Yesterday we had a fantastic AMA session with Huey Shin, CEO and founder of Nodebrick, who is launching the ultimate crypto fighting game Infinity Star this September. Crypto & Gamers also joined us as a co-host and shared thoughts with the community.
Throughout the AMA Huey talked about his own career path, stories behind Infinity Star, and his vision and insight about blockchain game industry in general. A lot of inspiring questions popped up as the conversation went enthusiastically. We appreciate Huey for taking the time to share his experience and thoughts with us and we’re all looking forward to the launch of this exciting game!
Here are the highlights of the AMA, in case you missed it.
Nodebrick was established on August 28, 2018, and currently has 10 employees and we have more than 40 years of experience in the Korean game industry. To date, the company has attracted investments from Donamu & Partners(an investing subsidiary of Upbit), listed game company Neptune and global crypto accretor Hashed and we are located in the Hashed office.
For myself, I was in the finance industry in 10 years, then joined Korean listed game publisher Webzen (was NHN subsidiary) in 2009 as a CFO, then turned to COO. As a CFO, made several acquisition deals including Metin2 (renowned in EU) and G-potato.com, total deal size was up to almost 200Mn USD. Then as a COO, I was in charge of the domestic and overseas operation, lead 841% year over year growth thanks to the success of Mu Origin which earned 161Mn USD in 2015 only in Korea. As a result, the market cap of Webzen was 50Mn USD when I joined, and then was 1.5Bn USD when I left. (31.2 times growth). Then I found my own company in 2015, Facebook social casino games. After 3 years of operation as math and possibilities engineer, sold it to Webzen again in 2018 June then found my 2nd co. Nodebrick. in Aug 2018.
Infinity Star is a 2D collectible action RPG based on not so far distant future, started development in May, open beta in September, major update in October-November and mobile .apk release in November-December. Initially starting with PvE with various items and then continue to add contents such as PvP, guild battles, and dungeon rush, so the value of the item will become increasingly important.
It was very simple. Because it is basically an IDLE game, infinity comes from infinity plays, and hope every PC to be Stars, and its pronunciation is very similar to INSTA in abbreviation which everyone knows, then makes it easy to remember. (it’s real) INSTAr.
We're initially browser-based, but we're aiming for mobile games afterward, (because we didn't have Meta Mask mobile at the time of development). The gameplay itself is basically auto-fighting like mobile games, but users can activate character skills. We designed to eliminates the fatigue of the user's direct control but instead pursues the fun of strengthening, synthesizing, and crafting items. Items system consists of level up, upgrades, tiers, etc. (though there is no set item effect), and additional elements such as costumes, runes, and skill level-ups are added. The number of items is currently more than 3,000. The main girl character starts with four (blader, fighter, lancer, and shooter), but of course, we will continue to add new characters. We also added a coloring system to flourish the content by using all of the RGB, so that you can own unique characters which can be billions of.
At the time of developing the game, we looked at many other platforms, but among them, we though Ethereum is well equipped with a global ecosystem. While in other platforms, the item is only tradable on a single game because they don't have a common protocol, like the ERC721. But by ERC721, we found it’s attractive for users to be free to take his ownership. As the market is still in its infancy, we believe to grow together with other companies and think it is a unique attraction of Ethereum. As a global partner, we are working closely with Open Sea and as a Chinese partner we are working with Spider.store. We plan to attract many partners in the future.
If you pre-register, you will receive a weapon upgrading stones. At first, we'll start with a small gift for in-game economy balancing, but periodically we'll airdrop event items within the game. In addition, we will continue to provide free items to those who enjoy the game by adding an in-game achievement system.
Presale is available for 5 loot Box. Loot box will be sold only during the pre-sale period, and will not be sold directly by us after pre-sale. In typical mobile games, the game company generally sells items and as a result, in-game economy balancing always collapses in a few weeks, whereas we do not sell items directly after pre-sale, but we can sell in-game currencies such as gold and diamonds and limited costumes. That means the value of purchased items in pre-sale will continue to be guaranteed.
After the opening, we expect for players to spend a lot of time on farming, collecting materials, combining weapons to synthesize, strengthening weapons, leveling up, and continuing to combine to get higher grades. We believe it's important to make money right away, but we want to create a healthy community of gamers, keep the value of our items for a long time, and we want to make long-term games just like PC online games.
Actually, we disclosed the item drop rate which is probably fairly backed by the smart contract. You can find more here.
In terms of gamification, Eastern Asia may be the main target, but as our team has little experience in Crypto games, so I can't predict the outcome or numbers in the targeted market. In the mobile game market with a lot of experience and reference, target market, KPIs, etc. can be easily predicted, while crypto games are hard to predict now, so we will take actions with the market indicators when we service the game. Infinity Star has a BM that is familiar to the Chinese. I hope you can enjoy it a lot. We are affiliated with Open Sea in the global market and Spider.store in the Chinese local market, and Chinese users can easily check their NFT by connecting to spider.store.which has Chinese ICP.
The biggest difficulty is marketing and branding awareness, but I am fortunate to meet good Chinese partners these days. From the very first, we have been aiming to go global and we could meet many of global partners including dapp.com.
How to solve is.. I think it's also attractive to startup game companies that don't have enough fund for marketing. you can get as many as partners to cover the global. Infinity Star is one of the first crypto games to be offered in multiple languages (English, Chinese, Japanese) and we are now working with more than 20 global partners.
When I first teamed up last summer, it was really difficult to find developers in Korea. Because developers are kind of conservative, and in 2017, the overall sentiment was not good due to many of frauds. However, recently more and more game developers are entering in these days, and medium to large stock listed game companies are starting to research the industry. Although no laws have yet been enacted, news has been announced that the government is preparing some guidelines for blockchain games in this Oct. Since the success of Eos Knight, Korean developers are developing games on EOS or sometimes using their own main-net. There are teams in Korea that are setting up their own game store, and projects working on Kakao's Klaytn.
In terms of EOS, it is said that Korean investors account for about 30% of EOS holders, and since the success of EOS Knights, many developers have been interested in EOS and developed games based on EOS as well. But we wanted to launch the game in a much more global way. As mentioned above in ERC721 q, we believe that the Ethereum ecosystem is well-positioned and subdivided, and we wanted to be a global game covering not only China and Korea but also North America and East Asia. That's why we are to be the first multi-language crypto game. Also, EOS should have an item exchange internally because there is no protocol at present like ERC721 as far as I know, and currently this may cause a problematic situation under the Korean gaming law, so we decided to focus on game itself that we can do well, others including exchanges up to another in the ecosystem.
It is not a problem of blockchain games, but a matter of game itself. As the overall quality of the current blockchain game is much lower than that of the PC and mobile game, it is difficult for gamers to enter, so the early market seems to have started with crypto users as they are used to. But I think there's a lot of possibilities to make growth, as you have seen in the success of My Crypto Heroes equipped with the great game economy, or Gods Unchained with great graphics which is comparable to traditional games.
In other words, the current one is due to the quality of the blockchain game is still insufficient compared to the existing game, and I think this situation will gradually improve as more and more good developers enter the market. If you recall, when the smartphone first came out almost ten years ago, everyone told who could play games on the phone. And when online MUD game first appeared 23 years ago in Korea, there were only 10 concurrent users in the server. Ten years later, that game had 130,000 concurrent users. The same thing is expected to happen in blockchain games.
Absolutely we have! All games start with simple PvE at first, but as games grow and become more complex, naturally, inter-player content is a must. When the game system is simple for the first time, naturally it starts with the items after the farming and grinding, and after the items are well stocked among players, asynchronous 1: 1 PvP, party competition, guilds or raid competition, and then large scale battles. However, since INS is not that MMO, it is impossible to expand it to MMO scale so it is reasonable that mutually competitive and cooperative content between/ against guild, the raid is to be updated. When a person or party occupies a certain dungeon for a certain period of time, sharing the revenue generated from the dungeon or receiving the tax from others is also a good option that has been used a lot before and can be fun enough.
The first update has not yet been finalized, but it is expected to include the system of dungeons such as personal achievements / rewards and titles and plans to continue to expand the scope. Our team has many years of service in the large scale MMORPGs such as MU, R2, C9, RF online, etc., and we have enough experience to know what content users want.
Mainly depends on the player’s experience. The reason why we have made Infinity Star in idle, auto fighting way is 1) we focus on mobile as it accounts for 70-80% of gameplay nowadays, and 2) our goal is fun in the game system, rather than the active play as we are pursuing fun factor in collecting, crafting, enhancing, leveling-up, and trading assets in the game, and finally communication between players.
If we wanted to make it in the active play, the release would probably have been somewhere in the next year. We decided to focus on the item and gamification itself, and now we have more than 3,000 item variations. As gamification or meta-game, we’ve developed material grinding, crafting, leveling-up or enhancement, composing between items, PC(player character) and skill leveling up, and special rune (buff effect) leveling up, PC’s variable costume and unique PC appearance in hair, eye color, etc.
We have stages and sector 1 stage is open 24/7 365 days a year to play, while other special sectors are opened on a weekly basis. Infinity Star has an auto-battle system where you can play the game and grind for items any time and it’s free to play. if you think about Candy Crush, if you spend all of given hearts to move, you have to buy hearts to play more. In INS, we don’t have it. It’s rational that paid users take advantage in saving their time, but if you do not spend at all or even small, you can just turn on INS in your browser, and let it go without finger fatigue. You can catch up paid users with your effort.
As common in mobile games these days, it is absolutely impossible for an unpaid user to catch up to paid users if a special item can only be purchased in the game. However, we do not have any plan to sell items directly after the pre-sale, and there are no items that can only be crafted by paid raw materials. After the pre-sale, we can sell in-game currencies which user can get without payment during gameplay, and, or special costumes that do not affect the PC's stats, and it’s enough such a highly valuable item (legend or epic) only can be traded in the item exchanges like OpenSea or Spider.Store, not us. If we sell items or item looting boxes directly, it severely impacts the in-game economy and items’ value players produced, then devastating the game. Our goal is to make well balanced and community-driven MMORPG as you have seen in old PC RPGs.
It is one of the old and proven business revenue models in RPG to give a color change to an existing character player owns. Rather than being a new feature in ERC721, it is well proven and common desire to have your own character which is different from others. It costs a lot for a game studio to add a new character including motions and even costume, the easiest way to make variation is coloring system. Almost every RPG uses this system, among this, well-known one is the Black Desert, and if you think about League of Legend, they highly depend on skin sales. Rather than say it's a new feature in NFT, I think it's a proven model and we haven't applied it to ERC721 yet.
We continue to design PC’s top and bottoms, shoes, and hair-style, as for the hairstyles, we have various styles like long hair and short hair. Also, costumes have been designed seven sets for each character already. In terms of the game system, we will continue to add asynchronous PvP, dungeon occupation league to pay out to the winning user team in a revenue share, etc. After the launch of the open beta, we will release update contents in our discord group.
Ownership is recorded. I think nerv/buff is needed to make things smooth. in INS, items and PCs are in the game server, when user wants to record it on the mainnet, items/PCs are locked in the game, then can move to the outside of the game.
Thank you Huey for joining us and delivering such an inspiring AMA session. Stay tuned for more!
In the meantime, you may check out our previous AMAs here.