The Vision for a Jungle Punk IP Franchise

Azurbala
17 min readMay 1, 2023

Gm and !bala Azurians,

The Jungle Awakens.

It’s been quiet from Azurbala over the past few months, and this has been a critical period to level-set, re-focus, and reorganize around the following:

  • Nailing the PFP art, which we are really excited to begin rolling out here soon
  • Developing a long term plan for building a new IP franchise, which requires specific intent
  • Setting the pathway to ensure that every step we take is cohesive, building from the ones that came before it and pointing towards the next one
  • Ensuring we lead with dope sh*t for the community, with our own amazing, Azurian-native experiences as well as paving the way for you all to create your own masterpieces as well

The quiet period is over… and it’s time for Azurbala to re-awaken.

Last week, we did a soft re-launch of the Azurbala brand with a new logo that better suits the “jungle punk” vibe of the franchise. We cleaned up and reorganized the Twitter profile and Discord channels, and we dropped a re-introduction of our “Legends Chatter” in Discord. With it, we retold the history of Azurbala and debuted our new tagline — “Only The Fierce”. Reorganization was our first step to refresh Azurbala and to get in sync with the future vision of this franchise. Now we’re looking forward to taking the first steps towards revitalizing an Azurbala comeback.

The re-awakening of Azurbala represents a new beginning for the project, the franchise, the Azurian world, and the community.

In this article, we look to cover:

(1) Breaking Down Azurbala: What is The Jungle?

(2) From Past to the Future: Aligning the Vision

Please note that while this article is not a “roadmap” in the traditional sense, it does intend to:

  • Level-set the direction and plans for building Azurbala
  • Demonstrate how we’re thinking about long-term focus
  • Serve as the launching pad from which we start this path forward together

We also know and acknowledge that we have a lot of work to do to regain the trust of the community and the space at large. We are excited about the comeback of Azurbala, and thrilled to share more soon. With that said, we don’t take the support and trust of the community lightly, and we want to thank everyone for their patience during this rebuild.

Let’s dive in.

Breaking Down Azurbala: What is The Jungle?

Azurbala is many things. A franchise. A world. An Azurian identity. A community of individuals who share a passion for creativity, innovation, growth, and exploration.

In short, Azurbala is an expansive jungle punk franchise born from the internet that merges art, culture, and IP evolution.

Let’s break this down.

Jungle Punk

Azurbala is “jungle punk” — but what does this mean?

We know Azurbala is an epic, modern jungle realm, home to millions of different plants and animals, as well as the Azurians — an advanced civilization with an ancient and sacred history.

In Azurbala, threats lurk everywhere — from the shadows of the untamed jungle to the hallowed halls of the monastery. Survival is a game of instinct, will, and power.

Azurians know, however, that wherever there’s challenge, there also comes opportunity.

“Jungle punk” is a representation of all that is the world of Azurbala. It is an epic jungle fantasy with a mix of modern and ancient tech. At the same time, it is dangerous. Everyday is a challenge and a risk. And it is mysterious, you never know what you will get and what The Jungle may reveal.

When you zoom out, all that Azurbala is directly relates outward to what makes web3 and our ecosystem so special and unique. Web3, like Azurbala, is an epic realm with flavors of the past (web2) but ambitions of a new future (self governance and ownership on the internet). We all know that living on the cutting edge can be dangerous. Things move fast, there are bad actors, rug pulls, hard times, unforeseen market developments, and so much more. Anyone who has survived Web3 for this long already has one of the most important traits an Azurian can have. They’re resilient. And Web3 is absolutely mysterious as well… we each uncover and learn more the deeper and deeper we voyage.

In that respect, Azurbala is a representation of the digital age we live in. The one we thrive in. The Jungle.

As a franchise, Azurbala seeks to embody and live this “jungle punk” vibe and brand. And more broadly, jungle punk is not just an Azurian concept, it’s something that we’ve all largely felt in some way in our lives.

Jungle punk is the Azurian identity.

Expansive Franchise

Azurbala is an expansive franchise. Franchises are built through compelling story and narrative development. As such, Azurbala must have a clear theme that identifies the IP’s values or identity.

For example, Star Wars is not about Luke Skywalker. It is about finding power from within and freedom from oppression. Marvel is NOT just about Iron Man, Captain America, etc. It is about what it means to be a hero.

Azurbala is about overcoming struggle — to succeed, you must endure. This is contextualized by the Azurian mantra “when you bleed, let it scar.” The beauty is in the journey, not the destination. Azurbala is about enduring challenges and adversity of your own personal “jungle”, and celebrating the beauty of our scars (imperfections and struggles we’ve had to overcome). And so it makes sense that Azurbala is for Only The Fierce. It’s for those willing to keep pushing forward, despite all odds, to survive and grow.

One of the most notable elements of any successful “franchise” is that it does not exist in a silo. Rather, it is all-encompassing across different mediums. Publishing, games, film/TV, and more… It’s this ubiquity that is our north star for Azurbala.

To that end, we are working with some of the best and brightest minds in the industry to get there, and we’re excited to share more on that below in this post. We feel that Azurbala has the ability to be a true trailblazer in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with blockchain-native IP, community ownership, and something that can scale from a pocket of the internet to mainstream media.

Born from the Internet

When we say that Azurbala is “born from the internet”, we mean that Azurbala exists because of the confluence of activity that occurs at the intersection of technology, narrative development, and community in the digital age. More specifically, the new networks achieved via blockchain technology and ownership allow for the formation of new types of IP, new franchises, and new experiences.

It is an acknowledgment of our roots. Azurbala is born from the internet, and born from the vibrant community of Azurians that comprise it. Everything that we do will be done to prioritize the Azurian community, and grow the franchise in lockstep. The Azurian NFT will be the “OG” token in the ecosystem, and grant membership to the world, exclusive holder experiences, activations, and rewards.

Merging Art, Culture and IP Evolution

Azurbala merges art, culture, and IP evolution. What’s critically important when building Azurbala is cohesiveness across identity, experiences (i.e. “culture”), and IP development.

This, of course, starts with the PFP art, which is obviously something we missed the mark on with v1. We’ve been working very closely with visual artists (led by Ty Carter and with experience at Pixar, Disney, ActivisionBlizzard, Sony, Epic Games, and more) to double down on PFP art this time around. Our goal is to create art that can connect to the Azurian identity and look great as a PFP on any medium. We’ve been supported in this endeavor by our Artist Council of Bryan Brinkman, OSF, Mando, and Waheed (AllSmilesss) as well our Community Council to ensure that we reach this destination.

What’s important with the PFP art is not only that it is high-quality, but that it helps shape the Azurian identity. In other words, it needs to be relatable enough for community members to find an Azurian they identify with, while also being deep and unique enough to have a specific Azurian, jungle punk feel. We are extremely excited to start rolling out the progress of the art soon.

Achieving the ultimate cohesion between the franchise itself and the various identities that community members build on top of their PFPs is Step 1, but we will not be stopping there.

When we consider the franchise that is Azurbala, we also think through activations and creating dope, Azurian-native experiences. This is what we mean by “culture”. The Azurian franchise is built on being “jungle punk” — evoking epic (wondrous), dangerous, and mysterious feelings. Azurian activations, holder rewards, and experiences must (and will) reinforce these vibes.

We think through activations via three lenses:

  1. Catalyst Events — The moments of excitement that you build towards as “culminating moments” for your community of holders. These are your big swing moments to make a mark.
  2. IP Development — The moments where you grow your IP via various mainstream works (and to us — the key failure of IP development is only in limiting the lack of discoverability).
  3. Community Development — The constant fostering, supporting, and celebrating the Azurian community as a true group of jungle punk creators, builders, and network.

We don’t have plans to publish a roadmap. One thing that is true both in Azurbala and in the real world is that surprise is powerful. Not knowing what comes next is the entire reason you read a book or watch a movie. It’s the reason Azurians never walk alone at night…

Yet despite no “published” roadmap, what you will see over the course of Azurbala releases is that rails of these three different activation lenses will be used to build experiences, grow the franchise, and give you insight into what you can expect. We look to build towards bigger catalyst events for Azurian holders, support the community with community development focus, and expand the discoverability of the IP through looking to break into mainstream channels.

No matter what lens we work through, they will all emphasize the tenets of what it means to be “jungle punk”.

From the Past to the Future: Aligning the Vision

We clearly missed the mark on the v1 art, and that wasn’t the only place we went wrong. We tried to innovate in too many different ways. Our rollout became overly complex and confusing to follow. We rolled the world out too quickly in ways that weren’t easily digestible. For example, we introduced you to Azurbala through the eyes of Jenkins the Valet, which created confusion on what Azurbala is versus what Writers Room is.

We also spoke widely about “storytelling NFTs” — which actually isn’t reflective of what Azurbala is. Azurbala is much bigger than that. What we love about blockchain technology is that it allows for new avenues of narrative development that evoke emotion through even better connection to community members via ownership. Story is the way we make sense of the world, and further, make sense of a franchise. It’s why we often use metaphor / simile when explaining complex topics — using experiences to connect to ideas is how we make sense of subjects through feeling.

To that end, Azurbala is about experiences, identity, and community. The way we grow and make sense of the franchise is through narrative around the shared experiences brought on by the theme of Azurbala. This is what connects the Azurian identity to the world, and connects experiences of the Azurian holders into a stronger network of like-minded individuals.

And so it should come as no surprise that the Azurian saying “when you bleed, let it scar”, certainly rings true for where the franchise has been in the past. Scars do not define your identity but they certainly show where you’ve been. You never lose your scars, but you can own them and you can absolutely overcome them. v1 Azurians are a scar. Many thought Azurbala was dead, but Azurians don’t die easily. It’s hard to kill a movement.

While “let it scar” calls back to the past of Azurbala, another Azurian motto calls out to the current state of the macro bear market. In Azurbala and in today’s Web3 ecosystem, it’s evident that Only The Fierce survive.

With that said, this section will detail the priorities of Azurbala going forward, what’s changing, and how we look to push forward the vision. As we begin to share more about the future of Azurbala and what’s in store for the franchise, we want to be clear about one thing. No matter what went wrong with v1, the community and the early formation of Azurian identities and businesses was incredible. It speaks to the creativity and drive of the early Azurbala community. In this new iteration of Azurbala, we will be doubling down on this. We’ll be giving creators within Azurbala further meaning, and we’ll work tirelessly to add a sense of pride and excitement to having an Azurian identity.

What’s Directly Changing and What Does This Mean

Going forward with this re-launch of Azurbala, we will continue to look to prioritize being on the cutting edge of innovation in the space in meaningful ways, but we will also dial in focus with respect to how we roll everything out. Our focus is in communicating in a more digestible manner that is easier to understand, easier to follow, and easier to participate in. We will be prioritizing simplicity, and what that means to us is focusing on delivering captivating, meaningful experiences with the least amount of friction possible.

At this point in time, it means that we are prioritizing the Azurian. First we aim to do that with a PFP that inspires and excites the community and space. Then we aim to double down on the Azurian experience, jungle punk culture, and formation of Azurian identity and community that grows and flourishes with the IP franchise.

As such, there are a few changes that we want to level-set before we embark on this journey.

Before jumping in to what’s changing, it’s important to note the “what” of Azurbala as previously introduced in the lore is largely remaining unchanged.

  • The only way to get an Azur Root (Azurian mintpass) is still by burning a Bored & Dangerous Book NFT (more information on the burn window will be forthcoming).
  • The economy of Azurbala is still based on the natural resource Marrow, which we know (and see) is a beautiful bioluminescent lifeforce at night.
  • There are still five competing Factions (House Calypso, The Sprawls, The Syndicate, The Monastery, and The Edokan) that Azurians will eventually have the right and ability to join. NOTE: Azurians still are not born into a specific Faction… the Faction selection process will occur down the line as previously introduced.
  • There is still the Azurian religion of Sa’Bala, which teaches us how Azurbala was created after the Five Gods defeated The [REDACTED] — who wanted to control the realm — in a violent, centuries long struggle over The Jungle.
  • There is still Azurian culture, which tells us to never disrespect the dead, as well as to pray to all 5 gods, but never all at once…

This said, there are some changes to “how” we intend to define and activate various pieces to prioritize simplicity and Azurian experience. More on what’s changing and how below:

(1) Marrow as a “points” system first

With the scarce resource, Marrow, being the backbone of the Azurbala economy, we had previously introduced the idea of $MARROW accumulated by “aging your Azur Root” to “increase your Azurians backbone level” which would “increase the efficiency by which your Azurian harvests Marrow”.

The punchline is we are shifting to prioritize simplicity here, as well as sustainability of a longer-term Marrow economy.

As such, Marrow will begin as a points system, not directly as an ERC-20 token. With regulatory uncertainty and scrutiny in the U.S., we believe this is the most prudent route while also allowing the most flexibility to still explore an ERC-20 $MARROW token over time. The point is, we want to be extra thoughtful about the intangibles of rolling out Marrow in a sustainable way, and want to give it the most opportunity for success. Starting as an ecosystem “points system” first allows us to build use cases from the ground up, learn what is and isn’t working, and be acutely thoughtful around regulatory uncertainty that persists with ERC-20s in the current regulatory environment.

So, how will this happen, and what does this mean for backbone?

Marrow will come to life via gamification on the eventual Azurbala-dedicated space on Avenue. This points system won’t happen immediately, but you can expect to see this all occur on the Azurbala-dedicated Avenue space in due time, with Marrow as rewards for gamified challenges, experiences, and more. Beyond that, even before the gamification UI for actual Marrow is live on Avenue, the actions of community members will inform the eventual Marrow points system roll out.

What this also means is that the Azur Root NFT that you mint when you burn your Bored & Dangerous NFT will no longer “age” for an “increased backbone” level. We explain more on the change to backbone below, but the punchline here is that we are simplifying the ways Azurians will earn Marrow so that anyone entering the ecosystem can more easily wrap their head around what it means to participate. Marrow is a scarce resource that upholds the Azurian economy. Factions compete for Marrow as those who hold the most Marrow are considered the most powerful in Azurbala.

As such, earning Marrow in our gamified system will not be as passive as traditional “staking to earn” mechanics. Removing aging of Azur Roots:

  • Prioritizes the Azurian identity and experience
  • Increases the competition and reward value of Marrow in the participation ecosystem (and competition is key in Azurbala)
  • Still retains the value of the Azur Root as a sacred item in Azurbala, which you may want to choose to hold long-term…

Said simply, we believe this change (Marrow as a points system) helps put us on the path for a sustainable Marrow economy long-term, while retaining flexibility to continue exploring an ERC-20 in a more uncertain regulatory environment.

(2) Re-definition of backbone & bloodsound to further the Azurian identity & history

As we mentioned above, we are prioritizing the Azurian identity. One of the most important pieces of identity is a shared history. As previously defined, “backbone” was “how efficiently an Azurian harvests Marrow”. It informed the “level” that your Azurian held based on how long you held your Azur Root NFT before redeeming it for an Azurian NFT.

We also had introduced “Bloodsound” which was how well an Azurian was “able to fend off and recover from the disease myrossis”.

From a world building perspective, we liked these ideas. In practice, even as you read the above paragraph, you can see that they do not exactly prioritize simplicity. With that in mind, we’ve reimagined how these two terms can serve greater meaning for Azurians within our franchise. We are marginally re-defining what “backbone” and “bloodsound” mean:

  • Backbone — a historically strong Azurian bloodline (warriors, fighters, etc)
  • Bloodsound — a historically wise Azurian bloodline (healers, shaman, etc)

Both “backbone” and “bloodsound” are terms that are native to the world of Azurbala. They are important to the tribal histories that we’re building within Azurbala and that will ultimately impact the Azurian identities you build on top of your PFPs.

That said, neither of these terms are traits that you mint with your Azurian. Rather, these world-building terms will be used to inform certain Azurian activations and experiences down the line. You will see them come up again.

So while Azur Roots will no longer age to inform an Azurian’s backbone “level”, you will still see backbone and bloodsound (as defined here) leveraged in core activations in the future.

And when it comes to these two terms, we’d like to remind you of a core tenet in Azurbala… it is VITAL that you never travel alone.

(3) Jenkins is no longer in Azurbala, and Azurbala is separate from Writers Room

In v1, we saw the world of Azurbala from the first hand account of Jenkins, who ventured into Azurbala to find his best friend and pup, Goodboy. From a storytelling perspective, Jenkins is no longer in Azurbala, and is set to venture across various other metaverse worlds searching for Goodboy.

As such, and consistent with the recently published article Revamping Writers Room: Back to Our Roots Embracing Collective Creativity, Azurbala is a separate project from Writers Room, and Jenkins is not attached to Azurbala.

After the book burn for Azur Roots period is over, the Azur Root and Azurian tokens will be native to Azurbala, and the Writers Room NFTs + B&D books native to Writers Room.

This said, we will be leaning on our experience as the creators of Jenkins the Valet because we know that one of the most important means to developing IP is via character. The Azurian-native characters you met in the v1 roll-out (Jet, Falon, Lady Vo, and more), will be back and better than ever. We look forward to building out their IP and developing this world further.

To summarize, the priority of everything listed above is in the name of focus.

  • We are looking to implement Marrow as a points system first to be acutely thoughtful on how best to set the rails and framework for a true Marrow economy
  • We are removing the concept of “aging” to prioritize the Azurian identity as well as increase the scarcity of earning Marrow points rewards
  • We are re-defining “backbone” and “bloodsound” to have greater meaning as uniting forces within Azurian culture
  • We are separating Jenkins / Writers Room and Azurbala IP to focus on each and remove confusion

Partnering with the Brightest Minds in Media Development

Saying you are going to “develop IP” is a popular phrase in this space, especially when painting a “blue sky” vision. This said, we feel we’ve assembled the right team to get there, and have the experience to really push the bounds of what’s achievable in this space.

You know our Head of Story at Tally Labs, Emma Needell. A true worldbuilder, she’s built a level of depth with the world of Azurbala that translates well to mainstream media. She has previously written The Water Man on Netflix (which she executive produced alongside Oprah Winfrey), and worked with Oscar-winning directors and producers including Steven Spielberg and Ava Duvernay. More than anyone, she knows the vision for this world and has the experience and know-how to take it to new heights.

Emma also possesses a deep understanding of Web3 principles, and combined with the rest of the Tally Labs / Azurbala team, has been working tirelessly to bring something truly new to the space. No stone in this world has been left unturned, and leading with intent is the north star of everything we will put out with Azurbala. Anything that goes out must set the stage for our next move, and ALWAYS put the community first.

We are also thrilled to have former Creative Development and Franchise Producer for Star Wars at Lucasfilm, Diana Williams, onboard as our partner in developing the Azurbala IP. Currently CEO and Co-Founder of Kinetic Energy Entertainment, Diana partners with creators at the intersection of story and technology to develop and produce compelling IP, and this is a perfect fit for the growth of Azurbala.

Diana brings a wealth of experience from the very top of the entertainment industry. She has developed and produced creative content across a range of media platforms, and her track record is nothing short of impressive. At Lucasfilm, she helped develop media in:

  • Publishing (Marvel’s Star Wars comics and novel expansions)
  • Mobile and console video games (including 2015’s Battlefront)
  • Film and TV (including Star Wars Rebels, Rogue One)

Furthermore, under her leadership, Kinetic Energy Entertainment has led a number of exciting projects, including a TV series in development at HBO set in the world of K-Pop, TV series adaptation of The Gatecrashers comic, political sim videogame Political Arena, Crimson an epic fantasy/thriller take on Alice in Wonderland, YA sci-fi adventure Space Hoppers, and soon to be announced cinematic venture with Davide Bianca’s Shifting Tides.

What’s maybe most special about Diana, though (and why we believe she is the perfect partner to help grow Azurbala) is that she understands the web3 ethos. She’s been an active participant in the space, and it’s safe to say she “gets it”.

With this breadth of experience across different forms of media at the highest level and deep familiarity with web3, partnering with Diana furthers the ambitions for the mainstream potential of the Azurbala IP franchise. Diana is a true advisory unicorn who will help Azubala push the bounds of what’s achievable with IP development.

Conclusion

We have a lot of work to do to regain community trust. We know this, and we do not take this lightly. This Azurbala reawakening, the rebrand, the new art (more to come here soon), and our vision for the future marks just our first steps with each and every one of you Azurians.

To recap:

  • Azurbala is an expansive jungle punk franchise born from the internet that merges art, culture, and IP evolution
  • We are prioritizing focus on the Azurian identity & community within the franchise
  • There are certain changes to “how” some v1 concepts will be activated with this revamp
  • Marrow will begin as a points system
  • Backbone and Bloodsound are being re-defined to be given greater meaning as uniting forces in Azurian history
  • Jenkins is no longer in Azurbala
  • We are partnering with the brightest minds in media development, including former Creative Development and Franchise Producer for Star Wars at Lucasfilm, Diana Williams

For those of you who have read all the way to the bottom, we’d like to leave you with an Azurian riddle that embeds a bit of future alpha… (and don’t tell Apewood we wrote this in last second):

In Azurbala, power is never given, but taken

In Azurbala, never travel alone

In Azurbala, death is only the beginning

We will be hosting a Twitter Spaces on Thursday, May 4th at 3 pm ET, look forward to seeing everyone then. More coming soon — let’s build something great.

Only the Fierce,

The Tally Labs Team

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