Interview - Cardano NFTs #050: Rookiez

Original Placement:

Today’s Cardano NFT project is the first managerial game around motorcycle racing, with trophies, drivers and more as NFTs within the game: Rookiez.

The previous guest was a project with the aim of providing valuable insights into the rapidly evolving NFT ecosystem by publishing the first-ever scientific study on the CNFT space.

This initiative is a point of reference for NFTs on Cardano and every week or two we will invite someone to answer some questions and give us an update directly from within the Cardano community.

Hey, glad to have you here. Please introduce yourself/your team, where are you from, what are your backgrounds?

Hi! My name is Davide and I am a solo indie-game developer who is passionate about Cardano. I am one of the founders of the European Cardano Community and have been involved in computer science, mainly systems management and programming, for more than 25 years now.

Four years ago I released my first video game, Wood ‘n Stones, which is now available for free on Steam.

I have spent the last 14 years in the Netherlands, working for the world’s largest Internet Exchange and later at Ripe NCC, the non-profit entity that (among other things) is responsible for assigning IP addresses for Europe and the Middle East.

I recently decided to leave my occupation and return to Italy to devote myself 100% to Rookiez, my new project.

What is Rookiez? In what way are you harnessing the potential of NFTs? And why Cardano?

Rookiez is the first managerial game around motorcycle racing. It works similarly to a Football Manager game, but instead of having a soccer team, you manage a motorcycle racing team.

Races are scheduled at fixed intervals in time (one per week) and you compete with other players from around the world. A season in Rookiez lasts three months in real life, and each character in the game will age one year as each season passes. For these reasons it is one of those games that will continue for very long times, we’re talking about years.

The player’s efforts will revolve around finding the best strategies to make their team more competitive, win races and championships. Players will have to coach their riders, hire the right specialists as well as perform research and maintenance on their bikes. Since players will spend a lot of time upgrading their riders and motorcycles, I decided to use NFTs to give them the utmost control over their assets: if a player takes years to turn a promising young rider into a novice Valentino Rossi and decides to sell him for profit, it’s none of my business.

Cardano turned out to be the best choice because every NFT is a native asset on the blockchain. This, contrary to what many are inclined to think, greatly simplifies the development of a game like Rookiez.

What are your thoughts on Play-to-Earn (P2E)? How can blockchain-based games avoid the Pay-to-Win (P2W) dynamics?

Great question… as open-minded as I am about this (compared to most fellow “indie-game developers”) it’s hard not to notice how most P2E games focus more on the “Earn” part than the “Play” part. Moreover, the concept of earning is based on the release of one or more tokens related to the game, which, as is often the case, can suddenly lose their value as a result of rug or massive sales. This is one of the reasons, perhaps the main reason, that I decided to develop a game that is not P2E at all. There are no tokens in the game, only DigitalCollectibles for the reasons previously expressed.

Due to the fact that this is a game that will continue for a very long time, I think it is only fair that the community should have a say in development decisions. To accomplish this, I came up with the concept of “NFT-nomics”: each DigitalCollectible in the player’s possession will give more “voting-power” in governance processes. If a player succeeds conquering the podium after a race, or in winning a season, they will receive a “trophy,” also in the form of a DigitalCollectible: these will carry more “weight” than other NFTs that can be “minted” when playing the game, such as drivers, specialists, or new bike prototypes (which can be received at the beginning of a new season)

Honestly, I am not sure how the dynamics of P2W can be avoided. In Rookiez each team corresponds to a wallet, and you can only own a limited number of riders, specialists and motorcycles per team. This doesn’t completely limit P2W dynamics, because it is always possible to access external marketplaces and search for the best riders and motorcycles, but not being a P2E game I don’t think this would affect the game dynamics too much. Also, the same thing happens in real life: a MotoGP team with a lot of capital at its disposal will be able to buy the best riders and devote more resources to prototype development

Can you describe your experience building on Cardano? Have you encountered any hurdles?

I had mentioned this before: developing a game like Rookiez on Cardano is enormously easier than any other blockchain that does not support native assets. Thanks to these, I can focus on developing the game and not devote myself to creating smart-contracts that require special attention for security reasons: I simply read the player’s wallet during loading and look at which assets are from Rookiez. Basically, each NFT from Rookiez corresponds to a record in my database. It’s not a totally decentralized solution, but I honestly don’t think total decentralization takes on all that much importance for such an application, especially if it comes at the expense of gameplay.

Only initially did I encounter the main problems: I had no idea how to start interfacing with the blockchain, and I tried to contact other developers to ask about it. I got no response, except from Adam Dean (very kind). Next, I started creating the components needed to interface Unity (the game engine I use) with the various API services available. Some are already available as open-source, on GitHub.

I have released a component to access the APIs of AdaHandle and NMKR. Speaking of the latter: I was rather surprised to see that among the Catalyst proposals, “Building on NMKR” section, there is an idea to implement such a service, when my component has been available for several months now.

Great contribution. Any closing thoughts? Where can people stay in touch?

First of all, I would like to thank you so much for this opportunity. I am not particularly well known in the community, which makes it very difficult to get noticed and tell the world that I am involved in the development of this game. My goal is to bring new users to Cardano, in the form of gamers and other indie-game developers. I want to show them that other business models are possible, without having to come up with strange P2E models, which are often seen as scams, but also without having to pay a 30% fee for Steam (or other video game marketplaces).

Rookiez is a very big project that will require a lot more effort. I am aware that I cannot complete it alone in the best possible way and in a decent time frame, which is why I would really like to expand the team. I have published three different proposals on Catalyst Fund10 to achieve my goals:

Anyone interested can contact me either on Twitter, or rather X where my DMs are always open, or Discord: my handle is “studiomalaka,” and I am almost always online in the European Cardano Community server.

Be sure to remember to vote for my proposals! :wink:

Disclaimer: The opinions and views of the people interviewed are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Cardano Foundation or IOG. Moreover, this content is for educational purposes, it doesn’t constitute financial advice.