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Game studio Gojira Labs has announced Animatronic non-fungible tokens (NFTs) so that game companies can take static NFTs and turn them into 2D animated playable game characters. The tech will debut in Gojira’s Sprinft running game using characters from well-known NFT collections.
The New York company hopes its aNFTs will disrupt the market for Web3 games by bringing games to NFTs rather than bringing NFTs to games, said Mark Soares, president of Gojira Labs, in an interview with GamesBeat.
“We’ve seen a lot of people try to bring NFTs to games. It just doesn’t work. I’m sure you’ve seen how gamers have objected to it,” Soares said. ” And their arguments are perfectly logical, right? They objected to it because they’re tired of being monetized. And NFTs seemed like just another way to monetize them. So if I was them, I’d be annoyed too. We’re not bringing NFTs to games. We’re bringing games to NFTs. And it’s an important distinction because we are trying to bring utility and entertainment to current or existing NFT collections, which have very large community bases.”
In my opinion, the game doesn’t look amazing right now. But it’s a work in progress, and it seems like the idea is innovative and simple to execute. As you can see from the GIF below, it doesn’t take much to bring a little bit of life to NFT collectibles.
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Developed by Gojira Labs, aNFTs add the ability to animate NFT collections like PFPs (profile pictures or ‘picture for proof’). The aNFTs are a new format of digital collectible built for gaming.
For lack of a better word, it’s like creating a Frankenstein monster that moves. The arms and legs become animated and the character comes to life, with eyeballs that move and more. It’s kind of a new concept for NFTs, though others like Mystic Moose are creating 3D avatars from NFTs. For now, Soares is focused on the 2D-animated characters, but he said the team will consider 3D. Others are trying to create dynamic NFTs, which can change over time.
So far, not many others are connecting the dots, Soares said.
“If you have all the components of essentially a sprite sheet, but it’s a character sprite sheet, of all the body components, the game engine can animate them,” he said. “And as long as you follow the same format, you’ll always be able to animate them. It’s the simplicity that attracts me so much to the concept.”
Sprinft running game
And Gojira Labs will release the first aNFT-compatible game, Sprinft, a multichain, multiplayer running game for holders of supported NFT collections to compete against each other.
To pounce on the opportunity, Gojira Labs formed a joint effort between Blokhaus, a Web3 brand incubator and product lab, and 100XP, a game studio that has made games such as Pigs at War and Tezotopia. Together, they have about 60 people.
Soares thinks of aNFTs as a new format for digital collectibles that allows static NFTs to become playable, interactive characters. This format, which provides all the artwork components necessary to animate a full-body in-game character, was created to unlock instant playability for PFP NFT collections.
Lots of Web3 enthusiasts have paid a lot of money for NFTs for games, with characters like the Bored Apes, DeGods, CryptoPunks and more. The players own the rights to the characters they have purchased, and so the big appeal of owning them is they could be used across games. In this case, by animated the 2D static characters so that they can become full-bodied 2D characters, Gojira is adding new utility to the NFTs by enabling them to be used in more games.
The aNFT format, a novel approach to NFTs built for gaming, provides an exploded view of full-body characters that can then be easily animated. The artwork components are designed to map onto game animation rigs so they can be seamlessly deployed as a playable character.
Initially, aNFTs will be compatible with Gojira Labs’ proprietary flexible animation rig, codenamed ‘Gooji.’ This combination creates a powerful new animation workflow that promises to inspire a new wave of Web3 gaming.
Gojira Labs got started on this about seven months ago and legally incorporated more recently. It started as a lively discussion about why you couldn’t have a Bored Ape fighting with a CryptoPunk in a new kind of game where it was OK to mix different franchises.
“And then from there, we actually spawned this idea of an animatronic NFT that can apply to many different games,” Soares said. “As long as the game developer follows the the framework, they should be animate these Animatronic NFTs in their games.”
To demonstrate the potential of aNFTs, Gojira Labs is also launching a beta version of Sprinft, a multichain, multiplayer running game that will be the first to make use of this new format. The initial release of the game will provide a simulation of the aNFT experience, allowing holders of specific PFP collections to unlock a character to play.
In the near future, Gojira Labs aims to collaborate with PFP collections to adopt the aNFT format and enable PFP holders to spawn and collect a playable version of their NFT, Soares said. Collections currently under consideration for support include Bored Ape Yacht Club, Sappy Seals, DeGods, CryptoPunks, Tezzardz, and Reddit Avatars.
“We believe that animatronic NFTs (aNFTs) can unlock new levels of entertainment and utility for avid NFT collectors and gamers alike,” Soares said. “With aNFTs, we are bringing games to NFTs, not the other way around. Our mission is to leverage Web3 technology to help bridge the gap between the NFT world and gaming, and we’re excited to see what new experiences our technology will enable.”
Not only do aNFTs represent a new way for PFP communities to engage with each other, but they also empower game developers to reimagine Web3 games. The aNFT approach stands in contrast to traditional NFT gaming efforts, such as play-to-earn and NFTs as in-game assets, which have drawn criticism from the gaming community.
Most of the work is converting an NFT image into a full body of a character and then figuring out the skeleton to animate it and bring it to life.
Over time, Soares thinks it would be great to create a standard way for game companies to do this and make their characters more interoperable.
“I can see an NFT format with different qualities and variables that then get honored by different games,” he said. “Standards are going to be critical.
The company hopes to launch a full game in the second quarter. And Gojira Labs hopes to collaborate with other companies on aNFTs.
So far, the company has a simple demo of the running game, where whoever finishes first wins. There are plenty of other games that could be created, such as retro arcade games.
Gojira Labs is working to fully automate the Gooji animation framework, including exploring the use of AI, so that PFP collections with aNFT compatibility can be instantly deployed as playable characters.
The aNFTs are currently supported on the Ethereum and Tezos blockchains, with other L1s and L2s being considered for support.
Gojira comes from the Japanese name for creatures that combined whales and gorillas, like in the original Godzilla character.
“We like to think about things and combine them, like what we’re doing with aNFTs, where we are merging the skeleton and all the body components to animate these PFP collections,” Soares said.
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