Telling Stories in Web3 – A Look at the State of the Web3 StoryVerse
I’m still on this trip around the world, still sharing the mission of Bald Jesus, and still trying to introduce people I meet to NFTs – but I haven’t been writing about NFTs much lately – although – I have been creating free, time limited NFTs about my journey and the people and places I’ve encountered along the way. (https://vagobond.cent.co) – which is an experiment in telling a real world story, an experiment in the future of social media and travel related content, and also an experiment in using multiple platforms to take ownership of the Web2 social media means of production.
But – for just a moment, I’d love to dive into some NFT projects that I’ve been involved in from the beginning and talk about what they are doing – especially as it relates to trans-media story telling. There are truly some extraordinary things happening. First, the project that was my first Ethereum based NFT – and has since grown to be my largest individual holding as it keeps just producing more and more and more. First – a few things I posted in my Vagobond Discord server(go join now) this morning – no need to write them out again:
Pixel Vault / Metahero Universe / Punks Comic
Punks Comic 3 minted out. It was an interesting dynamic – giving all the Beanie assets to minters randomly. For most people, it worked out as for me – I minted 3 and got two regular and one collectors edition of #3 – and the floor price instantly dropped to about .06 from the mint of .2 – so, lots of unhappiness – but the whole thing was the gamble – plenty of people got PVFD tokens, mp1, Punks Comic #1, Metaheros, even a dozen core MH – so it was a well done degen gambling mint. As might be expected – the floor on all of those assets dropped as people won them and sold them at the bottom – so if anyone is looking to get in PV, probably a pretty good time. PV is so convoluted though – it is really 3 divisions now: Punks Comic (PC) , Metahero, and Pixel Vault Sports (forthcoming). Holders of PC 1-3 will get the punks pfp. Metahero is too complex to even get into here but @Zentensivist has done a pretty good thread about it ( see below) and Pixel Vault Sports – I have no idea how that will play out. I know that I’m tired of feeding money into PV assets and at the same time – I still feel like PV has the greatest chance of succeeding in this space of any other company. Pixel Vault Founders Dao (PVFD) is going to be going through some interesting changes – we will be getting an Odious designed pfp – but like all things PVFD – there isn’t much clarity on why or what. On the Punks Comic side – Issue #3 felt like an actual comic book – which is a first. There was still an attempt to cram way too much information into it – but at least it felt like a comic book, not just a bunch of Web3 PV inside jokes – but there were still a few so they stayed on brand.You can actually read this one on the site without buying it: https://app.punkscomic.com/PUNKS3 With PV, this feels like a good point for small time collectors like me to just sit back, consolidate what I have, and look for opportunities to take profits and/or collect free stuff in the future. I’ll pay gas, but no more ETH mint fees for PV stuff – I was really hoping to get another MH or a MP1 from this mint – and like everyone else who didn’t – it’s a bummer to watch .2 mints turn to .06 instantly – but that’s how the NFT gambling works – so now, just wait.
I want to emphasize here that Pixel Vault is a huge and amazing venture – but so far – they have been pretty shitty about story telling. The Pinballer comic and my Sly Doubt Novel are the only cohesive and detailed stories that have come out of Pixel Vault and they aren’t canon – but they at least provide backstories, context, and some degree of fleshed out world building. I feel like PV has a story that it is building up to – but in some sense it has largely felt like someone throwing the story together after the assets are created and sold in order to justify the assets, rather than using the story to build the assets from. They are definitely bringing it together – the mini Origin Stories and Punks Comic 3 have finally started to feel like real comic books, real stories – but at the moment, the planets, the metaheroes, the culture of this huge number of assets – it still feels largely unwritten – which may or may not be the case. In any event – the tweet below brings everything so far together and starts to finally make a little sense of it. It’s just a shame that Pixel Vault hasn’t been creating this kind of messaging.
With @punkscomic 3 we have enough info to really start seeing the @MetaHero_ universe taking shape. It’s not easy, but that’s what makes it fun. Don’t worry I will spoon feed it to you. Here's what's happening and what might be yet to come👇
— Zentensivist (@zentensivist) June 30, 2022
Ben Mauro’s Huxley is the complete opposite. This is a story that was written before Web3 and which Ben very rightly saw was a perfect vehicle to demonstrate the story telling capabilities of Web3. There is still a lot we don’t know – but unlike Pixel Vault/Punks Comic – Ben isn’t making it up as he goes along. The story exists, the world has been built, the interesting part will be seeing how that world unfolds in the Web3 reality. Ben is building a game, a movie franchise, and doing it through Web3 publication of his comic story. It’s awesome to be a part of. We don’t know what role the Robot avatars, the Human avatars, or the AI avatars (presumed) will play in the game – but no one doubts that Ben has a plan for everything that is coming.
10KTF – Wagmi-san
I’ve always had mixed feelings about this project. The Beeple connection, the use of the most popular collections to create derivatives, and the feeling that (much like Pixel Vault) things are being created on the fly to get people to pay to mint and buy on the secondary – and once the money is collected the rest will follow. The Gucci pfp collaboration felt like the worst kind of exploitation to me – and while I took part in it, no part of it has made me happy (yet, there is always a yet). HOWEVER, at some point in the last couple of months – something turned with 10KTF – suddenly they were telling a story, a story of a place, a story of a man, a story of the people around him. I would love to know what the internal change was that caused this – but it was a drastic turn though most didn’t notice it. Shortly after this, items suddenly got utility – they were useful on missions that yielded rewards – sometimes high value rewards. Also, suddenly the Gucci pfp had some utility and could be used on those missions. The quality of the animation on this project has exploded to the professional side. There is something happening with 10KTF – and no matter what it ends up being, this team has suddenly started utilizing the power of Web3 communities to tell one hell of a story.
Jenkins the Valet
Jenkins was something I had to get into. A chance to join ‘the writers room’ to be part of a Web3 storytelling experiment. It has never particularly disappointed me (though they once contacted me to say I won a valet ticket and then when I showed up in the space they congratulated me and then they later realized they had contacted ‘Vagobond’ instead of ‘Vegebond’ who had actually won. I’m still kinda pissed about that – they should have called it their mistake and still given me a prize for wasting my time, getting me on the air, and contacting me in the first place – but it’s way past the time they would make good on that at this point. ) Anyway – that little bit of bitterness has been overcome by excitement at what this team has delivered. Not only are they delivering the original book but they’ve created a whole new world – they saw the limited functionality of staying completely focused on a Bored Ape world and they created Azerbola – which really has the potential to take Web3 storytelling to the extreme next level. I can’t even begin to express how excited about the left turn this project has taken. https://www.azurbala.com/
Other Story Based Projects
There are plenty of other projects that are working on telling stories in the Web3 space – Non-Fungible Heroes, Nuclear Nerds, Dead Hands – just to name a few. I haven’t paid as much attention to these since beginning this trip, but I’m sure they are still engaged and moving forward – but not on the level of the projects above. It’s a bit like comparing Marvel with Eclipse – speaking of old school comic book companies though Valiant Comics have definitely been a disappointment in this space. Rather than trying to tell stories or generate engagement in Web3 – they have simply tried to sell their comics IRL to Web3 citizens. Over a month ago, they said ‘You’ve waited long enough’ in an announcement on their discord and have provided no follow up. I thought that Valiant was really going to get it, to understand this idea of collaborative story telling and engagement – but they’ve completely missed the point. Tom Bileyu’s Impact Theory also has a story component and an IRL comics connection – but this is a slow build. Impact Theory is a world of its own.
Other Literary Projects
These are different than the story or comic based projects above. Things like Page Dao, Metalibrary, Book Coin, LIT, and more. I love these and support them as best I can – but they are more about enabling writers to publish books or stories on Web3 which is a very different thing than actually telling stories using Web3. There is obviously some crossover – but these projects aren’t really what I am talking about in this post. I do however recommend you check them out. By the same token (haha, pun not intended but funny) the creation of Bald Jesus and the Holy Bjble are a very different kind of Web3 story telling than the bulk of this article is about.
The Bottom Line
I’m excited about what will come out of this. In particular, Jenkins/Azerbola has me really stoked. I’d love to build out the Sultanate of Baboob or the Uranus of Sly Doubt into amazing projects at some point. To do that, I will need to connect and build relationships with the right digital artists and other story tellers – so be sure to use the link above to join my discord, share this article widely, and if you know of other projects that are doing interesting things – definitely reach out and let me know about them. Now – I’m going to get back to my holiday – there is an extremely nice swimming pool waiting for me and happy hour starts soon.