, we can both reduce our costs and development time; as well as support novel ways for users to customize their experience.
Using machine learning tools to assist our artists has the potential to incite critics of the technology.
We have seen several games using blockchain technology be panned by mainstream players. We need to set expectations about how it’s being used as a database, and that there isn’t environmental degradation, pay-to-win, or any kind of scam happening here.
The investor environment isn’t as bad as it was in 2023, but there is a danger that we won’t get the best terms on money we need to take to cover development in ’24 and ’25.
We have a great product idea, a great team, and are making headway on implementing everything we’ve been imagining. We need more time and money for development, which we expect to raise in Q1 of 2024.
Thanks for your time and interest. I look forward to reporting next time on our progress and how fundraising has gone!
Alex West President, Many Hands SPC Co-Creator, Verses TCG at Verses.gg