Behind the Creators: A Look Inside the Minds of the Builders’ Challenge

The Sandbox
6 min readJul 3, 2024

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We chatted with some of the top creators from the Builders Challenge to hear the secrets behind their success and what they learned about creating experiences that players enjoy.

The Sandbox Builders’ Challenge produced many talented creators who have caught the attention of The Sandbox Community for their creative and boundary-pushing use of Game Maker mechanics.

We chatted with six talented creators who took home significant sums of SAND during the Builders’ Challenge, not just by creating fun, engaging games but by marketing and following important steps to maximize player engagement.

In this three-part series, we’ll share some of our conversations with these creators to help others understand what engagement strategies and decisions can lead to popular experiences!

Let’s look at the first two creators, GATS and CryptoNinja Partners, to learn how their games are helping to shape the future of The Sandbox.

How GATS Made Not One, But Three Popular Experiences

Go big or go home! That’s the approach that GATs, a top ten creator in the Builder Challenge, took for his experiences. Instead of creating and submitting one experience, GATS and the team took the time to build three distinct games that players flocked to.

“All the games had to be casual or hyper-casual so that we could promote them to casual gamers instead of pro gamers,” said GATS when asked what strategic decision-making process made them choose this approach. “The next thing we thought about was replayability. It was important because it’s expensive to bring new players to a platform they don’t know, as we were mainly focused on people outside of The Sandbox […] We checked a lot of popular casual games online and chose the genres that we thought would match The Sandbox platform.”

The team settled on three games: Jumping Madness, Deathrun, and Gatsmania: World of Gatsummons. Jumping Madness is a platformer. “It felt like an infinite game, so people wanted to see what would be at the end,” GATS told us.

As for Deathrun, GATS explained, “One team has to complete obstacles, while another team can activate traps to hinder the progress of the first team.” GATS elaborated on the game’s appeal, “The game was fun because you can dominate and can see the pain of the other team’s players’ [laughs]. It taps into the basic psychology of peer-to-peer games: domination!”

Gatsmania: World of Gatsummons wasn’t completed when the Builders’ Challenge launched. Despite this, GATS and the team persisted, continuously updating the game during the first two weeks before its release. GATS explained its mechanics: “Players catch Gatsumons using balls, then engage in team-based battles. Alongside the main Pokemon Go-style gameplay, Gatsumons possess unique abilities like health potions. The game revolves around team vs team dynamics.”

Driving Engagement Through Charity

We asked GATS to explain their strategy for maximizing player engagement and what initiatives they set up to engage their community.

“First, you need to focus and find your audience,” GATS offered. “Most of the creators [in the Builders’ Challenge] focused on The Sandbox community, we focused on the audience we knew: Ukrainians.”

Creators stand to learn a lot from this approach. Sometimes, casting a wide net yields fewer results than pinpointing your audience. GATS’s experiences were more than fun games that they hoped would win them the Builders’ Challenge; they were acts of charity meant to uplift their community, and GATS benefited from people who were interested in helping Ukraine but may not have had the ability to do so. Finding a social cause to contribute a portion of your SAND to is a great way to drive engagement while helping the greater good.

And Player Boosts Help Too!

Beyond helping their community by donating their earnings, GATS also implemented player boosts to engage players. “We created different activities with The Sandbox NFT equipment as a reward that gave players cheating abilities in-game, such as choosing a team in Deathrun, skipping islands in Jumping Madness, or receiving additional balls and Gatsumns in the Gatsmania: World of Gatsummons,” GATS explained.

When looking toward future Builders’ Challenges, GATS embraced the idea of creating more experiences for players to enjoy. “I will gladly participate in the same campaign or an even bigger one with more experience,” GATS expressed. “Using Game Maker 0.10, I will be able to create much more interesting games. I look forward to the challenge and the opportunity!”

A Virtual Ninja-Themed Amusement Park Based On Accessible IP

One of the biggest challenges when developing a game or telling a story is creating the characters. Developer CryptoNinja Partners cleverly eschewed this step by leveraging the freely usable character brand, ‘CryptoNinja,’ born in the ‘Ninja DAO.’

This allowed them to focus on the experience itself — a virtual ninja-themed amusement park set in an open-world multiplayer game. As CryptoNinja Partners described it: “Players can venture into the expansive world of the estate and enjoy various quests while immersing themselves in the CNP universe. [CNP Land] is a beautiful world crafted with love and dedication to the characters filled with humorous gimmicks.”

CNP Land is a space where visitors can interact with CryptoNinja and engage with fellow community members. Given the existing culture of gathering and enjoying companionship in the metaverse within Ninja DAO, CryptoNinja Partners released it as a multiplayer game, smartly attracting a built-in fan base looking to interact with an established intellectual property (IP).

Engaging a Community to Drive Engagement

CryptoNinja Partners emphasized the importance of setting ambitious goals to excite players. “In Ninja DAO, the goal of achieving the top rank in the Builders’ Challenge was set, and events were held for community players,” they explained. This clear objective acted as a rallying point, inspiring players to unite and work towards a common purpose.

CryptoNinja Partners implemented a variety of interactive events, such as beginner-friendly main quest tours, photo contests, Real-Time Attack (RTA) events, and synchronized dancing. These events were not just top-down initiatives but were “organized voluntarily by community members themselves,” reflecting a deep-rooted culture of creativity and participation within Ninja DAO.

Participatory approaches like this foster a sense of ownership among community members. Players who are architects of events feel more connected and invested in its success. It also leverages the diverse talents and interests within the community, ensuring a wide range of activities that can appeal to different players. CryptoNinja Partners also used Community tokens, which they “distributed to event participants to attract more attendees.”

Listening to the community is crucial in maintaining a vibrant player base. CryptoNinja Partners routinely engaged with their members through text and voice communication channels, ensuring that they stayed attuned to the needs and preferences of the community. This ongoing dialogue helped them tailor their initiatives and address any issues promptly.

CryptoNinja Partners succeeded in the Builders’ Challenge largely by leveraging an engaged, preexisting community, leaning on influencers that amplified a community’s enthusiasm, motivated participation, and created a buzz around events and goals. “In addition, Ninja DAO routinely listened to community members’ voices through text and voice communication channels,” added CryptoNinja Partners. “Multiple community influencers discussing and sharing the goal of winning the challenge also generated significant energy.”

Create YOUR Masterpiece

What strategies will you use when building your next experience on The Sandbox? Download Game Maker 0.10 today to start creating, and buy or rent LAND to publish your masterpiece!

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