Wizard Wednesday Recap, 2021-07-21

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DeeZe, the host of this Twitter Spaces, received an honorary Wizard, 3D Wizz DeeZe, based on his iconic Cryptopunks avatar.

Editor's Note: This is not a formal Wizard Wednesday - those began the following week. However, Elf and Dotta held a joint Twitter spaces with DeeZe during this Wednesday where they talked about the project. This was a big moment in the very earliest weeks of the project, so it is included here as the "prequel" to Wizard Wednesday. The Spaces lasted about 1 hour 40 minutes, and was in a different format than a typical Wizard Wednesday - the entry will reflect his.

The Cult Assembles at a DeeZe Spaces

Every wizard uses affinity to help collect a set of cohesive traits. Void Disciple Samael of the Brambles (#1221) is a 4/5 affinity wizard that was listed on the "floor" on September 2, 2022.

Dotta acknowledges that he needs to choose a wizard for his profile picture eventually, but for now he represents himself with a puppet pic. He wanted the Dotta custom wizard to go to the community. Elf recognizes a lot of wizard-holders from the #FRWC discord on the call. Some of them were brought up to speak as well.

Beginning with the Basics

The founders started by describing the core concepts of Forgotten Runes. Elf: The "Forgotten Runes" have actually been forgotten by the world, and the Wizard's mission is to remind them. I view Dotta as a wizard, he built a "spellbook" that literally summons wizard. Artists, poets, writers use words and images to bring concepts and visions to life. A wizard puts his mark on the world, puts his rune on the door.

Dotta: Some of the concepts I talk about will be known to the Wizards community, but might be new to people not familiar with them. It's important to understand that it's not about how rare your wizard is in some pre-determined rank. What is special about FRWC is the concept of affinity. If you generate 10K random combinations of traits for wizards, you will get some funny combinations, but not necessarily good. We want every wizard to be good. In our generator, we used affinity to get better wizards. For example, we might make "water affinity" wizards contain traits that would make sense for them.

Elf: The end result is that the collection feels more cohesive, each wizard has a unity in its look. As a result, each wizard feels like they have a story behind them. The parts are put together in a meaningful way.

Dotta: The names play into it as well. Instead of just using numbers, we have a descriptive name for each one. And the names and images are all coded on-chain. Even if IPFS goes away, you can recreate the wizards from the on-chain data. Owen from 0xmons helped us understand how to achieve this. Large files can't be stored directly on-chain. So projects like Punks create a hash, and store that on-chain. This helps with the validity of the image, but not the image itself. IPFS can help store the images. But the IPFS service is not infallible, it could always fail. And it doesn't have the persistence guarantee of the Ethereum blockchain. The wizard images are 50x50 pixels, scaled up. We store on IPFS as a mirror for compatibility. But we also fit the image data in the blockchain transaction so it is permanently recorded. (Simplified explanation of what Dotta said).

Magus Devon of the Quantum Downs was one of the first Wizards to distinguish themselves, thanks to the lore and commissioning efforts of Madotsuki.

Dotta: We created an NFT called the Decoder crystal, which contains a code you can run, which downloads the data from Ethereum and recreates the wizards from scratch. You can find the Decoder in our OpenSea profile.

Behind the Design of the Wizards

Elf: We chose pixel art because it is minimal, not a lot of details. Your imagination is allowed to fill all the gaps in information. That's been a guiding ethos for this whole project, and it has a lot of depth and mystery, by design. An NFT is more than just a crypto token, it has an aesthetic component. Rarity tools is great, and we have a community-built tool as well. But we are trying to push things beyond quantitative-based rankings.

On Decentralized World-Building

Dotta: We designed the characters to have stories to tell. We have found many wizard-holders are very eager to tell their wizards' stories. For example Madotsuki's stories, Margaret Labour's poems, and fan art. So we are creating the Book of Lore to help the community tell the story of FRWC. The stories don't have to be logically consistent. Take for example the Spiderman franchise, with multiple retellings. However differently than Spiderman, we want to have a decentralized media property, an anti-Disney.

Elf: Right now, Disney is buying up every media property available. And every time, they kind of ruin it. Some of it is good, some not. But ultimately, the corporate machine takes the magic out of it. Spin-offs, merchandise, creativity-by-committee, for the purpose of profit. We have a cast of 10K characters, with about 2K wizard holders, who are empowered to create. Madotsuki and his wife, Margaret, Sharkchild, all are doing great things. And each contribution benefits the whole community. This is the most exciting thing for me.

Kid Hastings: I think the guild concept is really great too.

Dotta: I think the people who have chosen to participate in the guilds have found it fun and interesting. We don't have clear answers yet on funding models, for now it's a labor of love for people who love to tell these stories.

An expanded version of the Runiverse world map, which first appeared in Issue #0 of the Magic Machine comic book, circa June 2022.

The Forgotten Runes Team's Involvement in World-Building

Dotta: We are having some early conversations with external parties around telling much bigger stories in the form of games or other media. So we will be involved in the story-telling as well.

Elf: I am working on some of the meta-narrative, for example the piece of the world map that I released. I'm trying to guide the decentralized story-telling as best I can. But it will certainly take a life of its own. I'm planning to expand the map more eventually. I'm writing some meta-narrative lore. For example, many wizards look similar besides the color of their hat. The existing map has some color-based placed names, but not all of them, where are those others? I'm envisioning some differing factions that will be interacting in some way.

Dotta: We are inspired by Tolkien's world-building. The modern spin on it is to open up the building to everyone in the age of social media. We want to build these wizard characters in such a way that wizard-holders have some commercial rights on top of your wizard.

Elf: Other NFT projects typically have one "character" with a bunch of different costumes. But we have 150 different character "races", and I want to write out more about each of these, where they come from. But if your wizard deviates from that meta-narrative, that's totally fine. We want to give people full creativity over their wizard. We chose to display a full-body character over a portrait. It may have hurt us in the short-term since it doesn't fit the profile picture as well. But we did this to show details that can aid in the storytelling.

Dotta: We want to provide assets for the wizards that aids in utility. We have indefinite plans to help you "walk around with your wizard" in some kind of metaverse.

The Forgotten Souls were included in the original Forgotten Runes roadmap.

Discussions on a Potential FRWC Game

Kid Hastings: In a possible game, do you see the rarer traits translating to a higher power/level, or is that more aesthetic and the wizards are all more balanced?

Elf: It would be cool to translate rarer items into special powers, but those decisions are further down the road. It would be cool to enter the game with the item in your minted wizard, and potentially gain others, or other familiars, in the game.

Dotta: We will work to keep things balanced in a way that is fun. Some wizards don't have runes or items, which could be a factor as well.

Hints of the Souls

Dotta: There will be an opportunity for people to sacrifice their wizards, if they so choose. Some people may receive a powerful ghost, and some may not. Sacrifice is not something to be taken lightly.

Elf: There will definitely be an element of risk to this, a reward is not assured. Our ideal is that the "ugly" wizards will get burned (although there are no ugly wizards :)

Dotta: The art (for Forgotten Souls) will be new, but could be related to the existing traits.

Gremplin would eventually burn their honorary wizard with a Sacred Flame and receive "The Ghost of Gremplin."

On "Influencer Honorary Wizards"

Kid Hastings: I noticed you made customized wizards for influencers. What kind of feedback did you get from them?

Dotta: Elf and I have been around for a while, in the industry. Myself on the development side, and Elf with art/NFTs. But one of the recommendations we got is to reach out to influencers and offer to create a wizard for them to help publicize the project. No obligation on their part to do anything specific. We got about 30 responses, and of the people who got wizards, we got many different responses. Some like DeeZe made it their profile pic for a while, while others didn't do anything. I can understand how some feel it's unfair because the custom traits are the "most rare."

Elf: We also made some custom wizards for some of our earliest, most passionate supporters, even if they didn't have a big following. So I wanted to mention that. We had some totally custom wizards, but we also have some custom wizard heads that made it into the collections, like gremplin and artchick.

Dotta: We never let in a wizard that we didn't feel was part of the universe.

Elf: Would I have done anything differently? We are going to do a small retcon, which means adjusting certain bits of information after the fact. But as far as the influencers, they were helpful to come up with some designs.

Dotta: I would do it again, we needed to get on the map in a crowded NFT space.

Deeze: I saw some influencers sold theirs, but mine is 420.69 ETH, basically I'm not planning on selling :)

DeMar: One thing you notice with the custom wizards, none of them have max affinity. So in the custom ranking in wizards.guide, which incorporates affinity & names, not just trait rarity, those wizards might not be at the top.

Kid Hastings: How did the influencers get their wizards, from a technical perspective?

Dotta: We minted the first 80 the day before the sale. 30 for community members / influencers, 50 for Elf and myself. I can understand that people felt bad because those were all low serial numbers.

The Secret Tower, as depicted on the Forgotten Runes website (circa September 2022). The original FRWC minting experience featured beautiful artwork and a fun, interactive experience.

Elf: The reason we kept so many is that we are still giving out wizards in contests, and to give to professional contacts and various other reasons. I kept the goat in my PFP and a couple others, but that's it. Satoshi still has $1 million bitcoins, so we did a bit better than him :)

Reminiscence on the Original Wizard Mint

Elf (In reply to a question about greatest challenges): Two days before launch, so many things were going wrong with the website. Testing it with different devices, browsers, was stressful. The day of, a cavalry of beta testers came in like the Riders of Rohan and we launched. We put a lot of love into the summoning process. We were excited when we got the website experience to work.

Kid Hastings: Did you run into any issues with people not understanding how to mint on the website?

Elf: I saw a few people confused, and I worried that people would want a more straight-forward interface. But 95% of the comments were positive. People seemed to understand how to do it.

Kid Hastings: I liked how you had to figure it out, and made the overall experience more rewarding and unique.

Elf: Someone actually gave us 80 ETH by mistake, and we had to reimburse them shortly before minting. They tried to interact directly with the smart contract.

dotta: One of my favorite pastimes last year has been looking at yield farms with no/bad interface, and being one of the only people benefitting from them through directly interacting with the contract.

On the Road Map (V1)

dotta: Going back to the road map, we created it due to pressure from people pre-mint. People accusing us of a cash grab. We had a list of things we wanted to do, so we gave in and created a published road map.

The cover to the Book of Lore, created by Ozzz. The Book of Lore is a keystone to the concept of decentralized world-building. You do not have to be a professional artist or writer to contribute to your character's lore.

Elf: We are now a month into this project, and I actually want to update the roadmap because there is so much we want to do.

dotta: I don't think we will drop 10K Warriors now. But looking at the world map, I want to populate it with more types of characters to flesh it out. It makes sense for those characters to be NFTs, but in conjunction with other initiatives and with the right timing.

Elf: If we do warriors or other characters, it won't just be "10K of this". The wizards will always be the core, any other characters would be connected to some type of additional idea, but the wizards will always be first.

Technical Q&A

Amir.KG: Have you considered moving this to another blockchain, in terms of expanding the accessibility of it?

dotta: Things are moving so fast right now. I think a game that would require more frequent blockchain interactions would be on an L2, using a bridge contract. But I don't see us launching the core ownership in another blockchain in the near term.

lee: You could bridge the ERC721 to another chain.

dotta: From a collector's perspective, the provenance of the wizards and other NFT characters will be on Ethereum. If people want to bridge their tokens to another chain using their own contracts, they can do so.

dotta (in response to question about Dark Forest's implementation): they are able to store the location of your rocket on-chain, which is cool. zk-SNARKs allows for fog of war, providing limited visibility to the players, while validating their everyone follows the rules. [Some more discussion of different crypto implementations for on-chain games followed.]

dotta: When you have a game, you want to decentralize ownership rights to game items, characters. In terms of things like the map and wizard locations, it's going to be slow and maybe not as fun unless it's more centralized. It's a set of tradeoffs.

How to Find Your Inner Wizard

rubbertoe: One concern I have is that building the wizard is something we can do, but I'm concerned that I'm going to butcher the character, and the over-arching story won't be cohesive. Any high-level guidance on the rules or laws of the universe, some guiderails to help us?

Elf: If you aren't a creative artist, that's OK, you can hold your wizard and contribute in other ways. That's the beauty of decentralized IP.

dotta: We have a call in 20 minutes with professional storytellers to help us create the meta-narrative. Dotta also mentioned the idea of grants to support creators who can't afford commissions.

rubbertoe: What's your stance on NSFW content? I have a cryptoempress custom wizard that might align with that...

dotta: We are building into the Book of Lore a way to "strike from the lore" things anathema to the community. But there will also be a way to mark content as "NSFW". That way children, for example, can go through the Book of Lore with the NSFW stuff filtered out. The whole of wizards won't be contained in SFW, we recognize that, but we want this courtesy flag so the content will be appropriate to different situations.