Why we’re raising $2m

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TL;DR: To gamers, there is no such thing as blockchain or non-blockchain games. There are only good games and bad games. We’re raising $2m to build a really good game.

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My earliest introduction to gaming was a Sony VCD player that included a collection of 300 mini classic games —Tetris, Contra, and the whole shebang. I remember staying up late to play the games. My next ride was a Sega Mega Drive II console. It was the biggest thing I owned at the time, and best of all, I bought it for myself from my lunch money saved up in Junior School.

Gaming, for me, was more than a fun, engaging activity. It offered more than an escape from my reclusive world at the time. It gifted me an easel and a blank canvas to paint worlds, to dream freely, and to allow my imagination wander without limitations.

The need to tell stories was strong, so I learned to code. My early adventures involved building casual games and basic apps for fun. Several rides later, I would become a software engineer, building products that people cared about. “Serious products”, so to speak. SaaS software, consumer software, AI software, etc., all products that helped people do better work and have fun.

My full circle moment back to gaming came in 2017 when a bunch of fellow nerds were hyped about crypto and blockchain technology. I discovered the power of crypto, and, for the first time in a long time, I let myself reimagine new possibilities for powerful stories of freedom and the potential for a new type of empowerment.

It immediately seemed obvious to me that a paradigm shift was long overdue in gaming. One where players came first, not the pockets of greedy game developers and the restrictions that modern gaming introduced. It represented a chance to truly build products designed without confinements and limitations —the exact ideals I dreamed of as a child saving up cash to buy my favorite titles in Sega MD II: Sonic the Hedgehog, ESWAT, Bare Knuckles, Contra, Super Mario, etc.

Even after discovering the potential crypto offered in gaming, I did not immediately jump into building until much later. I needed to be sure that whatever I built with the blockchain absolutely needed the blockchain to work. I was repulsed by the “web3 developers” who slapped crypto on everything they touched while forcing themselves to reinvent, not just the wheels, but the whole car!

In 2022, I assembled a team of renegades passionate about building great products and keen on finding the best absolute use-case for blockchain technology. We called it Dislocate Games. We started off with a mission to help non-Web3 developers integrate Web3-features in their games, so we built a product to do exactly that. We called that first iteration Gear3. A gaming SDK that anyone could build into new and existing games. Our core mission was (and still is): build fun games for gamers, and fun tools for game developers.

What seemed like a straightforward mission eventually started to take a twist of its own. We soon learned a vital lesson from Gear3: that a much better way to build tools for game developers was to build our own games using said tools. If you want to build an SDK for game developers, first build a game and show them. That was the earliest conception of Vage Strike.

Our games thrive on readily available open-source resources rather than building from scratch, this allows us to stand on the shoulders of giants, move fast, and, both save time and conserve resources, without reinventing the wheel!

“Our core mission has always been: build fun games for gamers, and fun tools for game developers.”

The problem

Modern gaming has come a long way, but the economic and creative potential remains untapped. Value created by players has no standard way of translating into economic rewards. The utility and ownership of assets are limited and cannot be transferred or sold. Other than streaming, there are no standard opportunities for gamers to explore their creativity and get rewarded.

Most Web3 attempts at integrating crypto with games have been forced, at best. Fun and playability have become bolt-on afterthoughts, not the core theme. All these, coupled with terrible execution stemming from a poor understanding of gaming culture, with Web3 devs slapping crypto mechanics on everything without first understanding why they’re even needed in the first place.

The solution

With our unique brand of online multiplayer arena shooter, Vage Strike, we are unlocking a new market opportunity best described as “Creator-based Gaming”.

We are providing an exciting, online multiplayer first-person arena shooter, featuring an integrated design studio to create or modify assets in-game. Vage Strike is also the first modular Web3 game that allows gamers, creators and communities to create and own their content: custom worlds, maps, weapons, assets and rules, all in-game. With true ownership of in-game assets, balanced gameplay, and a variety of worlds with online multiplayer support.

We are pioneering an ecosystem driven by creators and people making things in-game, using the blockchain as a permissionless system to trade assets created or bought in-game.

Instead of P2E —a parasitic Ponzi model, where people are rewarded for merely playing games, instead of contributing anything of value— we are building a symbiotic layer that will enable everyone to truly contribute value in other to earn.

We believe this is the future of gaming. You’re not going be able to make money by just tapping a few keys. You will have to create things, contribute value, build compelling attractions, be interesting —just like the real world— in order to be rewarded by the market.

Why us?

Most Web3 games that have attempted to solve this problem, have in the process, inadvertently introduced a new one. One so much worse it should never have been allowed to exist. Instead of eliminating friction and bottlenecks to onboarding non-web3 gamers into web3 games, they implement ridiculous mechanisms that increase friction, and needless difficulty in accessing their games.

For example, at the very least, most Web3 games demand that players set up crypto wallets for a start. Most force users to hold certain NFTs or tokens before they can play their games. Game characters are sold out as NFTs thereby corrupting the games with degenerate mechanics. Most of the game characters would be sold off, owned, controlled (or bred) by a select few players, and the best ones would be expensive and hard to acquire.

Plots of land for your base would be NFTs with rare materials on your land, going at a premium. Servers would be sold as nodes with rewards if people played on your server. Not to mention how most are incredibly clunky, slow, and hard to on-board because of a dogmatic insistence on building every single aspect on-chain. All needless friction that most gamers would not be bothered to even touch. Therefore, web3 gaming continues to be a closed-off ecosystem with few net-new gamers.

But with Vage Strike, we are doing things radically differently. We are starting from the core product and working backwards to the technology. Not the other way, as most projects do. Our unique positioning lies in our approach, and our ability to think, first, as gamers, before anything else.

One of our biggest lessons learned from building consumer products is that if you’re building products for people other than yourself, you’re obligated to utilize whatever technology provides the best practical fit for the consumer’s use case, not merely based on your ideals. Otherwise, the consumers suffer.

Our mission is to build a game that would capture even a tiny share of the overwhelming population of non-web3 gamers, and onboard them through progressive decentralization. The real move is getting millions of people to play, then slowly introduce blockchain-based features under the hood.

To achieve this, they should be able to play our game without extra hoops and bottlenecks, which is why, in our early releases so far, we have been careful to keep our blockchain integration at a minimum for now and, instead, focus on building a truly immersive and fun gaming experience —only after nailing that can we proceed to integrate our crypto-based in-game economy.

We are building a post-scarcity economy. Earning in games should not be zero-sum. It should not be a Ponzi. By creating a game where the primary mechanism for earning is tied to valuable contributions not dictated by anyone, we are unlocking a new layer for gaming. One where you may play for fun, but to earn rewards, you must provide real value —like in the real world.

Why should you invest or work with us?

By our last count, we have a little over 12,000 early-access players currently testing out Vage Strike (which has barely been out for a month). Because we are making a bold bet on the future of gaming as an industry —not just “web3 gaming”. If we’re right, we would be ushering in a new approach to building games that we would be at the forefront of and be well-rewarded.

We want partners, engineers, designers, investors, and users who share the dream that power us —to write powerful stories of freedom and opportunities for everyone— regardless of their geography and race. To provide them with fun and the tools to create profitable value.

Why now?

There has never been a more potent time in history where people collectively agreed that large corporations held too much power and independent creators should get a shot. We have never experienced a better moment —in the history of small, indie creators— where consumers were happier to give small, unpolished creators a chance than now.

People care more about well-designed games with a novel, untraditional appeal. A most recent testament to this is the success of Palworld, a Pokemon-style game taking the world by storm, built by a small indie studio. Palworld beat even Counter-Strike and Dota 2 to become number 1 most played on the Steam 24-hour chart!

There are so many games out there that do so many things (both good and bad), and that’s obviously a hint: More isn’t what people need or are looking for. There will never be another Call of Duty, CS:GO, or Battlefield. What there will be, however, is an endless opportunity for anyone to build a rallying point for new games for gamers at new, exciting intersections.

Why we’re raising $2m

We are neither trying to take on Call of Duty nor [insert other FPS titles]. We are also not trying to build the Web3 version of whatever fad most Web3 builders have a reputation for chasing.

We are simply building a fun, exciting game that provides the first truly unique class of economic opportunity for Gamers and creators. Vage Strike. A first-person shooter game that incorporates never-before-seen mechanics and advanced marketplace features for creating and manipulating assets in-game, with a deep focus on in-game multiplayer collaboration.

To quote Takuro Mizobe: just because you have money does not mean you can make interesting games.

A big budget can make a good game better, but it cannot make a bad game good. We have grown the development of Vage Strike up to this point with plenty of open-source resources. Even so, the bar for standard increases and requirements are tighter.

There are just too many aspects of building a game that cannot be “hacked” around —at least, not if quality is top of mind. Building games is both expensive and demanding. We have bootstrapped the funding and development of the project with funding from our other ventures: this has unwittingly provided the advantage of being lean and efficient with resources. As a small, hardcore team, we are nimble and focused on shipping. Every resource, both human and otherwise, is maxed towards the goal of shipping a great product.

What will the money raised be spent on?

50% of our raise will go towards acquiring critical talent needed to build out the rest of the game, support payroll, and hire additional engineers and artists to accelerate development. With more resources, we can implement more features on our roadmap, optimize performance, and accelerate content creation.

We can design more levels, introduce new characters and items, and flesh out the story elements to make the worlds even richer. We will polish the graphics and facilitate the mobile version development we’ve planned in our roadmap.

40% of our raise will go into marketing, product distribution, and community building. We’ll promote the game through ads, social media, esports tournaments, community rewards, and creator-led influencer partnerships. Which will help attract more players and grow an active, enthusiastic community.

10% of our raise will support ongoing operations. Funds will cover expenses like software, server costs, and contracting freelancers for things like music and voice acting.