Ethercraft: The Game

As promised, this article will detail our game’s core design from a player standpoint.

Taking inspiration from games such as ADOM, Ultima, Rogue, and idle RPGs (the kind you used to play on IRC), the core game loop is quite simple: Equip your character, set your tactics, and go. In our initial dungeon contract, tactics will be set at the beginning of a dungeon, at which point your character will run the dungeon automatically according to your settings, eventually reaching the exit portal, backtracking in an effort to escape, or dying. Here are some development mockups to give you an idea of what we’re working with:

King’s Cloak with… Ragnarok? What a noob.

The game is based on this design for a number of reasons. Our goal is to leverage the power of the EVM while at the same time mitigating any potential inconvenience which comes along with that. At present, both our prototype dungeon and our base crafting contract require just two transactions — one to initiate the sequence and one to confirm. (Something we’re considering but which isn’t yet part of our core design is the ‘chunking’ of regions within a dungeon so that tactics can be set every n floors, although we’re first and foremost aiming for user-friendliness, which means as few transactions as possible. More on this below.)

Tactics

Tactics selections include:

  • My stance: [aggressive].
  • I prefer [melee combat].
  • I will [kick down] locked doors when no key is present.
  • When low on health, I will [begin my ascension to safety], [unless I am closer to the exit portal].
  • When hungry and low on food, I will [begin my ascension to safety] [unless I am closer to the exit portal].

Your tactics, your equipment, and a bit of RNG (luck!) determine the outcome of your dungeon run. We aim for our core design to be both fast in terms of live interaction as well as accessible to casual players.

(As you might’ve noticed, we’re designing the game with mobile players in mind. Our first release will be based on Phaser, with native wrapper apps available for iOS and Android shortly after release.)

🍞 > 🌽

RNG

For our beta release, we’ll be using future block hash for RNG, with calculations performed using a dice analogy (D20). This means that our initial dungeon contract requires minimal input from the user. Further, as a technical limitation of this type of RNG, the maximum possible loot value for any individual dungeon run will be capped at 5 ETH (correction: 3 ETH, or the current block reward at the time of this writing). Without this limit, it would be profitable for miners to manipulate the outcome of the game rolls.

In the future, however, we are very interested in state channels. Here’s the important bit:

State channels are basically two-way pathways opened between two users that want to communicate with each other in the form of transactions. Each participant in the channel signs these transactions with his private key to ensure that they are undeniably true and authorized.
These channels are off-chain and private, known only to its participants, which means they allow for instant and anonymous transactions within them. These channels also have a limited lifespan which is predetermined based on time or amount of transactions carried out. Participants can also close their channel by providing the last updated state of transactions to the blockchain.

State channels will enable us to facilitate on-the-fly tactics changes without delay as well as other near-real-time game elements which simply wouldn’t be possible without them.

In the end, the results are the same:

Sometimes you win… and sometimes you don’t.

Gold Pieces

Gold pieces are an important aspect of Ethercraft which we will introduced as our dungeon contracts mature. For those of you who missed our first post:

In-game gold, tentatively Gold Pieces (XGP), is an ERC20 token which will serve as part of the core of the Ethercraft game world and item system. Gold will have two core functions: Firstly, it will be used as an intermediary for everything involving ETH transfer. Let’s say you have an item that you no longer want but which isn’t in high demand on the secondary (player) market at the moment — no problem, just sell it back to the shop (NPC) contract for a modest sum of gold. Want to buy an item for sale by the shop? You’ll need gold for that. Did your hero emerge from the dungeon alive and even victorious? Oh, it looks like he brought back some gold pieces.
But why do you, as a player, want gold? Is the added immersion not enough for you? Then consider this: we won’t just be selling gold. Our smart contract will buy gold back from players at a fixed rate of ETH. This will be accomplished using funds raised through the sale of items so that the contract can always afford to purchase all outstanding gold at any given time.
The second core function of gold is a truly big one: governance. Gold Pieces will act as a governance token, giving anyone who holds Gold Pieces in their ETH wallet a set of votes in the decision making and upgrade processes of Ethercraft’s smart contracts. In other words, Gold Pieces give players the ability to determine which new items, locations, and features are added to the game, taking these changes out of the hands of the developers and enabling true decentralization. This is a major departure from the way a lot of other “game on the blockchain”-type projects are currently operating — in fact, most other projects in this space are nothing more than traditional client-server-style games that just happen to run on the EVM but are otherwise totally centralized in the hands of a few developers. This is something we feel sets us apart and is one of the features that we’re most excited about.
For launch purposes, we’ll be using ETH for item purchases — we don’t want people to be forced to gold pieces as an intermediary at this stage when it will be needlessly confusing. In the very near future, though — as part of one of our first contract updates — gold is going to replace ETH as the Ethercraft currency of choice.

In the short term we will simply be using ETH (which dungeons will yield in lieu of gold pieces).

Updates

We continue to prepare for regional item releases which will begin in the near future, ideally within the next two weeks. For those of you who missed it:

…we are ramping up efforts to reach non-English-speaking markets. Our top priority at the moment is South Korea, although we are also interested in launches for Japan, China, Russia, and Germany, as well as a multitude of other countries thereafter. These launches will include translations of major articles and key marketing materials as well as small item sets which include items of cultural significance. For example, included with these items are Kimchi-jjigae, a Korean dish, as well as a special sword based on Japanese history and folklore (to be revealed in the future). We are also making efforts to incorporate elements of these languages and cultures into the lore of Ethercraft itself so that when our later dungeon contracts go live we’ll have a much richer lore complete with cultural cues and nuance.

Further, we’re continuing to tweak and test our beta crafting contract. I want to be clear: our priority is crafting, and that will be released well before dungeon crawling. Although I can’t yet guarantee a specific ETA, my personal goal is to have the beta crafting contract deployed toward the end of next week or early the following week. We will then begin testing with community members on Discord and Telegram.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for our beta crafting update!

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