- Sheraz Ashiq, Web3 Director at AMGI Studios, highlighted how initial skepticism fueled the team’s determination to launch My Pet Hooligan.
- Transparency and routine updates on My Pet Hooligan’s development have driven community engagement and success.
- AMGI Studios leveraged its expertise in animation and web3 technologies to impress skeptics and achieve success in the gaming industry.
Boasting a strong following, My Pet Hooligan has nearly 91,000 followers on Twitter and 30,000 members on Discord. Its NFT collection has seen substantial 20,000 ETH in volume, which in today’s value stands at a sturdy 2 billion pesos ($37 million).
These are impressive numbers (the followers and the volume) for a project centered around a web3 game in the middle of the bear market. However, in its long journey to get this far, My Pet Hooligan‘s developer, AMGI Studios, encountered its fair share of skeptics who doubted the company’s capability to release the game.
Sheraz Ashiq, Web3 Director at AMGI, who transitioned from the world of banking and computing to web3, acknowledged that these skeptics hold strong bases—lots of followers, influence. However, Sheraz highlighted that the team took these criticisms not as a setback, but as fuel for their determination, so to speak.
“It’s like okay, cool, we’re going to prove you all wrong. And for those people that were saying we weren’t capable of delivering a game back when we first launched the NFT collection or were coming into the launch, they ain’t got much to say right now,“ Sheraz declared with pride.
My Pet Hooligan is now out in the Epic Game Store for early access to testers.
From Lehman to Crypto
Sheraz’s background story would have been perfect for the crypto industry, only if he had entered the field at the time when he first learned about Bitcoin.
“I started my career in investment banking working for Lehman Brothers. It was about a week before the bank submitted for insolvency and collapsed and started the whole kind of financial meltdown of 2008,” he said and immediately following it up with a nugget that every Bitcoin enthusiasts know – the collapse of Lehman and the entire 2008 financial crisis was the reason Bitcoin was created. Sheraz admits hearing about the first cryptocurrency for the first time back then but did not really pay attention to it.
“I’m not going to lie; I would probably be pretty rich right now. I won’t need to be doing this interview,” he said.
But Sheraz stayed updated in and by 2017, it was time to have his first stride into crypto. Admitting that while the bull market of that time didn’t work out in his favor, he initiated his journey in the business of helping brands transition into the space.
Sometime after, AMGI studios got in touch with Sheraz’ company.
Joining AMGI Studios
AMGI is an animation studio. Co-founder Colin Brady was animation director for films like Toy Story 1, and the company prided itself for creating quality animation and visual content at “a fraction of the traditional animation times.”
With the team having a diverse backgroun in animation, gaming, and design, AMGI set on to develop My Pet Hooligan. It received funding from web3 companies – Delphi Digital, Yield Guild Games, and Bitkraft.
In the middle of supporting AMGI, Sheraz joined the studio and has since been working full time to make My Pet Hooligan a global brand and web3 IP. For this role, he said his focus is on web3 solutions and engineering.
“I do dive a little bit into some of the technical aspects and go-to-market strategy for anything we’re doing on the web3 end, community growth, partnerships, advisory solution, infrastructure placements and how we’re going to use them within our workflow and game flow and ecosystem,” Sheraz said, while adding that his role also deals as well with IP licensing and advising on the future film production, including advising and fundraising.
That’s a lot of hats to wear, I told Sheraz, who admitted it was really a broad scope of role in terms of his involvement, though of course there are teams focused on those activities, and his job is to direct. “With any director, it’s about directing, it’s about getting the best out of your teams, and it’s about oversight and overseeing what’s going on and, you know, helping others grow as well in this journey.“
The Web3 Director
“Was there any instance that your role as web3 director uniquely influenced My Pet Hooligans’ development?” I asked.
“Yeah. This happens everyday,” Sheraz did not hesitate. As the web3 director for a game, Sheraz needs to be on top of what are the possible web3 touchpoints could be in My Pet Hooligan.
But exploring further, Sheraz must also strike a delicate balance into making sure the game is captivating to its immediate audience – people who are already into web3 games – as well as the larger gamer market.
For example, when incorporating a web3 functionality, Sheraz has to make sure traditional gamers (for brevity’s sake, this means gamers who are not into web3 or NFT) are not turned off.
Sheraz also on top of content creation — specifically animated content — which involves tasks ranging from research to scriptwriting. Sheraz did say this is not even a typical thing that a web3 director does, but he does it anyway.
“It’s typical for somebody who is kind of passionate about the project. It’s about understanding the web3 culture and ensuring that’s also reflected into all the content we create. So I have a lot of input on the content side as well, which is probably not so typical for a web3 director, but more typical for a creative director,” Sheraz shared.
He credits this freedom to do stuff inside AMGI to the studio’s own company culture. “Everybody’s voice is as valuable as everybody else’s voice, basically,” he noted.
It was very interesting, I noted to Sheraz, that when I scoured through Twitter, there’s barely a mention of whether not the My Hooligan’s 8,888 NFT collection will go up in value soon. This is interesting because majority of the discussions on NFT, whether we like it or not, is all about price appreciation.
Sheraz mentioned that when they began building the game’s community, it was truly a ground-up endeavor without the assistance of paid advertisements, paid shillers, or influencers.
The strategy to achieve a vibrant community without the help of shillers, he said, is a bit different, or rather, extends beyond just posting sporadic tweets and commenting. When it comes to creating content, Sheraz noted, the team is focused on ensuring that the content prompts the audience to take action. This is the “trigger”, he said.
So what is the trigger? For AMGI, its animation content, the studio’s core strength.
According to Colin Brady at the Unreal Summit in 2020, the studio could streamline production to a “fraction of traditional animation times,” all while maintaining impeccable quality. Brady was quoted in the article saying the frames they managed to create using the Unreal Engine were indistinguishable from the outputs produced by a fully-fledged rendering engine.
From how Sheraz narrated it to me, it appears, AMGI has perfected the craft. He said that while other web3 studios could take a year to do animation content, they are able to deliver within a day or two.
“We’re able to knock out something from idea and concept to an actual submission on our social media within 24 to 48 hours. And to date we’ve put out over 130 animated videos in just over a year.”
Community Access and Value
Another crucial aspect of building trust within the community is to put a face to the project. In the case of My Pet Hooligan, it’s basically everyone in the team. “Every key team member is doxxed,” Sheraz began. But of course, it’s leadership team are former Disney or EA or Warner or Riot Games. Really it would be a crime to hide that, I thought. Associating these established names might have instilled in the audience’s mind the perception that AMGI is committed to delivering quality.
What’s next then is to show the community that these people are working behind the scenes working on the game.
“Every couple of weeks we were doing a live stream or AMA, where we were continually showing the progress of what’s happening in the studio, continuing showing behind the scenes of things getting developed, continually showing the evolution of the game and how it’s developing,” Sheraz added. Doing this, he said, would get the audience engaged and emotionally attached to the story of the team and the studio developing My Pet Hooligan.
“It’s giving that level of access into what we’re doing here, into a world that you don’t normally get access to, into a world that you don’t normally kind of see the ins and outs of and what’s going on day to day.”
Beyond providing access, Sheraz emphasized that it’s more about reassuring the audience that this project is not a scam. He noted that while there’s a lot of scammers and rug pullers, putting out content routinely and communicating routinely will make My Pet Hooligan stand out – that it does deliver on its words.
Sheraz also expressed his distaste for the “them or us” mindset prevalent in the space, favoring instead the philosophy that “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
“Our kind of philosophy here is we can all work together. We have such a small industry, let’s empower each other, let’s deliver together, let’s all praise each other’s successes.”
My Pet Hooligan is now available on the Epic Game Store for early access users.
This article is published on BitPinas: From Lehman to Web3: My Pet Hooligan’s Director on Killer Content and Community Building
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