If you were ever a fan of Age of Empires or Crusader Kings and looking for your web3 dose of medieval strategy where you build your own empire from the ground up, look no further than Blocklords. One of our honorable mentions in our top 10 blockchain games to keep an eye out for, Blocklords stands out from the rest of the web3 gaming space with its incredible cinematic trailers and complex strategy gameplay.
The approach the game takes in giving players the opportunity to climb the ranks of the empire from being mere farmers to potential lords or ladies is incredibly attractive. The team excels in making all roles unique, and serve a purpose to the success of the entire kingdom. Farmers, although often seen as the lowest rank, are vital to everything the upper class needs to continue ruling a healthy empire.
We got the opportunity to sit down with David Johansson,, CEO of MetaKing Studios, the development studio behind Blocklords to discuss the inspirations behind creating a web3 medieval strategy, the player’s decisions affecting the world around them, the Dynasty system, and what the future holds for both Blocklords and Metaking as a game and development studio respectively.
If you can please introduce yourself, Blocklords, and the Metaking Studios behind it.
Certainly. I’m David Johansson, I’m CEO of MetaKing Studios and co-founder of the Seascape Network. MetaKing Studios is the team behind our flagship title BLOCKLORDS. The game was first envisioned in 2017 with the idea of creating a fun player-centered experience where the whole world is shaped based on players’ decisions.
In BLOCKLORDS, each choice and action impacts a player’s in-game legacy, effectively empowering players to create their own unique shared experiences with others. Each Hero character is a digital asset, and players have full ownership of the game’s economy.
At MetaKing Studios we’re all gamers ourselves, so we really understand the importance of that shared gameplay experience. Our team started small, but as we’ve expanded we’ve onboarded talented teammates with experience working with companies including EA, Creative Assembly, and Apple.
In terms of inspiration, what pushed you to create a medieval grand strategy game and which games were your biggest inspiration?
In terms of biggest inspiration, Age of Empires, Total War, and Crusader Kings are definitely up there. I think having a medieval world filled with these AAA grand strategy elements is the ideal environment for player-owned digital assets to thrive and mutually take each other to the next level.
There’s a lot of natural ownership in strategy games. Players feel pride in what they have and create, which are also key elements of web3 as a concept. Put them together, and they’re a perfect fit.
The path from farmer to king is what Blocklords is all about. How do you think web3 and enabling player ownership will contribute to this element?
If you look at traditional gaming, there’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with leveling up your character and progressing in the game. But at the end of the day there’s not much you can actually do with that character. You can sink months and years of time into these games and not really see anything for it, because technically those characters and assets still belong to the studio. This is an area where web3 technology can really enhance the player experience and make up for those gaps.
Part of the appeal of BLOCKLORDS is making it accessible to everyone—players can start from the ground up with a basic Farmer, and by utilizing their time and skill in-game correctly, can eventually work their way up to Ruler. In that way we’re really empowering players to showcase their skill and be rewarded for it. Thanks to the game’s asymmetrical economy those Heroes will have huge value in the world, allowing players to effectively monetize their passion if they choose to do so.
Each player will have a role to play within the Blocklords’ hierarchy. How did you manage to arrive at a balance where all roles are relatively equally desirable?
I think it’s human nature to want to be the best at something. But that something isn’t always the same for everyone. Sure, there will always be players who want to be King and move as high up the political ladder as they can. But there’s also players who will want to be the best at farming or gathering resources, or the best at defending the land from Raiders, or even the best at ransacking other people’s farms.
The answer is really finding the fun in each of these things and making sure each role has a key, exclusive part to play in the world itself. In that way, players can express themselves and feel important and at home no matter what their playstyle is.
Franchises like Civilization are notorious for how impactful your political decisions are. How impactful are the political decisions on the world around them?
Every choice and action has a consequence, and those consequences become a lot more far-reaching the higher a Hero’s political rank is. Lords and Ladies are effectively the city managers. They’re in charge of things like taxation, allocating resources, managing and developing infrastructure. They’re also responsible for paying Knights to protect Farmers.
For example, you could have a Lord who’s very generous and doesn’t tax his Farmers much, but as a result he won’t have the necessary funds to allocate toward protecting the city. Raiders and rival Lords can take full advantage of that, and then the players with Farmers will suffer for it. On the other hand, a Lord might tax his citizens too much, causing the players he rules to rebel. It’s a precarious role to play that really affects everybody, and requires a lot of awareness of the world and players around them to play it well.
With how much freedom players have, it is almost impossible to predict certain behaviors and with the majority of elements affecting one another. Will there be any structures in place to avoid players potentially ruining the experience for others?
There’s definitely excitement! That’s the beauty of creating a world that mimics our own in a lot of ways. No doubt there will be players who rise up and become noble Kings and Queens, but there will also be players whose sole motivation is to wreak havoc and will use their power for personal gain. In a world where everyone has ownership, everyone has a stake in the outcome and people have a way of naturally balancing each other out.
In the context of BLOCKLORDS, there will be treaties, there will be wars, there will be revolutions, and there may even be peace at times. With people’s characters at stake, we expect players will be deeply invested in making strategic choices and alliances that will allow their legacies to not only survive, but thrive. Necessity is the mother of invention as they say, and people can be very surprising.
Some of the mentioned elements are actually other players under that ruler and not NPCs for example. What would be the result of a corrupt or unfit ruler for example?
It may seem detrimental at first, but in a world where every choice matters, chaos creates opportunities. Players may choose paths in the interest of preserving their legacies. For example, Farmers may choose to rebel and cut off resources. Knights may refuse to work. Raiders may take advantage. A new Hero may rise up and swoop in to take the place of the unfit Ruler.
Just like with any character in BLOCKLORDS, Rulers aren’t untouchable. Say, for example, a Lord wants to become a King. They need the support of other Lords and Ladies to achieve that role. At its heart, being a Ruler means forging alliances. If you don’t have the support of your people, you’ll most likely meet a bitter end.
Player-driven economies take time to thrive, but if done right, enable players to know what is in demand and act accordingly. How difficult will it be to make sure everything is balanced and running smoothly without “free market” exploits?
There’s always a level of challenge when it comes to creating sustainable economies. Each character role benefits from the others in some way, meaning a drop in the number of players fulfilling that role can potentially make it even more valuable. In this way the world will always have opportunities and no matter what role players fulfill, everyone benefits. That being said, there is no guaranteed winner in the world of BLOCKLORDS—players will have to earn their keep to build a sustainable in-game economy.
The Dynasty system allows for Heroes to live on through generations, passing traits down their tree. Can you elaborate more on the Dynasty system?
The Dynasty system is the ultimate way of showcasing your skill and establishing your legacy in the universe. All Heroes have a limited lifespan and will eventually pass away. To continue your in-game legacy and progress, passing on your traits to your descendants is key.
Over time and generations of characters these traits can become highly specialized, and allow players to claim their own unique legacy within the world in ways that could only be possible through seeking out specific traits for their bloodline. I expect given enough time, we’ll see some very interesting combinations and specializations!
Will there be a campaign mode where all players play as a certain character and follow its path? If not, do you think it is something we can potentially see down the line?
Naturally we’ll have a tutorial to help players get acquainted with the world and mechanics of BLOCKLORDS. Currently there is no set campaign mode, since we want players to have the ability to freely express themselves and don’t want to force players down a linear path. However, players’ stories will have a direct impact on the future history of the land. You’ll have to wait and see to know more.
What is the biggest challenge you are running into at the moment while developing Blocklords and how are you tackling it?
In a lot of ways the biggest challenge is educating people. We’re doing something that hasn’t been done before in creating a AAA grand strategy web3 game built on a solid principle of fun. There’s a lot of hesitation from traditional gamers when it comes to web3 due to bad actors in the space and not fully understanding what exactly web3 technology can offer them.
There’s also misconceptions about digital assets ruining games—but digital assets don’t have to be a bored JPEG or an artificial paywall. They shouldn’t be based on hype. They shouldn’t take the fun out of things. Digital assets can be incredible tools in empowering players to have fun and truly own their experience. And that’s what we hope to give to our players: A fun experience above all else.
What do you think the future holds for you as a development studio and what are the challenges navigating the space as a web3 game development studio?
I think the challenge of navigating the space moving forward will continue to be educating people. It’s up to us to set an example and demonstrate a true use case with our digital asset Heroes and show that, yes, web3 games can and should be fun. Without sharing too many details, I will say the future is bright and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead as we embark as a team on this journey alongside our players, partners, and supporters.
We hope you enjoyed the interview with David, and it was our pleasure as well to see everything in the works behind the scenes for Blocklords. We don’t even want to imagine the amount of hours we are going to sink into this one. One thing is for sure is that web3 gaming is bound to have its king in the web3 gaming strategy genre.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section down below and keep an eye out for more upcoming exclusive interviews from across the web3 gaming space. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out our earlier interviews with Brent Liang, Founding Team Member at Fractal, Grant Haseley, Executive Director of Undead Blocks, and Loopify, NFT influencer and CEO of The Treeverse.