What’s next for EtherOrcs — Vision, Dungeons, Rapid Learning

Prelude

We are at an interesting moment in the EtherOrcs ecosystem. What we have built together with the community has definitely made us proud. And we’ve been able to do it with a free mint and minimal funds in only 6 months. Most importantly, the learnings going through the process (with great community support) has made it extremely clear where we should focus our limited resources.

Over the mid term — you’re going to see us evolve and begin to more explicitly communicate our end game: making EtherOrcs the premiere Web3 franchise and gaming ecosystem. We see the path to a long term sustainable ecosystem AND brand that can remain agile and scalable long term. Accountability, flexibility, and grit will ultimately trump all in this space since there isn’t a playbook for success. Plans are great, we are good at that, but execution is better. That’s what we’re going to continue to hold ourselves to.

Now you’re probably thinking: “Yeah that’s great but — with Rogues about to mint out and no announcement of the next Ally, what’s next?”

EtherOrcs Dungeons

EtherOrcs Dungeons is a fully interactive RPG game that establishes a completely new active gameplay cycle in the EtherOrcs ecosystem releasing at the end of April.

This launch will coincide with a new and robust Crafting system, which is an entire game in and of itself. This opens up a whole new path for the game economy. Furthermore a brand new Raiding mechanic will be released concurrently that will enable more passive gameplay to keep pace with active players.

It will be fully functional and playable with any single Orc or Ally on launch day. In fact, our Closed Beta has been live for over a week now.

EtherOrcs Dungeons has been on the roadmap since the start, but as you can tell the scale and integration of it into our broader ecosystem has evolved.

We will have a full white paper, release document, trailers, marketing, streams, contests and much more coming out soon. We want to make a big splash with this one — so we have tried to not give away too much.

So why is this important?

New user acquisition: Not having an active playing experience is the number one barrier to broader new player acquisition in the current game.

The game today is complicated, strategic and it’s easy to feel “behind” with only one or two characters. We know this — it’s intuitive and the data from our survey of over 1000 non-players supports it. The community does an awesome job onboarding new players, but we all know personally how long it can take to get it to “click” for someone new. It usually takes sitting down for 30 minutes with someone new to teach them about the ecosystem.

When someone DOES join though, they fall in love with the community, characters, and game dynamics — that’s part of how we have been able to sustain momentum over a relatively long time in the space with a completely organic approach to acquisition (6 months aka 6 years in NFT time).

Dungeons will create an active playing experience that new players will understand, find accessible, and can be easily shared with others. It’s much easier to watch a stream of someone playing a turn based RPG and just “get it.” Having just one Orc and playing within this new game loop will become a significantly more engaging and satisfying experience.

A number of viable playstyles will emerge — the farmer, the low level dungeon player, top tier end game dungeoneer, the passive raiding spreadsheet guru, etc. Ultimately, fun and engaging play for many styles is the recipe for long term success in our eyes.

This is all critical and should intuitively make sense.

Game Economy, Game Loop, and Crafting

Players will need to visit Grim’nock Hammersmash to Forge new weapons

There’s a lot to be said here and there are plenty of incredible analyses out there on game economies (particularly crypto games). The industry is still new and learning. We are too. We won’t go deep into our own assessment since at the end of the day our approach and belief system is simple:

  • Thoughtful tokenomics is easy
  • Predicting user behavior is hard
  • Leverage what people already know and love from regular games

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. It’s easy — if you’re playing an MMO you’re progressing your character for a variety of different motivations and needs. There’s a core loop of course and it’s tried & true: get stuff to kill stuff to get other stuff. But there are so many other layers, side paths, and community driven aspirations that come into play that it feels fresh every time you pick it up.

This is where we are going with the EtherOrcs game economy. So what’s the next step on that path?

A new game loop focused on exploring dungeons, killing monsters, defeating bosses, getting loot, crafting better equipment, gaining new recipes, and more. The key aspect to this is crafting — the ability to upgrade, change, combine, recombine, and trade to get to your goals — whether it’s becoming a top scoring Dungeon runner, a PVP god, or just having the most rare looking stuff.

Oh and there will be leaderboards, and tournaments, and prizes galore… I wonder who will dominate the never-ending Dungeon or the Dark Wizard’s weekly unique challenge.

So how will the game loop work?

Get Treasure Chests — from defeating Dungeons or completing Raids

  • Open the Chests
  • Get Resources, Rare Items, Special Items, Rare Consumables, Secret Items
  • Craft the above into…
  • Dungeon equipment — power enhancers that give you new strength and abilities in Dungeons and Raids… equipment follows an “upgrade” tree and path you can customize
  • Dungeon keys — one use items to unlock ultra difficult Dungeons or seasonal events

But in addition to the core loop Crafting examples above, there is so much more we can do with this system, here are some examples of what else is possible:

  • Ultra rare cosmetic items
  • Ownable dungeons (this is a team favorite)
  • Crafting custom PFP “tavern” versions of your Orc
  • Achievement trophies
  • Non-EtherOrcs NFT prizes
  • $ZUG / $BONESHARD rewards
  • Craft the next Ally
  • Entry points to future expansions integrated into the game via crafting and dungeoneering / raiding (Land is its own thing, but imagine Pets, Mounts, etc.)
  • Highly limited reroll potions (controversial one — we will discuss this with the community)
  • And so on…

Crafting opens up a wealth of possibilities for players that extends beyond just “get stuff” and enables a variety of styles of play. Additionally, it opens up multiple “valid” strategies for players and areas to encourage flexibility in the game economy. As an example, early and common resources will be widely used at all stages of the game enabling a specific sustaining role for a newer player with minimal equipment.

Now, we don’t have it all solved, but what this will enable is for us to put out new content and make pivots significantly faster than before.

To recap thus far: we have a complete and custom Dungeon game engine that we have built from the ground up that we will release at the end of this month which will unlock:

  • Active gameplay (Dungeons)
  • New game loop (both Raids and Dungeons)
  • Crafting system and game

“Yeah that’s great but what will come after that?”

What we like about having a proprietary engine and set of mechanics already built is that we gain a huge amount of flexibility. We can test and learn with the community on what is most impactful and what they are most excited about seeing next. We will then pivot accordingly.

Top of our list on near term additions / considerations in this Phase will be:

  • PVP Battle (have a few options of this in partial development)
  • Multiplayer
  • Alternative game modes (e.g. exploration mode)
  • And much much more — to be driven by community participation and engagement

What does it mean for players today?

We will incrementally open the Closed Beta for more testing over the coming week. You will get more information next week on the economy, mechanics, and more. Here’s what’s important to know today:

  • Dungeons start end of April — alongside Crafting and updates to Raids
  • You will use $ZUG to go on Dungeons and Raids; you’ll use $BONESHARDs for crafting
  • All consumables will have use in Dungeons as well as an overhaul of their existing utility in Raids / current gameplay (Luck Runes in particular will be adapted to the new rewards in Raids)
  • The final Ally will be opened after we have a month or so of Dungeons under our belt — to enable us to get a true read on people’s experience playing for equipment and crafting
  • The final Ally (Undead Mages) will cost more $BONESHARDs than the previous one, and when we reveal it’s consumable the playerbase will understand why. It will have a unique incorporation of the crafting system in the mint.

We are so excited to share with the community all of the stuff we have been working on behind the scenes here and get the next phase up and running. It’s going to be a blast. Let’s GO! ZUG ZUG

-EO Team

Addendum on common questions and other ideas:

We know there are a lot of things we do not have addressed here. Rather than a full write up see below for some notes from our community discussions on other future models / expansion areas:

  • A “base layer” end game — We know generally what an end state could look like for a significantly larger overall ecosystem. EtherOrcs Genesis and Allies as a baselayer for a series of independent / interconnected games on top with completely different entry points and audiences. This implies that at this point you’ll probably be back to farming and crafting for people playing on their mobile phones. They’re probably trying to get some ZUG or Potions to speed up their Barracks build in Valkala (far future state). However, we know we can’t go there right away so we will build and iterate first fully focused on Genesis and Allies and from there bring in new entrants into the system with additional layers once we have scaled.
  • Interoperability with other projects — You let partner projects use the system, participate in ZUG, earn crafting rewards, etc. This is good and bad… Long term — interoperability is a no brainer, but from a priority standpoint we want to ease into it and understand the right way for it to work. In the near term we will focus on ways for select partner projects to experience the ecosystem.
  • Rental systems — We know we need something for larger players in the ecosystem to be able to keep up with active gameplay. We are extremely sensitive though to the end state of rental systems that have been implemented in the industry so far… We need a solution here, but it also can’t be the traditional approach. This will be a good learning experience for us and we’re coming up with a few possible models or ideas. Near term — Raids will function as a passive experience with similar but not quite as potent rewards to Dungeons
  • Entry Level NFT — The famous “peon.” There’s a ton of potential here. The hardest thing we currently have to deal with is locking individual character progress on the visual / aesthetic / gear aspects of characters on the metadata. Having a peon who plays the dungeon crawls or raids for 5 ZUG instead of 50 and can craft gear that goes directly onto their character is a MASSIVE tool. Long term we are all about this. However, if we prioritize this over bringing new people into Allies and Genesis — we actually just end up really accelerating the base layer situation which we aren’t scaled or fully ready to do. It feels like we need to be very thoughtful and prepared going into that structure rather than throwing it out there. Additionally we would need some serious scale / funding upgrades. So this one might just come later.
  • Land — We are selectively going to not share too many details here which is already in partial development. Land will be its own gameplay loop within the shared EtherOrcs universe. It will not require an Orc or Ally, but will have many interdependencies with the EtherOrcs ecosystem.

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