NFT Innovation, with Nate Alex of Secret Project Team


NFT Innovation, with Nate Alex of Secret Project Team

Can NFTs die? Yes, they can! In this episode of The Metaverse Podcast, Nate Alex shares about ChainFaces Arena, an arena where ChainFaces can fight to the death to earn prizes. He talks about his philosophy, his team, and what they have learned from building ChainFaces Arena.

Posted by NFT Innovation, with Nate Alex of Secret Project Team - February 2022



NFT Innovation, with Nate Alex of Secret Project Team Outlier Ventures


  • An NFT collector. Used to be a flipper in the early days
  • Was the Co-Founder of NFT42, building out their smart contract functionality
  • His coding skills are in the top decile globally
  • Shitposter Extraordinaire
  • This is his 2nd time on The Metaverse Podcast

Shitposting probably being one of my top skills.

– Nate Alex

ChainFaces Arena

  • At the end of last year, he was feeling stagnant. He wanted to build an innovation studio consisting of super devs
  • In November 2021, he started working on multiple secret projects. One of these projects is ChainFaces Arena
  • Kane Wallman reached out to him and they teamed up to build it

A large percentage of the NFT creator community is only focused on putting a cute picture or a cool looking picture on a token, and that’s it. And then pumping and dumping the shit or like hyping people up and they’re really trying to control and create like supply-demand mismatches. So the floor goes up. So people talk about it, and they’re not doing anything innovative.”

– Nate Alex

  • Their motivation is to actually create cool stuff. In contrast, the NFT community is only focused on profile picture NFTs
  • ChainFaces Arena is a mini-game that adds deflationary pressure on the collection — NFTs are able to die on the arena
  • So far, 12,775 ChainFaces have died in the arena and have been sent to a graveyard contract


NFT Innovation, with Nate Alex of Secret Project Team Outlier Ventures


  • The game is incentivized with Ether
  • There is also a dynamic upgrading in the art. Scars are generatively created and applied on-chain to the ChainFaces
  • Currently building ChainFaces HD, an aesthetic professionally-illustrated upgrade of ChainFaces

What He Has Learned From Building ChainFaces Arena

  • Realized that his original idea of an all developer team is silly
  • Realized that he needed operational people and a community team
  • Currently building the team out and making strategic hires
  • Thought that the deflationary aspect of ChainFaces Arena would result in a stronger market. It did not materialize as people treated their ChainFaces like a throwaway ticket in the arena
  • Decided that they need to strengthen their brand before their next innovation project

His Mindset

  • With all the projects he has launched, he approached them with an experimental mindset
  • Now, he’s pivoting out of that a little bit with the concept of a secret project team
  • His team has the resources and the skill set and they want to do really polished projects going forward
  • When he created SquigglyWTF, people approached him to say that they created their own projects that were inspired by his
  • Snowfro shared that Nate’s work was what inspired him to finish building Art Blocks

What Made Him To Have This Vision To Scale Beyond Himself To A Studio/Startup?

  • His original vision is to grab all the innovative developers and put together a super team to build the coolest things
  • However, he knows that his project will be copied by many others
  • For example, there are tons of copycats of Bored Apes
  • He hopes that their projects will be more engaging rather than simply talking about what the floor price is like
  • At the final night of the ChainFaces arena, there were only 20 ChainFaces remaining. There was a bounty of 7 ETH per face and the stakes were high
  • The winner only bought 1 face and entered with it. He walked away with $160,000

The stakes were super high. We’re all like cheering it on and shit. It was a really cool experience that you just don’t really get that with other NFTs. It’s hard to really share what it was like to be there. It’s really like you had to be there at the moment. But it was enjoyable to just be part of that chat and be part of that sort of history.

– Nate Alex

  • His plan is that every project he creates has to have something where people go “oh man, this was really fucking cool when this happened, or when that happened”

Would He Call ChainFaces Arena Play-To-Earn?

  • No, he wouldn’t call it play-to-earn
  • The arena mechanic is just one of many ideas they have
  • There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit because nobody is tackling this space. People are just hiring good artists to drop a 10k PFP without innovating and pushing the space forward

What Are Some Things That He Wants To See People Doing More Of In Terms Of Innovation?

  • Wants people to move away from this idea of scarcity within NFT collections
  • What they did is to allow holders to take their original ChainFace and upgrade it. The collection size remains the same and they grow the universe by building a new brand. This creates more demand for the new brand while keeping the supply the same
  • Have aligned with the Space Doodles project because they are doing something different
  • Is friends with Poopie from Space Doodles. They have a similar 4+ years of background in crypto and knows how the whole 10k PFP projects would end — much like the ICO hype in 2017

You get bag holders who will hold this shit down 99% over the next three years. Well, some LARP ass team never completes any of the big things on their roadmap, like launching t-shirts is fucking easy, so that’s not a roadmap or milestone in my mind. Saying that you’re going to launch a Metaverse experience in Q3 and your only qualifications is cloning an NFT contract, it just doesn’t give me any real confidence they can do this shit.

– Nate Alex

What’s The New Model Or Potential Pathways That Projects Can Explore?

  • Does not know where the space will go, but strongly believes that the strongest brands will be brands that are innovating
  • There will still be teams launching 10k PFP projects but it will be on a smaller scale with way less interest from the community
  • His team has already shown that they have technical muscle and will outperform teams that are lying
  • The normal model of a 10k PFP project:
    • Launch a project
    • Do a whole lot of marketing to ensure that it is oversubscribed
    • Team LARPs about what they are going to do
    • Team says that they are going to do an airdrop
  • Provided some alpha on what they will be releasing:
    • Storylines that have never existed before
    • Open commissioning/marketplace
    • Dynamic updating of tokens
  • Wants to create something totally original

ChainFaces Assets As Part Of One’s Identity

  • Have seen some people using ChainFaces with scars as their profile picture
  • When ChainFaces die in the arena, the whole background turns red
  • Some people put dead ChainFaces as their profile picture
  • However, the market has not shown a premium for ChainFaces. He attributed it to their visuals
  • With their next professionally illustrated upgrade, the ChainFaces symbols will map to their actual facial features, so that it becomes visually closer to a PFP project

Designing The Arena

  • Realized that this was one of his biggest mistakes
  • Quick profiteers could join the arena early on, claim the bounty, pull out of the arena, list their ChainFaces at below mint price and still turn a profit. This exerts a downward pressure on the ChainFaces market
  • Wished that he had designed the arena in such a way that people had to stay for 500 rounds before they could claim their bounty

NFT Innovation, with Nate Alex of Secret Project Team Outlier Ventures

This podcast summary was prepared by The Reading Ape in collaboration with Outlier Ventures. The Reading Ape is a humble servant of the written word.

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