How Tales of Elatora uses Dynamic NFTs and Gaming to Keep Readers Engaged

By: Jonathan Ferland | Estimated reading time 7 minutes

Web3Lit Deep Dive of the Week
Tales of Elatora

Imagine the creative possibilities if your readers could own artwork that changes over time.

What if one of your characters starts off as a beautiful princess living in a castle on a hill. As the reader progresses through the story, the princess gets drawn into battle and she becomes a fierce warrior.

She trades her jeweled crown for a messy braid and mud-smeared face. Her smile turns grim as she defends her kingdom on the battlefield.

Your reader who buys the artwork at the beginning of the story refreshes their OpenSea account and watches the artwork transform over time. The beautiful princess is now the battle-tested warrior.

Not only is this possible, but that’s what is currently happening in Web3Lit with dynamic (programmable) NFT artwork.

Writers are customizing their character artwork, cover designs, and more based on seasons, time of day, and story progression.

In our Deep Dive of the Week, we explore how Tales of Elatora (ToE) uses dynamic NFT artwork AND gaming to keep their readers engaged with the story and one another.

The possibilities are endless and only available through Web3Lit.

In their words, “Tales of Elatora is an NFT story and RPG that launched April 2022. Featuring 22 different animals, each part of a Faction (Buntai or Gundan), carrying unique traits and a specific role.”

Overall, we believe that Tales of Elatora provides a wide range of inspiration for people new to the space and those trying to understand what makes Web3Lit different from Web2 (or even Web1!).

The Story

visual categories of content creation in web3lit

ToE is a “story-led NFT” project with a well-thought out lore, including maps of the Elatora world and deep dives of their factions and spirits that are central to the story. 

They have also made the first three chapters of the book freely available on the site so anyone interested can check out the story before collecting one of the NFTs. 

In addition to the written story, they are also coming out with audiobook options.

cartoon illustration of a wolf-like creature holding a skull in a tree staff

Cool Stuff that they offer that wouldn’t be possible without Web3

Side note: When people first started hearing about NFTs, the majority were static image/art NFT.

Over time, Web3 projects released Dynamic NFTs to keep collectors engaged over time. These dynamic NFTs are programmable and can change appearance based on the season, time of day, or any situation to reflect what is happening in the story. 

Imagine if your ebook cover design changed from a daytime scene to a nighttime scene based on the time of day? This technology allows for artists to be even more creative with their digital work. 

ToE uses programmable/dynamic NFTs to enhance the reader experience and provide utility in both the story and role-playing game.

Vince Macmahon meme about swappable NFTs

Programmable Art NFTs

illustration of a polar bear holding a spear NFT in tales of elatora

When you first mint your NFT you get “2 for the price of 1” (except for transaction fees) with both a character NFT and a weapon NFT.  

Because they are split into two distinct NFTs, users can swap or trade with other members to switch their features and further customize their characters.  

So, if you started off with the Polar Bear with a Spear, you could trade with your Otter friend to get a battle ax.

This leads to more personalization and community engagement overall.

illustrated otter with a battle axe

So while the great Otter image above shows the character in the daytime, by refreshing the metadata (easily done on OpenSea), the art will update to show “Elatora time” (i.e. shifting from day to sunset to night views).   

That’s fun! 

Both of these dynamic strategies are really creative ways of customizing your NFTs that we haven’t seen in many other projects, while also adding a lot of “wow” factor.  

This type of dynamic art could be used in really innovative ways – potentially changing hair, makeup, clothing, character age or anything else that ties in with the story.

Maybe the art could change based on how far the reader has gotten into the book?  

As further reading if you are technical and/or really interested in the space, I’d highly recommend this article by Unlock Protocol. 

Unlock Protocol is an amazing team (honestly – so impressive!) that offers open-source technology “designed to streamline membership benefits for online communities” and was used by ToE to build out their Dynamic NFTs. 

In the article, they go deep into the how the logic works for everything. It confused us, but was really well-written and thorough! 

Co-Creation and Gaming

In addition to the NFT technology they used, they also created multiple ways to USE the NFTs.  

The first is one of our favorites Web3Lit use cases – allowing NFT holders to co-create the story.

With ToE, anyone with an NFT can “vote on the storyline at the end of each chapter as it’s being written.”

While we were pretty familiar with the story co-creation idea, this next idea was something we had never seen from any other project and really caught our eye. 

This unique feature is a “text & image” based Role Playing Game (RPG) run through Discord.

As they describe it, “our game allows all NFT holders to explore Elatora in a fun, different way. The game checks your crypto wallet and sees which NFTs you have. You will then play the Faction and Class that your avatar has. Besides getting to know our world better, the game also allows us to give away fun prizes and rewards.”

We love the story+game idea for three reasons: 

  1. ToE understands their target community and delivers interesting ways for readers to interact with the characters in an immersive setting.

     

  2. This project provides both reason and incentive to purchase multiple NFTs since they can be used in the game.

    The Dynamic NFT technology uses your character avatar and (interchangeable) weapon NFTs. This enables you to use your NFTs in new and fun ways as you go (assuming we understood everything correctly).

     

  3. The project keeps the community engaged while the story is being written. Writing a story like this can’t be rushed too much – quality is essential!

    But this means that chapters (and voting) can take weeks or months before the next update. In most projects, this means that community members don’t really have a reason to login to the Discord Channel and communicate with each other.


    But like having a pool table in a basement when teenagers live in the house – the interactive game means that there is still something for them to do and a reason for them to engage and build a really tight-knit community.

Stuff that could be done without Web3

Community Building

As always, community building is the hardest and most important part of any project.

ToE has a few unique ways that they are trying to create a passionate community and opportunities for co-creation. 

The first is the “buy more, get more” bundle strategy. While most people will start with the one NFT option (which gives the benefits we’ve talked through today), they’ve also outlined 3 other premium bundles.

Based on how many NFTs a collector acquires, they can get:

  • Minted Artwork
  • Character role in the Book (*note, this is interesting and something we will touch on in future weeks for other projects)
  • A “house” in Elatora that would be included in the book/game
  • A town named after you in the book/game!

Similar to tiered crowdfunding rewards, this allows more passionate investors to invest more and receive additional value-add.  

NFT tiers of tales of elatora

The also build community by acknowledging new collectors on Twitter.

While this will be tough to maintain as the community grows and eventually sells out, it’s a really nice, welcoming feature now. 

Lastly, as part of our research for this deep dive, we’ve recently joined the Discord Channel, and it appears to be a very positive, energetic and passionate group. A fun community is exactly what you would want to see in a project like this!

Summary

Overall, Tales of Elatora provides a wide range of inspiration for people new to the space and trying to understand what makes Web3Lit different than its predecessors.

They do a great job of combining some “traditional” literature tools (i.e. reward tiers) with some really innovative and effective ways of utilizing new Web3 technologies.  

Even compared to the majority of Web3-native projects, their usage of Unlock Protocol’s dynamic NFT technologies and the game they created really sets them apart from the crowd. 

All-in-all, this project provides a roadmap for how innovative, independent, and story-led NFT projects can launch.

We are very impressed with their ability to take on high-quality story writing AND game development simultaneously. 

We also acknowledge that it takes a lot of grace to turn over creative decisions to your community.

Not many writers want to put too many creative decisions in the hands of their readers, and we are impressed that ToE is so engaged with their community.


We are really excited to see where the project goes in the future!

Important links:

https://talesofelatora.com/

https://twitter.com/talesofelatora

https://discord.com/invite/bfze56AJ3V

 

High-level Summary of Tales of Elatora

Tales of Elatora is a story-led NFT project that allows for extensive community engagement and co-creation. Not only can NFT holders trade weapons and characters that are part of the world, but they can also direct the storyline and interact with fellow community members in both story and role-playing game.

ToE is unique in that by using Unlock Protocol as their technological platform, the NFTs are programmable, making them customizable for the NFT holder. Similar to outfitting a character in a game, you can swap out their weapons based on the NFTs you hold, which grants them different powers in the game.

Who Might Be Interested in This Model

A story with a broad universe of characters and elements that readers might want to swap/exchange. This could be anything from changing clothing, weapons, hairstyles, makeup, you name it! If you have a world of characters or features that you want to program into your NFTs, you have a lot of options.

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