I am talking today with Nikki Fuego from Vroomway. Vroomway is a Decentraland racing game where you can earn NFTs by playing. Vroomway is one of the most popular games on the platform, gathering over 500 players monthly. It took a lot of courage to create a game like this, and Nikki herself is an inspirational person to talk to. So, we talked a lot, and here’s her journey.
Tell us about your background and how you ended up in Decentraland?
I stumbled upon Decentraland by accident. I searched through different Metaverses after trying to experience The Sandbox, which was gated with an expensive token at the time. The moment I logged into Decentraland, I was hooked. I found myself wandering the Wondermine, meeting my first Metaverse friends (now my best friends) who gifted my first NFT! A “DOCTORdripp kite” and a “backwards hat.”
VroomVroom was your very first big project, did you always feel that this it might lead you to something bigger – Vroomway?
VrommVroom wearable was a huge undertaking because it wasn’t just a traditional wearable, it was amongst the first wearables in the Skin category. Since it was a new category, I was pushing the envelope as these were basically hovercar wearables, 90% of the VroomVroom is a static vehicle.
Previously there were Upper-Body wearables that were rideable/vehicles but nothing like this one. It was the first “hover-car,” and I was able to create two before they changed the rules and banned vehicle wearables. It was also an inspiration for a trend of vehicle wearables.
What was the biggest challenge when you joined the space?
Honestly, I had just started transitioning before joining Decentraland. I am now an openly proud transgender woman, but when I joined was very insecure. So, battling my inner demons and not sabotaging my own creativity was a challenge. I don’t come from a very loving family or past, so these demons have a habit of showing up. Being embraced so hard and so relentlessly by such a vibrant community was life changing, as it challenged me to push and push and push to keep chasing what was already mine. As a result, I began to love myself for the first time, become proud of myself for the first time, and finally started seeing myself the way others already saw me.
Tell us a bit about Vroomway. Why did you initially decide to create something around racing?
That change in rules was the real catalyst for me and ultimately led to the creation of Vroomway. Decentraland told me, “The only way you would be able to get more vehicles in the game is to code them on a parcel.” So, I got to brainstorming and planning, and it all fell into place. I started with just having a small launch party with Wisher Vodka. We had over 100 people at that party, and I still can visualize the celebrations to this day. Then I created a more ambitious event called the “Grand Prix,” dedicated to VroomVroom holders. We held a race where only those who owned one could participate. Wisher Vodka sponsored the event, and we created three separate 1:1 Unique Helmets to give away to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. The event went so well that I just started thinking bigger. Then assembled the avengers and put a proposal together. Nearly ten months later and here we are, competing with other top games in the space in a bear market. This is a dream come true for any artist entering a space for the first time.
Vroomway is a complex game; how did you manage your workload, and what it takes to build a game in Decentraland?
One day at a time and brick by brick, haha. When I started Vroomway, I was still working full-time as head of Customer Service at a start-up, so, it was challenging. I had also just adopted a brand new four-month-old puppy. I’m single and live independently, so it was a lot to juggle. Having a great team is critical, I wouldn’t be where I am without them. I am very fortunate to have had them say yes. I’ve worked for many companies, both fortune 500’s and start-ups, so I know what I need for a team and goal to work. I like organizing people, too, if that makes sense. I have a knack for seeing the greats in people and giving them a role to succeed in. I think it helps that everyone on our team is just as passionate as I am about the project. We have built some pretty amazing stuff and created an amazing user experience for anyone to enjoy. Plus, they always say if you’re doing what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life!
Vroomway is using a great technology called instancing. Can you elaborate on why you chose to use it?
So, another challenge I faced early on in Decentraland was the accessibility of LAND. LAND was expensive at the time of my rise (around $15k per parcel), so it was never in my scope of reality to own land. So, when I was offered LAND to host Vroomway on, I knew I had to make it count. I’ve never had someone give me a chance like that before. I’m also a huge gamer nerd, so I’ve played A LOT of video games and instancing has always been a part of those games. Being able to go from one scene to the other and be immersed in this natural environment has always fascinated me. So, I wanted to recreate that with Vroomway, both for the immersion and the opportunity to provide more than just a racing game. I wanted to create our mini Metaverse inside this already amazing Metaverse. We currently have ten scenes (working on the 11th and 12th) that utilize the same 4×4 area, Sixty-four meters by sixty-four meters, Collectively it is 256 meters x 10. I wanted to show others that there was way more potential for LAND than anyone was showing at the time. It’s excellent for segmenting the experience. We have a harvesting zone, a nightclub zone, six lap racing zones, one solo race zone, and a demolition derby zone. There is a place for every kind of Decentraland citizen to enjoy, whether they’re a gamer or not.
For new users, it can be challenging to enter the Decentraland Metaverse and then find a Vroomway game to play. So how did that help and limit your marketing strategy?
I think this is something every game maker struggles with. We all found Decentraland earlier than we should have (thanks, Mark Zuckerberg), so, that means we are all still really early. But, for those that are here, it’s an opportunity. If we can grab the attention of the early adopters, late adoption will be 10x easier. I don’t think of this project in one- or two-months’ terms, I think about Vroomway in one or two, even five-ten years terms. As such, we will take this time to build and grow the game. If we were in a bull market right now, many game makers would be drowning. This is why it’s even more important to keep building, and try everything. Nobody has mastered Web3 yet, and we aren’t going to pretend that we have. We are just doing our best and learning as we go, and are fortunate to have a like-minded community that shares our vision.
What is the biggest challenge for Vroomway in the space – would you even consider making it an independent game?
Honestly, I think it comes down to time and money. If we had the funds that traditional gaming studios have, we would 100% take it to an independent game with huge interoperability between Decentraland and other Metaverses. The biggest overall challenge is my perfectionism, I want everything to be 100% AAA status clean, and it’s just not because we aren’t there as a platform. This whole “we are early” thing is new to me. I’ve always been late with trends like these in the past, so the fact that I have a small part in this digital revolution is enough to keep me going.
How do you see the future of Metaverse gaming?
I think the movie “Ready Player One” has a great depiction of what Metaverse gaming can be. As I mentioned earlier, I have always been a gamer since I can remember, and always made a way to get the latest games and follow the tech trends. So, the “Metaverse” is a fairly familiar concept to me. Essentially, every video game is its own Metaverse. I played “World of Warcraft” for 14 years, so I understand multiplayer concepts too. So, I see us taking all our assets from platform to platform and enjoying our imaginations as humans. That’s what it all boils down to. Human expression!
Decentraland is a place full of creators and opportunists. What is your advice for someone who just joined the space?
Don’t try to be someone else, or try to do what someone else is doing, just do you! Don’t overthink things. Don’t let your insecurities win. If you’re always 100% authentic, you will never have anything to be insecure about. Take everything brick by brick, and love yourself first.
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