Shrapnel: The game at GDC everyone’s talking about
As the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco came to a close last week, there was one game that stood out from the rest. Shrapnel, a highly anticipated first-person shooter in the Web3 space, was the talk of the conference thanks to its stunning graphics and immersive gameplay.
Select invitees got a first look at Shrapnel at GDC. (Shrapnel/Twitter)Select visitors were treated to a hands-on experience with the pre-alpha version of the game. Set in the year 2044, Shrapnel takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. Players must navigate the “sacrifice zone,” where they collect NFT gear and a compound named Sigma. They can win by reaching an extraction point where they can escape with their loot. If they die, they lose their loot.
Shrapnel founder Mark Long says that for his team, it’s all about the gameplay first. He added that while the demo took place behind closed doors this time, more people would be able to play Shrapnel next month.“Anyone at ConsenSys will be able to play it on the show floor,” he says, referring to the conference in Austin, Texas, in late April.
I played @playSHRAPNEL at GDC and had a blast! I wanted to thank Mark Long for taking time out of his busy schedule to get an interview 🎤Find out what Mark is excited about for Shrapnel in 2023 👇 pic.twitter.com/z8vZJrQUzg— Payton | Wolves DAO (@paytkaleiwahea) March 27, 2023
EVE Online, MapleStory to get Web3 treatment
While Shrapnel was hogging the limelight, EVE Online creators CCP Games announced they raised $40 million in a round led by a16z to develop a new AAA title set in the EVE universe.
EVE Online is a space-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). Launched in 2003, its game includes over 7,000 solar systems and two decades of player-created history. Players can choose their own paths and professions in the game, focusing on battles, mining, exploration and industry, as they interact with its complex in-game economy and hierarchy.
It’s not a game for the faint-hearted: some describe playing the game as having a second job. In addition, the increasing cost of playing EVE Online has long been a point of contention between players and CCP Games.
The complex MMO takes place across thousands of solar systems. (Steam)As with every time a Web2 game studio expresses an interest in Web3 — think Neopets metaverse, for instance — the worry among players is that it’s little more than a cynical cash grab.
The details of what the blockchain EVE game will look like are still under wraps but the company has made clear it’s not going to impact EVE’s global server, known as Tranquility. Last year, the company came out and said that they had no plans to add blockchain technology to Tranquility.
“While we remain intrigued by the technology, for us, NFT stands for ‘Not for Tranquility,’” company CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson said at the time.
Related: What are Web3 games, and how do they work?
The website for this project, which suggests the name is “Project Awakening,” states the game is “separate from current and previously disclosed projects, including EVE Online.”
It’s not the only traditional gaming brand that’s recently announced its jumping on the Web3 bandwagon. Gaming company Nexon is bringing its popular game, MapleStory, to the blockchain.
MapleStory is a 2D MMO. (Steam)Claiming over 260 million players, the game allows players to explore deserts, tundras, underwater kingdoms, lost civilizations and more. The South Korean firm follows other players in the region, such as Square Enix and Bandai Namco, that have previously dabbled in Web3.
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Bazooka Tango wants to revive indie card game Shardbound
Indie game Shardbound is also getting a Web3 revival, from gaming studio Bazooka Tango. A tactics card game, Shardbound initially launched through Kickstarter. But it never made a full release, and interest faded.
That’s when Bazooka Tango came in and decided to give it a new lease of life, according to the company’s co-founder, Stephan Sherman.
“The developers at SpiritWalk had been very close friends of ours and we had always been a fan of the product,” Sherman tells Cointelegraph.
Once we had the opportunity, we talked to them about picking up where it left off and bringing it the final mile, so it had a chance to reach a worldwide audience.”
The Shardbound beta will be open to the public around mid-year 2023 and available on mobile in 2024.
Shardbound concept art. (Shardbound/Twitter)Otherside’s Second Trip to Fortnite
Yuga Labs’ Otherside returned for its Second Trip on March 25. The event saw over 7,200 concurrent players on the platform, with Improbable, the company behind the tech, once again showcasing its impressive capabilities.
Unlike the First Trip in the summer of last year, the newest iteration had a bit more gameplay beyond avatars running around doing backflips. Participants in the Second Trip teamed up to collect blobs. The winning team, Team Glacia, earned virtual winged helmets.
Thousands of players joined the Second Trip on Saturday. (OtherGuild/Twitter)On Crypto Twitter, it wasn’t long before the Fortnite comparisons started rolling in, both positive and negative. The company garnered praise for how much it has managed to achieve in such a short space of time – this time last year, Otherside was but a rumor, officially launching at the end of April – but others quickly fired back that the comparisons were inaccurate and unhelpful.
If you like the otherside you’re going to lose your mind when you discover Fortnite.— Grant Flannery (@grantpat) March 25, 2023
It’s not yet clear what Yuga Labs has planned for gameplay. But then again, there are only so many ways one can collect virtual objects before it all starts to feel the same. Game Fund Partner Jonah Blake tweeted:
The otherside is not competing with Fortnite creative. They are 2 different things. They both compete for attention, and attention will be whatever is on a Deed or a Fortnite island. The creators will drive that attention. Brands will post on all of them.
Following the Second Trip, Yuga Labs announced several new updates. First, it looks like the company will be teaming up with Gucci for something related to the Otherside.
It’s also rolled out Legends of the Mara, which Yuga Labs said is a collection-based 2D strategy game that picks up where the events of Second Trip leave off.
“With it, we’re going to learn more about Kodas, including their origins and their primal relationship with Otherside, encounter some new apprentices in the form of the Mara, and learn more about the story of Otherside throughout LOTM,” Otherside tweeted.
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Magic Eden gaming hub
NFT marketplace Magic Eden began pivoting to gaming last year, and this month it finally rolled out its gaming hub.
The idea, according to its gaming CEO Chris Arkhavan, is to turn the platform into a hub for Web3 gaming where users can find new games, buy NFTs and view leaderboards. It’s not hosting games on its platform but has plans for more community-focused integrations in the future.
Magic Eden is pivoting to gaming.Hot Take — Undead Blocks
“So, Bitcoin up today?”
It’s not the first thing you expect to hear as you walk nervously around the neighborhood of Sanborn, New York, waiting for the zombies to inevitably descend on you, but it helps release a bit of the tension. Your character shouting “to the moon” as the hordes descend is as good a war cry as any, I suppose.
Undead Blocks is described as a “kill to earn” game.The beta of Wagyu Games and Kevuru’s “kill-to-earn” game Undead Blocks launched last month on ImmutableX. Wagyu Games executive director Grant Haseley is a former Goldman Sachs analyst who set out with the aim of making an easy-to-learn and addictive game that is playable with friends.
Easy for everyone except me. I have the hand-eye coordination of a drunk three-year-old and am much more at ease pottering around Stardew Valley planting potatoes than trying to survive the apocalypse.
Being able to control the unwieldy pistol improves slightly when I turn down the mouse sensitivity by about 90%. At least, I stop dying after killing just one zombie.
That said, I can still appreciate that it looks cool. And I’ve heard positive reviews from people who have used a game controller — you can use the ones for your Xbox or Playstation — as opposed to a Mac.
Overall, the look and general playability of blockchain games are so much better than they were a year ago, and Undead Blocks is no exception. It has crisp graphics, a cool soundtrack in the intro and cringe-in-a-mildly-amusing-way musings from the avatar about crypto.
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What’s Coming Up
Amazon NFT and Gaming platform — In January, it was revealed that Amazon was building an NFT and gaming platform. The e-commerce giant has remained tight-lipped about the plans but unconfirmed reports suggest something could be launched on April 24.
Imposters — This Among Us-esque social deduction game will launch a beta for verified holders on March 31. It was delayed from the original date of March 24 due to issues with migrating the game to Unreal Engine 5.1.
CGC Online — The Crypto Gamers Conference is back for another year from April 17-18. Tickets for the virtual event are available free online and the deadline for speaker applications closes April 10.
Eternal Dragons — Blockchain game Eternal Dragons will hold its first official PvP tournament from March 31 to April 2. There’s a prize pool of over $15,000 USDC up for grabs.
The Glimmering — Blockchain-based Dungeons and Dragons game The Glimmering will launch its play platform on March 30. NFT holders will be able to sign up to play games virtually.
Immutable Passport — Immutable is set to roll out its gaming passport in April. The noncustodial wallet and authentication solution aims to streamline user onboarding to its games.
Got tips, questions or comments? Please direct all vitriol, abuse and declarations of love to me on Twitter @quinnishvili.
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Callan Quinn is a British freelance journalist covering crypto and tech. She has worked as a business journalist in China, the UK, Somaliland and the republic of Georgia. Previously, she was also an NFTs, gaming and metaverse reporter at The Block.