Game Night 001 — Breakdown

Duo Game Night Graphic

We always knew that playing Duo live was going to be fun, but experiencing it with our community during our first Game Night was pure magic. Even if we were stomping out bugs and updating code as the night went on, the magic of people around the world playing, laughing, earning ADA and NFTs highlighted exactly why we are convinced that all digital games within the next 5 years will have an on-chain component of some sort.

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let me take a moment to share what Duo is, how we are building it, and our thoughts on what went well and what can be improved after our Game Night (001).

First of all, if you aren’t familiar with Duo — (Join our Discord and read #start-here) — it’s a NFT Card Game that adopts a play-to-Earn (P2E) model where you actually own your game content (cards), and rewards active & productive players for the progress they make in game. There is immense value in engaging players early, rewarding their participation and feedback, and creating alignment to build the game with a P2E model.

Duo is in pre-alpha now, which means we are testing all the game mechanics to make sure as we move into Alpha (later) and release tokens, we know how they can best be used to reward progress, provide accountability and governance, and quite frankly — be needed elements in Duo’s game mechanics. We don’t take tokenomics lightly, especially when it comes to building long-term sustainable games that are not only fun now, but also fun for your grandkids — in that nostalgic grandpa-was-kinda-cool way.

As a team with decades of experience in building modern web tools and software — the idea of building fast has been hammered into our heads. Knowing that there should be ample Build — Test — Iterate cycles mixed with taking our time to learn what is key to a web3 game were the two principles we focused on going into Game Night.

Here is how we approached it:

Build — We know roughly 90% of how final gameplay will run and feel. The first step was how fast can we build a version of that gameplay model, where we can moderate, support and get feedback from. That is how we built Duo in its current form: pre-alpha. We play a “game” of Duo one time per day, in our Discord channel. Winners get NFTs or ADA depending on which type of card they are playing with. Black cards are more passive, where color cards are more competitive/active. (Come play and you will see what I mean)

Test — We are about to cross 100 Days of consecutive gameplay for a total of 100 games played with our first build of Duo. Reward amounts, Rules, and even the format of how we play has changed as we explore what feels fun and works for our current players.

Game Night was a test of where we could go with Duo, specifically exploring; “How can we expand Duo to other Cardano communities to run their own games and rewards?” We decided to approach this with a low-code Discord bot to test a more active gameplay feel.

As part of the game night, here are some of the core elements or mechanics we tested.

  • Game lobby size (how big / small)
  • Game lobby choices (single or many)
  • Use Duo NFTs or write in a response (no prior purchase)
  • Reward type & amount (ADA or cards)
  • Reward for specific player type (black card owner or color card owner)
  • Time between games (how long? Roughly 1 day in pre-alpha Discord)
  • Time of game starting (fixed, random, known or unknown)
  • Time before game is completed (fixed, random, known or unknown)
  • Themes of gameplay (humor types)
  • Different win conditions (voting, community, black card owner choice, third party choice)
  • Prize pools (giveaways, game growth participation)
  • Many more…..

In total we had 4 Rooms with “Game Hosts” or leaders from other Cardano communities join us in a live Discord event. Each host managed a room for their individual community members. After explaining the rules and sharing our vision, the gameplay resulted in 53 games over about 70 minutes. Since there were 4 rooms, this was about 5.3 minutes per game.

For a more detailed review of the engineering and key takeaways we had, go read this Engineering Post.

While some rooms went faster than others, there was a general consensus on two primary gameplay points:

  1. The speed was significantly better than 1x per day. We had a couple frustrating slowdowns with a few API requests taking too long, but we were close on the time to start and complete a Game.
  2. Playing with friends or a room of people concurrently is far more fun than checking in asynchronously once a day.

We also increased reward payouts significantly for the ~70 mins of gameplay with a prize pool of 3,313 ADA (in ADA + NFTs) distributed to winners in a mix of community giveaways and winnings from each Game.

Ultimately we confirmed many of our core game mechanics work, a few needed to be tweaked, and there were some unknown engineering challenges we discovered as it relates to what should be utilized from on-chain data, cached, or even managed strictly off chain.

NFT Gaming is a completely different beast from your traditional art based NFT projects. While there have been incredible leaps made by many in the Cardano community to grow this space, we quickly found that the current services available were unable to support our reliability needs or key features for NFT Game assets management.

Many of the limits we encountered in this Game Night are exactly why we are launching Revelar the first NFT Game Engine (https://revelar.co), built right here on Cardano. Revelar extends a traditional NFT minting experience, starting with a no-code asset generator for creating your NFTs all the way to a set of robust developer tools & APIs to mint, manage and provide analytics for your game’s assets on-chain.

Iterate — The iteration process should make sure the next iteration is the right size and scope. We can go a step further, or if needed, we can take a leap with the tradeoff of a longer timeline. As we have Catalyst proposals right around the corner to (hopefully) begin delivering on, along with the third party API limits we encountered, we have decided on the next steps in regards to more Game Night shenanigans.

1. For the next few weeks, we will test another (daily) gameplay format with one of our community partners, Stocktwits “Streams” on their website — This will help us learn and improve gameplay happening in another community, instead of asking them to solely come play in ours. This also gives players another location to play cards and write in with a daily prize of 25 ADA for the winner. Go play!

2. Take one more incremental step with our Discord bot, then accelerate our plans for an integrated web2 experience. (Web App) This will give us a way to still include Game Nights in varying degrees, but not spend much more of our engineering effort on a form of gameplay that was never intended to run at scale with hundreds or thousands of users.

If you want to dive deeper into the engineering reasons and our learnings on our third party API limits — Read Ben’s engineering writeup here.

— — —

We want to give a huge thank you to our game night partners: Stocktwits, ADAOZ, and Playermint along with their community members from all around the world who came and participated! Ben, Jacob and I had a ton of laughs, and there were a few moments in between the chaos where the life & vibrance of the community showed us how powerful Duo can be in accelerating the adoption of crypto.

It all started with you. 💙 gg

- Jason (AussieGingersnap)
Founder | CEO

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Duo - The NFT Card Game

Duo - The NFT Card Game

Duo is the an NFT game built on Cardano where you match funny prompts & punchlines to earn crypto & NFTs!