Live Game Demo with Influence

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Explore the world of Influence, a groundbreaking on-chain game that stands as a leading Autonomous World on Starknet. Here, you have the freedom to craft your own tools and carve out your own path, opening up endless possibilities in the realm of on-chain gaming.

Transcript:

Robert:
Hello, everyone. Welcome to a special Stark Space live demo. I’m Robert, a developer advocate at the StarkNet Foundation, and joining me is David Barreto, also a developer advocate at the StarkNet Foundation. Together, we will be your hosts for today’s event, and we’re extremely excited to have the Influence team as our invited speaker for the session. We have Jean-Paul, the founding member of Influence, and Protoplanetary, a game designer at Influence. Our focus for today’s discussion is all about Influence, where we’ll discuss in detail what is Influence, how to get started, and some of the game mechanics. For our viewers, if you have any questions, feel free to drop them into the YouTube chat section, or on Twitter or X, and we’ll do our best to address them. Welcome, Jean-Paul, Protoplanetary, and David. How are you guys doing?

Jean-Paul:
Hey, good, thanks for having us.

Protoplanetary:
Yeah, thanks for having us.

David Barreto:
Excited to talk about a game that I’m actually very actively playing lately.

Jean-Paul:
Yeah, sorry Starkware and StarkNet, for taking away your team members and having them play.

Robert:
Yeah, I’ve been enjoying the game a lot. I know me and David, we set up a small outpost I think on the other side of the Adalia, I think on the dark side of the Adalia, if you can call it like that, and been playing it. And yeah, it’s been quite the journey and love the complexity of it, and learning path as well. So extremely excited about today’s session. So maybe to get started, I would just like to ask in the beginning first, what is Influence and how everything started?

Jean-Paul:
Yeah, okay. That’s a big question, but let’s start with what is Influence? Influence is a space strategy MMO and the core gameplay is that you are colonizing the star system of Adalia, on these 250,000 asteroids and you are building out infrastructure and ships to get this colony further out into the belt, to then support life expanding here. The back story is that about a few hundred years in the future, the earth is in extreme turmoil. There’s political unrest, war, global warming, famine, and world governments realize that the planet’s not going to be habitable for much longer, and so they come together and they start to build these generational spaceships, so that they could go and reach another planet that they’ve identified as habitable. So hundreds of thousands of people get into these ships, and they jettison earth, and they’re on their way to this new planet.
The story really starts though with the ship, the Arvad getting knocked off course by an unidentified Ork cloud, and they’re unable to make it to where everyone else is headed. And so, they have to search these stars for a new area to hopefully inhabit, and they identify the Adalian star system with five planets, and I think one of them will likely be habitable. Now, three generations later and 150 years pass, and they arrive in Adalia and find out none of these planets are habitable. And so, in a last-ditch attempt to survive, they scan the asteroid belt and find that the raw materials to support life are there. They dismantle the ship on the largest asteroid Adalia Prime, and they start to colonize the belt. So the goal here for players is really to figure out what their strategy is, and help build out settlements and production chains, and participate on player markets to continue to build out this colony.
And then, through that there’s also quite a bit of competition and conflict that will arise over time. How this whole game really got generated in terms of an idea, our founder Chris was a longtime Eve Online player, and had spent a lot of time managing one of the largest player alliances at the time. He was the treasurer for this alliance, and he just felt that the amount of work that he was putting into this game, it would be really interesting to see a game that players themselves who added so much value could somehow see that value in a more peer-to-peer environment.
And so, that was kind of the spark of the idea. And because he loves space, we love space, it had to be a space game. And fast-forward to 2016, ’17, the idea that it would be built on blockchain, because of this decentralized public infrastructure. And now StarkNet is where it really ended up being possible to be built. We are here today with a game that is fully on chain and playable in pre-release. If you guys see on the screen, this is Adalia Prime, the largest asteroid in the belt, and all the colors that you’re seeing here are active players building out infrastructure.

Robert:
Awesome. Yeah, I think the yellowish region is basically where everybody spawns, right?

Jean-Paul:
Yeah. Maybe Proto, do you want to give a little backstory on some of these colonies?

Protoplanetary:
Sure. So as JP mentioned, AP, as we call Adalia Prime, is where the colonists first arrived when they arrived in the Adalia system, they took their generation ship into orbit around this biggest asteroid in the belt. And so, what JP is zooming in on right now, this is actually canonically where the first sort of footfall on the surface of the asteroid happens. So that’s the very center habitat in that ring of yellow, yellow buildings. Those are habitats where players can station their crews. So there’s one of them, can see the loving detail we put into the body models for all these buildings. They all have their own unique 3D model that we can take a look at. So the center of that is basically where they landed, and the city of Arcos, which is this cluster of buildings sprung up around that. And then, broader Arcos metropolitan area, if you will, has sprung up all the way around that with player creations.
So basically originally in the game we seeded a bunch of habitats and buildings started to get the game off the ground, since new players, right when the game started, needed somewhere to live, they needed materials to obtain, they needed various starting supplies. So we put that all together into three different colonies on the surface of the asteroid, of which Arcos was one. Yaksha is back there, it’s not seeing a lot of use right now, because of rent prices that we need to adjust that. And then at the very south pole is Saline, which is the sort of mining colony that was provided. So we’ve got some options for players just starting off and it really has been fascinating to watch players choose where to build on the surface of this asteroid in our beta test.

Robert:
Nice. Sorry-

David Barreto:
I have a question there.

Robert:
Okay, go ahead.

David Barreto:
No, because Jean-Paul, you mentioned that this obviously is a blockchain game, because I’ve been trying to explain to some friends the difference between the fully on-chain game, compared to something like Axie Infinity. How would you compare those two type of an on-chain game and a fully on-chain game like Influence? What is the big difference between those two?

Jean-Paul:
Yeah, Proto, feel free to hop in here too, but I’ll give my higher level view on this. The idea of a fully on-chain game and our game studio, it’s called Unstoppable Games. And so, a on-chain game, all of the core logic, the contracts that run the game are built on a StarkNet, in Cairo. And so, what that means is that we no longer have the ability to basically keep that private. And so, it really opens up the game to a lot of extensibility and composability right out of the box. And so, when we talk about what that means for players, there’s also builders, and then there’s the studio. And each one has different, I think pros and cons when you’re building fully on chain, but I think one of the biggest empowerments that it gives players, is that we have this world that we no longer have the ability to basically have a strict terms of service and kick you out.
This game is going to be there forever for players, and everything you create in game is in an account that you control. We don’t have any control over that account. So that’s one side of it. And then, as a game studio, fully on chain is a really, really powerful but very new technology, and it’s basically pushing all of our typical infrastructure costs. So usually games, large games will buy AWS server space and that’s where the game runs. And then, now we have everything running on decentralized public blockchain infrastructure, and so it’s both very secure, and we aren’t having to basically pay for that and hold it all, the keys to that castle.
So everyone plays these games and luckily it’s very cheap to play now that we’ve got layer twos, like StarkNet, and scaling from four-eight, four-four and things of that nature. So playing this game is very cheap in terms of transaction costs. I know in the past thinking about playing a fully on chain game, especially on Ethereum, you’re be like, whoa, I’m going to be spending like $50 per action and that’s no longer the case. I don’t know, maybe Proto, do you want to chime in here at all?

Protoplanetary:
Yeah, sure. I mean, I think as you mentioned, one of the key features of building fully on chain is extensibility and we’ve actually seen a whole lot of that already, even in our beta release, and before even. Where our community has been able to go into the actual contracts on StarkNet and keep an eye out for events, just basically read the state off the chain, and build all sorts of fascinating tools around it. So we’re really seeing a lot of games, modern games these days, people will mod the client, they’ll go and add whatever they want to the actual game that you can play. What we’re seeing now is that players are almost free to mod the server. They’re able to go into the server, which is the StarkNet in this case, and get whatever data they want. They can call directly into those functions, they can read those events and display whatever data they want.
And we’ve actually had community members developing certain things that we have not yet had a chance to develop for our game, like candle charts for our markets for example. We’ve seen some players going and actually developing them themselves before we had a chance to, which is fantastic. We really see Influence is not just us building a game, but a community of players, of which we are one. Sort of the core set of players obviously, but we’re players, we’re the builders, but the players are also builders. They’re also helping us build this game. So it is been really exciting to watch that happen.
For the more technically minded listeners, an interesting piece here is that the game itself, the core contracts are on chain. One part of the game that is not currently on chain is our backend server, which we call the indexer. Basically its role is to sit and watch StarkNet, and to watch those events rolling in as players play the game, and then to feed them into a normal centralized database that is more efficient to access that supports certain book-ups of that data, so that when your game client is playing along, backend can ping the server and ping the indexer, and get that information in a format that is designed to be efficient and show exactly what you want.
One example of that being the map of where all the buildings are, if you imagine you had to ping the blockchain to ask every single time you wanted to look at the map, where are all these buildings? And that would be terribly inefficient. So we’ve got in the middle infrastructure that helps us do that. And you might be asking, “Is that not decentralized?” And the answer is, it is a point of centralization, but the two things there. A, the actual core contracts still exists and can be interacted with, even if their indexer went down. So you could still play the game, even if it was through Stark Scan, if you were going in and calling the contract functions. Obviously that’s not how anybody wants to play the game, but anybody else could go ahead and build a new interface for the game, and it would still run, it would still play.
And B, we actually hope to decentralize that indexer at some point. We hope to basically make the equivalent of client software that any community member could run on their own computer, that would do the same thing, where they’d run it alongside a StarkNet node, and it watches the node for updates to the game and indexes it. And that would become just another place that people could point their clients if they wanted to, so that if there are 10 or a hundred players, or community members running these nodes, these Influence nodes, then suddenly the game really is unstoppable. Unstoppable Games could vanish the next day and the game would still be there, players could still play it. So that’s really the vision long term is, to be on chains that people can extend the game how they want, and also be as decentralized as possible with the intermediate infrastructure, so that this thing can live as long as possible.

Robert:
Awesome, thank you. Great explanation. Now, I’ve seen Jean-Paul already created a character, so I want to ask if I would be a new player, which I’m technically a beginner, but for new players, what would be the steps to get started or create a character? Could you walk us through that process?

Jean-Paul:
Yes, so I think before we dive into exactly creating a character, the general onboarding, because this is a blockchain game, there are a few things that are just maybe a little less typical than your traditional game. We’ve been working pretty closely with the account providers on StarkNet. So Braavos and Argent. Argent is one of the teams that we’ve worked very closely. So to create an account in this game, rather than signing up with Influence, you will create Argent or Braavos account, and then you’ll be able to sign in with your own account and you’ll be greeted with a new player tour. So this is kind of what you’re looking at here. You’ll be able to be walked through the belt and it’ll give you some interesting information about it, and then at the end it’ll ask you to start your crew. So your crew is up to five crewmates.
They are composed of five different classes, and we’ll go ahead and dive into this a bit. So when you start your first crewmate, it’ll be asking you some questions. This is where you choose what class, and then once you go through this, your story begins. So it’ll give you a bit of a backstory of who you are, and I’m going to go ahead and skip this, so that it doesn’t take forever, but that’ll end up feeding into traits that you can go ahead and choose. Each one is either cosmetic or impactful. The impactful ones have a bonus in game, whereas the cosmetic ones are more RPG lore based. And as you play this game, random events will happen and you might be able to change some of these traits in the future. And so, like I said, you’ve got five classes to choose from. This is going to be really the first step of any new player. So we’ll for this, just go ahead and create a miner. I’ll go ahead and randomize the traits for now and name them, why not Sally Sue?
Oh, I have my caps locked on. There we go. And now, I’ll go ahead and recruit them. So one thing to be aware is that the crewmates do cost a little bit of money. They’re $5 a piece, so we will go ahead and purchase that crew mate, and we’ll get the confirmation in our wallet here, and then we’ll go ahead and have a crewmate created. I’m actually going to switch off of this account and go to one that I have a bunch of assets already in. This was really to show you the new player experience here, so give me just a minute and we can do that. In the meantime, if you have other questions, let us know.

Robert:
No, on my side, I don’t like my experience during creating the crew members, definitely had fun choosing the traits. At first I thought the cosmetics would influence my characters, I always try to make them as honest and helpful as possible, but yeah, I had a lot of fun there. I’m not sure about David, but maybe David can tell his experience as well.

David Barreto:
Yeah, I mean, initially I just got character just based on how they look like, I didn’t have any plan, but then as I played the game, I realized how important the classes are for certain actions. The trades I started to specialize and really think through, especially the type of the character, this is the engineer or merchant, and the trade, and based on that, now I have more control or more bonuses that I can use in the game. But I feel like in the future I will have a specialized crews for particular purposes, that I can just rotate. But it’s very interesting that you can have that depth just to choosing the character.

Jean-Paul:
Yeah, actually, maybe that’s a good point to share. I think like most games, you would typically play with one character, or one set of characters in some games, but per account you can only have that one set. Thankfully, we are not bound by single accounts in blockchain, and we can have as many crews within a single wallet address or account, and so you can play as many as you want very easily. So if you’re doing an action with a particular crew, they might be busy and you can’t do anything else with them. All you need to do is swap to another crew if you have one, and then you’re ready to go.
I did a bunch of actions last night, so that I could show a little bit of what you can do here in the game, but overall, this is a very flexible game in terms of what strategies you’d like to be able to actively engage with. So each crew could be very separate. Maybe you like the role playing aspect of this game and you’re able to really do very different things with each crew, or you can work as a team and give each crew access to all of your infrastructure, and really be able to compound your abilities to drive one focused goal. Proto, I don’t know if you want to jump in here and say anything, but I know we’ll talk about the game mechanics a little bit in the future here.

Protoplanetary:
Yeah, I mean, I think sort of where we are right here is in a unique point between an MMO and an RTS, in terms of how you actually play the game. With an MMO, as JP said, you’re used to having a single account with one or more characters in it. Here, you have a bunch of accounts, which starts to stray into the territory of an RTS, real-time strategy, where you have a bunch of little units on the map that you sort of are moving around all at once, and you’re kind of micromanaging them, and the game is playing a bunch of them at once.
We still have a lot of focus on you being a single crew at any given time. You’ll notice that as JP was switching between these crews, he was becoming one of them. He was that crew at that time. And so, we sort of want to give players more of a in-depth role-playing aspect here than you would see in a real-time strategy, where units are never you, you’re just controlling them. So we think that that’s going to be a pretty unique and fun way to have the game set up, but we’re still testing and finding that out.

Jean-Paul:
Yeah, it’s pretty fascinating, the fact that we can have a player have the ability to play many crews, but when we intentionally, I know Proto, you’ll probably be able to talk about this more as well, but the idea is when we thought about it’s like, oh, you’ll play one crew. You’ll really, really feel quite attached to a single crew, and that was always the intention, as to kind of grow your story with that single crew.
But now because we have some players playing, I think 21 crews is the highest right now of being actively played, you start to be able to tell very deep and rich stories across many crews, and it’s really quite exciting to see. Maybe one other thing to mention too is that your crew is up to five crewmates, but they also have a captain. And so, your captain in the future will accrue the most experience and skills that will be unlocked the longer that you keep them as your captain. So it’s important to understand what the focus is of a singular crew, and make sure that the crewmate that you have as your captain aligns with that focus.

Robert:
Great. That’s in my opinion, it’s super detailed and the complexity of only just creating a crew is mesmerizing. So could you tell me what of those hexagrams there, are those buildings or could you give me-

Jean-Paul:
Yeah, yeah. For the new player who’s just looking at this and going, “What the hell am I looking at?” Yeah, so each asteroid has a particular surface area, and the surface area dictates how many lots. So kilometers squared of land, one lot is one kilometer squared, and you can build one building per lot. And so, these yellow dots here are habitats, whereas the orange ones equate to warehouses. And each of these are just a very fast, easy way to indicate what buildings are where, and you can actually color code them yourself here and change to whatever you’d like, these are just the default settings.
And in the future they’re actually going to be icons of what the buildings are, and then in a little bit, hopefully in the not so distant future, we get 3D models on the surface of an asteroid versus kind of having to dive into each particular lot to be able to see that 3D model. That’s more of a technical lift than anything else, and that’s just why they’re not there. It’s a performance thing. We want to make sure this game functions very, very smoothly, and can be run on most computers. If you do have a dinosaur of a computer, like with all gaming, they can be kind of intensive.

David Barreto:
For me, one of the experiences with the game is that, once you know how much work it takes to actually build things meaningfully, the first time that I zoomed out on Adalia Prime, and I was able to see all the things that player have built, even though it was just hexagons and colors, it was really impressive to see just in pre-release how much people are building and expanding. It makes me think what’s going to look like when it actually goes in domain and a year has passed, how much the colonization is going to change in the period.

Jean-Paul:
Yeah, I mean, it’s… Oh, go for it.

Protoplanetary:
I would say that Influence is a slow-spaced strategy game. That’s sort of a core aspect of the game design. This isn’t a game where you sit down and do a hundred things in an hour. It’s a game where you sit down and do two or three things in an hour, and basically the way we have it set up is that every action, you start it and then you have to wait a certain period of time, which may be minutes, it may be days that you have to wait for that action to complete.
Because in the game your Adalian characters are going and flying off somewhere distant, and spending a bunch of time doing something, and then coming back to where they live again. And so, it takes a lot of thinking and planning to line up just a few actions. And if you mess up, then you’re going to be sitting there for days waiting for the results of your messing up to finish. So it’s a strategy game that you really have to think about before you take your actions, and then saying anything you see on the surface that’s built there, players spent probably days building that thing, so it really is impressive when you see what has been built so far.

Jean-Paul:
Yeah, I would also, I mean I like to call it impactful actions not grinds, and like Proto was saying here, it’s that you’re very methodical and hopefully very strategic in what actions you are taking, and the impact of that action can be quite large, and could potentially be quite valuable. Versus something that if you think about a game like World of Warcraft, moving around the world, you have to take your character, hop on a horse and run across the world. And while that can be very fun, don’t get me wrong, this game doesn’t impose that kind of time in your playing. You don’t actually have to hit the arrow keys for 10 hours to get somewhere. You actually just click go. But once you hit go, if it does take 10 hours, then your crew is busy for that 10 hours. You’re not having to actively do anything anymore, but you also can’t use that crew for much else during that time.

Protoplanetary:
And it’s worth noting that this game was designed this way, because partly it’s a non-chain game. It lends itself very well to this kind of impactful few actions that last a long time way of playing, because if you imagine it, if we tried to build World of Warcraft on chain with 10, 20 actions a minute, you’re just keyboard input into the game, and we can’t possibly… Maybe someday, but we can’t currently do that on chain, and this just would not be gas efficient. So we designed this game so that there are a relatively few number of transactions, actions of the game, which turn into transactions on chain, and that they have a big impact. And so far that’s worked really well for us. It really fits well with the on chain.

David Barreto:
It’s also compatible with a busy life. I’m working, I can take a break for 10 minutes, do some actions, go back to work, and I know I have to wait two more hours, three hours to do something else. So it doesn’t consume all my time, but I’m still engaged. I keep going back just to do more actions in the game.

Jean-Paul:
Yeah, we were talking about this a little bit before the meeting, but for those listening, I think it’s a game that on your lunch break at work, you can very easily pull up a browser tab, because this is a browser-based game, and take your actions and then go back to work, and you haven’t been sucked in too much, and you’re able to still be productive both at work and on the game. Definitely we’re not playing it during work though.

Protoplanetary:
I think I want those, basically as you were saying, you line up a bunch of actions and then come back the next morning, and what you’ll see is this stack of ready-to-finish actions. The way we have the game set up is every action you start it and then for most of them you have to finish them again, because that allows us to do a commit reveal pattern for random events, which you have in the game.
So sometimes you’ll get surprises when you finish these actions, but it’s really exciting even if you don’t get any of those random events, to wake up in the morning and see a stack of 10 or however many ready things to finish, because you get to review all the actions that you took and that have now run their timers to completion. And you’re like, “Oh, look at me getting all this stuff that I planned out yesterday, or all these things that are happening that have finally finished and come to fruition,” and that lets you work through them and then plan your next moves. I think it’s really addicting to see that list of finished things when you wake up.

Jean-Paul:
Yeah, I will say waking up this morning to having 12 actions to complete was pretty exciting. For those looking in, wondering what I’m doing right now, I had put a site plan down for a bioreactor, which is what is able to grow potatoes, make food, things like that, and I needed to get all the materials to the site to be able to actually complete this particular building.
So right now I’m just basically, all the surface transfers that I sent from the marketplace to this building I’m completing now, and then I’ll be able to actually construct this building. So it’s been a long time for me in terms of what I wanted to learn, what I wanted to maybe do in this game. And enduring pre-release, this particular crew, my build-in mine crew is basically setting up shop to allow my other crews to then utilize that infrastructure and manufacture these goods. So I’ve purposely geared them to be more efficient at building, they’re faster, and then I’ll be able to then utilize them to go mine elsewhere once I’ve done completing all of these actions. So I have a few actions that are processing right now, and then once those are completed, I’ll actually be able to construct this bioreactor.

Protoplanetary:
And so, what you guys can’t see here is that every single time JP is finishing an action or starting an action, there’s actually a wallet pop-up that comes up, and that sergeant accent probably for JP’s case that you’ll approve transaction, and then that goes on chain, and then our indexer will pick up the event once it finishes, just like those did right there, and then you can sort of proceed with the game. So that’s the kind of core game loop as you click that purple button, the wallet pops up, you accept that transaction, it goes through and you can continue. What we’re really hoping to do with pretty soon on main net, is something that we’re calling session keys, which we think is actually kind of a 10x moment for on chain gaming.

Jean-Paul:
That’s huge.

Protoplanetary:
The first time I tried it, my jaw was on the floor. It was just incredible. Basically what it does, is it allows you to sign a transaction when you begin your gameplay once a day, or at whatever agency want. That basically approves a hot wallet that is part of the client, the game client, to take certain actions on your behalf, and including potentially spending certain amounts of your sway on your behalf. But it’s a limited set of transactions, so it’s not just take control of my entire wallet. It’s like you could do this, this, and this, and spend this much sway. So you take that transaction at the beginning of your gameplay manually in your wallet, and then for the rest of your day, for the rest of your session, which is why we call it session keys, you do not have to touch your wallet ever again, because the game wallet is actually going to automatically handle signing those transactions for you.
So you’ll never see a wallet pop up, you’ll never have to click accept or anything. It’ll just be automatically taken care of by your game client on your behalf, within the terms that you agreed to when you be on your play session. We think that this is actually a really great way to bridge that gap between wallet security, because obviously you don’t want to just give you actual private key to your client, because again, if your computer gets hacked, you do lose whatever was approved there.
But it’s also a great way to give you the UX of a normal game, where you’re not having to think about a wallet every single time, because let’s be honest, that’s terrible UX, [inaudible 00:32:22] every single time. It’s what we have to do right now, because that’s the state of the world. But we think that as soon as we have these session keys, people will realize that that is the UX that will make on chain gaming truly feel like normal gaming, and be able to be playable by normal gamers, which is who we’re targeting with Influence. This is not a crypto native game. We obviously want to support crypto native players. They’re very welcome here and we have everything they need to play securely, and how they want to, but we want to onboard normie gamers. They’re our target audience here, and we think that we have the tools now with StarkNet, with account abstraction, with session keys to accomplish that. And you all know how big that is, if we can pull it off.

Jean-Paul:
Yeah, I mean, I think very succinctly, I’ll just kind of reiterate, right now in blockchain, everything you do from DeFi to gaming, every time you click a button, your wallet pops up, you confirm. With session keys, that goes away and you’re able to seamlessly use whatever application or interface that you’re wanting to play around with or do things in, without having to have that secondary pop up every single time. It makes things feel like you’re just using any other application, game, website, whatever it is. And truly, this is something that is massive. I mean, the term for it is smart wallet. We’re hearing a lot of this talked about, I think online right now within blockchain circles. But the crazy thing is that StarkNet has enabled this from out of the box. StarkNet built account abstraction, and that’s what’s been able to enable all this.
So that was a huge, huge bonus for why we decided to actually build on StarkNet as well. And this is just the tip of the iceberg too. There’s so much that you can do with account abstraction. And for those who, look, I know we’re demoing game, but this is something really, really fun to talk about, but account abstraction allows you to put arbitrary logic directly into an account.
So you haven’t been able to do that on traditional Ethereum accounts. It’s been very challenging to make UX better because of this. So account abstraction now allows you to do all kinds of crazy things, both in gaming and DeFi, and everything else. If you go look at Avnu, for example, a DeFi application on StarkNet, you’re able to source liquidity from multiple pools at once, and just hit a single confirm. So I think a lot of people, a good way to express this is if you guys have used OpenSea before and you’re trying to send multiple collections of assets to another account, you have to individually confirm each one, and then you confirm the transaction again, and it becomes a total nightmare. And so, that all goes away with this, and we’ve built this into our game as well, and we’re very thankful that Argent has been prioritizing session keys.

David Barreto:
I just want to highlight the community. It’s been very wholesome to interact with them, especially during pre-release, because we’re all just building and getting advice to each other, and the complexity of the game. I recall that Robert and I, we just been doing the baby steps trying to set up a basic base when people were flying to different asteroids. So I was asking for help to see how can I go to another asteroid and this guy from Discord, Skippy, actually, “Hey, I give you a lift.” So he brought his spacecraft next to my habitat. I jumped in and he just took me to a new asteroid. So it is cool the way that you interact with the community, also the role-playing game part of it as well. So I now have a crew in space starving, because I forgot to pack some food for the trip, but they’re there. They made it.

Jean-Paul:
Yeah, food is a big one in this game. Both food and fuel are needed all the time for traveling. So for people who are looking at the screen right now, I just want to maybe give a shout-out to Adalian Academy. This is the asteroid here that has been, I think most heavily colonized by a player alliance outside of Adalia Prime, which is awesome. It’s so fun to see this. Everyone had to take a ship to get here, and now they’re colonizing it. You also see these heat maps.
So this particular asteroid is a CMS type, and so it has quite a few different materials. It has all five categories, volatile, organic, metal, fissile and rare earth. And then, when I hit this resource tab, it actually shows where these particular resources are located on the surface. So if I want to mine right now tanite, I can see the brighter the spot is, the more abundance of that material. So you can see that there’s a lot of extractors already here on this particular material. So it looks like they’re heavily mining tanite on this asteroid. Before we dive too much more into the mechanics. Proto, do you want to share your screen and go over anything?

Protoplanetary:
Yeah, I mean, if you want, I could take over and start diving into some of the mechanics.

Jean-Paul:
Yeah, yeah, sure. That’d be great. For everyone who maybe didn’t catch the beginning, Protoplanetary is our technical game designer, so a lot of the mechanics is right from his brain into this game. Let me go ahead and stop sharing. Yeah, perfect.

Protoplanetary:
All right. You guys can see?

Jean-Paul:
Yes, yes, yes.

Protoplanetary:
Excellent. All right. Yeah, so let’s talk a little bit about the game mechanics. As we sort of said before, Influence is a hard science fiction, slow strategy, open economy MMO, which is a mouthful. Basically, the key aspect here though is that as I was saying before, it’s a slow game. So as we’re looking at the entire asteroid belt here, you can sort of see the main belt in the middle, and then the two lobes of the trodrons. You can picture that each one of these is its own little world. So I just randomly click on one here. I can actually go to it and take a look at it, and see what that asteroid looks like. Nobody’s on this one, it’s an uninhabited asteroid, but they all have places you can build on them. If you bought this asteroid, you could come right to it and start building on it.
But to give you an idea though of the scale of this belt, it might take you real days to weeks to travel between Adalia Prime, which is the biggest asteroid. Again, any of these other asteroids, if you can even make it, if there’s even a transfer window that’s available to you. This is all based on real orbital mechanics, traveling between these asteroids. We’ve actually done the math on chain to calculate an ellipse, and to make sure that the starting and ending point, and the delta V all lines up, that your transfer that you’re trying to take is actually valid.
Our founder, Chris, has done a of math to make that possible on chain, on StarkNet. But basically you have to really plan out in advance how you’re going to travel between these asteroids. So for example, if I want to travel from this asteroid to Adalia Prime, I can probably just put that in here, and we can see that there’s probably not going to be any transfers that are going to work here, because… Let’s just do a simulated transfer. Yeah, this one’s got to be pretty hard to get to. I just picked one random, let’s do Adalia Academy instead.

Robert:
I think for me, the most fascinating thing is actually the flight simulation in game. I spent, I think over a few hours just to understand and test different asteroids, and it’s been quite fun.

Protoplanetary:
So here you can see that Adalia Prime is the biggest asteroid, and then Adalia Academy, which is the one that JP was showing off just a moment ago, that one of the alliances is colonized heavily. You can see we’re looking at what’s called a perk chop plot over here. And so, this is the transfer graph of Delta V is required to get to this asteroid at different sort of trip lengths and starting times. As you can see that there’s actually some really good transfer windows to get to this asteroid. That has been the case all through our beta tests, which is why this one got colonized so much. But if I click at one of these points, you can actually see here’s the transfer orbit that my ship would take if I went from Adalia Prime to that asteroid. And this is all real science.
This is something that NASA uses for traveling between, if you want to go to Mars, if you want to go to an asteroid, you’ll see one of these plot which shows you the Delta view requirements at different times, that allows them to plan when they want to actually launch their missions, and how long it’s going to take, and exactly how to steer the spacecraft, and everything. So it’s not quite curable. We’re not down to that level of you’re flying your ship with the arrow keys and thrusting in different directions and all that.
We sort of take care of the math of figuring out what that orbital transfer is, but it does get down to this nitty-gritty level of Delta V, and making these decisions. And of course, your ship has different levels of propellant on board. It has different amounts of cargo and all that mass figures into these calculations. So again, this is a hard science fiction game. We are really getting into the nitty-gritty. So if you like nitty-gritty, this is a game you might enjoy. And there’s other areas that are also incredibly nitty-gritty as well. So let’s take a look at Adalia Prime here, and as JP was showing you, this is an asteroid colonization game. So if we can get Adalia Prime to show up here, sometimes things are a little sticky. I’m just going to refresh that really quick.

Robert:
And I have a question on the flight simulation. Is it true in 100 days, let’s say, the flight will be totally different, because each asteroid has different orbital speeds and inclination, right?

Protoplanetary:
Yes, indeed. So let’s actually, we can show that really quick. So if I open up the time here, I’m actually going to speed things up and we could watch as the asteroids move into orbits. So you can see that time’s passing, time’s passing as they’re orbiting. And if I pause it here, then I would actually be able to check and see what we’re looking at for transfer windows. So you can see that it’s actually become a lot harder to get to Adalia Academy now, because it’s moving away from Adalia Prime. If we use Zoom before even further, maybe we’ll continue to see that that’s changing. So this whole belt is moving, and that’s part of the strategy there. You have an asteroid, maybe you can’t get to it right now. Maybe you have to wait six months in real lifetime before your asteroid is something you can get to.
A lot of players have found themselves in that situation, where they’ve picked up an asteroid and suddenly realized that they can’t get to it right now. So they’ll have to be patient and wait to be able to get to it. But if we go to Adalia Prime, we can sort of take a look at some of the mechanics that take place on an asteroid surface. So here’s our biggest asteroid, again that you all are familiar with. JP was showing off some of, we can get some lots going on here, showing off the resource maps. So if you take a look, we can actually see some of these resource maps in theory. There we go. That takes a little while to load in. There’s a lot going on here. So this shows you where water is available to be mined, and as a space colonization game, ISRU, in situ resource utilization is a key part of it.
Basically, everything in the game, unless the seeded materials is mined by players, and then produced into goods that can eventually let you build ships and buildings. You have to take those goods all the way out of the ground through a lot of production chains to finally get to where we’re going. So if we look, we’ll see, here’s a bunch of extractors that somebody has right in the middle of this water, and they’ve all got… We can’t see what they’re extracting, but they’re extracting probably water in this location. A lot them here that people are extracting. So when you set up an extraction that begins the process of basically pulling that resource out of the ground, you’ll have to actually do some sampling first, what we call prospecting in the game, to figure out what deposits are available in those locations.
And then you can extract that deposit, just like in real life where you find a load of ore, like a bunch of copper, or a bunch of gold or whatever. In Adalia, you’re finding things more like water, or calcite, or apatite, or tanite as JP pointed out earlier, that you get to extract. So what happens then is basically your goods that you’re extracting, will it wind up in the warehouse, or a ship, you have to pick that inventory that those goods wind up in. Influence when you really get down to it is a logistics game, you’re basically figuring out, “Where do I take materials? Where do I put them? What do I do with them? How do I move them around? How do I move my crews around?” It’s really sort of, you think about a big giant chess game, where your pieces are moving around, and you have to make sure that they’re in the right place at the right time to be able to do what you’re wanting to do.
So here’s a set of warehouses that I’ve got placed here, a few of my warehouses that are available. And so again, these are buildings that actually contain stuff. So if I open them up, you can see, look at all this stuff that I’ve got inside my warehouse. These are the products in the game. So this is sort of the meat and potatoes of how you make things in Influence. So if I was mining, say methane, if I came into this one, you’ll see that there’s a huge stash of methane in this warehouse. 11,000 tons of methane are in this warehouse for mining, and that is sort of what we call a raw material. It was mined straight out of the ground. You can then take that and convert it into more advanced materials. So there’s a process which I can’t show it now, because all night refineries are busy, but basically you can take that material and convert it into a more refined good.
So I could take methane and deionized water, and run it through methane gas, reverse water shift process, and that will actually rip the hydrogen off of the methane, and you actually have hydrogen as an output of that. So we’ve actually got really detailed with our production chains. You could actually take a look at the factory here and see a different example. So that one’s running… If we go to a factory here, you can see all of the available processes that we have for this type of building. These are more advanced manufacturing processes.
So you can see basically you have some set of inputs that you need. So for example, if I wanted to make a, let’s see what we want to do here. If I wanted to make a motor, for example, brushless motor assembly, you’ll see that it takes two inputs, which is the stator and the rotor, those two parts which you made earlier with these two processes. And then, you get as an output, the entire brushless motor. That’s a super simple layer. You just put two things together and you get the finished thing. There are lots of more complicated examples.

Jean-Paul:
Proto, to just interrupt you really quickly and maybe ask you a question for people who are watching along. What are all of these things going into? The production chains are quite vast. There’s 249 individual materials, but what are players building with all of these things?

Protoplanetary:
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So with the production chains, you can sort of visualize it as a graph of things that are flowing from the raw materials that you extracted as I just talked about, and get refined and manufactured, and assembled upwards through this complicated web of interrelationships, until you get to the things that you can make at the very top level, which includes buildings.
So here’s for example, the warehouse, which was building overnight. So if I click here, you can actually see that it is ready to be completed. And what I did when I made that warehouse was I actually assembled some steel beams, some steel sheet, and some cement to create that warehouse, and that took some of those products from that production chain and let me build a building out of them. So if I complete, I’ll actually see what it looks like to finish building, which is not terribly exciting, except that you finally get that building available to you.
So I’m going to my wallet as you guys can’t see, and now that’s finishing construction. And shortly we’ll see that this will actually turn into one of these orange dots, and that will be a completed warehouse. So the end result of all of this is you get to build more buildings, you get to build space ships. Those are the two main things you can build right now in the game. You might go through a hundred different steps to produce the materials you need to make a refinery, which lets you make more materials. That’s the core game loop is building buildings that enable you to do other things in the game. So that sort of thing.

Jean-Paul:
Yeah, no, to expand on this, because I think the idea of, look, we’re building buildings and ships, and we have to go through very, very large and possibly complex production chains, and make sure that our logistics and resource management are optimal to be able to basically have all these things done as efficiently as possible. But there’s some pieces and parts here that maybe we haven’t explained, which is not everything can be found on a particular asteroid, and that’s why there exists many different spectral types. Maybe you want to talk a little bit about that?

Protoplanetary:
Yeah, sure. So when we were looking at the resources for Adalia Prime, you’ll see that there are seven here, and there are actually 22 real raw materials available in Influence. So there’s only seven of them available here, and that’s because Adalia Prime is what we call a C-type spectral, C-special type asteroid, which is carbonaceous in real world asteroid terms, which means it’s made heavily of carbon and volatile based products. Things like water, things like carbon monoxide, methane, bitumen, which is sort of a cool oily kind of stuff. So a lot of carbonaceous things, but you’re missing a lot of the other groups like metals, like some of the other volatiles, like hydrogen, carbon, sulfate dioxide, some of the stony things. So there’s a lot of products you cannot mine on Adalia Prime. And so, that’s where the big picture trade routes comes into play.
If you zoom out to the belt here, you’ll see that there’s actually quite a lot of different threads that you could look at, that are not C-types. So come here, you can actually search by, if I wanted to look for C of S type for example, or S types, there’s lots of different asteroids that are not like Adalia Prime, and you can actually go and find those and mine what you want on those.
So it’s really a game where you have to figure out where are the resources that you want and go there, take the time to build or acquire a ship, fly all the way there with the materials to mine on that asteroid, and then start producing, say the metals or the hydrogen, or whatever it is that you’re mining on that distant asteroid. And then come back home, maybe Adalia Prime or maybe you build your home on that asteroid, and that is home now. That’s sort of one thing we hope to see with this game, is that Adalia Prime is the starting point for the game, but soon there will be many, many asteroids that are colonized and that are home base for say, First Alliance, or for any of these other large entities in the game, or for solo players. You build your home and now suddenly Adalia Prime is the place you go when you’re out on a mission, then you come back home to your other asteroid. So that’s what we hope to see with this game.

Jean-Paul:
To go a little bit deeper on this too, because as a solo player, it is likely that you’ll never complete an entire production chain from start to finish to let’s say, build a ship or a building. Where do players go to get materials and how do markets function in this game?

Protoplanetary:
Yeah, absolutely. So one thing that we love to see in this game is that players can build marketplace buildings. These are structures that allow you to actually set up different pairings of some of these products in the game. So anything from water, to iron, to steel, to more advanced things like Modules to build your ships, modules to build your buildings. We have, as JP said, I think 237 different products in this game just right now at launch. There’ll be many more in the future as we extend the game further, but there’s a huge depth of different products that are available on this game. You can sort of scroll through here, and I’m just looking at the markets for Adalia Prime. So there’s, I think with over a hundred different marketplaces, buildings that have been constructed on Adalia Prime so far by players, and as part of the initial colonies, and they all have all these goods that are available for trading on them.
So for example, here’s a cordial, which you used to prospect when you’re going to mine, you need to prospect and find those deposits. So you can see that there’s seven different marketplaces on that of Adalia Prime that offer cordials, and they all have different prices available to them. So if I go to the biggest one here, and if I view that marketplace, you’ll see, oh, look, there’s a depth chart that you can actually trade this good on. So these work, if you’re familiar with crypto, you’ll be very familiar with this kind of depth chart, where you can see here are the limit sells, here are the limit buys. You can sort of trade by making a market order or placing a limit order. This is all designed to be very familiar with people who have traded crypto or otherwise in real life. And there, again, are 237 different products that are available to trade in this game across hundreds of marketplaces.
So you can sort of imagine the arbitrary opportunity available here. If you’re a trader for arbitraging these things, you can see, oh, this market has them available for this price. This marketplace has them available for that price. Oh, I can buy them here and sell them there, and I can actually make a profit. So the arbitrage opportunities are huge. A savvy player who’s able to do that will be able to play the game and make money without ever even building a building. Or maybe you just have a part warehouse and that’s all you have. There’s lots of different ways to make money in Influence, to earn your sway, which is the in-game currency. Lots of different ways to do that. And using the markets, it’s just one of those.

Jean-Paul:
Yeah. So we don’t have that much more time left on the call, so I want to be cognizant of that. But I think maybe something that we should talk about and I’ll give a little introduction to, and Proto, please feel free to jump in and chime in. This is a player-controlled peer-to-peer universe essentially. So everything in-game is built by players. Everything in-game is owned by players. All the assets from buildings to items are crafted through players’ actions, and you’re not actually purchasing anything from the team once you really get started in the game. There is a little caveat at the beginning of the game. We have to seed the market with some items on a marketplace. But once those are gone, everything in-game is peer-to-peer, so this isn’t a game that you come into and you purchase everything from the team. And then anytime you need new things, you go back to the store, and you pay the studio for those materials.
This is completely player-driven, so that means the asteroids, the land itself owned by players, the buildings owned by players, resources owned by players, all the way down. So I think this is something that really should be emphasized, because it’s not a game where it’s pay-to-win. I think I have really fun conversations with my friends who are huge game nerds, because they’re like, “Oh, well if you’re putting real money into this game and you’re buying materials at marketplaces, isn’t that pay-to-win?”
No, because you’re literally paying other players and when you pay other players, they then have the in-game currency sway to go and expand their settlements more and more. And so, it puts everyone on very equal footing and I think that’s just a really, really exciting part of this game. Yeah, Proto, do you want to say anything to that?

Protoplanetary:
Yeah, I mean to look at that exchange a little bit closely, like in a pay-to-win game, you are paying the game studio real-life money to get advantages in the game. And from the perspective of other players who maybe don’t have that much money to play the game, that feels really unfair. There’s somebody out there who’s rich and they can just be better at the game, because they’re rich and absolutely nothing from that interaction. You’re just sitting there playing the game and you’re slow, not-so-fun way, because you don’t have money to win. That sucks.
In Influence, where it’s peer to peer, where you’re trading with your peers, you are, as JP said, paying another player to win. So suddenly the rich people come in, the people with a lot of money who just want to play the game and have fun. They bring the money in, they spend it, that money goes to other players who now have had a fair value exchange. They have been paid by those other players for that other player to win. And suddenly it doesn’t feel nearly so bad to see somebody else paying to win. If you are being paid by that, suddenly it’s totally fair. Suddenly it’s like, “Okay, cool, now I have money, I can go do whatever I want. I can take it out of the game, I can play it in the game. I can do whatever I want with it.” That’s fair. This is not a pay-to-win game. This is a peer-to-peer open economy.

Jean-Paul:
Yeah, yeah. Because we’re closing close to time, I do want to just mention to everyone, one, thank you guys for listening in. Robert, David, thank you guys for being here. We right now have our open pre-release going on, so anyone can jump into this game completely free, test out, have some fun, make some friends, figure out the challenges of trying to colonize an asteroid belt. And then, if you do complete some of the in-game missions, we have some rewards that we’ll be giving to players at the end of our pre-release, which ends on April 10th. So we’ve got a few more weeks, guys, but honestly, if you love blockchain, gaming, strategy, whatever it might be that might draw you to this game, highly encourage you guys to get involved now rather than later, because it’s going to be a big advantage to understand how to play this game before we launch on Mainnet.
So dive in. Also, huge shout out to StarkNet, StarkWare for empowering us to be able to build a fully on chain game. I mean, it has been three years of work to get this thing off the ground, and we’re now seeing the fruits of our labor, all in line with the scaling of L2s, 4844, and everything else that the team has done. It’s just aligning perfectly to have this massively complex and beautiful universe being played fully on chain for prices that are absurdly low. I mean, right now, average transaction costs on StarkWare or StarkNet are less than a cent. Now that’s not exactly the same for a game action, but regardless, we’re able to now provide a really incredible experience at a cost that no one will have any issues with. And that wasn’t the case even a few weeks ago. So this was super exciting.

Robert:
Extremely excited as well about what’s happening and what’s being developed. And Influence. I think I’ve been having a lot of fun lately and probably David as well, but I’ll let him give his opinion as well. From my end, thank you for showing us how to get started, the game mechanics. I know there are a lot of other things as well, which we haven’t covered, but from my end, I think a few reasons why I really enjoyed the game first. I think it’s a space game, which I’ve always been a fan of. The second one, I love the complexity of it, you know you have a plan, you know you learned something, but there’s more to it. And then the last thing, I think there’s so many strategies that you can explore in the game that they’re countless. So maybe, David, you have also your own thoughts as well.

David Barreto:
I appreciate this is the first game that I’m actually excited to play and I played daily, the first blockchain game that I’m actually really into it, partly because I’m a fan of the expanse the show, the books as well. And this just exactly like that, the builders, but just the depth of the game, the fact that there’s so many tools built by the community is also very impressive, even in pre-release. So I’m very excited to see how this grows, because we’re going to grow organically in ways that maybe we don’t even foresee right now.

Jean-Paul:
Yeah, huge shout out to the community builders. For those who don’t know, I think we have 18 community applications already built to enable players to play more efficiently, more strategically, learn about the game, whatever it might be. Just massive shout out to you guys. It’s incredible to see that. And it’s also just something that’s possible, because we’re built fully on chain. You’ve never been able to toy with a game like this before to this level right out of the box. So super excited to see where that goes.

Robert:
Massive shout out to the community. I think the tools that they’ve developed really helped me in my journey and also the documentation. It’s really good. So yeah, I think we can wrap up the session maybe. Is there anything else you guys want to mention?

Jean-Paul:
No, I mean, I think I’ve said everything. Just a reminder, actually, if you are interested, find our Discord. That is where the community talks and learns, and we do lots of events, so just join in on the Discord there, and you’ll be able to learn the game a lot easier. Proto, do you have any closing comments?

Protoplanetary:
No, I mean, we’re just so excited to be here, to have the number of players we’ve had test out Influence so far, to be on StarkNet. I mean, it’s increasingly clear that we made a great decision when we picked StarkNet as earlier too. We can’t wait to see where things go.

Robert:
Happy to hear. Then, Jean-Paul, Protoplantary, and David, thank you once again for being here. To our viewers, thank you for joining and tuning into Stark Space live demo, and wishing everybody a fantastic day. Take care.

Jean-Paul:
Thanks, everyone.

Protoplanetary:
Take care.