Since its launch in early July, KungFu Hero has attracted a group of veteran NFT collectors to flood into its community. Behind it, there is a group of CryptoPunks’ early and loyal fans from China. They’ve injected a distinct oriental color into the sea of NFTs with the original intention of ‘love’ and ‘tribute’.
First of all, can Alexander tell us about the origin and development of the Kungfu Hero project?
Sure. Kungfu Hero originated from the WeChat group ‘Authenticated Punk Group in China’, in which all the group members are holders of CryptoPunks, and some of them are the earliest players who entered NFT market in 2017. We found that in China, there’s no well-recognized IP or project in NFT space. The fact is that western players constitute the absolute mainstream of this market.
Among our group, there are many programmers, internet practitioners and blockchain industry practitioners from major domestic and global tech companies. We then started to think, could we launch an NFT project by ourselves? We’ve had some knowledge of NFTs while mastering technical skills. It’s perfectly reasonable to build a team to launch a project of NFT collectables filledwith Chinese elements. Fortunately, group members responded and showed support instantly. We discussed adequately and drafted a file including project proposal, cultural connotation, and communication methods acceptable to a global audience, in just half a day. By the afternoon of the day, we completed the first version of introduction of 2000-3000 words.
Our initial intention is to make a large series of NFT collectables that express Chinese culture and blend into global market.
What is the current Kungfu Hero team like? How do you collaborate?
In terms of the composition of the operation team, there are members from the Chinese community of CryptoPunks, and friends recommended in our social circles as well. It is an international team, with operators from North America and Southeast Asia, andengineers in China. For instance, our designer Zhang Ju (ZOOJOO) was found through the second-degree network of the blockchain circle.
And we have more CryptoPunks’ holders as advisors to the KungFu Hero project, including myself, as I joined the team as an advisor actually in the first place.
As a matter of fact, KungFu Hero is not currently run by a full-time team. All the team members are participating part-time in this project out of their interests, and they all have full-time jobs elsewhere. As you can see, the pricing of our collectables is comparatively low because we don’t want it to be very commercial. We’d rather enjoy the process of building it.
KungFu Hero released 10,000 characters. What was the process from the story outline and character setting to designing and element combination? How long did it take?
I am very disappointed with the current development of NFTs in China. I graduated from an art college, and I hope to see that people buy an NFT artwork because they love it or they recognize the intrinsic value. But this is not the case with many projects nowadays. Therefore, I hope I can produce an NFT project that is loved by collectors.
I'm not satisfied with what the so-called ‘NFT 1.0’ exhibits, because it doesn't address the need of strong interaction. Currently,we can present NFT works in only 3 types: image, music, and video. I am thinking about what will NFTs be like in 100 years. It should definitely be more intelligent and far more interactive than game characters.
The reason why I am interested in KungFu Hero is that it has a big cosmic view. I’m delighted to be part of this project, although it was extremely time-consuming to create more than 10,000 KungFu Heroes. Actually, I stayed up late several nights drawing and producing. It was stressful but accomplished. Before starting the production process, I had a lot of discussions with my partners about the style. After completing the overall cosmic view, I then conceptualized the characters in this universe.
Four Races in KungFu Hero
All humans in the real world will perish at some point, while the NFT creatures are silicon-based creatures, therefore they will always exist. At some point in the future, these characters come to life. It is a flashback story with the whole background featuring these silicon-based creatures as the main perspective.
In addition, I set up the role of ‘Time Travellers’, who can travel through time and space. There are good characters and also evilones, to name a few, there’s Satoshi Nakamoto, Vitalik Buterin, and some infected with COVID-19. There is ‘the God’, who is the ultimate controller of space and time. The happiest thing for me is that I set the role of ‘Demon’. Demons are different from ‘Humans’. They may have different heads or may not have legs, but octopus tentacles. As for ‘Humans’, you could find some well-known faces in the Chinese world, such as characters in Three Kingdoms.
The specific approach is that I designed lots of heads, bodies, weapons and magic weapons. Thus, when a collector opens the blind box and generate a Hero, the product backend draws parts from the library and complete the composition.
I am not capable to calculate the exact work time on this project. During the process, I abandoned a large number of drafts which are more than the characters I presented in the end. I can generate up to 170 million heroes in total If I pick up all the discarded manuscripts from the trash can.
You designed quite a few approaches to establish the community and interact with its members, such as KungFu Hero airdrops for CryptoPunks and Meebits holders, and the Treasure Hunt game. Can you give us more details?
Well, we want to design an incentive that could bring NFT veteran players in. We need to let more people learn about KungFu Hero and then participate. So, we launched a reward campaign that lasted for 5 days and released 100 characters per day. Every night at 12am, we saw a period of activity in the community.
Many of the receivers of our community rewards are KOLs in the NFT space. Some of them collect Bored Ape, some collect Meebits, while others collect Bonsai. They will share with friends if they find something interesting. We were honored to have many KOLs retweeted freely for our project. This is the key to successful initial promotion.
Aside from airdrops, we developed games for NFT collectors. We expected them to play in more scenarios beyond purely collecting. Now there are numerous NFT projects on the market. We bought CryptoPunks or Meebits, what else can we do with it except using it as an avatar? There is no answer. Besides, the so-called ‘metaverse’ is not yet formed or fully open. In fact, the NFT space lacks scenarios or contexts or ways for collectors to play. The hunter game we developed is open for everyone, no matter you’re holder of Meebits or Bored Ape, or other collectables. This game is similar to MineSweeper. There’re many KungFu Heroes waiting for you to sweep.
From this perspective, we’d like to create more for the community to play, and I think that's the trend in the NFT field. We are not satisfied with just selling this NFT to you, we need to create more back-end scenarios in which you could play or use this NFT. Inaddition to aesthetic value and emotional value, NFTs need to possess more functional value. That’s very important, and that's why we put so much effort into it.
Hunter Game is the first game we developed. We have also launched a poll within the community about the next NFT battle gameon chain. In this battle game, each KungFu Hero has basic battle skills and unique skills accordingly. Players can manage their Heroes into formations and start a battle with others. We plan to offer two battle modes which are ranking tournament and bounty tournament. In the bounty tournament, players need to pay certain amount of ETH before battling, and the winner get the reward. At the same time, we are also considering launching life-and-death battle mode called ‘Burn or Not’. Losers are going to burn their KungFu Heroes. This game mode will be gradually open to more NFT collectables such as Meebits, CryptoPunks, BAYC and so on.
These are all great ideas. Specifically, from the front-end page, what would a battle game between two NFTs look like?
In order to reduce the learning cost and threshold for players to get started, we chose to make the game easier to understand. Weused the format of numerical cards. We have several values, for example, basic force value. Since every KungFu Hero is divided into a certain race, such as Time Traveller, God, Human, and Demon. These races consist of different bodies and weapon parts. Each part will carry different basic force value, as well as skills.
Schematic of KungFu Hero Game
Before the battle, the attacker can roll a dice to determine the environment of battlefield. Different Hero’s tolerance and adaptability to different environments varies. In this case, a Human may defeat a Traveller or a God if the environment is perfect for Humans.
We have brought randomness into the game. Players can choose multiple Kungfu Heroes to fight together, and can line up and deploy troops. Different Kungfu Heroes can generate different skills and unique skills’ combinations. More exciting things are waiting for players to explore and discover.
Schematic of KungFu Hero Game
You just mentioned that other NFT collectables’ holders can also come to the battle. How do Meebits, for example, play against KungFu Heroes?
This is achievable from a technical point of view. The biggest value of Ethereum is to make identities and assets interoperable. Sowe can call the smart contract to see which Meebits the player chooses to fight. Similarly, in the system of Meebits, there’re many races and sexes, there’re skeletons and aliens. We can assign them with different values. Essentially, the collector, when initiating a challenge, is also granting us certain permissions. If he loses the battle, we can do something with the permissions he has granted.
We were fully aware that mature games require complex visuals. In the early days when our capacity is limited, we would make it simple. Therefore, the game would not be particularly visually appealing. We’d like to run an MVP and to let people play first. When we have more buddies or the community has more money later, we will keep optimizing the user experience of the game. In the future, we will also launch innovative ways such as team fighting.
Game is really a great way to activate the community. What is the feedback from the KungFu Hero community members?
We received many positive feedbacks, and people were very motivated to participate in the game. We once turned off the backend of the game and only kept the front-end page one day, still, a lot of people went to play. They swept out smiley faces, dinosaurs, and trees on the page. They would tweet and put screenshots of Lose into one of Jackie’s photos. It became an interesting meme created by the community.
Therefore, we will go on considering developing more games that bring the community together, and we will get down to business to do things that truly support the community.
Does KungFu Hero have a longer-term view in the direction of metaverse?
We have a lot of ideas in this direction, but our main focus right now is to promote the NFTs and operate the community. We’ve talked to some metaverse platforms, such as The Sandbox. In my opinion, whether it's KungFu Hero or Meebits, these NFTs are digital identities of individual users. They can walk around in the metaverse with these pixelated heads. A metaverse like The Sandbox, for example, would expect to invite massive content producers into its platform. On the other hand, content producers or projects would need platforms’ invitation and permission to display and sell. A mutual integration is therefore gradually formed.
I was under pressure to make the KungFu Hero figures with round heads and square bodies. There was a tiny ‘conspiracy’ here - I thought that there would be a lot of voxel-type products in the first generation of metaverse. I was following the voxel designer competition held by The Sandbox, and I thought, if KungFu Hero is going to cooperate with these projects in the future, it must have a similar format in the first place. With this thought in mind, I wrote in the cosmology of KungFu Hero that square and circle are two sacred shapes.
Another thing that surprised me quite a bit was the attention the project attracted in the art field. A well-known Chinese curator considered our project to be of historically significance, for it is a response from the Eastern world to the very ancient NFT culture. Thus, we’re working on an offline exhibition. We will put transistorized TV sets from the 1980s in the exhibition to show videos of Humans, Gods, etc. from KungFu Hero. There will also be characters like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. This exhibition will allow our project to interact with wilder audience, and to generate more possibilities to be recognized by more people. At present, we have received two invitations from galleries, and some invitations from auction houses.
Recently we have received VC investment as well. The team members are thinking and discussing how to achieve more with our project in the next step, and let more people worldwide see and understand oriental culture with the help of NFT technology.
The KungFu Hero team members have a very open mind about the future. Will it be a decentralized DAO-driven NFT project, or an NFT game run by a strong team? At this time, the team of enthusiasts consisted of CryptoPunks’ holders in China does not have the answer yet. The answer will probably emerge soon from this positive and virtuous KungFu Hero community.