▲ An example of commercialized augmented reality (Source: Keiichi Matsuda)
“Mum, there is a dragon in our house!”
Augmented reality (AR) is a very attractive technology. It overlays a new world onto a layer of the real world. Rather than creating a virtual space, AR creates a point of contact between reality and virtual reality, resulting in an enhanced experience. In the future, we may see this halfway point between two realms become a realm all its own.
In that realm, we may even be able to see dragons. Just imagine; a mythical dragon, one of the most powerful creatures of myth and legend, napping on a rooftop or visiting a local cafe for a cup of tea. An absurd idea perhaps, but not so absurd in the realm of AR.
There is actually a game that attempts to manifest these magical scenarios: Mossland, developed by Reality Reflection.The objective is to create new value and fun with AR by overlaying things such as dragons or King Kong onto the real world. It also aims to create an additional connection to the real world through the game’s 3rd currency, Moss.
We at Inven would like to share the vision of Reality Reflection’s Mossland, which strives to create a virtual reality beyond actual reality.
Inven: Greetings. Would you please briefly introduce Reality Reflection before we begin the interview?
Woo Ram Son (Mr. Son): Reality Reflection is an AR/VR specialized developer founded in April 2015. When it was established, we thought that having human elements is crucial, even if VR technology advances and becomes the main focus in the future. So we established the company with a focus on creating a virtual human that very much looks like a real one.
We started with one question: “How can we make a realistic virtual person?” We then brought the biggest 3D scanning device in Asia. You’ll see our understanding of the human schema when our Gangsta Underground is launched.
Inven: We were really surprised to hear that the AR game Mossland proceeded with an ICO because ICOs are normally known to be limited to virtual currency. It is a very unconventional attempt, how did you come up with this?
Mr. Son: We put everything into VR in the beginning. We’ve tried a couple of VR titles since we started, but we became concerned since the market size is smaller than we anticipated. We soon got in a situation where we needed to come up with a survival plan as a startup company.
In the meantime, a couple of investors from Silicon Valley and Hong Kong came to advise us in the middle of last year and said that ICOs are very “viral” in the Silicon Valley nowadays.
At first, we wondered if this was the right move for us. We had an opportunity to invite a number of talented people including Mr. Lim late last year, and they were already preparing an AR game using an ICO for quite some time. They already resolved the issue of connecting the VR, AR, and ICO. Then, I thought “Ah, this would be a project that we can spend 2018 working on,” and we’ve been striving so much since the last year.
Inven: Did you decide to collaborate with Reality Reflection after the foundation of Mossland was made to some extent?
Dong Wook Lim (Mr. Lim): Um, we hadn’t reached the development stage at the time. The company joined after the concept and direction were set in the planning stage. To explain the game concept first, I once participated in a game accelerator in the past, and I then heard of the game called Lordmancer 2. It’s a mobile MMORPG with an ICO from last year, and it’s just another game from the perspective of the gaming industry. However, the idea of having a 3rd currency aside from soft currency and hard currency in the game was quite interesting, and I also believed that it can be possible after learning a lot about it.
We planned the game to be a check-in. But we then realized that it wouldn’t be suitable for the trend if we continue with an existing foursquare method. So we tried to find a company that best applies AR/VR technology, and we met Reality Reflection. We started a collaboration around the last G-Star and it feels as if we’ve been working together for more than a year (laugh).
Inven: The result of this ICO was remarkable. We read a couple of major articles by the foreign press reporting that the ICO was sold out in such a short time. Can you tell us more about the results in detail?
Mr. Son: We were very surprised as well. It was sold out in 38 minutes after the ICO began. There were a number of people who struggled with payments because of the Ethereum withdrawal issue, and I think that it would’ve been faster if they didn’t have a problem like that.
Inven: Was there a country or a particular group that showed extremely high interest?
Mr. Lim: After analyzing the whitelist, we found out that many people from Korea showed interests, followed by Russia, unexpectedly. A couple of countries from Europe also made a purchase. US and China, however, didn’t even have a chance to get involved as they banned the ICO.
Inven: How many landmarks do you think will be available based on the off-spec?
Mr. Lim: We received many questions like that. We don’t have a fixed amount yet. However, we are planning to have a number of safety measures so that the initial value of landmarks can be secured regardless of the amount. For example, we are thinking of selling the initial amount by auction to ICO participants in order to prevent any occupying and locking of potential landmarks. However, we don’t have an exact guideline for that yet, so there will possibly be a couple of changes for that.
Also, we are doing an event called “Register Your Landmark” right now through our social media pages - people recommend their own symbolic places or objects in their hometown and country. Once we gather a handful of data, there will surely be places with multiple recommendations, and those places may become a landmark.
Inven: Ah, so there will not only be representative landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, but there can also be a local landmark recommended by local people added to the game?
Mr. Lim: Exactly.
Inven: Can the number of landmarks increase continuously even after the official release?
Mr. Lim: It can.
Inven: The “accessory” feature in Mossland was quite interesting. It is a mechanism that leads players to check in by overlaying an AR object onto the property, and it may have some significant promotional influences. However, wouldn’t it be difficult to promote at the desired place as the landmark is determined by the company?
Mr. Lim: Ah, promotion can also be done near cafes as well. It doesn’t have to be a landmark. We simply designate the most seemingly valuable property among points of interest (POI) as the landmark, but players can still promote and check in at any property.
Inven: Even if a player does not own a property, can he/she still request for an advertisement to the owner of that property?
Mr. Lim: Yes. The owner receives partial profits of advertisement, and a player who checks in that advertisement should receive corresponding rewards.
Inven: Wouldn’t it be somewhat risky when a property owner advertises on the owned property without any review?
Mr. Lim: There’s a VR game called Decentraland. It creates virtual real estate where a player can purchase land and build a cafe or something like that. Advertising was also available in the game, and it also had no specific regulation for suggestive and/or violent promotions. That’s what we are concerned about as well.
However, such problems won’t cause an issue unless the game is hacked because the AR filter is basically done through textures and accessories created by us. The filter will be implemented so you can write whatever you want as part of the promotion.
On the other hand, general players won’t really have a major promotion. It will instead be owners of the shop and corporations, so I believe that there won’t be a big problem.
Inven: Will a property owner handle promotion fees? We’d also like to know if there are any economic controls aside from those that have been mentioned.
Mr. Lim: Yes, the promotion fee will be determined by the market price and property owner. The total amount of issued Moss Coins will be 500 million, and check-in rewards as a form of cost-per-action (CPA) and appropriation of promotion fees will be done to prevent a decline in the value. In addition to that, players will be able to receive rewards through AR achievements such as taking a photo of the property. The advertiser can set a certain action as an achievement for it, and we still need to think about exactly what kind of action it can be.
Inven: It seems that preoccupancy will have a significant impact because the number of issued coins is already fixed. Players who join in later would possibly find it difficult to play because of that. Don’t you have any concerns regarding this in terms of sustaining the game in the long term?
Mr. Lim: We’ve been thinking thoroughly in various ways as this directly affects the total market value, and we increased the number of issued coins in the middle because of that. As Mossland is globally serviced, it is true that 500 million coins won’t possibly be enough if the game becomes successful and renowned in the future.
However, we believe that it won’t be disadvantageous solely for players who join in later. As transactions between players are the main part of this game, we also believe that the balance will be naturally adjusted, going by the supply and demand theory. Realistically speaking, it isn’t that different from an actual real estate. Some may purchase the property at 1 million dollars and sell it for 2 million dollars, and the next person will probably sell it for 5 million dollars.
We suggest that you don’t need to take Mossland too seriously. This is an extremely casual game. The content for most players will be collecting accessories and checking in.
Mr. Son: There are many people concerned about famous landmarks that have already been taken by others. However, Mossland is an AR game that can create unlimited value. For example, you can create brand new value from even a deserted factory depending on how you utilize AR objects on it. Although it is true that early players may have a slight advantage, value creation with AR is truly limitless, which provides enough opportunities for late players as well.
Inven: It is interesting that the combination of AR with reality can create value. One might even think that value as an asset in AR could surpass the value of things in reality sometime in the future. For instance, you mentioned a deserted factory becoming an AR attraction through use of objects.
Mr. Son: We expect the same thing to happen in the future.
Mr. Lim: As a matter of fact, various buildings and objects received attention when Pokemon GO went viral. I personally hope that Mossland becomes a chance for people to discover many hidden places in the world again.
Inven: What do you think is the ideal future of Mossland?
Mr. Lim: Real moss seems to be still, but you see it grow slowly as you wake up every morning. We thought that it was similar to AR, where you increase the value gradually, even if the difference is not significant. You can think of the AR filter as the land of moss. It would be good if the game takes on different unconventional forms, where some collect the moss and some just venture into the new world.
Inven: Many are concerned about security issues. How do you prepare for that?
Mr. Son: Firstly, we have a couple of founding members who used to work at a security company, so we have a solid security system. We also think that security is crucial in our game as it uses cryptocurrency, and we are making thorough preparations.
Mr. Lim: Blockchain is basically a very transparent and safe technology. Mosscoin is also safe as it is only transacted within the blockchain. As it is based on the Ethereum, people won’t have a major issue unless the entire Ethereum network is hacked.
Inven: We heard that you can obtain Moss through in-app purchase after the official release, can you also make a deposit in a virtual account with Etherwallet?
Mr. Lim: Yes, you can recharge the amount of coins at the cryptocurrency market. If you don’t like this way, you can also make a direct purchase through in-app purchases, although it is slightly more expensive when you do so.
Inven: But, can you make a cryptocurrency transaction through an in-app purchase at mobile markets such as the App Store?
Mr. Lim: Good question. First off, Mosscoin and Moss are two different things. Moss is used for transactions and/or the purchase of assets, whereas Mosscoin is the cryptocurrency used at the cryptocurrency market. To put it simply, Moss in the game becomes Mosscoin in reality. It will be a problem if they directly interacted with the in-game market, so we are planning to separate them. This way, the transaction platforms become different for two currencies, preventing any potential claims by Apple.
Inven: Is there any other title you are preparing aside from Mossland?
Mr. Son: We are preparing to launch a game called Gangsta Underground The Poker. It’s a VR game where the player plays underground poker as a member of a gang and shoots a competitor upon winning the game.
Mr. Lim: Gang characters from all around the world are gathered in one place, and they have ferocious and scary, but distinct looks. You can move a hand quite freely, which allows you to perform various activities such as throwing a chip or smoking a cigar. The voice chat is also available, enhancing the quality of gameplay even more with bluffing and improvisation.
Inven: It looks really entertaining based on the clip.
Mr. Lim: You concentrate more when you enjoy multiplayer. It makes you feel like you are playing the game in reality. Aside from Poker, the game itself is truly attractive with its unique atmosphere and situation. It is completed and at the stage of negotiating the release date with the partner company. The exact release date will be announced at the GDC in March.
Inven: Before finishing the interview, please share your vision of Mossland and Reality Reflection.
Mr. Son: Mankind is becoming lonely day by day. The purpose of starting VR was to overcome this loneliness. That’s why we focused on “human character” and “socialization”.
Mossland is created to satisfy a slightly different desire of mankind. You all want to own a building actually (laugh). Even though we don’t own a small piece of land in real life, we believed that this desire could be satisfied to some extent with this AR.
Mr. Lim: We think that there is amplified value from being able to trade between reality and virtual reality, and between online and offline. We’ve seen moments where this value is created and disappears within these relationships. We are curious to see how the value in Mossland will turn out to be in real life.
Mr. Son: I’d also like to say a word about ICO as well. As a matter of fact, there are so many people who have a stereotype about it. I myself was also ignorant about ICOs and blockchain when I saw them for the first time, and I was also concerned about it so much, but as I studied more and more, I began to believe that it can be the future.
Of course, there are some parties who use these to their own advantages. You can really use this technology however you wish as there’s no specific regulation around ICOs yet. However, we really wanted to start it clean. We are determined to provide a positive example by starting it with an honest mind. People with pyramid schemes actually reached out to us, but we shook none of their hands. We really want to make honest and just choices from the beginning to the end.