When you get 100,000 people to join a Discord, or to be frank, when you can get 100,000 people to all agree to do one thing, it’s something to marvel at. When those 100,000 are all crypto-happy and love your art, it’s even more impressive. In an exclusive interview with the creators of the MekaVerse, what transpired and caused 100,000 people to support their latest NFT project is revealed; and we learn a little of what goes into creating community hype around an NFT project.
The two behind MekaVerse are two dudes named Matt and Mattey from Europe who have been freelance graphic and digital artists for the past several years. Behind the brains of their Discord is Julien van Dorland, an NFT icon in his own right. This team combined with a few siblings and friends, have attracted some of the NFT communities most excited Twitter folks including, Loopify, who quote tweeted about Mekaverse, which is how many found out about the project originally. Their announcement video has since been viewed over 700k times on Twitter.
Jackson Weimer: What is a Meka? What was the creative and brainstorming process that lead you to create this project?
Mekaverse Team: We have a strong interest in the Japanese universe and anime. We spent 5 months in Asia and had a great time! We intended to establish a series of collectibles that may have enormous future potential. The Mecha world is a fantastic source of inspiration and allows us to experiment with a variety of aspects. So we began sketching and creating 3D illustrations to determine the creative direction we want. It was tough at first to claim such a wide world! But after we found our way, we began creating every element of the Meka and establishing our own lore and story on MekaVerse, and it’s been a lot of work on such a large project!
Weimer: What’s your experience with NFTs? How did your team get involved and hear about NFTs for the first time?
Mekaverse: We were introduced to the world of NFTs in February 2021 by artists who told us it was really fascinating and that the community was fantastic! We were able to express our originality, and collectors were drawn to our creative approach. It’s great to be able to work and simply focus on our interest.
Weimer: How did you design 8,888 of them in such a short time? Is there some sort of automation that was done or was each one designed by hand?
Mekaverse: Before we started with 3D, we performed a lot of drawings and research. Then we developed each element/asset and created our first 3D Meka. We worked hard to protect the code and random management once the aesthetic direction of the project was accomplished. We spent weeks working as a team to create a logical and engaging structure for MekaVerse. It also enabled us to have organic automation, allowing us to personally modify each meka and have a completely new aesthetic for each piece. We are really pleased of this system and the creative process, which distinguishes the product!
Weimer: Why only 8,888?
Mekaverse: We like this famous number and wanted each piece to be unique, with its own color palette and design. The goal was to make each Meka unique in order to favor quality over quantity, which was made easy by the number 8,888!
Weimer: What are your day jobs and did you quit them to do this full time or did you quit a while ago? What are your stories?
Mekaverse: We began our days in motion design and illustration, and we initially met at a co-working office in France. After a few years, we realized that we needed more independence and chose to become Artistic Directors in the Freelance Design sector. We worked on projects with companies such as Apple, Microsoft, MTV, Adobe, Nike, and Adidas, among others. It was already amazing, and each job was really fascinating and gave us the opportunity to build our own visual style. We chose to be focused on MekaVerse all day when we launched it, and the flexibility to be Freelance helped us to work hard on this collectable series!
Weimer: What was the timeline for designing this project? How long did it take from when you had the idea to when you finished the last Meka?
Mekaverse: We began the project more than a month before the announcement and were quite pleased with the outcome! However, the schedule was extremely difficult due to the large number of people who had followed us from the start. We had not anticipated such a large crowd, and we were pleasantly pleased! As a result, we sought to develop the project even more and raise our expectations. Add additional details and diversity, and this has taken a lot of effort! We are really pleased with the outcome, and we have learnt a great deal over the previous several weeks!
Weimer: Can you go into more detail about your roadmap for the next few months?
Mekaverse: MekaVerse is an ongoing long-term project, and we have a lot of exciting things in the works for the future including physicals. We are exploring more ideas and concepts everyday. What if your Meka could grow into a Super-Meka? What if you could combine your Mekas? What if you could battle with your Mekas? Imagine if your Meka could wield a sword and other weapons and battle against each other. We like all of these systems and ideas and have already begun to work on them. Quality, on the other hand, takes time! The project is still in its early stages, and we have yet to complete ‘Phase I’ of MekaVerse. We are also considering a more ambitious second drop, with more organizations and a larger team of creators to provide a higher level of visual quality! We sincerely wish for a long-term relationship. As a result, we have high hopes for the physical aspect. Toys or Merchandise from 3D Printing? We will go to any length to provide our services. Everything you’ve seen on our Roadmap so far is a V1 of what’s possible in the MekaVerse. There’s still a lot you haven’t seen.
Weimer: What’s your anticipated floor for let’s say 1 month, 6 months, 12 months?
Mekaverse: That is a difficult question to answer. Our community is presently speculating about this a lot in the lead-up to the drop. Some predict a 1 ETH floor right away, while others predict a 5 ETH floor. Our project is long-term, and we have many ideas for the future in which anything might happen.
Weimer: Let’s say this is a huge success and you become crypto millionaires. How are some of you planning to use your ETH?
Mekaverse: Obviously, one of the first things we’d like to do is invest in the MekaVerse initiative. We want to progress in the evolution of the universe and be able to evolve our Meka in the metaverse and reward holders with awesome occurrences! One of the first things we’d want to do is open a design studio where we can collaborate with other designers to develop MekaVerse and other projects. We like South Korea, and Seoul is a wonderful city in which we would want to operate. Having a MekaVerse headquarters and offices for the crew would be even more insane, and we hope that this can be accomplished!
Weimer: When do you think NFTs will be more eco-friendly? To the “NFTs are bad for the environment” argument, how do you feel about that?
Mekaverse: For a while, we saw a lot of artists on Twitter being attacked for using NFTs and Crypto to sell their digital artworks to their followers for a living. Attacking artists is NOT right and should never be tolerated. Everything in life costs energy, even the jeans you’re wearing or the t-shirt you just bought. Everything we do has an environmental cost, whether we mint and distribute the NFT or not. SuperRare has clarified that minting NFTs doesn’t even add to the energy usage of the Ethereum network. Industrial, commercial, and transportation use significantly more energy. For comparison, YouTube and the Ethereum network as a whole have a comparable carbon footprint. Of course, everything can always be improved, and miners/developers are constantly searching for new methods to make things more environmentally friendly. We must focus on these issues rather than on artists who create NFTs and criticize them for doing so. Ethereum isn’t the only blockchain out there. Many artists, for example, use Tezos to mint their NFTs. Tezos is a Proof of Stake blockchain, whereas Ethereum is still a Proof of Work blockchain. Source.
Weimer: What connections or following helped you grow the Discord initially? You guys almost had 50k members in the first night? Where did that hype and talk initially spur from?
Mekaverse: Yes, completely nuts! It blew up. I built the server and set it up on August 28th. We used Discord Nitro Boosts to get our server’s vanity URL. We had 1K members in our Discord before we even tweeted about it publicly, since people were attempting to guess the URL to join. We had 20K members within the first 24 hours of launching the server. We are now at 170K+. We did not use any paid promotion, yet a large number of influencers began following us and tweeting about the project. It was all built organically, which is critical for an NFT project. People began to bring their friends, and things quickly escalated.
Weimer: How many Discord members were you thinking you would get that you would consider a success? Like were you thinking, “yo if we get 10k members in our server that’s a W” or did you not really think about that?
Mekaverse: We had no idea! I made the Discord while I was in a bowling centre and set it up after I got home. Most larger projects have about 20K to 30K on their Discord server, which was something we really looked up to, but as previously stated, it moved so quickly that we achieved that number within 24 hours of starting the Discord. We love everyone in our community and we will keep building it!
Weimer: Discord has a huge DM bot/scam problem, as you’ve seen in your server. What should Discord do as a company to eliminate this issue and improve their platform to be safe from scams.
Mekaverse: That’s right, Discord has a major issue with bots on their platform, and I am hopeful that they will develop a solution for it. Currently, we must rely on third-party bots to prevent this from happening, although some bot users continue to fall through that system. It’s not a 100% secure system. The majority of scams take place outside of the Discord server. They take place in DMs when bots join the Discord server and begin mass-dming our users. This is happening to the majority of big NFT projects out there. I believe Discord should include a function that allows us to deactivate DMs server-wide, so that no one may DM you unless you accept their friend request. Members must currently disable this function manually, which many do not know how to do. There are a lot of new individuals coming into the NFT space as well due to our Anime-inspired NFT project, and the majority of them don’t know anything about Discord or what a DM looks like. It is also important as a server owner to tell your community about it and to emphasize that the team would never message them first. We’ve also set up an official information channel, and every 20 minutes, a bot will send a message in general chat with our official links. I strongly advise people to start reading before purchasing anything. You might end up being scammed if you don’t do enough research about the project.
Weimer: What do you think the reason is for how highly engaged your server is? What did you implement (bots/tools) to make sure things didn’t get overwhelming?
Mekaverse: A lot of Discord communities are working with Level and XP bots or Invites to grow their Discord server to receive a whitelist and to be able to mint an NFT. We did not even need to implement this kind into our community. We love to build a strong and organic community where everyone is feeling welcome, more like a second home where they can feel comfortable. We’ve set up a number of moderation bots to assist our community and keep spammers out. We configured our server moderation level to the highest level of security, which is phone verification. This means that in order to communicate in our Discord, all users must have a verified phone number linked to their Discord account. We also removed the ability to post any links that are not whitelisted by us. To keep things family friendly and positive, these URLs and swear words are automatically removed. This prevents our members from posting any unsolicited links to various websites. To protect our community, we have implemented the anti-bot tool Beemo. We’d also like to add some 24/7 music to your community as well, so we made a YouTube playlist with various Synthwave/Chill music that people really seem to enjoy and listen to! It’s also a music genre that the team likes; we even used it in our teaser, which went viral on NFT Twitter with currently 619K views.
Weimer: What’s the end goal for Mekas, if everything goes to plan?
Mekaverse: The project’s objective was to offer quality to the world of collectibles and a fresh perspective to the NFTs market. We’ll keep going down this road and see how far we can get! Make MekaVerse more than just a PFP project by building a true brand with a strong and enthusiastic community!
This conversation has been edited and reduced for clarity.