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Balthazar Research Report: Explore The World of Ascenders

Written by Nicholas Korsgård, Chief Gaming Officer, Kim Bjerkeli and Sigurd Thomassen, Game Strategists, Balthazar Alpha Team, and Heidi Anette Laugsand Johansen

Introduction

When we in the Alpha team found Ascenders, we were unprepared for what awaited us in this beautifully intriguing NFT Play-To-Earn game. So let us introduce you to the world of Ascenders and why we believe they should be on your radar.

Ascenders is an open-world action RPG game with sci-fi elements. It offers you an opportunity to take any role from an adventurer to a warrior, even a landowner or merchant. While there’s a set story, it is a player-driven setup. Therefore, players can influence and impact the in-game world.

This report will review various aspects of the game like the NFTs, gameplay, and tokenomics. You will also receive information on the website and the brilliant team behind Ascenders. Furthermore, we have given the test run to the Combat Challenge Event. A free initiative that allowed players to participate and win a prize of one million AGC Tokens. Ready to Ascend?

Background


Ascenders is a story-driven, open-world game with a fully decentralized and player-driven crypto economy. It aims to deliver an “Action Role Playing Game” experience. The game features a dual token economy, as we see in many P2E (play-to-earn) games today. It also features player-created NFTs and is one of the major games to build on an Avalanche subnet. Thereby, utilizing the power and flexibility it provides.

The players will drive most of the economy in this complex ecosystem. All NFT items like the buildings and lands are minted by the players. There will be several roles that you can pursue in the “roleplay” aspect, such as explorers, fighters, or builders. Each of these roles will have its own resources, challenges, and economic loops. Players’ impact on the game’s world can be significant, as some decisions can leave a permanent mark.

https://www.ascenders.gg/

Gameplay

Ascender’s story takes place in a large and coherent open world called the Overworld. Additionally, there will be several dungeons, each one more challenging than the previous. The Overworld will consist of several different biomes with resources, challenges, and enemies. Players can stay in the Overworld for more casual gameplay, like following the story and gathering resources.

Some areas of the Overworld will be reserved for player-owned lands (NFTs). These areas will provide resources and allow the owners to build buildings usable by themselves and other players. The more thrill-seeking players will challenge the dungeons of the deep for higher rewards and rare materials. Some of these dungeons will be time-specific tournaments, allowing competitors to compete on the PvEvP leaderboard for rare resources.

The game also offers “Battle for Land” dungeon tournaments, as an intriguing aspect. It yields areas of land NFTs to the winners. You will need resources from both, the Overworld and the dungeons, to create armors, swords, or other items. And as the team alludes to PvEvP gameplay, we expect some open-world PvP topside.

https://www.ascenders.gg/

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the roles a player can take, also known as the “lanes,” in the game. There are different types of lanes:

Explorer Lane

These are the casual players that enjoy the adventure. It is perfect for people who’re not that keen on going into a PvP fight at any moment. These players keep it chill and collect resources, farm mobs, and pursue quests steadily. They’ll mainly stay in the Overworld and collect stuff there.

Fighter Lane

The players who decide to go down the path of the fighter lane are competitive. They strive for recognition on the leaderboards, and good fighters will build a name for themselves in the community. There’s a high chance you’ll see a fighter in search of the high-end gear and min-max builds with equipment.

Either way, These people aren’t afraid to tackle challenging dungeons head-on. And it will all be worth it as that’s where the rare loot is.

Builder Lane

These players play the metagame. They flip the economy, own land, predict markets, and build out the infrastructure for other players to use. Of course, the objective is to make a profit. The infrastructure they provide is essential for other players to mint new NFTs like swords or armor. Therefore, they play an integral role in the entire setup of Ascenders.

Economic Loop

In the litepaper, the team explains what they call the “Positive Economy Loop.” It is depicted below, but the overall game loop goes as follows:

Explorers collect resources and discover new land through general PvE play. They discover new dungeons and challenges, which the fighters will overcome. This, in turn, unlocks the new land so that it can be claimed and traded like any NFT.

Builders purchase land plots from players who are not keen on the building aspects and want to get rid of their loot for a quick buck. The builders then make infrastructure for resource processing and NFT minting. Correlatively, new items will increase the demand for the land.

The picture was taken from https://www.ascenders.gg/litepaper.

There isn’t any hard-imposed restriction on the lanes, either. Players can choose to be flexible and change lanes, or use multiple lanes, as they go through the game. It is at the intersection of lanes where opportunities for trade and cooperation are created. Every lane is essential in the game’s ecosystem.

The free player-driven market will balance things out. Too many explorers would lead to lower demand for Overworld resources and drive some explorers underground to face more formidable challenges and rarer loot.

To summarize the economics of Ascenders: The in-game economy is built on decentralization, player lanes, and the value of player work. All usable NFTs, like swords and armors, will have stats. They are also minted or crafted by players. This option is available in the buildings that are on the player-owned NFT lands. Overall, the players will define the economy, which in turn establishes the meta.

Some resources are exclusive to the Overworld, and some to dungeons. To mint new items, resources from both areas will be required. If a player chooses to get all resources themselves or trade with others, it is all up to them. The work that is put into the NFT items is permanent in the form of increased stats and levels. If traded, the item will retain all its stats, and the new owner will enjoy a leveled-up item. This goes for every NFT (weapons, armor, and land).

Combat Challenge Event

We, the Alpha Team, have tried the Combat Challenge Event. It is free to play and you can find it on Ascender’s homepage. The challenge seems to be an early version of a dungeon and works as a one-month leaderboard event. The top 100 players will receive AGC tokens, and the best of them will receive lucrative rewards. The prize pool is one million AGC tokens.

The challenge will revolve around attacking the hordes of enemies in a secluded area of Ascension within a time limit. Ultimately, the goal is to defeat as many enemies as possible and break containers to collect the orbs. The combat challenge will be a thematical representation of what Ascenders sets out to build for combat mechanics. The final release of the game will feature an enormous Overworld with an entire story campaign and a lot of depth to the combat system, among a ton of other things.

(Ingame screenshots)

NB: Because of issues and exploitations of the combat challenge event, the Ascenders team decided to end the event earlier than anticipated. Since then, the team has released three new game modes, all accessible in the same downloadable game launcher. These include:

  • Improved Combat Challenge
  • Racing Robot (Event mode)
  • Survival Mode (Event mode)

The AGC competition is over, but there might still be opportunities to win some in some of the other events the team is holding through their Discord channel.

Tokenomics


Ascenders have what the creators describe as a “full-stack” economy. The reason they name it like this is because of the underlying benefits of building on an Avalanche subnet. It enables players to:

  • Govern the game through the $AGC governance token.
  • Create tradable NFTs, such as weapons and armor.
  • Exchange NFTs and resources on a marketplace.
  • Exchange in-game resources through a DEX. Players can provide liquidity using resources collected in-game.
  • Create in-game banks to store in-game resources.
  • Create player-created and controlled guilds, each with its own treasuries, inventories, marketplaces, and social functions.

The Ascenders Governance Council token (AGC) and the Glow Gems (GG) currency tokens are vital to this ecosystem.

AGC Governance Token

Ascender’s $AGC token is the heart of the ecosystem. It drives the guilds and player communities in the game. The $AGC token will provide a staking system. It will offer a range of rewards and grant membership in the Ascenders DAO. Holders will have a say in the DAO governing process.

The DAO members will control the Ascenders treasury and vote on new proposed features, changes, and other incentives. Players that hold $AGC can also buy some in-game items and upgrades with $AGC. If a player stakes $AGC, one would also receive in-game rewards.

GG Utility Token

If the $AGC token is the system’s heart, then $GG is the blood. $GG is earned through several in-game activities. You will need it to make everything from swords to cities, and sustainable societies. $GG is the in-game currency for all economic activities like crafting, upgrading, building, and buying player-minted items from the marketplace. Players are also rewarded with $GG when progressing with the game’s story, quests, tournaments, and world events.

$AGC is capped at one billion tokens, whereas $GG is uncapped but is subject to several burn mechanisms to control the total supply. The TGE(Token Generation Event) and DAO launch will be via a public sale some time in Q2 2022.

Ascenders Website


Let’s take a look at the website quality and interface. How does Ascender’s website measure up on a desktop versus a smartphone? We compare the differences between the two versions and provide a verdict with potential recommendations for improvement. Furthermore, we will be testing the mobile version by using a Samsung Galaxy S10+.

Screenshot borrowed from the Ascenders website. https://www.ascenders.gg/

Desktop

When we entered the website of Ascenders, we were immediately shown pictures of the game. There were no fancy effects that we’ve seen in many other websites that we’ve tested previously, such as Mobland. The website promotes the game trailer and a free try-out of the game, which the Alpha team loves. By entering the free try-out, the users who participate qualify for a chance to win a prize from the 1 Million AGC prize pool. Continuing, the website designers have added a nice balance of pictures and text, making it a pleasant experience. The user can also find information about the investors on the website.

Overall, the experience of browsing this website on desktop is great. The visuals are beautiful, and the user gets the idea of the game— making it a very clear website. There were also options for the user to look at the tokenomics, game, events, news, careers, litepaper, and more on the site.

Mobile

Compared to the desktop version, the mobile site is slightly different. It doesn’t seem like they invested in optimizing the website for mobile users.

The text appears bigger, and the art and gameplay pictures are cropped. This adds to the unfinished feeling when you use a mobile to visit the website. Some mobile site elements, for instance, ‘enter the combat challenge,’ don’t even fit on the mobile’s screen. The cropped pictures continue throughout the website. The investors also appear relatively small, and the user would have to zoom in to get a good view of who the backers are. However, when zooming in, the quality remains great. All in all, the mobile site feels a little odd to use on the phone, but with some optimization, we are sure it could be more appealing to mobile users.

The Verdict

The website using a desktop was great. After entering the website, the user gets immediate access to the website, beautiful art, and clear insight into the game. We also appreciate the challenge of the game and the chance of winning the AGC token. The Alpha team tested this challenge, and it was quite amusing, even though we didn’t reach the top score.

However, it’s no secret that the desktop version was prioritized after looking into the mobile site. We’ve also mentioned the faulty cropping of the pictures that fail to fit the mobile’s screen, and to some degree, the mobile website design even cuts text. We would advise the designers to have a second look at the website for the sake of all mobile users. We already know that most of the p2e community is in developing countries, where having a mobile device is more common than owning a desktop. In addition, we would think the backers would also appreciate a better design for mobile users. As of now, the user would have to zoom in to browse the investors. Unfortunately, it’s safe to assume that most visitors wouldn’t do this extra step.

Overall, the desktop version was great, and we enjoyed the art, information, and especially the trial of the game. Keep it coming, Ascenders!

Blockchain


What Chain Does The Game Run On?

Ascenders will leverage the Avalanche blockchain and its ecosystem. By using subnets on Avalanche, the game can keep transaction fees low and provide a lot of flexibility when building out the GameFi functions.

Avalanche

Avalanche is a high-performance, scalable, customizable, and secure blockchain platform. It is built for three main uses.

  • Building application-specific blockchains, covering private and public blockchain, depending on the permission factor.
  • Building and launching highly scalable and decentralized applications (DApps).
  • Building arbitrarily complex digital assets with custom rules, covenants, and riders (smart assets).

What separates Avalanche from other blockchains is its consensus mechanism. Consensus mechanisms have had almost 50 years of scrutiny, which has led to two different families of consensus protocols.

The classical consensus protocols rely on all-to-all communication, and the Nakamoto consensus protocol uses proof of work mining combined with the longest-chain rule. Classical mechanisms can have low latency and high throughput, but they don’t scale well while retaining the security.

Meanwhile, Nakamoto consensus protocols are robust, but the drawback is usually high latency, low throughput, and requires a lot of energy for their proof-of-work model, which is essential to their security.

Another consensus mechanism that has become prevalent in the recent years is the proof-of-stake model. Ethereum strives to implement this in Ethereum 2.0. Tezos and many new blockchains are also using it.

Correlatively, Avalanche has made its own family of protocols, known as Snow. Snow combines the best features of classical consensus protocols and the best of the Nakamoto consensus. It uses a lightweight mechanism that samples the network, leading to low latency and high throughput without agreeing on the precise membership of the system.

It can scale from thousands to millions of participants with direct participation in the consensus protocol. Because the protocol does not use any PoW mining, it does not use large amounts of energy, resulting in a lightweight, green protocol. In the image below, you can see a comparison of the different families of consensus mechanisms. Proof-of-Stake is not represented here.

Image and information are sourced from the Avalanche Whitepaper.

Team


Who Is On The Team?

  • Jackson Poon – CEO & Co-Founder https://www.linkedin.com/in/jackson-poon-61b57b66/
    • Co-Founder & CEO (2021-present) at Legendary Foundry Games.
    • Co-Founder (2021-present) at Paramount Digital, a VC company.
    • General Counsel (2018-2020) at Liquefy, a technology solution and consultancy that enables innovative business models through blockchain technology and digitization.
    • General Counsel (2018-2020) at BlackHorse Group is a team of digital asset evangelists driven to facilitate blockchain adoption by forgoing an ecosystem to support blockchain entrepreneurs and companies.
  • Will Davies – Head of Development https://www.linkedin.com/in/thewill/
    • Head of Development (2021-present) at Legendary Foundry Games.
    • Head of Production (2018-2021) at NeoBards Entertainment Ltd.
    • Manager of Education, International Game Architecture and Design (2013-2018) at Academy of Digital Entertainment, NHTV University.
    • Senior Director (2009-2011) at Ubisoft.
    • Voice Director (2008-2009) at Electronic Arts (EA).
    • Head of Department (2006-2008) at Codemasters.
  • Chris Rothwell – Design Director https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-rothwell-53550721/
  • Garrison Yang – Growth Advisor https://www.linkedin.com/in/garrisonyang/
  • Barış Akçin – Blockchain Developer https://www.linkedin.com/in/baris-akcin/

Team Assessment

Legendary Foundry Games (LFG) was founded in 2021. Their team has a combined experience in AAA titles such as Call of Duty, Assassins Creed, DiRT, Destiny, and Starcraft 2. Although their team roster isn’t the largest at the time of writing, LFG is heavily recruiting, with more than 30 positions available under career on their website. We believe that the team at LFG has a solid foundation to continue their work as we advance.

Do They Have Relevant Experience?

According to the LinkedIn profile, the head of development, Will Davies, has been in the industry for a long time. His experience from his previous work history sets LFG in a great space going forwards. Especially when we talk about management positions with experience in leading a team of developers. He has been a part of projects like Ghost Recon, DiRT, and 200+ more games. Thus, his experience will enable him to handle the inflow of new members to the team as they arrive.

Jackson Poon, the CEO, and Co-Founder of LFG, also has a strong foundation in business and capital management. Chris Rothwell, the design director, has 20 years of game development and design experience. He has worked with companies like Rockstar Games on several titles, like the Grand Theft Auto series.

Combined, we see a team with diverse experience in business management and game development. All this experience, combined with their backers and the fact that they’re heavily recruiting new members to the team, gives us confidence in this game.

Who Are Their Backers?

Ascenders recently raised a $6.4 million private round, co-led by Paramount Capital, Sino Global Capital, Three Arrows Capital, and Merit Circle.

Roadmap


Game Developers Roadmap

Screenshot from https://www.ascenders.gg/litepaper.

Alpha Team’s Thoughts On The Roadmap

Ascenders have a roadmap planned out for the end of 2023. We can see that the project is still in its infancy, but the team has started to market itself. They will launch the governance token within the next few months. We already have the first look and test of the game in the “Combat Challenge Event.” However, the Alpha Test in Q3 of 2023 will be the next phase where we will get to test the true potential of the game. Moreover, there will be a full launch in Q4, 2023.

We feel that Ascenders has a healthy roadmap, which focuses on building out the product and taking its time to get it right. For a project like this to succeed, there needs to be content for players entering, as well as solid burn mechanics in place to prevent the economy from inflating into nothingness.

Guild Facilitation


Delegation: Not clarified.
Ascenders seems to be a game where guilds will play a central role. In Q4 2022, they plan to build the in-game guild system. Guilds and other factions with capital at hand will most likely be setting up the majority of player-created infrastructure in the game.

We envision several guilds owning areas of land with useful buildings on them, profiting on crafting taxes, and so on. It will provide the infrastructure for everyone to use and enable solo players to play the game at their pace while still participating in crafting and other building-related activities.

Whitepaper


Link to the litepaper: https://www.ascenders.gg/litepaper

Alpha Team’s General Thoughts On The Whitepaper

Ascenders does not have a whitepa

Ascenders does not have a whitepaper yet, but they’ve posted a litepaper on the homepage. This doesn’t go as in-depth as we come to expect from whitepapers. It is more of a quick overview of what’s to come and general details about the game.

There are certain elements missing in the litepaper, like how the governance token ($AGC) will get distributed across the investors, the team, etc. Since there will be a public sale, what is the split? How much can we expect to go where? Do they have any strategic partners to help them fulfill their mission? We’ll find out soon, as they will release more details before the launch in the coming months.

The Alpha Team Reads Between The Lines – The Big Picture Talk

Ascenders have great potential for the future. Having an actual game built for this decade and not just some web-based clicker belonging to the previous millenium is refreshing. It will definitely have its place in the P2E gaming ecosystem.

It will definitely have its place in the P2E gaming ecosystem. We’ve also written about Encore, which we believe will fill a gap in the shooter genre of games. They are building the game on Unreal Engine 5, trying to bridge the gap from P2E games to the mainstream gaming community. Ascenders will probably do something similar in bridging a gap to the mainstream, but in a different genre than Encore.

Growth Implications

The choice of Avalanche as a blockchain solution will definitely help out in the scaling department. The transactions are fast with the subnet solution in that ecosystem. However, we don’t know much about the details of the tech stack of Ascenders, except that it is built on Unreal Engine. The information on the version of Unreal Engine is also unavailable. However, the Combat Challenge prototype is built on Unreal Engine 4.

Socialnomics


Social media followers count

PlatformFollower count
Discord15,700
Twitter26,500
YouTube321
Medium460

Compared to other games we’ve analyzed, Ascenders seems to have had a somewhat low profile, judging by their followers. They have 15,700 followers on Discord and 26,500 on Twitter. While writing this article, their Twitter account gained close to 4,000 followers, so it seems like this game is on the rise.

On their Twitter account, Ascenders have been giving daily updates and announcing events regularly. Discord has grown by approx. 2,000 followers in the time we’ve researched this game. Even though Ascenders doesn’t have the biggest following, we are excited to follow the game further.

Conclusion


Ascenders has the most impressive MVP minigame we’ve seen in GameFi, and that says a lot. They have a concept that we, the Alpha team, really appreciate. We are eagerly waiting for further releases so we can continue exploring and experiencing the open world of Ascenders.

Simultaneously, Ascenders have slipped under the radar or kept a low profile, judging from its social media following. Either way, the Ascenders team has been giving daily updates to their followers on Twitter. While writing this article, their following has gone up by almost 4,000.

We love how Ascenders gives the players an open world and not just a web-based clicker. We believe this game will definitely stand out amongst all the P2E games on the market today. According to the roadmap, the game is still in its infancy. And because of this, they don’t have a proper whitepaper yet. However, the litepaper is still available for a quick read.

More details about Ascenders will be out in the coming months, and we are excited to find out more. Their team appears strong with experienced members, but they are still recruiting more associates, so it might be too early to judge their team more surely.

Either way, the art, free world concept, and the free minigame with daily updates give us an understanding of how serious the creators of this game are. The Alpha team will be watching closely.

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