Brains of Crypto: Talking Web3 Gaming with Warped Games

December 19, 2023
Community, Interview, Project Spotlights

Warped Games has emerged, seeking to weave together the best of both worlds. Today, we talk with the Managing Director of Warped Games, Adam Straney.

Under Adam's leadership, the Warped Games team, which includes veterans from projects like STARL Metaverse and LEGO Universe, is pushing the boundaries of traditional gaming into the Web3 sphere. From overcoming challenges in the dynamic world of Web3 gaming to pioneering new territories, Adam's story highlights the importance of perseverance and enterprising leadership. Delve into the Warped Games story, explore their goals and challenges, and see what's in store for the future of gaming in the world of Web3.

Can you share your journey and how you became the Managing Director of Warped Games?

Sure. I’ve been in the tech and telecom industry for around 15 years in various roles, including testing, production support, and management. I have also owned and operated my own audio recording business and studio for almost 20 years working with hundreds of bands and record labels. I entered crypto in 2016 after being fascinated with the technology and possibilities. After being in the space for a few years and working with and helping launch defi projects from launchpads to bridging applications, the metaverse, and Web3 gaming concepts sparked my interest. I bought into a token called STARL early on, and noticing the project needed structure, I reached out and started as a tester for the STARL Marketplace. The energy there was electric and full of passion, but the development and management were chaotic, and I felt I could lend a hand.  Bringing organization to an eclectic and varied team of developers was my job for so many years, so doing it at STARL was no different.  The team was impressed with the work, and I got to know them well.  Eventually, I talked to everyone on the project and helped coordinate and support all updates and releases from brainstorming to launch.  I essentially became the project manager behind the scenes.

As 2021 ended and the new year entered, we faced challenges with the founders of STARL becoming disengaged. After diving into the transactions, we discovered they misused the team funds. We consulted with lawyers and an investigator, and after many months, we were legally advised as a team to move on without the bad actors. There was no foreseeable future in STARL legally and brandwise for the team. We were devastated, but there was nothing we could do there.

We didn’t want to stop creating and building as a team but were at a crossroads.  Our options were to finish and part ways or build entirely new from the ground up.  This led to many team meetings and brainstorms and the creation of Warped Games. We met many industry leaders, advisors, and law firms to make the best decisions forward, and from there we established international entities.  We contacted many people in the industry, and they led us to meet and partner with, who helped build our token launch site.  The team had previously voted for me to become CEO. However, I decided to split the role with Scott Brown, our lead game dev, who stepped up as President while I took on the role of Managing Director.  We make a good team together and complement each other well.

How has your experience at STARL influenced your approach to Warped Games?

Our time working on STARL taught us many crucial lessons for Warped Games, from business foundations to development, team structure, marketing, trust, and more. There are too many lessons to point out here considering our history and transition from STARL, and I don’t want to bore anyone with the legal aspects, considering the many hours of meetings we’ve been in.

However, one of the key takeaways on the Web3 gaming side is the importance of seamless user integration. We've learned that requiring blockchain knowledge upfront, such as using wallet connect or enforced NFT utility, will deter most traditional gamers. Therefore, our focus for Warped Universe is to create a gaming experience that's accessible like any other Web2 game, allowing for a seamless and engaging onboarding experience for everyone, not just those familiar with Web3.

Additionally, focusing solely on Web3 can significantly limit the player base. Based on our experience, most token holders are more interested in speculation than playing the games they buy tokens from. In most instances, developing and marketing for their desires translate poorly to the actual gaming side. A game that appeals to traditional gamers with a more straightforward onramp, fewer technical and knowledge barriers, and fun and fair gameplay are most likely to succeed.  Also, pay-to-win tactics, which have plagued Web3 games in the past, are an absolute death sentence to the long-term playability and trust of real gamers.  It needs to be fair.

Why did you make the decision to focus on video games instead of the broader metaverse concept the team worked on with STARL?

Our past work taught us that an open world without direction can leave players feeling lost and disengaged. You log in, and there's this vast, beautiful space to explore, but then you start wondering, "What do I do now?". You end up just walking around trying to find something to do. After a while, you may not want to come back because you've already seen everything. That's why, in Warped Universe, we are focussing on creating an immersive and engaging environment right off the bat with fun at its core. Our goal is to craft an experience that keeps players coming back for the joy of the gameplay, not just the initial curiosity to explore or a chance to earn.

What platforms are you targeting for Warped Games?

Unreal Engine can go to any platform, so we plan to do just that.  PC is already in the works; after that, our focus will be to go mobile, and eventually, we'll set our eyes on the console world. Choice is a core element of our game design. We aim to include multiple gameplay genres in the missions players are tasked with. This empowers players to choose the way they want to play and allows them to play in modes that might be better suited for the platform they’re playing from. Desktop gamers may want 1st or 3rd person views, whereas mobile users may prefer top-down turn-based action.  We want gamers to play in a way that suits their preferences.

How do you plan to integrate across Web2 and Web3?

We aim to integrate blockchain into Warped Games as an optional enhancement for players instead of a barrier. This means you can enjoy the game in full, on traditional Web2 platforms. However, if you wish to own or trade in-game collectibles or have your achievements permanently recorded on the blockchain, you can use the advanced Web3 features provided in-game. Again, our goal is to provide flexibility and choice for all gamers and an easy-to-use and safe process. 

What does Web3 gaming mean to you? How do you balance elements like accessibility, borderless gaming, decentralized ownership, and archival of records?

“Web3 gaming” is a term that I believe will eventually become obsolete. My hope, and I firmly believe it will happen very soon, is that it will simply be known as “gaming,” with some games having blockchain elements while others don’t.   Although it is groundbreaking technology now, it will just become a regular feature of games and not a “type of game”.  Just like how free-to-play or microtransactions were big in Asia at first and took a long time to adapt to in other areas of the world, the same thing is now happening with Web3.  It’s going to happen.  AAA studios will lead the charge for transparency and legitimacy in Web3, and we’ll see adoption happen faster than ever before.

Returning to the question, Web3 is shaping up to be crucial for three primary reasons. Firstly, it offers players true ownership of their purchases, where they can hold them forever without worrying about being shut down or sell them whenever they want on a variety of marketplaces. Secondly, it increases accessibility to games, particularly for those who might face restrictions or barriers to gaming platforms or payment methods in some areas of the world. Lastly, it amplifies the voice of the player base during the game development process, enabling players to have a more significant influence on the decisions that ultimately shape their gaming experience. Building in Web3 is much different than traditional methods with publishers and development timelines.  By facilitating Web3 guidance systems in development, games can cater to a wider community and be shaped by an active audience’s feedback.  Every game and project will have varying degrees, but I think these options give the games, the teams building them, and the players strength.

Can you tell us more about your team's background and their contributions to Warped Games?

The game-side development, art, and design aspects are handled by our team, who come from Wyrmbyte, a company established by the former founders of NetDevil. NetDevil was known for creating space MMOs, such as Jumpgate, which led to them being picked by LEGO to create Lego Universe.  You can see some of our team members and learn more about their work in this 10-year anniversary video of Lego Universe . They were also integral to the STARL Metaverse, where they developed all the Unreal Engine elements and environments.

On the web and blockchain front, we have the main developers and back-end specialists who worked on the STARL Marketplace, NFT creation, APIs and authentication for the STARL Metaverse, among many other Web3 projects. 

Regarding branding, our Creative Director has extensive experience working with Grammy-winning artists and the top game studios in the world such as Rockstar.  She’s responsible for our slick presale site design and all the amazing videos and assets we’ve released in STARL and Warped.

Additionally, we have a dedicated group that came with us from STARL, specializing in various aspects of community engagement, creative production, design, and writing. They have brought their massive experience from STARL to Warped and have really put a ton of work into developing the lore, history, and background of our game, along with brainstorming concepts, art, and the overall look, lighting, and tone of the universe.

Your presale sold out incredibly fast without VC funding and with a small team. What do you attribute this success to? How important is authenticity to your audience?

The fact that we stuck around and kept building on our own dime through the bear market showed a deep resilience and cultivated respect for the team. We faced all odds and kept making regardless of conditions. This, along with the past performance and development of STARL and the profound experience of our team in multiple fields, carried a lot of weight and led to confidence in the sale.

Why did you choose Ethereum for the Warped token instead of a faster Layer 2 or Layer 1 solution?

We chose Ethereum for the Warped token primarily because of our background with STARL, which was built on Ethereum. We had already developed a comprehensive set of tools and systems for this network, so it made sense to continue with Ethereum as our foundation for Warped. Additionally, considering the large community that shifted from STARL to Warped, bringing their NFTs and assets with them, starting on Ethereum was the logical choice. We plan to start with Ethereum and then expand to other chain(s). We’re currently in talks with a few solid options and are not rushing, as we have time before the game launches.  We want to get it right.  We didn’t rush our token launch, and we did all the proper steps. We intend to do the same with our game; it’s worth it.

What sets Warped Games apart in the crowded gaming market? 

Warped Games differentiates itself in the gaming market with a few distinct features: 

Gamewise, the Warped Universe will allow people to play as they want to. Let gamers play and battle in many game styles as they choose.  Whether they want to battle it out real time or turn based style, we are building to allow that.  In Warp Nexus, the space battle MMO we released in STARL, we noticed that some people would get nauseous when flying first-person view in space. If we could give options of game styles and viewpoints, it would help people find their comfort zone and focus on the lore story and fun gameplay instead of adapting to a forced game style.

Also, we are building the game so that everything everyone does will affect the universe in many ways.  Each action ripples across the universe in different levels, causing the environment to change and shift and affect gameplay for all.  

On the Web3 front, it allows players to buy and customize items off-chain on traditional platforms and convert them to on-chain assets later. This approach gradually introduces players to Web3 without requiring immediate blockchain interaction. The system is designed to be seamless and user-friendly, facilitating an easy transition for players to blockchain-based gaming elements at their discretion.

We also will empower WARPED token holders with voting rights on game design decisions.  This allows token holders to influence the development process directly, guiding decisions related to game themes, characters, items, and lore. These votes will shape the way we build the game, leading to an environment created in collaboration with the players, for the players. 

Lastly, our team's experience successfully launching a Web3 gaming project, the STARL Metaverse, really sets us apart. Our team has already built, deployed, and launched Web3 gaming and learned many lessons, and we are bringing these lessons to Warped Games.  There is a significant difference between having previous experience in just Web2 to having expertise in both Web2 and Web3 gaming.

Where do you see Warped Games in the next five years, and what legacy do you aim to create in the gaming industry?

Having worked together for over two years, our team has only grown stronger. Looking ahead, I don't see us working on anything other than the growth and development of Warped Games. This is a dream job for all of us, and we cherish it daily. Ideally, we'd love to be here until we retire.

Our legacy will be a gaming environment that is fresh, unique, original, and enjoyable for everyone. We intend Web3 to be an integrated game element rather than its central focus. Our goal is to introduce a new and innovative perspective on being a part of the game development process and its direction. We want to cultivate a gaming community that embraces new and challenging ideas, undeterred by the complexities they might present. Ultimately, our vision is to develop a game that continuously evolves and improves, day after day, becoming a benchmark other studios aim for. 

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Disclaimer: The content of this piece reflects the writer's opinion. This article is not intended to provide financial advice and is meant solely for entertainment and educational purposes. Investing in cryptocurrency involves significant risk. Capital is at risk, and returns are not guaranteed. Always conduct your own research.

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