OrchidxMachina - 3D Block Explorer and Explore-to-Earn Games

My name is Bradley Flora. I am an artist and the founder of OrchidxMachina, a (nonprofit) DAO focused on building experimental video games with player owned IPs.

This proposal’s goal is to use guerilla marketing tactics to diversify the type of people that support and hold $DOT tokens by producing games and software that attract new talent and holders from outside the ecosystem.

These games have the potential to strengthen Polkadot by expanding and exposing new demographics to the value of Polkadot as a software. Our team has a multiphase project plan that builds upon itself and unfolds in layers.

We’re seeking grant funding for open source public beta builds Phases 1 through 3:

(Seeking Funds)
Phase 1: Free to use 3D Decorative Block Explorer

Phase 2: Free to play, Explore-to-Earn Airdrop scavenger hunt w/ block data

Phase 3: Free to play, Explore-to-Earn Birding Adventures


(Funded by future Invarch DAO staking rewards)
Phase 4: NFTkeys minted to boost and level up scavenger hunt rewards

Phase 5: NFTkeys minted to evolve and change scavenger hunt terrain using “world skins”

Phase 6: NFTkeys minted to expand Explore-to-Earn games to include geology and botany



Phase 1
The foundational codebase for later builds, this will be a decorative 3D block explorer using Unity Engine and the Polkadot SDK for Unity which will be built for desktop and mobile devices.

(Disclaimer: While we would like this to be as functional as possible, due to the complexities of importing specific subscribed block metadata and attaching them to specific Game Objects in a way that is useful and contextually human-readable, we are only able to guarantee a “decorative” level of functionality.)

This primary build focuses on creation of an Artistic and 3D sculptural representation of new blocks minted from an archival RPC-node. This dovetails with our stated marketing mission by creating something we could proudly publicize and submit for IRL digital display in local, national, and international art galleries and museums.

(Please note that Gallery and Museum shows are a secondary focus and we are not yet actively submitting for such placements, nor is acceptance guaranteed.)

Instead, the scope of this proposal is to create a Purple Cow, as paraphrased from Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow, “make a memorable product and the marketing becomes easy (because everyone remembers a Purple Cow)”.



Phase 2
The next level of the build will be to add the Free-To-Play Explore-to-Earn, in-game digital scavenger hunt using block minting and block metadata as triggers for first-person view discoverable airdrops within a pre-generated or handbuilt natural landscape. This will use the Polkadot SDK for Unity’s integrated wallet UI and a pure proxy with multisig to manage the airdrop stash.



Phase 3
Phase three expands the Free-To-Play digital scavenger hunt with a skinned edutainment component replacing representations of the minted blocks with heuristically randomized animated Bird avatars which spawn from minted block metadata.

This added educational component to the game turns the vanilla scavenger hunt into a rough birding simulator which—even though it will be only single-player—will still be made competitive by having players all compete from the same daily airdrop pot.

The Explore-to-Earn gaming system benefits both current $DOT holders, by creating a mechanism to earn additional tokens through multiple airdrop rewards, and also the Polkadot ecosystem at large by introducing the $DOT token to new gamers who may be interested in it for its playability or educational value.



The Game Builds
Partly due to realistic financial and computational budgetary constraints, our first generation game builds will use hand-built and procedurally generated landscapes, for in-game exploration and airdrops, that are created prior to the game run-time. Desktop builds will be finished first and released on Steam or in conjunction with other ecosystem partners, as appropriate.

Please note, that a mobile release is more speculative because of computational limitations but working with compatible aspects of Unity’s D.O.T.S. system (no relation) reduces processing overhead with the downside being it does increase the relative complexity of scripts needed to launch run-time gameplay.

Among others, we plan to use the following Unity Assets for Phases 2 and 3:

Polkadot SDK for Unity
https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/decentralization/infrastructure/polkadot-sdk-for-unity-273535

Gaia Pro 2023 - Terrain & Scene Generator
https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/tools/terrain/gaia-pro-2023-terrain-scene-generator-263149

Digger - Terrain caves & overhangs
https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/tools/terrain/digger-terrain-caves-overhangs-135178

BIRDS PACK
https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/3d/characters/animals/birds/birds-pack-15567



Target Demographics
Our proposal focuses on energizing new users to engage with the Polkadot ecosystem through incentivized gameplay and creative use of blockdata for a project that invites diverse new demographics into the ecosystem (artists, curators, collectors, teachers, birders, scientists, etc.).

With our focus on block exploration at its foundation, we’re creating a fun twist on the critique that Polkadot and its “tech” is too complicated by ultimately leveraging William Gibson’s early 90’s vision of a 3D internet in new and unique ways.

Additionally, because Polkadot is one of the most energy efficient of all blockchain technologies, by creating a game that appeals, and can be marketed, to Birders we help raise Polkadot’s profile amongst Conservationists, too, who might be looking for future proof technology to help meet their own goals.



Competitive Gameplay
Even though the game will be single-player, to make things competitive there will be both an inverse reward-size-to-time-spent-playing ratio and inverse current-rewards-to-previous-day-airdrops ratio to maximize seeding of the next daily airdrop pot and keep things interesting.

This means that the fewer the people play the more valuable the average Explore-to-Earn airdrop reward become, and the challenge of the game itself includes the fact that there is a limited daily access multiplier; so the longer you spend playing, the less valuable the average airdrop is (to reduce risk of promoting negative habit forming behavior and screen addiction).

With all that in mind, why would a player want to spend more than just a few minutes playing daily? While any airdrop rewards they discover, using the opening splash screen’s UI, will be more valuable for committing to less access, not all rewards will be quantitatively equal.

Essentially meaning the shorter you commit to play the more valuable your airdrop multiplier, but the greater the risk you won’t find any valuable rewards in the scavenger hunt. As the airdrop Game Objects are being generated, certain on-chain transactions could be programmed (from the attached metadata) as triggers for the game logic to produce greater pockets of more or less valuable airdrop rewards, creating uncertainty and making repeated, and longer, gaming experience more exciting.

In contrast to select airdrop games currently on the market that reward users for just logging in to the game world, these ratios incentivize players to hunt airdrops within the scope of actual gameplay mechanics, reducing the chance that players involved only for the airdrop will find ways to farm without actually still playing competitively.



Invarch DAO staking portal - screenshot

Tokenomics
Base airdrop size and frequency will be relative to the amount of funding available and will be formally calibrated during closed alpha testing.

There will be no new token minted as part of this project. Our goal is to empower $DOT holders so, the airdrop, and any associated fees, will use and distribute $DOT. If necessary, or even just for fun, too, we are open to using additional tokens that our members and the community feel are a good fit for the project.

Ultimately DAO governance and membership will function using Invarch’s INV4 protocol with nested and collectable NFTkeys minted in a future collection to best match with game functionality. These could include powerups like Binoculars for distance or Running Shoes for speed.

DAO staking rewards from Invarch, when available, will likely start with a split of the $VARCH rewards 50/50 between funding in-game airdrops and funding additional, and more advanced, game development.

As a (nonprofit) project we may also seek additional funding through the new Optimistic Project Funding program (as possible), or the Polkadot treasury, to fund and top off additional gaming adventures.

Applying for this Decentralized Futures grant allows us to supercharge our development schedule while also creating space in our budget as additional funding sources unlock (Invarch DAO staking and/or NFT sales) for new open source builds, seasons, and gated expansion packs riffing off the Explore-to-Earn model.



NFT, OrchidxMachina.io

Expectations
It is likely that our foundational Phase 1 Block Explorer, even though it will be connected to an archival RPC-node, will begin as something that only visualizes new blocks minted during game-runtime in a playable 3D space.

What we can’t yet build in Unity, but wish we could, would be to create something that could visualize the entirety of an archival node and then transform the visualization abstractly from something rendered as “a blockchain” into a forest and prairie, or mountains and swamps and fields of wildflowers; meaning that playing the Explore-to-Earn games could happen in dynamic, diverse natural settings but would ultimately still be foundationally built entirely on the exploration, and evolution, of on-chain data itself.

While it may be theoretically possible to do this in a game engine, creating scripts that allow for visualization of an entire blockchain at game run-time (and then abstracting that data into a forest motif, etc.) is not yet possible within currently accessible technologies. This is because the scripts required may both create too much computational overhead and/or break Unity Assets used to help procedurally generate the worlds.

Looking ahead to next year and future builds, one of our longer-term goals is to find a way to generate entire playable 3D worlds that are built on nothing but block data. A promising avenue to explore (outside the scope of this proposal) would be to leverage Polkadot’s existing cloud infrastructure and find ways to use parachains like Phala and Crust to create light client versions of the Explore-to-Earn games.



NFT, OrchidxMachina.io

Internship Program
To help foster and create new and diverse talents for the ecosystem, we have launched an invite-only paid-internship program. Qualified individuals who add to our codebase and contribute to achieving Grant milestones will be compensated with a financial pay-out.

The power of our internship program is that it levels up our development team’s vision by injecting fresh talent, and fresh perspectives, from people who already have the maturity and dedication needed as working professionals.



Unanswered Questions
While we have conscripted an Intern with frontend expertise to learn Substrate (see above) and are consulting with an ecosystem expert who specializes in gaming integration to help ensure smooth Web3 functionality (who is invited to out themselves in the comments but otherwise will remain anonymous), it should be noted that it still falls to me to make sure all scripts and internal workings within the Unity game engine are bug free.

So to help ensure the safety of player’s Web3 experience we will also be including in our proposed budget a 3rd-party audit of the entire codebase for all alpha and beta builds.

Likewise, to preserve that relatively modest budget, for Phases 2 and 3 we will be purchasing Unity Game Assets for landscape, terrain, ambient audio, and Bird models. As you may know, Unity Assets can be notorious for not always playing nice with each other, or with other scripts, so careful scrutiny of the creators and a bit of luck will be required for us to get this aspect right.

It is possible that, despite our best efforts, due to unforeseen incompatibilities between Unity Assets and our scripts our initial build could take longer than expected to complete or only work for desktop but not mobile. Even if we rebuild the terrain, landscapes, and generated prefabs to be lower poly and use less computational power, to make it work for mobile may mean having less, or different, gaming functionality.

As well, we are open to feedback on whether we should theoretically boost the requested budget to hire 3D animation and vFX artists right off the bat, or is a less-is-more mentality and starting small a better way to go? What do you think?

To start, off-the-shelf graphic models present the best cost-benefit ratio because the airdrop mechanics will be the main attraction. Once we have the foundations established with Phases 1-3, we can incrementally begin to improve the graphics, audio, behavioral models, and ecologically accurate terrain to build out the Birding Adventure for the true Ornithological enthusiasts (who will then need to purchase NFTkeys to unlock the more advanced edutainment features).



Risks
Additionally, despite having created a basic Decorative Data Visualizer online in WebGL which visualizes in Unity the 31-day historical $KSM price chart and is Desktop only: [Early Days Demo – OrchidxMachina ], it should be acknowledged that I am an unknown quantity as a game and software developer (and leaned heavily on Github Copilot to get even that across the finish line).

Set aside the fact that many in the community may not yet know me, my work, or reputation, even if you assume I’m not a scammer and am here sincerely, there are still plenty of ways I could fail to deliver on the promises made.

Not only am I an artist building in new mediums (C#, Unity, Substrate, Python) but what I want to build is big enough, and complex enough, many factors that could influence its success are out of my control.

To help maintain momentum, and provide accountability, we look forward to the opportunity to work within proposed milestones in the Grant application, in line with our project’s Phases 1-3, to help the workflow stay goal oriented.

As an artist, teaching myself as I go, and constantly solving impossibilities, may not make me the fastest programmer but what I lack in expediency, I more than make up with originality.

While there are risks in supporting this project, the reward builds on the decentralization of the Polkadot community by adding additional diversity to its thought leaders and expands the number, and type, of people who hold and build with $DOT.



Summary of Who Benefits
This project benefits the Polkadot ecosystem because it:

  • Creates use cases for Polkadot that attract new users outside of the currently targeted demographics

  • Creates edutainment modules that could be used to demonstrate patterns in the natural world for STEAM education (Science, Technology, Education, Art, Math)

  • Demonstrates a novel use of NFTs as keys to unlock gaming levels and world skins



Conclusion
This project will create a framework for people to interact with the Polkadot relay and parachains in entirely new ways, enhancing and expanding what’s considered possible for the Polkadot brand.

We will use visualization and education to leverage blockchain technology, creating something that is both fun to play and of interest to new and existing demographics, including: crypto enthusiasts, gamers, painters, interior designers, fashion designers, gallery curators, birders, teachers, and scientists, among others, giving them all a reason to engage with the Polkadot ecosystem outside of the current constraints and hurdles of DeFi/CEX onboarding.

By focusing on a (nonprofit) model, and making the code open source, we invite fans and programmers alike to build on top of our work, expanding what’s possible with this project in new and inspiring ways.



Although the tokens are not yet available to trade, if you are already a holder of $VARCH you can support our project through Invarch’s innovative DAO staking platform or by purchasing an NFT from our early, eclectic, and (nonplayable) fundraising collection . Each NFT will be worth one lv.1 NFTkey and includes DAO membership.

To learn more, feel free to reach out to Bradley via DM on X

All feedback is welcome.

(Thank You)

2 Likes

The project doesn’t have a github, do you plan to keep it close sourced or it’s an open source?
Are you working alone on the project as well?

Hey! Thanks for your questions.

  1. I know I wrote the War and Peace of all Grant proposals so I understand how it’s easy for it to get lost in the shuffle but as mentioned above our projects will be open source and we are inviting programmers and builders to build on top of this work once we have the foundational codebase in place.

Thank you for the prompt, too. I’m new to Github right now, just as I was new to Unity in January, and new to C# in February. I’m probably not sharing enough files to make this useful, but if you want to see the scripts for the Early Days WebGL Demo that I made they can be found here:

https://orchidxmachina.io/early-days-demo/

  1. We’re a small team; I’m certainly not alone, but most of the support is from our advisory board including DAO members, mentors, and the brain trust that gives me advice. Mostly they tell me to write less and code more :wink:

Public Update:

Stoked to report that we have officially complete our legal filing and are now a (for profit) Public Benefit Corporation.

While we retain the spirit of our early (nonprofit) idealism, codifying our legal wrapper meant acknowledging the best of both worlds in working for the public good while also allowing us a path forward to generate profit for our members if they decide it is in the best interest of the (DAO).

Bradley
OrchidxMachina
https://x.com/OrchidxMachina/status/1806159154974716106

(A Summary)

This proposal is a guerilla marketing initiative with a goal of growing and diversifying the type and number of people that hold $DOT. We will do this in multiple phases using one foundational codebase which will start as a 3D BlockExplorer built in Unity with the Polkadot SDK. This level of the build will function as a Fine Art project and will target designers, artists, curators, and collectors.

The next level of the build will take the functionality of the 3D block explorer as something that generates blockdata and build on top of it a 3D Explore-to-Earn digital scavenger hunt with $DOT airdrops which will be heuristically programmed to be challenging to catch and find, and triggered into existence within the game run-time whenever a live block is minted on the Polkadot relaychain.

The next phase of the project is the final step included in the scope of our grant, and expands on the Explore-to-Earn scavenger hunt with off-the-shelf Bird avatars optionally replacing the vanilla block targets.

In both cases, the game remains single-player yet retains competitive gameplay through a communal airdrop pot, with inverse airdrop ratios so the fewer people play the larger the single-player airdrops become.

This project creates a framework for people to interact with Polkadot’s software in entirely new ways, enhancing and expanding what’s considered possible for the Polkadot brand.

By making it an art project first we’re creating new ways to connect with blue chip investors, by including airdrops, we entice and attract users from across all crypto ecos, and by making it a rough birding simulator we’re opening the door to market and promote the game to conservationists, bringing a diverse set of eyes and attention to the Polkadot brand.

The code is open source, and these first 3 phases of the game build will be free-to-play, with later NFT items and worldskins outside the scope of this grant expanding airdrop boost and playability. When the project is launched we invite fans and programmers alike to build on top of our work.

With focus on block exploration at its foundation, we’re creating a fun twist on the critique that Polkadot and its “tech” is too complicated, and not fun, by ultimately leveraging William Gibson’s early 90’s vision of a 3D internet in new and unique ways.