This past Fall, a few of us from the Pinata team entered the ETHGlobal Online hackathon with the idea of making a dynamic on-chain game powered by AI NPCs. We didn’t imagine that our little hack would not only win at ETHGlobal but also spur further development and continued investment. But that’s exactly what happened. Now, after 4 months of alpha testing with a select group of early players, we’re ready to throw open the doors for a public beta test of Cosmic Cowboys.
What is Cosmic Cowboys
Cosmic Cowboys is an on-chain game that allows players to interact with Miners (a group of space cowboys that set off into space in hopes of mining a giant lithium asteroid) who are stranded on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. These Miners have fully realized backstories and personalities. They know who they are, why they are on the moon, and what they can and should be doing. With this knowledge, they make their own decisions multiple times per day. Every decision–whether it’s to buy supplies at the supply depot, play poker at the bar, or something else–is an on-chain transaction. Everything is auditable and mod-able. And best of all, players can help influence the decisions these Miners make.
But decision-making is just part of the fun. The game's goal is to rescue these Miners and bring them home to Earth. To do so, players must jack into the command terminal and launch Planet Jumpers. Planet Jumpers are avatars owned and controlled by each player with the explicit mission of saving Miners. However, like Miners, these Planet Jumpers are AI-powered NPCs that can and will make their own decisions. Your job is to pilot your Planet Jumper and ensure it takes the necessary actions to be able to rescue a Miner. But be aware, that other players can engage with your Planet Jumper and try to sabotage it.
When a player’s Planet Jumper has met the requirements for rescuing a Miner, the player can choose any Miner still on Ganymede. When the player rescues a Miner, both the Miner and the Planet Jumper are removed from gameplay. This creates urgency for players. If you want to rescue Miners, you must be smart and fast. There are only 300 Miners to rescue.
NFTs, and AI
The uniquely web3 aspect of Cosmic Cowboys is how the assets work within the game. Every Miner is an ERC721 NFT with a tokenbound wallet. Each Miner has assets such as credits (ERC20 tokens), supplies (ERC1155 NFTs), food (ERC1155 NFTs), and weapons (ERC1155 NFTs) in their tokenbound wallet. As they make decisions and transact, everything happens on-chain.
Planet Jumpers, similarly, are ERC721 NFTs with tokenbound wallets. The difference is that players create and own these Planet Jumpers from the start. Planet Jumpers can be created by executing tasks in the game and earning the achievements necessary to mint a Planet Jumper or by purchasing them with a crypto credit card.
Since Planet Jumpers and Miners are NPCs, they needed something to help power them and make them feel real. For this, every NPC is context-aware and self-aware. They know their history and the game state. They know the story and the rules. When you chat with these NPCs they can shed light on how best to play the game or choose to leave you in the dark to figure it out yourself. Every action these NPCs take on their own is recorded on the blockchain. During alpha testing, we saw nearly 10,000 on-chain transactions in total.
When players rescue a Miner using their Planet Jumper, the Miner is transferred into the player’s wallet. This means players who successfully rescue Miners will own an exclusive and limited assets from this unique and entertaining first season of Cosmic Cowboys.
Cosmic Cowboys is built on the Base blockchain. After testing multiple options and meeting with multiple teams, it became clear that we wanted this game to live on Base. The Base team has been incredibly helpful during our alpha testing, and the cost to transact as well as the speed of transactions has been impressive.
Now that we are opening the doors for anyone to play our public beta, it’s important to understand what this means. First, the game is still on testnet for the beta period. We are launching the public beta on Base Sepolia. Second, if a player chooses to transact in fiat via credit card payments, they should note that since this is a testnet version of the game, they should use test credit cards. A list of Stripe testing cards is available here.
There is no limit to who can play in our public beta, but there is a limit to the number of Miners available. Remember, when a Miner is rescued, it as well as the Planet Jumper used for the rescue are removed from the game and are owned by the player. When all 300 Miners are rescued, the season comes to an end. This could happen in a day or a month or longer. That’s the fun of the game, we don’t know.
We invite you to join our Telegram group, where you can connect with other players and provide feedback.
We will use this public beta to work out any final bugs, which there surely will be a few. Once we feel comfortable with the gameplay and the polish, we will begin the planning for our mainnet launch.
As a loose guide, we are hoping to launch on mainnet before ETHDenver.
Time to Play
That’s all for now. Thank you to all of our early alpha testers! Your work has helped us get to this point. Go out and save some Miners!