EXCLUSIVE: Shrapnel’s Naomi Lackaff on NFT Stigmas, High-Risk PVP and Web3 Shooters
The Head of Partnerships for this upcoming high-stakes PVP NFT game sits down with John to discuss Shrapnel’s core gameplay, digital item ownership, and enhancing player-centric creativity.
There’s one balance that defines successful competitive games – risk vs. reward.
From football to chess, iRacing to Escape from Tarkov, knowing when to take risks – and having the skill to be able to pull them off – separates the average player from the world’s best.
The latter example is especially poignant, as an upcoming Web3 FPS aims to take high-risk extraction-style competitive gameplay to the next level by injecting it with blockchain technology. That game is Shrapnel.
Developed by an all-star cast of former Star Wars, Halo and Call of Duty developers, despite the game only being in its initial development phase, it’s already found a core community that is keen to watch the team build, flourish and prosper.
In an exclusive for NFT Insider, I caught up with Shrapnel’s Head of Partnerships Naomi Lackaff to discuss their plans for a competition-based metaverse, their extensive world lore, and the ultimate goal to create a brand-new, Web3-native esport.
John: Why do NFTs deserve a place in gaming?
Naomi: There’s been a lot of stigma surrounding NFTs in video games. For a long time, players have wanted more value, more utility, and true ownership of their virtual goods. They spend thousands of dollars on in-game currency, power-ups and cosmetics to customize how their character appears.
But, once they finish the game and stop playing, that’s it. The content they acquired in the game and everything they did stays in-game. The player never actually owned any of it.
Integrating NFTs into the gaming ecosystem ensures that the value of digital items is verifiable and traceable. Essentially, it’s giving players true ownership of their items. This means that value isn’t locked solely in the game in which a player acquires an asset. Users truly own their in-game items – and as more games are created with underlying blockchain technology with an eye toward interoperability, players will be able to transfer these assets across multiple platforms.
The power of this technology lies in its capability to expand the player’s control over their game assets and experiences beyond the bounds of a single game.
Gamers at large have made their opinion about Web3 and NFT integration in gaming loud and clear. What would you say to a blockchain gaming sceptic, and what is Shrapnel doing to help change the narrative?
I get it. There’s bad actors in this space, as there are in any new space that’s still ripe with opportunity. Our north star at Shrapnel is always “Fun Game”. If it’s fun, people will play it, and our hope is that the underlying tech will only enhance an already amazing gaming experience.
We play games, too. Our studio was founded and built by life-long gamers who love to create and share fun gaming experiences. Blockchain technology and NFTs are the right tools to support the vision we have for a game and a creator platform that puts some of the control for the type of experiences they can have in the hands of our community.
We want to reduce friction and minimize risk for our players. By bringing high-stakes AAA gameplay to players, with these new types of rewards and creator elements, we hope to prove the potential of these new technologies. We believe there’s a space for decentralized technology in gaming to highlight and enhance what players experience, whether that’s through true ownership of items or more involvement in creative processes.
From a gaming perspective, we believe the long-term value of NFTs will be demonstrated by projects that use them to add value to their gaming experience. NFTs need to enhance what players desire in games to provide that value: exhilarating gameplay, asset ownership, creative expression – and more.
Reading your whitepaper, it sounds like the gameplay revolves around a search-and-extract mechanic, where risk-taking, skill and strategy are required in equal measure to succeed. Could you describe the gameplay further? Are there any comparisons that can be made between Shrapnel and popular competitive FPS titles?
Shrapnel is first and foremost an extraction-based shooter that will include all the elements a first-person-shooter fan will expect.
As operators, players enter the Sacrifice zone where they must gather and extract important resources. In this high-stakes environment, operators will compete against each other for the map’s resources, creating a climate that rewards skill. Every time an operator is killed in action, their gear and loot – in the form of NFTs – are dropped, forcing players to anticipate the constantly evolving odds of success.
When players have gathered their loot, they must fight their way to one of many contested extraction locations and survive long enough to claim it. Successfully extracted loot (NFTs) are then placed in the player’s inventory, which the player uses to build their loadouts in future sessions.
What differentiates Shrapnel from other FPS titles is that it’s the world’s first blockchain-enabled shooter that will be moddable – meaning that it will allow players to define their own experience and customize on a level previously unachievable.
At the heart of the Shrapnel ecosystem is a set of robust creator tools which will allow players to create their maps, weapon skins, armour and more, helping players forge a unique identity. All of these customized items can be traded in the Shrapnel Marketplace, and players can earn rewards based on their popularity, establishing a highly-motivated and incentivized community who are actively involved in shaping Shrapnel’s design and aesthetics.
The Operators NFT Collection mentions that you have five comic books in the works. What part do these play into the wider Shrapnel universe? Are these digital-only, or can we expect a physical release?
The five-part comic book series tells the individual tales of five operators in the world of Shrapnel. The comics provide a unique way to explore creative lore, environments and characters by considering how Shrapnel’s lunar impact event would alter everything from corporations and governments to the lives of individuals and beyond.
We’ve worked with some of the best comic book creators and artists in the industry to produce a series of stories that we think our community will love. These stories lay the foundation for Shrapnel’s world creation and emphasize the social and emotional elements that players are looking for. We wanted to keep our community engaged every step of the way and depart from the Web2 strategy of announcing a game and then going dark for a while as you work on it. Throughout the books, our readers will dive deep into the world of Shrapnel.
We’ve been thrilled to witness such a huge community response to the comics so far. Our community is an integral part of Shrapnel’s creation, and we want it to influence gameplay and contribute to storytelling. We frequently share updates on our Twitter and Discord channels regarding release dates and are constantly looking for feedback to help improve the game. We invite you to join us on these platforms for our roadmap and progress updates, as well as for our regular interactive team activities.
Sharing these comics with our community ahead of the game release is another way of inviting them along on the journey of creating Shrapnel. The collectable digital copies of the comic books will be displayed in the in-game inventories for some of our earliest fans, and will be available in traditional print format – stay tuned to our channels for more info.
Cross-chain operation is becoming increasingly popular in Web3. Shrapnel is built on Avalanche – are there any plans to explore cross-chain opportunities in future?
Currently, we’re focused on building towards the launch of our game on Avalanche. As an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) compatible chain, Avalanche enables all of Shrapnel’s in-game assets to be interoperable with other EVM compatible chains.
This functionality allows players to transfer their assets from Shrapnel’s Marketplace to the Avalanche C-chain, trade with other players and community members, and then bring them back into game sessions. This dedicated subnet guarantees the reliability and speed gamers expect from a AAA experience.
That said, we’re very excited about the interoperability possibilities that Web3 technology brings to gaming. We’re stoked to see how different game environments, player assets and experiences will be able to exist across various worlds in the future.
Since Shrapnel’s initial Operator mints in June 2022 – aside from a series of comic book releases, the odd collaboration with other Web3 projects and a live-action short – the team has kept their head down and continued to build.
The Shrapnel team has all the talent and experienced required to create an outstanding game that remains faithful to the spirit of, and fully-utilises, NFT technology. Whilst the team has reinforced a tight-grip on sharing any gameplay footage thus far, their community – alongside myself – eagerly await the day where we’re able to see what their team promise will be a next-gen gaming experience.