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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be able to travel into Space and explore its farthest reaches. In today’s world companies like Virgin Galactic and SpaceEx are pioneering ways to achieve just that, bringing spaceflight to masses. However for many of us that just isn’t going to be a reality, either for reasons of cost or simply that its too far in to the future.
But what if there was a way to immerse yourself completely in a virtual world, a metaverse if you will. A place that is only bound by your own imagination. A place that not only allows you explore the farthest reaches of Space but it allows you to build a society, an economy, a political agenda, asset ownership and transform all of this from a virtual world in to a real-world financial profit. Can you picture that? don’t worry if not.
This is precisely what Michael Wagner and his team at Star Atlas have been doing, not just picturing it but developing the concept into a reality that will be available to ALL of us in the next few months…I had the pleasure of sitting down with Michael recently to discuss this ground-breaking project and what it has to offer. His introduction spoke volumes about his belief in the blockchain space…this is what he had to say:
“My formal career was spent working up the ranks of the traditional finance ladder, where I earned my CFA Charter and worked in the field of portfolio management for both institutional and high net worth clients. My life changed considerably in 2013 when I was introduced to Bitcoin and blockchain via scrypt coin mining with GPUs. Since that discovery, I have dedicated my time to immersion in the technology and ecosystem. I forfeited my legacy career in 2015 and went full time into crypto, launched my first company in the space in 2016 (Tokes), and co-founded Star Atlas with Danny Floyd (CPO), Jacob Floyd (CTO), and Pablo Quiroga (COO) in 2020.” — Michael Wagner
As I listened to what Michael had to say it became clear to me that Star Atlas is so much bigger than an online multiplayer game. If that’s your impression of it then I strongly recommend a read of their whitepaper (Link at the end of the article). Star Atlas, for those who invest the time can be a life-changing experience where you can actually build a commercial enterprise, where participation in the Metaverse transcends the virtual world in to the real-world economics. With 2.7 billion gamers worldwide Star Atlas has a massive opportunity to disrupt this huge marketplace.
Read on for the full Q&A between Ozzy and Michael as well as the prize winning best question — the prize was the #1 Poster in the upcoming Star Atlas ReBirth collectible series.
Ozzy: Why choose the name Star Atlas?
Michael: There is considerable depth to the naming of Star Atlas. I personally appreciate the use of literary device in writing, and have always attempted to introduce double entendre or multi-meaning to my company names.
Star Atlas first takes inspiration from the Titan Atlas, who was tasked with carrying the weight of the universe (heavens) on his shoulders, with a subtle nod to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Atlas is also defined as a combination or collection of maps. And one of the primary goals within Star Atlas is to explore, navigate, and discover the stars, and capture that data for fellow explorers.
So the complete meaning of the name represents both the emergence of a new Universe (metaverse), and the spirit of exploration of the stars.
Ozzy: What was the philosophy behind Star Atlas, what is the project trying to achieve?
Michael: We have several core objectives ahead of us. First and foremost, it is critical for us to deliver an entertaining and enjoyable gaming experience. To accomplish this, we are building the title to the highest quality standards across development, design, storyline, and product — a true AAA title. We also re-introduce the concept of hardcore gaming with our high-risk, high-reward Deep Space gameplay, with permanent death and destruction of assets.
We are enhancing that gaming experience by delivering a true Play-to-Earn model supported by blockchain mechanics. This means giving players real ownership over their in-game assets as NFTs, creating liquid marketplaces to exchange these assets, and the ability to monetize time spent through rewards in crypto-native assets such as ATLAS and POLIS.
In the future, with the continuous development of the Metaverse, we intend to provide artists, creators, gamers, and individuals from all of the world with a virtual playground within which they can be industrious and entrepreneurial, and enable independent creation of value for themselves. We have an opportunity to develop a whole new model for society, politics, and economics, within the Verse.
Ozzy: Thinking about scalability, how many players can engage at any one time in the metaverse, both in player v environment and player v player modes?
Michael: It is really too early to tell at this stage. Upon initial launch of the fully immersive version of the game, built in Unreal Engine 5, we will be launching on hybrid server/blockchain infrastructure. Which means much of the game logic will live on centralized servers, hosted by us. However, all assets and currencies/tokens in-game live on chain. Further, the metadata associated with all of the NFTs lives in the decentralized cloud. We are currently exploring IPFS and Arweave as solutions for this decentralized data storage, and will continue to evolve as new technologies emerge.
The longer term vision is to deliver the entire gaming experience on-chain, with transparency behind logic, and game development governance executed through our DAO token: POLIS.
Ozzy: Apart from the name sounding space age, why have you chosen to integrate with the Solana blockchain protocol? Any plans for being multi-chain?
Michael: Solana has been an amazing partner since the genesis of Star Atlas. We analysed numerous protocols before landing on Solana as our chain-of-choice. We ultimately selected Solana for several reasons:
1. The tech — extremely high transaction throughput (50,000 tps), highly scalable, low latency (sub-second finality), and low transaction costs at $.0001/tx.
All of which are essential for delivering a game of this calibre entirely on chain.
2. The team behind the company. These are guys of high pedigree, working with some major tech companies historically (Qualcomm, Dropbox, etc.) And they/you have all been amazing to work with.
3. The affiliations — having associates with teams like FTX, Alameda Research, Serum, etc. has already paid dividends.
4. The ecosystem. The Solana ecosystem is absolutely exploding with innovation. We have a number of partnerships in the pipeline directly resulting from being involved in the ecosystem, with teams like Stardust, Audius, Raydium, and others.
When we initiated conversations with the folks behind Solana last year, there were something like 30 projects building on Solana. Today, that number is well over 100.
And finally, we wanted to be the first game built on Solana!
In terms of going multi-chain, we certainly would not rule it out. I do believe that interoperability will be a major theme in crypto over the coming years. So in many ways, it is unlikely that we will need to directly build out support for alternative protocols, as there are teams dedicated specifically to that functionality. But multi-chain could also be utilized for scalability of userbase, should we outgrow the capabilities of any individual chain.
Ozzy: If you were building your own space-city in a decentralised autonomous corporation (DAC), what factors would be most important to you to gain citizenship and support?
Michael: The clan system (DAC’s) is all about community building and recruiting. Obviously, having control over substantial resources would make your clan attractive to new players looking for support. But otherwise, identifying other players that can complement one-another will be quite critical. There are countless specializations in ship types and classes, as well as in career paths. As such, ensuring that you have diversification across skillsets would prove useful.
The governance token, POLIS, will also play a pivotal role in the decentralized corporations. We anticipate these micro-metropolises to be largely guided by voting abilities of the underlying players. The extent to which a guild wants to utilize that functionality in their decision making is subjective, but the tools are present.
We have already seen several clans form and are actively recruiting in our Discord: https://discord.gg/R9vwMGvj
Further, one of the most beautiful concepts I have seen emerge as a result of the blockchain gaming space is that of asset pooling. Large clans, such as Yield Guild Gaming, are purchasing substantial assets within the game, including Land, Ships, Crew, Components, Buildings, etc., with the intention of providing these assets to new members who otherwise could not make the type of investment necessary to have considerable power within the game.
Ozzy: What happens to the value associated with in-game assets that are destroyed and lost forever in full combat? Where does it go and why?
Michael: This is a fantastic question, and an answer I believe the community will be excited to hear. Part of the value of the destroyed assets will be recovered, or salvaged, by the player winning the engagement. However, the remaining value of the destroyed assets is indirectly distributed to every other player within the Metaverse in the form of deflation. Asset destruction leads to higher rarity in items, as all of these assets are finite in supply. Additionally, the losing player will need to repurchase game assets to continue playing, which will stimulate demand for existing assets.
Ozzy: What are the future plans for Star Atlas development following launch, what’s next on the roadmap?
Michael: We have a major event coming up in just a couple of weeks. The launch of our very first digital art collection titled ReBirth, on April 24th. ReBirth is a 14 piece collection distributed over 14 weeks. Each week, a new ‘meta-poster’ will drop across a variety of marketplaces. These posters introduce the lore and background of Star Atlas. The genesis of a Metaverse.
Each of these pieces is digitally enhanced art designed entirely in-house, with augmented reality overlays providing animation and three dimensional depth, paired with audio tracks by mainstream talent. There are several tiers of ownership, with each tier providing added bonuses to holders such as custom skins, pets, emotes, and even in-game assets.
Next in the pipeline is the delivery of our minigame webapp, where players will be able to participate in gameplay, and importantly, financial incentives! We are projecting July 24th for the deployment of the minigame, and it will be accompanied by our TGE and game asset sale. We have several launchpads queued up for the TGE, and several marketplaces prepared for the NFT sales.
Ozzy: How do you turn in-game economics into real-world profit? What are roles of the ATLAS, POLIS tokens and NFTs?
Michael: ATLAS is the transactional currency of the game. Effectively the in-game gold. It is used for virtually every transaction within the Metaverse, and will also be one of the primary financial reward mechanisms for gamers. ATLAS also provides a 33% discount on certain asset purchases from us, the developer, such as Ships and Components.
POLIS is a dual-purposed governance token. Within the game, POLIS provides the holder with strategic benefits of political domination. Controlling a region of space opens up mechanics of taxation of other players, and the ability to define rules, laws, fines and fees within the micro-metropolis. Externally, POLIS provides holders with true governance rights over long-term development decision making. Opening up the potential for pure decentralization of game development in the years to follow. And naturally, POLIS provides a 33% discount on Land and Crew when purchased from us .
Ozzy: There is an interesting statement in your white paper ‘A supplemental objective of the development team is to drive real-world human innovation and progress by leveraging this virtual world as an experimental sandbox for economic and governance research’ can you elaborate on this?
Michael: The beauty of a simulated world is in the ability to experiment with alternative systems imposed by society. Concepts surrounding economics, society, politics, governance, and more can all be replicated in the Metaverse, and outcomes of these experiments can be more rapidly analysed and modified. We want to leverage this potential to enact change in the real world (meat space).
Best audience question competition…the winner is !!!
We had an amazing level of audience participation, close to 100 questions posted in a couple of minutes !!! It just shows the popularity of Star Atlas and the anticipation that the community has for it. Alas there can only be one winner, here is the question and answer from Michael
Michael’s answer (He really loved the question)
We asked Michael what made him choose the winning question, he had this to say:
“@minkailu’s question struck a personal chord with me, because we truly are considering the potential societal impact of Star Atlas. This concept is incredibly disruptive, and has far-reaching consequences, and we want to ensure that we are acting as responsible stewards of humanity.” — Michael Wagner
So there you have it folks, another excellent AMA about a stellar project.
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For more information about Star Atlas use the key resources below: