Power to the Players: An Interview with Sarojini McKenna, Co-Founder of Alien Worlds
Alien Worlds was an entry point to WAX for many. Today, Co-founder Sarojini McKenna argues their DAOs are breaking all-new ground for Web3 games.
Chances are you’ve heard about Alien Worlds before now.
It was the very first game that introduced me – and countless others – to the WAX blockchain, and for that reason I will always have a soft spot for its community.
Truth be told, I’ve not been an active player for many months – but following the launch of Planetary Syndicates, I understand its community is as strong today as it ever has been. What have I missed out on, what’s changed, and what is Alien Worlds like to play in 2022?
To help answer that question, I sat down with Sarojini McKenna, one of the Co-founders of Alien Worlds, to discuss the story of the game up to this point, their most recent updates, and what we can expect in future.
Jenz: Can you tell us about the current state of the Alien Worlds economy so far, and its community?
Saro: We started the flow of tokenomics in December 2020 with the release of the Trilium (TLM) mining game. By the time of our Binance launch in April 2021, we were already the 5th biggest blockchain game – and have grown larger still. Since then, we’ve been catching up with that scale on a technical level.
The release of our Syndicate DAOs was the most anticipated release to date. The mining game saw players use their NFTs to mine for TLM, and now, they can stake that TLM to planet DAOs. These are the competitive in-game guilds of sorts, letting players contribute to the governance, run by a team of elected DAO custodians.
We expected these DAOs to be released, quite frankly, sooner than they have been able to be, but we’re really excited that they’re finally out and the moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived.
When we launched on Binance and the price of TLM was really high, people were actively mining all the time. A lot of people are still doing that, but the release of the DAOs allows us to all deepen our involvement in the game again, and collaborate together as teams, tapping into that collective community component of gaming.
“That collective component is really fun and it’s one of the things that I’m really proud of in Alien Worlds metaverse; the community has been so vibrant and self-starting.”
Early on, the community began to form these communities with their own Telegram and Discord channels – I love that! That’s a great sign of a healthy ecosystem, and we’re hoping that’s what’s going to be revived again with these DAOs. This isn’t something for someone else; it’s for them.
Every single person reading this article is someone who should consider running to be a custodian on a Syndicate DAO, because these are massive experiments in blockchain history.
We’ve never before seen DAOs as in-game components in control of treasuries this size, impacting a game of this size – this is really a first for blockchain, and so it would be great for everyone to be part it.
Beyond the release of the DAOs, we have several other features and refinements that have already been released. A lot of people purchased land at or shortly after the initial drop, and it’s been a very lucrative way for people to get involved in our metaverse.
The land raiding changes that we’re introducing give landowners the opportunity to step up to a greater level of commitment and involvement.
Some of the attributes in our land NFTs are mutable – meaning they can be changed. In order to keep their land at full power, landowners will have to actively participate in upgrading their land, which will cost TLM and result in a competitive and strategic game for the landowners to play.
It’s possible that some landowners might not be all that interested in taking an active role in that way, and if that’s the case, it might be a good time for those landowners to sell and let someone who might be willing and able to spend that extra time coming to grips with the strategy of owning land. That could be your entry point into being a landowner in Alien Worlds.
“It’s super exciting and very fun – a lot of time was spent designing how it’s going to work and we’re very excited about that.”
That’ll create more healthy tokenomics because it’ll mean that everybody who’s receiving TLM is incentivised to be an active contributor to our metaverse.
Beyond that, we’re really excited about our fighting game – which is something we’ve had in our roadmap from the beginning.
The way it was originally designed, we discovered we wouldn’t be able to release it in the way we would’ve liked to, so we’ve had to go back to the drawing board and redesign the fighting game a little bit. It’s now in the pipeline for next year. That will be a really fun game – it combines solo competitiveness with collective gaming, as you’ll be fighting player-versus-player in the arena.
It’s not an active fighting game, it’s more like asynchronous gameplay. You’re fighting on behalf of your planet, so there’s a collective component as well as an individual component. It will utilise many of the NFTs that haven’t been used in the game so far – minion NFTs and weapon NFTs – so that’ll be really exciting.
There’s another part of the community that’s developing their own fighting game, similar to ours. We’re really excited to see the community developing their own games too with our NFTs!
Can you share with us the progress of the community projects funded by the Galactic Hub Grants?
We’re currently in Season 1 of the Galactic Hubs – the pilot season – and we’re nearing the final deliverables for most of the grantees thus far. The one guarantee – which is the fighting game – is taking a little bit more time, so that one is not ready for release just yet. It won’t be exactly how we initially described the game in our early Medium posts, but will feature some tweaks and changes.
I don’t know the exact timeline for release, but I do know that we’re funding that project through the Galactic Hub Grants, and that’s a perfect example of what the Galactic Hubs are for.
“It’s for the those in the community that have an idea, especially to make a product or technical idea become a reality.”
We’re also happy to fund things that don’t get as built out as this fighting game, but it’s really exciting that the team wanted to build it out properly, and are going through the process of doing just that right now.
How exactly does the Planetary Syndicates work, and what benefits will players receive from being elected as custodians?
Here’s an example of one of the DAOs – Veles.
In that wallet is the full treasury the Veles planet has accrued in TLM through that DAO over the past 17 months. It’s those funds that the Syndicate DAO is going to control. They’ll be able to control a small percentage of the total amount each week at blockchain-level, through a spending account.
All of the token-holders on Veles get to vote in the planetary elections, weighted according to the number of tokens they hold. For example, if I have 5 Veles tokens and you have 1 Veles token, I get 5x the voting power that you do.
In each DAO period, 5 custodians will be elected on each planet.
Custodian elections are held every week, The five players with the highest votes will gain multisig permissions over the Treasury account until the next week, gaining control over how the spending account funds are allocated.
Most transfers require at least three of the five custodians to be signatories. They will be able to make transfers of TLM out of the DAO, which is why as a voter, it’s really important that you’re actively engaged in making sure that those people are people that will use their powers to help the community push the DAO further.
There’s no limit to how many times custodians can be re-elected, so you could have a very stable custodian board for many months, or a dynamic custodian board that changes every week.
Does Alien Worlds have any further updates in the pipeline from a User Experience or User Interface perspective?
We have a team of dedicated designers that are constantly working on improving the existing user interface, especially as we add new features and redesign how the various screens work.
You will see those come through gradually each time we make an update. We don’t have a big overhaul planned for the existing user interface, but updates such as the Planetary Syndicates and land raiding changes have had/will have a sizeable impact on the user experience.
How do you feel about initiatives such as JR’s Mining Events?
That’s something that JR – a member of the community – has done that’s very much a part of the wider Alien Worlds metaverse.
Dacoco, the company that founded Alien Worlds – we’re only part of our metaverse. We don’t have any more of a right to claim the metaverse than JR does, or anybody else who is a participant of our metaverse.
He took the initiative himself – he didn’t have to ask for our permission but what he’s doing has become part of the Alien Worlds metaverse and we’re really supportive and happy about that.
“We’re helping where we can, and we also try to do things that help support the community to do more things like that.“
As an example, one of the things we’ve done is to help fund EOSUSA’s costs of running AW Butler. They run a lot of nodes and data analytics – such as crunching data at a blockchain level – and its those types of services and infrastructure that I think help community members like JR to be able to run the types of competitions he runs.
We try to support teams building at an infrastructural-level, creating the components necessary for the community to create awesome new initiatives from.
People should really think about applying for Galactic Hub Grants if they want help build infrastructures, services and community initiatives like that – and with the Planetary Syndicate DAOs now release, leading those community initiatives is sure to help players get elected as custodians of their planetary DAO.
If you’re running a big event in the Alien Worlds metaverse, you’d be well-positioned to run as a custodian – that’s how part of the strategy for the game works.
Are there any other community initiatives that our fellow Alien Worlds’ explorers should keep an eye out for?
Check out the Twitch stream that David Lee runs on a Friday night – he runs an amazing weekly or bi-weekly Twitch stream, rounding-up everything that’s happening in the Alien Worlds metaverse in the past week or two. From there, you can discover a lot of places in the Alien Worlds metaverse that are worth hanging out in.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
It might be nice for us to explain why we think it’s worth it for us to build a blockchain game in the first place, and why it’s worth playing one.
What it boils down to is what we’ve been talking about – community. Communities flourish so much better in blockchain or Web3 because – in the case of Alien Worlds – you earn NFTs and TLM, and as a result, you own part of the system. You own part of the Alien Worlds metaverse.
If Dacoco stops existing tomorrow, your NFTs and TLM would still be yours.
It’s really important to understand that the game that you’re playing is running on the blockchain, and that gives you a lot of power within the Alien Worlds metaverse – we really believe in that.
” We are builders of decentralized technology.“
As Dacoco, building DAOs and dApps is what we did before Alien Worlds, and we strongly believe that their application in gaming has a lot of significance in the future of gaming.
That’s one of the reasons we co-founded the Open Metaverse Alliance for Web3 (OMA3) alongside The Sandbox, Dapper Labs, Decentraland, Animoca Brands, Upland, and many other projects.
Us being founding members of that project speaks to our belief in decentralisation. We believe in the user-owned metaverse and we’re collaborating with other large industry participants to try and champion the vision of the user-owned metaverse as opposed to a walled-garden approach that some of the tech giants might be more minded to build.
A core component of that is interoperability – the ability to use your Alien Worlds NFTs (for example) within Upland, or in other game environments. It involves the potential to carry a reputation across different metaverse environments, so your account history, reputation and achievements are shared across various games.
“All of your achievements will be recorded on the blockchain, and will be associated with your account.“
Let’s say that you wanted to build a game in The Sandbox. It would be great if you didn’t have to start from scratch, which is why we’re working on technical interoperability – allowing developments on other systems to be shared across multiple environments.
There’s technical challenges to that, especially between certain blockchains, but it’s a coordination issue that we think is really important.
There will be a lot of consultation with the community, and we look forward to speaking with project heads, thought leaders and collaborators alike.
What final message would you like to leave for the Alien Worlds community?
Run to be a custodian. Join this massive experiment in blockchain gaming. Be a part of the first wave of building DAOs together.
The idea of true player democracy within a game may be a novel idea, but it’s set to reward players with meaningful ownership, elected custodial control and a real sense of belonging.
The Planetary Syndicate release has led to a lot of buzz amongst the blockchain community, and coupled with their in-house fighting game – first referenced in their Medium article The Thunderdome: Battling on Alien Worlds – Alien Worlds has a very bright future ahead.
What is Alien Worlds like to play in 2022? It’s bigger and better than ever, forging new ground for blockchain gaming – and it’s only set to rise from here.
For the latest from the Alien Worlds team, head to their website, follow their Twitter, join their Discord and Telegram, and catch their livestreams on Twitch.