Otherside Blog Feb 21 2024
Eric Reid
5 minutes

GM. It's been a challenging six months for us at Otherside. Building the platform and refining our long-term vision has been challenging. So is navigating high expectations, the need for speed, and maintaining flexibility to pivot when necessary.

I know we’ve been pretty quiet between our public playtests in LA, Berlin, and Hong Kong. But repeating “we’re building the plan” didn’t seem like new information to share. And I’ve been reluctant to say anything that would raise questions that we couldn’t answer. 

Of course I see that people are skeptical - if not downright pissed - from the lack of regular information on Otherside, especially those who are emotionally invested in Otherside’s success. So, there is a balancing act here, and this issue of balance is a slide right up front in our internal Otherside planning deck: 

Build foundation

“Build foundation” is what we have been doing and what we will focus heavily on this year. This means some work is going to sound pretty dull. Like, Otherside accounts with wallet connect, optimizing the existing environments to run at scale and setting parameters for the next environments, optimizing the Apes and Meebits and other avatars to be capable of better movement and expressive animation, and relentless work on infrastructure. 

What’s the big deal about that? Well, it actually is pretty awesome. It means that you can now set up a single Otherside account and identity, with access to your NFTs and wallets, and that account will be persistent across everything you do on Otherside, including earning badges, loot, social influence, and so much more. It means you’ll be able to play in environments and use avatars which are AAA game quality - unlike any of the stuff that exists in other metaverses today. And it means in time you will be able to play anytime, anywhere, and with thousands of friends across the world. So, yeah, it is a big deal in just a few short months. 

Rapid release & iteration

“Rapid release & iteration” means us getting features out, doing it as quickly as we responsibly can, and not holding up for polish where we don’t have to. We get it out in front of users and get constructive feedback, make changes, get it back out, and so on. That’s the Voyager’s Journey. It’s the fun part for you and the important feedback part for us. You see and experience Otherside as we build and you directly influence and shape what the platform becomes. This is what many are asking (loudly) for. BUT - if we do this without a sufficient platform foundation, then these releases will just be one-offs, and not connected to the larger development. That’s the balancing piece. 

Where does this month’s Apes Come Home fit in? It’s not a 3rd Trip. It’s not a polished, launchable public product. It’s another milestone in the journey to become the place where content creators, communities, and brands will come together. It’s the first time that all 10,000 Apes will have the ability to be played by their holders on the Otherside platform. It’s also the first time BAYC, Mutants, Otherdeed holders, Kodas, and the Grailed are able to create their official Otherside accounts and start down the road of more experiences. Hosting thousands of concurrent players on BAYC Island is going to be fun and exciting, but it is far from a “product”. It’s still just one experience which is meant to engage you and enlighten us. We hope to learn from Apes Come Home, as with the last few playtests, but we are also rapidly moving forward on other parts of Otherside. So where are we going from here in the near term? 

What does this mean for our communities?

First, the “near term” in building something like Otherside is measured in years, not weeks or months. Everyone has to accept that objective reality. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t experimenting, launching, playing, and iterating with all of you and the broader public along the way. 

So, next?... We are working on Meebits 1.3 for this Spring. It’s going to be an event for Meebits on Meetropolis, but it’s also going to include other special guests and some new experimentation with what creators can do on Otherside. It is our hope that this experiment  starts to demonstrate the incredible power of Otherside for artists. With Proof, Moonbirds, and of course, the Punks, there are so many people with so much creativity to share. I view it as our privilege to work for them and expand their horizons on Otherside.

We are also well underway in building the entire 10,000 unique Koda collection in 3D. It’s extremely complicated and labor-intensive but these first inhabitants of Otherside, these magical beings with their unique narratives, are looking freaking KILLER. We’ll share work-in-progress on them over the coming months, but here’s a personal favorite in process.... 

In addition to Kodas, we’re also working on enabling other collections - from Yuga’s and others - to come into Otherside. Some of these will be newly modeled and rendered as 3D avatars, and we’re developing a configurable Voyager 2.0 which will have progression, metagame, and UGC aspects to empower a broader audience to engage on Otherside and embrace their individuality. 

We know the core place for individuality on Otherside, beyond the avatars and characters, is the Otherdeeds themselves. We are working on them and will experiment with our progress together with all of the Otherdeed holders later this year. We think we’ve broken through a path to accelerating Otherdeeds and we’ll share as we get further into it.

Keeping things clear

I think it’s important to take a beat and also clarify what we are not doing for now on Otherside. We are not making a competitive MMO that takes many years, many tens of millions of dollars, and has enormous risks. There are AAA game companies that have their thousands of employees working on these and other projects, and that red ocean isn’t one we want to swim in. 

We also recognize that building a system in which anyone can jump into our codebase and/or build a complex game on the platform is a multi-year, daunting proposition. However, we are going to enable users to take advantage of character and environment customization and engage in UGC this year. Further, we are going to enable users to customize casual games, and we have a path to build a system empowering trusted developers to develop games for Otherside. This means you could eventually get a game built. We’re trying this out with one developer now to launch our first games later this year. 

While we are building these UGC and similar tools, what we are really hearing from the  community is a strong desire to have more meaningful social interactions. People want to connect, share, flex, and have fun as a community. So we are going deep in evolving a social platform to enable our communities to have new ways to engage with each other. We are going to start trying it out with you all together during the coming months, starting with Apes Come Home.

More communication

Last thing I’ll add here is that I recognize that we can substantially improve our communications and engagement with our communities. Right after Apes Come Home this month, we are launching new communications commitments:  regular content, communications from me and others on the team, tech and feature demos of work in process, and more. We’re discussing frequent dev updates from otherside on X, Monthly blog updates on Yuga News, and a number of times throughout the year doing video / livestream updates with the Otherside team. I hope this benefits everyone going forward.

Amidst leadership changes at Yuga, I remain entirely committed to building Otherside more than ever. Over the past years, I have spent thousands of day and night hours obsessing over every iteration of building a metaverse that truly serves communities and creators. It’s been and remains my passion as well as obsession. I have the privilege of collaborating with phenomenal people who share this dream - the team at Yuga and the communities of you. I believe we will succeed together.

Eric Reid | General Manager, Otherside

(Added context from my Tweet)
I see the comments about an MMO and I spoke too loosely - the definitions are causing confusion. We are making an MMO. Specifically, we are incorporating the fundamental quality of an MMO with Otherside - shared experiences for many thousands of people in a persistent world. That is one side of what we are building. But the critical thing here is our path to developing Otherside. We need to get the foundations and early experiences up for everyone first (including games), and then we'll evolve that into something bigger. We have, and are, spending many tens of millions of dollars on Otherside. But rather than sinking that into a single unproven game loop, we are building the platform and iterative experiences FIRST to make sure we end up with something people love for years and incorporates the benefits of web3. We're not scaling back what Otherside can be... we're expanding.