Wizard Wednesday Recap, 2023-08-23
After the introductions of "The Black Goat of the Wood, Elf J. Trul" and "The Shapeshifting Bear Himself," Dotta says he need to think of a title, but then says he also likes the mononym, as if he's Cher or Prince. Bear says he's going to start calling Dotta "Master of Puppets."
Dotta's Partridge Family
After Bearsnake's Metallica reference, Dotta says that his kids have been learning to play Metallica songs on guitar and it makes his heart well up with joy. Bear says next time Dotta's family is in LA, he'll "get behind the kit and shred it with [the] kids."
Elf speaks about last week's introduction by Dotta's Daughter, Catherine the Great, and says he thinks Bear needs to find a studio and "get Dotta's Partridge Family in there." Bear says he already knows what studio they're going to.
Dotta notes the Morons found the full track of the Wizard Wednesday song Catherine sang, which was really only 40 seconds long. He says he thinks his kids invented the extended version, because no one could find a version longer than that. He thanks the Morons for finding it.
Forgotten Runes Reaffirmation For Newcomers
Elf then jumps into the show, saying it's going to be fairly light as the team is mostly just building.
"We've got 100 different things in the works, but nothing that we can really talk about."
He alludes to an exception of news that Bearsnake is eager to talk about.
What Is Forgotten Runes?
Before they speak about that, Elf notes there is a new member in the Secret Tower joining for the show, and he gives a reaffirmation of what Forgotten Runes is. He begins by noting that Forgotten Runes is an open-source (decentralized) worldbuilding project.
For an example of what it means to be a decentralized worldbuilding project, he first gives context of the Star Wars galaxy — a notable franchise which has thousands of characters along with its own history and mythology that have resulted in countless media expressions. Elf notes the root of the Star Wars galaxy was created by a single person — George Lucas. Forgotten Runes asks, "What if we could create a world that was built by an entire community of creatives — not just one person?"
"What if [this community] was also allowed to share in the commercialization and the IP ownership of that world? What you would have is a sort of horizontal, decentralized media franchise, where the entire fictional world was being built by thousands of people at once."
All of the Characters of Forgotten Runes are owned by the community in the form of tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. The blockchain is used to track the activity of these tradable IP tokens and to enable creative efforts of the IP owners.
The Book of Lore
Elf speaks about the Book of Lore. The Book of Lore is a way to commit lore and creative effort for Forgotten Runes Characters on-chain.
"When you write in the Book of Lore about your Characters, you are attaching their histories, biographies, and stories, to the token on-chain."
The creative data that token-holders commit to the Book of Lore is then used across creative expressions in the franchise's ecosystem.
More Than A Media Franchise
"Forgotten Runes is more than just a media franchise. [These Characters] are more than just tokens on the blockchain. This creative effort—this art...is more than just words on a page, paint on a canvas, pixels on a screen. [They are] affirmations of the human spirit."
Elf says when you put your mark on the world, you put your stake in history so that you will not be forgotten.
"When we put our Runes on the Door, we ensure a kind of immortality. Unlike the people in cultures of the past who could only put their mark on fragile substrates...and potentially be lost to the sands of Time, we...have a never-before-seen opportunity to make our marks on an immutable, permanent, resistant method of record-keeping. We are not just building a media franchise together. We are a Cult of creatives — Warriors who endure, Wizards who make Magic, and Souls that cannot die."
Elf notes his mention of the comic book, and turns it over to Bear for an update on the comic's progress.
Bear Gives A Comic Book Update
Bear says there's a lot to touch on, and part of what Elf spoke about was larger media expressions which have mass distribution. These speak to an audience wider than the number of Characters that even exist in the Forgotten Runes ecosystem.
Knowing Your Audience
Bear says he thinks projects — in Web3 or not — underestimate how important it is to understand their audience. "What do they like doing beyond 'price go up'?"
"What I love about the comic book being the first entry into these major media expressions is that... there is no gap between a fantasy-based piece of IP...and the comic book community."
According to Bear, the average comic book enjoyer is "super aligned" with what Forgotten Runes is.
"Even push aside for a second the idea that we're building it together with a community — just the fact of it being fantasy and these archetypes that exist...it's a perfect match."
Bear says he would rather find 100 people who feel connected to this type of story and they "go down the well" than 5,000 people. He says he thinks Forgotten Runes is where they're at because their incentives and community expectations and interests are completely aligned. Bear says, "I think this idea of tapping a smaller market first outside of Web3 that's fully aligned with fantasy is wholly important"
Keeping Crypto At A Distance
On the topic of building a bridge to an audience who isn't interested in crypto, Elf notes a community question regarding the press release for the comic and if it was a strategic decision to omit the fact that the underlying IP is an NFT collection.
Bear says "1000% yes."
Bearsnake says the lack of crypto mention was completely strategic, and he recounts the project's initial negotiation with Dark Horse Comics, who eventually rejected working with Forgotten Runes due to crypto connections. Bear says the NFT IP base was a big hurdle for publishers to get over.
"What we're trying to do here is not hide the fact, [but instead] focus on the world, the Characters, the stories, because we're building something that can be enjoyed whether you own a Character or not."
Bear says as a generalization, people in comic book stores don't like crypto or NFTs, but he thinks it's because they don't understand it. "Crypto gets sort of a bad rap." Elf says the industry is in an awkward place and negative reactions come from a place of misunderstanding. Elf wonders how much responsibility should fall on their shoulders on the subject of NFT education versus "meandering the quagmire in a way that will more appeal to the mainstream who may have these ignorant delusions about what NFTs are." Dotta says he believes there is a legitimate aspect of self-reflection.
"When you look at the NFT industry from the outside looking in, there are people who see things that they don't like that we would see and don't like about our industry."
Dotta says the mistake is made through generalization to say that all NFTs are scams or ponzi schemes that exploit artists' work.
"To say that NFTs exploit artists makes no logical sense to me, because it's actually a way for artists to get paid."
Bearsnake says that's a signal that it's still just a new technology. He says there are two categories: as in fine art (or 1/1s) versus PFPs, but he says even the state of California plans to put car registration on the blockchain, and that will also be an NFT.
Connection Through Story & Fan Canon Vs Fan Fiction
Bear moves to another thing that gets him excited about the comic rollout: the idea of releasing canon stories which establish the world and Characters for people to emotionally connect with. "It's hard to step into this undefined, large world without an entry point."
Bear notes that there will be 10 comics, and we will get to see big Character arcs, which is an opportunity for creatives in the Cult to ground themselves in, but also for people in comic book stores who just want a story. "That's your way in."
Bear says Forgotten Runes' twist is the idea of "Fan Canon" — that some stories in the comic are inspired by entries in the Book of Lore.
"Not only are we highlighting...Characters to be in the limelight, but also we're doing that for people in the Cult who are contributing. I'm personally super hungry to find breakout Characters and start to see intimate, specific stories about Wizards or Warriors, or groups of Wizards or Warriors."
Elf asks about the distinction between "Fan Fiction" and "Fan Canon". Bear says, "Fan Fiction feels like it's ancillary or less than. This idea of, 'Ok I'm George Lucas, I'm JK Rowling, I'm Tolkien, and my words...that's what's written in stone.'"
Bear says the idea of Fan Canon is the idea of people contributing stories and art that are "on the same level" as the things that Magic Machine are contributing. Bear says he loves the concept of the community contributing at the same level of authenticity.
The last thing Bear speaks about is the introduction of a new model that redefines the roles of fans and franchises. All of the owners of the Characters that appear in the comic have the ability to opt into a licensing agreement to receive a portion of the revenue from sales.
Dotta says the question on everyone's minds about the revenue from the comic licensing agreement is, "How, specifically, and how much, and how do you determine?" He says the team needs to put numbers on paper.
Dotta says the initialization of this comic book licensing agreement doesn't necessarily mean they predict Magic Machine will be profitable on the comic book, given everything that they've put into them. However, they think it's important to establish it now rather than later.
"In order for us to do this in 2023, it's going to require the individuals who have Characters...in the books who want to get paid...to dox, because we can't break US sanctions laws, but we'll use some sort of 3rd party provider to do that."
Dotta notes that these individuals will have to sign legal papers to receive any sort of payout, and they plan to have all of the minutia figured out before the comic launch in November. Elf says that securities laws have been so annoying in the last two years.
Elf says even Friend Tech is wading into tricky waters with regard to securities laws. He notes the Howey test is around 80 years old and mentions a comment from Dotta where he said in the future everyone will be sued by the SEC for 15 minutes.
Elf asks the Cult to bear with the team as they "wade through these disgusting legal waters."
Bear Thanks the Team
Bear also gives kudos to Nalgene, who he says "is managing and producing this comic book series along with a larger group." He says he is wise beyond his years. Bear says they have also been heads down with Lachness and Jitcy on the marketing side in preparation for the pre-sale next week to make it easy to find and order the comic online and call local comic book shops. European distribution will largely be through Forbidden Planet.
Bearsnake also mentions there will be a Forgotten Runiverse scratch-off game code on the back cover of the comic book worth around $20 worth of in-game assets. They also plan to do limited editions with foil or glow-in-the-dark covers with a supply of around 500. Bear says they have also been working on large promotional posters for comic book stores to hang in their windows. He mentions his thanks to Joe and Reilly (the writer and illustrator) as well as everyone else working on the production.
Bear says he's excited to have something physical to put into people's hands to start up conversation with those who might be interested and excited about exploring the Runiverse without having to engage on-chain.
Elf directs a question from the community to Bear about the marketing that will happen for the comic's launch. He notes the comic has a 2-page spread with Titan in the Diamond Comics catalogue which showcases the cover artwork and speaks about the TV show and game. Bear says the pre-sales are important because it shows the comic stores there is energy behind the release, which may lead to the store ordering more for spillover. It has a long-tail effect for larger order number.
Bearsnake also says just having Reilly's illustration as a recognizable industry name leading the charge also helps in terms of marketing. He notes this played a big part in getting their deal with Titan. He also says order links will be live to push to all socials as well.
Bear says as far as the physical store locations, they will have cardboard counters so the comics will be front and center along with the large posters for the shops to hang in their windows. "We're attacking it from all angles."
Ratio Of Wizards, Warriors, Souls, & Beasts
Another question comes from the community asking about the ratio between Wizards, Warriors, and Souls featured in the comic and if Beasts will be featured. Elf says he doesn't want to spoil anything, but the idea Wizards becoming Souls is a pretty big story point.
Elf notes there are a few Warriors featured in the comic, but it is heavily focused on Wizards. Bearsnake says, "Everybody, just chill and wait. Just know that in success, these are not the only comic books. Hopefully we're making comics 50 years from now."
Bear says it's important to note from a story standpoint that, "You can't throw the kitchen sink at everything. You have to leave some for the future." Elf also notes the TV scripts speak to the ratio of Wizards, Warriors, Souls, and Beasts in a very different way.
Current Comic Progress
Madotsuki notes the monthly release schedule for the comics and asks if that means that they're all already drawn. Bear says all the scripts are written and a bunch are done outside of editing. "We're going through the first 5 and we're in various stages of production."
Issue #1 will be released in November. Bear notes that no new comics get released in December, so that will be blank. Releases will pick back up in January and continue through April. There will then be a pause and the first 5 will be bound into trade paperbacks.
Bear notes after the first 5 comic issues are bound in trade paperback form, there will be some "breathing room" before the continuation of monthly releases for Issues #6-10. He says, "Roughly speaking we're looking at 12-13 months of comics rolling out."
Elf says that's all the questions he has about the comic, and finished the conversation by saying, "Damn, none of this could have happened without Bear." He asks Dotta if he thinks they could have done it alone. Dotta replies, "I couldn't do it." Elf says it's a huge milestone.
What Happened To Lore Readings?
Then, a question from the community arises about the disappearance of lore readings on Wizard Wednesday. Elf says the mic is open to anyone to read lore. He says they used to schedule readings in advance, but then no one showed up for their readings. Now it's just more loose.
Wizards At Gamescom
After that, Elf answers another question about the lack of Wizards at Gamescom. He says he believes they have been invited to that, but the team has been light on all conferences this year due to the bear market. He says it definitely could be something they do in the future.
The team is then asked about the launch of the Runiverse game, and Madotsuki steps up to answer. He says they are aiming to have a build of it out by the end of the year for general preview. He notes a recent blog posted about the game's crafting mechanic.
Madotsuki says another Runiverse blog is slated to release in the next two weeks. He says they have also been changing mechanics to lower the barrier to entry for people who are outside of Forgotten Runes. Mado also says he plans to continue his lore posts for the new assets.
Questing As Staking
Dotta is then asked if there is any news about Wizard staking. He says the new about Wizard staking is there is no news and they're not doing anything with it right now. He says they weren't happy with any of their ideas for reward models. Dotta says the traditional model is that you promise not to sell your token and the founders then reward you with a new token which you're intended to sell as your dividend. He says all of the projects that have this uninspired model have suffered quite a lot. Dotta says what actually happens in projects with the traditional staking mechanic is that the "big token" ends up being repriced in a sort of spreadsheet calculation of the "little token" and it then brings both tokens down. He notes even Moonbirds "canned" their Nesting. Dotta notes that the team is instead trying to think of Quests or Events that the community can take part in that are more along the lines of the Sacred Flame or the opening of the Gate to the Seventh Realm that can last for a long time. However, there are no formal announcements.
Elf adds that in addition to tricky tokenomics, the team got hung up on how to integrate staking into other systems that they're building. He says they have a bunch of unannounced things they are building that they may be able to cohesively integrate staking into in the future.
Elf then gives a brief 3D update, noting that he recently shared some work-in-progress images of some of the Beasts. He says the Beasts are anthropomorphized for seamless integration into current and future 3D metas. He says it's been fun redesigning them in the new style. Elf says there has been a slow trickle of new 3D partners who will incorporate Forgotten Runes' 3D models. He mentions the invitation from VIPEio has fully greenlit, but he isn't sure if they're been integrated quite yet or not.
Friend Tech & PWAs
Elf asks Dotta if there is any news on PWAs. Dotta says Friend Tech this week was "quite an adventure." He cautions everyone who participates to be careful, noting you have to pay to join people's rooms.
Alpha From Friend Tech
He says he finds the app to be valuable, though it isn't without flaws. Dotta says there are quite a few channels through which he has gotten alpha that he wouldn't have gotten any other way. "I don't mean a hot tip on a shitcoin or something — people who are building apps, people who are using tools that I haven't heard of."
Dotta notes he thinks there is something special about Friend Tech in terms of having access to someone you might not have access to otherwise.
"The fact that the shares get so expensive mean even the biggest influencers only have maybe 150 people there."
Dotta says the people who are being active on Friend Tech are really making an effort to "understand who their, let's say, shareholders are, and you can form new relationships. It's this weird moment where you can get into social circles that you weren't a part of before." Dotta says he thinks Friend Tech is really fun and has a chance at becoming a "sticky, sticky platform." However, he says, as always with crypto, it will hype and crash.
"No matter how good it is, the degen traders will hype it up above what is rational."
Dotta mentions that there are interesting tools coming out as in people doing aggregate indexes and perps on Friend Tech and lending against shares. He says it's interesting to see the level of innovation/degeneracy.
Progressive Web Apps & The Mobile Renaissance
Elf asks Dotta to talk about the meta-trend around Friend Tech, which is the trend of the PWA (Progressive Web Application). Dotta says part of the problem with Apple and Google's app stores is that they are skittish around crypto regulations and protective of their 30% cuts. Dotta says Apple and Google have legal and economic reasons not to allow open crypto apps, though he says those gates are opening a little, noting that MetaMask is on the App Store.
PWAs allow you to have apps on your phone that are based on web applications. Dotta mentions PWAs weren't really supported on mobile until around April 2023, which allowed push notifications from web apps. Dotta says there are new services that make it easier to manage wallets built into the apps, noting Friend Tech uses a service called Privy.
Dotta says there are 3 things that make him feel crypto is due for a renaissance.
- PWAs can bypass the App Store
- PWAs have access to device features (camera, push notifications, GPS) that make it feel native
- L2s make the txn fees low enough to use without much thought
Would Magic Machine Publish A PWA?
Elf asks Dotta if Magic Machine would ever publish an app like this. Dotta says yes, he would be interested in publishing something experimental.
"I've been hacking away to see what might it mean for us to have our own infrastructure to have a crypto-enabled mobile app."
Elf says he doesn't feel like mobile crypto apps feel secure. "I just feel like a phone is such a vector for getting hacked. It makes me nervous." He asks if PWAs can offer an extra layer of security.
Dotta says the way he thinks about these mobile crypto apps is similarly to the way he thinks about his own wallet. "You don't carry so much cash in your physical wallet that it changes your life if you lose your wallet." Dotta notes that the Friend Tech devs don't have access to your wallet.
"They're using some techniques that are...secure enough that it's safe, but not secure enough that I'm going to move all of my ETH into that kind of wallet."
Dotta also mentions Dune charts that he has put together that keep tabs on the overall net value of Friend Tech. He says when you buy and sell shares, the money doesn't go to the Friend Tech team, but rather it goes into a smart contract with a master balance.
Dotta says the reason you should keep an eye on this chart is that it keeps track of the global sentiment about the app. He notes that Tuesday and Wednesday of this week were the first two days where it was a net negative for the platform, and it seems the tide is going out.
Bear asks about what Dotta's prediction is for Friend Tech. Elf says he thinks it's just getting started. Dotta says he thinks the team has been good about making improvements. He notes the FUD around the team's previous projects that they moved on from.
Dotta doesn't believe that moving away from previous projects is necessarily a bad sign or indicative that the Friend Tech team are ruggers. He thinks if they can keep their lead, it will stick around for a good amount of time, but he thinks they really need to add images.
As the PWA conversation rounds out, the team closes the show by reviewing the Cult content aggregated by the illustrious Tania del Rio in the 31st week of her Cult Content Chronicle.
RIP Josh the Blind
Before the end of the show, Dotta shares the sad news of the passing of Josh the Blind Horse. Josh belonged to Dotta's neighbor, and Dotta would take care of him from time to time. He shares this new in the form of "lore" in a handwritten letter he received from Josh's owner.