In light of recent development updates from one of my favorite EOS dApps – Upland, I’ve decided to share this interview with Idan Zuckerman, in Q&A form. This is the very same interview that helped me in writing the well-received ‘Upland – More than just a game!‘ article in late November 2018.
Here’s the interview in its entirety:
🅠: I guess for someone who’s reading about the game for the first time they might say it sounds a lot like Decentraland. What makes Upland different from Decentraland?
Idan: Several things. The main thing is the nature of the game. Decentraland is a virtual 3D world that appeals probably to core game players, similar in its nature to 2nd life, while Upland is a casual game that is meant to appeal to a mass consumer audience.
While Decentraland is a totally imaginary virtual world, Upland is played on top of the real world and mirrors real world addresses, plus, Upland is a location-based game. Some people have described it as Monopoly meets Pokemon Go.
And finally – you don’t need to know ANYTHING about blockchain to play Upland. So tbh, I would say that Upland is NOTHING like Decentraland.
🅠: Great points! By real world addresses do you mean there’s an Upland address for every real world address?
Idan: I would say that there is no such thing as an ‘Upland Address’ – more that every address in the world will be present in Upland – and also locations that don’t have addresses (think about farmlands, oceans, parks etc.) will also be eventually included in the game. So basically – the entire world!
But each part/type of the world plays a different part in the game. We start out with cities (and addresses) which are places where players will be able to develop their properties later on in the game.
🅠: Wow that’s gaming on a massive scale! How, or rather what is your approach in ensuring that every part of this world is occupied and how long would you estimate that would take?
Idan: Great question! There are 2 parts to the answer:
The first part is the proactive way that us (Upland operators) will release new cities. Our duty as operators in this crucial early stage is to maintain the stability of the economy and maintain the right balance of supply and demand
The second part – is that we will introduce expansion mechanics that will ensure that new places can automatically be opened, only when there is local liquidity and demand of [from] Uplanders!
🅠: So basically the game becomes a replica of the real world, except in the game players have total control of their assets and wealth?!
Idan: Correct – and I would add that this is the very first game of its type to have an open and real-life economy where players are free to trade and liquidate their assets, and also the first game of its type where the operator has no access to the player’s digital assets! This is a big deal!
Maybe to add that the world itself is a replica – but players will take their properties on a path of their own, so Upland will diverge from the real world and become a pseudo-world. Actually – the name Upland came from the series Stranger Things if you know it – where they have the ‘Upside Down’ 🙂
LaNgwenya: Mindblowing 🤯 stuff! No I haven’t seen the series, but will have to now.
Idan: It’s awesome – you should binge watch it!
🅠: So you were recently funded for $2 Million and it seems that this game is going to take a whole lot more than that. Will the game itself help fund its future or is there another approach to help see this world through?
Idan: Thats the great thing about games (and we know a thing or two about games 🙂 ) – you can put together a fun and engaging game with the bare basics, and build on top of that! So while we expect to potentially have more funding rounds (as opposed to ICOs) we expect to be able to create a meaningful business in the process.
LaNgwenya: Cool 👊
🅠: The game has been in beta for nearly six months now, how has that been going? What have you learned about the game? Were there any surprises?
Idan: Wow where do I begin to answer that one.. 🙃
LaNgwenya: One that sticks out the most…
Idan: So the beta has been overwhelming for us. I never expected such a great reaction from our test players. We’ve gotten invaluable insight and ideas from our awesome community and obviously a glitch or two reported 😉. And now we are almost ready to conclude the closed beta with our last upcoming release.
I think the main thing – is that our vision seemed to resonate with our players. As you know – the majority of the closed beta was not much of a ‘Game’ per se so it required a lot of vision and trust from the side of our players, and we are humbled by the response.
LaNgwenya: That’s a winning formula right there!
🅠: I’ve tried the game out on mobile and it seems like there’s a couple of features that were mentioned in the whitepaper that are indeed not yet implemented. Can you share with us what the new features may be? 🙏
Idan: Sure – so there are a couple of main things with the coming release that will be huge steps towards calling this a Game, and moreover – a game that can appeal to mass audiences:
The first thing is discovery. Upland will no longer be selling properties in the market, what will happen is that your Block Explorer will serve as the discovery tool for you to get access to unminted properties. The explorer will algorithmically roam the city for you – but you’ll be able to affect its position by 1 of 3 means:
- teleport it to any of your owned properties.
- teleport it to someone else’s owned properties (but you would need to pay an UPX fee for it for the owner).
- teleport it to your physical location (not included with the coming release)
The second big feature is around our free-to-play model which is mentioned in the white paper and implemented in the coming release. This will be huge – to be able to offer casual players to try out the game without having to spend $ as a prerequisite. Plus – we will have some very exciting news around how you can play the game on different devices! 🙊
🅠: That’s the 3000 UPX right? [referring to ‘the second big feature…’]
Idan: Keep in mind – it’s not just that. It’s the entire mechanic that distinguishes Visitors to Upland from True Uplanders. Visitors to Upland do not enjoy True Ownership until they become Uplanders. Visitors can always keep playing as long as they stamp their visas! And if they lose interest in the game before they become Uplanders, their assets will be recycled in favour of the economy.
🅠: I see we only have ten minutes left so I’ll make the next Qs quick. Your whitepaper states there’s an initial token supply of 100 Billion, will there ever be more tokens created? And if so, under what circumstances?
Idan: The whitepaper addresses this question. The supply is currently not physically limited, since we need to understand how the economy operates first. More tokens may (or may not) be created with a constant objective to keep the economy stable. In the future – our aim is to delegate this type of responsibility to a central entity that will serve a function similar to a central bank, carrying out the same mission.
🅠: A DAC (Decentralized Autonomous Community) maybe?
Idan: Well that is a great question! I think that there will be some features that can be delegated to the community, but some other features may need to remain centralized.
🅠: I’ve noticed you haven’t added crypto as a payment method for buying UPX yet, why is that?
Idan: So I’ll start the answer from the end – buying with crypto is coming soon!
And now the more elaborate answer – one of our main objectives for Upland was to be able to operate the game in highly regulated markets such as the US – but still maintain the open market and the ability to sell digital assets back to fiat. This required us to solve a lot of problems around compliance – which I’m happy to say that we have! So part of that is allowing crypto-in, and being able to put up properties for sale for fiat – both features will be coming pretty soon! And the upside – millions of people who don’t necessarily know or care about blockchain – can now participate!
LaNgwenya: Great stuff! That solidifies the long term vision of this project and my faith in it. Keep up the good work!
Idan: Exactly! I appreciate you guys writing about us! Thanks!
LaNgwenya: Pleasure! Thanks a lot for your time!
[Note: The “future/upcoming” upgrades mentioned in this interview have since been implemented and users can now enjoy their benefits with more on the way for 2020.]
I highly suggest you read the ‘Upland – More than just a game!‘ article for a much broader understanding of the game. Of course trying it out for free is probably the best way to experience it.
Thank you for reading!
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