Dcity: An in-depth review from a London University "Digital Media and Games" Professor

in LeoFinance11 months ago


My "State of the Union" post from 3 days ago received a lot of interesting comments and led to some great discussions.

There was one comment in particular that caught my attention. @notaboutme reflected on each of my bullet points with useful and insightful comments and over the last few days we talked some more about his ideas on discord.

It turned out that @notaboutme took a professional interest in Dcity, as he teaches "Digital Media and Games" to computer science students at Brunel University in London. He completed an MSc in Grid Computing at the University of Amsterdam and holds a PhD in Computational Astrophysics. Also, @notaboutme currently runs Science Hackathons to efficiently establish new interdisciplinary collaborations.

Needless to say, art was interested to hear his take on my ideas and Dcity in general.

Let me start with his comment on my post:

"We're in a huge lockdown here in London, so hanging up posters is not so useful.

But this post is very clear and comprehensive. I am actually a lecturer teaching Games, so I thought it could be nice to share my personal thoughts on the main points:

1 ROI on SIM:
I think it's important to make a clear choice here: is dCity a gamified investment or a NFT game? If it's the former then maximizing long term ROI and participation should be paramount, and your suggestions do a lot to boost it. But if it's the latter, then it may be better to shift the focus from the investment aspects to better onboarding for new players (e.g. paypal support), and expanding the entertainment value of the gameplay, all without entirely destroying the in-game econonomy.

2 Bigger role for DcityFund
For a gamified investment this makes perfect sense. For an NFT game it'd be mission creep.

The main question that arises from his first two points is: How do we classify Dcity? If we look at the amount of money the players have put in the game, it is clear that this goes beyond what could be considered "fun money" Many of the top players have put between 50k and 100k hive in and some players even well over 100k. All the top players i have asked, told me they see this as an investment and did so, because they believe Dcity will bring them a great return on their investment in the years to come.

Having said that, i believe that expanding the development of the game value of Dcity's gameplay should go hand in hand with the development of the investment side.


3 Maintaining the SIM peg.
This is a valuable point, and I largely agree here. However, there is still a weakness in that the HIVE currency can (and does) sink in value. Are there any methods that could help mitigate that?

4 What if Gerber's parachute won't open?
Something worth thinking about, but also considering the limited development / expansion possibilities when the game is so centralized + possible legal implications if the market cap becomes high?

Both remarks are worth thinking about. Please share you thoughts in the comments.

5 Marketing and userbase growth
Good games need less promotion, so I think diversifying the gameplay strategies a bit more will make promotions more effective.

I am sure @gerber agrees with this point, as he has always said that he wants to develop the game further, before thinking about promotion efforts. Personally i believe development and promotion can walk hand in hand and i'd love to see the community doing their part in both matters.


6 Pensionada Tax
I strongly disagree with this one. The HIVE valuation is in such a mess because off-boarding is so incredibly difficult. It needs to be possible for people to leave the game, or else they will be much more reluctant to enter or really commit to it.

Most people that commented on the "Pensionada or Idle" tax, did not think it was a good idea, so i think it won't need any further discussion and i'll put it on ice until furure developments might call for another look.

7 Ask not what Dcity can do for you, but what you can do for Dcity
I think we should ask both. It should be an ecosystem that can (and already does) deliver to players, but it should also enable players to contribute more easily. The NFT art auction is a very interesting feature in that light, and I believe the production / submission of pieces should be much better integrated in the core game engine. Also, I think it'd be really cool if you could have streaming events (e.g. concerts) in your Dcity, and certain shows would be up for sale too (perhaps some link with Rising Star could be nice there?). Likewise, Stadiums could be dedicated to host specific Rabona football clubs, allowing people to zoom in on the action there.

It all takes development effort, but I believe a good software engineering approach, dedicated people and solidly implementing a few very cool features rather than many mediocre ones can make it tractable even for a small development team.

Lastly, to answer what I can do for Dcity: give advice. You have it in front of you, and I can always give more suggestions later. Oh, and I'm a pretty decent Python coder, FWIW ;).

We have a great community and many people who are willing to chip in with their specific skill set. A more transparant software engineering approach, but also a more structured development and marketing approach, will allow us, dedicated people, to do our part in developing this great game of ours.

After all, we are all in the same boat and both dedicated players and a dedicated development team are needed in bringing the game to the next level.


In my further talks with @notaboutme on discord we discussed these issues more and i'd like to share some of that conversation as well.

"Well, it's not a binary situation and different games are on different places on the continuum. But at the moment I think Dcity currently leans a little more to a gamified investment than an NFT game, whereas Splinterlands is a bit in the middle and Rabona (currently) leans more towards being an NFT game.

I think that moving the concept slightly more to an NFT game could increase active participation by players, because they will see it less as a passive investment and more as something enjoyable to dig in too."

"It does lean more towards an investment. I know players who put way over 100k hive. And many including myself with amounts between 50k and 100k hive. This makes it more than just another game, and although we all do enjoy the gaming side of things a lot, it is serious money that we put in. Having said that, the gaming side of Dcity is what brings the fun and what creates commitment and builds the community.


Keeping it clearly on the side of a gamified investment is also viable, but can be a trickier rope to walk. There are several aspects that need to work out over a prolonged period, such as a stable SIM peg, stable HIVE valuation, lack of competition with a clearly higher ROI. I suppose Dcity is doing a decent job in staying on that tightrope for the time being :).

Now in terms of what engages players, it's actually pretty much the same for games and for gamified environments: Meaning (i.e. players care about what needs to be accomplished), Mastery (i.e. players have a sense of progression in skill as they become more experienced) and Autonomy (i.e. players can put their creativity in the game).

When it comes to Dcity, let me go over the three briefly:
Meaning: the use of NFTs helps give the game meaning, and it is nicely relatable to other city sims.
Autonomy: The autonomy component is also good with some city aesthetic design features, an NFT art gallery, and the total freedom of building selection. However, I do think this aspect could be strengthened further.
Mastery: This aspect is in my opinion perhaps the weakest at the moment. The injection of funds and the passage of time are dominant aspects in how players progress, and although there are trade-offs to make, it is often quite straightforward to make choices that are close to optimal. So perhaps this is an aspect to think about more?

I believe crypt gaming or blockchain gaming is going to explode in the coming years and if it is up to me, Dcity will end up combining the right gameplay (your meaning, autonomy and mastery) and providing value, by growwing into a ventures fund for investments in crypto gaming. If we manage to do well on both these fronts, we have a unique proposition and a great starting point to become a force to reckon with in crypto gaming"

I hope this post will create as much, or even more, participation as my previous one and i am looking forward to hearing what you guys think.


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I whole heartedly believe gameplay is what will make demand grow. Looking back at pass crypto projects that focus on high returns have never really been sustainable. That is because fundamentally it is not stable. Quick returns will always have weak hands as holders because the risk is too great. It’s human nature.

Have a game where it allows people to experience what they can not in the real world has always been profitable. Players will be focused on game mechanicals and as developers listen accordingly. Developers have to avoid making the game too expensive to pay or leave out a lot of players.

Dcity fits well for all players whether big whales or small fishes as where it stands. Buyin can be very little or a lot which allows all kinds of players to play. Easy to learn but also complex enough to make people think.

Just to clarify it is not wrong to think of dcity as both an investment and a game but at the end of the day the focus is to keep players active and willing to play daily. Have plenty of strong hands supporting the game and it will continue to prosper. Thanks for all your efforts and insights.

I think growth will come mostly from more dveloping more game mechanics as well. I can't imagine there are many investors at the moment looking for the best crypto game to put their money in. So new players will mostly come for the game itself, combined with an interesting promise of "play to earn".

However, some of these new players will recognize the investment part of the gme and put much more in than is justified for "just a game". We have multiple players that have put more than $5,000 US in Dcity and some that put in more than $10k. At that point it becomes a flat out investment and that part of the equation needs developing just as much as the game dynamics do.

If we manage to pull that off, we have something that for now is really one of a kind.

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You really should. ;-)

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I think that moving the game more to the NFT side will benefit the game in popularity for sure and we should do that since people do not have a lot of time always to play the game.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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More info why you see this.

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That is a great activity for the dCity game and I see as well - since the beginning - a lot of potential.

My fun project - the beer token - was the first external part in the game and beerfest was there. I see so much potential to add even more external activities into the personal city of each player, as this brings way more creativity to the whole HIVE eco system.

In my dreams I see some teaching for new players, some art exhibition or just some meetings in the city (by using tools like Jitsi, zoom or other WebRTC stuff) some investment profiles to start and so much more.

Anyway, we as the community, have the opportunity to come with ideas, projects and our creativity.

Thanks @luca-legend to start this discussion and @notaboutme to come with professional suggestions and @gerber for the little sleep you need for developing all this. I'm here to help and I love to develop this to the next level where we have fun while we as well earn on this "gamification of life"

all works on math which I love so much

Very interesting. I missed the first post, but this was a really great read. Thanks for sharing all of the thoughtful comments and questions. I have recently just gotten into dCity, so I am still learning the ropes.

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Welcome aboard. I have written several Dcity Helper posts that could help you best build your city.

Have fun playing.

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Mr president this is amazing I learn many things again. To this post

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It's a though question, but I guess I currently see DCity more as a gamified investment, as the ROI seems to be higher than delegation or curation when playing through a certain strategy.

I'm really curious how @gerber views his role once he scales the game further. When I started, there were a little under/over 1.000 active cities and a couple of months later, it's over 1.500. That growth is great for the game itself.

I also think that active development is important. If the game were to become stagnant, people would think it is dead and start considering playing elsewhere. I've seen several new background cards and the launch of the lobby, which gives me confidence that the development commitment is there.

Tbh, I don't currently play rabona and splinterlands, but would be interested how dcity fares compared to those two, especially the fluctuation of the market. With an NFT game, you would like to think that some cards would only increase in value over time. So far DCity NFT's seem the fluctuate.

About the Mastery aspect, I think it makes sense. It would be good if the 3rd edition cards would have features that benefit an owner during certain in game situation (earning extra SIM or protection against SIM income loss during floods, natural disasters, pandemics etc.).

But as an avid SIM City player in the past, I love this game and the game play is better than I'd expected it to be when I started.

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Another interesting and informative post that I will read again, for sure. I would like to get in on that Dcity Discord server if anyone can point me in the right direction. Sounds like a lot of cool conversations take place there. :)

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Thanks! 👍👍👍


Here you go. Would be nice to have you there :<)

Thank you @vincentnijman! 😁

Good day Mr. President,

Greed brought me to DCity. Its gameplay, addictiveness, and my investment kept me here.

Just kidding ( or am I? )

In all seriousness, I tried a couple of Hive games before but none of them kept me interested. DCity did. I've only been active for a week or two and am slowly climbing the ranks and investing more. Meanwhile I'm trying to learn as much as I can from others and on Discord.

@justinparke did a fun Pimp my City post for me recently and I was pleasantly surprised to suddenly see my good friend @whatamidoing speed past me in the ranking, without being aware that he started playing too. Then I learnt it was the pimp post that got him hooked haha!

NFT art also played a part ( as I have been active on NFT showroom for a month or three now ). I should try to find a way to combine this with DCity one day soon. Thanks for the reminder!

There's so much I could add to this but frankly I've still got a lot to learn / figure out first. I will keep an eye on your posts and I'm sure we'll talk more in the near future.

Thanks for starting this discussion and I'm excited for what 2021 is gonna bring us, both on DCity, Hive and the blockchain in general.


Sorry, I'm a bit of a show off, I don't like competition when it's ruthless, but when it's friendly I get very competitive :-D

Be careful! I'm gaining on you, using stealth ( like a ninja )

Several Hive games have that onboarding issue actually, although Splinterlands managed to solve it pretty well.

Perhaps that approach can be reused for the other games as well? I do think that more players for one game will lead to more players for the other games as well, as transferring assets between games is pretty cool. I came in via Splinterlands myself for instance, and could start easily with DCity because of my Splinterlands account :).

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Very true. The Hive games strengthen each other and have more potential to draw new Hive users in than the original blogging aspect itself.

The 2nd layer apps will do more for Hive for user onboarding than the main chain itself.

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Interesting comment. I wonder how much can be kept on Dcity itself and how best to let new users experience the 1st layer aspects themselves.

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You said it with this comment.

In order to grow our our userbase we have to focus on making onboarding easy (maybe in cooperation with other hive games) and find something maybe to create "key awareness" in steps. Also the game dynamics itself are important in getting new players in.

When players have been playing for a while, they will recognize the ROI and investment potential of Dcity and will not only stay, but tell others about this great game they found that actually makes them money.

So as i said many times before, we have to make sure we take care of both aspects and Dcity could go to the moon.

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Can't help but think that it should be different from just climbing the ranks by buying more cards / investing more ( that's kind of how it feels to me, right now but maybe I'm missing something here ). It would also make things more interesting if there was more going on. It would be less of a long term ( background ) investment. In other words, more interactivity would be cool.

I also understand that those who invest more, deserve more, but it would be nice if there were some more dynamics at play. And, I guess it would help if the game was to be more rewarding for smaller / new users too ( one way or another ).

Just my two SIM ;<)