The upcoming NFT game Inanis Invictus (“Void Unconquered”) aims to bring together traditional tabletop gaming with digital NFT technology, all on the ICON blockchain network.

From their CPS proposal:

Set in a far distant and dystopian future where vast space empires and visceral combat are the norm, Inanis Invictus will allow players to collect NFT ship assets that can be used in turn-based and tabletop-esque fleet combat matches.”

While validators approved the project in the last CPS round, it could not receive the funding it needed. However, the project has been resubmitted to the next application period for free.

We contacted Brandon of Foundry Box Media, the team behind Inanis Invictus, to learn more about the game. We usually put interviews into narrative format, but Brandon gave us so much material that we just present it “as is.”

So, without further ado…

Tell us about your team.

The team behind Inanis Invictus is Foundry Box Media, which has been a part of the ICON network since before official decentralization (mid 2018) as a prospective and current P-Rep. Our small team is primarily managed by me, Brandon. I am a web developer by trade, with a history of designing and developing web applications for the private sector. We have two other team members. Brian, who has been a part of the team since the beginning, is primarily responsible for content writing, social media management and, in the context of Inanis Invictus, creative and content writing and technical review. He also helps support some of the front end and application development and resource management. The final team member is a new addition Zach, who is serving as the primary artist for the project and is responsible for designing and delivering on the core visual assets. 

Ultimately I’m looking to onboard additional team members as the project ramps up, too, but we’re still early.

Briefly introduce your game.

Inanis Invictus is a hybrid NFT and game project that is attempting to deliver on traditional tabletop gaming and collectible experiences by leveraging blockchain Non-Fungible Token (NFT) technologies.

Inspired by games like “Mage Knight” and “Warhammer,” where players would buy collectible and semi-collectible game pieces to make up collections of playable game pieces that could be deployed in tabletop wargame matches, Inanis Invictus is aiming to digitize that experience by letting its players collect digital game pieces in the same manner. The inspiration for the gameplay mechanics, which are being designed from the ground up, come from a somewhat esoteric game called “Silent Death,” which was an early 90’s tabletop game that featured space combat on hex grid maps where players would draft small fleets of ships and pit them against other players. While Inanis Invictus will largely have a similar feel, the ruleset has been designed and built with some more modern gaming techniques and approaches to help simplify and streamline the experience.

The goal is to provide an engaging ruleset that will allow players to use their NFT collections to play, in a similar fashion, on their table top by printing ship sheets and using a hex map to play the game while also eventually providing a comparable digital experience that simulates the feel of ad-hoc table top matches using a mobile/digital game client too.

Were you big into tabletop gaming before? Which games?

Yep, I’ve grown up as a gamer and still regularly play various tabletop and social games. I was lightly into Warhammer, but also played Silent Death, Mage Knight, Hero Clix and a few others. I was also into Magic The Gathering as a tournament player for a few years and lightly got into various other collectible card games. I’ve also been lucky to be a part of a pretty tight knit gaming group playing various RPGs and social games like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, 13th Age and many others.

What influences inspired your game?

I think the biggest influences really were the awesome experiences I had playing games like Silent Death and Mage Knight with my friends when I was younger and the thrill that comes with building collections of useful pieces that are not only fun to play, but cool to look at too. For years I’ve been looking for a way to try and emulate those experiences, but not having found them, it seemed like maybe I should do it myself.

How will your game work?

Much like many tabletop war games, Inanis Invictus will be played on a hex grid map. Players will need access to the Inanis Invictus game rules, which will be accessible in an online, browsable and searchable index, as well as available in a printed format for free. Eventually we will be seeking to publish a hardback ruleset as well, which will be available for purchase. 

Players will also need at least a few NFT ships in their collections and, if they are playing at the table top, will need the printed ship sheets, a hex map and some dice. If this is a game in our upcoming digital client, they would simply need access to their NFT collections and a suitable supported crypto wallet, as well as the game client itself, of course.

Using their ship collections two or more players will determine a “Command Point Limit” for the match. This is simply a point pool that defines the amount of assets available to each player which they will use to draft their fleets for the match. This could simply be an arbitrary amount they agree too, or defined by a more standard format (as by tournament or competition rules, for example). Then players will draft fleets of ships up to, but not exceeding, the command point total for the match from their collections. Each ship will have a “Command Point” value that will be determined, algorithmically, by the composition of its attributes, size and abilities to help maintain game balance. As an example, one corvette might be worth 40 command points, while another may be worth 55 because it has higher stats.

From there, once players have drafted their fleets, play order is defined by ship initiative rolls which are determined by ship statistics and random dice rolls. Some ships may be faster or slower than others meaning they are more likely to go first. Play commences in ship turn order. Each ship will be able to move and fire weapons based on its attributes, capabilities and rules within its turn. There are a wide variety of weapons with varying degrees of damage, range and tracking ability. Some weapons may require line of sight, while weapons like torpedoes are slow but devastating (and moved by the player each turn).

Ships will have a number of defenses against their opponents including the ability to dodge, deflect or reduce damage via shields and armor and the opportunity to use point defense rolls against things like aircraft or torpedoes. Some ships may have special abilities, such as the ability to repair other ships or even ram enemies.

As ships take damage they will be subject to critical hits and may lose effectiveness. Weapons may be destroyed or their attributes may degrade during a match, limiting their capability. 

And play commences until all opponent ships are destroyed or disabled, at least in sudden death modes. But additional game modes such as capture the flag, king of the hill or convoys will be easily implemented within later versions of the game rules too!

Can you introduce the universe of your game?

While the content and lore for Inanis Invictus is still in its early stages, the universe at large will take place in a distant future where humanity and other alien empires have been long established. A hegemony of loosely and fragile empires struggle to maintain control over the known and established galaxy and the players will take on the role of freelancers, mercenaries or other independent organizations capitalizing on the pervasive and consistent need for such resources in the countless proxy wars and tenuous struggles raging across the galaxy.

Ultimately most of this will simply be flavor and context for the existing game plans and foreseeable future, but there are some distant ideas and plans to expand upon the storytelling with additional game mechanics or other media entries into the universe, if it all pans out.

What makes your NFTs unique?

There are a couple of things I think that sets this project apart from others in the space. First, I don’t think anyone or certainly not many are trying to expand NFT technology into the tabletop genre. Second, while we have some pretty cool art coming together for these NFTs, the real fun comes from the wide variety of attributes, abilities and the overall tactical complexity that each piece represents. These NFTs will have tangible playability in multiple layers of planned gameplay and, even if you aren’t lucky enough to score some of the rarest ships, every NFT will be perfectly playable in the game thanks to the command point approach toward balancing. While common ships may not be individually as effective, they will be balanced against your ability to draft more of them compared to rarer and (likely) stronger ships. Lastly, our approach and vision is not just for an NFT project, or just a game or just a crypto token, but instead, a mix of all and more. In addition to their playability and collectability, these NFTs will also allow players to generate yield in the form of the VOID token or additional NFT drops in upcoming planned features.

How are you feeling about the upcoming CPS round?

We’ve felt great from the outset. Last round proved that there was interest in our idea and viability and only served to motivate us further. While we didn’t actually receive the funding we needed, our proposal was accepted by the CPS validators at 100%. The CPS has limited funds each round and it makes sense that some of the other projects were prioritized ahead of ours, it just ended up being bad timing for our submission.

We feel better about our chances in the next round. So far there aren’t enough projects to exceed the funding for this next round, which dramatically increases our chances of getting the funding we need to make this as successful as possible.

What has been the most challenging aspect of designing your game so far?

I think most people would expect to hear “developing the blockchain smart contracts” or some other complex technical aspect but, in reality, a lot of that stuff comes naturally to me. Once I took the time to get familiar with the limitations and approach needed for writing smart contracts (and brushing up on my Java), I was able to get the smart contracts prototyped and working on the test net. 

More testing and a few more updates are necessary, but they are largely ready to go right now.

For me the more creative aspects of the game design and the mechanical balancing have been the most challenging thus far. Inanis Invictus is a complex game by design. I want a game with a lot of tactical complexity and, for a lack of a better term, a lot of options and “fiddly bits” for players to chew on. But designing games that deliver tactical depth with intuitive gameplay while allowing them to be fun and approachable is not easy. I hope we can deliver on something that meets those criteria for a large number of people.

How has the ICON community responded to your project so far?

So far the response seems to have been good! There seems to be a growing interest in the project and I think people are starting to get excited. We are still largely flying under the radar for the broader community, but our efforts on promotion and community building are not in full force yet. Once things start to come together a bit more, we will be engaging with the ICON community with some NFT and Token promotions, opening a discord and forum and start doing more aggressive promotion with ICON and the broader crypto communities.

Beyond that, there are plans to engage gaming communities too, but we feel like those require a bit more  polish in the product before we start promoting in those communities too. Ideally, we will be able to effectively engage with gaming communities and many crypto communities in addition to ICON, by leveraging ICON’s interoperability technology and ethos.

When do you think the game will launch?

This probably has a few answers. Let me try to be as concise as possible.

The development plan has 3 primary phases. There are a few reasons for this approach, but the biggest comes down to funding management. It should be no surprise that game development isn’t cheap. Developers and resources are expensive (and rightfully so), so our plan, in very short summary, is to try and launch the NFT assets and platform as a means to bootstrap the later project development. Ultimately our goal is to avoid the need to ask for funding to deliver on the entirety of the planned project, after our initial CPS proposal that is.

Most of this information can be found on our project roadmap here:

Phase 1 is what we’re working on now and that includes all of the core infrastructure (smart contracts on ICON for NFTs, Tokens, Marketplace, etc), our website and information hub, all of the art and, of course, the beta version of our ruleset (provided through the website as an interactive and index reference). We are targeting a launch for Phase 1 of August 1st, 2022. This was pushed back from a July release because of the CPS delay, so it’s possible we may launch sooner if things go well.

Phase 2 will round out the planned blockchain features and provide some enhancements to the NFT experience. This primarily is focused at providing early investors and NFT buyers a means to begin earning yield and to use their NFTs beyond the tabletop gaming aspect. This will come through planned on-chain mechanics we are calling “Tasks”, that will allow players to stake their ship NFTs to earn VOID or chances at additional automatic NFT drops. Phase 2 will also see the introduction of “Modules” which are an additional NFT type that can be installed on ships to enhance their capabilities or provide unique bonuses. Phase 2 is tentatively planned for a Q1 2023 release.

Lastly, Phase 3 will revolve, almost entirely, around the digital game client development and release. This is the most complex portion of the development cycle as well as the most resource intensive. Each ship NFT released to date will have a 3D model generated and stored along with the NFT meta data, allowing players to 3D print their ships, view them in an online model viewer and that will serve as assets for the digital game client. We are also planning a “licensing” feature that will allow players to license their NFTs to be used by other players (as downloadable ship sheets for table top games, to be 3D printed and/or to be used in their own digital game client matches) for a fee. No ETA can be provided on this until we have a better understanding on the scope and resource requirements, but at minimum delivery on phase 3 will be 12-18 months from start to finish.

Why build on ICON?

There are actually many reasons why we choose ICON for this project. First the ICON community is fantastic and as a long time P-Rep and active community representative we have been looking for ways to help expand ICON’s reach and viability. Second is the CPS, which allows projects that utilize and contribute to ICON’s growth to request funding. Third is because of ICON’s broader vision for interoperability and its efforts on achieving a technical solution to that vision through BTP. By launching on ICON, we see a future where Inanis Invictus can leverage BTP to provide a gaming experience that is blind to the underlying blockchain network it runs on. Lastly and as a more personal note, the technical efficiency and ease of use that ICON provides is awesome. The Java smart contracts that ICON delivered with ICON 2.0 were a brilliant move. Not only is Java far more comfortable, more widely, easy to work with (in my opinion) and more powerful it also eliminates the need for technical audits when deploying smart contract updates. The new goloop engine, network fees and performance of the network at large make it a desirable platform to build on!