Edenhorde is an immersive world-building NFT project developed by blockchain gaming guild Merit Circle. Crypto Briefing joined project lead ND-X and community manager Freek to talk about the Edenhorde world, its creative team, and how NFTs are helping to tell the Edenhorde story.
What Is Edenhorde?
At its heart, Edenhorde is a story. It’s the name of a fictional continent inhabited by four distinct tribes of creatures, each with its own unique culture, personality, and quirks. There are the Larriks, a nomadic humanoid scavenger people; the Gadirans, a reptile-like group who live in large, walled cities; the Babbumatta, a peaceful tribe of plant people; and finally, the Oru, a mysterious robot race who live atop Mount Puntu.
More than anything, according to the project’s self-described “head honcho” ND-X, Edenhorde is an “exercise in world-building.” ND-X and a small group of creators have been hard at work for the past seven months bringing their vision of Edenhorde to life and fostering a community around the project through their dynamic, multimedia storytelling.
Edenhorde is developed by Merit Circle, a blockchain gaming DAO that made a name for itself during the summer 2021 Axie Infinity boom by renting Axie NFTs out to players and earning a portion of their profits. Now, Merit Circle is broadening its scope by funding and creating its own projects, one of which is Edenhorde. Because Edenhorde is a Merit Circle project, Merit Circle’s successes become Edenhorde’s successes. The Merit Circle team is always looking for ways to reward Edenhorde NFT holders through its various investments and initiatives.
Initially, Edenhorde stayed relatively low-key due to its creators’ decision not to pursue active marketing for the project. Instead, a trail of hints and clues leading to a series of puzzles helped introduce the world of Edenhorde to curious Web3 denizens, rewarding lucky explorers with guaranteed mint spots for the project’s NFT collection.
However, as more people became aware of Edenhorde and recognized the iconic art style spearheaded by Adventure Time artist Andy Ristaino, interest in the project grew. When Edenhorde launched its NFTs in February 2022, the project’s Twitter had already amassed 15,000 followers, with thousands more participating in discussions on Discord.
The collection comprises 8,800 NFT avatars split equally across the four Edenhorde tribes. Holders can verify the NFTs they own on Discord to gain access to exclusive channels for each tribe. The Edenhorde team has assigned community members stewardship over these communities through a “Guardians” system.
Edenhorde has successfully bootstrapped an active and engaged community, but its long-term vision far surpasses its current progress. Crypto Briefing sat down with ND-X and community manager Freek to dive into these plans, how the world of Edenhorde was created, and the role the project’s NFTs will play in sharing the Edenhorde story with its community.
Creating the Story
A large part of Edenhorde’s success can be traced back to the creative processes behind its production. The Edenhorde team is intentionally small, with each member responsible for a specific aspect of production, such as the art, story, or music. Development is reminiscent of early webcomics such as Homestuck, which built huge followings with little to work with other than an immersive narrative.
Additionally, Edenhorde is open with its creative direction. “In the beginning, we just had a rough idea about the factions and the tribes and sort of went from there,” said ND-X, adding that input from the other team members was integral to shaping Edenhorde into the fleshed-out world it is today.
The most prominent figure involved in Edenhorde is Andy Ristaino, who became known in the early 2010s as the lead character designer, writer, and artist on the animated television series Adventure Time. Ristaino’s influence is unmissable—his simple yet expressive art style can be recognized throughout the Edenhorde NFT collection, emerging in the quirky designs and intricate details that bring the collection to life.
A Larrik Edenhorde NFT (Source: OpenSea)
In an ask me anything discussion with the Edenhorde community, Ristaino talked about his experience working on the project discussing his influences and creative process. “Aside from a few parameters, in the beginning, they pretty much let me do what I wanted illustration-wise,” he said, revealing that the creative freedom he was given was what he enjoyed most. As ND-X describes it, Ristaino had “free reign” when designing the Edenhorde avatars and was the “perfect person” for the role. “If you see [Ristaino’s] work, you know he can create something incredible from chaos,” he said.
While Ristaino’s input is the most visible, the other creatives involved in the project should not be overlooked. Celia Blythe, the pseudonymous Edenhorde writer, brings Ristaino’s art to life through her prose. Her involvement goes beyond writing the story itself; she’s also responsible for creating the names, history, and background of the Edenhorde world. She already has an online following under her real identity, but she has chosen to use a different pen name for Edenhorde. “She’s a fantastic writer, and this is her first foray into the crypto space, but I don’t think it will be her last,” ND-X said.
As the Edenhorde story unfolds, the team introduces new mediums to tell its story. Every new chapter in the story uses the Edenhorde team’s creative efforts, in short, interactive episodes on the project’s website; three have been released so far. In addition to Ristaino’s watercolor paintings and Blythe’s writing, an immersive audio track created by composer duo Coen Bruins and Bart de Vries accompanies the second Edenhorde episode. ND-X has also hinted at more multimedia experiences making their way into the Edenhorde story in the future but refrained from revealing specific details.
By building out the Edenhorde world and creating a compelling narrative, the team aims to create a lasting intellectual property that can be used as the foundation for subsequent projects (similar to other key NFT projects like Bored Ape Yacht Club, community members own the intellectual property rights for their NFTs). ND-X says Pokémon’s multiple spin-offs and associated games partly inspired his vision for Edenhorde. “In the Pokémon universe, you can have a Pokemon go-karting game, and it doesn’t mean canonically Pokemon drive go-karts; it can exist on its own because the IP and world-building are so strong,” he explained.
NFTs and Edenhorde
While the Edenhorde story is free for anyone with an Ethereum wallet to enjoy via the project website, only those who hold an Edenhorde NFT can interact with each chapter of the story and collect additional NFTs as souvenirs. For example, all Edenhorde NFT holders were rewarded one of three NFT items after reading through the first episode released at the end of February. These three initial NFTs will have utility in the Edenhorde story as it progresses, but further details have not yet been released. Several clues that suggest interacting with all eight chapters of the story will benefit holders have been dropped in the Edenhorde Discord server and on Twitter.
Another goal of letting those with NFTs interact with the story is to encourage holders to learn more about the Edenhorde world. “Currently, there’s not a huge reason to spend time with the artwork behind NFTs,” explained ND-X, stating that Edenhorde wants to change this paradigm by creating a project that is more than the sum of its artwork. “With other projects, the lore is just declared, but we want to do the opposite; we’re asking, ‘can we bring the community to the story?’” he explained.
Aside from rewarding those who engage with the story, the project’s NFT avatars serve as a framework for building the Edenhorde community. On the project’s Discord server, those who hold Edenhorde NFTs gain access to specific community channels depending on the faction their NFT belongs to. For each tribe, the Edenhorde developers have picked several Guardians from the most active community members. Each Guardian stays in direct contact with the server admins and is charged with growing and maintaining the community inside each tribe.
Under the stewardship of the Guardians, each Edenhorde faction has started developing its own unique culture. For example, the Larrik and Gadiran communities have focused on helping their members by sharing crypto trading techniques, Oru members are working on building more utility for NFT holders, and Babbumatta holders have centered on creating a more welcoming and inclusive community.
Edenhorde has tried to distance itself from the slew of hyped-up avatar projects currently inundating the NFT space throughout its development and launch. Instead, the Edenhorde team plans to build slowly and with purpose in a bid to change the current NFT community mindset. “There’s such a familiar pattern of hype hype hype, launch, pump, die in the NFT space,” said ND-X, observing that the most successful NFT “blue chips” tend to build slowly over time.
However, due to Edenhorde’s relationship with Merit Circle, the team realizes that it is in a privileged position compared to other projects. ND-X explained how Merit Circle has afforded Edenhorde with the opportunity to take its time building, stating:
“Because we’re a Merit Circle project, there’s less pressure to do things on a shortened time frame. Instead, we’re in an incredibly privileged position where we can take our time and say we’re in this for the long term.”
In addition to building slowly, ND-X also stressed that the team wants to avoid overmarketing its future releases. “We have an internal mantra that we do not hype stuff up until it is happening and 100% confirmed,” he said, doubling down on his rejection of overhyped projects that leave late buyers holding the bag. While ND-X was reluctant to share details on future releases, he did reveal that he plans to expand the Edenhorde team with some new hires very soon.
The third instalment of the Edenhorde story recently went live, with subsequent episodes slated to drop on a bimonthly schedule. Edenhorde is one of the newer entrants to the NFT avatar scene, but with its strong team, killer artwork, engaging narrative, and thriving community of enthusiasts, it’s already established itself as a standout in the space today.