Sniper Spotlight with Joey Spencer from Cubetopia

Credit: Cubetopia

Web3 gaming has been having a moment in the sun lately, and from the looks of things, it could just be getting started.

Last week, we caught up with Joey Spencer, a developer and creator of the metaverse game Cubetopia — the first decentralized multiplayer RPG/sandbox game built on the Internet Computer blockchain.

Within the game, players can create their own unique island on the blockchain as the game evolves from a sandbox experience to a play-to-earn RPG. They can also go on quests and battle monsters to earn rewards in the form of tokens, NFTs, or tools.

Here’s the full interview.

Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Cubetopia?

My pleasure. My name is Joey Spencer, I’m a developer from the UK and a lover of both games and crypto for many years. Cubetopia has given me the opportunity to combine these two passions into a single project.

Currently, I’ve taken on the role of the technical lead, and am responsible for not only developing the general direction of the project, but also leading our technical team in bringing Cubetopia to life.

Tell us about Cubetopia and who is behind the project. Also, when did the game launch and how successful has it been so far?

Cubetopia is our take on ‘Minecraft on the blockchain.’ When I discovered the Internet Computer, I saw the door opening for opportunities that were impossible on other chains. Upon learning that we could store gigabytes of data on-chain, I instantly began wondering what possibilities this would enable.

I was quickly drawn to the idea of creating an on-chain world, where users could own their own customizable spaces. In Cubetopia, players have their own personal blocky island, every block is stored on the blockchain, and you can invite your friends to build with you, and even have pets on your island.

Within the Internet Computer community, Cubetopia has been incredibly successful and was an instant hit, we are also proud to say we were the overall Grand Champions of Dfinity’s Supernova hackathon.

What is the team’s vision for this game?

Our vision for Cubetopia is dynamic and adaptive, reflecting the rapidly evolving nature of the Web3 environment. We’ve been thrilled to see players using Cubetopia in ways we never initially imagined, which has been both inspiring and enlightening. This flexibility and adaptability are at the heart of our approach, allowing us to continually refine and expand the game’s possibilities.

At its core, our goal is to transform Cubetopia into a unique meeting place within the blockchain realm. The concept of enabling decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) to create their own on-chain spaces for socializing and collaboration is something we are particularly excited about. This feature taps into the communal and interactive aspects of gaming, offering a new dimension of engagement for our users.

In addition to fostering community interaction, we are focused on enriching the gameplay experience through the development of mini-games and engaging game loops. Our aim is to provide compelling reasons for players to log into Cubetopia daily, ensuring that each visit offers something new and exciting.

We’re not just creating another blockchain-based version of Minecraft; our ambition is to steer Cubetopia in a unique direction, addressing issues we’ve identified in Minecraft and exploring innovative solutions. By doing so, we aspire to make Cubetopia stand out not only as an alternative but as a distinctive and pioneering game in its own right, fully leveraging the capabilities and opportunities of Web3 technology.

Why was it important to launch this game in Web3? What Web3 elements make the game better?

Cubetopia’s launch in the Web3 ecosystem is pivotal for realizing our vision of decentralization, democracy, and freedom in gaming. Web3 allows true digital ownership, where players own their in-game assets as NFTs, ensuring real-world value and control. This system transforms traditional gaming by empowering players to directly influence game development through decentralized governance structures like DAOs.

Additionally, Web3’s ‘play-to-earn‘ model and cross-game interoperability offer innovative economic opportunities and a more secure, transparent gaming experience, aligning Cubetopia with the modern digital era‘s ethos.

Do you have any major partnerships you’d like to mention?

Our collaboration with Ludo, a renowned Paris-based street artist, stands out as a significant milestone for Cubetopia. Ludo, known for his active participation in the Internet Community ecosystem and his acclaimed ‘BTCFlower‘ collection, brought a unique artistic vision to our project. Working together, we developed a special edition for our ‘Cubetopia Pets’ NFT collection.

This collaboration was more than just a fusion of styles; it represented the intersection of traditional street art with the innovative world of blockchain gaming. By integrating Ludo‘s distinct aesthetic, characterized by vibrant, thought-provoking designs, into our signature blocky, pixelated style, we created something truly unique.

The partnership also exemplifies our commitment to bridging the gap between different art forms and the digital blockchain space. Ludo’s reputation and influence in the art world added a layer of artistic credibility and appeal to our game, attracting a diverse audience beyond traditional gamers.

The resulting NFTs from this collaboration are not just in-game assets; they are digital art pieces that resonate with both gaming enthusiasts and art collectors. This initiative is a testament to our ongoing efforts to explore creative partnerships that can enhance the Cubetopia experience, making it richer and more engaging for our community.

What is the team like at Cubetopia? Can you walk us through a day in the life of a team member?

The Cubetopia team operates with a decentralized ethos, reflecting our Web3 foundations. Our global team members work autonomously, focusing on their unique responsibilities. Our UK-based technical development team starts each day with a meeting to align on progress and share ideas. These sessions are vital for coordinating our diverse skill sets and ensuring we’re moving in unison towards our goals.

Post-meeting, team members delve into their tasks, from coding to community outreach, leveraging digital tools to stay connected despite physical distances. This approach balances autonomy with collaboration, driving efficient progress in our dynamic blockchain gaming environment.

What do you believe is the future of Web3 gaming?

The future of Web3 gaming, as we see it at Cubetopia, is incredibly promising and dynamic. We envision a gaming landscape where player sovereignty and true ownership are at the forefront. In Web3 games, players can own their in-game assets as NFTs, which can be traded, sold, or utilized in various ways, transcending the boundaries of the game itself. This opens up a myriad of possibilities for cross-game interactions and asset utilization.

We also foresee an evolution in gaming governance, where players can have a direct say in the development and direction of the games they love. Decentralized organizations (DAOs) could play a significant role in this, allowing player communities to make decisions collectively. This could lead to more player-driven content, where the community actively shapes the game’s world and narrative.

Moreover, with the integration of decentralized finance (DeFi) elements, we anticipate a more robust in-game economy. Players could potentially earn real value through their in-game activities, which could be a game-changer in terms of how people perceive and interact with video games.

For Cubetopia, aligning with these trends means continuously exploring new ways to integrate blockchain technology to enhance gameplay, player ownership, and community governance. We’re excited about the possibilities and committed to being at the forefront of this gaming revolution.

What challenges are your players currently facing when it comes to interacting with your game’s NFTs?

At Cubetopia, we pride ourselves on delivering a smooth user experience, particularly in how players interact with their NFTs. However, we recognize that there is always room for improvement and innovation. A key area we’re exploring is the dynamic updating of NFT thumbnails to accurately reflect changes made in the game. For instance, if a player constructs a castle on their island, we aim to have this development mirrored in the thumbnail image of their NFT.

This feature would not only enhance the visual representation of players‘ achievements and creations but also add a layer of dynamic interaction and personalization to the NFTs. By making these thumbnails more representative of the current state of players‘ islands, we intend to deepen the connection between the virtual assets and their real-time evolution in the game.

Are there any specific tools or resources that you think are lacking in the market which could enhance the player’s experience or interaction with your game?

In our pursuit to make Cubetopia as user-friendly and accessible as possible, we’re constantly seeking ways to reduce friction and lower entry barriers for players. A significant area of focus is improving the ease of financial transactions within the game. More streamlined fiat on/off ramps would greatly simplify the process for players to convert traditional currency into digital assets and back, making the game more approachable for a wider audience.

Additionally, enhancing mobile support for Web3 is crucial in today’s smartphone-centric world. We envision a future where interacting with decentralized applications (dApps) is as easy as using everyday apps, with integrated payment solutions like Apple Pay or Google Pay. This would not only elevate the user experience but also make the exciting world of blockchain gaming more integrated into daily life, opening up Cubetopia to an even broader community of gamers.

Do you have any other projects or new features for the game that you’d like to share with us?

At Cubetopia, we are thrilled to announce a major leap forward in our game’s evolution. We are in the process of completely rebuilding Cubetopia using a custom, web-based game engine. This decision stems from our desire to overcome the limitations and optimization issues we encountered with the Unity game engine, especially for web applications.

Our new engine is designed specifically for the web, boasting impressive performance, faster load times, and enhanced mobile compatibility. This significant overhaul is not just a technical upgrade; it’s a step towards providing a seamless, high-quality gaming experience. We are confident that this revamped version of Cubetopia will not only elevate the gameplay for our existing community but also attract new members, further expanding our vibrant virtual world.

Thanks for talking with us.

Thank you.