Santiago Caballero on Crypto, Cardano, Videogames, and the ADA game “Machiavellic”

"...The decision to build Machiavellic on the Cardano blockchain was driven by several factors. Cardano's robust infrastructure and unique UTXO model provided a solid foundation for our sandbox MMO, offering scalability, security, and interoperability...."

When FTX and other crypto pillars collapsed a few years ago, there were proclamations that everything in the crypto space was dead. However, in the last year, Bitcoin has drastically increased in value from where it was in 2023. Additionally, many crpyto spaces seen as extinct have roared back to life. One space of particular interest to me is that of crypto gaming.

A leading figure in this space is Santiago Caballero. Shaped by over 20 years of experience programming, designing, marketing, and managing projects, Caballero’s latest chapter is as the Co-Founder of Machiavellic. This play-to-earn crypto game built with Cardano allows players to explore a future space civilization beginning to culturally rot from within. Caballero is joined at Machiavellic with a strong and experienced team, including Martine Spaans. In addition to being a founding member of Machiavellic, Martine is also part of FGL and the director of the Dutch Gaming Awards. Wanting to know more about Caballero’s background, his thoughts on crypto, Machiavellic and the company’s team, I was able to interview him for ScifiPulse.

You can learn more about Machiavellic on Twitter, Discord, and its homepage.



Nicholas Yanes: Growing up, what were some videos that you loved? Are there any you still enjoy playing?

Santiago Caballero: Growing up, I was captivated by games like Starcraft and Eve Online. Their blend of strategy, real-time action, and immersive worlds fascinated me then, and they continue to enthrall me today. Starcraft, especially with its Brood War expansion, taught me the intricacies of managing strategy, micro, and macro aspects of gameplay in the heat of battle. On the other hand, Eve Online provided a different experience—a sandbox MMO offering a leisurely pace with constant risk lurking around every corner. Despite their differences, both games have left a lasting impression on me, shaping my love for gaming and influencing my career in game development.

Yanes: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the gaming industry? Was there a moment this crystalized for you?

Caballero: My journey into the gaming industry began with designing and illustrating animations using Future Splash Player, the precursor to Macromedia Flash and later Adobe Flash. As I honed my skills in design and animation, I was drawn to the interactive possibilities of gaming. This passion led me to co-found our Flash Games Studio, where we ventured into creating our own games and interactive experiences. Since then, I’ve been deeply involved in game development and have explored various avenues within the industry, from design and illustration to programming and project management.

Yanes: One of the many things that I find fascinating about Machiavellic is its relationship to crypto; specifically, the Cardano network. What was your first exposure to crypto?

Caballero: My first exposure to crypto came unexpectedly when I received a pass for The Sandbox Alpha after participating in a logo competition. This introduction to blockchain-based gaming piqued my curiosity and opened my eyes to the vast potential of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. It was fascinating to see how blockchain could revolutionize not only the gaming industry but also various other sectors, from finance to supply chain management.



Yanes: On this note, when did you know that crypto and blockchain could be used to create exciting financial and non-financial products?

Caballero: As I delved deeper into the world of crypto and blockchain, I began to realize their transformative potential beyond just financial applications. The concept of decentralized ledgers and smart contracts presented exciting opportunities for creating innovative products and services, both within and beyond the realm of finance. From decentralized applications (DApps) to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the possibilities seemed limitless, and I became increasingly intrigued by the role blockchain could play in shaping the future of technology and society.

Yanes: Machiavellic is built on the Cardano blockchain. Why do you think Cardano was the best technology for this game?

Caballero: The decision to build Machiavellic on the Cardano blockchain was driven by several factors. Cardano’s robust infrastructure and unique UTXO model provided a solid foundation for our sandbox MMO, offering scalability, security, and interoperability. Additionally, Cardano’s Layer 2 solutions and the Hydra Protocol presented promising avenues for enhancing the game’s performance and scalability, while the delegation mechanism allowed for engaging storytelling through faction voting and community-driven mechanisms. Overall, Cardano offered the perfect blend of technological capabilities and community engagement opportunities for realizing our vision for Machiavellic.

Yanes: So, Machiavellic is the game you and several smart people are working on. What was the inception of this game’s creation?

Caballero: Machiavellic‘s inception stemmed from our desire to gamify the development of a sandbox MMO while fostering a vibrant and engaged community. We envisioned a game that would empower players to shape the game world through their actions, decisions, and creativity, rewarding early participation with ownership of lead characters and valuable in-game assets. This community-driven approach has been at the heart of Machiavellic since its inception, driving its development and evolution every step of the way.

Yanes: I really like the way Machiavellic looks. When developing the game, how did this visual style get decided?

Caballero: The visual style of Machiavellic was carefully crafted to evoke a sense of dark, gritty realism with a touch of humor. We wanted to create a world that felt immersive and atmospheric, where players could lose themselves in the narrative and gameplay. Talented artists like Jonathan played a pivotal role in defining the game’s visual identity, leading brainstorming sessions and refining artwork through collaboration. The result is a visually stunning and thematically rich experience that sets Machiavellic apart from other games in the genre.

Yanes: Machiavellic also has an incredibly engaging story. As the game was developing from idea to finished project, were there elements of the story that came to life in unexpected ways?

Caballero: Machiavellic‘s story has evolved organically over the course of its development, enriched by unexpected twists and turns that have emerged from the community’s engagement. From the inception of the game’s lore to the ongoing narrative arcs, players have played an active role in shaping the game world and its inhabitants. The dynamic interaction between developers and players has created a truly immersive and engaging experience, where every decision and action has a ripple effect on the game’s evolving story.



Yanes: While Machiavellic has come a long way already, where would you like to see the game in a year?

Caballero: Looking ahead, I envision Machiavellic as a thriving gaming community, offering an exciting and immersive experience that fosters both gameplay and community growth. In a year’s time, I hope to see the game continue to evolve and expand, with new content, features, and experiences that keep players engaged and excited. From epic battles and quests to social interactions and community events, Machiavellic has the potential to become a vibrant and dynamic gaming universe that captivates players for years to come.

Yanes: Finally, what else are you and your team working on that people can look forward to?

Caballero: In addition to Machiavellic, our team is actively refining our approach to game mechanics, particularly the skill-set and talent training system. This system allows players to customize their gameplay experience, specializing in various professions and abilities that suit their playstyle and preferences. From mounting guns on cabins to crafting weapons and beyond, every officer’s journey is unique and bound for greatness. We’re excited to continue developing this system and exploring new ways to empower players and enhance their gaming experience in Machiavellic.

Remember, you can learn more about Machiavellic on Twitter, Discord, and its homepage.

And remember to add me on LinkedIn, and to follow ScifiPulse on LinkedIn and on Facebook.

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