The next Solana-based game, Star Atlas, has just released a playable demo through the Epic Games Store for NFT owners.
Developer ATMTA has also released a toolkit that allows other studios to connect Unreal Engine 5-based games to the Solana blockchain.
star atlas is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious NFT-games on the horizon, although it may take years before the SolanaThe outer space-based strategy game is taking full shape. Eager gamers won’t have to wait that long to get a taste of it though: a limited demo has just been released via the Epic Games Store.
Launching today as part of a live-streamed event, Star Atlas: Showroom is a pre-alpha demo of the Unreal Engine 5 technology that powers the game. It allows Star Atlas NFT owners to explore a 3D environment and view the ships and vehicles they have invested in.
Star Atlas currently only offers access to people who own the NFTs: they can earn an access key by owning a ship and joining one of Star Atlas’ in-game factions. Michael Wagner, CEO and co-founder of Star Atlas developer ATMTA, said Decrypt that the demo also features a single non-NFT ship to explore, and that certain access codes will be given to certain non-owners.
Later this year, the Showroom demo will be expanded to include additional features, including multiplayer capabilities, chat functionality, and the ability for NFT holders to take their ships for a flight. An NFT is a blockchain token which represents ownership of a single item – in this case, digital spaceships and other vehicles that can be used in a video game.
In addition to releasing its first playable preview of Star Atlas, the developer also released a toolkit today to make it easier for other developers to bring their own Unreal Engine 5-based games to the Solana. block chain.
The Foundation Software Development Kit (F-KIT) is an open-source SDK that allows Unreal Engine 5 developers to integrate the Solana blockchain, allowing users to sign transactions to perform in-game actions. Unreal Engine is hails from Epic Games, creators of Fortnite, and is widely used in the gaming industry, as well as TV shows and movies.
The release of the F-KIT as an open-source tool means that “mainstream studios,” as Wagner put it, “now have a faster path” to making games on Solana. He said other manufacturers could also take the kit and expand it to other networks, such as Ethereum. For his team, however, it’s also a way to encourage others to “build experiences that extend the Star Atlas universe.”
Star Atlas made a number of other announcements today, including updates to its governance structure through a CAD and the path to complete decentralization of the gaming economy and ecosystem, as well as an upcoming digital graphic novel that establishes sci-fi gaming lore.
Wagner explained that ATMTA is developing two different clients for Star Atlas: the shinier version of Unreal Engine 5 which will be exclusively available through the Epic Games Store, and a simpler web-based WebGL version. All game features will be available in both versions, but the Epic Games Store version will require a PC compatible with the games to run.
The Epic Games Store is a popular platform for PC games, with over 194 million claimed users at the end of 2021. And unlike its main rival, Steam, the Epic Games Store is OK with games that use NFTs and blockchains, as long as they follow platform regulations.
Most recently, Mythical Games launched the first NFT-based game on the platform: Blankos Block Party, a full-color online playground that the studio claims had over a million total users before it hit the Epic Games Store. Another NFT-based game, the GRIT shooter from Gala Games, is is also ready to go out through the same market.
The Star Atlas: Showroom demo is just a slight taste of the future, a full gaming experience, which feels like a much more robust affair than your average crypto game today. Great games take time to develop – and in this case, Wagner envisions another five or six years of development on Star Atlas.
But Showroom’s launch suggests the kind of incremental release schedule ATMTA has in mind, Wagner said. The showroom itself will gain more features by the end of the year, then by the end of 2023 the team plans to release a full “vertical slice” of the game, that is- i.e. a fully functional (but limited) piece of gameplay that shows what the full game should be like.
“We still have a long way to go,” he said. “But the idea is to continuously release these iterative features so that you constantly get more engagement.”
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