Interview – Erich Kaestner

Today, I have Erich Kästner with me, who is the lead of KittyCash! KittyCash is the first game on Skycoin Fiber, that utilizes non-fungible assets. So, welcome Erich! Let’s start off this interview with your background and what you have been doing before you got into Skycoin.
The first interview in the series ‘interviews with the Skycoin team’ has been a success! The community liked it and therefore we are continuing with more interviews. Erich Kästner from KittyCash has agreed to do the second interview in this series.

Hello Erich! First of all, can you tell us a bit about your background and what you have been doing before you got into Skycoin?
My background is in the field of economics and politics, which I studied. I don’t have extensive knowledge of programming but have been aware of Bitcoin for a longer time frame. During last year, my interest in cryptocurrencies grew because of its tremendous economic potential on one side, and its possibilities to disrupt politics on the other side. In my opinion, cryptocurrencies could facilitate decentralized governments with its ability to bypass centralized banking systems.
When and how did you get into Skycoin? What have you been working on in the past and what is your current area of responsibility?
About half a year ago in December, I was at a roadshow in China, where a lot of Fiber projects were present. It was during the time were CryptoKitties had gained massive popularity. I met Synth at this roadshow and he was keen to see a project like CryptoKitties on Skycoin. So I wrote with some people on Telegram and we organized a small community to work on KittyCash. We developed a website and hired a designer, who created a few digital cats. At first, we saw the project as a parody to CryptoKitties, but the tremendous interest on KittyCash in the Skycoin community motivated us to professionalize the development. Therefore, we started with the selling of legendary cats to ensure a ground funding for the project. Since then, we hired developers and are working on bringing the project forward. My personal tasks are mostly organization, internal communication and establishing strategical directions of KittyCash.

KittyCash recently released their alpha version. Can you take us through the development process of that?
So, we asked ourselves, how we can roll this out. At first, we had to create an infrastructure for the project. We need a different infrastructure than tokens, since we are introducing non-fungible assets to Skycoin Fiber. In KittyCash, you own a specific cat that is unique, while in Skycoin you own a number of coins, but it doesn’t matter which Skycoin you own specifically. To do that, we need a new set of functions. We will introduce life and death of kitties, a teller service to exchange a kitty for a set of currencies, a database with names for the kittens and a breeding algorithm. While all of this needs lots of development time, we decided to roll out the project in smaller steps. That is why we now released the alpha wallet, where users can already receive kitties and send them to others. We will incrementally introduce new functions.
How does the general roadmap for KittyCash look like?
I would divide the KittyCash roadmap in four different steps. Step 1 is the release of the alpha wallet, which goes along with several updates for the wallet. This step also includes assigning names to each kitty. Step 2 is the breeding functionality, that allows you to breed a new kitty with two already existing kitties. Step 3 is the inventory, which will allow you to feed your kitties and equip them with in-game items. This will be a fundamental change to KittyCash, since we will introduce a health point system for kitties alongside the feeding functionality, which means that users need to feed their kitties or otherwise their health points will decrease. Lower health points mean, that the kitties will be breeding inefficiently or die at the worst, if their health points are at zero. The health point system will prevent users from hoarding 10k cats in their wallets. Step 4 will be a marketplace, where you can buy/sell kitties or lend kitties for breeding. The marketplace is also interesting, because it allows us to monetize not only kitties, but also in-game items. It will be interesting to see, if KittyCash in-game items will have a market value and what it will be at. These four steps are our general roadmap. Speaking about the longer term, we are planning to develop mini games in CX, where you can use the kitties from your wallet as an avatar. These mini games will allow you to win KittyCash in-game items (food and equipment). A prototype for our mini games can be already found on the KittyCash website.

Digital assets on the blockchain could be a huge thing in the future. When do you plan to integrate KittyCash transactions on a blockchain and what challenges are associated with that?
After the previously mentioned four steps of our general roadmap are finished, we want to put KittyCash on the blockchain. However, as of right now we cannot foresee, how many resources we need to spend on that. We wanted to create the game first, before we put everything on the blockchain, to see, whether there is an interest in KittyCash by the community. Finishing the game first and then analyzing what we need to modify to put it on the blockchain is also easier for us, because we can cut out the bugs first. To migrate KittyCash on the blockchain, we also need Skycoin core developers, who are busy right now with other tasks.
I am interested to know more about the work environment of KittyCash. How many people are working on KittyCash? Who are the team members and what is their background? How do the team members interact with each other?
Currently there are 3 developers working on KittyCash, although we had a maximum of five developers in the past. The amount of developers varies to the extent of how many people Skycoin needs currently to work on high-priority projects. We also have two very talented graphic designers. I am mostly working on managing the project and communicating with everybody. Our team is spread all over the world, from Canada to New Zealand. Everybody is working at home, we are not working in one office. Therefore, it is important for me to talk to each team member at least once per day. Communication is also good for discussing and solving certain challenges, that come up when working on a specific task. As communication tools, we are using Zoom, Discord and Telegram. To me, it would be better if all employees of KittyCash would be in one office, but on the other side, the current decentralized work environment adds more flexibility. However, I try to meet the team members as much as possible and traveled to different European countries and China.

Generally speaking, in what way do you see applications like KittyCash adding value to the Skycoin ecosystem?
KittyCash is a proof of concept. Gamers should be able to control their in-game items, therefore it is important to put those on the blockchain. In World of Warcraft for example, in-game items can be traded for a lot of money, so it is good if the assets are not controlled by a central entity. It is also a signal to other projects, that if they want to implement non-fungible assets on Skycoin Fiber, they can see that it is possible, because KittyCash has already done it. Another great point of Kitty Cash in the Skycoin ecosystem is, that it should give a value to Coin Hours. As soon as Coin Hours are independently transferable, we plan to enable KittyCash in-game items to be bought in exchange for Coin Hours.

It was great to receive detailed information on the current state and progress of KittyCash! Thank you for doing this interview!