Play2Earn Gaming: Cornucopias
An immersive island metaverse built on the Cardano Blockchain
The most significant development in the gaming industry in recent years is inarguably—the rise of blockchain games. Though still really early on in its infancy, the merger with blockchain technology is no less than a paradigm shift on how we view video games. Soon, they may no longer be the expensive immature pastimes or time-wasting addictions that they are often generally believed to be by parents and school administrators. Blockchain games like Cornucopias are creating a completely decentralized digital world with its own in-game and real-world economy where players can actually make something out of their time spent in playing.
Set as an ‘island’ divided into different themed zones ranging from the wild west, vikings, pirates, medieval times, the age of the samurai, and even a farming zone and an urban zone, it’s clear that Cornucopias really puts the ‘massive’ in massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). However, the acronym really falls short in accurately categorizing the scope of what Cornucopias intends to be. What it is really is a play-to-earn, learn-to-earn, build-to-earn metaverse—a virtual universe that evolves and expands as more and more players interact with it. Think of the diversity of the digital world 'Oasis' in the Spielberg movie “Ready Player One” but without the VR headsets, add in decentralized control and that’s sort of what it feels like where this project is headed to.
A game with real-world dynamics
Unlike conventional role playing games that have set storylines and quests which you can finish (ending the game), Cornucopias follows more of the ‘emergent’ kind of gameplay, similar to Roblox or Minecraft where players themselves decide how the game is going to be played. Players can “craft” their own NFT items—a table, a chair, a sword, anything really—using the world’s resources, which they can then use in the game or even sell to other players for profit.
Cornucopias uses third-person POV gameplay and players can explore the island on their own or with friends. Moving through the island is the main game itself, but there are plenty of earn-to-play mini-games to encounter designed for every age group. These range from puzzles to racing and shooting games and even educational games, but there really is no limit to the variety as players can develop their own mini-games. With scalability is built-in into the platform, developing a game that will be accepted by the Cornucopias community is also just one of the other ways players can earn revenue on the island.
NFTs or ‘non fungible tokens’ are at the heart of the Cornucopias economy where players can own digital assets with real-world value. These include customizable characters and their outfits and special items, some whose rarity make them more valuable than others. Even the ‘land’ on the island is considered ownable property which a player can build structures on: houses, shops, or even entire villages and cities (!) which they can later sell. And yes you can even farm on it, or even rent the space out to other players. Structures on the island function as they do according to their real-world counterparts: lounges, shops, museums, educational centers, showrooms and more.
But here is where it gets interesting. The notion of ‘real-world’ value extends not only to the exchangeability of the game’s currency with fiat, but also to real-world businesses that can use the virtual space ‘to set up shop’—to sell their real-world merchandise and services or promote events, completely revolutionizing the way businesses interact with their customers. So imagine this—in the future, instead of pausing a game to order a pizza on your phone, it would probably be easier to just make your character run up to a Cornucopian pizza shop and have one delivered to your door!
Why use the blockchain for gaming?
Cornucopias is built onto the Cardano blockchain and will make use of the decentralized network to do away with cloud server technology which most online games are dependent on. Though groundbreaking in its time, the problem with a cloud server is that it is essentially a centralized kill switch. If the server running a particular game crashes, then the game crashes too and players’ progresses and stats can be compromised. On the Cardano blockchain, anyone with surplus computing power who wishes to run a node to support the game can even turn in a profit while doing so. Turning off a node in a blockchain won’t affect the game either with a massive mesh of other player-owned servers keeping the gameplay running at any given time so Cornucopia's network will essentially be ‘crash-proof’.
Cloud servers are also attractive targets for hackers looking to cheat or just looking to create mischief. But as blockchains are immutable and beyond the computing power of any individual to manipulate, the technology might just really put an end to cheating in games for good.
But something like Cornucopias really turns the concept of gaming on its own head. Throughout its history, gaming as a hobby has always been a relatively expensive one. You had to buy the game itself apart from the machine that it runs on. Later on you might want to buy expansion packs, upgrades and gaming accessories ranging from joysticks to gaming chairs, without any returns at all for the time and money invested—while making gaming CEOs crazy rich! But on a blockchain, a game can take a life of its own generating income for its players and not for the big gaming companies. After all, on a decentralized blockchain, it’s the players themselves who are doing the part of maintaining and developing the game!
And businesses and e-commerce outfits who conduct business in Cornucopia also have the added benefit of a completely trustworthy and safe platform. Purchases are safer through the blockchain than using your credit card, especially with nothing else than a highly respected coin like Cardano as a ledger.
Living the island life
Players start their life in Cornucopias with a free starting character which they can customize to be a really unique avatar by visiting shops or third-party marketplaces. Every item on the island is an NFT so everything is tradeable. You can change your look as often as you like and sell items you get tired of.
Aside from purchasing NFT items, you can also craft your own instead. Raw materials can be gathered, salvaged, or even looted to create unique items of your own design and then be minted as an ‘Island Blueprint’ which means they become a part of the game. The design can then be bought by other players for their own crafting of their own NFTs.
Energy is required to power your character through mini-games. When your character is low on energy, it needs to replenish it by taking a break, eating consumable items such as ‘bread’ or ‘pizza’, using energy boosts, or by winning in-game rewards that replenish energy.
When it comes to owning land, players have the option of choosing its function and how it generates revenue. Residential plots meet players’ needs for a place to live in, commercial plots for trading and real-world ecommerce, industrial and agricultural for energy needs and producing raw materials, and recreational plots for fun activities and relaxation.
Development is under way as well for character ‘mounts’—or any mode of transportation that makes it easier for your character to move around the island. This could be anything that moves on legs or on wheels or even flies!
The Bubble Metaverse: where there’s work to be done and fun to be had.
Other developer features
Unlike Roblox or Minecraft where everything is a cube (a major turnoff for more mature players), Cornucopias runs on the Unreal 5 Engine which any veteran gamer would recognize as synonymous with high quality 3D graphics.
Cornucopias will be NFT-friendly even for other outside Cardano projects. Players can display ‘badges’ of their other NFTs on their characters to show off or even use in the game itself.
Even non-Cardano NFTs from Ethereum, Solana, etc. can be read directly from players wallets without having to convert them to Cardano and can likewise be displayed on characters’ badges or backpacks.
Compatibility with multiple APIs will allow third party services such as cryptocurrency trading.
WooCommerce will be used to add ecommerce functionality, the same most popular plugin used in Wordpress by online merchants.
Cornucopias will be compatible with PCs, gaming consoles, smart TVs and scaled-down versions will be even available for mobile gadgets.
The COPI coin
The COPI token will be Cornucopias’ native currency and will be used for trading within the game. But unlike in conventional games where the in-game ‘money’ is entirely make-believe, COPIs are transferable outside the game and can be exchanged for other cryptocurrency on any platform.
Holding COPIs will also allow for governance and voting privileges on aspects of gameplay. As of writing, the supply and allocation has not yet been disclosed.
The NFT boom has actually only begun, but with a boom that really made waves around the globe, becoming a $22 billion industry at the beginning of this year from a relatively paltry $338 million in 2020. Merge this with a gaming industry that is worth $108.9 billion every year and you can understand why an ambitious project like Cornucopias might be worth looking into. ‘Cornucopias’ after all is derived from Latin roots referring to the mythical ‘horn of plenty’ which when blown can grant whatever is desired. It seems fitting a metaphor form for the ‘infiniteness’ inherent in the concept of the game itself but it might prove fitting as well for those looking for a worthwhile investment.
Cornucopias is technically a game and it looks like a game. But concept-wise, this might just be the next big thing after the Internet. Perhaps we are only seeing the beginning of a world that is realizing that our mundane and ubiquitous real-life existence would be better off if it were ‘gamified’. Perhaps we might soon be bringing a whole new meaning to that often-heard phrase: “Life is just a game”.