Santi kicked things off by sharing that Townhalls will no longer be organized every three weeks, as was the case during part of 2022. From now on, Townhalls will be held only when there is news to announce or whenever the community needs a Townhall (Santi added: “like this one, though there is some cool news as well”).
Following this, Santi thanked a bunch of community members and initiatives. Michael followed up by sharing that, thanks to us, the team won the most engaged community award during the Web3 Gamer Awards in Miami last week.
Next up, Michael shared that Dan (Legal Council) is working on writing up a new agreement that allows anyone to use the Star Atlas IP commercially free of charge, up to a total of 1 million in revenue. If you exceed this amount, there will probably be a revenue-sharing model. The team’s share might be split between ATMTA and the DAO.
Reach out to the team if you have an idea, to see how to collaborate with the team!
The biggest topic for many: What is the current state of the runway?
Michael started by sharing the team sentiment. When the team returned from their break, everyone went back to grinding right away. The team is incredibly excited, morale is good, and enthusiasm is there!
Before getting into the real meat of it, Michael first wanted to share a disclaimer, stating that he wants to be as transparent as possible, he wants to instill confidence, but it is also critical (from a business risk perspective) that everything shared is accurate. Everything that follows is accurate to the best of Michael’s knowledge. There is still some uncertainty, however!
What has the team done to extend the runway?
A) The co-founders first looked into generating some immediate revenue. This led to the Start Sequence: discounts on ships, titans (none went out, they will come back at another time), claim stakes, and CSS land.
This event generated roughly 2 million dollars (USDC). Thanks go to everyone who participated! This bought the team a little bit more time.
B) They sold their FTX claim for a decent amount. This means that the 15 million they had is completely lost, but they got an undisclosed amount of money in return.
C) Michael wanted to minimize the impact on the team, but they did reduce their headcount by 13%, which in reality led to a 25% reduction in their monthly expenses. He notes that they were already discussing (prior to FTX) if there were any areas to optimize and minimize their expenses. FTX expedited this.
D) They mobilized a strike team internally that contacted different VC groups. They talked to about 30 different investors. They had great conversations and are currently in advanced negotiations with a couple of groups. Note that this does not imply these will be successful, but at least they are taking the next steps here.
Due to the actions mentioned above, the team now has a reliable runway until September of this year (8 months from now).
The numbers that Michael originally shared during the call where he announced the loss of funds due to the FTX collapse (6-9 months of runway) were as conservative as they could get. The same goes for the September prognosis. This is based on the max burn rate, no additional revenue, etc.
Despite reductions in the team, the strategy, perspective, and roadmap for 2023 have not materially changed.
Question by Mandalorian: “If you guys release SAGE before September, are there any kind of calculations about what kind of boost you can get from that?”
Michael: Broadly, when the team rolls out a product, it creates excitement in the community, but it also leads to community growth, which leads to additional revenue.
Ship prices are all down, so new people will absorb inventory from the secondary market. It will take some time before that inventory is gone (red: meaning the price increases again to non-discounted levels). But, while new users buy from the secondary market, fees still come in.
The team also has some products coming up. A mobile companion app they will release this year will create opportunities for a new asset category to be sold (red: crew-related, most likely).
An additional revenue opportunity comes from the infrastructure the team is building. They spent a lot of time creating the F-Kit, StarComm (Web3 MMO game-server), and Fuzzy Lemur. While ATMTA is the primary customer of these, the team sees opportunities for other parties to subscribe to these services. They don’t have any monetization strategy defined just yet, but they do think this presents another significant revenue opportunity for the team.
Follow-up question by Mandalorian: “From your opinion, do you think you guys will ever go down the path of pairing with another exchange? Creating more exposure through trading of tokens.”
Michael replied resolutely that the team can not [legally] be involved in any potential exchange listings. If those exchanges see an opportunity, they can list ATLAS/POLIS, but the team is not pursuing that.
Santiacc asks Michael: What are some things Star Atlas will focus on in 2023?
Michael refers back to his earlier comment on there being no changes to the team’s roadmap. However, he points out there is a bit of a philosophical shift. They seek to make even smaller product sets with fewer features and get them out more frequently.
A good example of this is SAGE. The team has decided to break up the first devnet release into 2 or three parts:
- The first SAGE release will be a movement test around the map. Gamified scavenger hunt. First on-chain game-mechanic.
- Next up: Mining & crafting
- Potential third release: Combat mechanics.
DAO – Governance
Last year, the team focused on getting the tokenomics integrated and then on UX improvements. This week they updated their DAO site to provide in-depth insights into the DAO’s treasury.
They are currently busy getting the actual governance set up. Three wireframes (landing page, forum, and user-flow) for the proposal-system were shared during the Townhall (red: posted below this section).
These wireframe designs are ready to move into development. Talking about the discussion forum, Michael mentioned that it’s the team’s ambition to deliver this as an almost fully on-chain system.
Once the proposal system is fully online, the next step of the process will be to get the foundational proposals online in order to come to an agreement on the constitution. Hereafter, everyone will be able to create a proposal.
DAC – Platform Updates
The team is trying to get the DAC-platform online before the V0 release of SAGE. The blockchain program is already complete and moving toward an audit.
The blockchain features included so far are:
- DAC registration
- inviting & kicking members
- defining ranks and roles
- integration with PlayerProfile
Currently, product design is wrapping up UX, after which the front-end team can start to implement.
Meanwhile, they are also thinking about improving the leaderboards. They can add leaderboards for DACs, but what other lists would be important for DACs?
First off: Some of the blockchain contracts audited recently are: XP, LP, PlayerProfile, Cargo, Crafting, and Claim stakes.
Michael starts by saying that he does not really want to give a timeline. There is never a guarantee that they hit an ambitious target date, but they do get a lot of flack for all the perceived delays.
Next up, he does go on to state that they are still targeting Q1 for the very first release. This release will be the aforementioned Map Movement experiment. Players can explore the galaxy through a scavenger hunt. There will be loot that can be found that, in total, is worth several hundred thousand dollars. As an example, Michael mentions that there is a very low probability of finding an actual Fimbul Tankship this way!
The team also shared some new screenshots:
Volant Station Showroom
The next upcoming release is 2.1, which is a minor release. The biggest change is the update to Unreal Engine 5.1. This new UE version brings the following updates:
- World partition (red: allows bigger maps)
- Enhanced VR support – Michael notes that the team is not currently working on adding VR.
- Improved foliage
- Ships are being reworked. This allows them to take better advantage of Lumen (lighting) and also leads to a more performant environment.
Other features that come with patch 2.1:
- Introduction of the marketplace – This allows people to try out some spaceships for a limited time, after which they can buy them.
- Ground Racing – multiplayer style, fight for your position, shoot at other ships to disable them. Other than the current racing, players won’t be able to skip gates. This new mode is expected to support eight people at a time.
- Update to the train station. This will dock on the second floor.
- Some smaller improvements:
- Pearce X4 and Floyd Liner are both getting boosts to their quality.
- Bug fixes (skipping gates, speed glitch, flight trainer clipping)
Additionally, there are some stretch goals (red: not certain these will make it) for 2.1:
- Jetpacks! Jetpack based flight. The purpose is to serve as an intermediary mode of travel (in between walking and flying with a ship).
- More flyable ships: Opal Jet, Opal Jetjet, Fimbul Lowby, Pearce X6, Fimbul Airbike, and BYOS Packlite.
After 2.1, there will be another minor update: R2.2.
This patch will focus on only one improvement: Multiplayer. The team is going to switch to dedicated server hosting and multiplayer organization. The projection is that this new approach will enable between 400 and 1000 concurrent players.
Currently, multi-player is exclusively hosted peer-to-peer. But with R2.2 the team will host dedicated multiplayer servers. This should greatly improve the experience.
The major release this year will be R3!
It will still initiate the warp-gate construction, but the spotlight feature will be PVP (player-vs-player) combat. The team is gearing up for a major reveal of R3 during this year’s Breakpoint (expected in November).
Michael shared a bit on Claim Stakes – The plan is still for you to be able to enlist your Claim Stakes (requiring a power plant & mining drill) in Faction Fleet. The audit & design are complete, and it is currently in front-end development. Here the team ran into a small complication, as they were already busy refactoring the front-end code for Faction Fleet. To keep things efficient, they will release support for the claim stakes together with the refactor. They are trying to get this rolled out in March.
There were a number of bonuses for certain sales. Among these were airdrops of the following assets:
Mining Drill, Power Plant, a set of ships (for CSS Land), badges, and habs. These will be available for you to claim in your inventory next Friday (target date!).
Due to the number of scams with airdrops, leading some people to burn previous legit airdrops, (assuming they were scams), the team changed their approach this time, requiring you to claim the assets instead.
Michael mentioned that the team learned from the airdrop with Rebirth, some items of which were getting crazy valuations on the market right after. The team finalized the cost and total supply of the ships that will be dropped next week and will include this information in their description. They will right away be tradable on the marketplace, but it is important to realize that the team won’t sell these ships yet.
Signal asks: “How will the project sustain itself over time? Long-term asset sales? Will SAGE bring in enough revenue? What is the plan to get to three years from now?”
A) Recurring revenue streams. Besides attracting more players when SAGE goes live, for the team, it is more meaningful that the transactional economy will go live with it. The team picks up the secondary market fees, and when the economy is activated, this should be a pretty reasonable source of revenue.
B) Again: Infrastructure (SAAS) (red: see above)
C) CSS Commercial exploitation
Michael goes on to provide some color on the ATLAS inside the team’s treasury, after which he makes several other more philosophical statements:
The team will be the primary token sink for ATLAS until gaming projects come online. The team made the decision not to sell any of their tokens before getting there, but at some point in the future, it should be expected that the team will sell their ATLAS reserves as well. They will try to do so in a market-neutral way. They want to have zero impact, and they will closely monitor and analyze the market to make it so.
One more point: The ATLAS the DAO holds could, in the future, help ATMTA out. For example, the DAO could instruct the team how to use the IP, and in exchange, they might compensate the team for that.
One more reason why it’s so important to activate the peer-to-peer economy is that no game has yet been able to find a sustainable economic model. There is a fixed emission schedule for ATLAS, which functions as a temporary subsidy, but this will likely will go away in the future (unless the DAO votes differently). It going away is offset by your ability to earn from other players. As a player, you are producing services, or goods, others value and want to pay for. This will become the primary source of income.
In the metaverse of the future, it is critical that they manage some kind of balance between the producers and the consumers. A group of individuals will be more than happy to pay for efficiency in the game. They will gladly pay someone else to manage their operations while they go out to partake in fighting. They will pay money just to have a better gameplay experience.
The biggest difference from regular MMOs is that the team is not the beneficiary of the money spent on such services and goods. Instead, they will hook up the seller with the buyer and earn through fees.
Most of 2021 was really just about presenting the vision of what Star Atlas could be to the world, demonstrating product-market fit, and building the team and the company from scratch. The year 2022 was a foundational year, with lots of R&D, and working on game design and content pipelines. This year, 2023, will really be the execution phase.