SPLINTERLANDS: A Bright FuturesteemCreated with Sketch.

in #splinterlands4 years ago (edited)



As Creative Director for Splinterlands, I decided to give my personal musings in response to some of the chatter I see on Discord.

For the most part, I think the majority of Splinterlands players were overjoyed to hear about the plans to add further depth to the game by expanding gameplay to include land ownership, resource management, crafting system, spells, items, and all the rest. There was overwhelming positivity and eager expectations.

However, there were also those who have expressed concern and even outright disdain at the thought of changing a game for which we have all grown so passionate. And that’s okay. Opposing opinions and collaborative discussion is how we’ve been able to succeed where other blockchain games continue to stumble.


Community has always been (and will continue to be) a huge aspect of Splinterlands development. I don’t think anyone seriously questions this. After all, there are plenty of examples where public opinion has swayed the direction of many aspects of the game and how it is developed. You may agree or disagree on those changes to stats, features, names, or functionality...but I think we can all admit that there is always a willingness to be open to feedback.

Now I’m not here to debate the pros and cons of every proposed road map item. But I WOULD like to offer some perspective from someone who has been neck deep in the creative aspects of the game since launch.


First and foremost, the majority of team members love gaming. And for those that are not hardcore gamers, they are huge fans of anything creative. Just like you, we invested years in all things geek, whether that be Magic: The Gathering, Hearthstone, Dungeons & Dragons, online RPGs, you name it. The objective with Splinterlands is to create a fun blockchain game that is fueled and inspired by the same things we loved about other games over the years.

The focus has always been on “what can we do to make this game awesome?” Yes, we need to keep an eye on sustainability. Yes, Splinterlands is still a business, and businesses need to make money. But the philosophy has always been that by adding VALUE and increasing the FUN factor, the money will follow. We continue to add an absurd number of updates and features to the game on a consistent basis. I would not be surprised if we are THE most advanced, feature-rich NFT game in existence. Maybe we don’t have a huge team full of 3D animation experts, but just like the Avengers have “a Hulk”, Splinterlands has “a @yabapmatt”.

His vision and understanding of Steem technology allows our devs to push the boundaries of what’s possible in blockchain gaming. He is the perfect balance of practicality and innovation.

And then there’s @aggroed. Yes, he’s ambitious, but it’s not an ambition for ambition’s sake. It’s not an ambition to become rich, powerful, or famous. It’s a commitment born of passion. Passion for the things he BELIEVES in. He believes in blockchain. He believes in freedom. And he believes in kick@$$ games that are fun to play.

I’ve talked to him a lot to brainstorm, discuss ideas, or contemplate integration of possible features into the game. Same goes for when we talked about the land idea. Or the crafting, items, and spells. All the different ways we could squeeze in gameplay from our favorite RPGs. Not once--not ONE time--did the conversation ever turn to how we could squeeze the most money out of people.

If anything, most of these internal conversations revolved around things that only the most nerdy of nerds would care a goblin’s tooth about. We talk about LORE. We talk about a fictional world and fictional people and how we want everything to make sense to give the player a more immersive experience. Why? Because that’s what WE would want from a game.

I’ve continued to be blown away by the positive attitude, team work, knowledge, and experience amongst the entire Splinterlands team. Collectively, they work on a daily basis to make the Splinterlands the best it can be.


This isn’t a cash grab. This isn’t a greedy pump and dump, full of false promises and minimum effort. This is a social gaming experience being built brick by brick with blood, sweat, and tears. Molded and carefully crafted out of a love and appreciation for the games that came before.

The really cool part about this is that I truly believe we are creating something unique. The more the game evolves, the more it becomes its own beast, distinct from anything else in the industry.

Now let’s talk about the land stuff.

If you’re not jacked out of your mind at the prospect of building, mining, crafting, exploring, equipping, casting, and all the rest...then something’s wrong with you. Are you crazy? This stuff is absolutely AWESOME! This is a blockchain gamer’s dream come true! I already started stockpiling some DEC to prepare! I’m so excited!


For those of you who are concerned about any potential bot advantage or pay-to-win impact or newbie onboarding, take a big breath. Everything is fine. We’ll figure it out together. The point of announcing our plans so far in advance is so that we can look at this from all angles. We’ve got a ton load of spreadsheets and artwork and flow charts. We’ve been thinking about this for a long time. And getting you guys involved in the thought process can only make the game better!

Ultimately, we envision a game that allows you to explore the Splinterlands. We want an immersive tutorial experience. We want campaign mode. We want to tell stories and put you in the middle of it. We want a dynamic, ever-changing geopolitical landscape where you make a difference in the world, utilizing the characters and resources at your disposal. We want to add layers of depth and strategy that keep players entertained, regardless of the type of gameplay you enjoy. In parallel with that, you’ll have raiding and guild battles.

Ideally, if you only like one aspect of the game’s ecosystem, you should be able to focus on that aspect of the game while others may focus on other things. I imagine that many symbiotic relationships will result from the upcoming features (and marketplace). Or, if you’re like me, you’ll want to experience ALL of it.


Yes, we’ll need to find creative solutions to balance bot vs human gameplay. But we readily accept the challenge. You and I are pioneers. We are making history, not just in the crypto space, but for the entire gaming industry. Let’s tackle this together!

Running in place is not our style. We’re not interested in giving you a hamster wheel and shouting “done!” We wouldn’t be satisfied with that, so why would you?

One step at a time. Little by little, we will create an empire.

Are you ready?

Let’s BUIDL.

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed here are my own. All references to specific aspects of potential gameplay features may or may not happen, depending on development or market influences. I like cheese. If someday your DEC balance is replaced by a Cheese balance, it may or may not be my fault.



Very well said! Personally I'm very excited about the potential for land use & crafting myself. I think it will open up a whole new dimension to the game, and add a huge layer of increased strategic depth. I can't wait to grab myself a plot of land and see what I can do with it!

And I bet the nitty gritty details of it will continue to evolve as we roll up our sleeves and get down & dirty with the coding. Like sculpting a masterpiece from a block of rough clay, the final form will only become clear as we get farther along in the process, and we'll keep refining it until we come as close to perfection as possible.

I joined the Splinterlands team because I saw in this game & group of people a passion that rivals my own. I was also a hardcore MtG, D&D, and Warhammer 40K player back in the day. I went to card conventions. I spent hours painting little table top miniatures. Splinterlands appeals to my sense of nostalgia for those times, and it's tremendously exciting to have the chance to help move the game forward!

The future's so bright, ya gotta wear shades!

Exactly! We’re on the same page for sure! Shades for everyone!

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All the best and it is heartwarming that the creators listen to the community and take into account their ideas and suggestions too.

Thanks! I'm glad to have you part of this big adventure!

I think it is a great step forward in this game, my only issue is that so much money is needed to play competitive and there seems to be no limit. I wonder sometimes how we can let everybody have a chance to reach the top and turn investments into pure company participation that will give return from future player purchases from the big crowd we are hoping for. Or something in the middle.
Anyway, let me not forget to say that the SL team is absolutely organically amazing with the help from the Steem community as well, i see a great future ahead, 100%.
And on a personal note as it is your post at the end, i love the design man :-)

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Maybe we rename Novice League to Renegade League (lone wolves, 1 bcx) and make it a game within a game. Could be a compromise between what we have now and the Elective Leagues suggestion people are pushing.
It'd kill off a lot of that 'Pay to win' chatter too. If you just want to be successful in the game, without too much expense, play in the Renegade league.

I’d be interested in hearing more about this idea.

I think the thing we have to remember is that Splinterlands is a card game. And card games are, by their nature, a system that rewards those who invest resources to obtain more and better cards. If I purchase a MTG starter pack and never purchased any boosters or singles after that...well, I can’t really expect to be very competitive. Even then, I still spent money to buy the starter set.

The issue that arises is when we compare ourselves to a free app on the App Store that requires zero money upfront and zero money to play. Maybe there’s an offering of in-app purchases, but they are completely optional and not necessary to play.

In the first example, it’s an investment to own assets that may go up in value and be re-sold. Meanwhile, they can be used to enter local tournaments in an attempt to win more cards.

In the second example, there is no ownership. It’s a time investment that is rewarded w digital achievements that have no value outside the game.

It’s obvious that the second option is more favorable to attracting the most people. But when those people begin to grasp and understand the power of the first example (asset ownership and related benefits), that’s when things get exciting.

Anything that helps to retain player interest long enough for the light bulb to go off is a good thing.

But how would you perceive the reward system for players that are not investing any money into the platform? Would you reward them with some sort of in-game items that have no NFT ownership or value? Or would we still give this league the means to farm DEC, reward cards, etc? If it’s strictly 1 BCX, then one would assume the reward for doing well would NOT revolve around accumulating more cards and combining them.

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Everyone starts in Renegade with base set of phantom cards.
If they want rewards (no change in rate), then they need to buy the Summoner's Spellbook. Renegade has its own leaderboard and tournaments.
Any account can graduate up to the main game at any time, for free, but dropping back to Renegade costs 1000 DEC.
Bronze becomes the lowest a non-renegade can drop at end of season.
Renegades can sell on the market, and with no need to stack multiples, they can save up to buy older/rarer/more powerful 1 bcx cards.

So the players in this league would simply play for entertainment? No rewards?

Just a way to enjoy the free-to-play aspect of the game without being forced to play against opponents that have dropped a lot of $ into cards? I can see the appeal of a level playing field where everyone has the same level cards.

If there’s no rewards, bots would have no reason to play in such a league.

I guess at that point it comes down to whether there is sufficient demand for such a league. We’d want there to be enough active players to ensure match-ups within a reasonable time.

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One chest, for daily quest each day. Maybe see if we could throw in another few at end of season, or better yet, reward based on position on the renegade leaderboard.
But yeah; mostly just bragging rights.

Keep in mind, there are a heap of very rare, quite valuable cards, like Shin Lo.


I agree to a point.

I’ve played plenty of games where I had no hope in ever reaching top of the leaderboard. These are mainstream games where the top players have invested so much time, money, and practice into the platform that they seem like gods to the rest of the player base.

And yet it never reduced my enjoyment of the game. If anything, the challenge/difficulty level of a game is an important aspect to preserving player interest.

That being said, there clearly needs to be a balance, and I’m sure that what you’re getting at. And that makes sense. I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to find that balance for ranked card battles.

But at the same time, don’t forget that land will be adding games within games. At some point in the distant future, it’s possible that what we currently consider the “main event” (the core objective of the game) becomes only one of many activities within a larger ecosystem.

When that happens, it wouldn’t surprise me if each player saw the game (and the point of playing) in a different way. “Winning” for one person make look different than “winning” for another.

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What a great post! I love all the graphics, you do such an amazing job!!!


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Can we split leaderboards like this? Please?

Then, have different prizes of consequence for the top of each league leaderboard?

(I mocked this up by using an inspect element thing in chrome)

I like the idea of separate leaderboards for each League. It allows all players, regardless of investment level, to feel competitive within their specific league.

I'll try to think of how I would implement this, then share a UI concept with Yaba.

I'm just not sure if it would make sense to give every League its own leaderboard prizes. After all, if I made it to the top of the Gold League leaderboard, I would suddenly be incentivized to NOT play (or even lose) in an effort to NOT advance to the Diamond league (where I would find myself at the BOTTOM of the leaderboard and no longer qualifying for the Gold level leader rewards). Which is a little backwards. We'd definitely want players to always be motivated to keep playing and striving to win.

I'll work on some potential mechanics and share them in a post later about how this could work. I'll even cross post it in geekz, because it will have some geeky spreadsheets. :)

Novice and Bronze can be combined/

Diamond and Champion as well since the max allowed card levels in D & C are the same.

Thanks to you and the rest of the Splinterlands team for all yous do. I was a little shocked at the outcry from the land/crafts expansion.

I for one am thankfull for yous sharing what the plans are even if they are months away as it gives us the Splinterland community plenty of time to provide feedback.

The Splinterlands community can be difficult to deal with but overall we are respectfull of one another even if we have difference of opinions.

There's no questioning the hard work and dedication of @yabapmatt / @aggroed or any other team member, yous all rock at community support and all work hard.

Its not very often players of a game get to have such a large say in the direction a game takes place. Splinterlands is truely one of a kind in this area .

Thanks again for all you do @nateaguila.

Wow! Thank you so much for the kind words! It really means a lot!

With the support of the community, anything is possible!

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"Yes, we’ll need to find creative solutions to balance bot vs human gameplay. But we readily accept the challenge."

  • The very fact of understanding the existence of this problem is already an achievement.

Speaking of which...

...we’re working on adding Achievements to the game! Yay!

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The way they talked about the land, it is helping bots play better with less effort. That is a huge worry to many of us. I wonder what they will be able to do with out getting rid of bots. Making it better for bots just seems silly.

Excellent spotted.
While the bots will flourish, we will not see the high rate of DEC.

Thank you:)

I'm not sure we should let our fear of bot superiority be a cause for stifling innovation.

After all, in which case does a bot NOT have the potential to be superior? No matter what the game or the game dynamics...whether the game is basic or complex...it all boils down to the simple fact that any bot which is programmed with a carefully crafted algorithm and given access to all relevant, supporting data will have an advantage against human opponents.

In theory, any game more complex than a coin flip is "making it easier for bots". But I get what you're saying. I understand the overall concern. If the new features make it easy for bots to farm in an exploitive fashion, the balance between bot and human may skew dramatically further to the bot's advantage.

I think a reasonable first step would be to address any bot imbalances that we experience right now within our current system. Then, we can take those solutions and see how well they apply to upcoming features before implementation. Your feedback in that regard will be highly valued.

It seems the community went from "bots are bad, ban them and take their cards" to "Matt should make bots for everyone" As more and more people don't want to farm and play long games and more and more bots came about I assumed this would hurt people who did like to play the game. However it seems almost no one is interested in playing the game as a human. If this is the case there is no need to worry about how we make the game at all really. Pro Bot or not, it will be only bots.

I think it boils down to a person's motivation for playing. If their PRIMARY objective is to earn, then they will be favorable to bots. If their objective is mostly to have fun (earning is a secondary concern), then they will probably perceive bots as a big negative.

Blockchain gaming development is still in its infancy. Trying to balance freedom, profit, and fun in a way that makes sense is extremely challenging. Plenty of growing pains as we work through what works and what doesn't.

However, I'm optimistic.

I understand that you (and others) have provided lots of valuable feedback that is even now being used to plan development for things such as the league system. Hopefully, this will put us in the right direction to someday achieving the bot/human balance we all are hoping for.

The depth of the game is what fear me.
Here you need to reject your knowledge and game expert level.
To look again at all as the pure newbie.

Look at the vision, that after these updates, while we all Splinterlands gamers and devs will hurray this fact...
That we will have the situation, when the newbie, who would asking me (you, any old gamer): "So you are the fan of Splinterlands, please, tell me about, I wanna start"
And then the newbies will meet enough big description of the game depths (which will appeared). And then we would see they could say: "Nah, this is a real tough game, lets me go to another simplier one (also collectible card game on blockchain)".

I think that we here have enough joyful, fascinating and unpredictable with auto-battles. And it is really enough for me (to have fun).
Playing and arranging something during the battle on arena - seems to me tedious, even exhausting thing.

IMHO this one aspect would kill the mass expansion of the game,
even whether you think how to make the money or not (and if in these is the mass expansion sense - skillfully distribute the expendable part to a larger number of players - I appreciate this, no doubt), but
my fear is about "narrowing" of the gamers contingent due to the complexity of the gameplay of battles appearing.

I appreciate and respect your opinion.

However, I also think there are ways to address those concerns by focusing on UX.

I’ll be spending a lot of time analyzing how to best create a flow that introduces the game in a user-friendly manner. It may sound overwhelming “on paper”, but with a thoughtful application of intuitive UI...you may be pleasantly surprised by the ease of onboarding new players.

One possibility is that upon launching the game, maybe you’ll be greeted by a world map. Tap on the arena to join a tournament. Maybe tap on a flashing quest giver to unlock nearby conflicts. Tap on your land to access management of your resources.

I’m sure we can figure out creative ways to simplify the added layers of the game world.

In regards to adding an extra turn to battles, if that seems tedious to you...well, to each their own. But I would argue that gamers typically want to PLAY games—not look for ways to NOT play.

Playing games is supposed to be fun. By transitioning from 1 turn to 2 turns, it will increase the length of games by possibly another 1-2 minutes at most. The games will still be quick, particularly when compared to any other collectible card game on the market. But what you get in return for that one extra turn is a dramatic increase in strategy, potentially exciting twists, and an opportunity to engage in a more meaningful way.

On top of that, it has the potential to raise the value for cards in your collection that maybe went unused before. And it opens up a rich ecosystem of harvesting and crafting that some people might find more fun than the traditional card battles. For those people, becoming card crafters may be more fun.

I urge you to withhold judgement until we have something functional to test. I honestly think you’ll like where we end up.

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If you have a few hours to spare, you might take a look at Brave Frontier. I'm not sure their UX is first-class in general but they have crammed a seriously large number of game modes into their game, with nothing more than a phone screen to work with, and are still one of the more popular gacha games out there.

Okay! I've downloaded the app, and I'm working through the tutorial. I'm always open to stealing good UI ideas, haha.

Thanks for the advice!

But I would argue that gamers typically want to PLAY games—not look for ways to NOT play.

So I was trying to show in simulator disscussion of the old player and the new gamer, that the new one want to play in smth and would to choose to play smth simplier one.

If the user interface woould be so filigree
that it will entice the beginner to explore the game layers - I only for this!)

I urge you to withhold judgement until we have something functional to test. I honestly think you’ll like where we end up.

That's just because of the lack of information about what and how will be done, I decided to warn with a vision of where I see the problem points.)

Your feedback is appreciated.

We will try to make sure the simplicity of gameplay is not lost. My job is to make sure nothing feels "too complicated" or "tedious".

I look forward to hearing what you think as updates are released for testing.

This seriously is the most exciting thing I have heard since I have been here!! I always hoped Splinterlands would grow into a fully immersive world!

I have been huge on VR for years, and when I joined Steem back in July of 2016 I came for the idea of a decentralized online world we could ALL come and meet, build, share, and enjoy!

4 years ago I made a post where I even envisioned this entirely decentralized, Virtual Reality world on the blockchain!


This was before Decentraland and even before the film Ready Player One, which I never heard of until I saw the film.. So this idea really was completely OUT THERE when I posted it, and all we had here was makeup tutorials and crypto posts!

Fast forward to last year when Splinterlands was starting to get big.. I revisited the dream world that I wanted to see come forth with blockchain technology, and I made this post called Splinterlands VR..


It is such an awesome idea to think about a fully immersive Splinterlands Virtual Reality world! I even used many gifs to help the reader really imagine and feel as if they were in it!

So yes the idea of expanding the game, and adding land, buildings, and items seems like a great start!

However, I still can’t wait to see a life size Gold Foil Hydra with 3D gold holograms spinning around it while watching all of its heads roar into battle!!

Haha, that would be AMAZING!

I love VR.

A couple years ago, I went to this place called The Void. They outfit you head-to-toe with VR equipment. Gloves, helmet, chest sensors, etc. Then they stick you into a carefully crafted maze that reflects the same physical characteristics of the things you see in the goggles and hear in your headset.

It was mind blowing.

To be IN the Splinterlands would be crazy!

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That's awesome, and I hear you! Thanks to decentralization technology I think it is only a matter of when at this point :D

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