Studio369 is preparing to launch MetalCore, an open world player-versus-player mech combat game that combines the engagement of high-quality traditional gaming with true asset ownership via web3.

It has been in the works for about three years, with the game expected to hit a closed beta by the end of March and an open beta test by May 2024. It’s being built by a team of experienced developers familiar with the mech combat genre from LucasFilm, Disney, and Activision, among others.

In this episode your host, Niko Vuori, dives into how MetalCore is integrating NFTs and digital ownership into the mech combat genre, what utility the $MCG fungible token will provide players, what it's like to build on Immutable, and more.

To get your key for Phase 2 of the closed beta, visit You can find Dan Nikolaides on LinkedIn.


Also, big thanks to ZEBEDEE for making this episode possible! ZEBEDEE provides a plug-and-play API and SDK for seamless integration of instant, borderless, and low-fee payments using the Bitcoin Lightning Network. Want to better engage and monetize your global user base? Start for free at 

This transcript is machine-generated, and we apologize for any errors.

Niko: Hello and welcome to the Naavik gaming podcast. I'm your host, Niko Vuori. We have a great episode for you today. We are talking about mech combat on the blockchain, a topic that we have not yet covered here at Naavik, so I'm excited to dig into this. Studio 369 is preparing to launch MetalCore, an open world player versus player mech combat game that combines the engagement of high-quality traditional gaming with true asset ownership via Web3.

It's been in the works for about three years, so high quality production, and the game is expected to hit an open beta test within a few months, and a closed beta even sooner than that. It is being built by a team of creatives, very experienced creatives from Lucasfilm. Disney, Activision, among others. And our guest today is none other than one of the founders and the CTO of Studio 369, Dan Nikolaides, Dan, welcome to the pod.

Dan: Hello. Thanks for having me.

Niko: Awesome. Awesome. All right. With that out of the way, let's get right into it. And one of the questions I always like to ask first of our guests is what brought you into we3, tell us a little bit about your background and then your journey down the web3 rabbit hole.

How deep does it go?

Dan: Yeah, so I come from very traditional games. I started my career working at Midway Games in Chicago, which eventually became WB Games, worked on titles such as Mortal Kombat, Stranglehold, helped out Epic at a certain point in my career developing Unreal Engine 3 and Unreal Engine 4.

And so I came from a very traditional background in, in hardcore console PC games. And very recently within the last three years, joined this company or founded this company with my other two co-founders, Studio369. And we started working on a couple of mech games. We worked on a mech game called World of Mechs for Oculus.

And it was a quest to VR title and it was super fun. And we decided, Hey, we wanted to make that into a larger scale PC game where we could get like giant scale mech combat going very much. Inspired by games like Titan Fall and planet side. And we wanted to get combined arms, infantry, tanks, aircraft, and mechs all in a big battlefield.

So that was the genesis of this game MetalCore at the time. We were also a work for hire studio. So we were helping out a bunch of other different teams with various projects while working on our own IPs. And so we did some work for a couple of web3 companies. Like we, we worked on some parallel.

Content, some of our artists worked on some of their cards. We helped advise Aku on, on their project. We worked with Ultra at a certain point and in developing concepts for some like web3 economies around their game designs. And so that's what piqued our interest in it is a few of these kinds of work for higher opportunities that we started.

Embracing ourselves a little bit more in bringing that kind of traditional gaming design idea, into web3. And then we had a funding partner approach us and say, Hey, we really believe in web three and we. What you're doing in terms of your mech game and your prototypes that we showed them and they said, Hey, let's make this into a web3 game.

And so that was the genesis of MetalCore.

Niko: We actually had the parallel guys on here. One of the founders on the pod, I think two or three episodes ago, it's a small world and web three, it's a kind of a interwoven web of people who are all know each other and work with each other. So it's really fun to hear.

Okay. Tell us more about MetalCore then. What is it? What are you doing? I mentioned at the intro, we haven't had an episode on mech combat. I don't think we've had. Any episodes of mech combat for whether it's web two or web3. So I'm super curious to hear how does MetalCore work? What is it as a game and what are your kind of ambitions?

What are you trying to do to stand out with this product?

Dan: Cool. Yeah. So MetalCore itself is very much inspired by large scale first person shooter games like Planet Side, HALO games that combine infantry combat. Like I said, mechs, aircrafts, tanks, we wanted to get that sense of a giant battlefield with battlefront is a huge influence for us too, right?

So we've always wanted to make that game and that's what MetalCore is, right? Metal core is a combined armed. First and third person, first person shooter and third person shooter with a ton of super awesome vehicles that you can pilot. It's also a basically three way, three way territory control game.

So you, when you start the game, you join one of three factions, which are the metal punks, the gear breakers, and the holy corporation. And these, the backstory of the game is that These four colony ships left for the five colony ships left for this distant planet in order to colonize it thousand year journey, one of them exploded and knocked out the other, the cryo on the other three on three of the other four.

And so these three developed unable to communicate with one another over a thousand years developed very weird societies trying to survive on their ships landed on the planet. And started going to war immediately because they were all like aliens to one another. And then the fourth ship, which is what you arrive on your cryopods open up a hundred years later and after the kind of cooling off process and you look down on the planet and holy crap, what's going on.

So that's the backstory of the game. So at the outset of the game, you got to choose one of the factions. You got to ally yourself with. You're one of a small group of mercenaries who's not necessarily beholden to any one faction, but can hop around potentially. And so we're building a lot of elements of like political faction wars into it.

The guilds, which in our game we call baronies, play a huge role in taking territory and holding it and owning territory. And obviously the web3 connection of the vehicles that you own, the characters that you unlock and the being able to level them up, improve them and make them super awesome. And then potentially either rent them out to your or make them available to your barony mates. Or sell them if you want to.

Niko: Sweet. I love the law actually. And that's a really fun. And by the way, the art style is great. Obviously this is a podcast audio format, so we can't show it to you, but we'll have links in the show notes, but the art is really cool and very high quality. It looks very triple a which I guess is a Testament to the fact you'd be working on it for three years.

Let's dig in a little bit more on the web three. Component here, because it sounds like you were working on medical already. Funding partner came along and says, Hey, I like what you guys are doing. How about some web three? And so I'm curious to hear how you guys are thinking about the web three component.

It sounds like it's part, partly to do with the vehicles and owning those and renting those out, which is obviously a, an easy connection to make, but tell me more about how you guys are thinking about the web three components and how deep do those integrations go? How much is the web two game with some web three elements or.

Is it a web three game first and foremost with some web two elements because there's, you could go both ways on this in this space,

Dan: The kind of web3 partners that we had came to us basically right at the beginning, right in the concept phase, we took our world of max VR prototype and we moved it over to, or I should say took our finished VR game and moved it to PC.

And about a month later, we were in conversations with. Here's a cool idea that we have, which is blow out this world of Max game into a, this giant game, which has become metal core. And we already were thinking about how do we integrate that with web three? So from the outset, we've been planning and designing this to be a web three game.

I suppose at the time we were thinking really more like web 2. 5. And it's a bit of a, maybe sliding scale. Like we might start. More like web 2. 3 and eventually get to web 2. 8. Cause there's, it's shifted a little bit from the outset. So there are definitely web two elements in it, and you can play the game as a web two free to play player and never engage with any blockchain elements, if that's what you want to do.

And it's all combined. So if you are a web two player and you're a web two player, you're going to. Play against each other, fight each other, be on the same battlefield. But yeah, so the web three elements started off as being primarily like focused on NFTs because that was the clearest, most obvious use case for us of web three in games.

We know we want you to, we want to have this really cool collection mechanic world of tanks where you just have like endless amounts of vehicles that you want to collect and upgrade and unlock new loadout slots and so on and so forth. And that was a perfect use case for NFTs for us. We've gone a little bit back and forth.

Over the course of the project on whether or not we wanted to do an associated fungible token. We started off thinking. Yes, we then maybe backed off from that a little bit over the course of 2022 and early 2023 and then have come back around to the idea of doing that. So in around mid 2023, we resolved that we're going to.

Launch a token for the game. That announcement is going to be coming soon as to what exactly what form that's going to take. But the full web three implementation, as it were, is going to include both NFTs and a fungible token that works as a currency in the game.

Niko: That's exciting. Do you have anything you can share about the fungible token?

That sounds like it's still TBD, but I'm always very curious to hear about the non fungible side of things on the fungible side of things, working in harmony with each other. So anything more you can share at this time about how that's going to work?

Dan: So the our main goal is for the token to have as much utility in game as possible, mirroring that, what you would find of a premium currency in a typical free to play game.

So we've pretty much made the MCG token, which is what we're calling a middle court game token parallel with the premium token that you would ordinarily find. So all of the use cases that we're thinking. This is where we would ordinarily charge a player with premium currency. That would MCG would be an expenditure there.

So that includes things like when you craft a web to vehicle and you unlock its class and you level it up and you add certain rare loadout slots to it or upgrade certain of its loadouts to like rarer options. And you say to yourself, Hey, this is a really powerful vehicle now. I'd like to rent this out or contribute to my barony or sell it or whatever I want to do in order to convert it to.

And NFT, it would, it will require a certain expenditure of MCG to do that. In addition, in order to get some of these like really high rarity things that you can find in the world, but are very difficult to find in the world. You can purchase it from the store directly for MCG, right? With that comes, it's a fixed supply token.

So with that comes a massive reward pool that we're making available to our players. And so as you play the game and you. Do these activities in game you can qualify for token rewards on a weekly basis in order to create that cycle.

Niko: Gotcha. Okay. And you already talked about a little bit about the crafting component, but that's a planned question I had.

Anyway, I think you have a very heavy crafting experience in the game. I'm curious to hear more about how that works. It sounds like it's pretty core to the overall experiences is collecting these parts, crafting them into more and more powerful weapons and machines and vehicles. And then. Converting those at some point, potentially, you don't have to, it sounds to, to an NFT.

So tell me more about the crafting component and how that works in the game.

Dan: Yeah. So just to set the stage a little bit, like fictionally, you're coming into this world as an earther on the fourth ship, you have no basis for Understanding what this war is like you're being dropped in and you don't know what's going on.

You didn't have a bunch of mechs and aircraft of the colony ship because why would you, nobody planned for there to be a war. These things have all been developed since in the hundred years since you were asleep, right? So when you land, one of the things that you have to do is fight a lot of these things that exist in the world, these automatons and these giant machines of war, destroy them and then scan them so that your high tech fabricators can craft similar things.

So part of the crafting process is finding these mechs in the world, defeating them with your squad mates or with whatever resources that you have, scanning them and then being able to craft those and massing the resources, finding the right pieces, the chassis, the power plant, the leg servos, all that stuff that you need to craft these things, full progression system on the individual units as well.

So once you, Craft a Zephyr, which is like a light mech at first. It'll just be a regular Zephyr. But if you want to specialize it into a scout Zephyr or an anti air Zephyr, you can apply this thing called an AI module, the scout module to it. And once you do that, it unlocks a full progression tree for that mech.

And you're able to level that mech up. Unlock better weapons for it, unlock better abilities for it, movement boosts, optical camo for the Mac, etc. And all of these things will contribute to the final result, which is each vehicle will be specialized to exactly your playstyle that you like, and eventually be super powerful on its own.

Niko: And you said that Web 2 players Web 3 players are playing against each other. Do they know? I'm always curious to hear how you intermingle. There's a lot of pitfalls with Web 2 versus Web 3 and people who don't want to engage and who do want to engage. There's always the issue with pay to win. If you don't do it right, you have to balance the economy appropriately.

You did mention that some of these rare things can be bought for MCG in the store. So talk to me a little bit more about how the Web 3 players and the Web 2 players Are competing on a level playing field, making sure it feels fair and that there isn't like a weirdness for lack of a better phrase, there isn't a weirdness with engaging with the web three components versus just being a completely free to play web two player who could care less about ownership or whatever, because not everyone cares, right?

Like obviously it's a big, exciting thing. That's why I'm the web host. I wouldn't if I wasn't interested in it, but it does come with a lot of pitfalls. And I think I'm always curious to hear from developers. How are you balancing and thinking about those pitfalls that can exist when you've got Web 2 players intermingling in an economy where you can buy certain things?

In the web three world that you have to grind for a lot harder in the web two world, right?

Dan: First off, I'll say that we're very sensitive to the idea of pay to win and we don't want most of the loadout slot upgrades that you get will increase a vehicle's utility or make it so that you're able to tailor it better to your play style, but aren't out and out just like exponential stat increases like we don't want it to be like somebody bought a level 100 mech and just can just kill everybody on the server with that mech.

No questions asked. That is not what we're going for in terms of our combat scaling. At skill level, we'll always out, outplay just how much money you've put into the game. A big portion of that also comes in the form of cosmetics and just bragging rights, and I have the coolest thing, right? One of the big utilities that you get from paying into the system and buying a Web3 mech, or even a Web2 mech, is not necessarily just that on in a single mech to mech battle, You will be the winner, but it's more of an attrition based thing.

Like when your vehicle is blown up, it has to repair. It has some repair time as a web three player or like a quote unquote whale or somebody who would like to pay into the system. What you'll get is more opportunities to play at the highest level where you're in the mech to mech super heavyweight. And then if you don't have that, and you're playing as a pre to play player, you'll get those opportunities occasionally, but you'll just have to wait for the normal repair timers and stuff and maybe enter more battles as infantry support.

And then take your shots once a day or twice a day with your heavyweight mech. Whereas the web three player that has a whole garage full of them is going to be doing that constantly. So our hypothesis is that if we break it down like that, where it's more of a tiered fights and your access to each fight is gated on like a, how many times, how often you can do it basis that people won't feel like it's unfairly pay to win.

And also one of the answers to this is. Join a barony and there will be plenty of people who own NFTs and don't play at the highest level and will want to have skilled pilots that, that, that contribute to their barony success. And that's another great way just with your friends, squad mates, whatever, or your barony to, to get in on the kind of highest level of combat.

And at the end, in order to capture a control point or loot a chest, you're, everybody's going to have to get out of their mech at some point. So if you're a highly skilled player, we are, I can tell you from personal experience that like when somebody is running across the field in a queen Fran, like this giant six legged spider, magnet eight stories tall, and you're just like cloaking behind them as a scout.

And you're waiting until the pilot hops out to grab his loot and you pop them in the head. That feels great. That's awesome. we don't think of it as it's just purely pay to win because there's a lot of. Crazy stuff that can happen in this game, right? A lot of immersive and emergent, like viral moments that, that we're shooting for that aren't, they don't boil purely just down to whoever has the biggest mech is always the victor.

Niko: Yeah. Oh, that sounds like fun. Okay. You also have land and you calling it territory and in your game and that I believe that also has an ownership component to it. I know it's not launching out of the gates. I think you've got a plan for a little further down the roadmap, but I'm very curious to hear more about how territory works.

What is it? When does it launch?

Dan: Yeah, we're hoping to launch territory at the end of the year with the kind of what we're calling more of a, the next phase of our open beta. So open beta is going to be end of April, early May. And then end of the year, we're calling, I don't know if we have a title for it yet.

If we're calling it open beta. Early access or like open beta phase two or whatever it is, but that will be the territory war component. So that will be basically shifting battlefield across the face of our primary continent, where all of these, all this fighting takes place right now, which we call Karani.

It's a giant map. It's I think like 256 square kilometers of just bases and stuff to capture right now, that map is. Aim took a freeze frame of the territory war. So it's none of the bases can actually change hands, but in the future, when we release a territory war kind of feature those bases will over the course of every week or every couple of weeks of play based on player participation and like seasonal fighting and victories those bases will change hands and the ownership component comes not with the.

Now with the territory ownership in that sense, like whoever, whichever faction owns that territory in that moment, it's, or you could call it, occupying that territory. Whoever occupies that territory can change it a moment to moment basis. What you would be able to own as a player is the actual real estate in the territory.

So if you consider like a specific building where players may go to spawn their mechs, you may own that building. And then you may Change the defenses on the building. You might change them from anti air to anti vehicle turrets. You might change it so the vehicle spawner that's down there can spawn medium mechs in addition to light mechs.

You might even be able to install certain blueprint components there to create public vehicles that everybody, Web 2, Web 3, non NFT owners can pilot. As like a, a corollary to the kind of a scholarship system that we have quote unquote scholarship system. We don't have a scholarship system where you like Axie would have, where these vehicles are actually being rented out or loaned out to other people.

Instead we have a, our system is oriented around digital real estate with the actual sponsors themselves and the baronies. So the baronies, if you are an ace pilot, you're And have no resources to buy an NFT, join a barony, convince them that you're really good. And then that barony leader might have 10 or 20 high level NFTs.

They will put those NFTs in the barony and unlock them for your use. Alternately, you can take those NFTs and you can install them in a vehicle spawner and allow anybody in the public to pilot those things. And give you a share of the rewards that they earn by doing that.

Niko: Got it. Got it. Okay. So share of the rewards.

That was going to be my kind of follow up question here is what is it in it for the owner of these buildings or churches? It sounds like it's a share of the rewards. Talk to me more about how those owners are rewarded in a way that is tangible and meaningful to them in the game.

Dan: Yeah, so we have this, the system called marks and every week you can earn a certain number of marks by doing things in the game, performing like finishing daily missions, winning PVP battles, placing really high on the leaderboard, whatever it is, right?

The more marks you earn, the more you qualify for a larger share of various daily reward pools. So our weekly reward pools, I should say. So there's the kind of basic reward pool. Then there's the advanced reward pool. And these kind of, these pools are all split up based on. How intense of a player you need to be or what type of a player you are, like extremely competitive players will be competing for the advanced reward pool.

There's reward pools for so for more social organization players. So people who are mostly just barony leaders, barony commanders, and are just organizing their players, they make it be able to dictate a share of all the people's marks that are in the barony. And in doing that, you can also dictate for instance, if I'm a barony leader, and I have 50 NFTs.

And I, I recruit like 20 or 30 players to say, Hey, I have all these 50 NFTs and you guys don't have a ton of really high level vehicles. You can join my Barony. I'll let you pilot any, my NFTs anytime you want. They have to go through the same economic cycle where they're destroyed and repaired. If you're good, if you're bad and you keep blowing up my Mac, I might kick you from the Barony or I might restrict you to not be able to use that anymore.

But every time you complete one of those daily missions, I get 10 percent of the marks that you earn. Or 20 percent or whatever the commission rate that you said is. And so you as a barony leader could just own a bunch of NFTs and manage kind of your personnel of who's doing this, who's doing that be like the, the Charlie and Charlie's angels, right?

Like being like, here's what everybody does. Here's the missions you should do. You're really good as an arrow aircraft pilot. So I'm going to let you pilot my aircraft. You pilot all the Macs, you guys just go out and do other daily missions. And based on what they do, when they're using your NFTs or when they're in their barony, you can set various commission rates for that.

Niko: Got it. Okay. There's a lot of mechanics in this game. I can see how it's been three years, three years in the works. Yeah. Talk to me a little bit more about the development process here, because one of the complaints people have about Web three games is that the ones that have come out haven't been really up to the quality level that you typically expect in Web two.

Sounds like you guys have been working hard on this for three years. Yeah. That's getting close to that triple a cycle. Is that your ambition here with this game? A truly triple a game that can stand up to Titanfall or any of the other kind of big Mac games that have come before?

Dan: Yeah, certainly.

We're not working with triple a budgets, so we don't like to call ourselves triple a, but we certainly, our ambition is that we released the highest quality game that any web two player who doesn't really care anything about web three would still be really happy to play. And yeah we're coming on three years of development.

We're about like two. Two and a half, almost two years, two and three quarters years of development now. And so we've been working on this for a long time and we've laid a really great foundation for the game. And we're in that phase now where it feels like every month that we put into it, we get. Just leaps and bounds like additional we're really in the kind of like high momentum phase now where we finally have everything really sorted in terms of we know exactly what we're doing we all the core features are done and We can really just iterate on adding a ton of great content to the game.

That's where we're at now So I think you know you mentioned we just launched our closed beta phase one earlier this week We're going to be having a closed beta phase two, which is going to be at the end of March, which will hopefully open it up to a lot more people. And that I think you'll see a market difference between what we have even now and in a month from now.

Niko: Let's talk about the closed beta. Actually, that's a perfect little segue into that. What can players do at the moment in the closed beta? How is that going to change for the open beta? And then how does that compare to the. Call it the finished product, if you will. Like the, what percentage of features are currently available?

What percentage of the map is open for players? What percentage of the mechs and other machines and vehicles are currently in the game for folks who want to go and try out the closed beta and then the open beta later this month.

Dan: Yes, about, I would say about half of them are available right now. Some of them are not really realistically achievable in game because they're epic or legendaries that you can't really find in game without either extreme grinding or our plan is that we would release these as like major tournament rewards and stuff like that, or just as limited release.

primary sales, right? For some of the legendaries. So that 50 percent includes the fact that there's probably 20 to 30 percent that really will not be in the game until we start doing that. So of the vehicles that are just achievable through normal web to natural play, about two thirds of them are available right now.

Niko: Got it. Okay, so pretty fulsome beta if for anybody who's interested in going out there and a pretty representative experience of what the final product will eventually be. Yeah. Fair to say. Okay, great. Let's switch gears now. Let's talk a little bit about technologies. What's your tech, you're the CTO. So a perfect person to talk about this.

I don't always get CTOs on the show. And so let's talk about the tech stack here. So what are you guys building in and we'll keep the web three component. I know you've chosen immutable. We're going to talk about that separately, but talk to me about the tech stack and how you guys are working on this product.

Dan: Yeah. So the game's built in UE4. We are contemplating an upgrade to UE5. We started building in UE4 because UE5 just wasn't ready at the time we started the project. To ship and we were hoping that we would ship in 2023 and the advice for Epic was don't plan on shipping a UE4 game, a UE5 game until 2024.

So, now we're in 2024 so we may switch to UE5, we'll see. It is a bit of a lift to, especially the environment, the map itself is going to be a major effort to overhaul for UE5, but it's, it may be worth it. So we're considering that now. Besides that, we are, we're using immutable, as you mentioned, we're using off the shelf middleware for all of our backend tech, a lot of stuff on Azure, AWS and PlayFab and so on and so forth.

And immutable has been like, Almost like invaluable in terms of navigating the web three component of this, because we are traditional game developers. We don't have a ton of like web three smart contract developers or anything in house. So we have some backend developers who are used to making simple API calls, and that's what immutable lets us do, which is really cool.

Niko: Yeah. I want to talk more about immutable. So we actually had Robbie Ferguson on the pod just a few episodes ago as well. I know it's an exciting year. That is coming for immutable in 2024. He's he called you guys out specifically. He said he's excited about, and he also said that there's about a hundred games being launched on immutable quality games in the next 12 months.

And of course he acknowledged that not all of them are going to be successful. He is excited that at least a handful of them he thinks will meet that bar and really be something that makes. A web three game truly stand out at the same level as web two. So that's exciting. Very exciting. Do you think this is the moment that we've been waiting for?

Is immutable the solution or one of the solutions for web three mass market adoption?

Dan: Absolutely. Yeah. There's a number of competitors who I think are doing a fine job as well, but I think immutable is right at that forefront of providing a service that Pretty much anybody can use anybody in games who has experience developing games with typical web two backends could can use immutable and they're they've been great about advising us on how to architect our game how to think about the web three components and any pitfalls we might have and the great thing about immutable specifically is that they're all game developers they come from a game development background and so they understand the problems we face they are able to help us From a normal free to play economy design standpoint like they can give us feedback on that front and they do and they're just like they're really locked in and engaged with what it takes to ship a game like a game at the qualities like level of the quality bar of a traditional web to game on web three, it's not just tech to them, right?

It's a service that. That needs to work for and in my career in games, I've learned this in working in a bunch of different engines. You can't Nothing really works until it's in production, right? And nothing really works until it works the way that the kind of the developer of the product Intends it to work in a real production live scenario, right?

and so I think having a lot of blockchain providers a lot of blockchain companies that Are just developing the tech and expecting? You People to come in and use it in their kind of blue with their kind of blue sky model. It's not as appealing from a game developer perspective to us because it's much better when we know that people on that and are really thinking through a realistic, like real world use case for it and thinking through the actual final product and how it's going to perform in the market.

Niko: Game developers. I'm a game developer myself. We just want to develop games. We don't want to be solving crazy technical challenges and figuring out these hard integrations and having smart contract developers on staff. Like you just want to focus on making a very fun product. So yeah, preaching to the choir there.

So one question I always have is web three onboarding. Is getting easier, but it isn't notoriously challenging with the wallets and the know your customer and all that stuff. And again, it's getting a lot easier and players like immutable, plus others. Of course, lots of players out there are trying to solve this problem, making it as easy as possible to sign up just like you would with an internet purchase in on iOS or Android Google Play.

But I want to hear you talk more directly at the pain points that Web three does introduce and the friction. It does introduce friction. You can't really get around that as easy as you can make it. It still introduces this kind of extra hurdle for players to get through. So I want to hear you talk more directly about how are you integrating the web three flows into your game?

We've talked about them. At the feature level, which is like, Hey, you can craft these things and then you can convert it into an NFT. But how does that actually work in practice? What are you expecting players to do in order to get to that web three ownership piece?

Dan: Yeah, so great question. So the passport tech that immutable has Is helping this a ton.

We can do a one click wallet deployment, noncustodial wallet deployment for players and have them up and running with a passport wallet in 10 seconds. So that in and of itself is a huge, in my opinion, a huge hurdle that you can get past, right? The more pressing thing and that you really need to worry about a little bit more in your game design is the potential hurdles of constant signing requests.

So if we had a signing request that we needed to make. To allow a player to make, to sign a transaction every time they want us to do anything. It would just be, it would just break immersion, it would be too much of a pain, right? So painful. So this is something that we've really thought about in our game design.

And one of the main use cases for MCG, so all of the use cases for MCG that are, that will require a signing transaction, or signing a transaction will, are more, relatively few and far between. So they're not like constant, like every five minutes you're gonna have to sign something. The way we've specifically done that is there's still a case and a scenario where we want players to make microtransactions in our game.

And we want players to be able to spend resources in order to put it ahead and to squash timers, to get cool stuff, right? Our main thesis is that anything that a player may want to do more than once in an hour should be done purely with the

What that ends up meaning is that instead of direct expenditure of MCG on all of these microtransactions in the game, what we're doing is we're providing a conversion path from MCG into a premium currency in game. And then the premium currency is the thing that you use to do your payment. Your frequent microtransactions.

So a player, an average player is not going to be signing transactions constantly. It's going to be doing it maybe once a session, once a week, whatever, whenever they want to top up in their in game premium currency, which we call shards using MCG, they'll do that once a week, and then they'll be able to constantly spend that whenever they want to do whatever they want.

And then when they're running low, they'll do it again. Similarly, players not going to be upgrading a web two vehicle to a web three vehicle. Every five minute basis, right? This is the sort of thing that's going to happen once a play session. If that more than more like once a week, maybe once a month, that's the sort of thing where we're comfortable saying, okay, do you want to, do you want, you have to sign this transaction?

It's going to, it's going to require you spending MTG out of your wallet, your passport wallet, and then you'll get a new NFT, et cetera, et cetera. So we're really thinking about how often players are doing these things and restricting any sort of transaction that needs to be signed through the wallet.

To once per hour, maximum.

Niko: Got it. So the analogy would be a casino. You walk into a casino, you go to the cashier, you hand over your thousand dollars or however much you can afford to gamble, you get the chips off. You go on your merry way. You go, Hey, maybe you win. Great. Now you've got 1, 200. You come back to the cashier, convert that into.

US dollars and off you go out of the casino. That's the analogy here.

Dan: Sure. Yeah. I don't know if I'm that comfortable being compared to a casino, but they certainly have nailed the UX.

Niko: Yeah, that's, but I mean, that's the experience really. It's like you're converting real life dollars into a currency that can be used in that environment.

In your case, it's shards and MCGs. The other big issue. So that's the UX for the players of converting it to web three versus web two. And I think that makes total sense. And I know immutable is doing a ton of great work, ton of great work on their password product. And if listeners haven't checked it out, you should definitely check out the Robbie Ferguson episodes from a few weeks ago, he goes into a lot of detail on the immutable roadmap going forward and what's exciting him about the web three gaming landscape.

The other big issue that. Faces all developers, whether the web two or web three, but it's also especially acute. I think in web three is distribution. How are you thinking about getting your product in front of the right? You can make the greatest product in the world, the greatest game on the planet. But if you can't get it into the hands.

Of the right people who are going to be excited about playing a mech combat game, it's not going to succeed. So how are you guys thinking about distribution and getting your game in front of the right people? Where are you going to be available? How are you planning on marketing? Does the web three component help or hinder in your opinion?

All of that stuff.

Dan: That's pretty well. So we're available on EGS, Epic Game Store. We're working on Steam. We're trying to see if there's some way we can get out. We can release on Steam without running a follow of their Web3 restrictions. And that might include something like, you can do everything Web2, free to play in the game.

But once you need to do any of the Web3 transactions, you can't. We'll pop you out to our website or something along those lines. There may be a pathway there, but in terms of, it seems like what you're asking more is like user acquisition and like, how do we get in front of the right eyeballs?

Niko: And yeah, sorry, specifically, how does the web three piece help or potentially hinder in that?

Because there is a world in which the web three piece increases the LTV potential LTV of a customer. Most. Gaming user acquisition, whether it be on mobile or PC or whatever, it's a game of CAC versus LTV. And many developers I've spoken to have said Hey, they think that the web three component, even if not every player is going to engage in it, has a potential to significantly potentially increase the LTV of a customer of a player and therefore allows you to do more user acquisition on the CAC side of things without part of the equation.

So that's really what I'm getting at here with this question is like, how are you guys thinking about the web three component drop driving. User acquisition helping you with that.

Dan: Yeah, so we see it as a leveling up process of the consumer, right of the web to customer. We really want to draw them in with just a really fun web to free to play game and Just demonstrate the benefit that they would get from upgrading into a web three player that part that portion of it is going to come later.

Right now we are really focusing on web to web three audience because a lot of our funding has come from like web three KOL and investors and stuff like that and they have a lot of eyeballs on the project and you can help us get over that hump of this kind of core. Group of players who are really enjoying playing our game in over the next, say, two to three months.

We're really just focusing on web three. That part that you're talking about later where web three becomes. A benefit to our lifetime value for each user is probably longer term, right? It's not a short term thing. There is an element of let's just have a fun game Let's get users in and demonstrate that this is gonna be a fun game whether or not you're engaged in web 3 and then Once we're ready to market to directly to web 2 users and we have that Core group of that core minimum CCU where anybody who jumps in will come and find a lively environment to play in, etc.

It'll be a lot easier to make that UA spend and then Once those users come in, like you said, it'll probably be easier to justify once we run the numbers and figure out does this translate to better like actual value to these of these users, we can potentially justify spending a lot more money on user acquisition and get a lot more players in.

So that will be something that we're going to be testing in small batches over the summer and later this year.

Niko: Perfect. Okay. We've actually covered a lot of ground today. But we're getting towards the end of our episode here are, what is your roadmap look like going forward?

You've been working on this for three years. You've mentioned that every month of work you put in, you're seeing almost exponential improvements. That's the exciting time when you're getting towards the end of the project and you're getting ready to show it to the world, like the hard work that you've been doing.

What's next on the roadmap for you guys other than territory? We talked about that. What comes in the next 6, 12, 18, 24 months for you guys?

Dan: So right now we're primarily focusing on our open game mode, which is, it's a PvPvE open world sandbox mode. We want to focus a little bit more on more structured session based PvP battles as well, and working that into the player cycle.

We want to add a bunch of narrative and blow out all our missions. We've developed this really cool dynamic mission system that everybody internally is super excited about its potential. And we're really in the phase of blowing out the contact the content and the permutations of that system, working in potentially some AI as well.

It's like AI storytelling, potentially some machine learning that comes with figuring out what player, like how to optimize the intensity curve of players like play with the mission system. So that's something that we're super excited about exploring. And with the release of Gemini, Google's Gemini AI, our plan is that all of our missions, because our mission is our.

100 percent dynamic in the world that all of them will get dynamic briefings from Gemini in the voice of an actual gear breaker when you're in the game, which would be super awesome. There's that. And then there's, you mentioned territory wars, but a big portion of that is also baronies. So barony support and social support is one of the things that we have superficially right now, but we want to add, blow that out and add like a huge suite of.

Of features for barony leaders to manage their baronies and level them up and add progression schemes to that.

Niko: Awesome. Sounds like a lot. Very ambitious. I always like ambitious projects and ambitious teams. Okay. Our listeners may want to go and check this out. Where can they go to play either the closed beta?

If it's possible to get into that still, or certainly the open beta, which sounds like would be coming towards the end of March. We'll put the links in the show notes, but just tell us where it's going to be.

Dan: Yeah, open beta closer to May, but the right now you there are still potentially some spots on our mailing list.

If you want to try to shoot for the closed beta phase two, which is gonna be end of March, which you still need a key for, you can potentially still get a key. If you go to our site at metal core dot gg and you will find some sign up links there where you can get an email with a key on E. G. S. And yeah, learn a lot more about the project.

Also you can join our discord, which is at metal core game on our discord, which hopefully we'll have a link for as well, but yeah, that's it.

Niko: All right. And then final question for all of our guests. What three games are you playing right now? Or are you most excited by, and you can't use your own, that doesn't count.

Dan: Yeah. I'm still somewhat obsessed with Baldur's Gate three. Oh, a hundred percent.

Niko: I'm sorry, but every single guest we've had It has said Baldur's Gate 3. So I still haven't played it. I haven't had the time, but yeah, thank you for reinforcing the fact that I got to go and get that.

Dan: The other game, which is, which I've just started getting into is Helldivers 2, which is very, in certain ways, similar to our game, but I'm having a ton of fun with that. So it's super high quality game. I love it. And then I, this is, I'm maybe a mark of how old I am, but I'm still Enjoying mostly like watching a competitive Dota 2 when I have time.

So that's my other advice.

Niko: Awesome. All right. That is a great place to, to end today, Dan. I just want to say thank you so much for coming on the pod today. It's been an absolute pleasure. I've really enjoyed learning about metal cord and all you guys. Or planning. Yeah. Thanks for having me on.

And of course, a big thank you as always to all of our listeners. We'll be back next week with more interviews, more insights and more analysis from the weird and wonderful world of web three. So until next time, friends stay crypto curious and feel free to send questions, guest recommendations, and comments to me, my email is.

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