Guild of Guardians 2021: A Year in Review
Hey all! What an amazing year in crypto and NFT games. At the beginning of this year no-one was paying attention to blockchain gaming and NFTs.
Now, NFTs have claimed the title of ‘Word of the Year’. Every top company in the world is having executive level conversations about NFTs, and AAA studios such as Ubisoft have even announced integrating NFTs into their Ghost Recon franchise.
It’s been equally as amazing to watch Guild of Guardians grow in the past year. Some of you may have followed us on this journey. Some may be brand new. Either way, let’s take a trip down memory lane to look at where we started, where we are now, and where we are going next.
Where we started
Guild of Guardians was technically started in 2020, where we spent almost half a year working on the initial design, narrative, development planning, and strategy.
However, 2021 is where we really started getting committed.
We began the year in stealth mode, working with a small core team at Immutable partnered with the development team at Stepico Games. Things moved slowly, and we had only just started development on a number of fronts.
To begin testing initial traction for the game, we launched an ‘anonymous’ landing page and rewards program. We ended up getting 60,000 sign-ups in a few weeks, and that was when we knew we were onto something amazing.
We first publicly announced Guild of Guardians in March 2021, revealing information about the game, the team and releasing our cinematic trailer
Less than 1 week later, we had over 100,000 email registrations, nearly 35,000 Twitter followers and 3,000 members in our Discord Community.
This is a screenshot of the very beginning of our Discord community. Active members will recognise Plasma — one of our most prized contributors and most active community members. We clearly made an impression!
Development on the blockchain
Phase 1: Buy on Ethereum (May)
One of the first things we wanted to do was to do a sale of NFTs. Not to generate revenue (although that is always nice to re-invest back into the game), but as a way to engage our earliest supporters.
Given that we started development before Immutable X was ready, we decided on a unique sale system where users would pay for their NFTs on Ethereum, with those purchases to be held as ‘receipts,’ and a promise from us that they would be minted later on Immutable X where they could be traded without gas fees.
This was very innovative at the time and required some sophisticated development work in order to ensure randomness was verifiable on-chain, could not be exploited, and also had low gas fees.
We ended up creating a purchase system where users could buy an entire ‘cart’ of NFTs all in 1 transaction, and where the gas fees did not scale per NFT. In other words — we allowed users to pay the same fee regardless of how many NFTs they were buying. Users bought a ‘receipt’ which they could redeem later for NFTs.
This system probably ended up saving our community tens of millions of dollars in gas.
Phase 2: Buy on Ethereum, mint on Immutable X (September)
Our next phase of development involved minting NFTs into Immutable X. We had to develop a system that could automatically “read” whether someone had purchased a NFT and then allow that user to mint it onto Layer 2. This was a critical point in our history, as we overcame the challenge of building on Immutable X and allowed everyone to buy and sell NFTs without gas fees.
Eventually, in our later sales (Wave 2 & 3), we were able to have purchasing and minting happen on the same day.
In total we have minted over 250,000 NFTs, something that was previously unheard of on Ethereum.
Phase 3: Buy & mint on Immutable X (December)
Finally, our latest release (which is still in progress and to be improved) is a fully fledged payments and minting system on Immutable X.
This allows anyone who has Ethereum on Immutable X to make a purchase without gas fees (at all) and receive a NFT. Together with Immutable X’s partnership with Moonpay, it means that players in the future will be able to purchase Guild of Guardians NFTs using their credit card!
We debuted this layer 2 sale system for the NRG Esports x GOG Hero Collectible sale and will aim to continue to improve and experiment with it in the future.
Creative Design and Content
Our initial creative design was focused on heroes. They are the ‘stars’ of the game.
We were steadfast in our desire for our NFTs to be more than just a JPG. We wanted to create NFTs that players would want to show off — both in-game AND in real life.
Our Creative Director took the reigns and created these beautiful 3D videos for each hero, which you now see on the marketplace.
Together with epic summoning animations for each
From here, the focus quickly shifted towards visual, audio and narrative upgrades across the rest of the game.
We ended the year having worked on everything. Scaling up to a team of around 30 artists and partners, we have now completed a majority of assets in the game including:
We aren’t close to being done yet though. There is still lots of work to go, and the roadmap is long when comparing what we plan to initially release vs. the new content that will come out post release.
What is super exciting here is the world that we are building out. Guild of Guardians is striving to be an amazing mobile game, and with that, we want to build an amazing world IP.
There is so much work happening behind the scenes to build out the narrative and lore of the land, as well as the characters, and we’re excited to share this with the community in 2022.
Old conflicts arise, new heroes are born, and alliances shift like sands in the desert. The Dread has swayed many wizards, warriors, assassins, and agents, some hidden among the guilds. Who can you trust? Who can you win over? Who must you fight? And what resources will you need to end this blight?
— Guild of Guardians Narrative Opening (concept)
Building a game is incredibly complex. Let alone one that uses blockchain and aims to onboard billions of gamers. We have made significant progress this year on the development end, having taken the wireframe of a game and integrated new game mechanics, new interactions, and new assets. We’ve also commenced integrating with Immutable X on a deeper level, which means building the tech that enables play-and-earn on mobile.
We have also invested in building out our internal team and partners, and will continue to do this as we look to become number one in the market.
The best summary of our progress on game development is to show the actual game, and so I’ll leave this footage here.
Where we started
Where we are now
What is most exciting is that we have been playing the mobile game now for several months — on mobile. Every fortnight it gets a little bit better.
In fact, it’s technically possible for us to share the game now on both iOS and Android to anyone. But we have decided to hold off until the game is in a slightly better state.
2022 is going to be enormous, and our big focus will be on getting this successfully into the hands of everyone.
Game design is often the bottleneck for development. You need your design to be ahead of everything else, as it guides the work that everyone else in the team does. The focus of game design this year has been to get ahead. To complete all design features for the initial alpha release of the game, and to begin on what we’re internally calling ‘V2’ of Guild of Guardians.
We’ve made really great progress here, and also found strong partners such as Naavik who have been supporting our team with their insights.
There isn’t too much we can reveal here, apart from the fact that we now have a large team of designers & economists dedicated to making Guild of Guardians successful, whilst fine-tuning and refining the numbers. They are also solving some of the world’s toughest problems in NFT game design such as:
- How do you introduce new NFTs without de-valuing older NFTs?
- How do you create an economy that is actually sustainable?
- How do you balance those who just want to earn vs those who are willing to spend?
- How do you ensure the game does not feel like it’s pay to win, while still letting players freely trade?
- How do you create a real economy where there are many different ways to play and engage with NFTs?
What is particularly exciting is the roadmap for the game post-launch. The first version of Guild of Guardians will be enough, but it won’t be complete, and it will likely need polishing.
The creativity and additional game mechanics that will be introduced in ‘V2’ are going to take NFT gaming a step further.
The growth of our community has been one of the feathers in our proverbial cap over the year gone by.
At the time of writing, we have:
- 120,000 people in our Discord
- Nearly 170,000(!) people pre-registered to play
- 105,000 followers on Twitter
- and 35,000 likes on a (currently) inactive Facebook page.
This has been achieved without a dollar spent on traditional marketing avenues, and we are utterly proud of the organic and sustained growth we’ve witnessed over the last 12 months.
Without going into details here, 2022 will see a lot more where this ^came from. Keep your eyes peeled 👀
Away from the partnerships aforementioned, we also tested and iterated with a number of viral growth strategies. We had the initial refer-a-friend program bring bumper results. We saw 30,000 people join our Discord in 48 hours to claim a Proof of attendance digital badge. We launched the first batch of our GOG Ambassador program, where we are aiming to house, incentivise, and cultivate a group of talented content creators who believe in the vision of this project. We committed 20 ETH in an initial grants pool for members of our precious community to build cool things for us. And we announced a handful of Metaverse partners who we believe will do an excellent job in helping grow this project, as we work towards this intoxicating vision of millions of players working together, trading, and playing a part in an ever-changing and totally dynamic metaverse gaming economy.
As we take time to reflect on an incredible 2021 for our community, we are forever strengthened, inspired, and emboldened by the faith and love shown to us by our earliest backers. We feed off your energy and passion, and we have so much to achieve together.
Guild of Guardians Gems
We announced the introduction of the Guild of Guardians Gems earlier this year. Gems are an ERC-20 token which is owned and issued by Guardians Guild Limited and serves as the in-game currency in Guild of Guardians.
The token was recently available on Coinlist where it was over demand by 82x, with $5.3m bought by 10,000+ people across 100 countries.
The GOG token will be an integral part of the game economy and allows us to align incentives between every single participant in the ecosystem.
Check out this Tweet thread to see how the utility works, or read the whitepaper for more information.
Finally, we ended 2022 with a FREE Guild of Guardians Avatar for anyone who owned a NFT as of December 6th. We did this to give something back to our community of supporters, making it 1 per unique wallet to maximise the number of people who could get access to this.
It also represents our first experiment in building out the Guild of Guardians Universe.
Endless possibilities with ZERO promises.
Challenges and Learnings
Messed up launches
We have had issues with almost every one of our launches this year, with some being bigger than others. In each of these instances we immediately did what we could to make it right (e.g. for wave 3 we refunded around $300k of gas fees lost by buyers that were caused by our servers being overloaded). And in each one we conduct thorough retros to learn for next time.
A consistent theme is that it’s very challenging to work with new technologies such as Immutable X, particularly given the high volumes of demand and NFTs we have as a large gaming project.
We can’t promise there won’t be more issues in the future. In fact — we expect there will be. However, we will also be taking active steps to upgrade our product and development processes in the next year. There is always room to improve, and we want to be ready to serve millions of gamers who won’t always have the same tolerance level as the current community.
Building our internal & external team
At the end of the day the success of a game is driven by the group of individuals who are working on it. Our team went from around 10 people at the beginning of the year to 70+ at the time of writing. We have had some amazingly talented and experienced people join us, and their impact has been felt by the entire team.
We will continue to scale our the team, and importantly bring on the best talent to work with us.
One of the things we began to do this year, but have mostly left unexplored is building out our ‘external’ team — the community. We want to empower the community to get involved in and out of the game, and believe that this is one of the pillars of success. We currently have GOG Moderators, GOG Ambassadors and a community grants program, but there is a lot of potential here that is still untapped.
Appealing to a broader audience
In 2021 we were intentionally very focused on a smaller audience of more crypto-native gamers. As we’ve begun to observe in the last few months, the number of gamers who are aware of NFTs has massively increased.
There has been a lot of mixed reception, with many skeptics out there concerned about environmental impact, money grab initiatives, or simply don’t “get” crypto and NFTs. One of our challenges is going to be crossing the chasm to this new audience and lead the charge of mainstream education and adoption.
Our vision has always been to create a game with mainstream appeal, and a challenge for us moving forward will be bringing the next level of awareness for Guild of Guardians.
2021 was crazy. Our team has grown significantly, so many amazing people have joined our community, and the game is progressing very well.
For the next few weeks our team is mostly going into “Christmas Shutdown Period”. We’ll be getting some much needed rest and spending time with our friends and family before coming back to attack 2022 refreshed and rejuvenated for the many challenges ahead.
After that, the real work begins to onboard billions of gamers into digital asset ownership.
We will aim to share a more defined roadmap in the future, but for now some of our 2022 goals include:
- Launching Guild of Guardians on mobile with a play-and-earn core loop, starting with closed testing before gradually moving to mainnet
- Adding new content on top of the core game, whether it’s new modes, heroes or other game features!
- Building out our team and operational processes to be able to accelerate both our quality and speed of delivery (we’re hiring!)
- Investing in our community ecosystem structure and incentives, with a focus on empowering builders & contributors who wish to grow alongside us in the Guild of Guardians Metaverse
- Experimenting with new initiatives and projects and more
- Announcing and launching some of our biggest partnership to date (!)
That’s it — thank you all for an amazing year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
From Guild of Guardians HQ