Do you want to play a fun and engaging digital pet game where you can farm yield-generating NFTs? It’s Aavegotchi you’re looking for – a community-owned blockchain game. Eathan Janney and Josh Kriger welcome Jesse Johnson, the founder and COO of Pixelcraft Studios that created Aavegotchi. Since an NFT’s only value is whatever experience it gives you, the game delivers personal value. When you take care of your Aavegotchi digital pets, they will take care of you. Join the conversation to learn more!
Listen to the podcast here
Jesse Johnson Of Aavegotchi – A Yield-Generating NFT That Doubles As A Digital Pet, Plus: Chris Boundikas Of Quoth – Real-Time NFT Rarities, Search & Authentication
NFT curious readers, stay tuned for this episode and find out how to find a sitter for your NFT pet and keep your kinship score flying high.
Why you should keep an ear to the ground for when our guests mints NFTs of the childhood comic book characters he created?
Check out our hot topic for a new and interesting player in the game of tracking rarity metrics. All this and more on this episode. Enjoy.
This episode features Jesse Johnson, the Founder of Aavegotchi, an open-source, community-owned NFT gaming protocol that enables true asset ownership for gamers. Jesse AKA GldnXross is among the earliest visionaries pioneering NFT product design. Prior to launching Aavegotchi, Jesse cofounded Ethereum‘s first NFT minting platform, Mintable, and also created Bullionix, the first NFT to be staked directly with ERC-20 tokens.
Jesse is focused on the Gotchiverse, Pixelcraft Studios’ ambitious flagship experience. Launched in March 2022, this DeFi RPG delivers a number of innovative use cases that only a Web3-based game can. Introducing an on-chain sharing company, the Gotchiverse is poised to be crypto’s first mass-adopted metaverse, all built on top of the Aavegotchi protocol. Jesse, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Eathan. It’s good to be here.
It’s great to have you.
There are some similarities to the genre of branding to our show’s logo and intro on YouTube. There’s some synergy there for sure.
They are kindred spirit projects.
This has been a long time coming. I have been admiring what you have been building this space for a while. It was only a matter of time before we got you on the show. It’s an honor to have you here. The vision of Aavegotchi is something special but before we go into that, let’s talk about where it all began. What’s your genesis story?
I was very fortunate to be exposed to Bitcoin early on. Relatively speaking, it was in 2013 or 2014. I was curious about what we could see in digital life, how sound money could play a better role in the economy and how things could be done better without a central bank. That was my starting point, as so many were. After the financial crisis of 2008 and all of those problems that came with it, I was graduating right out of university when all that was going down. I had a distinct reason to question things and think about how could things be done better. I was open-minded to Bitcoin and the solutions it offered. I was living overseas at the time.
After the financial crisis and I graduated, I looked around the US and didn’t see much opportunity at the time. I had done a semester abroad in Mainland China. The Beijing Olympics had happened. The economy was growing there. I said, “I’m going to follow up on that, go spend some time there and see what I can uncover.” I’ve got involved with some of those real-life meetups with the Bitcoin community in China and ended up working for one of the oldest Bitcoin crypto exchanges. It’s China’s second oldest one. They rebranded but they are called ZB Group.
I ended up doing BD, listings, some product improvements, and things like that for their platform. That was my first few years in crypto. I was working on the digital assets side of the exchanges. I also was intellectually curious. I was going for my Law degree. I did a Chinese Civil and Commercial Law Master’s degree and ended up dedicating the thesis research to Bitcoin regulations. It was all primary research that hadn’t been done at the time. Through that process, I started reading more about smart contracts. I was like, “This is some next-level stuff.” Now we are beyond currency.
We are talking about extrapolating and eliminating middlemen and completely reorganizing so many different economies this could touch. It was very exciting. That’s when I was like, “I’m going to dive into Ethereum and see what we can do here.” I don’t write the code. I was more looking at it from the front-end side. What can we do with the user interface and experiences?
My background, even before all of this was more from the creative and artistic side. I’m a musician at heart and an artist. The way I approached it was more like, “How can we create valuable experiences that you can’t have without crypto or smart contracts?” It was all brand new ground to break. The sky was the limit.
After Ethereum launched and you started to see some of the ICOs and all of that come out, most of them were PDFs that were fundraised on top. That was pretty disheartening but there were a lot of good PDFs. I will give them that. There were a lot of good ideas. That led to me looking for more and respecting those that we are building something, even if they were proof of concept smart contracts. In those early days, an example would have been prediction markets and some of the early exploration there of what you could do with funding predictions instead of typical voting or polling and aligning incentives to choose the right person for some job. It’s interesting stuff.
Somewhere along the way, I was doing listings for ZB, and I met some teams at some conferences or something that did not have ERC-20 tokens to list. They were like, “We don’t want to list on your exchange. We have this thing called NFTs. We are playing with these NFTs over here.” I was like, “What’s that? Why don’t you want to list on my exchange?” Going through that was fortunate for me because I’ve got to meet some of these very early projects and be exposed to the idea of NFTs as a way of having digital culture have a place on the blockchain. That seemed important.
Intuitively right away, I was like, “This is a whole different pillar to the economy or the blockchain landscape. It’s completely separate from what Bitcoin had already done.” That was where I’ve got started. I linked up with Zach Burks, who was building out an alpha version of Mintable at the time. That seemed like the perfect project to leave my post at ZB and go full-time on building out something special that could help a lot of people. Mintable’s original use case was the first place you could go to upload your metadata and mint your Ethereum NFT without any coding background. I, somebody who doesn’t write Solidity, appreciated that and wanted to contribute to that how I could.
We ended up moving to Singapore, joining the LongHash accelerator program there, and bootstrapping it from there. Mintable continues to live on. Zach still runs that. It’s multichain now and very busy. For myself, I went on to work on Bullionix. I want to tinker with some of the more granular ideas of what you could do with NFT standards. It was the first time you took an ERC-721 and stake ERC-20 tokens into it. The premise was that there was a Singapore company called Digix, and they had gold-backed stablecoins. It’s cool but stablecoins are the most boring part of the entire crypto landscape.
What if you could take boring stablecoins and wrap them in an interesting and compelling NFT? It would be a digital piggy bank for your stablecoins that’s also collectible. You have this speculative collectible value on top of your stable value. That was the premise of Bullionix. It’s a very cool project with limited and rare mints that were collaborative. I didn’t want to do all the art myself. I did some of it but I worked with a lot of the crypto artists in the space who were already up-and-coming or established. It was still the early days then. This was in the pre-NFT breakout. We are talking about 2017 to 2018.
That is OG status when it comes to NFTs for a lot of people that didn’t hear about NFTs until 2021.
It might have been 2019 by the time Bullionix went live. Even then, it’s still pretty early. A lot of R&D went into those smart contracts and stuff. We ended up working with people like WizardX and many others in the space that were getting their feet wet and getting on SuperRare and things like that. They made cool, rare 3D gold coins that had actual gold inside of them. That was great but if it was a Venn diagram, you don’t have a ton of gold bugs and a ton of Ethereum people hanging out, necessarily. It was a niche market inside of a niche market. The team I had put together worked on that.
Zach helped with the smart contracts. Coder Dan, who’s my Cofounder at Aavegotchi, came in and helped out initially with a lot of front-end work with myself. We did leaderboards and all sorts of things like that. We got into the UX of how you melt the gold and create this cool product. We started having conversations about his global hackathon, where he had won first place at an Aave-sponsored hackathon. He was like, “I’m getting to know Stani and these guys that run Aave. DeFi summer is, at this point, taking off. It would be cool to build something like Bullionix but with DeFi inside of it instead of gold.”
That’s where we started looking. If you hold Aave tokens, they natively generate yield. If you have 1,000 Aave LINK in your wallet today, you would have 1,001 in your wallet tomorrow. You didn’t even have to push a button. I love intuitive products like that, and there’s nothing more intuitive than Aave’s yield-generating tokens. We were like, “Let’s put that inside of Aave.” It eventually became an Aavegotchi. We put out a call for the right art to reflect the sentiment and aesthetic of what we are looking for. We had a checklist of things we wanted.
Initially, we knew it would be similar to Bullionix and that you would stake. We wanted it to be on-chain like what the team at Avastars had done. This was when Avastars had put their NFTs 100% in the smart contracts on-chain. We thought that was very important. There’s no reliance on the visuals being stuck on some server somewhere that could eventually go down. That informed the aesthetic choices. We wanted lightweight pixel art to be our go-to for the project. From an aesthetic standpoint, it was important that our art reflected the sentiment of the wider space.
If you zoom out even now, we’re in that mostly in a good way naive, “Web3 is going to change the world,” phase. I hope it does but it made sense to start with the 8-bit gaming and then reflect on where we are in that space. That was what we did. We put out the call and met Xibot, one of the top crypto artists in pixel art particularly. We looked at probably twenty different submissions from twenty different artists or so. He immediately had that quality of a mimetic and cute Aavegotchi you want to get to know. It was hands down. It’s easy at that point. Luckily, he’s a wonderful person to work with. The three of us got together.
We reached out to Nick Mudge, who is the author of the ERC-998 standard. We want a heavy-hitter on the smart contracts, and he qualifies as that. He came in and started building out the initial contracts for Aavegotchi. It’s because of him that we are able to take wearables, which are ERC-1155 NFTs and equip them to the ERC-721. You have NFTs layered on top of NFTs. When people say Aavegotchi, sometimes it’s complex. There’s an ERC-721 with ERC-1155s on the outside as wearables and ERC-20s inside as the piggy bank. Every major standard can be tied up in one Aavegotchi at the same time.
For our readers who aren’t on YouTube, and you should check out our YouTube channel as well, Jesse is rocking his Bitcoin shirt with the entire Bitcoin white paper, which is pretty awesome. I have seen it before but now that I see it on you, I’m having some FOMO. I’m going to have to get one myself. I’ve got to ask one question before Eathan jumps in. We will get to know you more in our next segment. Where did you go to school? What did you major in?
I originally grew up around Chicago and went to school in Tampa, Florida, at Eckerd College, a wonderful liberal arts school with great programs and mentorship. I majored in Business Management and had a minor in Southeast Asian Studies. That explains the whole detour through Asia, where I ended up spending the next ten years.
I also went to the most liberal arts school I could find, which was the college of William & Mary, and then chose the least liberal arts major, which was Business and Information Technology. You get a little of both, which is great because, at the end of the day, it’s creative thinking plus technology equals disruption. That makes sense. Now that I know like your roots there that you are a liberal arts/business guy, it’s all coming together.
It sounds like we had a similar strategy there. Let’s strike a balance here. It’s a Business degree from a liberal arts school. Let’s do it.
I’m in Chicago, and I grew up around here as well. The answer to the last question was great. It all blurs together. From hindsight, everything makes sense. This turned into that. I’m sure along the way, you had no idea what was going to come next at each point in the journey. That’s fun to see how it all connected in retrospect. You’ve got to the point where you developed Aavegotchi. It’s a yield-generating NFT that doubles as a digital pet, which sounds kooky but awesome. Can you tell us a little bit about how that works?
To play off the idea of a digital pet, that’s a whole subgenre of NFTs. It’s this crypto pet. CryptoKitties kicked off the whole NFT conversation to a new level after the early experimenters. They were the “mainstream” and first household name. I had a bunch of CryptoKitties. The first NFT I ever had was a CryptoKitty gifted to me to pay for lunch, no less. It was cool but they just sat in my MetaMask. Even on my mobile phone, I would only take it out to show somebody and be like, “This is what an NFT is.”
Digital Pet: We want lightweight pixel art to be our go-to for the project.
Other than that, I was like, “This doesn’t live up to what a pet is.” It’s not a crypto pet to me, at least. I’m not interacting with it daily. A real pet would be something you interact with quite often. As we were going through that process of designing what an Aavegotchi can be and I had that checklist, there was another one on the list where it’s like, “Let’s make a better crypto pet.” That’s a big part of this. What would a better crypto pet look like? That’s where the name comes from. It’s a reference to Tamagotchi.
We wanted to address that in an on-chain way if possible. The big idea was this idea of a kinship score. This was the proto idea that branched out to everything else. The kinship score is simply a measurement of how often you interact on-chain with your Aavegotchi. Typically, it could be changing its wearables but most of the time, it’s how often you pet it. We always say, “You’ve got to pet your Aavegotchi.” If you go into the Aavegotchi.com UI, you got your Aavegotchi floating there and waiting for you to greet you.
You got a couple of options, one of which is Pet. When you pet it, you submit a transaction on-chain. It updates the metadata to increase your kinship score by one every time you do that. There’s also an internal clock. You can only do that once every twelve hours. This was a cool premise that made Aavegotchi quite unique. The idea was stickiness.
From a UX perspective, you want to have a sticky product but not in a deceitful way. Also, you want to have a relationship with your NFT. Other than flipping it and speculating on OpenSea, we wanted you to be quite attached, if possible, to your NFT to the point that you don’t even want to flip it. We have achieved that.
The natural question is people get attached to so many NFTS. I’m sure people have asked and hired a babysitter when they are often doing other things.
It’s because it’s on-chain that people have built those services. There’s GotchiPet and GotchiCare. These are different services that will pet your Gotchi for you. It’s pretty cool. The premise was we had to look at what would make you attached even more than its beautiful art. It was kinship and naming it. You name your Aavegotchi. It’s like an ENS name. When you name it, it goes into a registry, and nobody else can have that name.
There are a couple of things you can do to personalize it and make it yours like dressing it up. You are making it yours at that point. It’s different than most PFPs where you get your generative art. That’s the cool trait it has, and that’s it. In this case, they start naked or nakie, and then you build all your wearables around it as you see fit.
Unfortunately, you are tied up deep in the dev process during NFTLA, so you couldn’t make it. Is that where the land side of it comes in? Was that the build that you were cooking up?
The Gotchis, as we are talking about now, this all happened in 2021. The first generation launched in March of 2020, and then there was a second generation in the summer. It’s Haunt 1 and Haunt 2. NFTLA was going on the weekend we were launching the Gotchiverse. This has been a long time coming. We had to stay at our stations for that and get the team to ship that right. Luckily, it shipped without an issue. We had an amazing launch. Our users always say, “Never ask a Web3 builder what their daily active users are.” That’s the joke. It’s hard to get many but we have had an amazing month since it launched.
In that weekend, the NFTLA, we were averaging honestly about 5,000 daily active users visiting the site to pet their Aavegotchis, check statistics or trade on our marketplace. As soon as that game went live, it was like a hockey stick. We had 80,000 people after the first weekend coming into the site. It has been nuts ever since. We’ve got, at any given moment, about north of 4,000 Aavegotchis running around in the Gotchiverse. It’s a 2D RPG-style game. At any moment of the day and any time zone, there’s consistent playing. There are new highs every couple of days.
How do the land parcels get generated? Why are they important to the play-to-earn model that you built?
We wanted to take our lessons learned from that first year with Aavegotchi and bring some of that to the land subgenre. There’s this idea of land. We have always been a DeFi NFT project. You’ve got the DeFi Aave aspect inside the Aavegotchis. Honestly, one of the highest points of friction for the original UX of an Aavegotchi is if you want to summon one, you have to open a pack of cards, open a portal door, and get ten randomly generated Aavegotchis, choose your favorite one and bring it to life.
You do that by staking the Aave tokens inside because I don’t have the liquidity to put millions of dollars into the Aave site for all 10,000 Aavegotchis. The user does that. They put the initial money in to bring it to life. That’s a lot of friction. It’s worth it in the end. People do it. It has worked out well but it’s a lot of friction. We inverted that for the land. Coming back to the land, what we said is, “Here’s a land sale.” We’ve got an amazing world we have built here. We have onboarded people from Capcom and World of Warcraft. We’ve got 45 people full-time on the team at Pixelcraft building this game out.
The land twist is there are already play-to-earn tokens buried inside the land. It’s Clash of Clans-style. You are going to farm or mine those out of the land later, and because they are brand new tokens, we were able to mint them ahead of time and have those waiting for you inside your land parcel. That’s the twist. When you get a piece of land, it represents your physical space in the Gotchiverse and your opportunity to build and customize but it also is this opportunity to get access to these play-to-earn tokens.
You are getting thousands of people at any given time at this point. What are the incentives for those people as well as on your side for incentivizing the gameplay activity over simply owning an Aavegotchi?
There’s one big thing we haven’t touched on. Even from day one and before the NFTs, we launched our GHST token. That was our eco-governance token from day one, launched on a bonding curve. That did a number of things but it meant that we had a decentralized kick-starter from day one with a single pair of DAI tokens or stablecoins going in and minting new GHST tokens. The supply fluctuates up and down. That is the beginning of the DAO. From the moment that bonding period was put out, we had a DAO.
This is a DAO-built game, first and foremost. That’s why we say, “Aavegotchi has a protocol. Anybody can build on top of the Aavegotchi NFTS and smart contracts.” The Gotchiverse is Pixelcraft’s flagship title that we are building in partnership with the DAO. Instead of a white paper, we have what we call the Gotchi Bible. We publish a different chapter every month that has things like traits analysis, land gameplay, estate management, and all these things. The DAO comes in, gives us instant feedback, throws things out, and adds things in.
We build this game together. For a lot of us, our dream job would be to be a game developer or a game maker. I always wanted to work for Nintendo or something. We have brain surgeons who, in their off-hours, are contributing to the development of the Gotchiverse. It’s cool. We also have people that are bagging groceries and also contributing. There are no barriers to entry. The best ideas rise to the top. Everybody gets to contribute to the final form of what this game will be.
What we always try to do at Pixelcraft is make a framework and then let the DAO fill in what that’s going to be. That’s why we have one of the most active DAOs in the world. We are on Polygon, so transactions are cheap. Friction is down. If you go to our Snapshot, it’s not like we are pretending to be the Federal Reserve and tweaking interest rates. We are building a game. There are so many parts where people can get involved directly, contribute great ideas, and have an immediate impact.
I’m not sure if you know Miles over at Decentral Games. You have a lot of similar aspects of your vision in terms of mass adoption. They are at a point where they have tens of thousands of folks playing poker in Decentraland every day, which is super cool. On this topic of mass adoption, I’m curious what you view as the most important elements that will drive that future both for Gotchiverse and across the board with everything folks are working on in terms of getting more folks into the space. There have been a lot of articles about how the OGs or that market is softening a little bit but the broader market is picking up. What are your thoughts on that topic?
When it comes to design and deciding where to put our energy, we have always had the mindset that we should embrace blockchain, crypto, the terminology, and everything that comes with that. Voting in the DAO, contributing to staking our GHST tokens, bridging or anything like that are all part of the game. People want to have reasons to interact with smart contracts and learn about these different aspects of DeFi NFTS. If you incorporate it, make it real out front or push it to the front, that’s our approach.
We think it’s a lot more interesting than the opposite, which might be more like Dapper Labs and NBA Top Shot, for example. They have this wonderful UI. It’s very polished. You don’t even know you are using a blockchain if they didn’t tell you and they don’t tell you. It’s like credit card swiping. It has a super nice UX. They have their chain that you don’t even know it’s blockchain. Personally, that’s a far less interesting route. I would get bored to death. Those are our design principles. Push and embrace Web3. That means embracing the crypto terminology. You are going to interact with smart contracts. If you want to excel at this game, you better learn about staking and that kind of thing. Have fun with it.
At the same time, what I’m pulling out from what you were saying is there’s something about this revolution that requires participation and awareness. Decentralized finance is a thing because being oblivious to the way finance works is not the ethos of Web3. Especially in the creator community, raising awareness about how finance works is a huge plus of the developments here.
You look at MetaMask. They broke a million active users a month or something like that. They are significant numbers. It’s by no means mainstream adoption. It’s not on everybody’s phone when you go down the street but that’s still significant. Our mindset is this. We want to get to 100,000 monthly active users in the Gotchiverse over the next quarter. If we can achieve that, it’s such a different world. You look at what happened with Axie Infinity.
It’s not the most recent thing to get hacked but if you look at the numbers and the raw amount of value that’s generated from even a relatively small number of people getting together and building something incredible on Web3, we don’t need to win over the whole world. By embracing Web3 and pushing it to the front, you attract a certain type of user. We are okay with that because, as a DAO, we need that big-brain and hands-on type of mentality if we are going to have a successful DAO and get the best of everybody.
We are glad about the decision we have made. It’s not for everybody but I can’t get behind the play-to-earn games that look and feel like a normal, carbon copy and traditional Web2 games. They threw in a couple of NFT rewards on top or something pretty thoughtlessly. That would not inspire me to pick up the gameplay. It’s not that we are the only ones either. I’m sure you talked to others that are building for people that love NFTs and want to learn about crypto.
In the phase of the adoption curve, either way, you’ve got to have that part of it. We talked about all the things that can be done with NFTs and financial instruments and things. How can NFT lending open up a sharing economy and unlock accessibility, in your opinion?
This is one of the coolest things we have shipped. Before the Gotchiverse went live, we shipped our lending contracts. This was huge because we spent a lot of time looking at the scholarship program that YGG innovated on. That was a way for people to lend out their Axies or gameplay items to other players. It came with this other type of friction. You had to almost verify or somehow win over your sponsor. You would be the scholar, and they would be your sponsors that kind of thing. You would beg for a scholarship on Twitter all day. You see that all the time.
We didn’t want anything like that and thought it could scale so much better if you abstracted away. Something we do want to abstract away is that middle layer of HR bureaucracy. Make it trustless and get it on-chain. How could we do it? Our lending is the smart contract. You go into a P2P marketplace. It’s the sharing economy on-chain. Instead of doing an Uber to get a car, you are doing Uber to get an Aavegotchi for four hours so you can go play in the Gotchiverse and play-to-earn.
Digital Pet: We had to look at what would make you attached even more than just the beautiful art, kinship, and the name you gave it.
I own some Aavegotchis. I can choose to lend it out. I set the duration. There’s a pie chart and I say, “How much of the earnings will go back to me? How much stays with the borrower?” I even have a third wallet. If I’m a guild, I can direct some of the rewards directly to a treasury wallet and then select if I don’t want to share GHST tokens and only want to share the play-to-earn tokens. We call those Alchemica. We put all that in 4 or 5 parameters, and then you hit send and do the transaction. Your Gotchi is listed in this play-to-earn marketplace.
People come in all day, and they borrow out these Gotchis. It’s awesome. When the time expires, the owner can come in, claim rewards and return their Aavegotchi. There’s no risk of them running away with your NFTs. Everybody agrees to the terms very transparently. It has been huge for us to help get more players onboarded in a sometimes no-cost upfront way. The owner can choose to lend it freely with a split or put a small or large upfront cost on borrowing that particular Aavegotchi.
What do Aavegotchis run for?
The floor has gone up a lot once people realized that their Gotchis can passively earn stuff while they sleep. They are going for about 800 or 900 GHST. A GHST token is $1.80. It’s around $2,000.
That’s affordable for a long-term pet that doesn’t die, which is one park so that kinship can continue for your whole life.
You did bring up one of the more interesting features. They can die. It’s not because you didn’t feed it or pet it. There’s this cool feature of Sacrifice. If you sacrifice your Gotchi, you can do it, and it will burn the NFT and transfer all of its XP that it has accrued to any other Aavegotchi you choose on-chain. There’s an XP leaderboard. Let’s say you are trying to climb that leaderboard. You can take out your low-end floor Gotchi and direct all that energy to your favorite Gotchi. It’s the opposite of breeding. We always get asked, “Is there a breeding mechanism?” We are like, “No, there’s a sacrifice mechanism.” It’s deflationary.
I love how dark and ritualistic it is. It’s like, “I will eat the heart of a lesser Gotchi.”
There’s a little bit of edginess under their naive surface.
You have been in this space a while. I would love your perspective on what other NFT and Web3 projects inspire you these days outside of the ones you’ve already mentioned.
The most recent has got to be OnChainChain. With Aavegotchi or Avastars, we are always looking for on-chain NFTs. You can sleep well at night knowing they will do the test of time and be around. As long as that chain exists, they are going to exist. OnChainChains are these cool on-chain voxel art wearables. Maybe you are seeing them. The play is they are going to be interoperable with a lot of these different metaverses and avatars. You could get a big gold medallion to put around, hopefully our Aavegotchi someday.
They are partnering with Decentraland and a lot of the other metaverses like Cryptovoxels. Rizzle and a couple of other guys are building that out. There are some of the most OG guys in this space. I picked up a few of those. I’m pretty excited about what they are doing. Interoperability plays are going to be big. All these metaverses are incentivized in their silo. Even us, we want to build up our user base and deliver value to people and attract them to our particular virtual world.
At some point over the next couple of years, there’s going to be a consolidation period or something where the incentives flip. It’s time to start connecting and making those connections. We want to build our infrastructure to be able to facilitate that. It’s cool to already see some of these projects leading the way. It’s coming in the form of wearables like OnChainChain.
We will check that out for our readers as well. We did a fun little collab with DRESSX for NFTLA, where there was a QR code on our limited edition hoodies that some folks got. That allows you to have a virtual hoodie as well. Here’s a shout-out to those guys. This is the type of stuff that’s fun and also opens up the space to curiosity and connection among folks that maybe wouldn’t have been into it. Fashion has always been and will always be around. It’s evolving with the space. Eathan, what do you think? Should we peel back the curtain a little bit, do a quick little demo and show people what’s going on in Gotchiverse? I’m curious what Aavegotchis are running around at this moment.
For the reader here, Jesse is sharing his screen. We’ve got this cool, almost like a pink and purple pastel ’80s-ish pixel art crew of little bouncy and fun characters. He has opened the website and he’s going to give us a little bit of demo. It says, “Aavegotchi is an open-source community-owned NFT gaming protocol, enabling true asset ownership for gamers.”
Take me down the rabbit hole, which we talk about a lot.
You’ve got to embrace that. There are always these rabbit holes. You arrive at Aavegotchi.com and see all these little Aavegotchis floating there. If I hit refresh, which I’m safe to do, you will notice all the Aavegotchi has changed. That’s because we are highlighting here that we are pulling from the on-chain Polygon smart contract we deployed. These are real Aavegotchis live and how they are currently dressed by their owners. If we click on any one of them, we can go learn about that particular Aavegotchi. It’s cool in that sense that this is all live and dynamic data.
It’s bringing Web2 and Web3 together in a very seamless way.
You will notice we haven’t even connected our wallet yet. It’s important you can get to know Aavegotchi even before you have downloaded MetaMask or whatever it may be. You get a nice little tour here. It shows a big bouncing Aavegotchi. It says, “These are yield-generating NFTs that double as digital pets. Take care of them, and they will take care of you.” We truly believe that.
It goes through how the protocol has all these different things being built. Some of them are by Pixelcraft but others are not. There are tons of analytics tools, mini-games and arcade games being built by the community on top of what we are doing at Pixelcraft. It’s very nice. What we want to do is a demo of the Gotchiverse. That’s the big thing. We will click Try It Now.
I do love that it’s not annoying us with, “You’ve got to connect your wallet to get started,” especially for those folks who aren’t sure. Maybe you haven’t heard of it. It’s new. They might feel uncomfortable connecting a wallet. There is so much you can do. That makes total sense. You can read from a smart contract that’s publicly available information, show those Aavegotchis and interchange them. It has nothing to do with that particular person’s wallet, which is cool.
We are loading and heading into the portal door.
It’s like going through the show Quantum Leap. That was way back. There’s a show called Quantum Leap where this guy traveled through time, and there would be a portal that would open up or something. It looks like a time travel portal.
This is a dimension bouncing portal here. We are in the Gotchiverse realm now. You can see my on-chain Aavegotchi art. We have it from all four sides saved in the smart contract. We are the first project to do that. It’s not just the PFP straight on but all four angles are coded into that smart contract for your Aavegotchi each time.
Is there a 3D corresponding asset at this point? Is it the four angles?
It’s not 3D yet but we have some partnerships that are playing around with 3D versions and stuff. It’s doable. It just hasn’t been a priority. What we have in the Gotchiverse I think of it as a 1990s Legend of Zelda top-down RPG but psychedelic. It’s got all these bright purples, gridlines and vaporwave. From a design side aesthetic, we decided that it shouldn’t look like any game you have seen before. There are a lot of those Farmville-looking types of Web3 games. If we are going to build something different and it’s almost like its own new genre, then we should have a visual element that reflects that. That’s why it’s this bizarre, murky, and vaporwave-looking world.
It’s like an outer space matrix-y thing. It’s almost Tron-ish but it’s not. It has its unique character.
This is a nice sneak preview but people need to go to the website, play around and get into it.
You asked about 3D. The world is all 3D, and then the pixel Aavegotchis are these little pixel guys living in a 3D world. That was tricky from a designer’s point of view for our team to mash up but we have pulled it off in a good way. You will notice the space looks very open. We are going to let the players fill this in. It’s like a coloring book. We are creating the framework, and then user-generated content is going to fill the majority of this world.
You do that by crafting items. Instead of minting an NFT, you open up your crafting table, take different combinations of these ERC-20 tokens and craft the various NFTs that you want to have. It admits them on-chain. It is minting but the way you get to the minting is the interesting part. Think of a Minecraft crafting table or Clash of Clans and put together some cool recipes.
This is all reinforcing my theory that the best way to find out what’s going to be cool in Web3 is to consider what a four-year-old would enjoy like crafting, coloring, and feeding your pet. It’s pretty consistent. We could sit in here for weeks, especially me and Josh. Should we hit on the Edge Quick Hitters then?
Digital Pet: Everybody agrees to the terms transparently, and it’s been huge for us to help get more players onboarded in a sometimes no cost upfront way.
Let’s do it.
That was a whole lot of fun, Jesse. Thanks for sharing that. Let’s get into Edge Quick Hitters. This is a fun and quick way to get to know you a little bit better. We do this for every guest. There are ten questions. We are looking for a short, single-word or few-word response but feel free to expand if you get the urge. Usually, our partner, Jeff, who has lost his voice, is the one who asks these questions. Josh and I will alternate. Lucky us. We get to ask the Edge Quick Hitters. Here’s the first question I will ask. What is the first thing you ever remember purchasing in your life?
I would have been about five. I was going into town with dad to buy Super Mario Bros. 3. That was a big deal. We had NES. My older siblings had Duck Hunt and that stuff. It was a thing. I remember waddling in there and being so excited for that bright yellow box.
That’s very fitting. It’s bringing back memories for me. I had the original Nintendo system. I remember I was a pretty good kid. I never got punished, hardly ever but my mom sent me to my room one time for something. I don’t even remember. I asked if I could play video games there, and she said yes. I was like, “This is the best punishment.” I remember playing Duck Hunt. Next question, what’s the first thing you ever remember selling in your life?
I have always been a bit of an entrepreneur. I remember the first grade. I didn’t live in town. I lived outside of town. My buddy, we linked up. He had a place. It’s prime real estate on the corner of downtown. All the bicycles go by and all our classmates. He agreed with me that during our arts and craft hour at school, we would make comic books, sketch our little characters and stuff, get the stapler out and make these little comics. We had a stack of Zippy comics. I must have been making them for a whole semester. We had a ton of inventory. We set up shop on the weekend on his corner and cleared it out. We made $20 that day, selling at $0.50 each or something. Zippy was my first character.
Do we have any Zippy NFTs?
Let’s do it. Sign us up. I’m getting my Zippy NFT.
There’s something there. That’s certainly more novel than the lemonade stand. Kudos there.
It was a lemonade stand with paper and staples.
What is the most recent thing you purchased?
It’s that OnChainChain. That was a good one. I’ve got that. It was my third one. I have a problem for me.
That’s a little bit of alpha there for our readers, although it’s not financial advice. What is the most recent thing you sold?
I spend most of the time in our marketplace called Bazaar. I’m only a buyer. I’m not allowed to sell there. I don’t even want to. I just stake it or keep it. I haven’t sold anything lately. I’m just lending my Gotchis.
We will count it. Next question, what is your most prized possession?
My most prized possession as a material thing would have to be this Miami Beach mug. It has been up there. That has been my go-to since I got to go to the NFT Miami.
Let’s get this man an NFTLA mug.
I have a bit of a mug collection. It’s true. The ledger would technically be right.
This one is fun. If you could buy anything in the world, digital, physical, service or experience, that is currently for sale or purchasable, what would it be?
NFT-based tourism would be something cool to get into. Based on what you said, it’s where my mind went. It would be cool. The value of it is whatever experience it gives you. They are building something special to experience in your web browser or online but eventually somebody is going to get some of these real-life crossovers done right. Tourism could be a way.
I forget who it was but I know somebody is working on that.
There are quite a few projects surfacing in that area. It makes a lot of sense. It’s a great use case. I’m sure you could add some creativity to whatever they are doing or partner with them in some way. If you could pass on one of your personality traits to the next generation, what would it be?
Maybe it’s curiosity. I always try to be curious and open-minded. There’s no maxi here. Bitcoin is awesome. I love it. Ethereum is awesome for different reasons. I can love that too. I love NFTs too. You have to be discerning but it’s good to be curious.
If you could eliminate one of your personality traits from the next generation, what would it be?
Be a little less shy. I’m a bit shy, so I could do with less of that.
We can sacrifice shyness at the altar and turn it into enthusiastic exuberance or something like that.
The problem was when you asked me that question, my mind went to the Aavegotchi traits like spookiness, “I could turn down my spookiness.”
We are glad you can tone down your shyness enough to come on a show. That works. I suppose it feels like it’s just the three of us. Here are the last two questions. These are easy ones as long as you have memory cells in your brain. What did you do before joining us on the show?
I came out of another meeting with the Pixelcraft team. In this case, it was dev day. We did back-to-back meetings with front-end Solidity and then the Gotchiverse realm team. It’s a busy day.
That’s hard work. Last question, what are you going to do next after the show?
Digital Pet: It’s like a coloring book we’re creating wherein user-generated content fills the majority of this world.
Lunch. It is time. Sometimes I do intermittent fasting, and I don’t even mean to. That’s where we are at.
I’m having my bulletproof coffee. What’s for lunch?
It’s probably a turkey sandwich. I’m going right back to calls.
We accidentally got another interesting idea for some interactive intermittent fasting NFT project. Let’s see.
That new STEPN project is pretty fascinating. There’s going to be a lot of innovation in that role of people earning for working out and being fit and more conscious individuals. That’s a great incentive mechanism.
As long as they get those tokenomics right, it can work. I’m down with it.
Up next, we are onto our hot topic segment. We will flip over to that, come back and walk it out with Jesse. Let’s check that out.
For our hot topic, we’ve got something fun for you NFT traders out there. His name is Chris Boundikas. He’s the Founder and CEO of Quoth. It is the only place where you can rarities within hours of minting, and metadata tracks dynamically for free. With the Quoth platform, you could search, authenticate and bridge any NFT. Chris has been here in crypto and Bitcoin since day one. He has been doing a lot of fun stuff with mining. He founded and sold some companies. He has moved from Canada to Anguilla. It’s great to have you here, Chris. Welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me.
Let’s start talking about this real-time rarity function that you are going to have here. What does that exactly mean? How do we access this real-time rarity?
As you know, the challenging part about new mints is that they need to pay other rarity sites to get the rarity. It takes a long time, sometimes up to weeks. Your community is just sitting there after the fact, not knowing what to do. In our artificial intelligence platform, one of the things that we offer is a real-time rarity. We are compiling an entire index of all NFTs in existence. We can give that real-time rarity score within hours of mint. There are a lot of new projects signing up and partnering with us for this reason.
I wanted to step back. How did that idea germinate here? Was it you? Was it a friend that had the tech? How long has it been in the works?
The iteration of it was in the works for quite some time. Back in 2017, we started coding the back-end with Ethereum. Gas fees went from $0.20 to $2 overnight. We were all like, “What just happened? Crypto is dead. We are not going to be able to run a business like this with input costs overnight.” At the time, I wanted to index every famous quote for academia. It’s trademarking that.
Social media is making a mockery of quotes these days and quote authorship. We shelved it. It wasn’t until we found Binance Smart Chain where we could do things for free on the transaction side, that we brought Quoth back in and said, “Instead of every quote in existence, the NFT world needs this. We need authentication, a search protocol, and infrastructure for NFTs.” We shifted and started to build. That’s how it came to be.
I can think of so many times in 2021 when I could have used this technology. I will tell this story because you’ve got to share the good, bad and ugly if you are in this world. I sold an NFT pre-reveal because I was like, “The chance is I get something juicy,” but it was one of the juiciest strawberries there were. Someone scraped the metadata and knew about it before the reveal had happened.
They profited from this arbitrage of pre-revealed data. I’m feeling like maybe I would have been a little bit more patient, waited for the reveal, and used your tool if it was out there. You want to make those quick decisions with data as quickly as you can but you don’t want to make the wrong decisions either.
As the space progresses and infrastructure gets put in place, the tools are there. How long ago was that?
That was before some of the tools are even available now like the Chrome extensions and everything. All of 2021 was pretty much a blur. Mint, sleep, eat and podcast.
It’s all a big schmear of vanilla frosting.
Let’s dive in a little bit more. It seems like you are in your closed beta launch time, which is exciting. What’s going on there? How are you getting ready for prime time?
Our closed beta launch is being shared with selected NFT partners that we have onboarded like Based Fish Mafia and Sup Ducks. We have a whole list of NFT partners. Their communities help us out by training our neural nets for artificial intelligence. They do a simple CAPTCHA search phrase like, “Sup Ducks red background,” and enter. If a Sup Duck comes up with a black or a non-red background, they could click the frowning face. That’s all they’ve got to do.
That trains our neural nets to think about the backgrounds and do different types of stuff after that. For that, the community gets tokens and NFTs and gets rewarded. It meshes our communities. They are helping us, and we are helping them. That’s where we are at as far as training goes. It’s a deep and advanced search that we are trying to do with NFTs.
To be part of the closed beta, you have to own one of the NFTs of the collections that you have partnered with. Is that how it works?
Yeah, as of now. We are adding utility to NFTs as well. It’s got cool and colorful JPEGs. To participate, you’ve got to buy one or be holding one on the wall.
If somebody could go out, get a Sup Duck and enter the community, they would find out about it in your Discord or something. Do they go ahead and do that?
It’s in our Discord but we are pretty active on Twitter as well. Discord is starting to slowly pick up as we onboard these different collections. We are doing lots of AMAs and stuff like that.
This is all leading to the public beta launch. Can you tell us the plan of action, how that’s going to happen and what to look forward to there?
After we have trained these neural nets, they are going to give users a deep search function ability on the search alone. We want to open it up after that to be accurate as humanly as possible. That’s about 1 to 2 months depending on the speed of these partners and communities, and how fast and accurate we trained these neural nets. After that, we open it up. The AI takes off and does its thing. It’s self-sufficient and on autopilot after that.
At that point, what NFT are they going to need to use the public?
At this point, it should be free. We are not charging anything at this point to use our service, do research on it and search NFT collections. We are onboarding for free for real-time rarity and looking for eyeballs. We raised some money, and we are looking to gain a massive community. The tools that the community wants can use and help with the research and sniping. We’ve got a whole whack-load of bells and whistles that are going to start to change the way people buy and sell NFTs.
Digital Pet: This is a good time to start getting drop tickets because we haven’t yet announced what the next raffle will be.
Talk a little bit more about that.
There are a lot of bells and whistles in NFTs. When we do these AMAs, we reach out and say, “There’s something missing in the NFT world. What is it? What do you want? What can we build into our system that’s going to help you do better?” The biggest one was, “I work all day. I don’t have time to sit in front of rarity tools or see these mints. Can I get notifications on mints coming up in a certain collection I’m in? If an NFT drops below the floor price or a certain price, can I automatically buy it, be sent an SMS notification or something like that?”
We are building those types of tools and also way more advanced tools like limit orders. If something does drop below a certain price range, it can automatically buy it for you with certain parameters in place. There are lots of cool and different stuff like that. We are building an OTC trade desk. A guy tried to make a trade over the counter with some guy he met online. He didn’t do his due diligence and gave away all his Bored Apes.
$500,000 worth of NFTs is gone. The guy scammed him. He thought he was getting different Bored Apes or something in return but the scammer was too smart. He took a Photoshop of the watermark, and that was it. He lost everything. We are making an actual authenticator that can bring two parties to the table and make a trade with one another. It’s going to be authenticated with the right metadata, due diligence, and all that automatically if they press a button.
This is good stuff. My birthday is in July. I’m hoping that all of this is out in time for me to mint some birthday NFTs. I’m a Cancer. I’m a little bit sensitive. Apparently, I’m a homebody but that’s not quite true.
I hate commenting on timelines but we are trying to move as quickly as we can. Our dev team is extremely talented. We’ve got 8 AI devs and 7 front-end Solidity full-stack devs. We are trying to get through this as quickly as we can.
Josh, thanks for giving a little bit of a nudge there. If Chris doesn’t have a birthday gift for you on your birthday, it looks like he’s going to have a gift for our readers. That’s a nice transition. That should be available pretty soon. We talked a little bit, twisted his arm, and got him to give away around 10,000 QUOTH tokens. Is that right, Chris?
It’s $1,000 worth of QUOTH tokens. At this price, that’s about 10,000 tokens.
That’s very generous of you. Our readers can look out for that on our socials and our Twitter, especially to enter the contest. We will distribute those in a fun way.
What’s next? How do our readers stay in touch with you? Hopefully, they will find you on our Discord. Outside of that and our next NFTLA, which I hope you join us again, where else can people find you on the dark or the light web?
We’ve got Discord slowly getting a bit more active. We are pretty good on Twitter with releases of news and updates. LA was great. We had a great time. There was a great crowd. We most likely might be going to NFT in New York in the middle of June 2022. That hasn’t been decided yet but it’s most likely.
We will see you there. On socials, it’s just Quoth.
After this episode, Josh and I will bug you about a lot of stuff here, unfortunately. You made a few new annoying friends.
There’s no problem.
Jesse, we are back. It was so great to have you on the show. This has been an expansive and mind-bending conversation. I hope people have a chance to check out the YouTube version as well of this show, see the demo and maybe get excited to jump into Gotchiverse. Where can readers go to learn more about you and the projects you are working on?
I would suggest Aavegotchi.com. The landing page will show you the way to all our socials like our Twitter. Our YouTube channel has a lot of video guides. There’s great content for onboarding. There’s one thing to point out. We addressed it but everything is on Polygon. If you do want to lend an Aavegotchi and borrow one, try it out. You don’t even need GHST. A lot of them are being lent for free. You just need a little bit of that Polygon gas, 0.01 MATIC, and you are good to go. You can try that out that easily.
It looks like we are doing a cool giveaway. Thanks for that. We’ve got twenty Drop Ticket NFTs we can use to enter Aavegotchi NFT raffles to win portals in realm land parcels. That sounds exciting. Is there any color to add to that giveaway?
We didn’t even have time to cover those. One of the longest-standing things in the Aavegotchi community is our raffles. We partner with Chainlink VRF. They are random numbers. They are transparently done raffles on-chain. They are super cool. We do them about quarterly. This is a good time to start getting some Drop Tickets because we haven’t yet announced what the next raffle will be. Typically, they are for wearables, and you can only get them through the raffles. It’s a great way to reward long-term stakers of the GHST token and in this case, readers of this program.
Thanks for that. That’s a wrap. Eathan, take us home.
Let’s walk it out here. We have reached the outer limit at the show. Thanks, everyone, for exploring with us. We’ve got space for more adventures on this starship, so invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey all so much better. How? Go to Spotify or iTunes, rate us, and say something awesome.
Go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole. You can also come and participate in EdgeOfNFT.com/discord and get to know the community. Jesse will be in there with a special podcaster tag. Lastly, be sure to tune in next time for more great NFT content. Thanks for sharing this time with us.
- YouTube– Edge of NFT & NFT LA
- World of Warcraft
- Clash of Clans
- Decentral Games
- Dapper Labs
- NBA Top Shot
- Axie Infinity
- Binance Smart Chain
- Based Fish Mafia
- Sup Ducks
- Bored Apes
- Discord – Quoth
- @Quoth_ai – Twitter
- Chainlink VRF
- Twitter – Aevegotchi
- Spotify – Edge of NFT
- iTunes – Edge of NFT