Blockchain Gaming: Beyond the Void Preview
Blockchain gaming is now in style, with yet another successful cryptocurrency ICO. Whereas Spells of Genesis uses the Bitcoin blockchain to secure its in-game assets, Beyond the Void has integrated with Ethereum, its Turing-complete cousin. In a partnership with its predecessor, BtV managed to crowdfund 515,143 BitCrystals as well as 30,395 ETH.
Beyond the Void’s Nexium tokens have since rocketed past their ICO value on Poloniex, and development of the game itself is well underway. As usual, the Blockchain Gaming series is taking a look at this title to help you decide if it’s worth buying into, and how excited you should be to start playing the first blockchain RTS.
Nexium (NXC) derives its value from its usefulness to Beyond the Void players. It’s necessary to use the in-game shop, which is where you get all the vanity items. Despite having no real gameplay effect, they cause multiplayer online battle arena games like Defense of the Ancients to earn hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Beyond the Void takes the NXC, burns half of them, and dispenses items as Ethereum assets.
That sounds like great economics, and has so far proven to be, but how does it really work? The most basic cryptocurrencies on Ethereum are smart contracts with one function: they let you send and receive amounts of some variable, in this case NXC. They also define the initial coin supply, with Nexium’s being as according to their crowdsale distribution. This allowed them to have a more decentralized ICO than was possible for Spells of Genesis, which relied on Bitcoin via Counterparty.
The in-game items are basically smart contracts, as well. They will probably also automate the burning process, which would be done by filtering spent NXC through a smart contract before arrival in the developers’ wallets. That makes Beyond the Void more decentralized than Spells of Genesis but less so than Huntercoin; overall, though, it’s pretty great. It would be expensive to hold all gamestate calculations (such as pathfinding and movement) on Ethereum directly.
The story does not appear to be the primary focus of this game, so there aren’t many details about it–at least not yet. I think it has potential, though, despite the sci-fi cheesiness, as it ties in well to how the gameplay functions. I would recommend creating some iconic characters, especially since Beyond the Void has strong MOBA elements. DotA characters have developed a following, for example.
Basically, though, humanity discovered a new form of matter known as “the Cube,” which allowed intergalactic travel and the acceleration of civilization. Unfortunately, it is a scarce commodity, so warring houses known as the Harkon, Asgar, Syan, Morsith and Estherid have been fighting over it in increasingly remote regions of space. That makes it the primary in-match resource, like minerals in StarCraft.
A match in Beyond the Void consists of a heads-up battle between two players, each in control of a Mothership in a six-planet solar system with multiple asteroid fields. Weekly-bestowed Event Cards (which can be purchased permanently in the shop for Nexium) can rotate the orbital bodies as planets are wont to do, or have other effects such as altering the rules or bringing content into the game.
Once conquered, planets and asteroid fields will yield that precious Cube, which you need to build your fleet, research technologies to assist you, and use your Skills. Each Mothership gets two Skills: a powerful Ultimate Skill that typically affects a target, and a Passive Skill that continually affects an area. They can be used to deal damage, quickly traverse the map, boost your fleet, or incapacitate the enemy’s. As in other MOBA games, they can also completely turn the tide of battle.
To achieve victory, your Mothership has to work together with your fleet, which is controlled as in typical real-time strategy games. Ships range in size, strength, speed and ability, and are built by satellites which orbit your planets. Satellites are also needed to research technology, and can be used to defend their stations. You’ll need to expand and hold your ground to fund these endeavors, which is typical of the RTS genre.
The winner of the match earns Game Points, which are the only way to unlock skills and other cool content. It sounds simple, but having played both DotA and StarCraft excessively, I’m actually excited for this combination. Maybe I could fulfill my dreams of playing turtle-style by using my Mothership to take out those pesky long-ranged units.
I read some FUD about Beyond the Void’s graphics on bitcointalk, but I found it to be exaggerated. I’ve watched the trailers, and the game looks pretty cool to me. Then again, I’m one of those strategy gamers who lives to watch the simulation unfold, and BtV has all the swarming little fighter drones and ships firing independently that make my eyes water. Unlike first person shooters, those functional details matter more than high-resolution character skins.
That being said, higher resolution in general always improves a game, but unit and terrain details are easier to upgrade later than basic unit mechanics. Meanwhile, the sound is basically a lot of space warfare sound effects, but the trailer music goes well with it. Hopefully they develop a distinctive style.
All of these things will be upgraded, though, as Beyond the Void is still in private alpha stage, with the open beta scheduled for April and the final game for June. With the development funds at their disposal, that gives plenty of time to polish things a bit. We look forward to reviewing it in full in a future Blockchain Gaming installment.
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