ENCTR Codex #2 - Exploring Arsenal
It's officially April, and with our pre-sale and launch right around the corner (a far one, but still a corner), I wanted to spend some time and give a preview into our second module, Arsenal; an ambitious, crazy combination of high-level design and accessibility. Arsenal aims to integrate and build upon your decentralized identity by providing $ENCTR and other customizable rewards that live on the blockchain. I've worked on tons of user interfaces throughout my design career. This one excites me the most. Before we jump in, let's touch on some higher-level design. Please use this dev blog as a look into design research and implementation, not development progress. Battlescape started as a user interface mockup, and Arsenal will follow the same direction. There is currently no functional prototype.
That being said, here we go.
The entirety of the ENCTR App experience can be broken down into basically three user flow states. The "onboarding", where initial interactions happen (reading the homepage, viewing our utility features), the "core experience" where a majority of activity should average out in (Module Interaction), and then our external content that entertains wandering users (social links, website, giveaways).
Onboarded users are presented with basic information such as the home page, price metrics, and social links. The initial "users" can be and are divided into categories, but for this example we can assume that they're brand new users.
No matter what further interaction this new user takes, they'll realize that deeper engagement with the application requires a wallet connection. It's important to remember that gating features behind a required action is not always a diminishing experience. It largely depends on the context. If you often read articles online, you might get aggravated at popups that yell at you to disable your ad-block. Or maybe the website locks a large portion of the article behind a paywall. This is a frustrating experience. Soft-gating utility behind a wallet connection is a common practice. Overall, it's just important to understand what "gating" means in this context.
If we suspend the example above and pretend that the user is one with a high level of interest and involvement with the project, they'll want to connect their wallet right away. That's why the module gating is so prevalent from the beginning. Completing the connection needs to be easy to find, and easier to manage. Keep in mind that there is no "ENCTR Wallet". We simply allow you to connect your wallet to our application (and it's super fast).
Supported wallets include MetaMask, SafePal, TrustWallet, WalletConnect, and more.
The core experience takes into account new, existing, and frequent users, all the way from initial app opening to the furthest engagements possible (claiming a Battlescape prize, marking notifications as "read", changing their profile image, etc). It also drives reusability. It's important to understand that all of ENCTR App utility and modules fall under our brand, so a poor experience in one category can carry over into another. A bugged wager in Battlescape would create a poor module-specific experience, and would make a user less likely to use Arsenal.
Lot's of design philosophies dictate the core experience. Make no mistake - crypto applications should go beyond just a square box in the middle of your screen that allows you to swap tokens. While I won't detail about the fundamental design principles that I work within, it's important to annotate them. This stuff is high-level design, but base-level UX. The Binance website, and other large exchange services, are good examples of companies that go above and beyond for their user experience.
I've mainly included this information, as Arsenal incorporates almost every design layer, interactions, information, functionality, content, navigation, etc. The module absolutely has to feel alive and enticing.
Let's talk Arsenal...
To start, Arsenal is being designed as a desktop-native experience.
This is a module that feeds essence into what's possible with the ENCTR token. A decentralized hub that molds to you - your accomplishments, your experience, your personalization, your ENCTR.
The Profile Strip is a customizable component that's persistent on every screen in Arsenal. NFT integration, changeable title cards, and interchangeable icon slots to boast your play style or season aggression. While the components themselves and unlockables aren't set in stone, this functionality will make it to post-production in one way or another. With an editable profile image and banner slot, you'll be able to make your Arsenal feel personal and meaningful.
Icons and titles could be inspected to view their origin or importance. This is a crucial implementation when considering "why" someone would want to customize their profile.
If you received a verified checkmark on Twitter, but the checkmark was only visible to you... how significant would that feel? If we do end up with a thorough customization library, those customizations should be visible to any user, because players want their achievements to be viewed.
It's bragging rights.
It's proof of accomplishment. It makes you feel rewarded.
Profiles should be discoverable, "inspect-able", yet contain options for anonymity. There will be countless users that want to earn from achievements, but don't care for the social aspect.
The methods in which each user profile will be "discoverable" is still in the works and in the researching phase, but it's an avenue worth exploring. We know that we can assign wallet addresses individual identity parameters, such as referral codes and payout recipients, that's all doable.
But could you search for a user by their username? Wallet address? What if two users have the same username?
This level of personal expression is typically only warranted if the means of discovering profiles is simple and streamlined.
I acknowledge that this profile system will raise some questions about a social platform. While that's not the intended direction or depth of the profile system, it could evolve into a community-driven system. As we incorporate our DAO aspects throughout 2022, it might be the right idea to allow the community to decide how deep this social aspect should go. Would we need a searchable back-end of users that can be added as friends? Added to communities? The Legions module revolves around this social structure, and I think a slight merge of features will happen towards the end of this year. These modules will need to communicate with each other, for a lack of a better term. An NFT earned inside Arsenal should also be functional for Battlescape. Showing off an Arsenal NFT on the Battlescape leaderboard could generate raw interest for those that have never been to one or the other.
The current iteration of Arsenal will be built on top of an unlockable library, fed by two different reward streams. Every user will be assigned their own unlock library, which can be completed by participating within said reward streams. Users will have the exact same achievements and rewards to unlock, but their library states will be different depending on how much they play and participate.
The Battle Pass will be a seasonal event, bringing you a track of rewards that are unlocked by progressing through rotating achievements, what we're calling the "Quest Board". The Quest Board will contain weekly and daily achievements. Think about an event board that you can check in on throughout the week that contains a variety of trackable, in-game achievements. It's apparent that League of Legends will be the best target for Season 1, as their API's are open and accessible, and it's likely best to test the systems with one game at a time.
Blockchain games could be integrated down the line to expose their games to new audiences and form partnerships. ENCTR should always remain a collaborative and generative platform.
The second stream of rewards is the persistent reward library. This library will contain a bank of achievements that never go away. Some easy, a majority difficult. We can also offer unique rewards on top of $ENCTR for completing these. The really difficult achievements could carry rare NFT rewards or rare titles that only a small percentage of players would be able to earn.
With a rotating and persistent reward system, Arsenal presents a really interesting ecosystem of accomplishments that sort of blends traditional systems together.
While the initial net $ENCTR reward wouldn't be substantial for these Quest Board achievements, the bigger purpose they serve is progressing your Battle Pass. Quest Board achievements don't necessarily have to reward $ENCTR themselves, as the pass rewards contain their own token rewards in each slot, but it's a flexible design structure that will probably be dictated by our amount of active participants each season.
We can't be totally sure the amount of ENCTR we can dish out each season, as predicting active user numbers is close to impossible without data from previous seasons. Either way, the pass track enables a unique spin on Play To Earn that it directly interactable and gives a secondary sense of progression in your favorite multiplayer games.
Speaking of dishing out ENCTR rewards, one of the most common questions is, "Where are the reward funds coming from"? Firstly, our official LitePaper covers a lot of the token structure, and the layers of utility that the project is using to ensure a growing and steady stream of accessible reward funds. $ENCTR funding for Arsenal primarily comes from the unique gating on the Battle Pass entry. For traditional battle passes in games such as Fortnite or Apex Legends, you're required to purchase a Premium access with cash/USD. You're free to never pay for and get rewards from the "free track", but the free track is these systems are always underserved, and they incentivize the Premium track by filling it with cool rewards that you wouldn't want to miss out on.
With the Arsenal Battle Pass, there's one track - and it requires you to stake ENCTR tokens. Staking a certain amount of $ENCTR tokens is your ticket in. Not only does this simplify the entry process, but it also provides an insanely efficient boost to the ENCTR ecosystem. There's no official amount we've landed on yet, but it will be similarly "priced" to a traditional battle pass, maybe $10-$20 worth in USD.
Looking at the full Pass track, there's flexibility in exactly how many rewards we could offer per season. Something that'd be really cool is to theme the track based on the highlighted game of the season (not displayed). Assembling a range of collectible NFT's for one season could increase their value when held together, from a collector's standpoint. On the contrary, we'd have to mint ALOT of NFT's. They might be more valued and prized if gated behind difficult season achievements that only an expected 500 players would earn.
Another potential issue is actually generating these themed NFT's. We wouldn't exactly have the rights to mint and create with any copyrighted game assets.
*Laughs in Tencent*
These NFT's would somehow need to be themed, to League of Legends for example, without stealing any owned assets. That would require some pretty hefty animation or 3D resources and modeling, which doesn't seem too realistic, especially for early seasons. The system is good, but expect the context of the NFT's to shift elsewhere. It's cool in concept, but execution might require big leaps and cut corners. Have an idea to better optimize a reward track? Let us know in our Telegram.
In wrapping up this dev blog, I also wanted to touch on our in-game aspect. Because we'll be developing Arsenal as a desktop-native experience, it simply makes sense to entertain some form of in-game tracking ability.
Here's two hard facts for present-day gamers:
- Not everyone has multiple monitors
- Not everyone wants to Alt+Tab
Developing a non-intrusive in-game overlay can allow real time achievement tracking if deemed necessary. Overlays are NOTORIOUS for being obstructive, invasive, and generally annoying to deal with (especially toggling them on and off).
There's a lot to learn about the current state of in-game overlays. Just google "in-game" overlays and half of the results you'll find is forum boards where people are trying to figure out how to turn them off. Why is that?
Overlays are inherently intrusive. It's placing a medium between yourself and whatever form of entertainment you currently have loaded. The only valuable use case that I can see with Arsenal in-game would be an integrated way to track longer-form achievements (100+ kills on champion, for example) and ensure that the overlay itself is lightweight and easily toggleable.
The future of Arsenal is one that's expansive and collaborative. Interestingly enough, Battlescape, the genesis module, will serve as a genesis for Arsenal. While the development of Arsenal has just begun, there's a ton of more exploration we'll do in the future.
Decentralized applications are yet to push past the boundaries of swapping, banking and trading. Marketplaces are shaping the way we use our crypto to purchase assets and metaverse items.
I believe that Arsenal can shape the way we progress and level up on the blockchain.
Head of art and assets. Multimedia producer and UI designer.