Michael Wagner, the CEO of Star Atlas, a hugely interactive online game, and his team are creating a virtual empire in the metaverse. One evening in early April, several highly armed guards block the doorway to the Solana Hacker House in a fairly vacant portion of Miami’s Wynwood area, the week before the huge Bitcoin convention in South Beach.
These aren’t your typical security personnel. Their ferocity contradicts the rather innocuous scenario beyond the metal detectors – essentially a large bunch of nerds talking about blockchain innovation in an outdoor event venue accented by Fun Dimension, a massive arcade.
It’s a huge undertaking that is still in its early phases. Gamers can join the game’s initial module, which includes restricted gameplay and the ability to purchase NFT (non-fungible token) assets.
Star Atlas is a science fiction adventure set in 2620, featuring visuals worthy of a Triple-A (elevated) game. Three rival groups battle for valuable treasures on the recently found planet Iris, buying ships and other virtual commodities with the in-game money Atlas to achieve their objectives and live their simulated lives.
Polis is the show’s meta-currency, which gamers can utilize to control the game via multilevel DAO groups. They are structured in a similar way to most nations.
We reckon what we’re developing at Star Atlas as rather like an autonomous state,
Wagner says after stumbling across me among two sets of security personnel, one roaming the Hacker House’s doorway and another the VIP space.
Atlas is a play-to-earn platform
Users will then be able to make a living off Star Atlas’ play-to-earn features, similar to Axie Infinity but with infinite options that the gamers can develop for themselves. Suppose users can’t pay or gain enough Atlas to purchase their spacecraft. In that case, somebody in the league may elect to act as a spaceship Uber, ferrying people from planet to planet in exchange for game tokens, which they would later exchange to cash.
We’re constructing a virtual economy and a worldwide state for members to join in this ambitious goal,
But there’s a tremendous possibility there.
Wagner recently migrated to Miami from Las Vegas, another party city, but he’s here to improve his skills. He explains that there’s an environment and atmosphere here that’s incredibly encouraging and favorable to crypto development. He thinks that the Solana Hacker House alone drew between 1,000 and 5,000 individuals on the day we met.
Atlas’ co-founder and senior financial director, Pablo Quiroga, relocated to Miami a few months ago. Estefan Ramirez Vazquez, the firm’s newly appointed development director, has also relocated to the city. However, the firm is international, with roughly 200 staff from New Zealand to Central Africa.
Wagner explains that discord is effectively their head office. Star Atlas hasn’t had much difficulty attracting the restricted lot of talented, in-demand Rust developers to any specific blockchain startup. According to Wagner, leadership receives letters every day from skilled engineers seeking to join the group, and since then has hired 45 people, the majority of whom work on blockchain technologies.
Wagner does not work as a computer scientist. He explains that he got into crypto through gaming and PC building. He and his school buddies were so into gameplay and PCs in the 1990s that they established the LANarchists to discuss their common interests. He insists they were all nerds as though he’s matured out of his nerdiness and began going to the gym regularly.
Michael Wagner quit banking for crypto
Wagner was employed in conventional banking, primarily as an asset manager. He instantly recognized similarities between the businesses he worked in and the developing crypto sectors. By 2015, he had quit his “day job” and dedicated himself full-time to crypto, launching his first firm, Tokes, in Nevada in 2016. The business operated at the “confluence of crypto and cannabis,” as Wagner defines it — a particularly difficult junction at the time.
He admits that it was a difficult sell. Although cannabis was lawful in Nevada, it was still prohibited on the national level, which meant that retail businesses couldn’t use standard banking. Providing such businesses with a crypto token looked like an honest answer, but crypto was still vilified at the time, thanks to its clandestine druggy connotations. By accepting bitcoins, no one wanted to risk losing their licenses.