Bitcorn Crops is a blockchain game that is unique and innovative by many measures. It’s built on the Bitcoin blockchain, it integrates with Counterparty, and it has an active community that contributes ideas and features to the game.
We had a chance to catch up with the creator of Bitcorn Crops, and learn all about the journey so far.
Can you tell me a bit of background about you and your team? What inspired you to get into blockchain / crypto games?
At this time, I am developing Bitcorns.com by myself. Though, I get a lot of ideas and contributions from the people playing the game.
I’ve been making and marketing websites since 2004/2005. Through the power of the original blockchain, the Internet Archive, you can actually see my first website here. Since, I have been making websites for so long, I have a lot of experience with getting projects out the door on my own. And then, as they grow, building a team as needed. The majority of projects fail, so I find it easiest to go it alone, at first.
Besides my failed hat selling venture, I’ve made a lot of gaming websites. An old example would Aburrido.com (Spanish for “Bored.com”). And a more recent one would be IncrementalGame.com. Both of which I have since sold. In terms of my predisposition towards blockchain technology, I was running several proxy websites in high school which, at their peak, were getting 10-20k visitors per day, especially from places like Iran, China, and Pakistan. And I was buying and selling domain names which are a kind of rare digital asset.
When I came across Counterparty, in 2015, I saw it through the lens of a domainer and registered 1000 different asset names, one of them was CROPS, which I went on to use two years later in my crypto game called Bitcorn Crops, but some of my first registrations were things like WWIII and PUNTOS (Spanish for “POINTS”).
Tell me about how the vision for BitCorn Crops came about. What inspired you to make a game like this?
Besides my interest in Bitcoin and gaming, what really inspired me to start working on Bitcorns.com, in earnest, was an event called the Rare Digital Art Festival (rare.af) where I saw a market demand for games/collectibles/blockchain uses. Another way to put it is that, while I had been thinking about how Counterparty tokens could used in games since 2015, the market hadn’t developed until now. And I ventured to make my own game using Counterparty, in part, to show that these things can be done on the Bitcoin blockchain because I think there’s a perception that only Ethereum, and blockchains like it, can support games.
As a domainer, I already owned Bitcorns.com. “Bitcorn” is a very popular and old meme in the blockchain space. And through registering Counterparty assets I had CROPS. So, I looked up BITCORN to see if it was available and that started to quickly become a funny farming game on the blockchain with incremental game elements.
What is the basic gameplay, story, and marketplace of BitCorn Crops? How does the game and marketplace work?
The simplest way to explain Bitcorn Crops is like this… Farmers harvest their crops for bitcorn. The point is to accumulate the most bitcorn. The winner will be decided in 2022. The full rules can be read here.
To add more detail to that… Any bitcoin address owning the access token CROPS is considered a bitcorn farm. How many crops a farm owns determines how large that farm is and how much BITCORN it will yield during harvests. Overtime, crops yield less and less bitcorn, halving every four harvests, until all 21 million bitcorn have been farmed.
Considering that “bitcorn” is a bitcoin meme, many elements are designed to parody the bitcoin network and its different elements. We have halvenings, there will never be more than 21 million bitcorn, we call people without crops “no croppers”, the hardest part of the game is hodling until the end, etc.
Looking at the harvest portion, it’s a seemingly very simple idle or incremental game. And that’s true to a point. But there are social dynamics that I am introducing into the game with the help and feedback of the players that increase the difficulty. For example, there are in-game upgrades, most of them user-submitted, like how Rare Pepe works.
These can range from a LAMBOGARAGE to a FARMCAT. At the moment, these are aesthetic choices. Players are building up a shared, imagined, “Bitcorn World,” by contributing their art and their ideas. We have a very lively chat community! In the near future, these items will actually give you abilities in the game. So, players without a lot of crops have the chance to barter their upgrade cards for bitcorn. And players with lots of bitcorn have to choose between winning the game or owning a rare LAMBOGARAGE.
I often compare the game to Adventure Capitalist and/or Monopoly. Have you ever owned Boardwalk, but had to barter it away to get a better chance at winning? Have you ever played Adventure Capitalist and set yourself back a ways by buying upgrades?
What are some of the barriers you see ahead for your project and Crypto Games in general?
In general, crypto projects tend to over-promise and under-deliver. So, setting realistic expectations and timelines is an important part of having a vibrant community that stays that way and doesn’t just turn into a pile of broken dreams and regrets. Also, what developers choose to prioritize will matter a great deal. I see some developers prioritizing their game’s graphics, others focusing on game play dynamics, others on how tokens will fit in, others on which technology they are using, etc, etc. I am not sure what will be the right focus.
Transaction fees are probably the next barrier facing some games. Part of the design of Bitcorn Crops is to minimize my company’s use of the blockchain. The token sale took place on February 1st, 2018 and I simply placed one sell order on the Counterparty Dex. That’s just one bitcoin transaction. There will also be 16 harvests across four years. Regardless of how many people are playing, executing the harvest code will always only be 16 bitcoin transactions because of how Counterparty works.
Bitcoin fees could become hundreds of dollars and it would not effect my company’s ability to run the game as advertised. Although, this scenario is very hypothetical. I think a benefit of building on top of Bitcoin is that it’s the most stable, reliable blockchain and its developers are world class scaling experts- despite competitor’s marketing copy to the contrary.
And, obviously, the biggest barrier to all projects is that the majority fail. I’ve gotten a great deal of interest in my project, so far, which I am grateful for, but it’s hard to say if that interest will be maintained for the next four years. Through recurring harvests, every three months or so, and building exciting events around those times, like new feature releases and bitcorn auctions, I am hoping that Bitcorn Crops will be able to keep things interesting with incremental changes and something always to look forward to. Luckily, no matter what, because of the minimized use of the blockchain, I will be able to fulfill the promises of the game and crown a winner in 2022, even if it’s just a few diehards still actively playing.
Tell me about your perspective on blockchain technology and games in general. Where is this all going? and why is it important to you?
I think all games are operant conditioning chambers to some degree, the whole Skinner’s box thing, but I don’t mean it in a pejorative way. Just that games and gamified platforms, like social media, are designed to give people jolts of dopamine. That’s why I like playing games and using platforms like Instagram, anyways.
When you bring blockchain technology into the picture, I think what happens is that points can go from integers on a screen to something more tangible, if that’s even possible. Tangible in the sense that people own their bitcorn. Bitcorns are really just the points in my game, but beyond seeing the integer on their screen go up, they also have real ownership there.
I think, wherever there are fans, whether its music, sports, movies, games, the fans are differentiated from all other people in that they have taken on some ownership of the thing they are fans of. The ability to irrevocably own, really own, game items, tokens, characters, places, will deepen this sense of ownership and probably increase the satisfaction fans receive from playing. But I’m an idiot, so I’m probably wrong.
What is your roadmap, and what plans do you have for the future for your team and your project?
Well, at the most basic level, the roadmap is 15 more harvests over the next four years. In the short term, I am working closely with some player-participants who have proposed really interesting uses of in-game upgrades to add new functions. So, we will go from user-submitted art that grows the imagined “Bitcorn World”, that includes new items and places and characters, to user-submitted upgrades that introduce new dynamics, negative and positive, cooperative and competitive. In the medium term, I’d like to have an app version of the game and perhaps its own dedicated branded wallet. And in the long term, I hope that the momentum builds to where I need a team to scale even further.
Any key dates or milestones coming up that you would like to share? Any announcements coming up?
The next harvest will be July 1st, 2018, and anyone can checkout the Farmer’s Almanac for more details there. In our Telegram chat on May 6th, we’ll be having an auction of some of the cards that exist in the game. I’ll be attending an event on May 10th called CryptoCreative that I encourage everyone to attend. I am working on securing a date and organizing the first Counterparty Conference. And there will be some fun new functions added to the game soon, but I like to keep those specifics secret as I think it helps make the dopamine blast a bit stronger when those things are a surprise!
Got any comments, corrections, or new info? Get in touch!