Meet a Builder with Star Atlas
Curious about the world of web3 projects you can earn with, but short on time? Look no further than our Meet a Builder series.
In these short format interviews, we speak with the teams behind your favourite projects for their insights on what they’re building behind the scenes and what’s next. Join us for an inside look at the projects shaping the future of the web3 earning ecosystem.
Join us this week as we dive into the extraordinary world of Star Atlas and have the pleasure of chatting with its CEO, Michael Wagner. Prepare to be captivated by the convergence of cutting-edge technology, immersive gameplay, and breathtaking visuals in Star Atlas. With Unreal Engine 5’s Nanite powering its graphics and the Solana Blockchain as its foundation, Star Atlas offers an unparalleled gaming experience that leaves users in awe.
SARAH, web3earner: Welcome back to our Meter Builder interview Series where I have the pleasure of talking to the teams behind your favorite web3 earning projects.
Today we have the pleasure of stepping into the extraordinary world of Star Atlas, where cutting-edge technology, immersive gameplay, and breathtaking visuals converge. Powered by Unreal Engine 5’s Nanite and built on the Solana blockchain, Star Atlas has created an unparalleled gaming experience for its users in this futuristic universe.
Three factions wage intergalactic conflict, allowing players to earn rewards for their contributions in gameplay with an innovative economic system utilizing NFTs. Star Atlas pioneers the play-to-earn gaming movement, opening doors to a new era of interactive intergalactic virtual reality.
It’s an honor to have the CEO of Star Atlas joining me today to give us a closer look behind the scenes. Michael, how are you going?
SARAH, Star Atlas:I’m doing great, Sarah. Great to be here. Thanks for having me on.
SARAH: Lovely to have you. Can you start us off by explaining to us what Star Atlas is and how does its gameplay modules work?
MICHAEL: Well, the really interesting thing about Star Atlas is that it’s a lot of different things to all of the different participants and stakeholders within the ecosystem. So, we are a set of gaming products or a gaming platform, if you will. We are a development ecosystem with permissionless composability, and we’re also a dynamic economy with a socio-political system overarching all of this.
Now, from the gameplay perspective, which is what we’re really focused on today, we have a number of different product lines. The first of those is really our flagship product, and that’s this hyper-realistic cinematic quality world being developed in Unreal Engine 5. The idea there is you can perform and participate in a number of different career paths. You can explore the universe, extract materials, operate as a refiner, be the CEO of a corporation, or be a bounty hunter looking for targets and collecting your bounties. So, there’s a number of activities that you’ll be able to participate in, but that really speaks to people who have a desire for exploration, and we provide an entire universe for them to do that.
We also have a browser-based product, which is more top-down real-time strategy. This is developed using WebGL assets, so it’s 3D in-browser. The core gameplay loop there is territory control. So, you’re competing on a map against all other players in this galaxy, and you’re collecting resources, constructing star bases, defending those star bases, and going out to attack and capture other territory.
We do also have a mobile application that’s in development right now. We haven’t shared many details on that, but it’s more of a companion app that integrates kind of everything together across the other gaming products.
And I know this is a short segment, but there is a lot here. We also have a graphic novel product, which is comic book format. It’s 18 episodes long. We’ve launched six of those. We have a restart of that coming out in July with the seventh episode and second story arc in the graphic novel.
And one point that I do want to make that I think is really important is we’ve taken a very aggressive stance in our philosophy to on-chain game development. So, it’s not just NFT integration. It’s not just a crypto-based economy. And it’s not just this tokenized governance structure, but it’s actually building game logic that lives on the Solana blockchain. And while that’s very challenging to accomplish, what it enables is a world of creation outside of our studio building the game. It allows other people to build mods and extensions and DeFi dApps and other ways to provide their own value which they’re able to capture some of.
One thing that I think is really important is we’ve taken a very aggressive stance in our philosophy to on-chain game development. So it’s not just NFT integration, it’s not just a crypto-based economy, and it’s not just a tokenized governance structure. But it’s actually building game logic that lives on the Solana blockchain. And while that’s very challenging to accomplish, what it enables is a world of creation outside of our studio building the game. It allows other people to build mods and extensions and DeFi dApps and other ways to provide their own value, which they’re able to capture.
Another point that ties into everything here is that we’re also very progressive with our intellectual property stance. We’ve recently released a program that ties into the use and commercialization of the Star Atlas IP. Anybody around the world is able to build a business using the Star Atlas brand, create products and services, and generate revenue up to a million dollars with no royalty fees, no licensing fees, and no revenue share due to us. We’ve already seen some 45 different companies and projects come online to operate within that program. So when I say it’s a lot of different things to a lot of different people, there are many ways to participate. But it’s really more about the ethos behind what Star Atlas is, and our community seems to love it.
SARAH: It’s absolutely incredible what you guys are building, honestly. Like, this might be a short segment. I reckon we could do an hour-long segment on each of those points you just made, or even longer. You guys are doing some incredible work and really providing for the ecosystem and the community that you have.
SARAH: Can you explain to us what and how players can earn with Star Atlas?
MICHAEL: Sure. So, I will preface this with, we are still in early-stage development. We do have a very long-term vision, and building out a triple-A quality product, particularly the product that we’re building in Unreal Engine, does take many years to complete.
Now, players have the ability to access this gameplay through a variety of modules, and we’ve recently released one of those. But the core methods of earning today revolve around two or three different applications on the play.staratlas.com portal. So, this is our marketplace, but also where you can access things like faction fleet.
With faction fleet, players are able to take the NFTs that they own and list those to a faction that they’ve selected and manage a set of resources. So, they’re responsible for managing food, fuel, ammunition, and toolkits. And to the extent that they keep those restocked and replenished and have a non-zero balance, they’re able to earn Atlas through that gameplay loop.
We also have land-based assets called faction claims or claim stakes that enlist into the faction claims. Those produce the same resources that get consumed by ships. So, players are then able to produce those and either consume them themselves or turn around and sell those to other players who need those so that they can continue operating in faction fleet.
It’s not as much of gameplay earning potential, but we do have these two lockers on our governance platform at govern.staratlas.com. And through that, they can lock Atlas or they can lock Polis, that’s the in-game currency and the governance token. And these provide a variety of benefits, one of those being earnings in Polis.
But in the Atlas locker, in particular, it’s also a way for them to receive discounts on secondary marketplace transactions. Now, this is very powerful when the whole objective is to transition into a player-driven economy wherein virtually every asset that is extracted from the game or discovered within the game is intended to be recovered by a player and sold to another player.
And so, we expect a large GDP over time, gross domestic product, and also a high transaction volume within this economy. And so, therefore, there’s a benefit in having a reduced royalty fee rate on those transactions. But on the other side, which is really exciting, is we are kicking off formally our governance platform with a proposal and voting system.
So, those players that hold Polis and have that locked in the locker are able now to comment on proposals, eventually submit their own proposals, and collectively determine the future of Star Atlas itself.
SARAH: Can you touch on the NFTs and how they sort of play into the economic system?
Well, NFTs are the core asset base of virtually everything observable inside the universe of Star Atlas. We have a number of different asset classes. The primary one today is through ship NFTs.
But these ships are all… we have a… we have 49 of them available today within our roadmap. We have some 145, that might go up to 150 ships through time, that scale from the very small all the way up to the gigantic. We’re talking about ships that maybe start at three meters, they go all the way up to a kilometer in length.
And within those ships, you’re also able to configure them in a variety of ways. So, you can customize components and modules and weapons and shields.
But also, a key component of that, which is another asset class, is the crew member itself. So, you will be performing functions with your avatar in this universe, but you’ll also have an entire crew staffing your ship. And those crew members are also NFTs. Now, they can also be replaced by real players to the extent that you have a group of friends, a guild, a clan of people that want to operate your ship collectively, they can do that.
But otherwise, for the automated processes, you use these crew members. We also have a number of different types of land, so productive land like these claim stakes, as well as having more cosmetic-style land on central space stations. For those people who are looking for a home inside this digital world, they can have a house, they can build a business, they can have industrial warehouses, and all of those reside on the central space station.
SARAH: Oh, amazing! My gamer in me is just like geeking out. I just wanna go play it.
SARAH: And finally, can you share with us some latest developments and how will that impact players earning rewards?
MICHAEL: Well, we were just chatting a little bit about this before we hopped on here, but today happens to be quite a busy day, and this year, in general, has been really busy. I would probably point to first the showroom module, which is an Unreal Engine. Now, a major gameplay loop that is rising out of the showroom is a ground-based hover racing with the ships that you own. Cool! As it stands today, you can think of it as competitive combat racing tournament-style. So, you can kind of think of it as like Mario Kart or pod racing, but with these extremely high-quality spaceships that we’re building at Automata.
The gameplay loop right now is single-player time trial, but in the not-too-distant future, we’ll be releasing that multiplayer component with combat. And again, leading into a tournament system. And through that tournament system, we do intend to introduce ways of earning Atlas and earning rewards, whether that be through components and resources or through the in-game currency itself. But that is up and coming. We did just release this 2.1 version of that module, I want to say maybe two weeks ago. We’ve seen an incredible uptake in the amount of downloads that we’re seeing and the time that’s spent in-game.
It also has a number of kind of subsystems in there. You can go explore a space combat arena, and that’s PVE. You can go search for a flower; there is a team-based flower searching mode. You can explore very rough versions of the expansions of this showroom, which ultimately becomes a central space station. And that includes the central space station itself, as well as the expansion of the current showroom map.
One thing that is also in the very near future is we’ve activated a photographer career mode currently. The way we’re managing that is players are able to use a sophisticated photo mode in the game, take pictures of themselves and their ships, and the places they’re exploring. And they can submit that, and the submission actually goes to our Discord. And then there’s a ranking system of all players voting on the pictures that they think are the best. And that is going to lead to an earning possibility as well. And we’re seeing some really incredible player-generated content.
SARAH: UGC, that’s very innovative. I love that; that’s awesome.
MICHAEL: We’re both selective on UGC, but also, we very much believe in the potential of UGC in the future. So, we’re selective and protective in the sense that we still want to control the environment that we’re building because it’s at such a nascent stage. But part of our ethos, again, is this co-development and co-creation of our world. So, how can we start to unlock that potential today? And this photographer career mode was one of those ways that we could do that.
I will share also maybe just one more thing about the governance platform. It is coming online very soon. And the stage gameplay, that’s the Star Atlas Golden Era, that’s our browser-based gameplay. This is where we’re taking the most advanced steps in on-chain game development. We released something that we called “Escape Velocity” back in April, and this was really a rudimentary version of the game. But for us, it was more of a test environment where we could test some of the on-chain game logic.
We turned that into a scavenger hunt gameplay mode. Users are moving from sector to sector on the map, scanning those sectors, and there’s a chance they discover loot. There’s some really great loot on that table, including some of the best ships that exist in the game. As much as it was a test, it was incredible to see the amount of adoption for this. One of the core metrics we use are things like how many transactions did we make on Solana because every movement that a player made was, in fact, a Solana transaction. Since April 26, we’ve done over 70 million transactions. At one point, we made up 12% of the total transaction volume of Solana itself on a daily basis.
So, we are looking to sunset that pretty soon, but that moves into the next more refined version of the game, which we’re calling “resource extraction and crafting.” Through that gameplay model, it will be similar to the loot system, but also with Atlas earnings. Players are going out mining asteroids, refining raw materials through crafting blueprints, and creating components. They’ll be able to combine all of those to redeem for other assets within the loot table.
SARAH: Wow, you guys are doing some inspiring work. I am extremely energized by this conversation, and it’s incredible to see what you guys are building.
Thank you so much for joining me today, Michael. It was an absolute pleasure and a privilege to have you on here and see what you guys are doing and building behind the scenes at Star Atlas. Thank you to all those who have tuned in, and we will see you next time.
Learn more about the amazing world of Star Atlas and how you can start playing, crafting exploring and earning today!