MIP-4 Development of Gaming platform with Dept Agency

Development of Gaming platform with Dept Agency

Authors

DAO Core Contributors. A full list can be found here

Summary

There are currently a lot of opportunities in the operational side of Merit Circle. Scaling, educating and maintenance of our current scholarship program is labor-intensive and sensitive to errors. Therefore we propose to develop an overarching platform that will house all the functionalities required to scale and sustain all the current gaming activities for Merit Circle.

Abstract

Merit Circle works with thousands of gamers on a daily basis playing Axie Infinity and Vulcan Verse. The ambitions are to reach 5,000 scholars by the end of the year across multiple games. The current operations are going well and scaling happens at a rapid pace, there are quite some improvements that need to be implemented to scale towards the sizes the DAO envisions.

Therefore, we, the authors, want to propose the development of an overarching platform to streamline our gaming operations. For a clear understanding of the urge of this platform, please follow us in an exploration of the current challenges Merit Circle is facing on a daily basis.

Current challenges

  • Labor intensivity; the current operations require a lot of human labor since every single account is manually created, filled with the right in-game assets and eventually handed over to a scholar. Prior to the creation of an account, a scholar has to be interviewed by one of our managers based on a submitted application video. The tracking happens with certain tools, but most education and analysis happens manually still.

  • Infrequency; due to various reasons, we currently do not possess the flexibility of ensuring a structural payment schedule. Essentially, this should happen every Sunday, but due to the unstable Ronin blockchain delays might occur on a regular basis.

  • Oversight; with a growing community across multiple games, including another type of community member (investors), remaining oversight on what’s truly occurring becomes challenging. We have a large group of moderators keeping tabs on various channels, but the overarching sight is sometimes difficult.

  • Flexibility; as of today, we are actively onboarding scholars for Axie Infinity and preparing everything for the moment Vulcan Verse opens the scholarship program. However, with more games having a release date approaching, we are in need of a flexible workflow to switch between games and adapt a new flow seamlessly

Proposed solution
As mentioned before, the proposed solutions to solve all the above mentioned challenges and prevent any friction from occurring as we hit certain milestones, is the development of an overarching gaming platform. The goal here is to improve the lives of our gamers, and to allow the DAO to seamlessly continue growing.

The early version of this platform will have, but will not be limited to, the following features;

  • Automated and smooth onboarding of new scholars
  • Financial overview module with payout functionality integrating multiple wallets
  • In-game performance tracking
  • Educational modules
  • Ability to switch between various games
  • Leaderboards
  • Scholar management tools

The later version will include many other functionalities and will include gamification as a prominent element. Within the platform, there will be dozens of manners for gamers and others to interact with each other, the platform and Merit Circle the DAO.

For the development of the platform, we propose to work together with Dept Agency, a full service digital agency home to more than 1,500 thinkers and makers throughout Europe and the United States. The agency has worked with brands like Adidas, Algorand, Otrium and many others proving the experience and skills are definitely there.

Timeline
The development of the platform will never be done. However, the first version is projected to be released in the first half of 2022. Once the full scope of the platform is decided, a better timeline can be shared. We will share a more in depth list of the features each version will include with each release.

Motivation

The platform will improve Merit Circle on many facets. At first, the operations can scale better and faster while the overall workload becomes way better manageable. Second of all, the lives of our gamers will become much easier as they will have a central place to find everything they need. As quoted from Merit Circle’s Medium article about the platform;

“With the play-to-earn model being embraced by a larger audience, we can see a shift in job opportunities, especially in low-wage countries. People who first struggled to make a living are now thriving in an online community where their skills are rewarded better than ever before. This changes not only the way they make money but their entire lives.

We wish to improve the earning potential of our gamers as well as their lives in general. We want to emphasize education and teach all about the different facets of life other than simply working on their gaming skills. We want to help answer questions such as “how do you handle a sudden shift in your financial position?”, “how could you use DeFi products to make money work for you, to earn additional money?”, and so on.

We want to truly raise the industry standard and, with this in mind, we are building an overarching platform to cover everything a gamer could possibly need or want to know.“

In conclusion, the platform will better Merit Circle and Merit Circle’s gamers.

Budget
The development of this platform will cost $850,000. This includes the development of the first version of the platform in collaboration with Dept Agency, the guidance and counseling towards setting up our own team, the hiring of a senior in-house product owner to guide the process and a small array of unforeseen expenses that might arise along the way.

Rationale

Beneath, we have compiled a list of questions that might be asked after going through the proposal above.

Why do we need a platform like this?
We believe that this platform is essential to the growth of Merit Circle and vital to improving the lives of all the scholars that fall under the Merit Circle DAO. We can streamline our current onboarding and thereby onboard many more scholars than we currently do in a good manner. The scholars that we onboard will have a better experience resulting in better performance and longer periods of collaboration with Merit Circle. All in all, we can focus on scaling and thereby accruing more value for the DAO.

Can we build this cheaper?
We can use an often-quoted phrase to answer this question;

“Fast, Cheap, and Good… pick two. If it’s fast and cheap it won’t be good. If it’s cheap and good, it won’t be fast. If it’s fast and good, it won’t be cheap. Fast, cheap and good … pick two words to live by.”

Why aren’t we building this in-house?

After initially agreeing on a scope for the platform, we, the core team of the DAO, felt that there are two possible paths to take;

  1. The first is the creation of this platform in-house
  2. Working together with an external party

After various discussions with people speaking from experience, in-house would mean starting from scratch and forming a team of experienced developers, designers, product owners and everything in between. It would likely take more than a year to pull this team together, map out a concrete plan, find synergy working together and structure workflows. This would prolong the period before Merit Circle could actually start building the platform.

In contrast, working with an external party while onboarding an internal product owner will offer greater flexibility and speed up the project. Once we collaboratively map out a plan, structure and timeline, it’s straight onto the build, all the while maintaining focus on our daily operations.

In the scenario where Merit Circle would build a platform of this size in-house, the core team would have to focus entirely on the development. The attention of the core team is too important to scale on other fronts to make such a decision, and therefore, an external agency is a much better fit.

We, the authors, are convinced that this is the right route for us after initial talks with a few notable agencies.

There’s a lot unknown in this proposal, why is that?
We are building something that’s completely new in a very young industry, and a platform that has never been built before. The target audience has never experienced anything like it, and the developers working on this have never built anything like this platform. All of this might bring some uncertainty, but therefore we have decided to work with the very best and most experienced individuals to ensure we aim for the best achievable result.

This does however mean we can’t go in depth about every single detail, because it’s simply not decided upon or has yet to be discovered. We aim to be as transparent and open about the development as possible.

Copyright
Copyright and related rights waived via Creative Commons CCO

7 Likes

Thank you for the new proposal. It makes complete sense to me.

My only suggestion would be to ensure there are appropriate and sufficient financial incentives for over performance, and penalties for under performance embedded within the contract with Dept Agency. In this case substantial and material over performance could be rewarded and justify additional capital allocation whilst protecting against a substandard final product.

1 Like

This platform is a must – I was initially curious how it was possible to scale without such a platform so its good to see investment directed this way.

2 Likes

Great proposal and fully agree this needs to happen.

Just a few remarks:
Are we sure the budget of 850k is enough? Software development is expensive and can stretch budgets easily.
Would it be possible to create the tools so that they can be whitelabled and rented out for a (license) fee to other guilds?

Regards

Time for some longer thoughts. 850k strikes me as a MVP + 1 or 2 iterations beyond.

To the DAO core contributors:

  • Are you modelling subsequent investments (of same/similar size) for future versions?
  • Will each version require a DAO proposal?
  • How is long term support (both from a break/fix, minor enhancements, and potential customer/gamer support) being modelled? Will Dept Agency be providing long term support in these areas?
  • Is a transition to “DAO contributors” from Dept Agency workers anticipated after some amount of future iterations?
1 Like

Great proposal!
I have a 100players guild in Axie and was expecting something like this, so that MC can really scale, specifically with Axie manual-time consuming processes.

Question: how will you make sure DeptAgency development is also useful with other games or future platforms which might not even exist now? I think that is something very important to consider.

Thanks!

Thanks for the proposal. Given the list of challenges I think a software solution is warranted could be a key differentiator in building a defensible market advantage. I have some questions.

  • Automated and smooth onboarding of new scholars
    
  • Financial overview module with payout functionality integrating multiple wallets
    
  • In-game performance tracking
    
  • Educational modules
    
  • Ability to switch between various games
    
  • Leaderboards
    
  • Scholar management tools
    

Is this feature list your the full scope for v1 / MVP, or are you still planning to de-scope? This is a lot of features and a lot of work for a v1, and in my experience, probably unrealistic given your release date of Q1 2022, which is going to be less than 3 months development work given it’s already December now, and we have to factor in everything that goes into a product release including time to QA etc.

It would be helpful to understand and differentiate between long-term vision / product ideas, and the actually contracted work-to-be done for either v1 or MVP release, whatever you’re calling the first milestone. Once you’ve finalised your RFP or list of deliverables, could you share explicitly what features Dept is contracted to deliver, and what completion / acceptance criteria would look like for each? This would be a big help in making sure the project has clear goals and deliverables, and the DAO can make an informed decision now about the scope of the proposal, as well as evaluate future additional work requested of DEPT given their performance meeting the requirements of the first body of work.

How many people will be working on the project, including engineers, UX / design, PMs etc?

Agree with others that $850k is probably an optimistic budget given what you’re trying to do. Is there an upper range target you can share? Would be better to over-estimate than fall into the trap of multiple budget and timeline extensions.

I would much prefer you under-promise and over-deliver, than the opposite.

Thanks in advance for sharing your response, looking forward to learning more about the project.
J

Doesn’t Blockchain Space offer a ready-made solution with its solution of a platform for general accounting of information for game guilds?

Response to Dao Core Contributors

Since the overarching platform for Merit Circle was first teased by the team, it has been a point of excitement for all Merit Circle holders. It is fair to say that this is something greatly welcomed by almost every community member and we foresee very few qualms with making a decision to get the development started.

The proposal lists valid reasons for why this platform is needed and how it will greatly benefit the DAO, the scholars and the growth of Merit Circle. The Sad Cat Cartel agrees with all of the points made and agrees that Dept Agency appear more than capable of producing a platform of high standard.

The only areas we would like reassurances on are the $850,000 total cost and the timeline for both the initial first release in Q1 2022 and the final release at a later point in 2022.

Is the team certain that a budget of $850,000 will be enough to complete the platform and provide enough cushion for any unexpected expenses that might crop up during development? We would rather the team had enough money from the outset to provide a cushion large enough so that more money doesn’t need to be asked for later down the line. If the correct budget is agreed upon from the start and a mandate given, via DAO proposal, then the DAO Core Contributors know that the DAO is happy to spend that much money - and even better if it is completed under budget. The difficulty with asking for more money later in development is that the DAO would feel compelled to grant further budget otherwise risk wasting all the money spent until that point. This could then lead to voters unhappily voting to increase the budget because they feel they have no choice, or in an unlikely but not impossible scenario, voting no and refusing to spend more money, thus putting the team in a difficult place. This could be avoided by ensuring the budget is correct the first time around, even if it means asking for a slightly larger amount.

With regards to the timeline, are the DAO Core Contributors confident a first release of high quality can be delivered within Q1 2022? Delays are common in the crypto space yet are still not appreciated by community members. We would advise the DAO Core Contributors to only commit to timelines they are certain they can keep to.

We want the Merit Circle team to have enough cushion to be able to deal internally with minor delays and setbacks without having to report back to the community because more money is needed or because deadlines can’t be kept.

Signed with left paw,
Fluff Meowson

5 Likes

First and foremost, let us take the time to give thanks to every single person reading and providing their feedback to this proposal. We are glad to receive the support from our community, and are happy to receive comments that are in the best interest of the long-term vision of the DAO.

We have carefully read your questions, concerns and comments and drafted a list of questions and answers that we wish to share in a non-specific order.

Are we sure the budget of 850k is enough?
As explained in the proposal, the $850,000 is solely for the initial version of the platform, this first version of the platform will cover our direct needs to ensure we can scale at the pace we have envisioned. We are aware that software development is costly, but this budget has been decided upon together with Dept Agency based on the initial scope of the project.

Throughout the development of the platform however, as the platform and the industry progresses, we do realize we will most likely have to increase the budget.

Why don’t you increase the current budget to make it suitable for the definitive version?
We have chosen to confirm the budget for this first version for this proposal given the fact that we have a clear vision of what’s needed in the short term. Speculating and putting a price on unknown functionalities and scope is simply impossible at this stage. To prevent creating a budget right now that’s either far under, or over, the eventual budget is in nobody’s best interest.

The moment we have a more clear overview of the total budget cost, we will initiate a novel proposal with a novel overview of the budget.

Would it be possible to create the tools so that they can be whitelabled and rented out for a (license) fee to other guilds?
This would be a strategic decision the DAO needs to make later on. Seeing the competitive space at the moment, we do not have any plans to open source or whitelabel the platform

In the initial phase, the platform will be closed for Merit Circle operations only, but the step to whitelabelling it and renting to other guilds isn’t too far-fetched and we have considered it. To conclude, from a strategic point of view it’s not beneficial straight away but we recognize it can be financially interesting later on.

Are you modelling subsequent investments (of same/similar size) for future versions?
Since Axie Infinity and Vulcan Forged are the only projects currently live, and the novelty of the space, we are collecting future functionalities in the next few months to see where we can and must improve. However, referring to our answer on the earlier question related to the budget, we are aware that additional investments for future versions are imminent.

Will each version require a DAO proposal?
Not each version. After the first version we can move towards a proposal that supports continuous financial support towards the development, maintenance and improvement of the platform.

How is long term support (both from a break/fix, minor enhancements, and potential customer/gamer support) being modelled? Will Dept Agency be providing long term support in these areas?
In our initial talks with Dept Agency they have mentioned the willingness to support us until the moment we are confident to handle things on our own. This includes the transition from them working on the product fulltime to us taking over the more hands-on work.

Is a transition to “DAO contributors” from Dept Agency workers anticipated after some amount of future iterations?
As mentioned in the proposal, Dept Agency will assist us in the formation of a department within the Merit Circle DAO that will be responsible for maintaining a solid platform including small fixes, improvements and future iterations.

How will you make sure Dept Agency development is also useful with other games or future platforms which might not even exist now? I think that is something very important to consider.
As one of the most prolific development agencies in the world, Dept Agency is constantly asking themselves questions like yours. We are more than confident that our platform will be built in a way that’s easily scalable and open to iterations that include novel technologies, games, and personas. That said, it’s not built solely to support our Axie Infinity operations, but to support our grand vision as a guild for the upcoming years.

Doesn’t Blockchain Space offer a ready-made solution with its solution of a platform for general accounting of information for game guilds?
We have made a deliberate decision to create a platform like the one we proposed ourselves.
We simply have so many ideas that we can’t use 1 ready made solution that is not scalable or which can improve upon. We will however use a stack of already built tools to cut down on development time and at the same time decrease the third party supplier risk. We will then customize these to our needs with some parameters that we believe will be easy to maintain and are scalable.

Is this feature list your full scope for v1 / MVP, or are you still planning to de-scope?
This is a list that will be added in one of the earliest versions. This is not a definitive list, but more an indication of what we envision for a later version. The most important features are the onboarding of new scholars, management of scholars, and in-game performance tracking.

We are really aiming to include our community in the development of the platform and therefore such deliverables as mentioned by JT shall be communicated with the release of each version. Understand that we are currently exploring our options, and the next couple of weeks are crucial in determining the scope of this first version.

How many people will be working on the project, including engineers, UX / design, PMs etc?
Dept Agency has the ability to scale the workforce whenever necessary. Therefore, it’s impossible to put a number on the number of people that will work on the project. One week might require additional development resource, the other design and the other more strategic. Simply put, enough.

Are you sure you’re able to meet Q1 2022?
The timeline for the first MVP in Q1 has been decided upon based on the experience from Dept Agency and an experienced product owner who both have worked on dozens of complex projects in small timeframes. This first version will be far from the complete platform, simply a version that allows us to operate, collect feedback and improve on.

On that note, we will include our community in the development of the platform and collect feedback across several stages of the development.

With all respect to other cryptocurrency projects, we are working with highly experienced developers, product owners, project managers and anything in between. The time frame might seem small, and we are aware of that, but we are confident that we will deliver on time.

As the year 2022 progresses, we will constantly release new versions of the platform with small, and larger tweaks and improvements. It’s important to understand that the development will basically never stop, we will always aim to improve as the industry evolves.

EDIT: Several members of the Core team have been with Dept Agency the entire day on Tuesday, and will be today as well. In these meetings, workshops and brainstorming sessions we collaboratively came to the conclusion that Q1 2022 might be too optimistic for a proper MVP as initiated in the first proposal. We will have early versions available for testing prior to releasing the MVP, which will most likely be ready somewhere in Q1 2022, but to launch a proper MVP we don’t want to rush anything.

Therefore, we will change this proposal and set the release date of the MVP for 2022. As we progress, we will continuously share any noteworthy updates on the development. We will invite interested members to join our Beta testing in Q1 so anyone can test and give feedback on the platform.

We thank you for your time, and look forward to address any other concerns or answers any questions you may have

7 Likes

Thanks for the proposal MC team. I very much welcome and support this initiative, primarily for the ´oversight´ reason and risk mitigation perspective. With the long term vision in mind, the DAO should consider to anticipate potential legal changes on a global scale. Today, ‘gaming’ is considered ‘leisure’, tomorrow it could be considered ‘work’. This could have legal ramifications, mainly income tax related, (and/or other (perceived) ‘employer obligations’) depending on the current jurisdiction of the – the DAO – and the gamer/scholar. In that case, reporting (retrospective and forward looking) will be of utmost importance. IF this becomes a future topic, the Guilds with an A-grade reporting and accounting infrastructure - hence, all actual gaming activities logged - will thrive while it also offers the best safeguard to the legal position of the scholars involved.

2 Likes

Thank you for writing this proposal. In full agreement of moving ahead with this. Looking forward to the new platform and excited for what is to come!

Thank you for your detailed response. I’m glad to hear the initial list of features you described is not the expected scope for a 3 month development project. I agree “onboarding of new scholars, management of scholars, and in-game performance tracking.” make sense as a first milestone to get users onboarded and using the platform quickly. As you say though, it would be of great benefit to the community if you could share a final list of deliverables expected to be produced by Dept Agency by the end of Q1, so that there is full transparency in the performance of the agency.

I also am satisfied that it’s not possible to 100% pin-down everything at this early stage, particularly when the development team is not in-house.

Overall I think you’re taking the right approach with this proposal, and I’m happy to back it, pending a description of the deliverables with the official proposal.

thanks
J

Great Proposal, you have my full support.

Great managers will always seek ways to streamline whilst adding to the experience of the customer and improve efficiency at the same time.

Then seek the right team either internally or externally to meet the goals. I strongly believe in horses for courses and you have found a great solution to what would be an ongoing problem that would hinder the growth of MC.

Money well spent

Well done :clap::clap::blush::clap:

1 Like

Proposal slights adjusted based on the received feedback. Edits can be found below;

  1. Timeline
    The development of the platform will never be done. However, the first version is projected to be released in the first half of 2022. Once the full scope of the platform is decided, a better timeline can be shared. We will share a more in depth list of the features each version will include with each release.

  2. There’s a lot unknown in this proposal, why is that?
    We are building something that’s completely new in a very young industry, and a platform that has never been built before. The target audience has never experienced anything like it, and the developers working on this have never built anything like this platform. All of this might bring some uncertainty, but therefore we have decided to work with the very best and most experienced individuals to ensure we aim for the best achievable result. This does however mean we can’t go in depth about every single detail, because it’s simply not decided upon or has yet to be discovered. We aim to be as transparent and open about the development as possible.

If there are any further questions or uncertainties, we would love to hear so before we move to voting.

1 Like

Thanks for the discussion.

Amended proposal has now entered a 48 hours voting period:
https://vote.meritcircle.io/#/proposal/0x2927e0acb6a03756b3281dcff43bdb7cfe2b28e343630f7e4ec98f859ca3ed3b

2 Likes

Closed since the proposal has been accepted after voting.

https://vote.meritcircle.io/#/proposal/0x2927e0acb6a03756b3281dcff43bdb7cfe2b28e343630f7e4ec98f859ca3ed3b

1 Like