Behind the Scenes with Polygonal Mind: Creating Successful Experiences in Decentraland
Learn more about what goes into designing amazing experiences in Decentraland from the builders of the recent MTN DEW x NYXL activation and much more.
Last weekend Mountain Dew and the New York Subliners hosted a 4-day long Call of Duty League Major 4 watch party in Decentraland—the first of its kind in the metaverse in fact! But it wasn’t just the event’s novelty that made it special. The event turned out to be a resounding success due in large part to the work of Polygonal Mind, the development studio that worked together with the Subliner’s team to create the venue that would host the watch party event.
See the event’s website: link
More than just a building in Decentraland, the experience that Polygonal Mind developed for the event included multiple levels, a scavenger hunt in which you could win custom-designed Wearables, an NPC, a Wearable gallery, livestream screen, and a shooter game. See the highlights of the event below:
Oh... some fresh vibes still remain from last week, it was such a good moment 💚🌴— Polygonal Mind (@polygonalmind) July 21, 2022
How many of you appear in this RECAP of the @MountainDew x @Subliners event at @decentraland?
Raise your hands and share your best moments!! 🙌#CDL2022 #Metaverse pic.twitter.com/6bg8ek27PZ
As the metaverse intertwines more and more with the mainstream and new use cases are discovered every day, brands and communities are starting to realize the potential Web3 has to offer. Platforms like Decentraland provide new and refreshing opportunities for community growth, outreach, engagement, and promotion. However, because the metaverse is still very novel and foreign to many, interested parties may not know where to begin. That’s where development studios like Polygonal Mind come in.
In addition to creating new opportunities for brands and communities, the metaverse has opened up a whole new category of career paths to provide the skilled labor that bring those opportunities to fruition and offer an insider’s advice on what works best in the metaverse. Individuals who started out as programmers and Web3 enthusiasts have become metaverse builders, experience developers, Wearable designers, event planners, LAND owners, and more. As a successful studio that came to be in just this way, Polygonal Mind is a veteran of the metaverse’s early days and now develops some of the best experiences for some of the biggest brands.
The studio was kind enough to answer some questions from the Decentraland Foundation and to share their story, as well as their industry perspective & advice with the community. Strap in for a behind the scenes look at the metaverse experience building industry from Polygonal Mind.
Q&A with Polygonal Mind
DCL: When MTN DEW x NYXL approached you for this project, did they already know what they wanted to be designed and built for them or did you help them conceive the experience? If yes, how did you come up with the experience you designed for them?
PM: This project came to us through Mountain Dew’s partner NYXL which came to us with a clear vision and goals for this activation, but totally open in terms of visuals. As we usually do, we started creating totally different concepts and sketches for them until we got the one that we all believed had the best UX but also fit well with Mountain Dew’s branding strategy.
NYXL has been a great partner and has allowed us to give to their space a unique and creative take on everything. Together we explored different takes and views on central themes like the MtnDew brand and the NYSubliners team.
DCL: When did they approach you to create an activation in Decentraland? How far ahead of an event should brands seek out Creators?
PM: They reached out to us in mid May.We think it would be good to contact a design/development studio 3 months before an event is scheduled. That would give enough time to prepare the whole strategy properly, making sure we are totally aligned with our partner’s interests and expectations.
DCL: Do you get contacted by a lot of big brands these days to create activations and experiences in the metaverse? Do you feel like the potential of activations in the metaverse is fully realized by the mainstream or not yet? What needs to happen for it to be realized?
PM: Yes, we’ve been contacted by big brands for months and we’ve experienced an increase in reach in the last few months.We do feel the potential of activations in the Metaverse is not fully realized yet, but we do see an increase in attention and attendance. We work towards mass adoption. We think decentralized metaverses are here to stay and that they will become the norm in the near future. But the underlying technology needs to be improved; better load times, more integrations, more dynamic worlds, interoperability, more devices supporting the metaverse, more social connections, improvements that increase the feeling of your virtual identity, etc.Besides technology, the main vision of the blockchain, metaverse, and NFTs need to be normalized, and this is something we think only time will help with.
DCL: What do you think is the potential and benefit of using such activations and experiences to promote a brand or communities? How do you think it compares to traditional methods of promotion?
PM: The metaverse opens new ways of engagement between brands and their communities. It’s much more immersive, engaging, and enjoyable than other traditional methods of advertising. If we combine this with the blockchain, we get even more new ways to engage on a new level with our audience, which are no longer considered as individual clients but as a whole community, where people can participate in many ways such as voting or owning digital items from the brands that can give them some benefits and extra rewards that couldn’t be done in any other way.
DCL: What kind of work goes into designing and creating the kind of experiences you design for brands in Decentraland?
PM: Well, there are many phases within a project like this. Depending on the client and their knowledge about Web3/metaverse, the project can take more time in the pre-production phase than in the production phase actually. We usually start with some consulting sessions, where we share our knowledge and expertise about Web3 and metaverse activations, then we have the pre-production phase where we establish the vision and goals for the project, making sure we are totally aligned with our partners, not only artistically, but from a marketing/business perspective too. And finally we move to the production stage where we share our WIP continuously and discuss the marketing strategy before launching.
DCL: What makes an experience/activation in Decentraland ‘good’? What are the key elements for success?
PM: The experience has to be fun and different from what you are used to in IRL events. Playing games, getting cool Wearables, and discovering enjoyable brand moments with other players makes people happier and more connected with the brand’s values.
DCL: What advice would you give to brands & communities looking to promote and create experiences in Decentraland?
PM: Don’t focus on selling but on creating value and community.
DCL: What kinds of possibilities does Decentraland offer to brands & communities in terms of events and activations?
PM: Nowadays, Decentraland is one of the most open and developed metaverse platforms, which lets anyone create almost anything that you can imagine. As it is natively decentralized through the blockchain, it allows us to implement several new tools to enhance the UX. Some of these things are live streaming, NFTs, Wearables, and gaming development among others.
DCL: What advice would you give to others looking to become designers and creators of experiences in Decentraland? What kind of skills do you need? Who do you need on your team?
PM: Our first piece of advice would be to spend time in Decentraland before doing anything. Learn from what other people are doing, how and why they do it and how people behave natively on the platform. We’ve seen many new designers that are investing a lot of time into things that are totally out of touch, and the community can see that very quickly. As for skill sets, that is more complicated to answer. At this point our studio personally needs a wide range of skills, since our experiences are becoming very detailed. We need 3D artists, game developers, blockchain developers, animators, web developers, and so on… But if you’re just starting, a team with a programmer and an artist is enough to make cool things in Decentraland.
DCL: Do you think these types of activations and promotions are the future? How do you think they will change and develop with time?
PM: Yes! These kinds of initiatives are way more interactive for users than regular ads, they also can provide you with direct information about who is interested in your brand and how much! It is very difficult to foresee something like this, just a year ago, an event like the one we made for MTN DEW was totally impossible to conceptualize. Decentraland evolves almost every day on a technical level, but also on a community level. Newcomers come into the platform with new ideas that make the whole platform spin to accommodate them. It is very exciting to see the change in real time. What we expect are richer experiences, quality over quantity.
DCL: What’s Polygonal Mind’s story? How did you come to be where you are today? Did you originally set out to create experiences in the metaverse? What do you see in your future?
PM: Polygonal Mind started as an independent game development studio 8 years ago. We shifted into an outsourcing studio providing art for game developers on mobile and in the VR industry. We developed many low poly games that won artistic awards from the Apple Store like Morphite, and worked on big VR titles like Beat Saber.
Then, at the end of 2018, we discovered Decentraland, just before the second LAND sale. We started to get involved in the community, and back then it was mostly filled with enthusiasts and coders, so we thought it was a perfect match for us. As an independent creative studio we felt we had a chance to help build the future of Decentraland using our artistic knowledge. After some time the Momus collective found us, and hired us to build Momus Park, the first Crypto Art Gallery ever built in Decentraland, and still the largest one today. It was a great technical challenge back then, and we had many back and forths to make it happen as we had to work with hundreds of LANDs, something almost impossible at the time.
Since then, we’ve been building things in Decentraland, and we slowly shifted our focus from the game industry to the metaverse. By the end of 2020, 80% of our revenue came from Decentraland projects alone. Since then, we’ve built art galleries, games, headquarters, event areas, Wearables, and many other crazy experiences like MegaCube. To give some extra context, at this point we built almost 4000 LANDs worth of scenes and have grown our studio from 4 people to 50 team members, all while remaining independent!
For us the future is filled with hope, we want to keep creating as much as possible in Decentraland using art as the gateway to onboard people into it.