Menya Dragon Ramen, a blockchain game compatible with PlayMining operated by DEA, was released on October 5, 2022. We talked to its director, Takaaki Ikeda (Ikeda), about the appeal of this game, the difficulties encountered after its release, and many other things.
- What can you tell us about Fly penguin?
Ikeda: Fly Penguin's main focus is game development, and our philosophy is to be a company that creates "memorable" games that will stay in the hearts of our customers.
Our main focus is social game development, but we also develop and sell an original consumer game called "BARRICADEZ" on Steam and Switch.
Ikeda: In the spring of 2021, DEA, a company with which our CEO, Mr. Kawahara, had a relationship, told us that they were looking for a company that could develop a new game to be distributed on the PlayMining platform. At the time, there were few blockchain games released, and it was a niche field, but we decided to take on the challenge of developing a blockchain game, which was different from ordinary social games, with the spirit of challenge that only a small company can take on.
- How did it compare to game development up to that point?
Ikeda: First of all, I felt that NFTs could be sold and bought as assets of the customer, which was different from game development up to now. In social games, the characters you acquire are only for in-game use, so the fact that NFTs can be distributed through secondary sales and that rare NFTs have added value was a difference from previous games.
For this reason, I strongly felt that I had to change my way of thinking about game making.
Also, the concept of distributing crypto assets to customers required a completely new way of thinking.
- Were there any titles that you used as references when planning the project?
Ikeda: We used a lot of the then-popular Axie Infinity as a reference. I think it is very interesting that users can arbitrarily create NFTs by combining NFTs and own their own NFTs, not to mention the way to create an economic zone. I think this is a very interesting idea, and I found it very useful.
We also designed the game to be fun and interesting as a web2.0-oriented game so that it would attract the attention of users who play social games.
Ikeda: This is the first blockchain game developed by Fly Penguin and distributed on DEA's PlayMining platform.
The game is a unique "RPG x ramen sales simulation," in which players cook ramen using ingredients obtained by defeating monsters in the game, and sell the ramen to earn points to make the best ramen.
It is a blockchain game with the characteristics of "Play to Earn," where characters that can be operated in the game, which we call "Employees," are sold as NFTs, and by operating them, players can obtain DEAPcoin, a virtual currency, at various points in the game.
Ikeda: If you just want to start the game, all you have to do is enter your e-mail address and click on the URL in the returned e-mail. In fact, at the Tokyo Game Show, it was possible to start the game on the spot by reading the QR code. This can be done on the spot with a level of speed that allows you to play right away.
- Can I play for free?
Ikeda: Even if you don't have NFT, you can play the game for free because you will be given Employees who can play in the game at the start of the game.
Therefore, I think the game is open to people who are not interested in blockchain games or who are not familiar with them.
In this sense, I think this is a good introductory title for people who want to experience a game where they can earn money by playing.
Ikeda: Since PlayMining's main battlegrounds are Southeast Asia and Japan, we thought it was important to have a subject that could reach both.
We also thought that collecting items and doing business would fit well with the concept of earning money by playing, so the idea of acquiring and selling foodstuffs was easy to understand.
By adding the game element of battling monsters, we thought that the cycle of defeating monsters, acquiring items, using them to make something, and selling it would make the game easy to understand and fun for the players.
Based on these concepts, we came up with the idea of using ramen as the main motif. Ramen is very popular in Southeast Asia, and many ramen specialty restaurants have opened in the region. In fact, Japanese ramen restaurants such as Ippudo are popular overseas.
In addition, ramen offers a wide variety of toppings and can be used to create many types of monsters. Considering the game's obviousness as a motif, its global appeal, and its eccentricity, we decided on the title "Menya Dragon Ramen" based on the ramen theme.
- What are the differences from other blockchain games?
Ikeda: Many of our developers are from the social game management field, so I think the abundance of events can be cited. The game is constantly running some kind of in-game event, so no matter when you start the game, it is easy to set goals such as the opportunity to acquire training items or what to do for the time being.
- What kinds of events are being held?
Ikeda: Currently, we hold three to four types of events per month.
The first is a PvP event, where characters compete against each other in a ranking event.
The second is an event to collect items, which are randomly dropped from quests in the game, and exchange them for items.
The third is called a mission event, in which players obtain items by completing missions such as what to put in their ramen.
Finally, there are Challenge Dungeons, which are PvE events. This event has elements such as how many powerful enemies can be defeated and how far one can advance by challenging dungeons of ever-increasing difficulty. Rewards vary depending on the depth of progress, and the high degree of difficulty of the challenge requires a strategic approach.
These events are held twice a month on a rotating basis, with the first half and the second half of the month being held at present. In addition, PvP events are held in parallel with these events, with a total of about three events being held at the same time per month.
-What parts of the game do you find interesting that you want to convey in your game?
Ikeda: In terms of fun elements in the game, there are several interesting elements. Currently, the format of the game is to combine four types of ingredients to make one bowl of ramen. Users can find combinations of ingredients that generate bonus points by trial and error to see which combination is the most efficient and which ramen tastes the best among the ingredients they have. Because of a certain degree of randomness, we hope that you will enjoy this ramen-making experience.
The other is strategy in battle. The party consists of five members, and they act in order from the top of the formation order. What skills you want to use first, what you want from the second character, whether you want to attack as a whole, whether you want to use powerful firepower to defeat the enemy, whether the third character should heal, etc., etc., etc., etc. Preparation is very important in this game.
We hope that players will enjoy the fun of strategizing with the party composition.
- How do you earn money in the game?
Ikeda: You earn points in the game by selling ramen noodles. When a certain amount of points are accumulated, DEAPcoin is awarded, and you can earn DEAPcoin according to your sales.
Even users who have not paid will be able to obtain DEAPcoin over time, and users who have paid will be able to obtain more DEAPcoin because the efficiency of obtaining points will be higher.
Ikeda: Assuming that the price of NFT Employees is currently 0.6 yen per DEP (*), the hurdle for purchasing NFT is lower than other blockchain games, as they can be listed on PlayMining's NFT Market (*) for prices starting at several hundred yen equivalent.
PlayMining also has a scholarship system where you can borrow NFTs owned by someone on the owner's side and play the game. You can also apply for the game through Twitter or Discord.
- What did you pay attention to when developing the blockchain game?
Ikeda: We placed importance on the fact that customers are convinced to spend their money. In the simplest terms, we designed the game so that customers are convinced that the distribution of profit is commensurate with their investment. We have designed the game so that customers are convinced that the profit distribution is commensurate with their investment. We will continue to make adjustments as we move forward.
- How was the response from users after the release?
Ikeda: We are constantly checking the feedback we receive on various social networking services and inquiry forms. Since this is a new field for us, many of the customer opinions are very valuable, and we take them into consideration. We not only check the game, but also reflect the opinions we have received since the beginning of the service, from the detailed UI to the major specifications of the game.
In the update in February of this year, we received feedback that the drop rate of training items in the game was too high, so we decided to adjust the drop rate after careful scrutiny of how the game was played. We have also made some minor modifications to the UI to make it easier for players to go on a series of adventures.
- What is important to you in the operation of the site?
Ikeda: Communication with users. I think it is necessary for the management side to place importance on communication with users and incorporate it into the game.
We have heard opinions to some extent in other social games, but since blockchain game users tend to be passionate about games and have a high level of game literacy, we feel that there are many opinions that are worth considering.
Of course, we do not reflect the opinions of the users as they are, but we believe that we need to respond to them sincerely in order to convince users to play our games. We check every single opinion we receive and consider them every time.
Recently, many of the detailed UI and major specifications reflect the opinions we have received since the beginning of the service. I believe that some of the users may receive the message, "My opinion was reflected! I am sure that some of the feedback we have received has been received by users as "My opinions have been reflected!
For example, to go into a little more detail, we received feedback that some users wanted the battle speed to be faster, so we made some adjustments last month to increase the speed.
Also, we received feedback from users that the drop rate of training items was low, so after analyzing the data and discussing the issue within the team, we decided to increase the drop rate.
We are working on improvements in response to user feedback, coordinating user opinions with what we want to achieve.
- What were some of the positive aspects of the service, and what were some of the challenges you faced?
Ikeda: Our clients praise the frequency of our information transmission and the speed of our response. We are very grateful to receive such praise, as this is an area that we consider important.
We still need to work on communication with customers in terms of frequency and speed of information dissemination, so we need to increase the frequency of information dissemination through interviews and AMAs like this one, and strive to operate closer to our customers.
- How do you think NFT and blockchain services will develop in the future?
Ikeda: Simply, we believe that it will continue to expand. In particular, we believe that as the number of games originating from Japan increases, the IP and game assets we have cultivated to date will become a strength for the world.
Currently, in terms of the ratio of Japanese to foreigners, about 40% to 50% are from Southeast Asia, and the remaining 10% are from Europe and the United States. Since the ratio of foreign visitors is more or less 50-50, we are currently considering the possibility of providing Indonesian and Filipino language support in addition to Japanese and English support.
In the past, players simply played with what was provided, but I think that in the future there will be more cases where players invest in the game by issuing NFTs themselves or purchasing NFTs. It may become more commonplace for players to intervene in games and work together with game operators to create games.
- What do you think are the challenges facing the industry?
Ikeda: There is still a strong sense of distrust toward the industry, and I think we are facing the challenge of resolving this issue. Not only the general public, but also people in the game industry still think the industry is "suspicious and dangerous.
I feel that there are many people in Japan and abroad who are skeptical about terms such as NFT, blockchain games, and P2E. What is non-replicable? Isn't it suspicious to make money from games? Isn't it a breeding ground for resellers? I think it is necessary to solve these questions one by one in a careful manner.
- Please let us know if there are any future updates or events.
Ikeda: We continue to hold regular monthly events called Ramen Battle Arena. This is one of the main features of P2E at Menya Dragon Ramen. We also plan to make appropriate adjustments to make our customers feel more at ease with new events and features as well as to renovate existing features and balance.
As for the new NFT, we are planning to sell it in the middle of March. We will be releasing information on this as well little by little, so please follow us on various SNS. We are also preparing to collaborate with IPs of other companies, so we hope you are looking forward to this as well!
We will continue to work on creating games with sincerity, so please look forward to them. We look forward to your continued support for "Menya Dragon Ramen".
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