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Deep Dive with Jonathan Howard, CTO at Rupie Network

posted 1 year ago

with or if you'd like to join the discussion.
Soona Amhaz
Hey Jon,

On a high level, what problem is Rupie trying to solve?
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Jonathan Howard
@soonaorlater Thanks for having us, Soona! At a high level, we're trying to solve the problem where projects launch, raise money, and fail to ship the final product. We see that in games, all across the board in crowdfunding, even in raises as big as $30M token sales! The emergence of smart contracts lets us tackle this in a new way that wasn't possible before, with what we're calling "milestone escrow" - makers and their customers work *together* to achieve progress and release funding in tranches
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Erik Torenberg
out of all the things you could have done in the space, why this?
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Austin Anderson
@eriktorenberg I'll take a shot at this question as well --
As a kid and into my teenage years, I was affiliated with several video game modding communities,
I was very passionate about creating digital works and spent a lot of time scripting, decompiling and
3d modeling all the things. I got sucked in the web world of tech, but wanted so badly to be a video game
developer "someday". However, as an avid player and community member, the scene is really in a difficult place.
Large AAA games are being boycotted and the community has a hard time swallowing the cut-throat means that game developers
use to pay their bills. Early access and funding via kickstarter and the like, are two are the primary ways game developers raise money for their projects and the track record for success is very low. For me personally, this is my contribution back into the game scene in inspiring a whole new generation of developers and players in fixing some of the more glaring difficulties in the industry today.
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Erik Torenberg
You were exploring other ideas in the space - can you share what those were and why you didn't pursue them?
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Jonathan Howard
@eriktorenberg After my last company got acquired, and after I left, I poked around in a lot of areas, but crypto attracted me more and more. There's so much fundamental work to be done and opportunities are everywhere, from scaling blockchains themselves (eg Plasma and Lightning, potentially hash-based alternatives) all the way up to pure consumer apps (I think we need Mint.com style interfaces for broad adoption).

My biggest motivators are helping makers succeed, and expanding exciting new things to a broader audience. I think what most excites me about Rupie is it hits both of those. Having been an artist and programmer in game development at University of Maryland, Google, Lolapps, and my own small projects, I can appreciate how tough game development is, so helping game developers succeed is something I'd gladly jump out of bed for every day. On top of that, I can't wait to see all the apps that'll get built once developers can build on top of Milestone Escrow via API.
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Kevin Li
Love the name, why is the intersection of crowd funded games + blockchain that much more valuable than just the existing crowd fund destinations (kickstarter, indiegogo, fig.co)
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Austin Anderson
@Kevin-Li Existing crowdfund destinations lack conventions that allow for project accountability and transparency, which often ends in unfinished games. We're building a convention created by developers and players to solve this pressing issue using community consensus mechanics and iterative escrow. The end result is that players "get what they paid for" in a system that drives high quality content, and at the same time developers leverage a suite of tools to incentivized project management to properly structure their game. We're building a collaborative suite for building games, and better funding is one part of it.
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Michael Brune-Waelser
If 75% of all crowdfunded games fail to ship, and Rupie enters to help; why is it just now being addressed? Is there a reason for so much failure? Or is there some sort of money grab "corruption" scheme going on that no one wants to address? If Rupie can help fix this, that would be great. I just want to know more about where you plan on steering the company that I may have overlooked in the whitepaper. I am not into video games, but Rupie looks interesting to me.
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Austin Anderson
@michaelbrne

Great question Michael!

There have been many attempts at improving this process, but they've been half-measures, manual, and error prone.

In terms "why just now", there are several reasons why something exactly like Rupie doesn't quite exist. At the moment, the majority of the procedure for funding, building and managing games comes from the game publishers actively
spending large sums of dollars educating teams, project managing by setting milestones manually, tracking funds etc.
All of this with a reported success rate of less than 25% per project.

There have been many attempts at automating this process more holistically. Steam Greenlight as an
example, the community could vote and a game could get "Greenlit" and receive the resources it needed to develop.
Greenlight has since been deprecated, and the truth is that teams need a lot more hand holding.
Simply funding a game is recipe for disaster, and this is shown in the large number of failure-to-deliver situations that exist in crowdfunded games.

With Rupie, we've compiled a number of these edge cases to create a transparent means of building games collaboratively using the flexibility of the blockchain. Working with developers, publishers and players, the convention
we're procuring leverages a plethora of existing software building techniques to address the disparate issues that have been individually attempted to resolve by other platforms.
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Romane Geraci
what is the grand vision for rupee? thanks!
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Austin Anderson
@Romane-Geraci Oh man, great question. After we fix the trust issue that plagues funding in game development, we are building collaborative tools for players and developers to work together. Over fifty percent of players are developers themselves, so we feel that these personas have been too starkly segregated, and has led to unnecessary industry division.
In response, tackling game crowdsourcing is a huge priority. The future of Rupie includes a sophisticated bounty system, rentable game assets in a rich marketplace, and potentially distribution. Imagine being a single game developer and being able to easily leverage the community for custom assets, bug fixes, and low overhead rentable assets. We believe all of this align with our north star: helping creators achieve the realization of their vision, while leveraging the community in a constructive way. Additionally, we've gotten a lot of interest in extracting our milestone funding mechanism and using it to solve many of the same funding challenges that
exist in other large industries.
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Ben Tossell
How did you get into crypto?
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Jonathan Howard
@bentossell I started experimenting and it just sucked me in!
- A friend bought into BTC at $20, sold at $200, and took our friend group to Vegas to celebrate (now surely the most expensive Vegas trip in history)
- I mined Doge and LTC c.2013 because my last startup's lease came with free electricity.
- I remember long chats with @dmgrossblatt about the nature of money
- Being in the alpha of CryptoKitties made me realize just how far crypto had come, and how far it had to go
- It's still SO difficult to get a node up and running. I open sourced a Node/Infura Hello World so anyone can explore ETH blockchain development in 5 minutes.
- From there, I wanted to learn more about applications and ICOs. I just fell in love with the Rupie vision and team. In the immediate term, we have a shot at making a step-function increase in how many game developers successfully ship their dream game. That makes such a huge difference in those people's lives. As we know from being makers ourselves, the difference between "working on something" and "shipping to real users" can change the course of your career. Same applies to all projects where the maker needs money up front.
- Then in terms of Big Vision, moving escrow away from the domain of banks has huge implications
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Erik Torenberg
Why does Rupie need to be in on the blockchain?
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Jonathan Howard
@eriktorenberg There's a lot that blockchain can do for this space! The number one would be smart contracts enabling our Milestone Escrow concept. If we wanted to introduce escrow without the blockchain, we'd need a bank or escrow provider to sign off on projects individually, and control would still rest in a few account-holders' hands. With smart contracts, for the first time developers and their community are incentivized to work *together* to achieve milestones, it can work at globally without foreign transaction fees, scale to millions of projects, and no one needs to trust us in order to do it.
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Michael Brune-Waelser
How will you attract people to Rupie?
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Austin Anderson
@michaelbrne From JT, our head of marketing: Rupie aims to serve, and therefore attract two primary audiences: game developers and game players. We are actively talking to indie and big studio developers/publishers and have secured projects to be onboarded onto the Rupie Network. To grow our player community, we anticipate an organic influx of audiences of said projects and a more structured influx of other crypto-focused game players via our invite-only, specially designed dev/gamer token events.

As project milestones are hit and community members are actually rewarded for their contributions, it is our hope that news of the improved developer/gamer relationship will continue to spread organically, encouraging more makers and players to join and further contribute to the Rupie Network.
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Dennis Stücken
What are the technical advantages that Rupie Network comes with for game developers compared to an off-chain approach?
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Jonathan Howard
@dstuecken Hey Dennis! Did I answer your question here? https://www.tokendaily.co/p/deep-dive-with-jonathan-howard-cto-at-rupie-network#comment-3335

From a *technical* perspective for game developers, everything can work exactly the same. It's the funding campaign, project management, and community tools that will change. And because backers know their tokens are escrowed until milestones are achieved, we think that increases trust in a huge way. Increased trust means the barrier to *launch* a project can be lowered, and backers will get more money, more quickly, from more people.
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Dennis Stücken
Do you also offer any SDKs for game devs?
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Jonathan Howard
@dstuecken I wouldn't anticipate game devs needing to integrate any SDKs. You can read more about Milestone Escrow platform in our whitepaper at rupie.io. Tldr: milestones are unlocked by proving to the community that you delivered on your promises, not by data we'd gather via SDK. It sounds interesting though! What'd you have in mind?
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Raj Vir
What sorts of games are (or will) being built with Rupie?
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Austin Anderson
@rjvir Thanks for the question!

Our goal is to support every platform including PC, console, and mobile games. Our final list for initial product release will be published in the near future, so stay tuned!
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