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Racing Ahead: An Interview with Sammy Snake, Founder of Nova Rally

The popular streamer, advisor and project lead opens up about his health, the exciting future of his game, and how the WAX community have helped him to rediscover himself.

JUNE 8, 2022. INTERVIEWS. WRITTEN BY JOHN NICHOLS.

Actions speak louder than words as the old saying goes – but in the case of today’s interviewee, his wealth of words and actions combined are enough to break the sound barrier.

Whether it’s covering the latest blockchain games on stream, giving his advice to breakthrough blockchain games, or leading his own game, Nova Rally, into an exciting new chapter, Sammy Snake has captured the hearts and minds of creators, collectors and critics across the WAX landscape.

With their 3D races set to release this summer, the recent announcement of a landmark partnership with Machinations and a whole host of other milestones up to this point, we were well overdue a catch-up with the man behind it all.

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John: Hey Sammy! Could you tell me a bit about yourself, your background and how you got into NFTs?

Sammy: Hey! I’m Sammy, and I’ve worked in consultancy for 7 years – mainly focusing on innovation. It’s my job to figure out how a new technology could provide value or improve an existing process.

I’ve been a long-term crypto fan and holder for over 9 years, obsessively reading about new coins – from the power of community coins such as Doge to learning about smart contracts when I purchased my first EOS, back when it was an Ethereum-based token.

I discovered NFTs before I actually knew what they were. I bought a ZED RUN horse thinking that I was just buying a game item, and later understood – through NBA Top Shot (being a huge basketball fan) – that I’d bought an NFT. Initially, I found the idea of people paying to own highlights comical, then I found myself wanting to own them and from then on was hooked.

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Nova Rally hit WAX 1 year ago. What is Nova Rally all about, and what has the story been so far?

Nova Rally is a racing sim management game. You pick a car, choose two characters to drive it, and witness your car battle it out for racing glory on the blockchain.

My aim is to achieve a Wacky Racers-style appeal. As a child, one of my fascinations was watching that show and not knowing who was going to come out on top each episode. I want that same feeling of wonder for every race that occurs on the blockchain.

Nova Rally started as an experiment with my community. Zyca, one of the members of my community, showed me some really cool 3D models of flying cars he’d created. I’d had an idea for a blockchain game for a while and asked if he could create all kinds of flying cars for us to turn into a racing simulation game.

I wrote a detailed whitepaper outlining my plans, and had races running on WAX’s testnet rather quickly. Only my community knew about the game up to that point and they were excited to try it – when all of a sudden our pre-launch popularity exploded.

I woke up to an additional 4,000 whitelist signups and the sale was a huge success. We had a very fast sellout, and the NFTs rocketed up to 18x their original cost on the secondary market. It was all a bit staggering considering it was meant to be a game for my community!

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The team worked on the game for the next few months, and then came our launch, with instant multiplayer races becoming available on the blockchain. It wasn’t all smooth sailing – we ran into a few technical challenges, some planning mistakes, and various milestones arrived later than expected.

We had a 3-year plan for how we would take the game from a simple text-based experience to a visual-heavy title that could stand alongside any ordinary game.

The support of the core player community has been so big that we’re now in a position to achieve the 3-year plan in 1-year – with the aim to release a component of the 3D racing simulations this summer. The amount I’ve learned since starting the development of Nova Rally has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Thanks to the support of our community, I’ve been able to assemble a team of experts to bring the vision to life.

From a player perspective, how do the tokenomics of Nova Rally work?

We’re introducing a brand-new economy based around our races. Players will be given Fuel simply for owning our assets – nice and simple. You use that Fuel to enter races. Depending on your finishing position in those races and how much Fuel you spent to enter, you’ll receive an amount of our token, CHARM.

CHARM is used to enter all of our mini-games, buy our Premium Season Pass, complete quests, buy race track pieces, invest in your own racing team franchise, recharge weapons and much more. It’s central to everything the game offers, and players can choose which aspects of the game they want to participate in.

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The Nova Rally World Championship and Season Two are slated to arrive in the coming months. What can the community expect to see from these?

Season One was very much a function-first approach, ensuring every core system worked as intended. The World Championships will be a celebration of Season One and all who took part in it – a great competition with some fantastic prizes for our loyal supporters.

Season Two is a much more visual-focused experience, with 3D races you can watch and enjoy instead of just looking up your finishing position and race time.

Here’s a few of the updates in the pipelines:

  • Fully-customise your cars with our in-game cosmetic NFTs
  • A brand-new event-based racing system, with feedback on all segments of the track
  • Daily quests
  • Huge quality-of-life updates, with a much more streamlined interface
  • New strategy options, such as weapon choices, when to use boost, player attributes and more. Either take out your opponents, or beat them with sheer speed!
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The 3D release will build up to a new game mode – Super Circuit. Here, players will see if they can lead their own racing franchise to the top – with every race broadcast live on Twitch – pitting player-created decentralised racing teams against each other to see who will be crowned champion.

Season Two will be jam-packed with entertainment and I can’t wait to play it!

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You’ve recently partnered with Machinations.io. Could you explain what this partnership will involve, and what it will mean for Nova Rally?

Nova Rally is an intricate game with many moving parts. All of these fun features are easy to add to our development pipeline, but in reality, every little update needs to be modelled within the overall economy to ensure that there’s balance and sustainability.

This process is incredibly time consuming – that’s why we’ve partnered with Machinations.

Founded in 2018, Machinations.io is the first and only browser-based platform used by more than 35,000+ professionals to design and predict game economies & systems for premium, free-to-play, and play-to-earn games.

Alongside their platform, they have expertise in modelling every possible scenario, allowing us to gain instant feedback on how one new feature would affect the entire ecosystem. It is irresponsible to run a Play-To-Earn game without significant expertise, and that’s why our partnership with Machinations is so important – they have experience across the entire gaming industry, from mobile titles to AAA giants.

They’re doing a complete review of the planned Nova Rally economy with the CHARM token. It’s a thorough process involving large-scale simulations and the designing of contingency plans.

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Once this review process is done, Machinations experts evaluate if our economic models pass their criteria. If so, Nova Rally will obtain the Verified by Machinations seal. To retain this seal, our economy will be continuously monitored and re-forecast by Machinations, based on live telemetry & Web 3.0 market data.

Players who buy Nova Rally assets can purchase with the confidence that we are constantly aware and in-tune with the game economy, and that we have built and will continue to build the game in a sustainable way.

I think the program is a fantastic opportunity, and I’m proud to be a part of their initial select project group. Shoutout to our other WAX representation within the program, Novopangea. I will always support projects who realise the importance of investing so much energy into the planning of their economy.

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You’ve mentioned being on the verge of achieving your 3-year plan with Nova Rally in just 12 months. What comes next?

It’s all about getting then getting that 3D race experience to as many people as possible. We’ve partnered with Simplex to allow both fiat and crypto methods to get started in the game. We also have a new fast-paced game mode where you draft random drivers and cars and try to get as many wins as possible before you run out of lives!

On top of that, fleshing out the story and the universe is very important to us. The goal of the Super Circuit game mode is that it’ll be like a virtual Formula 1 – but with rockets!

We want players to really care about the racing team they choose to support and be excited to tune into the livestreams and watch the action. Our in-game tokens have a unique use in this respect, as players will be using them towards the greater goal of contributing to a team they are a part of, helping them to win championships.

Your livestreams have become a regular highlight of the community. What can viewers expect to see from you when you go live?

My livestreams are a great place to come and find out about new WAX projects. I’m addicted to trying out new games, and I love to showcase innovation on my stream. I’m not a very serious person when I’m live – it’s a great outlet for me to have fun after a long day of working.

You’ll get a lot of variety. Some days I might be ranting about questionable moral practices, others it’s more of a technical discussion or a chat about the future vision of Nova Rally when I get overexcited.

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I try to stream every day – even if I can get one viewer to enjoy themselves for an hour, that’s a huge success for me.

I’m also very happy to be a member of the WAX Ambassador program, and hope to showcase all of the greatest games the WAX blockchain has to offer. The exciting developments that happen every single day on WAX make my life so much easier when creating content!

I always say that WAX is better than any TV series – every day, there’s new projects, great personalities and sometimes a bit of drama!

You’ve been a tireless advocator for WAX, interviewing many up-and-coming projects. What are some of your favourite projects on WAX right now?

Beast Garden, Fightland and ZOS are all great games available right now with solid mechanics – and more importantly, great people behind them. I would trust all these projects because I’ve had chances to speak to them at length and get to know them as people. The best projects to me are when there’s no doubt in my mind that they have a future vision.

I was a huge wrestling fan as a kid, so I think Blockchain Brawlers has huge potential – if we can eventually see them in the ring!

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Here’s a few more of my favourites on WAX:

  • The Seventh Seal – a 4X strategy game, and one of the most impressive games I’ve played on WAX thus far.
  • Moon Stones – an RPG with a unique art-style, jam-packed with features and characters. If you’re looking for a game to play, this can easily take several hours of your day.
  • Novopangea – one part great art, one part story and one part Sim City.
  • Cosmos Eleven – a football management sim. I’m excited for new PvE Story mode and the opportunity to improve my galactic soccer players.
  • CritterCraft – a livestream game that’s oozing with charm, created by a team with a great track record of making fun browser games.

My personal dark horse is an upcoming game called Turis Station. It’s an isometric lofi metaverse where your NFT character has its own thoughts, feelings and memories – and when you aren’t around they’ll move around the station going about their own business.

It’s all done through AI, and they have a fantastic story to tell. I’m like a little kid waiting for that one!

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How would you describe the WAX community, and what effect have they had on you thus far?

The WAX community is filled with all different types of people, but what I love the most is the excitement and the willingness to help one another. I’ve made friends for life.

People may see me as a jolly character on stream, but I’ve suffered from depression and intense anxiety my whole life.

The WAX community helped me regain confidence in myself after a rough few years with chronic vestibular migraines that started when I was 25. The ground moves when I walk, I randomly feel sick, I get intense adrenaline rushes and panic attacks and I mostly work lying down. I was just getting through days medicated up to my eyeballs, not really speaking to anyone, and I lost my sense of humour. I couldn’t speak to anyone about any of my feelings without breaking down in tears.

My main thought was why had all this happened to me, as I mourned for the life I had before.

I accidentally started a community through giving away starter NFTs to hundreds of new players. Suddenly, people were looking up to me and I felt I needed to help them learn what WAX is and how to use it, so I started to stream to make it a bit easier to talk to people.

At first it was lying down on my bed on my laptop with no camera, and slowly people in the chat encouraged me to try more and more things. I would usually feel sick after 10-15 minutes, but sometimes it would all disappear because I was in the moment.

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I streamed every single day for 6 months for an hour, even if I had nothing to say. I now feel like my old self again, and although I still have medical issues, I want to say a heartfelt thank you for anyone who has come into my stream because it was the best therapy I could’ve done.

My main focus is to try and give back to people wherever I can. Behind the scenes, I’ll always offer to lend an ear, give honest advice if needed or help if I can. I love all of my WAX friends and I should probably tell them that more often.

What is the biggest problem in the blockchain space right now, and how do we go about solving it?

The onboarding for new players is just too clunky. It’s a huge issue that’s stopping a big wave of people arriving and trying out some of the great games that already exist on WAX.

I’m actively working on initiatives to make this process seamless. The dream is to get people to start playing any WAX game in 2 clicks.

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Where do you see the future of the WAX blockchain?

I think we will see AAA games come to WAX. The Unity and Unreal SDKs funded by WAX Labs are a huge step forward for the platform, and I think it will lead to some awesome games, primed and ready for the next wave of WAX fans.

I also think WAX will eventually process transactions on other chains seamlessly, using IBC technology to help with congestion. It’s all fascinating reading if you have some time. There’s some great minds in Telegram and Discord chats actively solving issues to these huge problems that limit mass adoption.

Is there anything you’d like to add? Anything you’d like to say to the reader?

Look out for Nova Rally this year – we’ve been working with some fantastic people to bring our game to the next level.

Here are a few highlights you can look out for this year:

  • Watch every race in 3D
  • Race your own way, thanks to customisable character attributes
  • Fully customise your car with NFT cosmetics, including paints, decals, trails, stickers and more
  • Win in style with NFT taunts and celebrations
  • A brand-new in-game economy, fully-modelled and monitored in real-time with live blockchain data thanks to Machinations
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Oh, and if you’re a creator and would like to have your own cosmetics within Nova Rally, please contact me!

We have a revenue share smart contract in place for secondary market fees, and we’d love to make monthly creator content packs for release.

Time for our quick-fire questions!

What fuels you?

I surround myself with ambitious, positive people, and thrive off trying to innovate.

One unusual fact about you?

I can’t move my left eye to the left. It’s called Duane’s Retraction Syndrome, and very few people have it.

If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?

When you make a mistake, hold your hands up, admit it and try to improve – don’t cover it up. People go to great lengths to protect their pride and it’s so silly. We all make mistakes, it’s just how we move on from them.

You can invite three people, real or fictional, to dinner. Who do you choose and why?

I’d love to play a game of poker with Norm Macdonald, Brad Owen and Spraggy. All are hilarious and love poker like I do – I think it would be a good time!

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What is your purpose in life?

My purpose in life is to lift up those around me, and leave them better than when I found them.

How can we follow you and your work?

I stream most days on Twitch. You can find me here.

Sammy’s devotion to the WAX blockchain, its creators and the community at-large is a shining pillar of brilliance of the space – and we’re all privileged to bare witness to that and to reap its rewards.

In much the same way as he’s been blessed by his viewers, we’ve all been blessed by him. Every project he has spoken to has grown stronger through his guidance. If you’re a fan of blockchain games on WAX, you’ve likely benefitted from his impact – even if you’re unaware of it.

As Nova Rally – and the WAX blockchain itself – enters an exciting new era, personalities such as Sammy form the very heart of the community. Join his streams, keep an eye on Nova Rally, and cherish his presence in the space. Sammy wouldn’t be the same today without the WAX blockchain, and we wouldn’t be the same without him.

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John Nichols
Founder & Editor of NFT Insider. Head of Content at AtomicHub. Co-Host of the Mint One Podcast. Lifelong gamer & creative.
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