Discovery

Meeting Flavio

It was the Spring of 2021 and a friend of a friend reached out to us to discuss a potential project. Ultimately, we would end up on a call with Flavio de Meira Penna, founder of Nemus Earth. Flavio was the most energetic seventy-something we’d ever met and shared with us a vision for how web3 and NFTs might be able to increase the rate at which conservation spread throughout the Amazon.

We were intrigued. As we learned more we often asked ourselves “Do we want to be part of a project that will do its best to “save” the rainforest?” No matter how it would end up, the answer was always a resounding “Hell, yeah.”

Using Web3 for Good.

Flavio’s vision was enormous.

Conservation in the Amazon didn’t happen nearly fast enough. There was too much red tape and not enough capital being put to work. The value of clearcutting the forest was greater than preserving it, and so we were losing it fast.

Yet here was this entire subculture happening in web3 where finance happened at the click of a button. One where people wanted to put capital to work differently, sometimes to the tune of billion dollar market caps. He saw an opportunity to rally this financially-minded generation towards something more sustainable; towards the planet; towards the Amazon.

He had many ideas for how to incentivize economic activity in the forest and stave off deforestation, and knew that NFTs and cryptocurrencies were a way to accelerate funding projects, but didn’t know where to begin.

Who would be able to help him navigate the landscape of web3?

"When we started Nemus, we didn't know what we didn't know. Volum8 was very patient with us and articulated web3 concepts in ways we could understand. We learned so much through the process!"

Flavio de Penna
Nemus Founder Flavio de Penna picture

A Process for Strategy.

When we engaged with Flavio, and Nemus, we immediately began peeling back the layers of his vision. We walked through our initial process of simply listening, of understanding the challenge he was looking to solve and how he imagined the solution. When it was time, we began to share some of our knowledge and experience in web3, educating Flavio and the Nemus team on some of the key differences and meanings within.

We produced a massive amount of documentation (over 1,000 pages) through the process of discovery partly because Flavio was an avid reader and we knew he would digest it all, but also because there were many considerations that required detailed exploration.

Our Nemus Documentation included:

Stakeholder Interviews

Needs Assessment

Comparative Analyses

Branding Analysis

Technical Assessment

Partnership Evaluations

Ecosystem Design

Token Model Exploration

Augmented Bonding Curve Study

Gamification Studies

Legal Structures

DAO Structures

Blockchain Analysis (L1/L2)

Risk Assessment

Tokenomic Structure & Design

Community Development

Economic Modeling

Art Direction

Brand Definition

NFT Features & Design

Environmental & Species Studies

Requirements for Geo-Spatial Mapping

Technical Requirements

Site Visit Itinerary

Web3 Changes Fast.

No one is an expert in it all.

We knew that in order to advise Nemus accordingly we would need to compare many new protocols, blockchains, services and solutions, while filling gaps in our own knowledge base.

So we put our expertise to work defining the brand imagery, narrative, ecosystem design, digital asset/NFT utility, tokenomics, blockchain selection, technology requirements, and more.

We also brought on a handful of friends, experts in fields of game theoretical frameworks, token economic modeling, biodiversity data, and community development.

Each topic was ironed out until the landscape for a solution became clearer.

After only a few months, we saw the entire “world” of Nemus evolve from Flavio’s initial vision to an executable strategy for design, technology, community, economics, and structure.

Then we rolled up our sleeves.

We even traveled to the Amazon and met the indigenous on the land.

The Build

Getting into the Buidl.

Once we completed Discovery, it was time to turn the information into reality. From the brand, to development, to mint procedure, to social management, we were all hands on deck through every touchpoint of the project build. As a team we were able to navigate some challenging waters, but ultimately reached a launch that exceeded all expectations.


Creating the Guardian.

We spent extensive time developing the unique brand of Nemus. Through the name, we found a link to ancient Greek mythology, a “Guardian” of the Forest. And many hours later, after hundreds of revisions, we came to the Nemus logo; merging the face of a guardian with an Amazonian leaf.

In the branding phase, through intensive interviews with the Nemus core team and stakeholders, we also defined the mission and vision statements, voice and tone, and brand styles. The foundation was laid for the entire project’s visual strategy moving forward.

"For me, the entire brand kept returning to one North Star – this is real, this is urgent, the forests are burning. I wanted every decision to begin with that sincere intent of connecting the digital with the real. From there, came the sense of adventure, pairing passion with the sincere intent to protect. Funnily enough, Indiana Jones became an early model for us. Fortune and Glory, kid."

Joe Frederick
Senior Designer Flavio de Penna picture

The Non-Fungible Tokens

One of the main features of Nemus in the web3 world would be the NFT. A collection of NFTs would be correlated to actual land in the Amazon and make up the “Genesis Drop.” Much of our focus in Discovery was to tackle questions like: What would the NFT look like? Number of supply? How many drops? Cost? What blockchain?

Determining Rarity

One of the most fun and challenging aspects of the NFT was in regards to collection traits. We defined an NFT with features that mirrored the actual flora & fauna in the Genesis drop region. We painstakingly indexed an array of species native to the region, consulted with biodiversity specialists, and identified an array between those that were endangered, versus those that were commonly found.

Doing the Math

A natural scale emerged informing the rarity of the NFTs. Working alongside with Brian Tinsman a dedicated game theoretician, we determined the ideal collection mix: total number of NFTs, number of features, scarcity, levels for rarity, and ultimately, which would be the legendary NFTs.

The Artwork

We kept an open search for the perfect NFT artist when we came across the work of Ben Kwok, an illustrator out of California who was famed for his band posters and love for animals.

He agreed to illustrate (by hand) each of the eight legendaries with his unique style, but a larger challenge still remained. How would we fill the additional 86 NFTs that would be in the collection?

Here, Concept ArtHouse came to the rescue. As one of Nemus’s earliest partners, they agreed to fill in the collection with artwork that would follow Ben’s style albeit more simplistically. As we filled the role of art direction alongside Ben, each of the selected flora and fauna features came to life.

NFT Design

Leaning on the features and their rarities, we developed a card design that used borders and an in-browser “flip mechanic” to display the NFTs. With parallax backgrounds, animations, and scalable vector graphics, we were able to create a truly unique experience that is still touted as one of the most impressive NFTs today.

NFT Tech

On the back-end, we developed a series of microservices to randomly select the rarity and features for each mint in real-time, at the time of the mint. They would then automate the assembly of corresponding NFT elements (borders, bg images, artwork, text, etc.) for proper display in the browser, the Nemus app, and secondary NFT marketplaces.

These services also included custom-built compositing engines that automated the creation of static images and dynamic HTML for each NFT. This allowed secondary marketplaces to display interactive digital collectibles or static images. Collectors also had the ability to download these assets directly from the Nemus “backpack” interface in-app.

This was truly a first of its kind feat, especially in the world of web3.

 

Token + Economic Design

Throughout the engagement with Nemus there were many difficult questions to answer, and complex technical, financial, and economic decisions to make.

For the sake of brevity here, no single aspect of Nemus was more daunting than the work done on “tokenomics.” A large amount of scope on our part went towards designing a circular economic system that has yet to be realized within the project.


Designing the Bonding Curve

From DeFi mechanics for NFT staking rewards, to an Augmented Bonding Curve for Nemus’s fungible token, countless hours were spent modeling and consulting with specialists in the fields of economics and token design to determine the proper structure and details for the dual-token model.

For anyone who may be curious, many of these systems and designs are published in the Nemus litepaper. Conversely, reach out and ask us questions! We’d love to share more about what we designed, and how we went about it.

bond-curve

The Nemus App

Connected to Real Land

We knew that the mint would be a visual experience. It was to make use of an actual plot of land near the small town of Pauini, deep in the State of Amazonas. Nemus was under contract to finalize the purchase of the land and provided us with KML data for the parcel early on.

We wanted to create an experience that brought the user on a journey into the Amazon to explore available NFTs on the map. There would be multiple sizes from small to xxlarge and each would be randomly positioned in an area of the parcel starting with the “Genesis drop.”

"I remember sitting at a cafe on a Sunday morning – and almost leaping out of my seat when the grid propagation logic finally rendered on the map with beautiful results. It was easily one of the best cups of coffee I ever had :)"

Dan Hendrickson

Lead developer  picture

We used the KML data within the Mapbox platform to create a border for the territory. From there, we developed our own scripts and methods for splitting a layer of geospatial data into an array of various sized blocks, while avoiding partial blocks near irregular edges.

The methods were optimized to propagate an expected number of blocks for each size, with a variable to avoid clustering of similarly sized blocks. With our custom propagation tool, a drop could be generated and regenerated at the press of a button.

The final output was truly magical.

Once the UI elements were in place, we tuned the experience to make it easily navigable, searchable, and interactive for when the NFTs would be integrated.

The Mint Process

One of the decisions made during Discovery was around which blockchain to use for Nemus’s digital assets and NFTs. After much review, comparison, and testing, the Nemus team chose Ethereum under our advisement.

Back in late 21’ Ethereum was certainly the best option for a project like Nemus, however, as a Proof of Work blockchain it was under fire for its energy consumption due to mining, and the impact it had on the environment.

To combat this, we developed a two-step minting process. First, participants would mint an ERC-1155 “ticket” which was optimized for low gas usage. They could then choose a time when gas fees were low to redeem the ticket for an ERC-721 NFT on one of the map locations.

This approach meant that Nemus could have as small an impact as possible on the cost of gas fees within the Ethereum network, meaning fewer miners and lower electricity consumption on account of the Nemus project.

Article: NFTs Can Preserve Our Planet
Article: The Idea that NFTs are Bad for the Environment

nemusticket
Minting on the Map

While we had a map working and navigable with all the right spaces for the mint, we still needed the ability to mint from the map, and map the mints to the map. 🤔

Through the grid propagation tool, each block was assigned its own unique ID. These IDs needed to then correspond to geospatial coordinates and an NFT ID, recorded in the metadata. Once the correlation was established we began testing on Rinkeby, one of Ethereum’s testnets.

Multipass errr, umm Select. Multi-select.

Through the entirety of working on the Nemus project we created more than a dozen different types of smart contracts. The first two, were for testing the mint process on Rinkeby.

We ran through the loop of minting a ticket and redeeming that ticket for an NFT location on the map. Through this process, we saw the need (and opportunity) to create a “multi-select” mode. With the multi-select mode, users would have the capability to redeem multiple mint tickets at once for a variety of sized parcels.

multipass

Community and Copywriting

In tandem with the tech, we had also been assisting Nemus with its community development, partnerships, and copywriting.


The not so “Litepaper”

Getting Social.

While not in our original plans, for a time we stepped in and helped Nemus with communication and outreach. We managed social media and creating a Discord server for Guardians. We focused on security, using Mee6 for verification and Collabland for token confirmation, giving token holders access to exclusive channels. We also implemented a ticketing bot for support and an English-to-Portuguese translation bot to engage the Brazilian community.


Frens, new and old.

While growing social and continuing to build a go to market strategy, our CEO/Founder, Charlie, met with friends and potential partners on a daily basis. Some of our heroes during those times included:

Beyond those named above, there were many other folks who came to the aid of Nemus and helped us establish the project, securing many other partnerships within the Nemus ecosystem. One look at the Genesis Drop map shows many of the project’s early supporters.

The Launch

Supporting the Launch.

With the minting mechanics complete and thoroughly tested, and smart contracts audited via a third-party, we still had a lot to do before the public mint.


Navigating the Open Seas

Setting up a collection for secondary NFT marketplaces isn’t as straightforward as one might imagine. For the Nemus collection we had to first ensure that royalty and mint proceeds pointed to the proper multi-sigs, and that metadata would display properly across all secondary marketplaces.

In addition to creating marketplace profiles and confirming the dynamic HTML card assets loaded correctly, we set up static image URLs as a fallback. Then through our partnership with Rarible, we made preparations to auction off the largest parcels (that were publicly available) along with a portion of all remaining sizes through a first of its kind Reserve Auction.

Development Challenges

In the quest to create an application robust enough to handle a global crusade to save the Amazon, we didn't just aim to meet performance benchmarks—we aimed to surpass them. Our goal was clear: to build a platform that could effortlessly scale, ready to welcome participants from every corner of the globe.

Low-to-no Bandwidth Conditions

Recognizing that our users would come from diverse environments, some with minimal internet access, we prepared for every scenario. By employing service workers, we cached essential elements of the app locally. This strategy was crucial for enabling full functionality even in the most remote and connectivity-challenged areas of the Amazon.

Lets GO to the Amazon

Our journey began with choosing the Go programming language for our backend. Known for its high-performance scalability, Go was the perfect companion. It empowered our application to manage high user volumes smoothly, ensuring that every participant, regardless of their location, had a seamless experience.

Smart Contracts and Interconnected Nodes

The backbone of our transaction system featured Infura integrated with node-based microservices using smart contract event listeners. This setup was designed to capture and process every transaction reliably, ensuring that no user action was lost, even if they were momentarily disconnected.

Bundled Internationalization

As we ventured further, it became evident that our digital platform needed to speak many languages. We integrated support for 26 languages right into the application’s architecture. This was not just about accessibility—it was about connecting with users in their native tongues, enhancing their engagement and satisfaction as they joined the cause.


Collision Avoidance

After creating the multi-select & mint capability, we ran into a challenge that needed to be solved before public mint began in just a few days. Yes, we had improved the user experience significantly, but we had also opened up a can of worms in regards to collision avoidance.

With multiple users selecting multiple parcels to mint at the same time, there was a high likelihood that two (or more) users would try to mint the exact same parcel within the same block on Ethereum. This would cause a failed transaction, wasted gas fees, and an even worse experience overall.

We needed a system to avoid collisions, and fast.

So we worked tirelessly to put together socket based communications and a socket server to display pending and completed transactions on the map in real time. Think of the “15 minutes to checkout” experience when you shop online and add certain items to you cart. This was similar to that, but for NFTs. If another user had a parcel in their “cart” and it hadn’t yet timed out, then no other user would be able to add it.

"Often within the realm of custom software and application development, you solve one challenge only to create new ones. Part of the challenge is…"

Flavio de Penna
Nemus Founder  picture
NFTNYC Awards

During the launch madness, Nemus was also recognized as “Best Environmental Initiative from an NFT Project” receiving a nomination from NFTNYC in 2022. While no submissions were made on our behalf we were excited to attend and honored to receive some recognition.

Outcome

Nemus Today.

Through the platform we designed and built, Nemus was able to raise over $1M in ETH and fund several projects on the ground in the area of the Genesis Drop within just a few months following its official launch.

That was in the summer of 2022.

Not long after, Nemus began to face many challenges and setbacks on the land derailing some of their intended plans. They’ve since been in the process of raising additional capital, and adjusting their direction.

The fact remains that the tech, the brand, and the economic designs we were tasked with creating still stand strong. Our work has been cited in industry publications, used for educational purposes, nominated for awards, and repeatedly referred to as a stellar example for what an NFT mint process, or even “land sale” should be.

Now it simply awaits the return of Nemus… We personally look forward to what we believe will be a glorious comeback story.