William Christian is a full-stack developer who has been coding as well as building prototype games/mods since middle school. Realizing that there is a gap in the market that bridges gaming with cryptocurrency/blockchain technology, Christian became the COO of Rektangular Studios. In addition to developing tools that will enable people to build games on Cardano’s (ADA) blockchain, Rektangular has launched a turn-based strategy game built on Cardano called Occulta Novellia. Wanting to learn more about Christian’s background, his thoughts on Cardano, as well as Rektangular’s work, I was able to interview him for ScifiPulse.
Nicholas Yanes: Growing up, what were some video games you loved playing? Are there any you still enjoy revisiting?
William Christian: I enjoyed games where I could use my creativity, and games that I could build things with. So, Oblivion, Skyrim, Minecraft, Fallout, KOTOR. I enjoyed creativity and building dumb mods to entertain myself.
Yanes: You have been coding since middle school. Looking back, what do you think has been the biggest change in how you approach coding?
Christian: I now don’t hack things together. Instead of building a website full of security flaws, and writing code that is unmaintainable, I now use proper programming patterns, that make it easy to read, and maintain the code, while making sure security is maintained.
Yanes: You are now the COO of Rektangular Studios. What was the motivation for Rektangular Studios to be created? Was there a specific gap in the market Rektangular was going to specifically fill?
Christian: It’s difficult for developers to interact with any blockchain. If you want to make a game on any blockchain there are common elements that you need. You need a way to see tokens. You need a way to validate ownership. You need a way to trade tokens. We were building a video game that would interact with the Cardano blockchain, and we notice many developers having common needs and common problems that we happened to be solving with our own game. We are building the tools for our game, in a way that can easily be used by other developers.
For example, we have a token viewer on our website. If you want the token viewer on your website, you can write one command in an iframe, and you will have a copy of our token viewer on your website. Features like that will be available in all common game engines, and the code that runs that will be available in an SDK, so you can customize it for your own special needs, if you want to.
Yanes: Rektangular is mainly focused on working with Cardano. With all the cryptocurrencies and blockchains on the market, what attracted you to Cardano and its coin, ADA?
Christian: We believe in the technology behind Cardano. There are a lot of good blockchains out there. There are a lot of good projects. If you combine the way Cardano is building their smart contracts with a validator model, alongside support for hydra protocol (basically lightening network, for Cardano), and many other features they are working on, we believe that Cardano will allow for predictable prices for consumers, cheaper transactions, and will give developers more tools than other blockchains can.
Yanes: One of Rektangular’s main projects is developing tools so that people can make games on the Cardano blockchain. What is one of the main obstacles you’ve encountered in this project?
Christian: The biggest challenge early on was learning a new programing language, Haskell. If you run in programming circles, it isn’t the easiest language to learn. It was a good choice for Cardano though, and now that the team knows it, we enjoy some of the benefits of it. And in the future, you will be able to build smart contracts in any programming language you want, it’s just not there yet.
Yanes: On this note, why do you think Cardano will be a better gaming blockchain than its competitors?
Christian: We believe that their smart contract model, which is offloading most of the work to your computer or a server and validating the result on-chain is the better model. Using this model, alongside predictable pricing, and smart contract support within hydra heads, will allow for features that are too expensive for other chains. Besides for just replacing in game currencies and micro transactions with NFTs and Fungible tokens, you will be able to use the voting infrastructure built into Cardano, and using hydra heads, you can run some game servers through the blockchain cheaply enough to actually be reasonable. This means that you can have automated decentralized tournaments, that are completely fair, at a reasonable price.
Yanes: I learned about Rektangular because of Occulta Novellia, the company’s turn-based strategy horror game. What was the inspiration behind this game? Are there any classic horror stories or properties that influenced this game?
Christian: At first the goal was just to make a video game that everyone on the team would want to play, and make a game that highlights the functionality of blockchain technology, as opposed to just throwing it in as an afterthought. Our team has two metal heads on it and we thought a horror game would be fun, and we all like turn based combat games.
The main inspirations for the story are Lovecraft and Lewis Carroll. We are taking elements from the nonsense genre (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) to make the game dreamlike, and we are adding elements from the cosmic horror genre. We are weaving them together into our own storyline. We have the backstory for the main plot laid out, and we have an idea of where we want the story to go. Ultimately though we would like to incorporate a feature that would allow players to have a say in the direction of the story, using voting mechanisms. No promises, but that is the direction we would want to go.
Yanes: Given that Charles Hoskinson is the face of Cardano, will any easter eggs related to him appear in Occulta Novellia?
Christian: I am certain that will eventually happen. You can see the Cardano Logo within one of our rare creatures, Ghost Rotakin. We will not do it without express permission from him first though.
Yanes: When people finish playing a game of Occulta Novellia, what do you hope they take away from the experience?
Christian: I hope that people enjoy the game, and that the characters leave an impact on them. If the player is left with a curiosity about the Occulta Novellia lore, I think we’ve accomplished our goal.
Yanes: Finally, what else are you working on that people can look forward to?
Christian: We have built a token viewer that can be used on anyones website. In the future we are building a DEX and NFT swap contracts that anyone can use on their website, or inside their video games. If you want to hear about updates as they become available, you should checkout us out on twitter or discord (all socials can be found on www.rektangularstudios.com).