Hackathon Alpha: Breaking Down the Dojo Game Jam Submissions

Author: FaultProofBen

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A few weeks ago, we looked at some of the coolest upcoming games in the MUD ecosystem.

Now, we’re going to do the same…but for Dojo.

Dojo is a development framework for building onchain games on Starknet.

Like MUD, Paima, World Engine, and Keystone, it provides developers with infrastructure, contracts, code libraries, and resources that make it easier for them to build and manage an onchain game.

Although the community-run project was only just founded in February 2023, Dojo recently held its first-ever hackathon, the Dojo Game Jam, from September 1-11.

The really cool Dojo Game Jam logo.
The really cool Dojo Game Jam logo.

The event began with a 72-hour building phase that produced 9 total submissions (8 of which were games).

This was followed followed by a week-long judging period that saw a fighting game, zkKnight, annointed as the winner and take home the $5000 first-place prize!

Hackathons like these are filled with alpha, as they provide a glimpse of new projects coming down the pipeline, as well as insight into broader design trends for a given niche.

Today, we’re going to get a sense of both of these as it relates to Dojo by taking a look at the Game Jam’s submissions.

Because I try to make things fun, I’ll also LARP as a judge and choose a winning project myself!

We’ll see whether or not I agree with the official decision ;)

Now, let’s get to it and look at some games!


Game Overview:

zkKnight is a turn-based fighting game.

In zkKnight, players battle four opponents in PVE combat in the hopes of being the last man standing.

During each turn, players can move, attack, and evade their opponents. This creates a cat-and-mouse dynamic where you have to kill your four NPC rivals while simultaneously avoiding being trapped and merc’d yourself.

zkKnight is currently playable, with the team hosting their own indexer and Katana sequencer to improve the gameplay experience.

As discussed above, zkKnight won the Game Jam, taking home the $5K first-place prize.

My Take:

zkKnight is rough around the edges, which is understandable given that it was a hackathon project.

However, based on my experience playing it, I think it has the potential to be a very fun game.

The core gameplay is simple, but fun, frenetic, and has more strategic depth than meets the eye. I also really like the music in the game, which adds to the intensity of matches and enhances the experience of playing.

I can certainly see why zkKnight won and impressed the judges so much.

It appears as though Cheelax, the game’s dev, will continue to develop the project, so I’m very excited to see the ways in which zkKnight evolves from here.

Beer Baron

Game Overview:

Beer Baron is a medieval-themed RPG.

In Beer Baron, your objective is to create a business empire through brewing and selling beer.

To do so, players will have to engage in a variety of activities over the course of the game’s two week sessions.

This includes purchasing and growing Hop (a flower used to brew Beer) as well as selling Beer on the open market to Taverns in the hopes of raking in profits.

Beer Baron utilizes novel mechanisms to price goods in the game based on supply and demand, such as logistic and inverse VRGDA functions to determine the value of Beer and Hop respectively.

Beer Baron was developed by Loaf, one of the lead developers of Bibliotheca DAO, the organization behind the Realms ecosystem and games like Realms: Eternum and Loot Survivor.

My Take:

Beer Baron is an impressive build for a hackathon and looks like it could be a lot of fun.

I like the idea of using different VRGDA functions to price goods. I think this adds more realism and strategy to the game, as Hop and Beer, like meatspace commodities, will have different market dynamics and trading patterns.

I’m also curious to see what (if any) role Beer Baron plays within the broader Realms ecosystem.

Given the composability of games built with Dojo, and the alignment between the different Realms titles, I think there is a lot of potential for composability and synergies between its various projects (Beer Baron included).


Game Overview:

CheCell is a biology-themed RPG.

The objective of CheCell is to cultivate a primordial civilization through producing “Cells.”

As their name suggests, Cells are organisms with different ratings for attributes like attack, agility, and senses. Cells can be used for a variety of different purposes, such as to reproduce and battle with other players.

This PVP aspect of the game goes even further, as players can compete with each other to score points and reach the top of the in-game leaderboard.

CheCell is developed by CheDAO, the same team behind the publication AW Research, and aims to be the first title in the “CheVerse,” an ecosystem of games developed by the team.

My Take:

I’m very eager to try out CheCell.

While it was not my favorite subject in school, I like the use of biology as the premise for a game and think it’s an interesting spin on similar types of gameplay that we’ve seen with franchises like Pokemon.

I’m also keen to see if the game financializes in some way, such as by having cells be represented and tradable as NFTs.

Overall, I’m excited to see CheDAO in the wild and get a greater sense of the vision for the CheVerse ecosystem.


Game Overview:

0xfaeda is a farm simulation game.

In 0xfaeda, you can plant, grow, and harvest crops. Players can also fill orders placed by others to earn an in-game currency.

0xfaeda is playable today in your browser, and you can start farming on a 3x3 grid of land.

In the future, per the game’s submission doc, the economy may expand to incorporate peer-to-peer lending, crop trading, and more.

My Take:

Although the browser version of the game is limited in its functionality, I’m nonetheless eager to see where 0xfaeda goes from here.

In particular, I like the idea of fleshing out the in-game economy. I think this could create some unique types of gameplay, relationships between players, and open up opportunities for composability with the Starknet DeFi ecosystem.


Game Overview:

Starknopoly is a turn-based strategy game inspired by Monopoly.

Like its offchain counterpart, in Starknopoly players wheel, deal, and buy properties in the hopes of earning gold, a non-transferrable in-game currency.

Starknopoly also adds some unique cryptoeconomic twists to “TradMonopoly",” such as players being able to purchase more gold with ETH, which gets distributed back to them at the end of the game (less a 5% fee).

An MVP of Starknopoly is live, with players able to onboard via a burner wallet and test out its signature-free gameplay.

My Take:

I’m intrigued by Starknopoly, and think the game is quite impressive for a 72-hour hackathon project.

Similar to Words3 with Scrabble, I could see Starknopoly finding PMF as a crypto-native, financialized spin on a popular offchain board game.

For instance, it could be interesting to see a Stake-And-Play version of Starknopoly, with players having to either spend ETH to buy properties, or stake it to participate in the game to create prize pools.

A mechanism like this would add new elements of strategy and a (sustainable) speculative element to the game that could help attract degens such as myself.

I think Starknopoly has a lot of potential, and I’ll be watching closely to see if its development continues over the coming months.

Hash Dungeon

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Game Overview:

Hash Dungeon is a strategy game.

Hash Dungeon is inspired by Dungeons & Dragons. In the game, players can explore different areas to earn XP and gold coins, which they can use to buy equipment and level up their character respectively.

Hash Dungeons is currently playable in the command line, though the team is working on a front-end UI so players can more easily access the game.

My Take:

I haven’t been able to play Hash Dungeon (and there is no video demo), but I am still eager to try it out once the front end goes live.

In particular, I’m curious to see how each area in the game world is visualized, and how the trading system operates in prod.

Ape Slots

Game Overview:

Ape Slots is an onchain casino.

As its name suggests, Ape Slots has support for two gambling games, Slots and Routlette, which utilize onchain randomness to ensure provable, fair odds for players.

The game also has a leaderboard where users can compare their scores and see how they stack up against other players.

Based on its demo, it appears the game utilizes burner wallets to enable seamless onboarding and support transaction-free gameplay.

In addition, the team has suggested that they will expand and plan to add support for other games like Poker.

My Take:

I’m not a big gambler (aside from aping into coins and NFTs), but I think Ape Slots is a good demonstration of how blockchains can remove the “house advantage” when it comes to gambling and games of chance.

While I think Ape Slots could run into some regulatory challenges, I think they have a shot at becoming a “GambleFi” primitive on Starknet if the team moves forward with development.

Dojo Wordle:

Game Overview:

Dojo Wordle is a word-building game.

As its name suggests, in the game, players form words on a grid to earn points.

Dojo Wordle also has a “Daily Word,” a special word for players to guess each day, and provides support for anyone to add new words to the game.

My Take:

I think Dojo Wordle could be pretty fun.

I like the idea of having a “word of the day,” and the ability for anyone to add new words into the game dictionary. This could unlock new dimensions of customizability for the game, as it lets players create games with unique, custom words sets.

General Takeaways

As we can see, the Dojo Game Jam produced a number of really interesting submissions.

I think this is a bullish sign for the broader ecosystem, as it shows that Dojo has managed to attract interest from a variety of developers.

In terms of game design, we saw trends that were to similar to those we observed from our look at the upcoming games in the MUD ecosystem.

For instance, many of the submissions were turn-based games that incorporate PVP gameplay in some fashion.

Like I said during the aforementioned MUD piece, I think this is to be expected, as these types of games are easier to put onchain given the current scalability and latency constraints of blockchains.

However, a new design pattern interesting that I noticed across the submissions was the use of financialization.

Starknopoly, Ape Slots, and 0xFaeda were all financialized to varying degrees. Others like Beer Baron and CheCell, have clear ways in which they can incorporate financial elements in some way, shape, or form.

As a degen, this is exciting to see.

I think when implemented in a non-ponzinomic fashion, financialization and speculation can unlock new forms of gameplay and exciting modding possibilities that are exclusive to onchain games.

I’m especially interested to see the ways in which these types of games interoperate with existing DeFi protocols.

Given Starknet’s liquidity deficit relative to other L2s, perhaps leaning into this (again, in a thoughtful and sustainable fashion) could help attract more liquidity onto the network and players into the Dojo ecosystem.

My Winner Is…

I thought there were things like with every submission, but I have to go with the chalk and also choose zkKnight as the winner!

I’m a bit biased, given that it was one of the few games that is playable through a UI, but I thought the core gameplay was a lot of fun.

I was also quite impressed with Starknopoly, and think there are a lot of interesting directions to take the game if its team continues to work on it.

All in all, I’m very bullish on the future of the Dojo ecosystem post-Game Jam.

We don’t know how many of these projects will continue now that the hackathon has ended.

However, we do know that regardless, devs are certainly in the arena dojo, trying and building cool stuff.

Even Chamath is a fan of Dojo!
Even Chamath is a fan of Dojo!

Thanks for reading!

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