Building Structs — An Introduction to 5X

Art depicting a planet, a combat unit, and a robotic player portrait.

What Is Structs?

Over the past year, the team at Slow Ninja has been working on our latest effort in blockchain-based games; our first as a full-time, dedicated team. In 2021 we quietly published a proof of concept we called Structs; a rudimentary robot battle game that allowed us to assess whether we could leverage technology like the Cosmos SDK the way we expected we could (if you want to read more about our journey to Cosmos, you can do that here).

If you played the POC–congratulations! You’ve caught a glimpse of our process as we figure how to do this thing we’ve committed ourselves to doing. If not? Well, it’s not truly the game we’re making anyway, so you haven’t missed much. Since that initial effort, the game Structs will become has been taking shape in the background, guided by what we learned through the POC demo and our early exploration.

What are we actually building, then? While we are still early in this process, today we can say that Structs is a strategic game of interstellar enterprise and empire. In the distant future, the species of the galaxy are embroiled in a race for Alpha Matter, the rare and dangerous substance that fuels galactic civilization. Players will take command of Structs, a race of sentient machines, and must forge alliances, conquer enemies and expand their influence to control Alpha Matter — and the fate of the galaxy.

We’re building Structs around a set of pillars that, if you’re an avid gamer, may already sound pretty familiar. You’ve probably heard the term 4X, describing games founded upon the four “Xs”: explore, expand, extract, and exterminate. This is where we’ve found our inspiration for Structs, but we’re putting our own spin on the concept by adding a fifth X — exchange.

We’re calling it 5X.

What is 5X?

5X is how we’ve chosen to understand and encompass our vision for Structs; a game of expansion, strategy, and influence taking place in a galactic community made up of players who control the fate of the game.

Now, let’s talk a little bit about how each of these pillars supports the world we’re bringing to life.

Artwork depicting three planets with varying landscapes; an overgrown rocky landscape, a dark mountain range, and an ocean world.

Explore

As a player, your army of machines is fueled by Alpha Matter — and you’ll always need more. The unknown worlds that make up the galaxy are rich with this resource, as well as other unknown and unique properties to discover. You’ll chart these wild planets and harness them for your own purposes, be those enterprise or empire. However, there are also enemies in the dark forest of space, and you’ll need to decide whether to seek them out — or wait for them to come to you.

Extract

When you deploy your forces to a planet, your primary goal will be to mine and refine that world’s native Alpha Matter deposits. However, there’s more value to be extracted from each world: any world you complete is added to your territory as a Planet Card, conferring unique benefits that can be utilized in future mining and combat operations. Acquiring and exploiting these buffs and abilities, in addition to the essential Alpha Matter needed to operate your forces, will be key to driving and defending your interstellar expansion.

Structs concept art depicting a planet, planetary structure, and combat unit.

Expand

Acquiring Alpha Matter and controlling worlds will grow the capabilities of your machine forces, and grant you assets to broker in the galactic economy — but what about your empire? Your rise to power truly begins when you join a Guild, the player factions of the Structs world. In addition to granting access to unique features and services, Guilds ultimately control the direction of the galaxy — and the game itself — through their seats on the Alpha Star Council, the game’s governing body. Guilds and the Alpha Star Council will allow players to vote on game-related matters and developments, giving them a voice in the ongoing growth of Structs.

Artwork depicting three combat units in unique terrain; a vehicle on rocky terrain, a flying unit in the clouds, and a shuttle in space.

Exterminate

As you work to enhance your position on the galactic stage, you’ll be forced to defend your planetary operations from other players — or go on the offensive and raid the worlds of your enemies. In these strategic battles, defending players must either destroy attacking armies, or hold them off long enough to complete their own mining operations. If an attacking player is able to overcome the defender’s army before mining and refinement is complete, they will be able to claim some or all of that world’s Alpha Matter for themselves.

Players will need to manage their planetary mining operation, as well as their fleet of combat machines — deciding when to position a fleet defensively to protect their own operation, and when to deploy it to a rival world and go on the attack. In combat, players must consider the natural features of a given world, as well as the capabilites of the enemy forces in order to optimize their strategy and tactics in a given battle.

Artwork depicting three different styles of robotic player portraits.

Exchange

Powered by a Cosmos blockchain, players will be able to exchange in-game assets such as Planet Cards, making each player a broker of worlds. Furthermore, we intend to support player generated content, giving artists and content creators the ability to control the distribution of their own works — for example, players may create a library of unique unit skins for exclusive use by their own Guilds, or sell those skins freely on the marketplace in exchange for Alpha Matter or other resources. In this way, “Exchange” isn’t just about buying and selling, but giving players another tool to influence the universe of Structs.

We’ll have more to say about each of these pillars, and the mechanics they support, throughout the development of Structs.

What’s Next?

We’re developing Structs to take advantage of blockchain technology in a way that ensures the game will last as long as there is a player base to support it. The infrastructure of Structs will be supported by the community, with operation of the gameworld embedded as yet another role on the galactic stage. Combined with community-based content creation, this will allow the game to continue growing even if official support by Slow Ninja should ever end.

Structs is being developed by an independent team and is still early in development; anything and everything could change as we learn more about the world we’re building and the players who will populate it. We can’t say when exactly Structs will be released, but you can join us on Discord and be part of the discussion, or follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to keep up to date with the game as it’s developed.

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Slow Ninja

Slow Ninja

Defining skill-based blockchain gaming since 2014