Founder Stories: Per Fredrik and Harley Swann - Domi Online
Published 24th January 2023 by MSV Team
On a regular basis, you will have the opportunity to learn more about specific projects through our interviews and post any questions you may have further down in the comments section.
In today’s interview, we have Per Fredrik Pellek (Co-Founder & CEO) and Harley Swann (Co-founder & COO) from Domi Online. Let’s go!
Hi Pellek and Harley; thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Could you tell us more about how you started the project?
[Per] Hey! Thanks for having us. I’ll take this one. My name is PelleK and the idea of Domi started with a vision I had for an MMORPG with no level cap and no skill cap where death had major consequences, no instancing, no boring escort quests, no “teleporting to raid/dungeon” type functions, no ultra fast flying mounts, no soulbound items or weekly locks etc etc. Just game design more like the very old 2d games that used to run on small servers when I was very young, maybe 25 years ago, but more in line with gaming in 2023. I started writing the game design as a hobby, many years ago, not ever thinking it would become a reality, but more like a “This is everything I wish an MMORPG had today”. Eventually it became 300 pages long, which is why our whitepaper is enormous btw, and in the middle of 2021 I (without any experience, very rookie mistake) decided to self fund the development after I was low key tricked by a developer on upwork who said he could make the entire game for 30,000$. That was a huge investment for me, but I believed the guy (crazy to think I was that naive almost 2 years later haha). Needless to say a game was never produced but the bare minimum of character with a fireball spell and a (very low poly) custom city, based on a city I had drawn by hand was modeled and I started showing friends. Eventually as the budget was slowly drained and it wasn’t even 0.1% done, I spent the last part of the budget hiring a veteran MMORPG developer to review the code. He gave me the disappointing news that I kinda saw coming: This would have to be scrapped because the code was basically useless. The good thing that came out of all of that was that the guy who reviewed it really loved the idea and the game design document, and he had worked as a technical developer on RuneScape for years, so I made my first important developer contact. (He’s Domi Online’s lead developer today!)
I have made music for many game franchises like League of Legends, Path of Exile etc, and I had just wrapped up a music job for Web3 game “ChainGuardians”, and I became good friends with the founders there. After a music related meeting I told them “Hey, do you want to see what I spent my savings on, it’s useless but it’s pretty cool!” Long story short they loved the game design as well, and said “Yes you were very naive thinking you could make an MMORPG for 30,000$, but this is a great demo of what you wanted to build, along with the game design document, but you would need a large team and you would need money to pay the team to actually make it. We want to help you”. I then flew to NFT LDN with Rob from ChainGuardians and watched him speak about how the blockchain can allow true ownership of assets and solve a lot of problems we see in games today and I thought it sounded really interesting. I was introduced to a bunch of very smart people, learnt a ton over the next months doing research and changing elements in the GDD, and eventually decided to integrate Web3 into Domi Online as well. They hooked me up with Harley, who was working for Chainboost at the time, and he’s the guy with the most Web3 experience. We decided to make Domi together, and sort of split responsibilities since day one where I would lead all the “art” stuff. Things I feel like I’m good at, like all the game mechanics, game design, music, lore, directing voice actors, concept art etc. Harley deals with everything else including finance, Web3 etc. That was a wall of text, so I’ll let Harley answer some questions now :D
Where did the idea to build a Web3 game come from?
[Harley] Main aspect that drove our determination to create a revolutionary web3 game, was formed by the issues we all face with traditional gaming in today's industry. Traditional gaming as we know it is outdated, uninspiring and unrewarding. The countless games we have all spent time/money on, only to be left feeling deserted by the game, studio and the community itself. Web3 gaming adds an element unforeseen before in traditional gaming, the ability to grant true asset ownership to players, alongside a growing economy which expands behind the gaming client itself and allows us to evolve beyond that endeavour. Often traditional gaming sacrifices loyalty, in return for profit. Belittling their fan-base, by providing countless paid expansions, DLC, games with no interoperability between the various games/platforms. Leaving the player to be left with many obtainable/purchased assets, that are only worthwhile temporarily, whilst web3 gaming can enhance those assets and ensure longevity and functionality throughout the player, product and studios lifetime.
Web3 gaming, allows a product/community to grow outside of the client itself, more opportunities and endeavours can be explored within the web3 industry, creating a unguided mission that can be explored at the players pace, bringing the game back to the player and it’s original purpose of creating challenges and interactions that leave you, as the player feeling overwhelmed but always wanting more!
Tell us more about Domi Online: What makes it so unique? And can you tell us more about the graphics, sounds, and music used for the game?
[Per] In indie games and in Web3 games you see a lot of buildings, dungeons, armor sets, music, enemies etc being bought from an asset store like the unity asset store, and then used in game. The first few months we relied a bit on some of those assets as well, because they take a lot of time to make, but over time we’ve now got completely unique armor sets, weapons, houses, castles, guild towers and enemies, as well as unique sound effects, soundtrack and even voice actors from games like Elden Ring, Assassin’s Creed, Hitman, World of Warcraft, Dark Souls etc. There’s an imdb page listing most of our amazing voice actors and actresses if you want to deep dive into it! So all in all, we take great pride in most everything being unique in Domi, from sound to visuals, game design and lore. You can only find it in Domi, not in any other game or on any asset store. Same with the camera controls and character controls etc. It may feel similar to MMORPGs you’ve played such as WoW or Final Fantasy Online, and that is the point, but I think it took Bret (one of our fantastic developers, previously used to work for Activison/Blizzard) about 7 months to make the controls work the way they do. You’d think you can get a pack for it, but you really notice the difference between other Indie games and Web3 games and Domi. Another thing we’re very proud of. It took a lot of time to get it right.
In terms of RPG (Roleplaying), Domi Online has many similarities with the famous Web2 game “World of Warcraft”. Which opportunities has Web3 brought to your game?
[Harley] Opportunities from the web3 industry of utilising blockchain technologies allows us to further enhance our players experience, providing a benefit unseen before in traditional MMORPG’s such as World of Warcraft.
Unlike traditional games whereby your assets/purchased products are ‘trapped’ to the game, current expansion or product itself - We aim to utilise a unique opportunity we call ‘True Asset Ownership’. True asset ownership, provides the player with real options, choices and immerses themselves further into the game’s immersion and economy, whilst knowing that the asset they purchased, earned, rewarded is truly owned by that player regardless of the outcomes set forth by the studio themselves. The opportunities for our players' experience obtained through web3 is revolutionary. A core aspect traditional gamers will often feel games have missed the mark on. Most noticeable in the freemium based business model, where skins, assets, purchases provide a unique sense of achievement initially, but often leaves the player feeling like something is missing. We also aim to incorporate a new opptunity of token granted utility. Providing external benefactors to the players experience, alongside the product/game itself either through staking mechanisms, player holdership or spend, transparency on drop rates and efficiency is truly represented and recorded through a distributed database on the blockchain. With the goal for the token to work for you, as the player within an expansive MMORPG ecosystem. Providing unique skins, assets, benefits within the world of Domi Online, rewarding commitment and loyalty to the game and community! This is something I’m determined to ensure we enhance, adapt and improve our credibility behind the exponential link between traditional gaming, web3 ownership and token utilities. Granting the opportunity for others to follow in our footsteps and provide the same benefits back to our community. The technology being adapted and intertwined within the web3/game-fi industry is something not to be missed, we will be the front-face of blockchain integration and mass adoption within a fully immersive MMORPG experience.
Where is the game in terms of development? What are you currently working on?
[Per] We’re in alpha and have been for a while. Our community is playing and reporting bugs and errors and we update the Domi Online launcher every 2 weeks, patching things and adding QOL fixes, such as tooltips, type-o’s, balance fixes etc.
What are you most proud of about your work at Domi Online, and what is your biggest challenge that lies ahead?
[Harley] Creating a sustainable, everlasting ecosystem built within an MMORPG is an achievement to behold and is what I’m most proud about working with our studio at Domi Online. The quality, determination from our development team is revolutionary underlined with genre-breaking mechanics, alongside an MMORPG that never holds your hand, but never holds back is what I’m most proud about at Domi Online. The ability for our players to grow and adapt beyond the boundaries pre-defined in traditional MMORPG’s is a venture unlike no other. I’m incredibly proud of our development studio's progress and devotion to changing the genre of MMORPG’s as we know it. With difficult tasks comes inspiration and remembering the purpose when Domi Online was first revealed to the public. Create an everlasting MMORPG, underpinned by NFT’s with the ability to develop and adapt overtime to become an ecosystem unlike no other.
With great achievements come our greatest challenges. Within a fully immersive MMORPG, we have steps in accordance, which we are awaiting to deploy, but the configuration of the best way to initiate these integrations, alongside regulations, is the most difficult challenge that lies ahead.
Allowing a player to grow exponentially within a game tied to the blockchain brings forth challenges such as mass adoption, user onboarding, custodial wallets on account creation, security, and knowledge. We want a player to enjoy the world without any barriers limiting access but grant the opportunity for the player to explore deeper into the technology behind the product when the player is ready/able to do so. The access granted for mass adoption is one of our most difficult challenges but can turn into our greatest success.
It’s been great getting to know you and Domi Online better. Anything else you would like to share with us?
[Harley] Feel free to apply for an alpha key on our website https://domionline.io/ to be in a chance to join our current community in it's closed alpha stage! Our players are constantly showcasing videos streams and personal progress on our discord/youtube/social As we greatly encourage our players to share their journey and adventures they face throughout Domi Online. Whilst making vital decisions within our governance channel, alongside suggestions that can carve the future of the game as we know it! 😃
Thanks a lot for your time Per and Harley. Good luck with your projects!
If you have questions for Per and Harley, please use the comment section below. In the meantime, you can check the social media profiles of the project: Website | Twitter | Telegram | Discord | Facebook | Medium | IMDB
The Morningstar Ventures Team