The Sims creator Will Wright raises $6 million to develop Web3 metaverse gaming vision with upcoming titles Proxi and VOXverse.
Industry veteran and iconic The Sims game designer Will Wright wants to use AI and blockchain technology to create a more player-centric experience.
Wright claims to have learnt a lot about integrating blockchain tech into gaming during his work on VOXverse, a voxel-aesthetic NFT-enabled play-to-earn (P2E) gaming experience in collaboration with Gala Games.
So far three series of VOX NFTs have been released, based on Gala’s Town Star and Mirandus games, as well as a collection based on AMC’s The Walking Dead.
“VOXverse is more than an endless drudge of collecting and crafting, it's a digital world of cutting edge Web3 tech allowing collectors to explore, play and earn. Build memories, navigate fears, hone your skills. Develop your digital identity and have a blast.” (collectvox.com)
Each VOX avatar will have interoperability and P2E utility in the VOXverse metaverse that offers different methods of earning rewards, with rarer VOXes having greater earning potential. The metaverse promises to deliver long-term playability for VOX owners, where avatars develop their memories and characteristics while tackling challenges and developing their own narratives in-game.
Wright also co-founded the indie game studio Gallium Studios with Lauren Elliott, creator of classic 2015 game Where in the World is Carmen San Diego. Gallium aims to develop Proxi, their “game of self discovery” with the $6 million raised from Griffin Gaming Partners.
Proxi will focus heavily on a player’s past experiences and memories, allowing players to create and develop AI-enhanced worlds based on them while also allowing for the deconstruction and recreation of oneself virtually, including the chance to relive and change your past.
“... a game where we actually uncover the hidden you - your subconscious, your inner ID, and bring it to the surface, bring it to life so you can interact with it, you can play with it, you can learn from it and it can learn about you." (Will Wright, Gallium Studios)
While there is currently no release date for VOXverse or Proxi, the promise of Wright’s legendary game design augmented by artificial intelligence and Web3 technology will surely excite the millions who have played any of his previous games.
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“Welcome to the war on code”. Is open-source code the same as free speech? Should it have the same protections? Users have been blocked by DeFi and CeFi services following the sanctioning of Tornado Cash by the U.S. Treasury, while the crypto community declare legitimate reasons for financial anonymity.
“Imagine if road builders were being arrested ‘because criminals use them?’ Or home curtain installers? Wanting privacy should not be considered a crime.” (Stephan Livera, Bitcoin Podcaster)
The consequences of the sanctioning of Ethereum mixer Tornado Cash (TC) amid links to North Korea’s (DPRK) notorious hackers the Lazarus Group continue with many enterprises choosing to fall in line despite questions surrounding the legality of sanctioning open-source code, not-to-mention the misinformation that lawmakers seem to have been working under.
For example, In a since-deleted tweet, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hinted at a misunderstanding of the situation by referring to TC as being a North Korean state-funded project:
“Let’s remember that the export/use across borders of encryption itself was illegal in the United States until 1996” (Erik Voorhees, Founder of Shapeshift.io)
In the wake of the blacklisting of wallet addresses by U.S. law enforcement, crypto exchanges and DeFi apps alike have also blocked wallet addresses that have been tainted by activities with TC.
Sam Bankman Fried’s FTX exchange has even warned users not to use Aztec, which is a privacy-preserving protocol utilizing zero-knowledge proof technology, and not a ‘mixer’ that enables money laundering.
Microsoft-owned GitHub has also suspended the TC account, but those of at least three contributing developers.
Discord banned the community-run and operated TC server.
The list of notable ‘users’ of TC is certainly interesting, it includes Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin who used it to donate to Ukraine. Victims of a so-called ‘dust attack’, where tiny amounts of ETH were sent via the mixer to unsuspecting figures such as Shaquille O’Neal, Jimmy Fallon, Beeple and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong. So far around six hundred wallets have also randomly received TC-tainted ETH and have been blocked from many services or have had their funds locked, and are awaiting a lifting of restrictions.
Such compliance nightmares will only continue if such blanket sanctions become the norm of lawmakers.
“The industry’s impression is that the U.S. government is pivoting from focusing on punishing bad actors to policing the protocols” (Miller Whitehouse-Levine, Policy Director at DeFi Education Fund)
The sanctions have hit a nerve among the crypto community who have wondered how financial giants implicated in money laundering such as Wachovia Bank ($390 billion laundered), Danske Bank ($228 billion laundered), Deutsche Bank ($10 billion laundered), HSBC ($8 billion laundered) have escaped sanctions while a decentralized project did not.
“Anonymity is not a crime, and there are many legitimate reasons to seek anonymity in financial transactions. Privacy tools are important to, for example, activists in authoritarian states where revealing financial information could get someone jailed or executed.” (Fight for the Future, digital rights advocacy group)
The sanctioning of Tornado Cash may just be the event that wakes the public to their right to privacy, or it may just be the first major reality check that regulation cannot be avoided.
“More than anything else, the Tornado Cash sanctions show us that the prospect of regulation in DeFi cannot be ignored. While compliance will scare away the crypto diehards who refuse to accept any kind of governmental interference, the vast majority of users will continue to follow the money trail. After all, one of the greatest attractions of DeFi is the opportunity to make more money. As institutional investors look for newer investment avenues, it’ll be the most compliant DeFi protocols that are best positioned to attract this new money.” (Andrew MacGill, The Crypto Basic)
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NFT vultures are circling $55 million in bluechip NFTs on the cheap such as Bored Apes, Cryptopunks, Doodles and Azukis as the NFT market’s first massive liquidation event could be about to happen.
Bargain hunters are keeping a close eye on events at BendDAO, a DeFi platform that allows users to use their bluechip NFTs as collateral for loans in ETH. BendDAO basically functions like a decentralized bank, where the deposits can either be bluechip NFTs, or ETH into a lending pool.
The peer-to-pool platform allows the NFT holders to take out an ‘instant’ loan to the value of 40% of their NFT’s floor value, with a ~35% annual interest rate to repay. Users who deposited the lent out ETH earn ~33% annualized interest.
Seven bluechip NFT collections are currently supported, which were chosen for their reputation and proven standing in the NFT market over time.
In order of floor price, where 1 ETH = $1,650 at the time of writing:
This had sounded like a win-win situation for both NFT holders and lenders, but the market has changed since its bullish highs at the height of the NFT mania.
The floor prices for many collections had started falling and borrowers have been unable to pay back the minimum amounts of their loans within the allowed 48-hour window to prevent liquidation. In the case of liquidation, an auction is held where bids must be higher than the outstanding debt against an NFT while also being at least 95% of the NFT’s floor value. Additionally, bids were locked for 48 hours.
These unfavourable conditions for bidders meant that liquidation auctions subsequently failed, and so the DAO was left with the bad debt of ‘illiquid’ NFTs instead of the ETH necessary to pay back the lenders.
It seems the DAO founders had assumed “up only” in their initial calculations.
This had a domino effect on the fears concerning bad debt and one helluva bank run ensued, with the platform’s reserves crashing from 18,000 ETH ($29.7 million) down to 15 ETH ($24,750) at one point! Reserves have since ‘recovered’ to 4,500 ETH.
The DAO has now passed a raft of changes that will hopefully bring some stability to the protocol, enticing lenders back, while also making liquidation bidding more attractive to potential buyers.
This should lead to some blue chip bargains for budding collectors.
It also should also prevent the DAO from going into a financial meltdown.
One to keep an eye on, with lessons for other budding peer-to-pool protocols to take heed.