Kyle Puller has spent the majority of his career in digital media spaces. In addition to being the founder of Pulling Power Media, he is also the COO and head of marketing Wolves of Rome, an NFT trading card game built on the Cardano blockchain. WOR is set in a fantasy version of ancient history in which Roman werewolves, Carthaginian Vampires and other supernatural beasts are used by players to battle for their empire’s victory. Wanting to learn more about this game, I was able to interview Puller for ScifiPulse.
Nicholas Yanes: Growing up, what were some video games you loved playing? Are there any games from your youth you still enjoy?
Kyle Puller: I played a lot of WarCraft 2 and 3, StarCraft and Age of Empires as a kid, I also did a lot of non-digital gaming – specifically Magic the Gathering which was present through most of my childhood all the way to the present and along with that came a recent slew of DCGs like Hearthstone, Magic Arena, Gwent and Legends of Runeterra.
Yanes: Sadly, I’ve only been able to interview a few entertainment creators from South Africa. What are your thoughts on South Africa’s gaming industry? For you, what are its strengths and weaknesses?
Puller: As one of two South-Africans on the WOR team (Many of the rest are in Europe and the USA) I’m proud to say that SA is filled with potential. I guess some of the obvious challenges for indie developers is startup capital and access to quality service providers. That said there sure is no lack of talent or work ethic and I look forward to what comes out of SA in the next 5ish years. I’ve already seen some incredible tabletop games and PC games that you’d be surprised to know came out of humble South Africa.
Yanes: You’ve been involved in marketing for nearly 15 years. What do you think is the biggest way marketing has changed during your career?
Puller: Wow you’ve done your homework!
While I have been in marketing over the last 15 years I’d say I only really flourished in the space of the last 5 years when starting Pulling Power Media – my creative marketing agency focused in the crowdfunding, gaming and web 3 space. I think the early days were filled with learning moments, cutting my teeth and building up confidence. Since then I think the most important moment was when I switched from an external focus to an internal one. What I mean by that is that instead of focusing on our messaging and brand, a trap many a marketer falls into, we first focused on our team, our culture and our workflow and quality.
A lot may change in marketing strategy, platforms, social media, web2/web3 – what does not change is ethics and doing things right. Marketing has a lot of fun hacks to gain buzz, hype and exposure – these are super useful, we see it in web 3 all the time. But marketing alone can’t make a bad product good, so before looking at marketing something, look inward, at the product you’re making, at the team and at the legacy. You get that right – marketing it will be a breeze.
Yanes: Your latest project is Wolves of Rome. What was the inspiration behind this game? Was there a story pitch or proposed art work that captured your imagination?
Puller: Originally engaged as an agency and potential service provider the WOR team reached out to Pulling Power Media. They had already done a lot of ground work before I was even around. So, when I joined the WOR team they already had this incredible story and a solid concept for the game. I definitely have to give credit to the team that was around to welcome me to the pack – Steven, Akira, Arturs, Filip, Alex, Savio, Lucas. For me it was a combination of Akira’s incredible storytelling and lore, the amazing art that he had worked on with artists and Markus and of course the game style was big for me (I was a big MTG fan as a kid) but what drove it all home was a chat with our project manager Steven, who connected the dots for my on why WOR was a perfect example of NFT utility. His passion was contagious and I was in!
As for the project inspiration you can see a lot of MtG, Legends of Runeterra and Hearthstone influence in the game design. MtG and Warhamer inspiration in the art. Exactly the stuff I love!
Yanes: Wolves of Rome’s native token is built on the Cardano blockchain. Of all the cryptocurrencies currently out there, why did your team decide to use Cardano? Are there specific advantages to using Cardano instead of another blockchain?
Puller: I think for us, many of the team were already settled into the Cardano community. We love the ethos, the fact that it was relatively uncrowded, the measure twice cut once approach and of course the low gas fees. So, it made sense that if we were to contribute by building something it would be here.
Cardano also has proven itself to be a great chain to build on, from both a security and reliability standpoint. I’m not a ‘one chain to rule them all’ kind of person but I am very happy that we settled in on Cardano. It feels like home.
Yanes: In general, mainstream and casual gamers have been hesitant to embrace crypto games. What breakthrough do you think has to happen for crypto games to go mainstream?
Puller: I think it will be a combination of factors. At first it will happen slowly with games like ours, focused on minimal barrier to entry, and then all at once when big gaming companies feel it’s time to make the shift. It will only take 3-4 big household titles moving to crypto/NFTs before all the dominoes fall.
Gamers and the community can be a bit fickle like that, they will oppose something with all their heart, but as soon as they realize it benefits them, they will swarm toward it. Which will leave tentative or slow-moving gaming companies in a tricky position – move to web 3 too early, lose the player base, move too late and they leave you for something better.
As builders in the crypt space we need to be okay with not being too purist and jargon centric with NFTs. We need to lean on the functionality where necessary and embrace simplicity if we want to see mass adoption.
Yanes: When shaping the narrative and gaming elements of Wolves of Rome, when did the game begin to take on a life of its own?
Puller: The lore & story developed most of the way through long before we even conceptualized the game. I believe it all began with Akira and his brother trying to outdo each other in coming up with the most intense end scene in a story. I believe Akira won the battle of ridiculousness and worked backwards from there to create the story of Wolves of Rome weaving it into fantasy and various historic stories and myths (Romulus & Remus being raised by Lupa the Mother Wolf)
Yanes: Incredible artwork from Wolves of Rome has already been released. With that said, which card design is your personal favorite?
Puller: My personal favorite WoR artwork is a toss-up between card called Legatus by Christof Grobelski and an incredible Dragon card by Nick Delagris.
Yanes: After people start playing Wolves of Rome, what do you hope they take away from the experience?
Puller: For me, it’s a mix of reactions I hope we are able to concoct in a new player, A sense of, win or lose, that was hella fun. Ambition to improve, and seek out new strategies, a n interest in exploring the art and intrigue in the lore and universe, so much so that they share lore and character ideas with us. And a friendly and welcoming community to enjoy the game with – a place where new friends are made and perhaps a less intimidating first web3 experience degens can introduce their non web3 friends to.
Yanes: Finally, what else are you working on that people can look forward to?
Puller: For Wolves of Rome and Semper Cozy: The WOR governance token is something we have been working on in the background. We have also been expanding the lore and the path it will take to start an animated lore series for Wolves of Rome – this acts as a treatment to something that could end up as a biger IP later down the line.
We also dabbled in our first merch run – building out the WOR brand in as many areas as possible is something we are keen to do as we build toward the beta game launch.
And then in the short term while we launch the Empire NFT drops (Empire Liches Mint on 27/28 October) we follow up this mint with our first ever testers tournament with ADA and NFT prizes and live streamed matches