PLUS: 🎙️ 2 more examples of storytelling and narrative building

WTF is Early Retired Cats Club?

What is Early Retired Cats Club (ERCC)? All cats (at least domesticated ones) are basically retired and spend their days napping, swatting things off tables, and looking cute. My cat is so retired that she watches TV while I toil away.

Nara watching her favorite reality TV show

ERCC is a NFT collection from Cats & Soup, a popular mobile game (iOS, Android) with over 50 million downloads since it launched in October 2021. Where players raise their cat characters, interact with them, and collect resources in this sim game, and it seems like a great destressor. The title is developed by Neowiz, a publicly listed Korean game developer.

ERCC launched as a free mint in January, and I purchased one relatively early after the mint with the primary reason being that my wife agreed that they were cute. I don’t recommend this strategy, but once in a while it works 😂

My ERCC. The country trait is another interesting mechanic, we’ll save that for another day.

So with that out of the way, what did ERCC announce yesterday that compelled me to write about them today?

ERCC launches Meow Simulator

Yesterday evening, I received a notification in the ERCC Discord announcing the launch of Meow Simulator. What is it?

It’s a browser extension where users complete missions to earn PAWs (points) and level up their cat. The tasks are your usual suspects: follow, like, and repost content associated with ERCC and related accounts.

If any of this sounds familiar, it is. We see these questing mechanics all over the place, particularly on established platforms like Galxe, Intract, Layer3, and Zealy. However, this is the first time I’ve seen an owned and operated (O&O) questing product in browser extension format. Why do this?

  • Browser extensions can identify the websites you’re on and deliver dynamic content accordingly. Coupon extensions are a great example of this.
    Rakuten extension activated when I visit Priceline
    • The O&O platform is more flexible and fits the project’s needs. Meow Simulator has features that aren’t available on one-size-fits-all questing platforms: Animated companion characters with speech bubbles, leveling up, task lists that can be dynamically updated (and eventually personalized?), and IX wallet integration (we’ll get to that later). The tasks are boilerplate for now, but I imagine they could get more complex over time if the team wanted them to.
      • Rewards can be more flexible and relevant to the user. Questing platforms typically have a standardized level + points system. Meow Simulator is similar in this sense, along with a much more explicit message regarding the output of the efforts.

        Is this the future of web3 questing?

        It’s too early to tell, but browser extensions are a clear step beyond the questing standard we see today. The platforms I previously listed are still the go-to option for most projects. We’re seeing questing evolve, with these efforts led by teams with more resources and companies looking to deepen engagement with an ecosystem vs. a singular product. Vertical-specific engagement ecosystems have popped up, with gaming generally leading this effort as well.

        On the note of ecosystem, this is where the digging gets interesting and provides additional context for the browser extension move:

        • NFTs: Only ERCC for now
          • Questing product: Meow Simulator, built by Novaflow Labs
            • Wallet: IX wallet, built by Novaflow Labs
              • Novaflow Labs: The development arm building web3 products for Intella X
                • Intella X: The web3 gaming platform founded by Neowiz. The team has lined up a notable list of partners and raised $12 million in January 2023.

                  I’m curious to see if more ‘questing’ browser extensions pop up and if so, how they drive deeper engagement and how they cross-promote products from the ecosystem.

                  More examples of storytelling + narrative building ft. Pacman and Azuki

                  In my last piece, I covered the importance of storytelling for founders. I have a couple more examples that continue to hammer home the importance of this and are worth sharing.

                  Pacman and the Blast story

                  Yesterday, I stumbled across a Bankless episode interviewing Pacman, the founder of Blur and Blast. The episode helped me better understand the nuts and bolts of Blast, how it was built, and the vision for the ecosystem. It also helped me to better understand Pacman, his story, and overall vision.

                  Related to narrative and storytelling, there was a segment towards the end (1:32:50) that stuck out to me.

                  Ryan: Pacman, you are now #3, or at least Blast is, by total locked value behind Arbitrum and OP Mainnet, and pretty early in the journey as well. Are you going for #1? Are you competing up the charts? Is that the end destination? What do you think it will take to continue to grow here?

                  Pacman: I think there’s a difference between emergent outcomes versus the inputs. And for us, the input is we want to build the L2 that provides the most value to developers and users, the most value out of any L2. That’s our goal.

                  And we see the path to getting there is you have this L2 with native yield where everyone’s earning that by default.

                  But also, now you’re enabling new types of applications. Like Robinhood for example, they charge zero fees and that actually provides more value to the market than if they had charged fees. It’s not just like ‘oh it’s a new business model’. It’s like ‘no, this is actually providing more value to the market.’

                  This is why these productive business models get adopted in the first place. So, the only thing driving us is that we want to build the L2 that provides the most value to end users and developers.

                  I do think that an emergent outcome of that is you know conditioned on accomplishing that goal, we would be the largest L2 by TVL and usage.

                  But the input is really just ‘how do we provide the most value?’

                  By the way, Pacman is a self-proclaimed ‘elder Gen Z’, so he’s in his mid-twenties. He’s not some seasoned 45-year-old executive who has decades of experience in public speaking.

                  What a great line: We want to build the L2 that provides the most value to developers and users. 🫳🎤

                  It’s so good my cat could recite it if she would get off that damn couch.

                  If you listen to that clip, it’s interesting to hear him emphasize and repeat specific words in that line.

                  Repetition: We want to build the L2 that provides the most value to developers and users, the most value out of any L2. That’s our goal.

                  Emphasis: So, the only thing driving us is that we want to build the L2 that provides the most value to end users and developers.

                  Repetition of the goal:

                  • Clarifies emergent outcomes vs. inputs
                    • States goal with repetition: We want to build the L2 that provides the most value to developers and users
                      • Provides Robinhood example
                        • Restates goal with emphasis: We want to build the L2 that provides the most value to developers and users
                          • Finally answers the question

                            I have no idea if this is rehearsed or not, but it’s good. Like, really good.

                            Azuki and the AnimeChain launch

                            Yesterday, Azuki announced AnimeChain.


                            • AnimeChain will be built in collaboration by Azuki and Arbitrum
                              • Anime has grown from a niche subculture into a part of mainstream culture
                                • The goal of AnimeChain is to create an ecosystem for the next generation of anime that empowers both creators and participants with deeper fan engagement and shared upside
                                  • Azuki is the first partner and will launch content, games, and physical products on AnimeChain
                                    • Although not explicitly mentioned, there will be a token

                                      The announcement quickly went viral as the Azuki and Arbitrum communities rallied behind the announcement, with 1.2 million views and tens of thousands of replies, reposts, and likes.

                                      As intriguing as the announcement was, it was the way both teams proliferated and reiterated the message that really caught my attention. What did they do?

                                      Azuki team published threads

                                      In a vacuum, there’s nothing special about publishing threads, but the teams did it in a way that amplified the message and maximized the chance that everyone saw the announcement, and likely multiple times at that.

                                      I observed 6 different threads/long posts that accompanied the announcement,

                                      (Sources: AnimeChain, Z, Wale, location, Whiz, Arbitrum, Steven)

                                      Each contributor brought a different POV on the partnership and Arbitrum and Steven Goldfeder’s (Arbitrum Cofounder) threads re-emphasize the Azuki team’s posts. Note the clustering of post time stamps, and this also explains why the Arbitrum posts come after Azuki’s.

                                      This announcement also fits nicely into the AX framework I created a while back, checking the boxes across voice, timing, format, momentum, and channel selection (see below).

                                      Other channels

                                      Multiple community spaces popped up after the announcement, and today there is a Discord Stage talk featuring the Arbitrum team.

                                      This is in addition to all the other Spaces, independent content creators, and folks like myself who reference this announcement as a piece of news.


                                      Last but not least, the team and community created memes based on the newly introduced coin/bean-looking character from the original announcement.

                                      This is a smart way to make something serious and complex like a blockchain and token to be more approachable and fun. I expect to see this character pop up again in future AnimeChain and AnimeCoin announcements.

                                      Sharing the vision and storytelling as a team

                                      This example from Azuki illustrates how the responsibility of creating a vision and narrative can expand beyond the founder(s) once the initial heavy lifting is done and of course, with the right team. It also shows how this vision can be further amplified through partnerships, in this case with Arbitrum.

                                      The announcement showcased a vision:

                                      • Through multiple channels
                                        • By multiple people (not just the project itself)
                                          • With multiple perspectives

                                            And with that, my vision is I will finish this piece now and eat a very late lunch.

                                            See you next week!