A Brief Explanation.
In mid-2021, I minted an NFT from a Pixel Vault collection then called Metahero (now Inhabitants). My understanding at the time was that those who minted the NFTs would own the IP of their NFT and as the holders of that IP would be empowered to create the shared universe of the entire project. It had also been intimated that holders of Pixel Vault assets would become holders of Pixel Vault (the company) and everything that it created based on the NFTs they held. I was incredibly enthusiastic about this idea of creating a decentralized Disney or Marvel that was user generated, user owned, and user controlled.
A group of other Metahero holders who were similarly enthusiastic gathered together with me in the Up Uranus DAO Discord. We began telling stories about our heroes and villains. We began to create lore. Most of our characters were from Uranus but there were also quite a few from other planets. Pixel Vault was growing rapidly, however, and things began changing. The rights and privileges that had been presented to us began to morph into something else. Lawyers and entertainment agencies entered the picture, venture capital was seeded. The things that had encouraged many of us to spend large sums of money buying the various assets – started to disappear from the narrative.
By October of 2021 there began to be talk about IP rights and usage. Pixel Vault began describing itself as an IP company. I had already written the first eleven chapters of this book. My fear was that the rights I thought I had were going to be stripped away. My Metahero #505 was already a well established character and as someone who has been very interested in using NFTs for literary purposes – my intent all along had been to publish the character and story I had created around my #505 as an NFT book. Given the way things were changing and the change in tone, rights, and usage – I suspected that when the license and IP rights were published and distributed by Pixel Vault that I would no longer be able to do that.
My intent had been to write a book of about thirty chapters and then to follow it up with shared character stories of other characters – but it felt like all of that was going to be stripped away. I was not going to let that happen.
I quickly wrote the 12th chapter of this book and published all twelve chapters and a complete manuscript as NFT books using the OpenSea lazy minting process and embedded files. I sent a copy of the book to the founder of Pixel Vault’s wallet. I placed the chapters and the ‘completed’ book for sale. That is the reason that the twelfth chapter feels rushed and the story feels incomplete. It was rushed and the story is not complete….yet.
The IP license Pixel Vault released shortly after that did indeed limit the ability of holders to create new NFTs from their holdings. During a Twitter space town hall, I brought this up and complained loudly about it. To Pixel Vault’s credit, they removed that clause. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that the whole narrative around IP, a decentralized media company, and the NFT holders (investors) being the owners and sharing in the profits completely changed. Pixel Vault no longer felt like a safe place to develop stories or to build worlds. In fact, it felt like I was calling out Bloot tallies to the Uranian Monarchs.
Over the past year, I have worked on other projects and largely ignored Sly Doubt and his story. I still hold all of my Pixel Vault assets, including Inhabitant #505 but I no longer hold the idea that I will be collaborating with others to build a collective media company around our shared interest in Pixel Vault. The cover of this book is not Pixel Vault art, the story in this book is not Pixel Vault lore. If anything, Inhabitant #505 is named after Sly Doubt of Uranus (the character of this novel), not the other way around.
I’m still a fan of Pixel Vault and what they are building, but there is no denying that my investment in Pixel Vault was made under a very different set of circumstances than those that exist now. Personally, I think Pixel Vault made a terrible mistake in not embracing, empowering, and legally and financially partnering with the holders of ‘Inhabitants’. Those early days were heady and we were ready to build a universe – hundreds of us. I can’t help but wonder what might have happened. Personally, I think if PV had taken that road – the world would have forgotten about Bored Apes in 2021 as a million wonderful stories would have been told about the Metahero NFTS.
At the very least, here is one of those stories, incomplete as it was first published. The choice to leave it like that is intentional. Don’t worry though, there will be more (and here is the first of them). How could there not be?
Note 2: In terms of the 12 covers for the chapters, I wanted to make an innovative literary NFT project from this story using the tools that I had. Starting with the image of Metahero #505 as chapter 1, I then attempted to make each chapter a unique adaptation on different famous works of art and different styles. I’m not an accomplished artist nor a graphic designer nor a solidity dev. I used OpenSea lazy minting and the free digital art tools I knew how to use. They aren’t perfect and will never win any awards (okay, never say never) but they are original and I’m pleased with the way the group of them came out together.
Note 3: I’ve serialized all 12 chapters of Sly Doubt in Vagobond Magazine starting with Volume 1 Issue 2 and concluding with Volume 2 Issue 4. The magazine or the individual chapters are each unique limited edition NFTs. They are immutable first editions that I hope someday might be worthy of people collecting them.
Note 4: I’ve invited you (and the world) to tell these stories of Uranus with me – I wrote a medium article detailing this process, the license and what I hope we can accomplish together.
March 23, 2023