Please tell us more about your background, how you got interested in blockchain & DeFi and what you are currently working on?
Early on I had heard about this thing called "Bitcoin" and thought it was a neat idea, but I figured I wouldn't bother with it unless it actually started catching on. The next time I heard about it, there were 100s of new coins to look at. This was around 2014. I started learning about the ins and outs of the tech and saw that it was nearly impossible to mine BTC solo, so I started graphics card mining Litecoin and Litecoin-based tokens. Fast forward 3 years. after taking a break, I caught the tail end of the next bull cycle, invested a lot there, and lost about 70% of my investment. However, this time I stuck with it and doubled down again around 2018 when I heard about some other projects that piqued my interest. Long story short, my investments started doing well just before and during DeFi Summer. I also learned about several projects and the tech they used.
More recently, I heard about NFTs, and while I knew of their practical applications with digital ownership of physical properties or game characters, but I didn't "get" the hype around PFP projects that you see everywhere. That was until I saw what the Animetas project was doing by creating a metaverse with multiple games, stories, and building up a big active community. So I decided to do something similar with my own Spirit Orb Pets, a game I had started to make early in my game dev career, but never actually finished. It was always meant to have online features, but it was never built to that point, and I figured the community aspect of NFTs would be perfect for being a catalyst to start this back up and get it noticed.
What have been your most important failures and what did you learn from them?
So far, my biggest failure was during the v0 baby launch, I rushed too fast before sending out the meta data. The meta data ended up being incorrect on pets past #133 (out of 777). This may have been due to an incomplete run of the generation script or a caching error, but either way I set on correcting it manually. For the remaining ~600+ pets, I looked at the picture and manually typed out the meta data that it should be compromising with the community that if the metadata was more rare, I would instead change the picture to match. This took about 12 hours over 2 days.
What I learned from this was two-fold: Even if you test everything 100% before a launch, one little change can break everything, and secondly, if you are honest and quick to respond, your community may be more willing to be forgiving and even become more trustworthy of your leadership in the process. Thanks again for the support, everyone! I'll always be grateful to you!
If you could change anything from the past, what would you do differently?
I probably wouldn't change anything, including my metadata mistake. I feel that the past shapes who we are today and I like where I and the community are at right now.
...But then again, maybe I would change the fact that I didn't mine BTC or ETH early on, haha.
What is the slight moment which changed everything for you?
Getting married and having our son changed me the most. The latter tested the patience I thought I had by battle-hardening it! And both helped with overall character development because the responsibilities that come with both can shape you to be a greater person than you were before.
What soft & hard skills have been most helpful in helping you succeed in DeFi?
Patience, discipline, and endurance (for getting things done), and wisdom to know the good projects and ideas from the bad. As for hard skills, a lifelong profession in IT and a hobbyist programming background certainly helped.
How have DeFi and blockchain changed your life?
It has enabled me to "be my own bank" free from the constraints of the authoritarian banking system, to learn and prosper in a more open investment environment, and it has connected me with various people that I'm grateful to have met and learned from.
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What is a typical day for you? What are your work habits? (planning, how you work, rules you set for yourself, etc.)
I usually start the weekday logging into my work computer (for my IT job), doing my daily tasks there, and making sure everything is situated before I hop into my NFT project. I typically draw out a user interface or level design (for those types of games) with pen and paper before I start coding or making art so I can get a feel for where flow of the code needs to go next. I have a notepad .txt file for each of my projects detailing the next features to add and bugs to fix. This has enabled me to finish multiple projects, because it keeps things organized and in one spot. Early on, I also had a rule of "doing at least one thing a day" for days when motivation wasn't there. This is because discipline rules over motivation because motivation is fleeting.
Which tools do you use in your daily life as a Maker?
Pen/pencil and paper, Aseprite for pixel art, python, Java (with libgdx), Unity, Godot, and now Atom + Truffle + ReactJS + web3 + Solidity for the NFT project.
What are the best resources (media, blog, influencer, podcast, nl…) you follow to be always up to date on the DeFi and your niche?
Besides the handful of private discord groups I've found, I'm a fan of @ChainLinkGod for ChainLink and Defi news and @CroissantEth on Twitter for more general crypto and DeFi alpha.
What is your favorite DeFi Project?
I'm a fan of AAVE in particular through constant use of it since I discovered it. I've used it for better or worse as my DeFi savings account and for borrowing from myself (careful, you can burn yourself here!)
Among the people you’ve worked/interacted with in DeFi, who do you admire most and why?
The various creators in the space who are literally building the 3rd industrial revolution and web 3.0, as well as informers (like CLG and CroissantEth) who give hours of their time to inform people about the various projects in the space allowing it to grow and flourish. Of those, I've only interacted with them a bit on Twitter and a discord conversation or two. Of NFT project creators I've interacted with, I admire the creator of Moglets(.com). It's probably because we're both fathers, but he helped me out by answering some questions I had early on and has been supportive in the little time he already has. So shout out to Moglets.com and their project! It has a lot of soul!
What is different building a game for the DeFi industry?
I'd say a lot of it is similar to the traditional gaming industry, but with a greater focus of community interactions. In traditional games you may interact with your community, but with DeFi you have a greater responsibility to them to be transparent and fulfill your promises because there's not just reputation on the line, but quite often the players's money as well. The biggest difference of all however is the looming shadow of regulations. You don't have to worry so much about a traditional game's in-game economy other than balance, but as soon as you even think about an ERC20 token to do fulfill the same utility, you'll be paranoid that the SEC will be on your back the next day. Fortunately, everything we're doing takes all that into consideration, and we make clear that our game is not intended to be an investment, and that any money you spend while interacting with it is done at your own risk.
How do you manage to grow your game and find new players? If you already have an audience, how do you manage to convert your audience into players?
At first, I struggled to bring in more than a hundred or so because marketing is my weakness, but then I started taking the route of more personal interactions in discords of a similar nature to my own, building up relationships with the communities and creators which seems to have paid off the most. Shout out to the Cyber Kongz as well who discovered Spirit Orb Pets in one or two of those communities. I even joined the party by buying a baby Kong after the fact! (!ooh)
What kind of challenges are you looking for today?
How can I best serve the needs of my community while also being a good dad and husband to my family and working a full-time job. The answer is to treat it like a normal 8-5 job and interact with your community when you have a little free time inside and outside of those hours. This might be too hard many for people who have more active 8-5 jobs however. I'm just fortunate that my work doesn't require me to put out fires all day, just sometimes. In the end, it has to be Family first > Your 8-5 job > Your community, in that order. And if that leaves no time for any of the three, then you might need a bigger team to help delagate tasks or go at a much slower pace than those around you.
What is something you're working to improve?
Delegating work to others. It's sometimes hard for me to let go of the control of work to others when I want everything 100% perfect because any mistakes made, I feel will reflect on me. In the end, it's not possible to program, do art, manage a community, market, and various other things as one person. Learning to let go and trust people to handle things is a great stress reducer. Huge shout out to my mod team who are a bunch of various friends and aquaintences from different communities I'm a part of. Shout out as well to my community manager, John Vibes, who has taken the social media and announcment burden off my shoulders. And last, but not least, my contract website programmer who goes behind my code and fixes my mistakes. Without them, the site would probably not be nearly as functional as it is now!
What inspires you to keep making things?
My love and passion for gaming; that feeling you get while you're in the zone and complete something; that feeling you get when people play and interact with your creations; the drive to change lives for the better; and finally, the hope that I can finally do this as my primary profession!
What is your vision for blockchain/NFT games in general? What do you expect to come in the next few years? What developments in the field do you find to be the most exciting?
I feel that blockchain games will move from browser-based games to the traditional space. Bigger AAA companies like Blizzard and Riot will adopt the tech allowing players to actually own their characters, items, in-game currencies, and even the digital key for access to their games for re-selling and trading. The market was always there for buying and selling these things unofficially and against terms of service, but now that they can control the verbage of the smart contracts, I'm sure they'd be fine with collecting a % of secondary sales.
Any tips for beginners who aspire to become a maker in this domain, but feel completely overwhelmed to even start competing?
Be genuine about your project; don't come across as someone doing it for the money, people can tell. Do it for the art, do it for the community, and do it for yourself. If it's overwhelming, get some help from friends or the overall NFT community! Be honest and open with your community. And if you want to build your own community, be a part of other communities first and branch yours off of the friends you make from there!