MechaChain is a future space conquest and robot combat video game developed by EternalHorizons. Following the blockchain trend and seeing the future of gaming in web3, the developer undertook to combine a stylish sci-fi setting and play-to-earn features to greatly expand the gaming experience.
Our team was honored to become a trusted partner of EternalHorizons in the full-cycle development of the game and some art tasks, including animation and interface design.
Key Project Details
The client entrusted us with the full development of this game, taking into account our rich experience in creating AAA models, animations, as well as the development of P2E games.
The main challenge was to get into the style and vision of the game universe – the client provided detailed information about it, as well as key concepts and references.
Full-cycle development of a large-scale P2E game required the involvement of all our key professional verticals: Unity developers, testers, game designers, concept artists, technical artists, 3D artists, 3D animators, spine animators, UI/UX artists, and sound designers.
Let’s take a look at the functionality of the project, its distinctive features, and the source material with which we started development.
As an innovative sci-fi mobile game, MechaChain has a strong and thoughtful lore. The combat robots that will be controlled by the players are divided into two factions, Assimilee and Pure-Gene, and are called mechas. The factions differ in the degree of symbiosis between the pilots and their mechas – Pure-Gene believe that it should be reduced to the necessary minimum, while Assimilee strive to merge as much as possible with their mechas to maximize their potential.
Each mecha is a set of parts that are NFT collectibles. They can be purchased online with a blue card with an in-game utility token called Mechanium ($MECHA) or using Ethereum. Once fully assembled, the mecha will be able to participate in PvP battles alone or in teams 6 vs 6.
Players can earn Mechanium by winning battles, as well as upgrade their robot by purchasing new NFT and non-NFT modules. They can also rent out their robots to other players and thus earn Mechanium, gather resources, craft their own weapons, and upgrade them to NFTs. Each weapon and module has 5 different rarity levels and can be upgraded to become even more powerful.
The ability to assemble a combat robot from NFT parts and its integration into in-game tokenomics with the possibility of trading and earning is a new unique mechanic that hasn’t been available in other entertainment products so far. At the same time, people who are unfamiliar with crypto and don’t have a crypto wallet can also freely play the game and earn $MECHA using the game login system. They get a basic non-NFT mecha body and a set of non-NFT modules for it. As the mecha improves, the player gets the opportunity to convert individual components into NFTs.
The focus on a mobile-first approach is driven by the booming mobile market and the desire to showcase games on the blockchain to an even wider audience. Subsequently, the game will be adapted for virtual reality headsets to fully immerse players in the MechaChain metaverse.
Start of Cooperation
To begin with, we needed to outline the areas of responsibility of our team and the client’s team. Having turned to our full-cycle development services, the client already had:
- Game lore, script, and narrative.
- The visual concept of the game universe.
- Concept art of combat robots mechas.
Since mecha creation was on the client side, our art task was to conceptualize and model modules that are added to mechas and give them certain characteristics, mecha weapons that allow them to inflict damage on the enemy, and individual elements of the map: hangar, environmental elements, buildings, etc. In addition, our full-cycle development tasks included:
- Game design
- Technical art
We divided the work into 6 key stages – this allowed us to better structure large volumes of work and prioritize tasks in accordance with the objectives set at every step.
1. Discovery and GDD Phase
At this stage, our team asks the client key questions about the game to form an understanding of the essence of the task and develop game design documentation with all the necessary explanations on the mechanics, systems, servers, multiplayer, and so on.
Game designers have significantly detailed the initial gameplay concepts and proposed options to attract not only blockchain-savvy players to the game, but also those who have no idea about the blockchain and don’t have crypto wallets. This approach expands the potential audience and gives everyone the opportunity to try their hand at the role of a mechapilot, regardless of their knowledge in the field of blockchain.
Finally, we discussed and approved 4 game mechanics available to players:
- Mecha customization. Players can assemble their mecha and give it the desired characteristics using different NFT and non-NFT modules.
- Mecha battles. Players confront a team of rivals on the territory of planets that are the deposit of a valuable Mechanium.
- NFT marketplace. Players can sell, buy, and rent NFT modules and entire mecha assemblies, as well as NFT land.
- Galactic conquest on the MechaChain console. Players can explore the space map and assess the possibilities and prospects of buying NFT land for profit.
Thus, players get a wide variety of gaming activities depending on their desire to delve into the gaming universe and take advantage of its play-to-earn features. Those who are only interested in battles may focus on upgrading their mechas and participating in interplanetary confrontations, while others may be attracted by the opportunity to rent out their mechas and receive profit from the purchase of NTF land.
2. Project Estimate and Production Start
Having received all the necessary information, we draw up a project estimate and agree on the key development stages: vertical slice, closed alpha version, open alpha version, and release. Ideally, the project should be ready for release in 18 months, but we also allow for a certain number of additional weeks in case certain changes or additions need to be implemented.
3. Vertical Slice
The vertical slice stage includes the preparation and deployment of all game mechanics, allowing the client and the player to understand the main concept of the game. In fact, the result of this stage is a playable version of the game with the basic implemented features. With its help, we and the client can understand what has been done successfully and what needs to be adjusted.
The implementation of the basic logic of all features consists of the following tasks:
- Creating art and animating mechas
- Drafting maps
- Developing multiplayer
- Adding UI, weapons, and skills (5 active and 5 passive)
- Building game systems: aiming, movement, damage, etc.
- Creating VFX and sound
In addition to working on game mechanics, we were also involved in some aspects of the art. These were modules, weapons, map elements, and animation.
Modules are technological additions to mechas, which are attached to them like elements of a constructor and provide unlimited customization possibilities. The player can customize their mecha by installing various modules that affect the characteristics of mechas (attack, defense, speed, etc.):
- Back modules (wings, reactors)
- Shoulder modules (left and right)
- Weapon modules (left and right forearm)
- Energy core
The first 3 points are implemented by 3D models. The energy core is highlighted with the same color illumination on all modules. Epic rarity is accompanied by a flashing light, Legendary with additional effects. The more unique modules, the more authentic the mecha looks and the stronger the pilot becomes.
The work on modules for mechas on our part was carried out by downgrading the mecha with modules of the highest rarity received from the client. What does it mean? This means that we receive the robot in a complete set with the rarest modules from the client and remove the modules one by one, bringing the mecha to the original body state.
There are 5 module rarities in total in the game, from Common to Legendary. Common and Uncommon options are available for free-to-play players for in-game currency. Rare, Epic, and Legendary options are NFT assets. Accordingly, those players who want rarer modules will need to be more deeply involved in the game tokenomics. But it is quite possible to get by with non-NFT options as well.
The weapon is the basic tool for the mechapilot to fight enemies. Of course, the sci-fi setting and interplanetary battles of the distant future imposed certain requirements on weapons – it had to be something futuristic, powerful, and at the same time authentic to the gaming lore. The creation of weapons was realized from scratch in several stages:
- The game designer collects references and prescribes the functionality of the weapon.
- The concept artist creates several weapon sketches.
- The art director on the client side approves the concepts.
- Our 3D modelers model according to approved concepts.
The weapon module can be placed on the mecha’s left or right forearm. The types of weapons we develop include automatic rifles, impulse rifles, and light machine guns. Each of them has its own description and features, offering a variety of ways to fight, as well as an interesting history of creation. For example, one of the rifles was created by two engineers who later ended up on opposite sides of the barricades. One of them, the future Pure-Gene, gave it a shape and a name, and the other, the potential Assimile, worked out its functionality.
The game offers 5 planets with one battle arena on each. Level design implies 3 key areas of the map:
- Team A spacecraft landing zone.
- Team B spacecraft landing zone.
- Mechanium gathering area in the center of the map.
The goal of the match is to get to the place of concentration of the Mechanium and destroy the opponents. The battle includes 12 players, 6 from each faction. The match ends when there are no live players left in one team, if one of the teams has obtained more than 50% of the Mechanium on the map, or when the timer expires. In this case, the victory goes to the team that has obtained more Mechanium.
In addition to the battle arenas, there are colonies on the planets belonging to different factions. Our task was to create various environment elements for combat arenas and colonies, such as spaceships for both factions, individual buildings and objects of the urban environment (benches, stairs, pillars, kiosks), Mechanium containers, and more.
The game also has a workshop location, the so-called hangars, where the player can manipulate modules, view the effects, characteristics, and attacks of the collected mech, as well as repair modules damaged in battles. This is a kind of hub where players can take a break from battles and lick their wounds. We developed the appearance of the hangars for each of the two factions based on their design features and feature specifics.
The MechaChain ecosystem encourages players to participate in in-game events and receive token rewards leading to NFT ownership opportunities for the most active ones. In-game rewards will be paid out in the Mechanium, and their amount will depend on the difficulty of the tournament. Players will also be able to use tokens to access in-game assets in the form of NFTs.
The game also offers extensive trading opportunities on the NFT marketplace. The player can buy and sell NFT modules and complete mechas, as well as rent them out to other players for a certain amount of time.
Another important part of the economy is factories and land. The plant, one per planet, produces one component for crafting an NTF mech body or module. At the same time, each plot of land on the planet is also an NFT element and, when acquired, brings the player a part of the profit from the sales of the plant on this planet. If desired, players can resell their NFT land on the marketplace. In this way, the game encourages the player to be more deeply involved in the player’s tokenomics, since this way there is an opportunity to earn even more.
4. Closed Alpha
At the closed alpha stage, our team ensures the implementation of the full logic of all features and a full-fledged multiplayer. The game is available for testing for the client.
In this phase, also called closed testing, the client launches the game and runs it using all game mechanics to make sure everything works correctly. This applies to the assembly of mechas, their controls, and battles, as well as all the nuances regarding game tokenomics. The procedures for minting NFTs, buying and selling modules and whole mechas, manipulating the land, and registering players without a crypto wallet on a free-to-play basis should proceed flawlessly so that the game can be presented to the gaming community at the next stage.
5. Open Alpha
Having received information from the client at the previous stage regarding possible wishes and adjustments, we prepare the game for presentation to the players. During the open alpha testing phase, our team polishes visual bugs and finalizes all modules and server functions. The game becomes available for testing by the project community, so all the planned features and work should be completed by this time.
After testing the game, the gaming community also issues its verdict on the overall readiness of the game for release and provides feedback with possible wishes and comments.
Thanks to the participation of the gaming community and comments from it, we are finalizing the game and fixing possible bugs. The release version is finally polished and supplemented with all the remaining features: achievements, push notifications, tutorials, and so on.
This exciting moment is scheduled for February 2024. There may be delays during the development process, so the release date may move slightly. However, we can say for sure that in the first half of next year, a lot of players will be able to try on the brand new profession of mechapilot. We are looking forward to doing our best to bring this web3 mobile breakthrough closer.
Based on the client’s vision of the game and benefiting from extensive experience in game development, our team created a game design for MechaChain, including basic game mechanics, gameplay features, and game economics (tokenomics). Taking the client’s art concepts as a foundation, we also drafted and modeled all types of game weapons, mecha modules, and map elements in accordance with the setting and the general style of the game. Deep knowledge of coding and mastering the most modern tools and approaches has given us the opportunity to ensure the successful implementation of all the necessary features in the game.
Join the Mechapilot Team
It will be possible to take part in space battles and assemble your mecha through the App Store and Google Play in February 2024. Without the need for an initial investment, any player will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in an ultra-modern and exciting journey that can bring real profit in addition to pure entertainment. Join the waiting list and see you in the new mecha era!