The Cornerstone to a Fantasy World on Farcaster

“On Sunday, February 11th, 2024, the first strike landed, heralding an unprecedented week of unending conflict between the realms of the North and South…”

The first week of Farcastles has been an absolute blast. I’m genuinely blown away by how the community has responded. It seems like everyone just "understood the assignment," as the kids say, and got right into the spirit of the game without needing much guidance from me at all.

However, I realize that might not be the case for everyone, so I wanted to take a moment to gather my thoughts on Farcastles — what it is, where it’s headed, and what I’ve observed so far.

What is Farcastles?

On the surface, Farcastles is actually incredibly simple. In fact, much of the confusion I've noted stems from just how straightforward it is. But rest assured, the simplicity is entirely intentional.

Farcastles is a text-based social game played within the /farcastles channel on Farcaster. Players engage with the game by casting commands within the channel to either ‘!attack north’ or ‘!attack south’. The Farcastles bot will capture these commands and register the amount of damage done to a castle (NOTE: Only individual casts are captured. Replies have been disabled to avoid spam). The game's objective is to reduce the opposing castle’s HP from 5000 to zero. That’s it. That’s the game.

You may be wondering, “How do I choose which castle I attack?” or “Why am I attacking the castle in the first place?” All of that is up to the players’ imagination. I’ve deliberately left out images, lore, stats, and other specifics to open up a canvas for the players to add functionality and meaning. This game is an open invitation for the Farcaster community to play, imagine, and collaboratively craft the world of Farcastles.

Inspired by Loot

The majority of the work I’ve done in Web3 over the last 2.5 years has been within the universe of Loot (for Adventurers), an NFT project by Dom Hoffman known for its innocuous NFT images showcasing eight lines of white text on a black background. To the Loot community, however, this project was an invitation to create—an “emergent art” that served as a spark to a community of like-minded builders, artists, and thinkers to develop a world around the items on these NFT images. Loot was “Minimum Viable Art”. Dom gave the community just enough in the Loot smart contract to extrapolate an entire world of lore, art, and games, but if it were any simpler, it would lose all meaning.

In the same way, I sought to make Farcastles a “Minimum Viable Game,” or gaming primitive, with an easy-to-understand game loop and a minimal narrative framework, encapsulating a conflict between North and South. My hope was that these elements alone would enable Farcaster users who ventured into the channel to grasp the concept and take the reins from there.

Maximally Inclusive

The openness and permissionless nature of Web3 are what make it so refreshing and necessary in today's world of centralized internet service companies like Meta, Amazon, and Google. It dismantles all barriers, empowering anyone with a good idea and the will to execute it. With Farcastles, my aim was to craft an experience accessible to every Farcaster user without the prerequisite of owning a token or belonging to an exclusive group, enabling them to play and enrich the game.

Farcastles is CC0, and the bot’s codebase will be open-sourced at a later date. My goal is for individuals of all skill levels, experiences, or follower counts to feel encouraged to contribute and nurture the community—no permission needed. I firmly believe each of us has something valuable to offer, and collaborative worldbuilding projects like Loot and Farcastles provide a platform for the community to showcase themselves.

This idea of maximal inclusion and accessibility is also why the game commands are so simple. I’m not necessarily looking for hardcore gamers to play Farcastles. The game requires you to type (or copy+paste) two words into the channel. Just about anyone with experience on the web can grasp this concept and contribute to the game by helping their side win.

Another key objective was to ensure the game demands minimal commitment. Players can attack only once every 12 hours, allowing for engagement with little effort or time. While future updates will introduce new features and interactions, it’s important to me that even those with limited free time can contribute meaningfully, ensuring everyone feels included and valued.

The History of Farcastles

Farcastles is actually inspired by a Discord game I created with Caygeon for the Banners (for Adventurers) project titled “Call the Banners.” I was fed up with the ubiquitous “Retweet & Tag 3 friends” campaigns on Twitter, designed to drum up community engagement and garner attention for NFT projects. In my opinion, these efforts often backfired, detracting from the project's legitimacy instead of bolstering it. In fact, they often fail to achieve their intended goal, attracting individuals more interested in acquiring a free NFT to flip it on secondary rather than genuinely engaging with the community.

To counter this, I conceptualized a game that served as a proof-of-work mechanism, rewarding only those truly aligned with and invested in the community. Like Farcastles, this game featured two factions battling to reduce the other's HP, with victors earning a valueless in-game currency. This currency's sole use was to enter a raffle for NFT giveaways at the conclusion of the game. "Call the Banners" quickly became a hit within our community, drawing in key team members who remain part of the project to this day. It's still under development, with plans to launch a similar fully on-chain, browser-based version on Starknet.

This initiative revealed a significant insight I’ve brought into Farcastles: once players began participating, their focus shifted away from the NFT giveaway to the enjoyment of making friends and uniting against a common adversary. This turned out to be the most fun and rewarding experience I’ve ever had online, and it’s exactly the experience I want to recreate with Farcastles.

I aim to share this with Farcaster and the broader Web3 community, hoping to inspire behavioral change toward valuing fun and shared experiences over speculation and profit. In Web3 and decentralized social platforms, we don’t need to replicate the next Crypto Punks 10k collection or 100x meme coin. Instead, we can cultivate enjoyable, shared experiences that add value to the community and foster organic growth.

Future Expansion

My approach to expanding Farcastles is hands-off, preferring not to dictate its direction but rather to empower the community to contribute freely and organically. This aligns with the overarching spirit of crypto and Web3, encouraging community members to add their own features, art, lore, memes, and more. I will continue to build and play alongside the community, and I'll happily share my opinion, but it will always be on equal footing with the rest of the amazing community on Farcaster.

This positions Farcastles as a seed for infinite expansion. The future shape of Farcastles remains unknown to me, and that’s exciting. Personally, I am non-technical, but I will continue to work alongside edit, the mastermind and technical guru behind the development of the bot, to add features and functionality to the game before we feel it is ready to be completely handed over to the community. We continue to collect feedback and have already made several changes inspired by suggestions made in the channel.

I hope Farcastles serves as a catalyst for similar experiences to flourish on Farcaster, fully harnessing the potential of decentralized social platforms. Farcaster presents a unique opportunity to redefine the future of social gaming, with every participant having the power to influence its evolution.

Observations and Conclusions

The first week of Farcastles exceeded any expectations I might have had. Nearly 2,300 people have dived into the channel, launching commands left and right (or north and south lol). Some have even taken to attacking consistently every 12 hours since the onset of the game.

Each time I scroll through the Farcastles channel, I find myself smiling as I witness the memes and art shared by the community alongside the friendly banter that embodies the spirit of our game.

What impressed me most was the speed at which some players captured the essence of what I was trying to achieve. They've created dashboards on Dune, helped onboard new players, and even crafted their own NFT collections inspired by the game. Recently, I came across a community member who created a new bot that serves as a bank, airdropping a meme token named $CASTLE to those attacking castles. Speaking of meme tokens, the emergence of bounties, mercenaries, and sellswords being compensated in $DEGEN tips has been a sight to behold.

I can't say enough how thankful I am for all of you joining me in this peculiar and amusing game, contributing to the development of the Farcastles world. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

For more information, please check out the channel, and feel free to DM me. See you on the battlefield!

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