Welcome to our 65th newsletter on Star Atlas! This weekly newsletter is published by Aephia Industries and focuses entirely on Star Atlas. Here we try to aggregate all the newsworthy tidbits that were dropped by the team throughout the past week.
Last week Friday saw the first Town Hall of the year being organized by the team, at least partly due to demand from the community. In case you missed it, here are several options to (quickly) get up to speed:
If you just want to learn about the actual news shared, read on!
One of the first topics that Michael (CEO) discussed during the last Townhall was the team’s runway.
In short (see our TH text summary for a more elaborate version), the team took the following actions to prolong their runway. They:
- generated immediate revenue through the sale of assets (new & discounted ones) with the Start Sequence, netting the team 2 million USDC
- sold their FTX claim (15 million USDC) for a “decent amount”
- reduced their headcount by 13%, which (interestingly) lowered monthly expenses by 25%. Michael did clarify that they were already discussing ways to minimize expenses before November. The FTX collapse expedited this.
In addition to the above, the team immediately organized a strike team to create an investor deck and reach out to VCs and other investors.
Between now and then, they have spoken to around 30 parties and are currently in advanced negotiations with a couple of different groups. Michael cautioned right away that this could change at any moment and that these talks do not mean anything will come from this.
The aforementioned measures taken by the team have successfully prolonged the team’s runway. Michael shared that they currently have a projected, very conservative runway that takes them to September of this year.
Conservative here means this is based on a maximum burn rate, no further cost decrease, and no additional revenue streams.
When asked about what sources the team is hoping to gain additional revenue from this year, Michael mentioned three things:
- A mobile companion app will be released this year that will create opportunities for a new asset category to be sold – Given earlier information, this will most likely have to do with crew and crew customization options.
- Secondary market fees – With ship prices down as they are, introducing new ships won’t help much. It is better to leave the market as is until prices are closer to where they were intended to be. Not only will SAGE lead to more interest, which should lead to more ship sales, but the game itself will unlock a player-driven economic game loop that will also go through the marketplace. Both activities will add additional income through fees for the team (and DAO).
- An additional revenue opportunity comes from the infrastructure the team is building. The team has developed -and is still developing- several tools they themselves need. However, tools like F-Kit, Starcomm (Web3 MMO game server), and Fuzzy Lemur will also be helpful to others. The team is considering offering some services around these as a SAAS (software-as-a-service) to which 3rd parties could subscribe.
This week Shula revealed the initial size of the SAGE map. It is represented by a square grid that contains 100 x 100 cells. Each cell represents a single sector, meaning there will be 10k sectors that can be explored.
During the Townhall, Michael announced the team is trying to make even smaller, more frequent releases going forward. One example of this is the new release strategy for the SAGE. The devnet version will be split into 2, or perhaps even 3, smaller chunks. Each chunk will bring online a subsection of the core mechanics that are needed to experience SAGE fully.
The releases we can expect are:
- Mining & crafting
- (if not integrated into #2) Combat
The Movement module will allow users to bring their ships into SAGE and explore the galaxy with their fleets. To make things at least a little interesting, the team will organize a scavenger hunt during this movement-only period!
When the movement module goes live, the team will be organizing a scavenger hunt that will offer various assets as prizes. Michael shared that the combined total value of the loot available is worth several hundred thousand dollars. As an example, Michael shared that there is a very small chance of stumbling upon an actual Fimbul BYOS Tankship!
More details will no doubt come forth as we near the release date.
Last newsletter, we highlighted a comment by Michael on why SAGE was not yet in shape for release, specifically because the team is working very hard still on the UI.
During the town hall, it was once more confirmed that the blockchain programs are all finished and in an auditable state (with many already audited). In fact, Mo Yazdani (SAGE PM) added [afterward, in the Foundation Room] that the team is already using a very technical, light user interface to test the on-chain programs at the moment.
The target date is still Q1 for the first devnet release, which will be the movement-only module.
Volant Station Showroom
Though many are eagerly awaiting SAGE, there were also a good few updates regarding the showroom!
There will be at least three releases this year: two minor ones followed by a major one.
The next upcoming release is R2.1, 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 – This will allow for streaming map content, meaning support for much bigger maps.
- Enhanced VR support – Michael did note that the team is not currently working on adding VR.
- Improved foliage (higher fidelity)
- An incentive to update all their ships. This will render them more performant and improve lighting inside the ships.
Besides these UE 5.1 (inspired) features, patch R2.1 will also come with:
- Introduction of the Marketplace – This will also allow such things as allowing people to try out a spaceship for a limited time before buying them.
- Ground Racing – A multiplayer fight-for-your-position-racer, where you can shoot other ships in an attempt to disable them. Contrary to space-based racing at this time, players won’t be able to skip gates. More importantly, this will be multiplayer-enabled, allowing up to 8 players to race against each other simultaneously!
- Update to the train station. This will dock on the second floor of the Volant Station.
- Other small improvements:
- Pearce X4 and Floyd Liner are both getting boosts to their quality.
- Bug fixes (skipping gates, speed glitch, flight trainer clipping)
Michael also noted some new stretch goals that the team might be able to include in R2.1 as well, including:
- Jetpacks! This will enable players to fly around without a ship, though it will be a slower mode of travel (faster than walking, though)!
- More flyable ships: Opal Jet, Opal Jetjet, Fimbul Lowby, Pearce X6, Fimbul Airbike, and BYOS Packlite.
After R2.1, the next release will be another minor update dubbed R2.2.
This patch will focus on mainly one improvement: Multiplayer. Currently, multiplayer is exclusively facilitated through peer-to-peer connections. One player is the host, and others connect directly to that player. This was a quick and easy way to get multiplayer support implemented, but that is clearly not working for an MMO.
The team is currently working with a 3rd party to transition to dedicated servers for hosting and organizing multiplayer that will come live with path R2.2. They currently project that this new approach should allow 400 to 1000 concurrent players.
In response to a question in the Foundation Room, Danny (CRO) responded that this is an intermediate goal. After this is implemented, the team will continue trying to further increase this limit.
The major release this year will be R3!
As intended, this major patch will kick off the warp-gate construction. However, the spotlight feature will be Player-vs-Player (PvP) combat! No further details were provided, but Michael did mention that the team is gearing up for a major reveal of R3 during this year’s Breakpoint (expected in November).
The team did share a video revealing several of their character stances with weapons equipped:
The past week saw a significant update to the DAO website of Star Atlas. A new Treasury view was added that offers information on the assets owned by the DAO.
For the occasion, the team created a video introducing this new feature:
During the Townhall, Michael shared some wireframes (UX output for the UI team to implement) on how the governance portal will look like. Below is what the landing page structure will look like (see our text recap for the forum wireframe, and user flow images):
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.
No target date was provided, but Michael cautioned this will take a good deal more time before coming online later this year.
DAC – Platform Updates
Some updates on the upcoming DAC Platform were shared as well!
The blockchain program has been completed and is moving toward an audit. The team is trying to get the platform online before the V0 release of SAGE (which is some way off, clearly).
The blockchain features included so far are:
- DAC registration
- Inviting & removing members
- Defining member ranks and roles
- Integration with PlayerProfile
Product design is currently wrapping up the UX, after which the front-end team can start to implement the UI.
To (nearly) conclude this week’s newsletter, here are two short but important news tidbits for you!
Claim Stakes – Two newsworthy notes here:
- Enlisting a Claim Stake in Faction Fleet will require both a Power Plant and Mining Drill as well.
- Though the audit & design are complete, the front-end development is taking longer as the team was already busy refactoring the Faction Fleet codebase. The decision was made to roll this feature out with the refactor to allow the team to work efficiently. The new goal is to enable Claim Stakes in Faction Fleet in March.
Airdrops – The Mining Drill, Power Plant, Ships part of CSS Land packages, badges, and habs should all become available this Friday! Note that these will not be airdropped, however! Due to the many airdrop scams, the team has decided instead to offer these rewards as claimable items within the player’s inventory (on the website).
Using Star Atlas IP – 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 1 million in revenue. If you exceed this amount, there will probably be a revenue-sharing model. Michael added that the team’s share might be split between ATMTA and the DAO.
Gam3rs Choice Awards
On January 31st, the first in-person Web3 Gaming award show was hosted in Miami, Florida, USA, the Gam3rs Choice Awards. Star Atlas brought home the award for Most Engaged Community!