We think that starting a new NFT project means opening up to exciting new forms of building community; distributed world-building and narrative; and, as game designers, strange new opportunities for gameplay. It’s still very early days for games on the blockchain - we hope some of our ideas might help expand the space, and we’re hoping you join us for the ride.
Void Runners was conceived, from the start, as a NFT project with gameplay at its core. With that in mind, when making decisions about this project, whether about the design of the game, its economy, or its narrative and lore, we aim to be guided by a handful of principles:
The blockchain is a new way for people to interact with each other, and games on the blockchain should emphasize person-to-person interaction.
NFT projects are communities, and communities thrive on shared rituals. Games are great rituals. Void Runners, the game, is what Void Runners, a group of people, do together.
As the focus of communal storytelling and interaction, blockchain games should emphasize sustainability and fun, not short-term gain.
Void Runners is a multiplayer spacefaring game built on the blockchain, based around a staking mechanic. The ambition for the project is to build a vibrant, growing universe with gameplay at its heart. To do that, we’re building a sequence of gameplay releases, starting with the fundamentals, and then expanding in subsequent expansions to add new narrative and gameplay elements.
The first epoch of the game - Void Runners: CENTURY 0 - introduces the core gameplay elements: Ships, Outposts, and Cargo.
Ships and Outposts are NFT collections. Cargo is an in-game resource that converts to $GREDITS, the game’s utility token.
Phase 0 - Project announcement and allowlist activity ✅
Phase 1 - Genesis Fleet Ship mint
Phase 2 - Outpost mint and CENTURY 0 game launch
Phase ∞ - Gameplay, economy and narrative expansions
CENTURY 0 - Launch Gameplay Summary
Century 0 is the initial Void Runners game experience. It launches after the Genesis Fleet mint, alongside the Outpost mint.
Void Runners is set in a distant Galaxy at the dawn of a gold rush. Trade is governed by the Galactic Trade Authority, and depends on Void Runners who use their Ships to transport Cargo from Outpost to Outpost. It’s a galactic game of pushing your luck, as Ship owners and Outpost owners compete to make the most of the Void’s new trading opportunities.
Ship owners pick a Star System to travel to, and then dock at an Outpost to start loading Cargo. Cargo loads automatically over time, up to the Capacity limit of the Ship. Ships then select a new Outpost to visit: Once docked at the new Outpost, their Cargo is automatically delivered and converted into $GREDITS, and new Cargo starts loading.
However, the gold-rush has also caused chaos for the Galactic Trade Authority (GALTRAUTH) that oversees the galaxy’s trade. In a bid to impose control, GALTRAUTH issues Rules about which Ships can legally dock where.
These Rules are constantly changing, and it’s up to Outpost owners to enforce them. Outpost owners can ticket illegally docked Ships and confiscate their Cargo. Ships can always dock anywhere - but being illegally docked always carries the risk of a ticket.
The longer a Ship remains docked, the more Cargo it earns, but the greater risk it incurs of GALTRAUTH changing the rules and becoming subject to ticketing. The longer an Outpost owner waits to ticket an illegal Ship, the bigger the payout, but the greater the risk of the Ship owner departing with its Cargo intact.
Core Loop: Ship Owner
The core ruleset of CENTURY 0 is that any Ship can dock anywhere and leave at any time, but is always at risk of ticketing. This core structure combines with an Upgrade system that keeps the decision-space dynamic and interesting.
Situational. When planning travel, Ship owners need to weigh up factors including: travel time to different destinations, which Outpost are busy and which have free docks, where the rules are beneficial to a their Ship right now, and which other Star Systems and Outposts they might move onto next.
will enable Outpost owners to tailor the appeal of their Outpost, with e.g. reduced Cargo confiscation rates, Cargo load speed improvements, or travel time boosts for onward journeys. Outpost owners will need to consider how they want to compete with other Outposts, especially ones in their Star System.
Behavioral- since all interactions are visible on the blockchain, players will have visibility on each other's play patterns, and may make decisions around the history of how an Outpost owner chooses to ticket.
CENTURY 0 is designed to be persistent, active and occasional. The game is always running, so the situation is always evolving, but the gameplay is designed so that the game won’t require constant attention -
only occur every few hours, and the focus is on creating moments of interesting interactions between players.
The upgrade system allows owners to improve and evolve the capabilities of their Ships and Outposts. However, there isn’t a static 'best' set of upgrades that all players are aiming towards. What works best at a given moment is going to depend on what choices other players are making, and if they adjust, you'll need to adjust. As new upgrades are added the balance of meta will shift, so the "right" decision isn't always obvious, or the same.
The Genesis Fleet is an ERC-721 collection on Ethereum. The stats, seed and Registered Color of each Ship are stored on-chain.
Void Runners gameplay is fully on-chain, and will be optimized for low gas cost interactions both in terms of gameplay design and contract implementation. Evaluations are underway to test if this is achievable on Ethereum mainnet or will be better suited to an L2 deployment.
Void Runners CENTURY 0 will be playable in a web browser.
Genesis Fleet Ships
Void Runners launches with an initial collection of unique Genesis Fleet Ship NFTs. The Genesis Fleet is designed to offer meaningful, legible variety:
Ships come in three distinct Classes, with strong visual variety across all three classes
Variety isn’t just cosmetic - the Classes behave differently in-game, and Ships with rarer Components have better Stats
Those differences are visually apparent - a Ship’s Stats match its visual appearance, so a Ship that looks fast (e.g. has a lot of thrusters) is fast in-game.
Each Ship is generated from a random Seed, starting with a Hull that defines its class, and then adding Components that are compatible with that hull. Each Component, including the Hull, has its own stats, which contribute to the final stat totals for the Ship.
Each Ship has a RegisteredColor, which is relevant for the Docking Rules, as well as a secondary ‘colorway’ which is purely cosmetic.
The Seed, final Stats and Registered Color for each Ship are stored on-chain.
Genesis Fleet Ships can be grouped into three Classes, each of which has a different specialty. More information about their history is included in this Tales from The Void post:
These big ships specialize in maximizing Cargo capacity, plain and simple.
With someships little more than glorified frames from which to hang salvaged containers, others amount simply to huge cargo containers themselves, pushed along by an overworked thruster.
Lugger operators know what they want from The Void, and have put all their eggs in one massive basket.
Emphasize Speed, are built from decommissioned military interceptors.
Remnants of some ancient and forgotten conflict, their weapons systems disassembled and every available hardpoint adapted to add more speed, efficiency, or extra bit of cargo. Missile launchers and torpedo bays are emptied of their deadly payloads, their valuable capacity rededicated to peaceful commerce.
Originally used for moving cargo around spaceports; small with high Efficiency
Scoots were originally short range cargo drones, workaday runabouts designed for use in and around space docks. Given their original purpose, Scoots aren’t well adapted to long range journeys, but are highly efficient, and utilize the full breadth of technologies available for emphasizing this trait: stellar power arrays, heat dissipation, novel coolant and external power generation schemes
Genesis Fleet Ships are built in the Unity game engine from hundreds of different Components — wings, thrusters, cockpits, cargo containers, etc.
For each seed, the generator picks a hull, and then a recursive system uses weighted randomness to choose compatible Components to add to it. Each piece - hull, wing, thruster etc. - has its own stats, which are summed to determine the overall capabilities of each Ship.
The result is a unique Ship with stats defined by the Components that it’s built from, ensuring that its visual appearance and gameplay performance are in sync.
The generation system is designed to produce a highly diverse fleet of Ships, but is balanced to ensure the following:
Rare Ships with strong stats should offer meaningful performance boost
The different classes (Scoots, Luggers, Vettes) should be strongly differentiated in terms of game feel(i.e. Vettes should be substantially faster than Luggers)
The different classes should be broadly balancedin terms of value- i.e. a bad Lugger should not overall radically out- or under-perform a bad Scoot, even if their feel (efficient vs big) is very different.
More information about the process for generating Ships and vetting overall balance in the ‘Ship Shape’ Medium post.
Ships have three stats, which are defined by the Components assigned when the Ships are generated and are recorded on-chain when the Ship is minted.
The total amount of Cargo a Ship can load. Ships that remain docked after reaching their capacity do not load any additional Cargo.
A multiplier that acts on the baseline Cargo Flow Rate (see below) and governs the rate at which a Ship loads Cargo while docked.
The constant rate at which Ships travel between Systems (see below)
Hulls have baseline stats for all three stats that define a Ship’s initial capabilities. Additional Components can add to one or more stat. Rarer Components contribute higher values, and Components contribute stats that reflect to their function, e.g.:
Cargo containers, pontoons, etc. contribute to Capacity
Sensors, dishes, generators, etc. contribute to Efficiency
Thrusters, wings, etc. contribute to Speed
Components can add both static value increases and percentage boosts to the underlying stat. Percentage boosts apply across all Components which add to that stat.
Ships come in a color and and a colorway. Because color is important for gameplay, we refer in-game to a Ship’s Registered Color, to make clear what color the Ship is for gameplay purposes. Registered color is displayed alongside a Ship’s stats. There are five Registered Colors:
Each registered color has multiple possible colorways that determine tint and secondary accent colors. Only the Registered Color (not the colorway) is relevant for Dock restrictions.
Star Systems and Travel
The Void Runners galaxy is a flat disc galaxy with a vast Void at its center. Scattered across the galaxy are Star Systems, each of which contains multiple Outposts.
Traveling to a System gives access to all Outposts within it without incurring additional Travel time. When Ships aren’t docked (i.e. before they dock, or after they’ve been ticketed), they idle within the System but are not associated with a particular Outpost or Dock.
For the purposes of defining locations and calculating travel in the game, the Galaxy is treated as a 2D plane. Star Systems are distributed around the rim of the Galaxy, with each having its own locational co-ordinate set at the center of the System.
Ships travel at constant speed in real time over the Euclidian distance between System co-ordinates. The speed is determined by their Speed stat. Travel time is therefore a function of Distance between Systems and Ship Speed.
The black central void of the galaxy contains no Star Systems, ensuring that a small subset of central Systems don’t become too dominant because of their spatial advantage.
Star Systems are not currently expected to be ownable by players.
The history of the Galactic Trade Authority (GALTRAUTH) is long and mostly apocryphal. But whatever its origins, GALTRAUTH was firmly established as the arbiter of all meaningful interstellar trade by the time a network of decentralized Outposts was brought online.
Space is big, and maintaining control over the great expanse of The Void posed serious challenges. GALTRAUTH could make the regulations, but couldn't be everywhere at once to enforce them. Compromises had to be made.
Outpost Operators were deputized, tasked with enforcing GALTRAUTH's seemingly random rules about who could dock where and when. Cargo still couldn't move without Runners, and sometimes flouting the rules could net more $GREDITS. A game of interstellar cat and mouse ensued.
Outposts are player owned and operated, and will be the second Void Runners NFT collection. Outposts have an appearance, a location, a number of Docks and a name.
The number of Outposts released is calibrated around the following considerations to ensure that there is good gameplay tension between available Docks and Ships:
the number of Ships in circulation.
the average number of Docks per Outpost
the Rules Probability table (see below)
Outposts are assigned to a Star System when generated.
Rarer Outposts have a higher chance of having more Docks.
Outpost names are randomly generated.
Outpost Operator Gameplay
The basic structure of Void Runners is an interstellar game of cat and mouse (Ships are the mice; Outposts are large, immobile cats — the metaphor isn’t perfect). Outposts are also the Void Runners equivalent of land, from which resources can be harvested. Outpost Operators manage the flow of that resource, however, and Ships have reason to want to take more than they’re strictly allowed.
This means even in its simplest form Outpost gameplay is designed to present the opportunity for interesting decision-making with a strong metagaming component.
The push-your-luck dynamic at the core of docking applies equally to Ships and Outposts, and deciding how long to wait before confiscating an illegally docked Ship’s Cargo is meant to remain an interesting decision with no single definitive correct solution. The addition of the strong potential for informal alliances and player-driven policies and rituals further enriches this dynamic.
Ships must dock at Outposts to load and deliver Cargo, but which Outpost they choose to use is of key concern to Outpost Operators. Over time, a system of
will add further complexity to the relationship between Ships and Outposts, allowing Outpost Operators to take an active role in differentiating their Outpost from others.
Outposts exist in a continually changing metagame of competition/cooperation with Ships and competition against other Outposts, requiring moment-to-moment decision-making, strategic choices about how to attract or punish Ships, and direct competition against other Outposts.
Each Outpost has multiple Docks. All Docks have a docking rule in place at all times. Core docking rules are:
Any Ships (i.e. any Ship can legally dock here)
No Ships (i.e no Ship can legally dock here)
Color Requirement (e.g. only Red Ships can legally dock here).
Docking rules are subject to change and do so randomly, due to the erratic behavior of the faceless and bureaucratic Galactic Trade Authority, which seeks to regulate the flow of Cargo by setting arbitrary rules about who’s allowed to load where.
How rules change:
rules change at regular intervals
the time frame for rule changes is calibrated around average Ship loading times, to ensure most Ships risk multiple rule changes while docking to full capacity
rule change is global and occurs at all Docks at the same time.
when the rule change occurs:
a random roll to decide if the dock’s current rule will change
if yes, a random roll against the weighted Rule probability table assigns a new rule.
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Runners are free to depart from a dock at any point. The cargo that has been loaded onto their Ship is then secure, and is no longer subject to confiscation.
To convert the Cargo to $GREDITS, the player must deliver the Cargo to a different Outpost in a different Star System. On docking at a new Outpost, Cargo is instantly converted to $GREDITS and credited to the player. This happens regardless of whether the Ship is legally or illegally docked.
An Outpost owner is able to ticket any illegally parked Ship at any time.
Issuing a ticket:
confiscates all currently loaded Cargo and converts to $GREDIT equivalent and grants those $GREDITS to the Outpost owner
removes the Ship from the Dock and sets it to idle in the surrounding Star System.
After a Ship is ticketed, it can immediately re-dock at the same Outpost if it chooses, as it has no Cargo it needs to transport.
When a Ship is docked at an Outpost it automatically starts loading with Cargo. Over time, the rate at which Cargo is loaded increases. This curve incentivizes risk-taking from both Ship and Outpost owner.
Each Ship’s Efficiency stat acts as a multiplier on this base Cargo flow - the higher the Efficiency stat the more Cargo will be loaded at each point on the curve.
Because of the shape of the curve, Ships with high Capacity benefit from the much higher flow rates later in the flow curve. However, these Ships are likely to have low Efficiency, so will have a smaller multiplier working on that flow. Low Capacity Ships are likely to have high Efficiency multipliers, and benefit more from the smaller flow increases over shorter time frames.
A further balance consideration is that high Capacity Ships spend longer in dock, and therefore have an overall higher exposure to being illegal and getting ticketed. This means that although they in principle have access to the much higher flow rates later in the curve, in practice they may often not stayed docked long enough to access them.
Baseline Cargo Flow Rate
Ship Cargo flow rates over time
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There are no rows in this table
The initial utility of $GREDITs is buying upgrades, which burns spent tokens. The upgrade system is in active development, and is designed around the following goals:
Interesting upgrade paths are open to both Ship and Outpost owners
Upgrades are additive, not transformative - the underlying identity of the NFT isn’t permanently changed by applying an upgrade
Adding upgrades to the game has an overall disinflationary impact, preventing hyperinflation
Upgrades aren’t purely token generation amplifiers - they drive interesting player choices and competitive strategies
An initial target for Ship Upgrades will be elements that increase their Capacity, Efficiency and Speed stats.
Note that because the underlying Components in the original Ships may provide percentage boosts, ships will get more value out of upgrades that improve a stat for which they have boosts, reinforcing their Class feel.
Outposts function primarily as trade hubs in Void Runners galaxy, enabling the loading and delivery of Cargo. However Outpost Operators have the option of investing their income from Ticketing into upgrades for their Outpost that will affect the Ships that visit them. Potential upgrades include:
Flow Enhancer Unit- increases the Cargo Flow rate for any docked Ships.
Fine Reducer Field - decreases quantity of Cargo confiscated when a Ship is ticketed.
Turbo Fuel Station - decreases Travel Time for the journey Ships make after departing the Outpost.
In-Game Economy Development
As the Void Runners universe grows, the economy will grow with it, adding new strategic considerations for both Ship and Outpost owners.
Diversification Of Cargo
At launch, Void Runners can only load up with one, undifferentiated type of Cargo. But the Void Runners galaxy is vast and mysterious, and ongoing new discoveries will unlock new types of Cargo.
These new Cargo types will be worth different amounts of $GREDIT, but Ships may also need to purchase specialized upgrades to handle dangerous or delicate Cargo types.
Adding new Cargo types to the game will unlock new game mechanics around arbitrage where different Outposts offer different $GREDIT conversion rates for different Cargo types.
New Ship Upgrades
To support the new gameplay elements, new Ship upgrades will be enabled to support the new Cargo types that require special handling - e.g. dangerous, delicate or temperature sensitive Cargos.
New Ship Types
The Genesis Fleet will provide the initial population of Ships in the Void, but future updates may add new Ships with distinctive capabilities, e.g.:
Stealth ships - can dock legally in No Ships Docks but are illegal in all other Docks
Bounty hunters - can ticket illegally docked Ships at any Outpost they are docked at and claim their Cargo
Phase ships - have more than one Registered Color (i.e. can dock legally at both Red Only and Blue Only Docks)
Void Runners is a blockchain game balanced around ensuring a fun and sustainable experience for players. It is not devised as a game-fi project or risk protocol - our goal is to design in favor of whatever makes the game’s human interactions richer in whatever weird, wonderful way the blockchain will enable.
Galactic Credits - $GREDITS - are a utility token which operates as the Void Runners in-game currency, earned for transporting (or confiscating) Cargo, and spent on Upgrades and new abilities within the Universe.
Void Runners tokenomics is designed to take advantage of the game’s distinct dynamics, which are both oppositional (either the Ship owner or Outpost operator will miss out on the tokens generated by each docking action), and competitive (Outpost Operators want to be able to attract Runners to their docks, Runners want to beat the competition to Outposts that seem likely to be profitable).
This makes Void Runners less prone to overheating than projects where the only sinks available for tokens are items that directly produce more tokens. In Void Runners the focus isn’t purely on expanding token generation capabilities - it’s about making strategic decisions in competition for the tokens that are generated.
We believe this approach is also ultimately more sustainable. Disinflationary design and well-designed sinks are important, but long-term, a healthy economy stays healthy through growth and the strong monetary velocity that results from players having meaningful ways to spend their tokens. The best route to that balance is by increasing utility for both existing and new players by expanding the economy with new gameplay elements.
Phase 1 - Priming
In the initial phases of the game, Outposts act as faucets to prime the economy. Sinks are initially limited to Upgrade purchases, which are balanced across Token Generation Upgrades (which increase the rate of generation) and Token Competition Upgrades (which do not increase Token generation, but affect outcomes of which player is likely to retain generated tokens).
Phase 2 - Stabilization
Once the player economy is primed, new Upgrades expand Ship and Outpost capabilities and stats, acting as more aggressive sinks and preventing over-heating. If needed, GALTRAUTH will unveil new regulations which apply sink costs to core gameplay actions (e.g. docking and ticketing).
Phase ∞ - Growth
To continue to build value in the project, and move towards controlled net-positive inflation, the game will expand with new features and gameplay.
Modelling the above approach requires considering multiple variables. The tool below gives a highly simplified overview of how the main considerations affect the economy.
The Token Faucet sliders consider the main elements governing how fast tokens enter the game. How many Ships are in the game at launch, and how fast are new ships added? How many tokens does the average ship generate in a day, and how many Ships are in active use?
Token Sinks considers the main drivers by which tokens leave the economy - how much do Upgrades cost on average, what proportion of Ship owners choose to buy upgrades, and does upgrade cost increase over time as the circulating token supply increases? Are all tokens spent on Upgrades burnt or are some returned to a Treasury and recycled into the game?
The Upgrade Impact sliders then consider how Upgrade purchase feeds back into Token Generation. How much do the new Upgrades increase the ability of Ships to generate tokens? Does the Upgrade Impact grow over time as more powerful Upgrades are released into the game?
Initial Ship Population
Ship Population Growth Rate
Base Token Generation Per Day
Player Activity Level
Upgrade Base Cost
Upgrade Uptake Level
Upgrade Price Curve
Token Burn Rate
Upgrade Impact Base
Upgrade Impact Growth Rate
This simplified model is useful for visualizing the impacts of the main economy balancing decisions common to most blockchain games. For a more granular model of the detail of Void Runners economy, we’re using Machinations to build detailed simulations of: