The Sutuverse: a game 15 years in the making, made possible by blockchain

Randy Ginsburg
August 24, 2022

With Sony, Google, and deadmau5 collabs on his CV, Sutu is now taking his own project to a new level with NFTs. The Webby-awarded visual artist speaks to Randy Ginsburg about his plans to build the next big web3 IP set through AR and gaming.

There are thousands of artists and NFT founders, but few have the resume, talent, and creativity of Sutu. A naturally curious, Webby-award-winning artist and entrepreneur, Sutu has spent over fifteen years exploring his love for sci-fi and emerging technology through a combination of interactive design, animation, and storytelling.

Today, Sutu’s work happens under the organisation EyeJack, the AR studio he co-founded with Lukasz Karluk in 2017. Since then, the pair have produced hundreds of AR activations for clients like Sony, Google, and Marvel. Sutu has also taken his talents to VR concerts, creating art for The Weeknd, Dillon Francis, Alison Wonderland, and more.

After following the rise of web3 and collaborating with deadmau5 on an early SuperRare drop, Sutu quickly realised the groundbreaking potential for creators. “It blew my mind,” he tells me, adding that he hadn't seen successes like it, despite all his years working on digital projects. “I saw this huge paradigm shift in the creator economy and realised I needed to take this way more seriously. Then, I dove all the way in.” 

Sutu spoke from the Ted Main Stage in 2020 about how metaverse technology can be used to create digital art that enhances and enriches our physical spaces.

Sutu began experimenting with NFTs in different styles and formats, gauging interest from his audience along the way. The response was positive. Over the next year, Sutu quickly amassed a large online following and built a loyal community of collectors around his initial work. He then began working on Neonz, web3-native IP that he hopes will define the metaverse era.

The first step? A collection of 10,000 psychedelic, retro-futurist NFT avatars to serve as an access key to a host of AR, VR, and browser experiences in the broader Sutuverse.

In typical fashion, Sutu was pushing the boundaries, making history with Neonz as the first 10,000 PFP collection to launch on the Tezos blockchain. In the wake of naysayers and sceptics, the project sold out in thirty minutes. 

“I saw this huge paradigm shift in the creator economy”

— Sutu

“That provided me an investment to explore and bring together everything I’ve been working on for the past fifteen years,” he said. “Now I’m figuring out how to use it to create a property from the ground up and use it to shape our ideal vision of the metaverse.” 

And explore he has. 

What started as a PFP drop has now expanded into the broader Sutuverse, consisting of two AR experiences, Signz and Facez, and Circuit Breaker, an upcoming browser-based speedrun blockchain game. 

Neonz #9716, from the 10k PFP collection on Objkt. Characters in the sci-fi set are inspired by the likes of RoboCop and Daft Punk.

Much of Neonz’s innovation lies in its ability to transcend the digital world, and bring memorable and exciting experiences to physical spaces. Within the last eight months, Sutu has brought two AR experiences to life, both of which run on the EyeJack mobile app.

The first, Signz, allows holders to display a 2D neon sign of their Neonz in the real world. Holders can also purchase Lightfieldz, additional utility tokens that cover real-world surfaces with trippy animations. 

The second, Neonz Facez, a 3D facefilter that allows anyone to become a Neonz. Simply connect your wallet, scan a QR code and display your Neonz filter.

During an NFT exhibition at Superchief Gallery in Los Angeles, Neonz featured on a 75-inch screen with a phone mounter. Each time a viewer swiped their hand in front of their face, a different Neonz would activate. The installation was a hit and has since toured five different countries.

How a Neonz Signz looks through an AR lens.

Pursuing his vision to build out greater, more immersive worlds, Sutu has now moved on to the next chapter of the Sutuverse: Circuit Breaker.

Circuit Breaker is a browser-based speedrun game filled with obstacles, corridors, moving platforms, and hidden dimensions. The game, which premiered last month at the Proof of People exhibition in London, is slated to launch online this September, kicking off with a grand tournament – Ready Player One-style.

Like many blockchain-based games, Circuit Breaker aims to solve an age-old problem within gaming: the one-sided value exchange between gamers and creators. For years, gamers have invested ample funds and hours into their favourite games, only to be left empty-handed when producers release new storylines, change the mechanics, or simply move onto the next hit. 

By tokenising gaming assets on a blockchain, gamers can own, retain, and even benefit from their in-game performance. In the Sutuverse, players log in with their wallet, allowing their stats and assets to be tracked on the community leaderboard.

Once connected, Neonz holders will find a full-body 3D avatar that boasts unique in-game powers based on their Neonz traits. For example, Neonz avatars that are outfitted with gas masks are able to run through gas fields; those without masks are forced to slow down. Meanwhile, Lightfieldz holders will gain access to hidden dimensions, trippy shortcuts, and various in-game easter eggs. It’s effectively DLC, but with resale value.

All players can also customise their Neonz game avatars through in-game NFT accessories, like elbow pads or knee pads, each of which hold specific performance-based utilities. In contrast to ‘pay to win’ games, where players receive an overwhelmingly unfair advantage through paying for certain perks, performance boosts in the Sutuverse can only be unlocked through the completion of in-game achievements – players are rewarded for playing, not for paying.

Circuit Breaker exhibited at Proof of People in London (July 6-8) and could be played by attendees.

Indeed, if holders choose to sell their Neonz, all game performance and accessories can be sold along with the avatar; the best players command a higher price on the open market. Holders can also license the IP of their Neonz for various merch, media, and partnership endeavors.

For Sutu, these projects are only a smart part of his larger vision for building IP, perhaps the “Tron of the Metaverse”, living across multiple worlds and environments. The next step? Pitching a Neonz Hollywood film.

“The most exciting part about Circuit Breaker, and Neonz as a whole, is that the content and experience orbit around the NFT, a decentralised digital asset,” says Sutu. “Platforms come and go, but when content is decentralised it can live on and evolve, and the holders of the NFT can come along with it.”

“Platforms come and go, but when content is decentralised it can live on and evolve.”

— Sutu

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Written by
Randy Ginsburg
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Randy is the founder of Digital Fashion Daily and Third Wall Creative, a web3 marketing agency. Straddling the worlds of retail and emerging technology, Randy has worked with many companies including nft now, Shopify, and Touchcast to create compelling and educational web3 content. Previously, Randy worked at Bombas, developing the most comfortable socks in the history of feet.

Learn more about the Sutuverse on Sutu's website and the Sutuverse Twitter.