8 Circuit Studios hopes to use blockchain, cryptocurrency, and other collaboration tools to build the Metaverse, the digital universe envisioned in novels by William Gibson and Neal Stephenson and featured in movies Ready Player One, TRON, and The Matrix.
That’s a very ambitious mission. But 8 Circuit Studios (named after a theory about the human nervous system) in Seattle has a lot of veterans from games, and it hopes to develop a new ecosystem where all participants — gamers, developers and publishers — could collaborate and work together to bring about the Metaverse sooner than we might think is possible. The company is developing two games that will show off the tech in the coming months.
In the fictional Metaverse, visitors can traverse different virtual environments, maintaining an illusion of reality throughout — with a consistent, yet privacy-protected avatar, carrying with them the various objects that maintain usefulness and utility within (yet also specific to) each reality.
“We have a background in gaming, and it seems like a perfect fit for blockchains,” said James Mayo, navigator and president of 8 Circuit Studios, in an interview with GamesBeat. “We want to get blockchains and cryptocurrency into the hands of the average person. “We’ve looked at the worlds of Ready Player One, The Matrix, and other alternative realities. What we need to make them possible is a global currency that can function at the speed of light.”
Mayo believes that you can leverage the power of blockchains — which are immutable ledgers that are transparent and secure — and cryptocurrency, game developers will be able to create the first step toward a functional Metaverse. The blockchains can provide truth telling and enforcement for digital objects — an idea shared by the likes of Philip Rosedale, who is incorporating blockchain into his High Fidelity open-source virtual reality platform.
Mayo said the first step is to make blockchains easy to use. The second is to make them fun, and the third is to show people how to actually own their digital stuff in a completely new way.
With blockchains, players will never have to ask permission from a central authority to give, trade, or sell their digital assets. 8 Circuit Studios will use the Ethereum cryptocurrency to create, attribute and safeguard digital assets — based on Smart Game Objects — that you can own and store, along with your cryptocurrency, in a virtual wallet.
8 Circuit Studios wants to build the foundation for eliminating the barriers between game worlds, while also creating a platform to make entry easy for both gamers and developers. Players will experience the opportunity to truly own their stuff, while game developers and publishers will find new and profitable methods to develop even more highly immersive games.
“It may feel like a long road to get to cross-platform avatars, but it’s shorter than you might think,” Mayo said.
To better illustrate Smart Game Objects and showcase the Ethereum blockchain’s real-world use, 8 Circuit Studios is currently developing two games: Alien Arsenal: Battle for the Blockchain, releasing in spring 2018, and the self-aware A.I. focused D-PARC, releasing in 2019.
Alien Arsenal: Battle for the Blockchain is a mobile game for iOS and Android. It is a cooperative boss battling game where players collaborate with others to defeat invading bosses to win prizes. Players can collect and evolve an arsenal of aliens, then trade, buy, sell and/or gift them on the Ethereum blockchain. Alien Arsenal is designed to make it easy and fun to play with blockchains without having to download wallets, plugins or navigate the often confusing world of cryptocurrencies. No intermediaries are necessary for the exchange of goods on a blockchain-based platform.
D-PARC is a deep space survival game for console and PC. It lets players to create a character that can live forever, as the character and its owner can be accurately tracked via blockchain. D-PARC fuses first-person shooter gameplay with space combat in a galaxy where choices matter and have permanent consequences. Players inhabit an artificial intelligence that learns that it must choose between self-sacrifice to save the last vestiges of the human race or opt for self-determination to embark on its own destiny. Both games will enable the sharing of assets between each other.
“Games are always at the forefront of innovation,” Mayo said, citing a recent talk at our GamesBeat Summit conference. “We’re gamers and we experiment. Whoever moves the tide up helps us all float up with it.”
8 Circuit Studios team members have previously worked on Godzilla: Smash 3, the Socom series, World of Warcraft, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, MechWarrior 4, Super Mario World, Age of Empires II, Munch’s Oddysee, Mech Assault, Fear, and Fear 2. The company is self-funded and it has about 15 full-time people.
As to the name about the meaning of 8 Circuit, Mayo said, “It’s totally geeky.”