Web3 Mavericks: Exiled Racers on Creating Fun Games with Better Onboarding

by Esprezzo Team on May 20, 2023
Web3 Mavericks - 2 - Sumeet Patel v1

Welcome to the second episode of Web3 Mavericks, where we share insights from leaders and teams building innovative products and services in gaming, NFTs, and phygital experiences.

In this episode, we chat with Sumeet Patel, the Founder and Head of Product at Exiled Racers, a futuristic NFT racing game. Before starting Exiled Racers, Sumeet contributed to the development of the algorithm behind FICO’s Risk Score and was one of LinkedIn’s early data science team hires.

We had a great time chatting with Sumeet and we’re excited for you to learn more about Exiled Racers' focus on delivering an enjoyable gaming experience with rewards:

 Transcript has been edited for clarity. 

Quionie: What is Exiled Racers about?

Sumeet: "Exiled Racers" is a high-fidelity NFT project, with an algorithmic racing game as a bonus. The Exiled ecosystem is a futuristic civilization with three different NFT types: a Pilot, a Racecraft, and a Booster. These NFTs can be used in the racing game to compete against others. It's a new type of horse race mixed with a fantasy sports manager.
For upcoming races, you can place your three NFTs — your Pilot, your Racecraft, and Booster — based on the track and the competitors. Once the entry period is over, we can give you the odds. Then we open it up to spectators and predictors for predictions and bets. Finally, the race is fully simulated for a live viewing experience.

Q: That’s interesting, what was the inspiration behind all of this?

S: I have a background in engineering and statistics. I went to school at UC Berkeley and then worked at FICO, helping to build the algorithm before the credit crisis hit. After, I moved on to LinkedIn. I was an early employee there, one of the first people in the data science team. I worked on different types of algorithms and also kind of on the business side, helping LinkedIn grow from a SaaS monetization standpoint. These things now help Exiled Racers with our algorithmic racing manager.

The other two founders and I have been friends for a while here in Brooklyn. We're always trying to find ways to have fun without having to engage too heavily. Exiled Racers is something that spawned out of being at a pub and thinking, “Hey, wouldn't it be fun if we could just place bets or make predictions on some really lightweight games.” That's initially how it all started. We were all like, “Let's just make something fun for our friends”.

Q: So this sounds like something that can be done without Web3? Why did you choose to do this in Web3?

S: A lot of what we’re building, especially with the gaming side — if you’re going to watch Formula 1, a horse race, the Super Bowl, everyone can watch the event. You can’t really say someone cheated or lied because there are rules and we all saw the same thing. If you’re going to make predictions, or play a game, you want to make sure there’s fairness.

Web3 allows us to do this. It's a proprietary algorithm that runs the game, we can publish all the data, all the information, on-chain. People can see that, verify it, make sure we didn’t make anything up, the data is there for everyone, hasn’t been manipulated or changed. It allows users to have trust.

We're all big fans of owning your own items in games, and receiving different types of prizes. In a tournament, prizes might be a free t-shirt, but in Web3, you can give out digital collectibles, digital currency; there’s more options, so it makes sense for us to be in Web3.
We knew we wanted to make this game with a certain amount of complexity around it. The NFTs that are available now — you can buy them if you go to exiledracers.com.

Q: Yeah that’s awesome, I’m taking a look right now. I’ve seen your website, but I hadn’t seen the NFTs themselves. These Pilots look sick.

S: Yeah, the Pilots are amazing. The Racecrafts are awesome too, they come with the 3D model showing up in the game. All the NFTs were made generatively using 3D modeling. Our art team has worked with Adidas, Nike, and large artists. They’re commercial 3D artists and render artists. You can see the quality of the NFTs when you look at them.
Exiled_Racers_NFTs 1

 Exiled Racers Pilot, Racecraft and Booster NFTs

Q: Nice! Exiled Racers has an in-house art team?

S: Yeah, they’re part of our team. We call them the “art boys”, they work in an office nearby. They’ve been part of the team since the beginning of the company.

Q: And when was the beginning of the company? How long ago was that?

S: It’s been around for about a year and a half now. From inception, probably a little over a year, in terms of how intense it’s been, launching the project from something more for fun on the side to what we think was going to be Exiled Racers moving forward. 

One of our partners — I’ll call him BLR8 by his racing handle — is someone I’ve known for a long time. We always talk about different things in Web3 whenever we meet up. I’ve been interested in this space for a long time. I’ve been in and around the space for the last 10 years or so.

Q: Oh, very nice, so you’ve definitely seen how it’s evolved.

S: Oh yeah, especially for the new things around DeFi and decentralized apps.

Q: What is your take on that? I mean I remember DeFi Summer of 2020? Everyone was just dropping projects left and right.

S: Yeah, it was a little shocking initially. You see some DeFi products and you’re like “How can they offer such high APY?" Some people could see that at some point this isn’t going to hold water; you can only give out so many tokens until it’s not worth much.

It was a bit like the wild, wild west; everyone was trying different things, seeing what they could build with this innovative technology. It’s brand new, there’s so many things we could do with it.

Now we see the market maturing, with a lot more separation between the games and the financial products. We went from financial products to games that were essentially financial products like Axie Infinity — where you’re grinding to get tokens — essentially farming, and now you’re seeing more games that are not necessarily play-to-earn, they’re just play to have fun, which I would consider Exiled Racers in that. It’s not necessarily a financial game, it’s a game where you play to have fun and earn rewards on top of that.

Q: Can you tell us a little more about your team? Are you guys all distributed?

S: We started out all in the same place, all here in Brooklyn. Then one of the founders moved to LA and then he came back; he didn’t like LA, so we’ve been fairly distributed. We’re not in a centralized office right now. We’re all in our own spaces, all working from our own area.

Q: What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve experienced while building Exiled Racers?

There are technical obstacles and general growth obstacles.

On the technical side, when you’re building 3,000 unique NFT items in 3D, there’s a huge technical hurdle. Most games have like 10 ships you can choose from, maximum 30. We have to build 3,000 unique ships that look just like the NFT — which seems easy to do, but it’s definitely not. You have to look at each ship and make sure that it does match and does fit.

As we all know, you need a wallet for a lot of things. How do you make it easy for people to onboard, and easy for people to play? Wallets are hard for a lot of people, people who don’t know what Web3 even is.

Those are the challenges from a technical standpoint but from a growth standpoint, we’re based on the Polkadot ecosystem with Moonbeam. The community is tight but it’s smaller. So it’s harder to grow into bigger communities within Web3.

Q: Which tools have helped you and your team most in collaborating and building your project?

S: I think the biggest one is not a technical tool, but Discord has been huge for us. Communication is key. People think of Discord as a place where you can communicate with your community and that’s been awesome to generate a large community, to engage with them, talk to them in real-time. But in the same tool, we’re communicating internally with our team. We have different channels for engineering and design, and a lot of stuff going on in the same thread. What’s nice about it is that it doesn’t separate us from our community. It helps keep everything centralized.

Q: What advice do you have for other founders and teams?

S: You need to think about your go-to-market early. A lot of people don’t do that. Not even with Exiled Racers, but with previous companies I’ve launched; building in Web3 is no different than building in Web2.

If you’re not solving a problem or building something people want, if there’s no product-market fit, no one’s going to buy it or play whatever you’re doing. It’s important to talk to your users, not just build something that you want and hope everyone likes it.

For other founders who are listening, focus on Web2 users. Web3 users are there — they’re going to be your biggest champions — but don’t build only for Web3 users because your larger audience is always going to be in Web2. Focus on building that onboarding experience so it’s easy for Web2 to understand. They’re coming on, they don’t have any difference between what they're used to using and what they’re using with your site, right?

Q: That makes a lot of sense. Where can people learn more about Exiled Racers?

S: You can go to exiledracers.com. Our Twitter is a great resource, so follow us @exiledracers. There’s also a link to our Discord on our website. It’s a great spot to meet the rest of the community, and ask questions from us. We’ll be able to respond to things pretty quickly if you have any questions.

There’s also a link to the collection. You can see the actual NFTs, buy them from one of our NFT marketplace partners. And hopefully in the next couple of months, we’ll be releasing widely where you won’t be as gated as you can see it right now. You’ll be able to go on and start watching people race live and price predictions, whether that’s for free or paid, and get involved with the community.

About Exiled Racers

Learn more about Exiled Racers:

Website | Twitter | Discord


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Topics: Web3 Mavericks

Esprezzo Team
Esprezzo Team

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