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Star Atlas: The Triple-A Web3 Game

By Cove

Published on 2023-10-05

Explore the ambitious vision of Star Atlas, the triple-A Web3 game built on Solana, as CEO Michael Wagner discusses on-chain game logic, economy building, and the future of blockchain gaming.

The notes below are AI generated and may not be 100% accurate. Watch the video to be sure!

Star Atlas: Pioneering the Future of Web3 Gaming on Solana

In a recent episode of The Cove Podcast, Michael Wagner, CEO and co-founder of Star Atlas, shared insights into the ambitious vision behind this groundbreaking Web3 game. Built on the Solana blockchain, Star Atlas aims to redefine the gaming landscape by seamlessly integrating blockchain technology with AAA-quality gameplay. This article delves into the key topics discussed, exploring the innovative approach Star Atlas is taking to game development, economy building, and player engagement in the Web3 space.

What is Star Atlas?

Star Atlas is a next-generation Web3 game that combines blockchain technology with AAA-quality gameplay. At its core, Star Atlas is an open-world space exploration MMO centered around territory control, combat, and data running. However, the scope of the project extends far beyond a single game, encompassing multiple environments and platforms that all interact with the same on-chain infrastructure.

Michael Wagner explains the breadth of the Star Atlas ecosystem:

"The easiest starting point is on the flagship product that we're building, which is Star Atlas in Unreal Engine 5. And so this is the open world space exploration MMO centered around territory control, combat, data running. You can be a CEO, you can be a politician, you can be a bounty hunter, but it's that full immersion that includes things like extraction and crafting and supply chain management, logistics, and then just open world combat and battle."

The Star Atlas Ecosystem

The Star Atlas ecosystem comprises three main environments:

  1. The flagship Unreal Engine 5 game
  2. A browser-based strategy game called SAGE (Star Atlas Golden Era)
  3. A mobile fitness app called Crew

Each of these environments interacts with the same on-chain infrastructure, allowing for seamless asset and progression transfer between platforms. This innovative approach to game development creates a rich, interconnected universe that players can engage with across multiple touchpoints.

On-Chain Game Logic and Composability

One of the key differentiators for Star Atlas is its commitment to on-chain game logic. Unlike many blockchain games that simply use NFTs for in-game assets, Star Atlas is building its entire game mechanics on the blockchain. This approach offers several advantages:

  1. Transparency: All game actions and transactions are visible on the blockchain.
  2. Interoperability: Assets and progress can be easily transferred between different Star Atlas environments.
  3. Extensibility: Third-party developers can build on top of the Star Atlas infrastructure.

Wagner emphasizes the importance of this approach:

"We have two other environments that are in development. One of those is in browser. We just rolled out a product launch. It's called Sage Labs and Sage's Star Atlas Golden Era. And labs was this experimental dev environment that we were working in to test the on-chain mechanics and ultimately gave it a facelift, cleaned up the UI/UX and just released that out to the world last week."

SAGE Labs: A Gateway to the Star Atlas Economy

SAGE Labs, recently launched by the Star Atlas team, serves as an entry point for players to engage with the game's economy. This browser-based strategy game focuses on resource extraction, crafting, and supply chain management. All actions in SAGE Labs are executed as on-chain transactions, creating a fully transparent and verifiable game economy.

Wagner describes the gameplay loop in SAGE Labs:

"It is a heavy focus on the economy right now. Labs itself started really in the -- I don't know, call it the skunk works or the basement of Star Atlas Engineering, where we were testing out a lot of these on-chain systems and how they would be orchestrated together."

Building a Sustainable Game Economy

One of the most intriguing aspects of Star Atlas is its approach to building a sustainable in-game economy. Unlike many "play-to-earn" games that rely on token emissions to reward players, Star Atlas aims to create a self-sustaining economy driven by player interactions and specialization.

Wagner outlines this vision:

"Our strategy is to produce a functional economy that has a high transaction volume. So it has a large GDP. A lot of players exchanging assets with one another. And we effectively just capture a small tax on all of those transactions."

This approach incentivizes players to specialize in different aspects of the game economy, creating natural supply and demand dynamics. For example, some players might focus on mining resources, while others concentrate on crafting or combat. The exchange of goods and services between these specialized players drives the economy forward.

Challenges in Web3 Game Development

Developing a AAA-quality Web3 game comes with its own set of challenges. Wagner acknowledges that one of the biggest hurdles is simply getting enough engaging gameplay out to players:

"The biggest challenge is just not having sufficient gameplay out across the board, across all of these different initiatives that we're working on. The biggest incentive in gaming, bottom line, is is it fun? Is it entertaining? And if you're not doing that, then people won't want to play regardless."

This focus on fun and entertainment sets Star Atlas apart from many early Web3 games that prioritized tokenomics over gameplay. By putting the player experience first, Star Atlas aims to attract both crypto enthusiasts and traditional gamers alike.

Integrating Blockchain Technology with AAA Gaming

Star Atlas is pushing the boundaries of what's possible in blockchain gaming by integrating Web3 technology with AAA-quality graphics and gameplay. The team is developing the game in Unreal Engine 5, which allows for stunning visuals and immersive environments.

Wagner highlights the team's commitment to quality:

"We are competing with the best in AAA game development at the same time as operating and integrating blockchain into everything that we do. So that is going to be paramount for our future successes that we can continue to bring best in class to market and something that keeps people really captivated and interested in the long term."

This dedication to quality extends beyond just graphics. The Star Atlas team has developed a custom SDK called FKit, which integrates Solana natively into Unreal Engine. This allows for seamless wallet connections and asset management directly within the game client.

The Role of Solana in Star Atlas

Star Atlas' choice of Solana as its underlying blockchain platform is no coincidence. Solana's high throughput and low transaction costs make it an ideal choice for a game with ambitious goals for player concurrency and economic activity.

Wagner explains the selection process:

"We selected Solana pretty early in that analysis process and the rest is kind of history."

The integration with Solana allows Star Atlas to implement features that would be challenging or impossible on other blockchain platforms. For example, the game's asset system uses Solana's SPL token standard, allowing for easy integration with existing DeFi protocols and marketplaces.

Community Engagement and Development Transparency

One of the unique aspects of Star Atlas' development process is its high level of community engagement. The team regularly communicates with players about upcoming features and development progress, creating a sense of involvement and ownership among the community.

Wagner emphasizes the importance of this approach:

"We have a great community, a very active community. We listen to them extensively and communicate with them extensively as well about what's taking place, what's being developed and providing content to them as we go."

This transparency extends to the game's economy as well. The Star Atlas team releases quarterly "State of the Economy" reports, providing detailed insights into the game's economic activity and health.

Future Roadmap and Ambitious Goals

Looking ahead, the Star Atlas team has an ambitious roadmap filled with exciting features and improvements. Some of the key upcoming developments include:

  1. Competitive combat racing in Unreal Engine 5
  2. Ship mastery and customization systems
  3. Integration with Metagravity for massive player concurrency
  4. Expansion of the SAGE browser game
  5. Launch of the mobile fitness app
  6. Implementation of combat systems and loyalty point mechanics

One of the most exciting goals is the team's aim to create a seamless, single-instance universe that can support up to 30,000 concurrent players. This would be a groundbreaking achievement in the gaming industry, let alone for a blockchain-based game.

Wagner shares their progress:

"We've been successful at testing 5,000 concurrent users, single instance so far. Our goal is 30,000 by the end of the year. We're tracking on that. It's looking promising. That, in and of itself, would be record-breaking in the industry."

The Potential of Web3 Gaming

Star Atlas represents a new frontier in gaming, one where players have true ownership of their in-game assets and can participate in a player-driven economy. The potential for interoperability between games and the ability for third-party developers to build on top of the Star Atlas infrastructure opens up exciting possibilities for the future of gaming.

Wagner envisions a ecosystem where independent developers can create experiences that integrate with Star Atlas:

"Other developers out there can build their own applications, whether it's DeFi or GameFi or game services. And they can seamlessly and permissionlessly integrate into our game logic because we have the ideals out. They can point directly to one of the gameplay mechanics and build something around that."

This level of openness and extensibility could lead to a vibrant ecosystem of interconnected games and applications, all built on the foundation of Star Atlas and the Solana blockchain.

Conclusion: A New Era of Gaming on Solana

Star Atlas represents a bold vision for the future of gaming, one that leverages the power of blockchain technology to create immersive, player-driven experiences. By building on Solana, the team is able to push the boundaries of what's possible in Web3 gaming, creating a seamless blend of AAA-quality gameplay and blockchain-based asset ownership.

As the project continues to develop and expand, it has the potential to attract both crypto enthusiasts and traditional gamers, bridging the gap between these two worlds. With its commitment to quality, innovative approach to game design, and focus on building a sustainable economy, Star Atlas is poised to play a significant role in shaping the future of gaming on Solana and beyond.

The journey of Star Atlas is just beginning, but it already represents one of the most ambitious and exciting projects in the Web3 gaming space. As the team continues to deliver on its roadmap and engage with its community, Star Atlas may well become the flagship example of what's possible when blockchain technology and AAA gaming come together on the Solana ecosystem.

Facts + Figures

  • Star Atlas is a Web3 game being developed on the Solana blockchain, combining AAA-quality gameplay with blockchain technology.
  • The game is being built in Unreal Engine 5 and is already available in early access on the Epic Game Store.
  • Star Atlas consists of three main environments: the flagship Unreal Engine game, a browser-based strategy game called SAGE, and a mobile fitness app called Crew.
  • The game features a player-driven economy with nine base resources and around 28-29 craftable resources.
  • Star Atlas has successfully tested 5,000 concurrent users in a single instance and aims to reach 30,000 by the end of the year.
  • The team has developed a custom SDK called FKit, which integrates Solana natively into Unreal Engine.
  • Star Atlas generated approximately $200 million in revenue in its first year.
  • The game's economy is designed to be self-sustaining, with the team taking a small percentage of player-to-player transactions rather than relying on token emissions.
  • All in-game resources are represented as SPL tokens on the Solana blockchain.
  • The team releases quarterly "State of the Economy" reports to provide transparency on the game's economic activity.
  • Star Atlas features three factions: the Mud (future humans), the Ooster (sentient Android beings), and the Oni (a consortium of alien races).
  • The game's roadmap includes features such as competitive combat racing, ship mastery, and a combat arena for PvP gameplay.
  • Star Atlas is developing a guild management system called DAC, which will be fully on-chain.
  • The team is partnering with Metagravity to develop backend server architecture for massive player concurrency.
  • Star Atlas aims to create a seamless, single-instance universe with no fragmentation or separate servers.

Questions Answered

What is Star Atlas?

Star Atlas is a next-generation Web3 game built on the Solana blockchain. It combines AAA-quality gameplay with blockchain technology to create an immersive space exploration MMO. The game features multiple environments, including a flagship Unreal Engine 5 game, a browser-based strategy game, and a mobile fitness app, all interconnected through on-chain game logic.

How does Star Atlas differ from traditional AAA games?

Star Atlas differentiates itself by implementing all game logic on-chain, providing true asset ownership to players and enabling a player-driven economy. Unlike traditional AAA games, Star Atlas allows for seamless asset transfer between different game environments and offers the potential for third-party developers to build on top of its infrastructure. The game also focuses on creating a sustainable, player-driven economy rather than relying solely on developer-controlled content.

What is SAGE Labs?

SAGE Labs is a browser-based strategy game within the Star Atlas ecosystem. It serves as an entry point for players to engage with the game's economy, focusing on resource extraction, crafting, and supply chain management. All actions in SAGE Labs are executed as on-chain transactions, creating a fully transparent and verifiable game economy that integrates with the larger Star Atlas universe.

How is Star Atlas building a sustainable game economy?

Star Atlas is creating a sustainable game economy by encouraging player specialization and natural supply-demand dynamics. Instead of relying on token emissions to reward players, the game incentivizes players to engage in different economic activities such as mining, crafting, or combat. The team plans to generate revenue by taking a small percentage of player-to-player transactions, rather than being the sole distributor of in-game assets.

What blockchain technology does Star Atlas use?

Star Atlas is built on the Solana blockchain. The team chose Solana for its high throughput and low transaction costs, which are essential for supporting a large-scale, real-time game economy. Star Atlas has developed custom tools, such as the FKit SDK, to integrate Solana natively into Unreal Engine 5, allowing for seamless wallet connections and asset management within the game client.

What are some of the key features planned for Star Atlas?

Some of the key features planned for Star Atlas include competitive combat racing, ship mastery and customization systems, massive player concurrency (aiming for 30,000 concurrent players), expansion of the SAGE browser game, launch of a mobile fitness app, and implementation of combat systems and loyalty point mechanics. The team is also working on creating a seamless, single-instance universe with no fragmentation or separate servers.

How does Star Atlas engage with its community during development?

Star Atlas maintains a high level of community engagement throughout the development process. The team regularly communicates with players about upcoming features and development progress, fostering a sense of involvement and ownership among the community. They also release quarterly "State of the Economy" reports, providing detailed insights into the game's economic activity and health, ensuring transparency in the development process.

What sets Star Atlas apart from other Web3 games?

Star Atlas sets itself apart by focusing on delivering AAA-quality gameplay alongside blockchain integration. Unlike many early Web3 games that prioritized tokenomics over player experience, Star Atlas puts fun and entertainment at the forefront. The game's ambitious scope, including multiple interconnected environments and a fully on-chain economy, along with its use of cutting-edge technology like Unreal Engine 5, positions it as a potential leader in the next generation of blockchain gaming.

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