BitFantasy is a new online role playing game whose unique selling point is that players can trade with each other using bitcoin. The game is in its early beta phase, but its developer, Darren Tarbard, says he is ensuring that this won't be a pay to win kind of game.
Darren Tarbard has been developing software for around 20 years, half of which has been for financial organisations. However, his hobby has always been game development. The idea of BitFantasy received a lot of positive feedback when Darren suggested it on Reddit. From that point, he decided to stop his software contract work and took on the challenge of a bitcoin-driven MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) as his full-time occupation.
As for the plot of the game – it's not that complicated. You live in an infinite world, and you explore it by building roads to discover new villages, resources or mysteries. In terms of antagonists, there is a "world-eating" monster destroying land, and the royal guard has started a revolt against the Queen. She, of course, recruits you to rebuild the world and fight the royal guard.
In case you're wondering how you'll be able to play BitFantasy, Darren told us: "We expect BitFantasy to be playable by anyone with a modern web browser. This brings significant challenges based on the differences between browsers, particularly mobile, but we think it's worth it to make it easy for everyone to access".
Darren said that he is taking things slowly to get an idea of server load and to look for unforeseen bugs. Instead of going through the now popular social crowdfunding route (e.g. Kickstarter), BitFantasy has a 0.01 BTC sign up price. Darren told us, "…the minimum is 0.01 BTC, but if you pay more you get some (non-game breaking) perks."
So far, the BitFantasy team is made up of Darren and a level designer. However, he hopes that increased funding will allow the team to be expanded.
As for the inclusion of Bitcoin, it was a pragmatic choice. Part of the game's specification was to allow for player-to-player trades with real-world money. Darren looked at PayPal but found it far too complicated to implement. "I don't think it would be possible to implement the direct player-to-player trading in any other way. For us to do the same thing with (for example) PayPal would require every player to have a PayPal merchant account, and for me to have their API keys and other shenanigans that I don't even want to think about."
The risk for any online game including real-world money is that a "pay to win" climate is produced. However, BitFantasy is avoiding this by restricting the ways in which real-world currency (including BTC) is used. Darren stated: "So you can't buy gold pieces. You can't even buy items with BTC unless you buy it from another real human player; computer-controlled shopkeepers only trade in gold pieces."
When asked on about the good and bad points of developing a game with bitcoin support, Darren said: "The biggest disadvantage is really that it is still a niche, but then again, it gives my game something that the other thousand online games don't have. I get strange looks when I tell people what I'm working on because for many people it seems obscure. I became an indie developer to work on what I enjoyed and what I believed in, so that keeps me going despite any other doubts. The advantage is one of flexibility as I mentioned. I haven't found any technical issues. "
If you want to apply to test BitFantasy, head over to https://www.bitfantasy.com/.