The Magic of NFT Card Games
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When we have a new partnership to announce, like we do with Kardomance, I like to bring them on the show and talk about the intricacies of designing and building their game. This time we did that, but we also dived deep into how the connection between a game’s developers and its community drives it forward in the right direction. We also covered how NFTs and blockchain technology enable gamers to empower themselves.
It’s a great show, so let’s get to it.
Cyprien: Happy to have you on the show. Can you give us a quick intro about yourself?
Cyprien: Hi Rami, thanks for having me today. So I’m Cyprien. I’m the CMO and game director at Kardomance.
Rami: I’d like to start with what you do at Kardomance and then we’ll talk about exactly what Kardomance is.
Cyprien: Yeah, okay. So right now I have two different jobs at Kardomance. The first one is the job of a CMO Chief Marketing officer because in my previous career I work in digital marketing. So right now I assumed the job and also because the team is not too big right now. So before a new person on that, I’m working as a CMO and my preferred job is the job of a game director where I manage everything that is related to the publishing of our first game, which is government.
Rami: Those are two very, very different jobs. Marketing to an external community and being like the core of the vision for a game, not the same thing. What’s really driving those two different directions?
Cyprien: I don’t think there is a link between these two things. But what is interesting is that with my marketing vision, I can also try to understand what people want to see and at which time they want to see. That kind of things from the game have a sort of balancing between having too much hype and too high expectations on what we’re producing and having like, nothing. So it’s really interesting to know on which point we need to work on the game and prioritize everything. And of course, I had a previous experience on managing teams, so it’s really important to I think each experience I had in the past is really important for what I do today and how I do it today.
Rami: I think it’s actually a really interesting combination of skills because to my mind, when you’re building a game or any other product, a big part of that is actually the communication with the end users. Like whether it’s a community of gamers or whether it’s, for example, people that are using some accounting software, you still need to know whether the software that you’re building is fulfilling their needs, which is fulfilling in a games context. It’s fulfilling their ability to have fun. Right. And to make sure that the features that you’re producing are appropriate to the audience that you’re actually building for.
Cyprien: Just a quick remark on that is that I think many games in the blockchain industry right now are talking to investors. And I think where we are completely different this kind of project is that we are trying to talk to players first. So it’s really important for us that people understand that.
Rami: So let’s talk a little bit about Kardomance. What exactly is Kardomance?
Cyprien: Yeah, so Kardomance is our first game. It’s a blockchain based card game taking place in the fantasy universe of Amaloria that we are building with world builders and writers. It is a game that combines an interesting and fun and maybe innovative gameplay with a new kind of economic model that is bring to buy the NFT technology. So each card is an NFT so we can make the cards owned by player. And it’s also a lot of really interesting economic possibilities like renting cars, selling the cards, offer them, sharing the card inside of a gift. So I don’t know, maybe if you are a guild that do competitive games and why not tournaments on Kardomance, you can share your package of cards so you can maximize your gain in room case, convention and tournament.
Rami: That’s interesting because what you’re actually talking about when you have a guild is pooling the funds of a guild. Right? Because when you’re talking about NFT’s, you’re actually talking about like liquid funds on the market and you can pool the funds of people that are participating in the guild to purchase assets which boost their guild and then you’re sharing those assets between the people that are in the guild.
Cyprien: Yeah, exactly. And I think it’s something really interesting in the blockchain gaming industry because you can do in fact the blockchain aspect of gaming are just seen as a new economic model. But in fact it also allows to have new game mechanics. Like for instance, let’s say I’m the owner of a big arena in a game similar to World of Warcraft or in the world of Amelia. I can really be an entrepreneur of that because I can choose to organize tournament, I can rent displays to companies to do, I don’t know, maybe concerts on that. So it’s really interesting to transform players into owners, but I saw transform players into entrepreneurs and to have like this big ecosystem and with a lot of ideas.
Rami: I think it’s funny that you put it that way because to my mind, what we’re actually trying to do with blockchain technology is duplicate a much more natural use of assets. So like if you have a group of friends that like to play a game and they’re going up against other groups of friends that like to play the same game in some local tournament. Then of course your groups of friends are going to kind of pull their cards together. Play together. Build the most balanced. Interesting. Strong decks that they can and then they’ll go up against those other people that are doing the same and that’s really what we’re proposing here. What you guys are proposing within cardamounts is the ability to do that kind of online in a trustless. Decentralized way. Whereas traditional card games that happen online today, you don’t really own your game, you don’t really own the game that you’re playing, you don’t own the cards. It all just kind of like happens on some company’s servers and in the end they do whatever they want with those assets, right?
Cyprien: Yeah, exactly. In fact, we look more to paper card games than digital card games because with paper card games you go at a supermarket and you buy a booster of cards. With these cards, each card has a different variety and the more raw it is, the less printed copy of it will exist. So we exactly have that. With Uranfe, for instance, legendary cards and cardamoms exist in 1000 copies and common cards exist in 10,000 copies. Sorry, I’m really bad with numbers in English, I try my best. So we have that and what is interesting is with for instance, Magic or Pokemon or Yugioh, you have a part of the pleasure which is of course in playing the game with the cards and the other part of the pleasure is in the economy of it, is to collect cards, is to trade cards, is to sell cards by making may be a bonus or a malicious. So a part of the pleasure is also in the economy and I think the digital card games have never understood that because for me it’s stupid when you have a game where you buy something with real money and you don’t really own it, that kind of things need to change. And I like to talk about the parallel between the fashion industry and the cosmetic skin industry and gaming because let’s say for instance a watch, if you take a Rolex watch, this is something with a lot of value. So it’s interesting to talk about that. Let’s say a Rolex watch, you’re completely free to resell it, to trade it, to rent it or to transmit it to your son, for instance. And Rolex will not come to you and say oh no, you need to give me a 10% of the value of the watch if you want to transmit it to your son or something like that. You’re completely free to do anything you want with it and to use it to maybe invent a new way to monetize these products you have, you’re completely free and you own it. But in the gaming industry, for instance, in the fashion gaming industry we can cut like this the user skin, the use of skin, let’s say in Fortnite, you can resell it, you can exchange it and I think it’s really important for the gaming industry to move on that and to have something more friendly to player.
Rami: How do you think that we talk to the rest of the gaming industry and explain those like really to my mind, very basic concepts because what we’re actually talking about here is empowering users, right? Like we spent, I think, the last two or three decades empowering game publishers, game developers and now it’s the user’s turn to give them the freedom to be able to do the things that they expect to do offline, but also to do them online.
Cyprien: I think the way to do it, the easiest way to do it, is only to have fun game to play. Because if we have fun game to play in the blockchain industry, player will come naturally. And example at Cardamom is that we already sold with professional streamers and gamers and teams from the traditional gaming industry and they are interesting because we come with a real gameplay proposition and this is the things that lack on not all projects. Of course, there’s a lot of nice projects right now in the gaming industry but I mean, in the first wave of the blockchain gaming industry, in fact, the question to ask is will people play the game for the gameplay and not for the economic part? If the answer is yes, people will come from the web to gaming industry. It’s not a problem. So let’s attract players and the rest of the industry will of course need to adapt and create something more.
Rami: I like to think about the games that we are participating in building in multiple levels because you have kind of like the games that everybody played for many years which were offline, right? And that was kind of like one level of the game. Then you had the online component which was where the game that you were playing was. The gameplay itself was extended by being able to play with your friends and people that you don’t know, right? And now we’re adding this third component on top of everything, which is kind of like a metagame, right? You have the economic component which is added to the game and I think that’s something that we in the blockchain game and industry are still doing a poor job in explaining to game developers and game publishers really the advantages of that stuff. I’m curious about your thoughts on how that third level changes gameplay.
Cyprien: I think what is interesting with that kind of economy is when the resources are limited because it’s more near that what we have in the real world and it will really create a sensation that the economy don’t slip. And I find it really interesting. Let’s say, for example, wood. If you have wood in a world, in real world it’s pretty limited even if it is renewable resources. But we can have that on the game and it will offer a lot of way to exploit that food. You can be, for example, a player or a crafter where you will collect wood and craft different things. You can be a seller where you will craft things to sell it. You can be a trader where you will buy things to a crafter and resell it for more. So you are a kind of trader. You can be a builder. So for instance, you bail wood to a woodman. Woodman. I think it’s the correct one. Lumberjack. Okay, I was completely wrong. Sorry for that. You’re very good to lumberjack and you build buildings and with this building, you can rent them, you can, I don’t know, create a shop. You can create some events in this building. So you can really create a lot of things. So that kind of economy is really interesting when the resources are limited. If you look at a lot of games, I don’t know, wall over half, for instance, resources are not limited. So you can generate create goals at the infinite. So you can create there is no limit on the gold you can create. And it’s less interesting, I guess, because there is not that feeling of something really real and precious and rare.
Rami: I think for a lot of gamers, this is actually the sticking point for them because they feel like we’re creating artificial scarcity. But I don’t think that they understand that what we’re actually creating here is an experience. Right?
Cyprien: Yeah, I like that kind of outscore economic model. And they also need to understand that the resources in classic gaming, I mean, in multiplayer games where you need to collect resources, for instance, like World War, the resources you exchange for gold is your time. It brings something really interesting with that kind of scarcity because you don’t exchange your time for something not rationally. You really exchange your time for something real. And it will become really interesting when we will start to have an ecosystem of owners, players, entrepreneurs in that kind of game and of course, teams and games, etc.
Rami: And I was really into what you were saying before about there being ecosystems of interconnected games because I think that it’s something that not many people think about right now because I think we’re still, like you said at the beginning of that second wave of games, which actually have, for example, competent developers, people that are economists, that are involved in building the games. There’s a lot more like strategy and thought built into the actual concept of the games that are being built. And one of the things that I’d like to see is like a bunch of different kind of smaller scale games where they’re interdependent. Where you have to play one game to get one resource and another game to get another resource and then you use them in a third game and then there’s like a market at the center of all of that which allows you to. If you like this one minigame. Then that’s where you spend your time. Or if you want to play in the ecosystem of games, you can play across that ecosystem. I think that there’s a lot of really interesting experiences that frankly would not be available, which are we’re kind of like on the cusp of being able.
Cyprien: To participate in that kind of economy is really interesting. But there is also a big risk because let’s say you produce iron, you have a world where you produce iron and in this world you have like three bit games, you have an FDA firstperson shooter, card game and mobile. The problem is that if the iron is the core of the economy of those three games, the problem is that if you have any small exploits in one of those three games, it will ruin completely your economy because all the iron will come in this game and so the other games will not have enough resource to work properly. So this is a subject that we are working on with the team, but it’s really small little things to manage. And for instance, there is a lot of bad example of that. If you look at the game from Amazon New World at the launch, they had a small little exploit and just renewed completely the game. And it’s really hard to recover when you have this kind of failure.
Rami: I was going to ask about how NFTs change gameplay and we’ve kind of covered that already. So I think the last question that I want to pose to you is what challenges do NFTs introduce in creating fair and balanced gameplay?
Cyprien: Okay, in the gameplay, the NFT change nothing. So it’s completely transparent for you, but it’s really the same. Let’s say we completely move the NFT use on the game, the game will stay the same and people will play the game for the gameplay audit. So in terms of gameplay incrediments, the NFT part changed absolutely nothing. Now, for the balancing part and everything, it’s another question. Of course it will completely change the economic approach to the game, which is not exactly a part of the gameplay, but it tend to become part of the gameplay with the energy because you need really to think on how to allocate your resources, what card you can pay, and this card will give you more rewards. So you need to think on how to allocate your resources.
So it’s really interesting now about the balancing. It is really a challenge to balance the game when you bring some NFT tweet because it’s harder to catch. If we have a card which is really, really, really strong in the game, let’s say Dark Art Practitioner will survive a lot of zombies in the board. Let’s say it’s the card which is the strongest in the game and it is a card because it is the strongest in the game which has a value, the expensive value. Sorry if we patches players gonna h eight s. So we need to find a way to patch and balance the game smartly to not frustrate the player. We have a lot of ways to do that. The first way is to have a period when we launch a new card and a new extension.
With new cards we keep periods where we have the right to patch the card. So we say two months after the launch of a new extension and a new card, players know that during this period we can have the possibility to patch the card. This is the first way to do that and after these two months we don’t patch the cap. So player can play confidently and try confidently that way. So this is the first way to do it.
So two months where a player will play the card and we can say okay, with this card the win rate goes up of 5% so it is too strong, we need to patch it and during this time we can patch it but after that all the NFT attributes are located and we can’t do anything on that. So this is the first way to not frustrate the players. The second way to do that is that we work with students in artificial intelligence and they are creating an AI who plays the game twenty four, seven and with that we want to collect data like okay, the virtues class have a win rate of, I don’t know, 60%. It is too much. We need to patch this card, this card, this card, this is etc, etc. Human goal is to remain between 45% of run rate and 55% of run rate. If we are under 45% the cars are too weak and if we are below, if we are up to 55% of runway we need to patch because the cars are too strong. So for that, this artificial intelligence that completes all the day during other artificial intelligence helps us to find which car we need to patch and we can do that before launching an extension. So it’s really interesting for us to have to work on that. And the third way to balance the game without frustrating player is to create what we call a contour meta.
Contour meta is that if we have a card which is too strong, we need to create a card that will occur, a set of cards that will counter this card. Or two, if we have a new extension that is still in the period and local period, we can patch the card from that extension to counter the card that is transformed. So it’s really a big challenge in the NFT, in an NFT card game but we need also to remember that in the past if you look at paper card games they didn’t have all the possibilities of patching the card after because when the card is printed, the card is printed, they can’t do nothing on it. So we really have a big advantage on that kind of game but we need to be smart enough to not frustrating the player and we need to do it with the different possibilities we have. And that I told you about this.
Rami: All really kind of goes back to what we were talking about, the very beginning of the show, where the communication that happens between your team and the community is critical to ensuring that everybody has a good time. Right? Like, the developers are developing what they want, but the players are getting what they want out of the game.
Cyprien: Yeah, completely. Our main focus is always on the gameplay part. The economic part is important for us, but human focus remain on making a great game and making other great games in the future. But this is only focus. We are a gaming studio, French gaming studio. We are not blockchain competitor.
Rami: I wanted to thank you for your time and your expertise. Thanks for coming onto the show.
Cyprien: Thank you.
Rami James is a Web3 Futurist, Team Builder, Product Strategist, Blockchain Technology Expert, Product Designer, and Podcaster @ Ultra Chill.
By day he works at Ultra, helping to guide its product strategy. By night he works with the Telos Core Developer group to build a decentralized, community-run network based on Antelope.
If you’re interested in talking about Web3, blockchain, NFTs, gaming, esports or the future of decentralized technology, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org