The Ponderware story
A Q&A with MoonCats creators Ponderware!
Metaversal is a Bankless newsletter for weekly level-ups on NFTs, virtual worlds, & collectibles
Dear Bankless Nation,
If you’re not already familiar with their work, Ponderware is the team behind MoonCats.
After Ponderware launched MoonCats in August 2017, the project entered a lull for years. NFT archeologists rediscovered the collectibles earlier this year, upon which Ponderware sprung into action and has since helped with the rebirth of the ‘Cats.
As such, MoonCats “rising from the ashes” has been one of the most compelling NFT storylines in 2021, and Ponderware has gained some unique perspectives accordingly.
That’s why Mason Marcobello, who wrote a definitive intro to MoonCats for Metaversal back in September, has been keen to pick the brains of Ponderware. And so that he did with a Q&A! Ponderware kindly provided some great answers, so let’s dive in 👇
P.S. Ponderware’s David Scarpetti (Lead dev), Brooks Boyd (Senior dev), and Anna Marie (Community & project manager) contributed to these answers. I’ll refer to them collectively as “Ponderware” and to Mason as “MM” below.
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Talking MoonCats with the Ponderware team!
When did you first hear about NFTs? And how soon after that did you conceptualize the idea of MoonCats?
David and Jason, the original two Ponderware devs, connected over long discussions about the original DAO on Ethereum. Realizing the incredible potential of the technology, we decided to build something together.
The concept of NFTs hadn’t solidified yet, of course. After talking through countless possibilities we opted to direct our efforts towards creating a novel kind of user-customizable digital collectible — something that would be fairly distributed and would allow the rescuer to express themselves. Four months later MoonCatRescue was born!
After you launched MoonCats, how soon did you start to see receptivity and engagement from your community?
The first week was pretty good, in fact in that span we saw almost 1,600 mints!
We put a lot of care into that whole experience of “rescuing,” i.e. minting, MoonCats and loved hearing about the fun people had “scanning” the moon to find cats. When interest petered out over the subsequent years development paused, and we decided to simply support the interface in case at some point in the future people got interested again. And they did!
What were some of the more significant challenges you encountered while creating MoonCats and then post launch? Looking back, is there anything you believe you could have done differently to save time and effort?
There are some things about the smart contract we would revise if we could do it again. There wasn’t nearly as much prior art to draw on at the time, including any sort of NFT standard.
Really, the biggest challenge though was marketing. We were builders, and it was hard to watch our project be eclipsed by projects with better marketing and then get forgotten for so long.
That said, the nature of the blockchain meant MoonCats would forever live on. And we have no complaints, MoonCats have brought a lot of joy and have helped bloom a robust and engaged community.
What key lessons or insights have you learned from creating the world of MoonCats? If you could share any learned wisdoms to help other NFT collectors and creators on their own journeys, what would these be?
We have four main pillars of advice. First is: trust is your greatest asset! Always be ethical and consistent with your community, treat them with respect and honesty and you will open amazing opportunities to build and grow together.
Then, test your contracts! Everyone’s going to make mistakes sometimes, and we do a lot of testing to ensure everything is rock solid we put out now.
And of course, push the envelope! We recently allowed people to make mini-franchises inside the MoonCats environment with MoonCatPop – you could design and mint your own animated vending machine NFT, which dispenses animated NFT cans featuring your personally selected MoonCat, and now it’s up to the owners to decide how they create and manage their own mini “can communities” inside the bigger MoonCats community.
Lastly, we’d recommend hiring people whose strengths are your weaknesses! MoonCats really took off in the March 2021 NFT renaissance, and Ponderware quickly realized none of us knew anything about social media or how to build and retain a community. So, we hired a Community Manager and it’s been among the best decisions we’ve made, hands down.
It can be hard to analyze the value of a new or existing NFT project. Given your experience and long-standing involvement in the NFT world, what key metrics do you suggest people consider before getting involved with a project, collection, or creator?
Spend some time in the community before committing to buying.
This is what we always encourage people thinking about getting a MoonCat, for example. We’ve got a vibrant Discord, with members active pretty much 24/7, so there’s always someone around who can answer questions. We’ve got a channel dedicated to community-built tools to help you make your first or second or 50th MoonCat purchase. The Ponderware team is there to answer technical questions as well.
Considering the MoonCat collection is fixed at the current supply, how do you envision growing the world, story, and community? Will this be through more accessories and collaborations?
Having made the commitment to the community not to increase the total supply of MoonCats has proven to be a blessing in disguise. Since we’re primarily interested in doing new and fun things, closing off the obvious door to “just make more MoonCats!” gives us a certain freedom to get creative.
What are some of the more easily avoided or common mistakes that you see people make in the MoonCat community?
MoonCats are, unfortunately, divided between 3 states: most are in the official “Acclimated” Wrapper (73% of the collection), but some are still unwrapped, and some are in an old, featureless Wrapper made by someone in the community, who has since abandoned it.
Getting the word out that the official Wrapper is the place to be because it supports all current and future developments, has been an ongoing education.
Going off that point, it always breaks our hearts a little when folks buy out of the old Wrapper then discover they can’t get accessories or announce their unique ENS subdomain until they re-wrap.
What have been some of the most unique and creative contributions you’ve seen from the MoonCat community?
Seeing the rise of some amazing artists in the Boutique!
For instance, Digivatar was someone who was making outfits for MoonCats off-chain that we spotted prior to the launch of accessories. We invited him to join the community team that would be debuting launch day accessories at the start of July.
Since then, he’s gone on to make a variety of items, many of which work together as complete accessory sets, and even more interestingly, work together with many other designers’ works. We had hoped there would be interesting synergies between different designers, and Digivatar is really good at it.
Where do you see the evolution and growth of NFTs in the next 5-10 years?
Fortune-telling is not our specialty, however it’s likely NFTs are here to stay. They will begin to permeate other industries, and though many of these advances may look like a far cry from the 10k “profile pic” zeitgeist of this era, they will trace their roots directly back to the enthusiasm, creative-energy, and hard-work thousands are putting in today.
Any parting words, wisdom, or insights you’d like to share?
All cats are good cats!
👀 If you haven’t already, check out the MoonCats Explained guide by Mason Marcobello.
📰 Read MoonCatPop by Ponderware
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Not financial or tax advice. This newsletter is strictly educational and is not investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any assets or to make any financial decisions. This newsletter is not tax advice. Talk to your accountant. Do your own research.
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