A scavenger hunt across the Metaverse

Apr 26 · 8 min read

1. The game

We want to build Interlude: a scavenger hunt across the digital world, i.e. on the web and inside video games. Here’s how this works in practice:

  • developers can hide keys anywhere, inside games they build or on the internet
  • players have to go hunt for the keys and find as many as possible in a limited amount of time, in order to get the prize. The more keys they find, the bigger the prize

The condition for “finding the key” is arbitrary. The key doesn’t have to be “hidden” in the traditional sense — it could be killing a boss, finishing a level, or any scriptable condition. Once the condition is fulfilled (the boss is killed, the place is reached…) the player gets a cryptographic proof that also allows him to determine the next key to find.

2. Not just a game: a protocol

Interlude is not a classical scavenger hunt, that would be played once and then lose its interest.

Interlude is a protocol, that can be joined — implemented — by an unlimited number of developers. This in essence creates a network of games, over which playable scavenger hunts will be automatically created by the game’s algorithm. The higher the number of developers, the more (crypto-economically) secure the protocol becomes. If there are sufficiently many keys it will be impossible to pre-play or hack them all, so the protocol will enforce fair play even with huge prizes.

3. Crypto & decentralization

This scavenger hunt protocol natively defines a mathematical quantity, that is used to quantify all its interactions: key reputation, player score, and so on. We implement the protocol in a smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain. By adding an ERC20 interface on the score quantity, we get a classical, tradable cryptocurrency, that we call “shell”.

The rules for the creation (“mining”) of this cryptocurrency are part of the scavenger hunt protocol. New shells can only be mined one way: by playing the game and finding keys. Because the keys are hard to find we get the sacro saint digital scarcity that underpins any cryptocurrency’s value. Whenever a player finds a key, the new shells mined are shared between the player and the developer that hide the keys. This creates an incentive for developers to join the network and connect their games. Furthermore, the protocol also uses a halving mechanism — like Bitcoin — to ensure a finite supply.

Using the Ethereum blockchain and a cryptocurrency to implement the game has two advantages:

  • we can pre-mine the crypto and distribute it to the various stakeholders of the game — in particular to the developers. This way every contributor to the game becomes an investor, with exactly the same rights as the founders, the team or normal investors. In a sense that would build a kind of cooperative, decentralized game studio, where all developers act independently but are also shareholders.
  • implementing the game’s rules in a smart contract allows us to make the game (and its native currency) permissionless and decentralized. After the launch of the beta we will need a period of fine-tuning, during which we will keep control over the smart contract to modify and improve the algorithm. At the end of this period we will renounce ownership of the smart contract. This will set the rules forever, with no one able to change them. At this point we will move on to other projects, and the game — and the shell currency — will take a life of its own, with no owner or company behind it.

4. How do we “hide a key”? Where?

“Hiding a key” is very simple and can be done in a few minutes: it’s essentially adding a few lines of code to your game/script/website, and registering the key. We will soon publish the SDK that allows to do that easily. As a result the keys can be “hidden” absolutely anywhere: it could be a simple script at a designated IP address/URL or a full game that has to be downloaded and completed to get the key. We could even put the key at some place in the real world with a QR code, although that wouldn’t be very fair for the players that don’t live there.

However we think it would be more fun to have most of the keys inside video games, and turn this into a hunt across the Metaverse, à la Ready Player One. This could also be a way to play and discover many games in a short time, with an added game loop(the key hunt) and a prize at the end.

What type of games?

Ideally the keys should be found in a few minutes — between 5 and 10 minutes would be a sweet spot. The hunt has a time limit of two or three hours, so spending an hour to find a key would be problematic. This excludes all the games that need to be played for several hours, which are most of today’s successful games. Games with a long backstory, complex games that take hours to master, long term games where you build up stats (RPGs, building or survival games…) are out.

What’s left? Action, small puzzle, short exploration game, short platformers… Simple games, very limited in scope, that the player can quickly get familiar with and complete in a few minutes. The setting is similar to arcade games, where you put a coin to play for a few minutes (most of the time), and will play many different games in a two-hour session.

Small Unity games, for example bare-bones FPS made of assets from the Asset Store are the perfect fit for this. The lack of polish and of a refined universe wouldn’t be a problem since the player goes from one game to the other (so there is no coherence anyway), as would the lack of content (no need to build a complete game with tons of levels, a few minutes of gameplay is enough). Mere prototypes and demos would be okay, as long as they are playable.

As a sidenote, the simplicity of the protocol means that almost every type of games could easily be supported. In theory you could have keys in Minecraft, Roblox and in general most moddable games.

5. What type of player should participate?

Overall you’re fit to play this game if you:

  • are open minded — you’re okay if not everything goes as planned
  • are versatile — you can enjoy and learn quickly many types of games
  • are good at both action based games (reflexes skills) and reflection based games (puzzle solving skills)
  • enjoy challenge
  • enjoy challenge

You’ll have to play many different game of many different genres, under a constrained time limit. You’ll have to get familiar with the games as quickly as possible, to find the key as rapidly as possible. Remember that the player that finds the most keys will earn the lion share of the prize, so the time pressure will be intense.

Worse, there’s no way to prepare yourself. No way to train, no way to know in advance what kind of ambush you will face. Absolutely anything can go. You might believe you’re playing a FPS and you just need to clear the map to win, when the game is actually a puzzle that needs to be figured out to yield the key. You might start the game and find yourself in a some cute fairy world, only for zombies to attack you out of nowhere and the game to turn into a horror nightmare!

Is this a legit fairy tale game? Or is this a trap? What’s behind the houses?

This is not a casual game, and it’s not a game you can get better at with training. You can only count on yourself and your raw abilities. If that sounds exciting, you’re good to go!

6. What type of developer should participate?

If you are a developer with a taste for puzzles and game design (even if you’re not a game developer) you might want to give this a try. We are open to any idea and contribution.

In terms of game dev specifically though, we have identified two “profiles” that might be interested in participating:

  • indie developers that already have a prototype or a demo for their game, and that might be interested in getting some marketing “boost” and early players feedback. Marketing is often a big roadblock for indie game devs, especially at the start; sometimes even getting genuine players’ feedback is hard. If you are in this case, just put a key in your demo, register it on the smart contract with the URL to it, and wait for the players to come (and the crypto to accumulate in your wallet). This could literally be done in a few minutes.
  • hobbyists that like to build things in Unity (or some other game engine), but cannot put the thousands of hours necessary to finish a game and publish it on Steam. This might be a very interesting use case: with Unity and the Asset Store you can build cool stuff easily, but making a full game (that has a chance to be played on Steam) is super hard. So this could be an easy way to publish a small game and get some players and make some cash. You wouldn’t need to build a fully-fleshed game with hours of gameplay, backstory, UI, handle the marketing, trailer,… Just create something interesting with assets from the Asset Store, with a few minutes of gameplay, and place the key at the end of it.
Path to the Metaverse?

Next steps in our roadmap:

  • June 2021 — Creation of the Shell token and presale.
  • End of June 2021— Playable demo available
  • July 2021 — Launch of the beta and opening of the project to third-party developers. Publication of the dev tools to create Keys. Testing phase of the Key Hunt algorithm.
  • End of August 2021 — IDO, listing on PancakeSwap
  • Early September 2021 — First Scavenger Hunt with a huge prize in crypto (shell or stablecoin)
  • December 2021 — Final launch. We burn the bridges, the Key Hunt is now completely decentralized. Its rules are fixed and carved into the blockchain, with no outside control whatsoever.

The public presale sale has started, you can learn more about in this post:

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The decentralized scavenger hunt