Dev Blog Ep. 08: Genesis Guardian NFT Airdrop

By Nayef Zarrour, Web3 Operations Lead and Tore Blystad, Creative Director

Hey Nyan Army!

As you might have read in last week’s Dev Blog, there are countless challenges when building a brand new AAA game with a brand new team. From production to marketing and game design to animation, developing a new title that gamers will love is a long (and fun) journey of vital victories and lessons learned.

The AAA development process becomes infinitely more challenging with the addition of in-game NFTs, blockchain integration, and our dual-token economy. That’s why we decided to discuss the process of developing our Genesis Guardian Mech NFTs for this week’s Dev Blog episode.

Background

When we launched the mint of our Genesis Nyan NFTs in October 2021, we promised owners that they would have the ability to mint two Genesis Guardian Mech NFTs for each Guardian NFT they owned. What makes the Guardian Mech NFT so special is that they represented playable characters in our Nyan Heroes game. For us, that meant figuring out how the artwork, design, rarity, skins, and features of each NFT impacted the gameplay experience.

Pushing the Boundaries

We didn’t know how we were going to do it, but we knew what we wanted. We wanted to accomplish things that haven’t been done before. We wanted to push the boundaries and give our NFTs real, tangible utility in addition to being visually stunning. We wanted to be revolutionary.

After several scoping and planning meetings, we began development and were marching towards our goal. Until we weren’t. On a late night call two weeks into the production timeline for the NFTs, we decided to get brutally honest with ourselves. “The artwork is great, but is this a AAA NFT? This has been done before. This doesn’t push the boundaries.’’ we said to each other. To be clear, we love the expressive illustrations of our concept artist, Moritz. However, we realized that the most powerful visual we could create for the Guardian Mech airdrop was to display the actual in-game asset with all the bells and whistles. It was clear we hadn’t been thinking big enough.

We are building a AAA game, so it is important to us that all of our products reflect that level of craftsmanship and detail. But what is a AAA NFT? We went down the rabbit hole of how we can maximize our NFT’s utility and functionality while still pushing the edge of what’s been done before in gaming. We scrapped everything and hit reset. New game, new goals.

Before the pivot — initial NFT art and design concepts
Before the pivot — initial NFT art and design concepts

The Guardian Mech airdrop was scheduled to occur in the 2nd quarter of 2022. As a team, we felt it was more important to take the extra time we need to make our NFT a best-in-class product for our communities. Therefore, the Guardian Mech Airdrop will be held in the 3rd Quarter. Here’s why.

Our Decisions

“Because we are developing a AAA game, everything we make must be AAA, including our NFTs.”

We started with the artwork. Our game is high fidelity and 3D; our NFTs should be too. Included in this first Mech NFT airdrop are four Guardian classes: Assassin, Warrior, Medic, and Defender. Each Guardian will be equipped with a head, back, and arm attachment that will individually and collectively have unique abilities in the game. All guardian and attachment artwork, including the skins that bring them to life, will be unique across the five NFT rarities: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Ultra Rare, and Legendary.

Rare (left) and Legendary (right) head attachment prototypes

Our goal is to create art that is so visually incredible that NFT holders proudly display their Guardian Mech as their profile picture on social channels. We love a good profile picture NFT project. Just look at our internal team Slack. It is filled with amazing profile pictures of our favorite projects (including lots of Nyans!).

This was a no brainer for the team. Our Guardian Mech NFTs will be modelled in 3D and worthy of being your profile picture. 🐱

Work in Progress Assassin Guardian with head, back, and arm attachments

From inception, our vision has been to make each Guardian NFT a unique, one-of-one character in our game. However, this airdrop pivot would materially accelerate that timeline. This would require us to reevaluate and reprioritize our development roadmap across all work streams in order to accommodate the NFT airdrop. Over the next few nights, we mapped out the new roadmap and measured the potential impact to every workstream across the studio. Everything fell into place perfectly. Another decision made; each Guardian Mech NFT, with its three attachments, and skin, will be a unique, one-of-one playable character in Nyan Heroes. LFG

Work In Progress render of the Warrior Guardian
Work In Progress render of the Warrior Guardian

Lastly, we decided that a AAA NFT doesn’t just get airdropped into a holder’s wallet. Rather, it’s “unboxed” into their wallet through a digital sensory experience that’s unique to their specific NFT(s). Within 12 hours of this idea forming, we had a storyboard and our art and animation teams were running with the idea. Another major decision was made; each Genesis Nyan Holder will be invited to experience a digital unboxing of their Genesis Guardian NFT.

There’s so much more we have planned!! Expect a few more surprises included with the Guardian Mech airdrop that we’re keeping top secret for now. If you’re a really curious cat, we dropped a clue in a recent town hall. 😉

Work in progress of an Ultra Rare Assassin Guardian NFT concept
Work in progress of an Ultra Rare Assassin Guardian NFT concept

Thank you for understanding and being a part of this insanely fun and wild ride. We cannot wait to show you more of what we’ve been working on.

Gratitude,

Nayef and Tore

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