Marcin Kobylecki, who previously worked on video games “The Witcher” and “Cyberpunk 2077,” wants to bring a darker fantasy edge to the still nascent metaverse with a new project: DRKVRS.
Kobylecki is heading up the creative development of DRKVRS in collaboration with Aleph Zero. Aleph Zero is a proof-of-stake blockchain launched in November 2021, with the AZERO native token powering the network.
Kobylecki also served as the executive producer of the Oscar-nominated animated short film “The Cathedral,” directed by Tomasz Bagiński. He tells Decrypt that his background in computer animation and special effects on games like “The Witcher” is helping to drive the development of DRKVRS.
"’The Witcher’ is a good example because ‘The Witcher’ is a stylized game," Kobyleck told Decrypt. "So our universe, the DRKVRS, we created a stylized [game], and we tried to find a new look for these kinds of projects."
— DRKVRS (@drkvrs) August 11, 2022
The metaverse is a popular buzzword being used to describe what will potentially be the next iteration of the internet and gaming. Crypto enthusiasts see play-to-earn games like Axie Infinity as a critical component of what the metaverse can be. But gamers outside of crypto have not shown much interest in these games.
Some gamers have expressed outright hostility to the addition of digital assets, such as in the case of Team17, which had plans to release Ethereum NFTs based on the "Worms" video game franchise in February but faced almost instant backlash from fans who saw them as a cash grab at best, a Ponzi scheme at worst.
Play-to-earn games are video games where the player can receive rewards with real-world value through earning cryptocurrencies or NFTs. NFTs are cryptographically unique tokens that prove ownership of content. Blockchain games enable users to take ownership of in-game items, like skins, clothing, or virtual real estate.
DRKVRS aims to change the perception of metaverse games as solely play-to-earn schemes. Its developers say that the goal is to produce a game developed by gaming industry professionals first, merging their expertise with blockchain technology.
"With Marcin's and his team's background, we're very excited to see what comes out of it," says Aleph Zero co-founder Antoni Zolciak. "The entire notion behind DRKVRS is to make it how it sounds, gloomy and dark.”
Collaborators include popular Polish fantasy, science fiction, and horror writers Łukasz Orbitowski and Jacek Dukaj.
As Zolciak explains, two tokens will be used for DRKVRS: a tradeable token, SPECK, and a second called God's Blood that will be used in-game, with Aleph Zero providing the underlying infrastructure for token transfers, voting, and NFT minting.
Plans for DRKVRS include a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) to oversee governance and vote on game developments.
A decentralized autonomous organization, better known as a DAO, is an organizational structure where control is spread out rather than hierarchical. DAOs use smart contracts on a blockchain, with participants using governance tokens to vote on proposed actions.
"We seek to enable the community to come up with their own ideas and allow for rewarding the independent creators," Zolciak said.
DRKVRS takes players to the bowels of an ancient cosmic beast called Leviathan. Players will explore the city of Babalon (named after the Thelemic goddess). This “transhumanist dystopia” serves as the central hub for players to interact with one another, advance the story, and make complex moral choices.
Zolciak says the team often refers to the work of Tomasz Bagiński, a Polish illustrator who also created cinematics for “The Witcher” and “Cyberpunk 2077.”
"It's basically the same style, and the guys operate in this sort of area where they can pull the beauty out of the darkness, so to speak," he said.
But Kobyleck says players should not expect a straight fantasy or cyberpunk style game but a mixture of both. "It won't be ‘The Witcher,’" he says. "It will be different from ‘Cyberpunk ’ with a mixture of Guillermo Del Toro and his creatures."
As Kobyleck explains, DRKVRS is still in its initial stages of development, and the medium in which the game will appear has not yet been decided. "We don't know if it will be a standalone application or will be website application. So we have to figure it out," he said.