As the year ends, it is the perfect time to take a moment and assess what has been accomplished in the last 12 months, and to set goals for the year that lies ahead. The BLOCKLORDS team continues to work tirelessly to make the first blockchain grand strategy game ever created better and better with each iteration, and we want to start off by thanking our loyal players who have followed us since the project’s inception and provided us with feedback, support, and hard truths when they were needed. Our players are what makes BLOCKLORDS great and we look forkward to seeing their ranks increase greatly in the coming year as we launch the new and improved 2.0 version.
Following the 2018 award grant from the NEO.GAME competition that got development going, 2019 started with another strong win when BLOCKLORDS was awarded yet another grant from the TRON Accelerator. While this gave the team much needed funds to complete the project, it also doubled the pressure; there were now two completely different blockchains who were expecting a version of the game released on their platform.
Excited by the project’s validation from two major blockchains, the team hunkered down and spent several months in intense development cycles. Blockchain game development is still a nascent field, and many new problems had to be solved. Innovative systems, bots and API’s had to be created to get the client, server and smart contract working in sync while keeping player assets secured. Countless bugs were spotted, fixed, or removed from the game. A lot of our original game designs had to be scaled down significantly in order for the game to be feasible according to smart contract restrictions.
BLOCKLORDS launched on TRON in April 2019. We quickly gained a small following of active players who gave us feedback on what needed to be fixed, and there was quite a bit of it. Because of our budget, time, and team size limitations, we had spent a lot of time focused on making things work and not enough on the core game loops required to make the game fun enough in the long term. That, along with our decision to have prices quite high for the first generation of items in the game, meant that while some players did create heroes, few were active on a daily basis, which made it hard to create a truly rewarding in-game economy. These problems had to be solved ASAP.
While we did our best to implement as many quick fixes as we could to make the game more playable(such as increasing map size, balancing battle formulas, etc.), we still knew a lot needed to be done to make the game a truly enjoyable and rewarding experience for all players. But we soon realized that the way we had written the smart contract was not flexible enough to allow us to make the drastic changes required to make the game as good as it needed to be. All while this was happening, we also put pressure on ourselves to launch the game on NEO as we felt committed to honor our commitment to the community. This led to us pushing another gruesome dev cycle where we tried to get a smart contract working on NEO, which was not an easy task.
BLOCKLORDS NEO launched in June 2019 and did have the benefit of having the quality of life improvements we’d made for the TRON version available at launch. This made things a bit smoother during the early days of the NEO version as players came in and gave us quite a bit of feedback regarding the battle formula and economic design of the game. Similarly to what we experienced on TRON, the game was quickly overtaken by whales who spent their way to the top and crushed all opposition who dared fight against them. This made another crucial flaw in our design clear, we had not done enough to curtail players from just outspending each other. This was something that we knew had to be fixed in order to make our game sustainable in the long term. We decided to consider our next moves very carefully.
While it is easy to be overly critical of the mistakes we made during this early period, it is also important to look at the things that were a success. We had achieved our original goal, which was to make a game where players could create heroes on the blockchain, earn items from strongholds, improve those items through battle, trade those items in cities for cryptocurrency, and where lords could earn taxes from those trades if they controlled its city. All of this was made possible through smart contracts, and went off with very few bugs on the blockchain side of things. We were the first true blockchain game that wasn’t just a tradeable collectible website, and this is an achievement we do not often get credit for. That said, we had been so focused on just getting everything working correctly on the blockchain side that we had not spent enough time iterating and improving on the core aspects of the game itself. Now we had our work cut out for us. We had to find a way to make it fun.
The first step was to make battles more interactive. In the TRON and NEO versions, battles were pretty straight forward calculations that were then verified by a blockchain transaction. We knew this needed to be improved in order to give players a larger role over the outcome of battles. We started iterating on this concept and came up with the basic mechanics for how players would move their units and capture cities in a more engaging way. The first prototypes were proving to be quite fun and we decided to also begin our search for a blockchain with faster transaction times and free costs (or as close to free as possible). We landed on ICON, the Korean chain focused on interoperability (another key requirement of ours) and submitted a prototype to their ICON’s Got Talent competition in July 2019. Though we didn’t win that competition, we had a clear direction of where BLOCKLORDS should go. We quickly began refining our designs for what would become BLOCKLORDS 2.0, a new and improved version of the game with many new systems.
Our experience with developing several versions of BLOCKLORDS on three different blockchains taught us a lot about our game, our community, and ourselves. But the next step was clear, in order to reach more users, we needed to get on Ethereum, and to truly make an impact, we needed to create an in-game NFT (Non-Fungible Token) asset. We had avoided minting NFTs in previous versions for two reasons: 1. We wanted to keep trading within cities so that lords could earn taxes 2. there was a lack of clear NFT standards or marketplaces on both NEO and TRON. With Ethereum, the second problem was solved but not the first. Rather than just minting all our items as NFTs, we decided to make heroes, along with all their equipped items, tradeable assets instead. This would make selling your very own hero that you spent time building up within the game a more emotional moment with hopefully more value added to it. But we didn’t simply want to port the game to Ethereum without improving the game itself. We knew we had to step our game up, add a lot of features, and more importantly, offer a better experience to our users so that we could onboard people to blockchain.
The solution presented itself in the form of the LOOM Network, which would allow us to offer free and fast transactions to our users while still having a gateway connected to Ethereum (and other blockchains). This would make it possible for players to have a user-friendly experience on the game itself while still being able to export heroes and trade them on NFT exchanges such as OpenSea. We got to work creating a player tutorial, minting NFT contracts, and on transferring assets to and from the LOOM network, all while also completely overhauling our gameplay to include a lot more features. We were able to begin selling NFT assets in the fall and released our new player tutorial as well, functional with the importing of NFT assets onto LOOM for those who wanted to experience an early version of BLOCKLORDS 2.0. Because of all this hard work, BLOCKLORDS was also selected as a bounty recipient by LOOM, making it the fourth award the team has received from a blockchain.
In addition to featuring greatly improved battle, economic, and gameplay designs. BLOCKLORDS 2.0 will make the onboarding much easier. While previous versions required players to have ean installed web wallet with crypto in it before even starting to player the game, 2.0 will be free to play and not require any wallet whatsoever to get started. Our devs are hard at work developing backend solutions that will make the game much more accessible and drive a new wave of users into the wonders of blockchain technology, ownership of in-game assets, and the monetization of time spent gaming!
The BLOCKLORDS team has been developing non-stop for over a year now, and we couldn’t have achieved what we have so far if it hadn’t been for all of our industry partners. A project is often measured by the other companies it interacts with, and we are proud to say that while our studio is small, we have managed to forge partnerships with some of the biggest names in crypto, and we look forward to continuing along this path throughout 2020 and beyond!
Once BLOCKLORDS 2.0 is fully polished and available to the public as a free-to-play game, we will begin our expansion onto as many platforms as possible. This is part of our vision to bring blockchain games to as many people as we can and pushing the message that players should be able to directly own their in-game assets and monetize their time spent playing games. Development plans and schedules are already in place for BLOCKLORDS versions on Facebook, Android, iOS, and more! 2019 has been a wild ride and we want to take this time to thank our early players for all the support and feedback they have given us over the last year. We look forward to continuing our journey through the blockchain game space together and cannot wait to unveil lots of new features and games in 2020, and we wish you all a happy new year!
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