Presented by STARL
Cryptocurrency has taken center stage in the emergence of the metaverse. Developers are announcing, and sometimes launching, metaverse spaces powered by a blockchain economy. These projects come pre-loaded with hype around the ownership creators are given, and how much potential there is for users to – somehow – gain great piles of cryptocurrency riches. But these are too often pay-to-win scenarios where developers are seemingly trying to wring out as much profit as possible from the communities they’re creating. It makes the promise of a decentralized metaverse feel less like a future virtual utopia and more like yet another offshoot of late-stage capitalism.
“The original vision of crypto is to cross borders, to give access to all. We’re trying to do that with the metaverse too,” says Moe Larson, concept creator and project manager of the STARL Metaverse Project. “But the burden of proof is on projects like us to show we can be an example in the space. We want to be able to determine who the real builders are, from the people who are just trying to take value out of the space.”
Larson, a cryptocurrency holder and developer, is one of a core group of formerly skeptical cryptocurrency traders who came together to launch the STARL Metaverse project: a graphically rich, beautifully designed interactive 3D universe based in space and filled with games, virtual worlds and communities. It’s also a hub for virtual social interaction and expression, and trading and collection assets within a digital economy, backed by the unique STARL token, all created by a group of strangers from a broad variety of backgrounds and across the world. And the goal is to be the absolute best and truly decentralized metaverse project, Larson says.
A truly decentralized metaverse project
The STARL Metaverse project is built around the unique STARL token, developed and launched by well-known crypto developer Woof Decentra. The token was launched all at once — without any deployment schedule, with no announced presales, no private sales, and no development vault, fully diluted. There are no taxes on token purchases or sales, which means it can be freely traded on the market.
Decentra described it as the new token for a “STARL Ecosystem,” meant to be completely decentralized and always community-owned. To that end, Decentra built $200,000 into the contract as a trading base (so that each token is constructed with liquidity built in), and then sent to an address that can never be retrieved, which means the STARL token can never be destroyed and liquidity can’t be artificially manipulated. From the standpoint of a token, the only benefit derived from that value is the team working together to add value to it.
Larson, the concept creator and project manager, initially came up with the idea of a community-built space metaverse style environment, using STARL token as currency. With no VCs or investment firms in the mix, the community started out and has remained the driving factor for the evolution and expansion of the project at every step of the way.
The people in control are on the ground every day as the platform evolves, an experienced dev team and a passionate community of developers and designers. This community focus, plus a push for equal access across the user base, has been a central part of the project’s core values.
Building an ethical metaverse
“Since we’re community directed, there’s no pressure from outside investment to make it profit-centric,” Larson says. “The vision is lost when dollars are the primary goal. We want to make something unique that celebrates community, artistic vision, fairness and fun. We feel like it’s a social responsibility, first and foremost.”
Blockchain and Web 3 technology are some of the most powerful programming languages in history, he adds. And the core ethos of these technologies is to give everyone a fair share in the way that payment and settlement networks are conducted, especially across borders. Ultimately, decentralization is about creating a system in which the community decides how to exchange value, without the company filter that might not be looking out for the best interests of individual groups.
“Unfortunately, companies like Meta aren’t really out there to give to the community,” Larson says. “They want to mine data, sell advertising, create products around their Oculus system – approaches which do not always have the users best interest in mind.”
The challenge for the STARL Metaverse project is to change the public perception of crypto and NFTs, especially in the gaming world. Previous, less scrupulous entrants into the field have made players leery.
“I hope we can show there’s a different way to do this, a way that’s fair and fun where people still get value for what they want to buy,” says Scott Brown, Wyrmbyte Studios CEO and metaverse and game development lead for the STARL Metaverse project. “We obviously have to sell NFTs in order to fund our vision, but we never want people to feel like you have to pay to get in, or pay more to be successful. We want what you buy to feel valuable without being game-breaking.”
Every decision they make arises from that goal, Larson adds.
“If we want to bridge the gap and bring people in from the games side, it’s critical to show that we’re not trying to do things that are only advantageous to us, that are exclusive, that leave people out from the ability to play and receive value as they see fit,” he says.
The evolution of the STARL project
The first community build of the metaverse caught the eye of the gaming industry, and soon Brown and Shahid Ahmad of Playstation fame were on board to take the project to the next level. Brown assembled his game design and development team, drawing from his NetDevil team as well as folks from LucasArts, Pixar, Disney, LEGO and more. The Wyrmbyte team has redone the artwork from the ground up, with community input all the way, creating a colorful, interactive space station fantasy with an appealing retro feel.
From the hub, users can enter portals to private gathering spaces across the metaverse, such as customizable player living modules; public haunts like the Warp Nexus, a graphically gorgeous large scale MMO; the Starcade, a portal to an 80s style Arcade where you can play games that are both professionally or community built; and more.
“The level of graphic interface is incredibly high quality, especially for a crypto-based product,” Larson says. “We’re trying to bridge the gap between gamification and the underpinning mechanisms of the blockchain.”
And a recent partnership with Amoeba Music meant building a concert hall for live virtual events. The arena was revealed at a raucous launch party on May 6, 2022, featuring live feeds from dublab radio and Subtractive. Partnerships like the ones with Amoeba and dublab, which shares the music around the world as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, are just the start of their goal to collaborate with people who share their core values.
As the metaverse evolves, they’ll stage events designed to bring groups of people together, to attend seminars, meditation spaces, classes, community infrastructure, which will set them apart from the rest of the projects out there, Larson says. When you add onboarding users from the gamification side, they expect to have a very broad and activated user base – and he believes they’re very close to being on track to be the first project to achieve that balance.
“The virtual space has become so much more important now because of COVID,” Larson says. “We have a visually compelling, exciting, interactive environment that’s free from borders. We can build community, connect cultures and empower the exchange of ideas that might have otherwise been difficult, or maybe even impossible.”
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