Chris is the community manager of Hoard, the creators of Plasma Dog. He and his team are focused on enabling true ownership of assets in video games –with ethereum-based builds. He has spoken about the influence of blockchain in video games and society at events like NIFTY, the Ethereum Community Fund’s Non-Fungible Summit, NFT.NYC, and a number of ETHGlobal hackathons. This month, we get to know more about Chris, Hoard and its projects and how it has been building on the OMG Network.
Q: Could you tell us a little bit more about yourself, your background and what you do at Hoard?
A: My name is Chris Robison, and I’m the community manager at Hoard, where we enable true ownership of virtual assets inside of video games. I discovered bitcoin back in 2011 while I was a student at the University of Portland. The entire concept completely captivated me, and it’s been a non-stop journey ever since. I included bitcoin in my senior capstone project, and after graduating, continued to engage in the community attending various local meetups and participating in online forums. For a period of time, I was one of the top contributors to the Ethereum stack overflow.
In 2017 I was leading communications for global operations at a Fortune 500 in Seattle when I realized blockchain had, after all these years, actually become a formal industry and I had more to contribute to it than ever before. I joined Hoard as it was coming out of stealth mode and now spend my time educating gamers, developers, and blockchain enthusiasts on the benefits of adding True Ownership to video games. I sincerely believe games will be one of the first places crypto will gain mass adoption, and it will be the cultural lynchpin for decentralization.
Q: Tell us about the inspiration behind Plasma Dog?
A: Plasma Dog is a retro-style, pixel art, 2D platformer with a gameplay similar to the original Super Mario titles. Plasma Dog, named after Jun Hasegawa’s pet Golden Retriever*, traverses the Blockchain World collecting coins while stomping enemy characters. The theme of Plasma Dog is educational and intended to passively teach players about fundamental Plasma architecture features. The in-game coins, for example, are called “UTXOs,” which reflects the Unspent-Transaction-Output scheme Plasma uses to ensure users balances are totally secure. And the bad guys, as another example, are named after bad things that could happen in a Plasma chain, including: Double Spend Attacks, Fraudulent Exits, and Faulty Childchains (don’t worry, though. Even if these bad guys get you, your coins are still safe in your wallet!)
Q: Tell us about your experience working with the OMG Network, how was it starting all the way from the first testnet and now being on public alpha?
A: It’s really not an exaggeration to say working with the OMG Network has been one of the team’s most gratifying experiences to date. Hoard began more than a year ago, and even back then we made the very conscious decision to scale with Plasma. We wanted to optimize for True Ownership, and Plasma offered the appropriate security guarantees to ensure that.
Choosing Plasma was not the easiest decision — we knew it would be a long and tedious process and that other L2 solutions were more readily available. So when we were finally able to deploy Plasma Dog in November at DevCon on testnet and see everything finally come to fruition, we felt exceptionally validated and proud. The OmiseGO team put in endless amounts of work to design and implement the network, and we provided them with support and testing to prove that it could process a scalable transaction volume. It did, and when we re-released Plasma Dog for the Ari Alpha deployment in February, we were able to easily process more than 32k transactions in the first 24 hours for just a couple hundred dollars in testnet Ether.
Q: What exciting things have you achieved on the network?
A: One of the most interesting things we’ve been able to do with Plasma Dog on the OMG Network is prove the concept of “streaming money.” Most blockchain games today are turn-based. And in many ways, this is more due to the costly constraints of blockchain, rather than a stylistic decisions of the game designers. Plasma changes this by dramatically reducing the costs for on-chain settlements. With Plasma Dog we demonstrated this advantage by immediately depositing coins into the player’s wallet as soon as they were collected in the game. Because Plasma can process all player transactions into a single bulk settlement, we are able to offer players with a more high-fidelity gaming experience, which feels closer to the types of games they’re used to playing.
Q: We’ve heard about this new game your team is developing, could you tell us more about it? How is it going to be different from Plasma Dog and what should the public expect from it?
A: Our newest game is called My Memory of Us. It was originally released by Juggler Games in October last year on Steam, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and the Nintendo Switch. It is the first integration to come out of our private alpha developers’ program, and it is set for re-release on Steam later this quarter for the first time with True Ownership. The game is a 2D puzzler set in a dystopian, alternative history meant to reflect real events that took place during World War II. While Plasma Dog was really a proof-of-concept, MMoU has an entire mythology for players to immerse themselves. The storyline and narration are truly works of art in their own right, and our biggest expectation is we believe My Memory of Us will elevate the genre of blockchain gaming to be more focused on unlocking new types of “fun” rather than speculation.
Q: What do you look forward to doing on the OMG Network?
A: I’m excited to re-experience something from the early days of Bitcoin: cheap transactions. This might sound simple and boring, but it’s actually quite profound. We used to brag about how it would cost users less than a penny to send any amount of money to anyone anywhere in the world at anytime. That value proposition reduced the barrier to mass adoption more than most A: people might appreciate. Early adopters were fearless in transferring even small units of value around the network just to test new services. We need that fearlessness again, especially now that we have an even richer ecosystem to explore in Ethereum. Imagine how significant this will be when it’s transposed to the world of video games — we will need players to be just as fearless in exploring their virtual worlds with their virtual assets with anyone at anytime. That will be how we get successful blockchain games.
Q: What OmiseGO technology are you excited to develop on?
A: The fiat on-off ramps enabled by the OMG Network and wallets are going to be some of the most exciting pieces of infrastructure to develop on. They’ll probably be the first instruments that help connect the virtual worlds of video games with the real world. Players will be able to raid a village one evening in their favorite game and spend their digital loot at their local cafe for a cup of coffee the next morning without even thinking about it. That type of experience will be novel and exciting. It will benefit both gaming culture and the blockchain ecosystem as a whole.
Q: With the technology Hoard and OmiseGO is building where do you see the world of gaming heading?
A: True Ownership is going to cause the real world to merge with virtual worlds. We already see how interconnected reality has become with social media –imagine this happening with games. When a critical mass of games are eventually built on the same (for lack of a better term) “payment rails” as assets in the real world, then value from games can be extracted in new and meaningful ways. In the not-so-distant future, a “happening” in a video game will have as much influence over a real-world event as an outrageous selfie or tweet at an award show.
Try out Plasma Dog HERE
*EDIT: Corrected erratum stating that Plasma (Jun Hasegawa’s Dog) is a Labrador. Plasma is a Golden Retriever.