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October 2, 2020

AMA Recap: 9Lives Arena

AMA Recap: 9Lives Arena
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Get the recap from our live AMA with Ralph Laemmche and Cindy Gomez of Touchhour, the studio behind competitive online RPG 9Lives Arena.

Earlier this week, we hosted a live AMA in our Telegram community with Ralph Laemmche, the CEO of Touchhour and Producer of 9Lives Arena, along with Touchhour President Cindy Gomez.

Here's what Ralph and Cindy had to say about the competitive online RPG, which features permadeath, persistent progression, item crafting, and the world's cross-platform, first online/offline companion: Ooogy.

We have a lot of questions for you, but let's start with introductions!

Ralph: I am one of the two founders of Touchhour, a hardcore gamer since Pong in 1976 and a games industry veteran with now 30 years in the industry.

I wear many hats developing 9LA: Lead Game Designer, Producer, Lead Tester, Community Manager, Sales Executive, CEO..

Cindy: I'm a co-founder and President of Touchhour Inc., who also wears many hats within the company such as CFO, Project Manager, Head of Marketing & PR, HR, music, video editing, website administration, store backend... I could go on for a few days but let's not bore everyone.

I started gaming at the age of 8 and gaming gave me my first big music break as a singer performing songs for Prince of Persia, Street Dancing, and various new ones.

Why does 9Lives Arena need blockchain technology? What are the advantages?

Ralph: The fact that 9LA actually does not "need" blockchain technology means it is one of our big advantages when it comes to adoption of NFTs.

Any gamer can play 9LA without any hassle or knowledge regarding crypto, but they won't have access to all the cool skins or rare Ooogies initially.

By playing 9LA, a gamer will encounter crypto adopters already wearing the cool and rare armor and weapon skins and owning unique looking Ooogies, which will lead to them being curious and asking within the game "wow, where did you get that weapon skin?"

To which you can answer "I can actually make you one and sell it to you because I own the limited-edition blueprint."

The advantages are true item ownership for gamers and a lot of viral marketing opportunities for us as some of the blockchain aspects we are integrating work very well for streamers, content creators and tournaments.

It also enables us to pioneer a different business model that evolves around "play to earn."

How does Permadeath work, and what is the "persistent progression"?

Cindy: Your characters have 9 lives. When they die they become a Statue on the blockchain that can potentially be traded.

Imagine a streamer giving his hero statue away after you watched him gain the season's record on the leaderboards.

He also turns into a Spirit... this Spirit is a so called Spirit Hunter that starts with 0 lives but hunts lives... each kill gives him a life back... if he manages to get 9 kills without getting killed, he resurrects into a so called Immortal.

AMA Recap: 9Lives Arena
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Immortals are hard to get and hard to kill because, like mortals, they start with 9 Lives. BUT they do gain a life with each victory with a cap of 9. Therefore, they compete on their own leaderboards.

Immortals have one nemesis, though: the Black Phantoms... which we are introducing with our next update 0.6.

Persistent progression happens from the moment you begin playing. Anything in your bank box is persistent and shared between all your characters (resources, items, blueprints, unlocked skills and abilities, unlocked bloodlines, etc.).

Most importantly, persistent progression also happens while you are offline, as your Ooogy is persistent and he works for you even when you are offline. Ooogy also levels up and of course can be traded.

Over time, raising new characters gets significantly sped up and you can focus more and more on the competitive aspects while your Ooogy becomes more efficient at everything he does for you... Ooogy's got your back! 😉

What are Ooogies?

Ralph:  Ooogies are the world's first online offline companions that work for the players even when they are offline. They will receive their own app so you can reach out to them when you are away from the main game.

Ooogies mean a lot to Touchhour, and we have extensive plans for them :) To learn more about Ooogies, check out this page.

Are there class systems (mage, warrior, etc.) in 9LA or is it a build-as-you-go kind of game?

Cindy: In 9LA, players have the freedom of creating their own "classes" that include your ability to make a classic mage or warrior. No class restriction is much more fun and allows players to experiment and create their own character builds.

How do you feel when you see your player base speculating on the items you have created?

Ralph: To see players speculating with our creations is very rewarding. We see our adopters as part of the team.

Our main goal is to create an environment where "play-to-earn" can bloom.

Value creation through clever use cases, in-game mechanics, and economics around our NFTs is key.

Can you name your two favorite enjin-backed nfts? One from your own game and one from the multiverse?

Cindy: Ooogies cause who doesn't wan't an Ooogy?! :D

And the Multiverse Forge Hammer, cause it is related to item creation both in-game and on the blockchain.

Have you released any events in 9LA yet?

Ralph:  We have an ongoing event during alpha which is the Alpha Tournament. The best players will take home prizes worth over 10K$ by the end of the Alpha. Everyone can still join we will select the top 30 or so from the leaderboards to compete in the official Alpha tournament before we move into Beta in roughly 12 month from now.

How do you gain access to the game now and in the future? What is the approximate cost for this access?

Cindy: Through purchase. Cheapest access right now is roughly 38US$ during closed alpha.

What have been the greatest difficulties that you and your team have had to overcome and what difficulties are your you and your team currently facing?

Ralph: Initial seed funding took a few years and then finding the team members. Right now we feel we are in a really great position  and we're very excited for what the future holds.

Are you able to tease what other innovations 9LA has planned for Enjin and the multiverse?

Cindy: Innovating is key for us, we are creating a cross-platform experience that does not exist.

We are not copycatting any existing genre. We are creating something entirely new in terms of experience and we are pioneering blockchain integration together with Enjin.

Ooogy especially will see a lot of development and further innovations moving forward.

Where do you see 9LA in the next 2 years?

Cindy: On Steam

Can you give us a hint on what future multiverse items you plan on integrating to your game?

Ralph: All of the Enjin Multiverse items

Can you elaborate on the degree of customizability of in-game assets in 9LA?

Ralph: You customize your character and tailor it to your playstyle picking and choosing weapon art, abilities, skills, bloodline, spirit animal, gear, stats, and, of course, you will be able to customize your Ooogy through all kinds of future outfits.

Eventually it is up to you to decide what kind of stats he will train, cause they will compete against other Ooogies in the long term.

Can you share what will be your monetization model? Will it be mainly selling the game as it is with microtransactions or will there be something more to it?

Ralph: 9LA is an online service and we are selling the game and optional microtransactions. Eventually, the in-game economy will generate income as well which will allow us to add rare blockchain drops into the mix.

Another part of monetization will come through the esports aspects from tournaments over time.

Are you planning to integrate lore and a story into 9LA?

Ralph: We have a lore, but of course 9LA is not a linear story-driven game. The keys for us right now are in-game mechanics, balancing and scalability. Visualization of lore is secondary for now.

Skins in 9LA go for very high secondhand resale value. Do you plan to give skin holders any attribute boosts to the playing character even if they are extremely minor?

Cindy: We will NEVER sell power! 9LA is NOT a pay-to-win game.

In competitive gaming, even the smallest advantage is either game breaking in the hands of an equally skilled player or completely pointless! So either or, it's not something we want to do.

What are your plans on promoting a competitive scene in your game?

Cindy: Big plans, that's why 9LA will play out in seasons that last 3 months and host regional and global tournaments.

How do you plan on preventing your game from being stale once players have figured out your game?

Cindy: Constant content updates in between the seasons. As a competitive focused online game, we really are an online service once fully operational that will continue to grow and evolve.

Will 9Lives Arena be using some kind of PunkBuster? What safeguards do you have in place to prevent and detect software for cheating in 9Lives Arena against hackers and cheaters online.

Ralph: Of course for any competitive online game this is a very important part of the development and live service! We have a very clear vision around cheating.

We have a zero tolerance policy, and we will ban anyone cheating or bug exploiting. Anything in the hands of the client is in the hands of the enemy.

This is a question for Cindy, because Ralph always says to ask her this. I'm really curious about the song, can you pleaaaase give a status update on that? Me and I think a lot of participants want to hear how epic the song has become!

Cindy: First off I want to thank everyone who sent in their recordings. We received over 100 vocals! After a lot of editing you all sound like true warriors!

As with everything, time is of the essence, and we will release it in due time to make sure we don't rush it and give you something awesome deserving of your warrior chants!

The song, along with a few others, will definitely be released in open alpha and we may provide teasers before then ;)

Will you have any mini games for ooogies? Ex, ooogy racing, rumble, eating contest, etc. That could also potentially bring a demand on leftover ooogies. Atm, only 1 ooogy can be used at a time. Most people have multiples and some in the hundreds. Would be cool if we can keep the others occupied while we use our favorite one in the main game.

Cindy: Ooogy will receive a lot of new exciting tasks in 9Lives Arena (we can’t give it all away yet) but yes, expect A LOT more tasks and fun things for Ooogy to do.

The My Ooogy app will also have exciting features besides being able to interact with the 9LA game (telling Ooogy to gather resources while you’re away from the actual game).

Will Ooogies be able to mate or have more stats in the future? Besides Luck, anger issues, and immunity system

Ralph: Yes, Ooogies will get a lot more stats in the future. 0.6 already introduces his treasure hunting skills... and there are many  more planned :)

Hey how much of a vital role has Enjin played in helping bring 9LA to life?

Ralph: Enjin did in fact have a vital role as it is through Enjin, their community their tools and ecosystem that we are able to monetize and fund our development along the way. This is a massive benefit to any game that joins the Enjin platform. We are very appreciative to pioneer blockchain gaming together with Enjin. It is an incredibly exciting journey!

Can you share your experience and journey with the 9Lives Arena project? What is the biggest achievement you are most proud of?

Cindy: Ralph shared his game concept and vision with me many many years ago and to now see the whole game truly come to life is just incredible.

It’s amazing to see how may hours have been logged in the game so far by all the players (average playtime is currently 600 hours per player!) The entire journey has been great, many long hard working days which have turned into years.

I’m super proud of the whole team putting everything together and very grateful for Enjin and blockchain technology.

Do you have any plans for multiverse events? Either single collaborations or more elaborate "multiverse quests? If not, what kind of games would you like to partner with for such quests?

Ralph: Yes we love the multiverse concept. But of course we first have to deliver a game!

Right now, the focus is entirely on game development. When the game is ready we will start collaborations with other finished games. Gotta put your pants on before the shoes kinda thing.

What kind of unique features does 9Lives have over its competitors on the market? How do you plan to increase the demand of 9Lives in the future?

Cindy: We are taking in players into the monetization of skins and we are creating the world first online offline companion Ooogy.

We also have a very unique system around permadeath and persistent progression that does not exist. We haven’t even started marketing yet. That will begin around the time of open alpha sometime next year.

We have only been focused on development. There’s lots in store so all the unique selling features coupled with Enjin and blockchain, a great marketing push and playing out in regional and global tournaments (i.e., esports) will help make 9LA very noticeable and stand out in the crowd.

How can users stay updated with this project? Are there channels, including local communities where users can get the latest updates about 9Lives?

Cindy: Yes probably the best place to get all the details to stay in touch is via our website. There you will find out tons of details for how to play the game and social media such as Telegram, Discord, YouTube videos on game play, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Our community is pretty cool and always willing to help answer questions, so feel free to stop by and ask.

Why have you decided to make it a pc and console game, and not fully playable on mobile?

Ralph: 9Lives arena is a unique cross-platform experience.

The main game is tailor-made for PC and consoles, while the "My Ooogy" app is tailor-made for mobiles and ties in perfectly to allow you to stay in touch with your Ooogy while you are not in the main game.

Being in bed or at work checking on your Ooogies progress (as he works for you while you are offline) is an integral part of the whole experience.

We'd like extend a big thank you to Ralph & Cindy for taking the time to join us, and to everyone who participated!

Until next time—see you in the chat room.

9Lives Arena Dev Update
Learn more about the 9Lives Arena closed alpha version.
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