The Splinterviews:Deep Dives With The Movers And Shakers Of the Splinterlands World.Today--The Coding King Cryptomancer Talks Land!
Imagine if you could learn from the experts on how to grow and scale your Splinterlands empire.What a goldmine that would be. To this end, every week I'll be interviewing the game's heavy hitters. The smartest and most thoughtful operators, who have scaled the Eiger to rise to the highest levels of the game--the Splinterpreneurs, if you will. If you have ambitions of quitting your job, and living the crypto dream full-time, read on, mes amis.
Many dream of developing their own games, but in truth it can be a lonely place. When things go right, you are capo-di-tutti-capi--the boss of all bosses. When things go awry, well, justified or not, you are going to get both barrels from certain quarters, day-in, day-out. Aggroed lives these CEO blues, which I'm sure lead to him weeping into his multi-million stache of cards each night. #FirstWorldProblems
However, there is a core member of the development team that no one, I repeat NO ONE, ever has a bad word to say about. The Tom Hanks/George Clooney of the Splinterlands inner circle --- Cryptomancer. This perennially evergreen OG software developer is always an oasis of calm and positivity in the bedlam of any weekly AMA. Now of course, he does have reasons to be cheerful. A collection power of 15,432,146? 59 million DEC?? A monthly airdrop of $40,019.463, even after SPS has fallen in price recently???
Numbers like this and still universally liked? Whilst I put on "Some Guys Have All The Luck" I decided to investigate, and find out how things had gone quite this right. Teach me, Obi Wan. And teach me quick.
Cryptomancer, ohayo gozaimasu! Many thanks for making the time to chat with me. Before we get into things, could you tell us a little about yourself?
I'd be delighted. My real name is Erik, but you’ll know me in-game as @cryptomancer, one of the core devs of Splinterlands. I’ve been with the company for a little over 2 years, and am responsible for coding a lot of major game features (Anytime tournaments, Collection Power, Brawls, and the Chaos Legion sale to name a few).
I live in Tokyo, Japan, but I’m originally from Seattle in the United States. I moved to Tokyo after graduating from university. I was planning to only stay in Japan for a year, but then I met my wife, got married, and just sort of ended up staying. Tokyo is a great place to live!
Before Splinterlands, I was a software developer in the finance industry and worked for several global investment banks.
I love the banker-turned-gamer aspect. Without getting too lah de dah here, I was chatting to a former VP of Goldman Sachs last night who has given that up to invest in games full-time now. Which shows you how lucrative the market is at present. If you had to choose 3 words to describe yourself, which would they be?
Organized, logical, obsessively neat (I guess that’s 4 but oh well).
I can see why you're a Japanophile. Organised and neat are highly-prized traits there. The nail that sticks out and so on. Now, PC or console? If PC why? And if console which one?
Console, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. I’ve always been a big console gamer ever since I was a kid. I like to relax on my couch and play games on my big TV. Playing on a PC isn’t as comfortable for me.
Consoles for comfort every day, yep. Casting your mind back through the swirling mists of time, what was the first game you ever remember playing?
Super Mario Brothers for the NES. I guess I was maybe 5 years old at the time.
What a seminal classic that was! Mario and Luigi riding to Princess Toadstool's rescue. Hard to believe that was in 1985, and the franchise is still going strong to this day. Splinterlands aside, what’s your favourite game of all time?
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The Zelda series has always been one of my favorites, and as the first 3D Zelda game this one was truly revolutionary. It knocked my socks off and had an impact I’ve felt from few other games, before or since.
"Zelda Breath of the Wild 2" is mooting its release this year. You must be on tenderhooks. Anyway Mr C, we have now exchanged the necessary pleasantries , so let's get down to business. You are a core member of the team nowadays. Just how did this come to pass, and how did you discover the game?
I was a player before I was a team member, joining the game in August 2018 before Alpha packs had even sold out. I discovered it quite by accident; I had been involved with the Steem blockchain (the precursor to Hive) for a while, and was looking for interesting Steem-based projects to invest in, when I came across a Splinterlands blog post (at the time the game was called Steem Monsters).
Well, the stars certainly aligned for you there. Everyone has a beloved splinter and ability. Which is yours and why?
I’ve always been big on the Death Splinter. I love the dark, sometimes gruesome / scary creature designs. There’s just something about playing the “bad guy” team that feels appealing to me.
As far as abilities, I think I like Bloodlust the most. It was a lot of fun to code, and it makes Gladiator cards so delightfully overpowered! I never get tired of seeing one of my Gladiators get rolling & go on a successful rampage.
Ha! You playing "the bad guy" seems uniquely out of character. First vote we've had for Death here thus far. The Gladiator cards have, I agree, been such a great addition to the eco-system. On a similar note, there are some cards that we covet, we cherish above all others. Our precious. Which card brings out the inner Gollum in you?
Oh that’s easy, of course my dream is to obtain a gold foil Archmage Arius (there’s only 3 of that card in circulation).
Otherwise, I’d love to have a completely maxed collection of gold foil Death cards someday.
It's over $30K for a regular Arius at the moment, with no golds on the market. I dread to think how much they might go for. Conversely, we all have a card we loathe. Which is yours, and why do you want to stamp on it?
I don’t really loathe any particular card. There are some cards that I feel almost never get used, which could use a little loving care. Gremlin Blaster, for example. What is up with that card?
Maybe these poor under-utilized cards can be given a breathe of fresh life as workers in the upcoming Land expansion.
As a member of the team, we can't shatter the omertà here for "a made man". However, without you ending up sleeping with the fishes, what’s your greatest weakness in Splinterlands?
People who play better than I do. xD
I’m actually not that great a player. You’ll never see me at the top of the leaderboards. Being one of the game’s developers doesn’t automatically make me a good player as well. Which is a sign of good game design, by the way. You think the guy that invented Chess could beat one of today’s Grandmasters?
That would be a resounding "niet". Speaking of which, time to be put on the spot—who would you say is the most difficult opponent to beat in the game?
Jacekw or Byzantinist. I want to curl up in a corner and cry every time I face one of them in a tournament.
Two behemoths of the game there and no mistake. Jacekw in particular crops up each time I ask this question. Everyone has had their highest and lowest moments in the game. Which were your zeniths and nadirs?
Highest moment = when Chaos Legion launched, and all the late nights of coding and preparation paid off. I’m happy to say Chaos Legion was one of our smoothest and most successful product launches ever, and I’m quite proud of the role I played in making that happen.
Lowest moment = whenever I think about how much my hoard of original Alpha packs would be worth today if I still had them. But kidding aside, there have been no low moments in this game for me. It’s been a non-stop incredible ride from day 1 first as a player, and then as a team member.
Alpha packs are $262 as I type this. Ouch. The benefit of hindsight, eh? Anyways, Chaos Legion general release is upon us—which are cards are you buying and why?
All of them (regular foil). Cause I simply must have a maxed set. Anything less just won’t do.
A worthy ambition. Splinterlands has recently experienced a huge period of growth. As a relative veteran here, what tips would you give to those just starting out and wanting to build a strong deck?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can get something for nothing with this game. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. If you want to get a lot out of it, you need to put a lot in.
Also, it takes time. I’ve been playing this game for years, gradually building up my collection and game assets from nothing. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Build up piece by piece, little by little, and keep doing it. It’s worth the effort in the long run.
Finally, don’t make every decision a financial decision. Splinterlands is a game. It’s meant to be fun. Enjoy it!
I think it does get forgotten here sometimes that it is a game first and foremost, certainly. Righty ho, well 2022 is shaping up to be a massively important time for the eco-system, with Chaos Legion, Lands and Riftwatchers being released. What are your plans for this year?
With the Chaos Legion sale underway, my next immediate priority is developing the Modern & Wild Ranked formats. It’s going to be an exciting year, and is already shaping up to be our best ever! After that, I’ll be working on Land, which is going to add a whole new dimension of strategy & depth to the game. I'm not prepared to share any details as we're still in the planning process, but I will say Land will open up multiple new avenues of earning potential, and be a springboard to growing the game to the next level of awesomeness. There will be many new types of resources that you can harvest from Land, and trade & use in various ways that enhance the basic gameplay. Call it DeFi with a gaming twist... "GameFi!"
GameFi? With multiple new avenues to earn? You read it here first, my friends! Now there are so many blogs, YouTubers and Twitch accounts out there. As a industry mover and shaker, who do you recommend following to stay abreast of the latest industry news?
I don’t pay attention to social media myself, so I have no recommendations. I’m too busy coding to concern myself much with other projects outside Splinterlands.
I generally find out about good opportunities in the industry by word-of-mouth, and various contacts and associates.
Of course you should keep an eye on our Splinterlands Town Halls & Hive blog posts if you want to keep up with latest developments within our community.
I don't think I'm alone in wishing that I'd love to glance through your Rolodex of contacts. Gosh, to be a fly on those walls... Are there any other games are you playing or investing in right now?
I don’t invest in any other Play-To-Earn games besides Splinterlands, and generally avoid PC games these days.
In the console world, I’m working my way through Metroid Dread (a fantastic and worthy successor to Super Metroid!) and Resident Evil: Village (this game takes creepy to a whole new level).
Right, let's get up close and personal. Have you ever had a crush on a video game character?
Of course. What nerd hasn’t? There was a time when I couldn’t get enough of Yuna from Final Fantasy 10.
More recently, I’ve been smitten with Jinx from League of Legends, after watching the new Arcane TV show (don’t judge, I have a soft spot for tragic anti-heroes!).
Yuna AND Jinx? Arigato gozaimasu for coming clean (plus, you know his Achilles' Heel now, folks). Now, everywhere you turn at the moment, there's so much fantastic content being released by gaming developers and studios. However, what is a really popular game that everyone seems to adore but you can't stand?
I don’t know… all those annoying smartphone games that suck you in and force you to keep making in-game purchases over & over if you want to keep advancing?
I’d say people should stop playing those, and start playing Splinterlands! Get something back for your time. :-)
Said like a true company man, there. Time to name and shame—what is the worst game you’ve ever played?
Tough call - I can’t really think of one offhand, I generally don’t play a game unless I’ve researched it well and am sure I’ll like it. I tend to stick with established franchises that I’ve loved since childhood. My time is too precious to waste on bad games.
I can imagine your spare time is at a premium. When you are not forging new frontiers in the blockchain hemisphere, what are your other hobbies and interests?
Reading (I’m big on sci-fi & fantasy), and crypto investing.
Now, big drum roll for this. Finally, and perhaps most importantly—what is your favorite swear word?
Fudge nuggets and dang-nab-it (they roll off the tongue so nicely). Standard swear words are overrated. Dare to be different!
Ned Flanders would be proud. He/She Who Dares, Wins. And clearly you are. Cryptomancer, it's been emotional and the pleasure has been all mine. Much obliged.
So people, what are you thoughts his advice? Anything you'd add on the investment or deck-building side, for players both new and old alike? Let me know in the comments below.
After all "I'm Cryptomancer. We're all Cryptomancer."