We had a great AMA session with Douglas Dimola, the CEO and Co-founder of GigLabs. He told us the story behind their innovation studio, explained the reason why CryptoRome wasn't built in a day, and his “best game of 2018”.
We listed all the questions here that were asked by the community during this AMA.
Douglas_GigLabs: Hi Lidiia and thanks! Of all times in history, this is the period I am most infatuated with. My favorite movies include Gladiator and Spartacus. I enjoyed the TV show, Rome. I have a number of books on Rome as well. I also paint toy soldiers as a way to relieve stress and relax. Most of my collection are Roman soldiers and gladiators.
The idea of a game where you have an economy, land, farming, war, and politics all wrapped into a massive online environment, with a single Caesar for the whole community, was something I started working on about 6 years ago. When we started in blockchain development, this concept came back to the forefront of my mind, because with smart contracts we could create a simulated environment with all these elements and that is what we have delivered to the community today.
Douglas_GigLabs: The fall of ETH has actually helped CryptoRome and GigLabs. We are able to deploy smart contracts for significantly less than we were paying back in 2017 and early 2018. We are able to put more into making the user experience the most optimal by eliminating gas fees for our players with minimal cost. It also has made it significantly less costly for new players to come in and buy a village and try the game out. Today, a new player can drop in and pick up a village for $10 and produce resources and goods that are then sold for real money.
We are a blockchain technology company with a focus on the gaming industry, so we do not invest heavily in ETH as not to put all our eggs in one basket. Early on we decided to accept credit cards and use the blockchain without ETH being a requirement. That decision has paid off big for us. Today, you can go in and buy land and Denari (our in-game currency) in the game with ETH or a credit card.
Douglas_GigLabs: I take a wait and see approach on a lot of the projects. I follow the ones that are most interesting to me and see how I can get involved outside of just blanket sending them money. Research is also helpful, but as the project unfolds you can see how it develops and how concerned the team is about their community. Early on we took an approach of being heavily involved with the community and making sure each and every step that we corrected any mistake or issue. We let the community get to know us and worked with them hand in hand to get where we are today. It is really hard to outright determine if something is a scam early on. Earning trust takes time and is hard work - we would know. But, if it sounds like a pyramid scheme, it probably is a pyramid scheme. BITCONNECT!!!
Douglas_GigLabs: I play a number of games today. I play mostly on my mobile device and Playstation 4 today. I am currently playing Red Dead Redemption 2, Clash Royale, and Fifa 2018. When I was a kid, I played games such as Civilization, Doom, and just about anything Nintendo.
I was the head of product for a network security company, Dispersive Technologies. I also had my own mobile development company, focused on mini-games and utility apps for iOS devices.
Douglas_GigLabs: My co-founder Brian Burns was my gateway to blockchain. He was involved here in the Atlanta area a few years ago and really turned me on to smart contracts and cryptocurrencies in general in 2017. We decided to start our own company to bring the technology to the mainstream. We met each other through our previous jobs.
Our third co-founder, Jon Parise, is a friend of Brian. He had the passion about blockchain and gaming that we were looking for in a professional marketer for the team. He brings a strong background in customer growth and marketing that will help us continue to build our audience.
Douglas_GigLabs: CryptoRome of course! :) Today’s release of CryptoRome is big. It creates an entire economy, industry, and a self regulating market. Players can now upgrade and build on their virtual land. Okay, enough self service in my response. Actually, Red Dead Redemption 2 is the game I have waited for since playing the first one. It delivers in an unbelievable way. I am blown away by the size and scope of their open world on this one.
Crypto gaming will continue to become more user friendly and the graphics and functions will start to emerge. This should lead to less of the garbage out there today and more games that are immersive and deliver true gameplay along with the benefits of blockchain smart contracts. This is a trend GigLabs will spearhead with CryptoRome and our game developer platform to enable traditional gaming companies to build using our innovative blockchain engine.
Douglas_GigLabs: The smaller indie gaming companies will still have their niche place. This has been the case on every other platform and technology that has come in the gaming space through time. Some of the best mobile games and Facebook made games came from the indie game developer space, creating quite a few self sustaining gaming companies in the process. This will be no different. The publishers also typically license and work with the smaller game development shops to get content and games developed on various technologies. We are already exploring opportunities to work with the bigger publishers to provide them our IP and blockchain experience to develop better games together for the industry.
Douglas_GigLabs: The most important way to build community is to listen. It sounds cliche but it’s true. Our team uses Discord regularly to talk directly with our community of players. They are a great source of solicited and unsolicited feedback. We made a concerted effort to build CryptoRome around our core set of early adopters. We listen to what they like, what they don’t like and adapt our roadmap accordingly. What we know is they prefer to be over communicated with - to hear the good and the bad - as opposed to silence.
Douglas_GigLabs: Yes - at its core, gaming is about having fun and taking you outside of your day to day. Blockchain gaming should be no different. Yet, the ability to make money and create value is a clear advantage that blockchain gaming has over traditional games and we should play to our strengths.
Douglas_GigLabs: Game design and UI are very important. Part of the “fun” in a game is that it looks great. Admittedly, we focused initially on a strong backend in CryptoRome and will move to a “better look” in the future. However, you need to have that strong backend before anything else, especially with blockchain games. Our long term goal is to have a game driven by blockchain without the player feeling the pain of dealing with the blockchain.
Scale for gaming has a lot to do with the infrastructure put in place to support the game. Public blockchains do provide an advantage of having many nodes accessible at all times around the globe.
With CryptoRome, we limited land available in the environment, to ensure we controlled the scale of our community out the gate. We can add different types of assets to grow as the capabilities are brought more inline with our long term vision.
Douglas_GigLabs: We’re an innovation studio focused on solutions that enable widespread adoption of blockchain. What does this mean? We built CryptoRome as a proof of concept for our blockchain IP. The game started to gain some traction and we decided to put a large focus on it while we continue to explore other areas in blockchain development. We’ve piloted a project management solution built on smart contracts and also partnered with an insurance business on a blockchain project. Gaming is the industry that has the highest adoption of consumer blockchain solutions today, so it makes sense that we focus our energy there right now.
Douglas_GigLabs: Well, the most immediate next step is to get this next launch live! But that will happen today. We’re planning on continuing to build out the game play and give it a much slicker look and feel. Collaboration with other games is something that is unique to blockchain gaming. We actually partnered with CryptoHorse and integrated their horse tokens into CryptoRome. So you can race a horse in CryptoHorse, and take that horse into CryptoRome and use it in battle! We don’t have any other integrations planned at the moment but we’re definitely open to them.
We as a company did purchase a good bit of land in Decentraland, because we do see the future of what that virtual world brings to the table. We are open to extending functionality to that world in the future.
Douglas_GigLabs: TBD. More likely is that we’ll keep building extensions in the CryptoRome world we’ve built. We would like to build around our existing digital land and continue to build on an already thriving community.
Douglas_GigLabs: In the short term, any digital collectible like baseball cards and other digital assets/collectibles are already there. These uses and adoption in these areas will continue to accelerate. Long term, we will see NFT representations move to real world representation for ownership as well. They will be able to represent any real world asset. Examples: titles, homes, art, land (virtual and real). This will make transfer and multi-ownership easier.
We are still a ways from mass adoption. There needs to be a lot of work on usability done in the blockchain space before we can see any mass adoption. The technology today is still too tech heavy with poor UX and a lot of baggage.
Douglas_GigLabs: The ERC-998 composable token standard is an innovative solution that allows multiple items and goods to be represented by a single token of ownership. Management of assets becomes simpler, and cost of asset transfers go down. In the future it could represent things like your entire game account with all in-game assets, or your avatar. Outside of gaming, it could represent something like your house or car, composed of all the components and improvements that make the car or house whole, as an example.
Douglas_GigLabs: Find good partners. Surround yourself with good people. Reach out and delve into the community so you're not building things from scratch. Of course, build something that's fun and you would want to play!
Thanks everyone for the great questions! Feel free to reach out at anytime with any other questions. You can find me at @dimola88 on Twitter. Also, come check out CryptoRome and let us know what you think!