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Orange Comet, a Web3 gaming and entertainment company, announced its partnership to develop Barry Sonnenfeld’s Dinosaurs vs. Aliens into an immersive and cinematic Web3-enable game.
Now the parties involved have released a cinematic trailer of the action entertainment project, which is based on a prehistoric conflict between dinosaurs and other-worldly aliens based on the 2012 graphic novel by film director Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black) and Grant Morrison.
The aim for Dinosaurs vs. Aliens as a Web3 game is to bring the creatures from the comic book to life for a new generation of fans in a medium where fans can connect with it in a deeper way, said Sonnenfeld in an interview with GamesBeat.
The thirst to make this into a big entertainment property goes way back for Sonnenfeld, who has been one of the most successful cinematographers and directors in Hollywood.
“I had this idea of Dinosaurs vs. Aliens because growing up all I played with was my military toys. I had these space creatures and dinosaurs. So I thought this would be a great idea for a feature,” Sonnenfeld said.
Eleven years ago, he turned that long-held dream into a graphic novel, working with Sharad Devarajan, cofounder of Liquid Comics. He paired Sonnenfeld up with comic creator Grant Morrison, and the graphic novel was a hit. The goal was to make it into a movie, but the title got stuck in licensing limbo. And with the global success of gaming in the pandemic, it became obvious to make it work as a game.
“I think it’s going to be an amazing game, where you can change your mind if you want to be on the side of the aliens or the dinosaurs,” Sonnenfeld said. “I always say that Dinosaurs versus Aliens is the true story of what happened 65 million years ago.”
A fun-first game
The story depicts a secret world war battle that was never recorded in our history books. An internal team at Orange Comet is in early development on the game and production is starting soon, said Dave Broome, CEO of Orange Comet, in an interview with GamesBeat.
In the immersive world of Dinosaurs vs. Aliens, players will be able to level up and equip their dinosaurs and aliens with graphically intense digital assets, unseen in the world of Web3 gaming. First and foremost, the focus is on fun game-play, savage dinosaurs, relentless aliens and vivid virtual environments.
The game will have Sonnenfeld’s cinematic touch, and it will let players to experience an epic battle of World War Zero, Broome said.
“First and foremost, this has to be a killer game,” Broome said. “That’s got to be it from the jump ball, and that’s what we’re doing.”
So far, Web3 games haven’t been fun, he said.
Sonnenfeld said that it might seem that aliens with advanced technology landing on Earth would easily be able to take out all the dinosaurs with a lot of heavy weaponry.
“But what we discover is what the dinosaurs have, besides more intelligence than we thought, is this amazing knowledge of Earth and nature,” Sonnenfeld said.
For instance, the dinosaurs could be aware that a geyser like Old Faithful could erupt every day at the same time, and that the dinosaurs could use this to their advantage. There are also good and bad factions within the camps of the dinosaurs and the aliens that will make the story more complex. In that sense, it’s going to be more than just a shooting game.
And Peter Morales, head of gaming and CTO at Orange Comet, said there will be chaotic battlefields that might remind us of something like the Battlefield games. He also wants to make sure that the game reaches the PC and console markets and has the widest distribution as possible.
Going with Web3
Orange Comet recently announced that it is making three Web3 games for the Mysten Labs’ Sui blockchain. Those include Final Stardust, Degens & Dragons and The Walking Dead.
And now the news about Dinosaurs vs. Aliens further demonstrates how Orange Comet is being very ambitious about its Web3 games, Broome said.
Founded in 2020, Orange Comet leverages technology to create Web3-enabled video games for players worldwide, with the aim of captivating and transporting audiences into new realms of entertainment, while monetizing Hollywood’s most treasured franchises and intellectual properties.
Orange Comet previously had created NFTs for AMC’s The Walking Dead, Stan Lee’s Indian superhero Chakra, NHL teams Seattle Kraken and New York Islanders, and the NFL Alumni Association.
“Orange Comet is committed to unlocking the limitless power of the blockchain, enabling entertainment
across worlds never explored before,” said Broome at Orange Comet. “With Dinosaurs vs. Aliens, we are excited to expand our gaming development portfolio as we set a path for Orange Comet’s first original gaming project, evolving this celebrated narrative into a truly bespoke gaming experience that allows players and fans to embark on an extraordinary journey with today’s most sophisticated technology at the helm.”
Of course, it would probably be more straightforward to do Dinosaurs vs. Aliens as a traditional PC and console game, as not many people in the mass market have cryptocurrency wallets that can handle NFTs.
Broome said, “We’re asking ourselves why does a property belong on the blockchain. Why should this not just be a double-A or triple-A game? Why do we want to use blockchain technology? And it is not, by the way, because you can own the digital assets and can control it. That’s a piece of it. And it’s an important piece, but that’s third down on the list for us. For us, it’s about how we incorporate and use blockchain technology to actually enhance the gameplay. How do we work that into it to make it better or different, that unique gaming experience for a player? And we think we’ve come up with some super cool concepts to utilize the tech that is unlike anything that anyone’s ever seen yet in his space.”
Morales acknowledges that there needs to be a reduction in friction as we move into Web3. But he said that the Epic Games Store is beginning to open up the market by distributing Web3 games and the notoriously difficult Web3 onboarding is expected to get easier over time with platforms like Sui.
Broome added, “There’s a reason why we’re looking at these properties because it’s about creating global fan bases. We think, through the technology of Web3, that we could enhance the gaming experience. We want enthusiasts to embrace our games. But this is made for the masses. Dinosaurs vs. Aliens, is meant to reach millions and millions of people around the world.”
Reviving the franchise
The partners aren’t talking about anything beyond the Web3 game yet, but it’s exciting that Web3 came along and liberated this intellectual property from its decade-long purgatory in Hollywood. The graphic novel seemed like a natural for a movie, but it never got out of development.
The new partnership first came to life when Devarajan approached Sonnenfeld again with the idea of reimagining the graphic novel story by way of Web3-enabled games and online digital experiences. The idea wasn’t just to sell static NFT images or GIFs. It was to think of the NFTs as unlocking cinematic quality imagery and clips.
While this was happening on Sonnenfeld’s side, Broome was still focused on films and TV. Broome started in the 1990s producing live music on network television. He moved into documentaries and in the early 2000s he created The Biggest Loser weight-loss TV series that ran on NBC for 13 years.
He had to be convinced that Web3 was the way to go in a conversation with his friend Wil Meris, managing director of asset management firm Caliber Companies. Broome wasn’t enthusiastic at first when he got the call from Meris a couple of years ago. As NFTs gathered momentum, he was unimpressed.
During COVID-19, about seven or eight TV shows were shut down. Then he got the blockchain call.
“I said, ‘Look, I really appreciate that. But I’m not going to give up a 25-year career to do that,” Broome said.
In reply, Meris said, “You have to do a deeper dive.” Broome recalled, “I never thought I would. I did. And obviously, I came back to him and said I see a huge opportunity in Web3 gaming. Our whole goal is to onboard masses through the most incredible gameplay that would be first and foremost.”
Broome thought the way to go was to give NFTs the real Hollywood treatment so that the best content would emerge. He started Orange Comet in April 2021 amid the height of the NFT craze, with a mandate to focus on story-based projects and original IPs. And Dinosaur vs. Aliens it the biggest IP to surface so far.
“Barry created this amazing property about Dinosaurs vs. Aliens. It had me right at the title and we started a relationship there,” Broome said.
Orange Comet’s ambitions
Broome said the company is about to start production on the Dinosaurs vs. Aliens game.
Orange Comet generated considerable funds through NFTs sales for The Walking Dead and other projects, but the Dinosaurs vs. Aliens game is more ambitious effort at world creation. The company has a team of about 80, with a base in Los Angeles but much of the team is spread out across the U.S., Europe and elsewhere.
Sonnenfeld closed out his Men in Black film in a way that makes him think about this new task of creating a world. In the ending of Men in Black, the camera zooms out to reveal our entire galaxy is just a marble that aliens are playing with. That’s the kind of idea that is fueling the content of Dinosaurs vs. Aliens.
Devarajan connected with Broome, who soon began to think of unique ways to bring this imaginative story into life through gaming and Web3 technology, and to do so in a way that fully immerses gamers and fans into an alternate universe, where they too can be a part of the story.
“As soon as I met Dave Broome and his team, I became incredibly excited about the possibilities Orange
Comet could bring to the Dinosaurs vs. Aliens IP,” said Sonnenfeld. “Even as Grant Morrison and I were working on the initial graphic novel, I imagined how much potential the concept lent itself towards gaming. I can’t wait to see this next chapter of Dinosaurs vs. Aliens come to life as Web3 game.”
Broome hired Morales as Orange Comet’s CTO and president of gaming, and they assembled a team of industry experts with backgrounds ranging from triple-A gaming to television, movies and award-winning creative design.
Morales has worked a lot at the intersection of games and tech. He was a research scientist working on AI and games at the MIT Lincoln Labs. He also worked on serious games for the military and moved over to Microsoft to work on the HoloLens platform for augmented reality glasses. Then he moved into the world of Web3 and gaming, and wound up working at Orange Comet with Broome.
“If there’s anything that’s going to break through to the masses, similar to what you’d see in like mobile gaming, this IP content plus killer games is going to be the thing that can get us there. And they were already moving along that vision. They were already pushing in that direction,” Morales said.
Orange Comet’s strategy is to take IPs into the world of NFTs, and develop that IP with the community of NFT holders. Then it considers turning the project into a film or TV show, or, in this case, into a video game.
In that way, Orange Comet, wants to create unique digital content that tells a story with Hollywood-style production quality. The team working on Dinosaurs vs. Aliens includes industry veterans from Microsoft and Riot games, and they have worked on titles such as Valorant and Minecraft.
“I am really excited about creating a game with them. I think it’s a huge IP. And it has many places we can go once we get the game up and running,” Sonnenfeld said.
The company prides itself on partnerships with iconic entertainment franchises, such as AMC’s The Walking Dead and Sir Anthony Hopkins, to build elite digital collectibles that serve superfans across the spectrum. Orange Comet is working at the convergence of games, film, television, music and graphic novels.
Given Sonnenfeld’s background, the IP is likely to make its way to more media.
Sonnenfeld is a filmmaker and writer who began his career as a cinematographer, collaborating with the Coen Brothers on their first feature film Blood Simple, followed by Raising Arizona and Miller’s Crossing. Sonnenfeld also served as director of photography on the Tom Hanks film Big, Danny DeVito’s Throw Momma from the Train, and two Rob Reiner films, When Harry Met Sally and Misery. He made his directorial debut in 1991 with The Addams Family, followed by Addams Family Values, Get Shorty, Wild Wild West, Men in Black, Men in Black II, Men in Black III, Big Trouble, and RV.
Sonnenfeld was executive producer and showrunner on Netflix’s Peabody Award-winning show A Series of Unfortunate Events, which ran for three seasons. He recently directed the first season’s six episodes of Schmigadoon. His memoir, Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother, Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker, was published by Hachette in 2020.
Orange Comet generated almost $15 million in transactions on the NFT game assets for The Walking Dead.
“We’re taking advantage of the space and doing a really great job of getting fans engaged early, and building momentum,” Broome said.
Of course, NFTs are in the doldrums today and the economic downturn has hurt enthusiasm for new things like Web3 games. Broome hopes that will wash away distractions and make it easier for quality projects to break through.
Morales said the company may adopt a hybrid model of creating both a Web2 and a Web3 game. The company is working with blockchain game platform Mysten Labs, which is making the Sui blockchain, which is focused on a frictionless commerce platform. In that sense, Morales said fans should be able to access Dinosaurs vs. Aliens through credit-card purchases.
“The company has a really unique opportunity. We really do have quality games underway. We have been looking for partners to really push the envelope for the industry,” Morales said.
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