LandVault interviews the makers of an award-winning game in The Sandbox metaverse.
Why it matters
From this interview, you can learn the story and inspiration behind how two talented designers realised their vision of a medieval-style tower defense game in The Sandbox. This is a prime example of how the metaverse empowers individual contributors in the creator economy.
Every year The Sandbox holds ‘The Sandies’, an award ceremony celebrating the most talented game developers worldwide building within the platform. We’re proud to say that a game we sponsored, ‘The Tree Musketeers’ made by Pietro Perlson and Cookie Munster, won Best Art Direction in the 2022 Sandies.
We were lucky enough to sit down with them and dive into their experiences making the game and working in The Sandbox.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got into building in the metaverse?
Pietro Perlson: “I worked for many years as a freelance graphic designer, animator, and hobbyist game designer. In December 2021, I discovered The Sandbox game maker and instantly fell in love. This year, out of 5 game jams I participated in, I came in the top 3 in two of them and top 10 in another two. Additionally, I won the 2022 Best Art Direction game in the last one - The Tree Musketeers.”
CookieMunster: “I’m a freelance graphic designer and animator, and I happened to stumble onto NFTs in 2021. As I researched deeper, I found out more about NFTs and came across The Sandbox Game. That is when I found out about the metaverse. I saw a lot of potential in The Sandbox Game, so I started to learn and produce a lot of content to be used in the game by using their free software Game Maker and VoxEdit.”
Q: Can you describe the experience you built in "The Sandbox" and what inspired you to create it?
Both: “The tree Musketeers started as an inspiration by plants vs zombies' famous tower defense mobile game for The Sandbox tower defense game jam. Then we thought, what about adding a classical, medieval tower defense theme to it, like the Age of Empires? Then we thought, why wouldn’t we make it even funnier by adding a civilisation of Hamsters, so as you can see, the idea was born small and then grew.”
Q: Can you walk us through designing and building the experience?
Both: “The first step was brainstorming. Given the short game jam time, we only took a couple of days on this step. Once we had tag words “ Tower defense, plants vs zombies, hamsters, victorian ages”, we started collecting references, and I mean hundreds of pictures about each subject. Ranking, clothing, famous characters, art style, housing styles, and more.”
The next step was sketching and character designing. Then we simultaneously started environment designing, VoxEdit character modelling, and system designing. Until this point, the game name was “O tree we protect thee”, and it was supposed to be four levels. Still, one week before the end of the game jam, we decided to make the name smaller and catchier so we had to sit for another brainstorming session until we came up with a twist for the famous “The Three Musketeers” title.
We also had to decrease the experience length and number of units available due to technical limitations at the last minute. The final step was polishing and logo designing, but unfortunately, we did not have time for bug fixing.”
Q: Can you discuss how you approached the art direction for the experience?
Both: “Visuals and aesthetics are important to us because we think a game experience will be more enjoyable when it feels more immersive.
We started by deciding the theme for the game. We wanted the game to have visual cues from the middle ages, so we researched and came up with something unique yet recognisable.
Then we focused on the visual style and how the assets in the game will look. Finally, we decided on a bright colour palette that would appeal to a general audience. This is also important because we need the playable and moving assets to be easily noticeable.
We shared concept art sketches among ourselves and decided on the direction. This then set how we created the 3D assets and custom animations. We continuously test how these assets will look in the game and ensure that all assets in the game environment look and feel harmoniously balanced.”
Q: How does the experience in "The Sandbox" differ from other virtual worlds or metaverse environments you've built in the past?
Both: “From the creation point, The Sandbox stands out from other virtual worlds with two things. First, the code-free, user-friendly interface, and second, the extremely supportive community. I have never seen such a community or moderator on any other platform. Whether you ask your question on Discord, Twitter, or email, you always find someone to support and guide you.”
Q: How do you see the metaverse and the use of blockchain technology evolving in the future?
Pietro Perlson: “I think blockchain technology is still in its infancy, but what we already see is amazing. Technology is here to stay. Each day we see new use cases around us. Whether it is financing, web security, gaming, retail marketing, or even pharmaceuticals and medicine, just like anything new, there will be some scepticism, fraud, and drawbacks. Investors or builders who approach blockchain technology as a "fast rich remedy" will most probably be disappointed or become fraud victims. So you have to approach it with a long-term perspective.”
CookieMunster: “I don’t have a crystal ball, but the way I see things right now, the metaverse as we know it now, will be very different soon. I see it transition back and forth between AR and VR quite easily because hardware advancements will come at a rapid pace. Whether it be a tiny screen in front of your eyes, a neural implant, or another way, these technologies will be a lot more accessible to people.
And when the metaverse melds with AI tech, people will have the ease to create whatever they dream of. They can produce anything that can exist in the metaverse with the help of AI.
Learning institutions, shopping, meetings, and entertainment can all exist in the metaverse. New jobs will provide value to people. The easiest way to extract value from the activities in the metaverse is using blockchain tech, which allows transparency and is verifiable. So, I’m excited about the future.”
Although the game did not come in the top 10 positions in the tower defense game jam, it was extremely well-received and described as the best experience by some judges. Pietro and CookieMunster's experience in The Sandbox demonstrates the potential for creative expression and community support within the metaverse.
Could this be you?
If you are a Web3 builder or a game publisher keen to realise their idea in the metaverse, contact us today! Let’s help you build, scale, and monetize in the metaverse.