It’s the end of March as I write this, and I am finally able to put together a coherent post on everything that’s been happening in my professional life. For those who might be living under a boulder ten thousand leagues under the sea, I wrote some time ago about Doki Doki, how it would be the next big thing and how the NFT world would change due to their unique value proposition and inspired design ideas. The asset back then was trading at a 1.5 million dollar market cap, a value which has since ballooned to over 20 million as of writing this post.
Of course, making a correct call in a bull market isn’t something that’s particularly difficult – I don’t reallly care for the accolades, but I do note it here because most readers do. No, in this post I wanted to get into the specifics of my personal involvement in the project in the last two months; the reason for no post in March, and what I think will be the next big thing to hit NFTs; Chainbinders.
What is it anyway?
NFTs piss me off. I mean, they really piss me off. When I see “generative” art that is made by a computer and had no effort whatsoever put in its creation (aside from setting up some initial values) I get upset. When I see said generative “art” raise tens of millions of dollars I get very upset. When I see clones do the same thing and achieve the same results with an even less original idea, I get beyond fucking upset, I get VERY fucking upset.
I think the NFT space is due for a shake up. We’re not really legitimizing the space by shilling endless computer generated art for hundreds of thousands of dollars (in some cases millions), so I decided to do it myself. Naturally, the Doki Doki team was in reach around the time of my first article on how bullish I was on their token, so we decided to get together for a little collab. A one time project we would work under the Doki brand that would change things forever. And so Chainbinders was born.
Right, but what is it?
Chainbinders is part game theory, part art collecting, part gambling, and part anime. It’s got elements of things ranging from Final Fantasy to Nier:Automata. It’s a combination of everything I love about the various mediums I’ve enjoyed in my life, putting it all in a pot and shipping it on blockchain. It’s hard to explain what exactly it is, because it encompasses so many things. I suppose I’ll put the theories to bed on this being a game however – seriously guys, would you play a game developed in 6 weeks? It would be awful!
At its core though, Chainbinders is an NFT game experience the likes of which has never been experienced before, and likely never will be experienced again. We’re creating original IP and characters (a massive cast of 15 of them!), giving them each their own backgrounds, lore, stories, motivations, and then gamifying them on the marketplace with some clever token mechanics to make sure these NFT’s have instant liquidity and actual value.
That’s the long and short of it – crypto degens will be able to fully realize their NFT gains, collectors will be able to amass a huge set (over 100) of original cards, and gacha lovers will be able to enjoy one of the most memorable entries in the genre to date.
I can’t go over the exact details until launch of course (just 1 week away!), but these were the general aims of what Chainbinders sought to accomplish in its development cycle. This post is mostly to discuss more about that dev cycle and the sorts of challenges we faced during development.
It comes to me as somewhat of a shock that the veritable mass of NFT projects all feature absolutely horrible art. I don’t mean that as an overstatement; I personally find noveau art like Hashmasks to be utterly apalling, the blockchain equivalent of an Andy Warhol painting. Sure, it might sell for a lot of money, but that’s not really compelling to me.
Getting the art right for Chainbinders was the first step we took in delivering a real experience for folks, unlike anything seen before. It was a measured approach, something that we had to personally guide from beginning to end, whether it was our NFT designers, animators, or artists. When you get creative direction that is this closely involved with the general proces, you end up with some amazing cohesion, a level of quality that you simply can’t achieve by simply hiring talent and setting them off.
On the musical side, this was an important element too. We had several composers coming from different backgrounds come together to create pieces on this project which was a challenge in and of itself. Artistic variation is generally more accepted than musical variation, and for this reason it can sometimes be risky to get independent music talent together.
The way we dealt with this issue was quite simple really – each of the Chainbinders have a very specific thing that they do very well thematically, and rather than keeping the musical talent chained (ha) to one particular style, I had them explore many subthemes even within their own work. You’ll hear tracks from the same producer that are wildly different, and this is by design – when the variation is thematic in nature, it becomes seamless as a whole, a sort of contraposto of musical notes and elements.
As for the lore, this was where I could strut my stuff and create a believable world. One of the departments practically every creative project likes to skimp out on is their writing and lore. And in a sense this was the same for Chainbinders – I was the only writer in a staff of over 40 – but in this case, as I was also leading up creative decisions from start to finish I could apply my skillset to every part of the experience.
Which, by the way was a horrible idea, at least for my free time – writing what practically amounted to a novel in about 30 days start to end was not the easiest task, I will admit. On top of all of the art prompts, direction, and guidance from the lore that was necessary in order to make the product whole. Still, if you plan on doing something, you have to do it right. In the case of Chainbinders, we wanted to deliver a triple A experience, and that involved a deep lore that explored many aspects of these characters and their lives – who they are and what makes them tick. It was useful that I had already written a fantasy novel previously, as I had to use all the tricks up my sleeve to get this story out properly. The final synthesis of that process is the world of Chainbinders, a near-universe of story and lore to explore, each character with twisting paths and arcs that are hopefully compelling enough to get an audience to really buy into these NFTs, not just with their hard earned money, but emotionally.
As for the crypto elements, gacha is an already-amazing innovation that we’ve seen absolutely blow up on the Doki side. They released two machines as of the writing of this post, the first being Cryptochibis, which sold out in under 3 hours, and Miguel Garest’s Sushi machine, which sold out in under 2.
The future is DeGacha.
But no, that wasn’t enough. We couldn’t simply create the world’s most detailed NFTs and sell them through the world’s only Ethereum gacha machine (now with sub-penny transaction costs on Matic). We had to do something more. Much more.
Details on exactly the mechanics we’ve implemented for Chainbinders are on a strict need-to-know basis until we actually release the product, but needless to say, you’ll be awed and fomoing your life savings into these things with the fervor of a retail normie learning about GME.
Running projects is hard. Putting together a team of over 40 people with their own schedules and actually delivering on something is even harder. Doing it in 6 weeks? Well, now you’re on Dante Must Die mode. One of the annoying things I find about crypto is just how long things take to get out – in reality, if you have a decent project manager, you can cut down a lot of that time and turn it into productivity. This sort of development sprint is not something for the faint of heart, but it does put other projects on notice.
In total, Chainbinders had over 30 artists, 3 front end developers, 3 independent auditors, 3 music producers, 2 animators, 2 translators, and a writer. Not to mention the additional resource we required, voice, talent scouts, and so on. It was a gargantuan task keeping everything on schedule, and growing from zero to the final product was certainly no easy task!
Chainbinders takes everything we love about crypto, anime, and games and turns it on its head. It’s a wonderful world of strange characters, superpowered villains, and dangerous weather all wrapped into a blockchain format that is sure to both awe and inspire.
Look forward to Chainbinders on April 8th!