A carefully constructed network of vendors and complementors power the blockchain-native role-playing world.
Sometimes it takes more than a village. Sometimes it takes a metaverse.
One case in point: Undeads Metaverse, developed by a dedicated project team in collaboration with developers at Unicsoft and Whimsy Games. The team further partnered with Warner Bros. and Wabi Sabi Sound for its sound design, as well as BrightNode and Machinations.io for in-game economy design and Unreal Engine 5.1 for the VR social hub for Web3 gamers.
Buy vs. build
Vendor management is tricky. Remember about a year ago when the term “supply chain” entered the popular lexicon? That was because seemingly every business in the world – from Fortune 100 tech giants to the corner bodega – was suddenly confronted with the fact that your vendors don’t work for you. They work with you. And as long as everything’s going well, it doesn’t make a lot of difference. But if there’s a disruption, how can you be sure that your vendors will treat you more favorably than their next customer?
So the first challenge is keeping as much of the process in-house as possible, lessening reliance on outside interests. Of course, that’s not always practical. After all, no business can be best at everything.
“Once we have identified the internal gap or issue, we determine if there is team capacity to close the gap internally or if an external partner is necessary,” says Undeads CEO Leo Kahn. “If this gap is able to be closed quickly – through training or off-the-shelf hardware – then it is done as promptly as possible. But if we determine that solving this issue would be done faster or without impact on other areas of production, then a plan for taking on an external partner is started.”
Before taking on a new partner, the Undeads team looks at the specific skills and expertise – 3D scanning for example – that are required for the project. If there’s a company that can save the project team time while ensuring a high-quality end product, then the cost-benefit analysis can kick in. If the cost of augmentation through the prospective vendor is less than that of additional equipment, software or training, then the process moves forward.
All the while, though, Undeads maintains creative control and tight deadlines. One of the reasons to outsource a task is to accelerate the project’s speed. While an employee or long-term contractor requires some lead time to get up to full productivity, a vendor is expected to hit the ground running.
Of course the quality of the vendor partnership, and thus the quality of the final product, is only as good as the selection process.
“One way we find potential partners is to research companies and individuals in blockchain technology, decentralized gaming or in-game economies who have a track record of working on top projects,” according to Kahn. “We also look towards best-in-class traditional games, film and visual effects companies for a solid benchmark. … We want to work with partners who share our vision of creating high-value productions and don’t take shortcuts.”
The team often finds them at conferences or other industry events.
Selection, though, is a one-time event. Then comes the intricate work of managing an ongoing project with resources drawn from multiple organizations. This involves establishing clear communication channels and regularly scheduled meetings to ensure all parties are on the same page. A designated project manager then acts as the main point of contact and coordinates the efforts of all team members, each of whom clearly knows their roles and responsibilities, as well as development milestones and deadlines. That’s how Undeads avoids confusion and overlap.
With any ongoing activity, feedback is vital. It’s how Undeads avoids potential conflicts and makes adjustments on the fly.
The result is that Undeads has developed a successful approach to vendor management on its way to developing an immersive MMORPG. And it shows in the end result.
“Previous Web3 projects didn’t focus on or understand the importance of value to the end user. To many, it has all been about hyping and getting those first NFT sales,” Kahn reflects. “The majority of our efforts are on creating the game and the ecosystem, not focusing on hype marketing.”
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