Project Nebula, the hottest NFT game built on the ICON blockchain, is launching stage two of their Zone Control Competition today. Over the coming 30 days, participating players will be competing in 141 sectors of space for ownership of 5217 NFT zones, as well as multiple blueprints and consumable items.

Stage one finished on October 20 after a month of competition, with the most active players earning between 100 to 213 data points each. Players are rewarded at the end of each stage based on the number of points they’ve earned over the past month: the leading player in each sector gains control of two zones, and everybody can gain up to two consumables and two blueprints each, depending on their data points.

In Project Nebula, the “zones” under dispute are individual spaces on the game’s hex map of explorable space. Players will soon reap huge benefits from ownership of zones, when the crafting of various structures, such as space stations, is made possible with an upcoming expansion.

Project Nebula: a brief primer

If you haven’t tried out NFT gaming yet, now is a great time to get into the hobby. Players from all over the world are competing for in-game NFT items that sell for hundreds — and sometimes even thousands — of dollars. These games also require cryptocurrency to play, so in a sense it’s a fun way to make use of the cryptocurrency you’re already HODLing with relatively low risk of loss (unless you gamble on an overpriced NFT, of course).

Project Nebula is a sci-fi themed game in which players fly NFT spaceships around NFT space in search of star systems containing claimable NFT planets. Unique art, music and lore collectables can be found in the game, and planets and spaceships can also be sold on an in-game marketplace. If you’re interested in learning more about Project Nebula, check out this Iconist article.

As with other NFT games, players are making real cryptocurrency in Project Nebula. The most expensive sale yet just transacted last week with an extremely rare “mythic planet” selling for the equivalent of USD 8,400. It’s also worth noting that the person who discovered this planet also took home a finder’s fee of USD 2,000 — playing this game can be quite lucrative if you’re lucky.

If you’re interested in joining, the one thing you’ll need to know as a new player is that you’ll have to purchase a spaceship to start out in. That’s right, even starter ships are NFTs that must be purchased, with the cheapest ones generally selling for around 100 ICX if you’re lucky — at current market prices, that’s a little over USD 200, and depending on what’s available in the auction, you might end up spending as much as USD 350.

Best starting advice: join a guild

Many would-be players won’t have 100 ICX to buy that starting ship with (or may be unwilling to invest that much into a game). Don’t worry, you might still be able to play if you join the ICON Pinas guild.

ICON Pinas set up a guild that helps new players get started by sponsoring their first spaceship for them (if they have one available). The ship is put on a kind of a lease plan, with players being able to fly around and explore game space as much as they want, and taking full ownership of the ship once they’ve earned enough ICX in the game to pay for it. It generally doesn’t take long (in theory) before you find your first rare planet and earn that finder’s fee.

ICON Pinas has a limited number of spaceships available to loan, mind you, so you might be put on a waiting list. There are other guilds, too, where players collaborate and share information about their discoveries, all of which are useful for new players. To connect with this community, join the Project Nebula Discord server.

After the game launched, our whole team was blown away by how engaging and supportive our community is towards the game, each other and new players,” ICON Forge CEO Holger Sundja, told us. “Our community members have written instructional articles on how to get started in the game and launched a fan-made game statistics webpage. A fan-made wiki is also currently under construction. All of these are helpful as well as useful tools for existing explorers and new players alike.

New expansion coming soon

As Project Nebula just launched in July 2021, in-game actions are mostly limited to exploration, researching new technology, upgrading their planets and interacting with other places that they find, along with selling planets and spaceship NFTs on the in-game marketplace. However, the next expansion in the works — launching sometime in the coming months, according to ICON Forge — will add crafting to the mix, allowing players to build all sorts of things, including space stations.

This crafting update will bring with it tons of new NFTs and a complex in-game economy system that enables even more play-to-earn mechanics for our players,” Sundja said. “We’ll be releasing more information about the crafting system very soon.

Two future planned expansions will also finally bring PVE and PVP space combat to the game’s eager players.

Still a lot to discover

Although there is already a healthy player-base in Project Nebula, new players should not feel intimidated — space is a big place and there is still a lot of content out there that nobody has even found yet. Out of the 5,000 total first-generation planets, 1,814 planets remain unclaimed. There are also over 800 rare and legendary planets, along with one more mythic planet, all of which can net players a lucrative finder’s fee if they sell on the marketplace. The game also boasts a healthy player base, with over 80 percent of ships minted being used to actively play the game.

The game developers are also highly committed to releasing new material on a regular basis. Sundja said, “As the universe of Project Nebula continues to grow into yet undiscovered galactic regions with future generational installments, the interactive game mechanics set to launch with upcoming expansions will undoubtedly create a myriad of new and lucrative roles for players in the New Galaxy.