Waifusion: A Postmortem and the Way Forward

Hey everyone, Waifusion comms lead here. You all know me as just the person behind the Waifusion account on discord. This article is going to be about what transpired in the days since launch and how the team views them. The goal of this article (as I’m starting out) is not to shit on Cobie (@CryptoCobain) or community members unnecessarily, but I’m not going to filter my thoughts on anyone involved in what I can only call a hostile takeover of the project.

This is gonna be a long one as I’m starting from the beginning, so buckle up if you give a shit.

This entire idea started out a few months back when I had the idea of a generative NFT project. At this point, Hashmasks wasn’t a thing and this type of generative art hadn’t really been done yet aside from something like Cryptokitties. We started by slowly ideating out how something like this could work, what we’d need to make it happen, and most importantly, how we’d be able to actually release it. While I have some experience trading crypto, I had very little understanding of how it actually works. However, I knew someone who did!

So I took this idea to them and showed it off and they, who I will simply call our advisor, said this was an amazing idea and we should move forward with it — and he’d even bankroll us until we raised funds! This was a dream come true as the three of us were living paycheck to paycheck off random work because of Covid and couldn’t afford to take this risk otherwise. So off to the races we went!

It took us about a month to iron out all of the details and finally move forward building a team. We’d decided we would be making 3000 unique waifus made out of generative parts. At this time, we had the idea of simply making the individual pieces and then somehow fitting them together on a plane via coordinates. This was extremely rough but we felt confident it was possible.

I recruited a software engineering friend and pitched the idea to him to see if he could build something for us to generate these images, as we couldn’t feasibly stitch all of them together by hand unless we wanted to delay forever.

To my surprise, when I checked in on him the next day he’d already made a rough PoC demonstrated by using the Yu-Gi-Oh cards for Exodia and arranged them so the body fit while the hands held a sword and a shield. As mentioned, it was simply a PoC but it raised my hopes extremely high that maybe we could actually pull this off?!

It was around this time we started on-boarding other artists to really help make this thing a reality. At this point we had a team of 10 artists all pounding away at this concept and asset generation was progressing smoothly.

At some point in the development process, a team member came forward with a solution for creating the dynamic images that completely simplified our solution. With this improvement, we had made a quantum leap forward and everything was looking good!

Then Hashmasks dropped. As someone from an art background, I absolutely loved it! It was clear they had put a lot of time into it and while I can understand why some people might not necessarily like the art, it’s undeniable that it was amazing. However, this raised problems for us because we had just been unknowingly beaten to the punch.

Would we now just be considered a copycat? Would they trash us because we were doing something similar, but in the anime style which is generally regarded as a “lame” art form? We looked to our advisor and they said to not worry about it and keep on building. They thought there would be room enough for two similar projects without causing a problem. He did, however, say that we should at least match their asset list size and number of NFTs generated. So we took the extra time to make sure we could fulfill those requirements.

As time went by, things got better and more efficient. With our developers’ persistence, our cycle time to generate a new collection of waifus significantly decreased. This enabled us to move fast as we were convinced that with Hashmasks’ success, there would be copycats and we didn’t want to be beaten to the punch again.

All of that led up to our eventual reveal. Our advisor said he would get us someone that could deploy this onto the blockchain, so all we needed was to figure out how to do was get the images hosted online. The blockchain developers successfully created a fixed version of the Hashmasks contract without the stated vulnerability found by samczsun that would allow more NFTs minted than was intended. (Shout out to Hashmasks disclosing this even though they didn’t need to BTW!)

So we unveiled ourselves on Twitter and we started our pre-release build up. We initially revealed that we expected to launch within 48hrs, but we ran into a problem with how to communicate the name changes to places like Opensea. We figured out that Hashmasks was using their own API and not the on-chain standards to get this info to them and that threw a significant wrench in the launch as we needed to figure out a way to do this ourselves.

So off to the races with extremely frustrating and sleepless nights filled with smashing our heads against the wall trying to learn how to do these things with no prior knowledge. At the same time, we were made aware of multiple parties that were going to fork us as soon as we went live with a sale on BSC. This has been discussed constantly but the general idea was we should launch on both rather than give someone who simply forked us and took our art any potential revenue — and our advisor agreed.

With all of these things coming together at once, the Waifusion dev team were at the end of their ropes, but they fought through it and got things done in the nick of time leading up to that Monday release.

We had finished up the websites/smart contract deployments/api deployment a short 5 hours before launch time. I will forever be proud of them for persevering on these things that I could do little to help them with and making sure they were done before launch even with other pressing life events happening for various people that same day. They truly had put everything they had into this and it was amazing.

Come launch time, we hit the “GO” button and it all worked!! We were ecstatic! Gas prices had spiked because of our release from 120ish all the way to 700! The outpouring of support was tremendous and we couldn’t believe it. We knew our advisor had helped us out by spreading the word in their circles and they said some big people were gonna be buying a lot early in the sale and then likely talk about us on their respective social media platforms.

At the time, we were so excited that we’d even gotten big influencers to notice us and get on board! But that turned out to be the death knell for both our control and vision.

Someone who was simply named cobie on discord without a profile picture reached out to me in DMs about a problem claiming WET tokens. At this point I had no idea who this was and helped them just like any other user.

I tried to troubleshoot the problem but it wasn’t user error that was causing the problems this time. It was that he simply owned too many waifus! The claim process for WET tokens for over 200 waifus would be too big and it kept failing out. So I went ahead and made a quick solution in order for them to claim the wet tokens for every waifu they owned. It was left at that for the day.

The beginning of the end

It was the next day that I got a message from the same account worried that we weren’t going to sell out. He expressed concerns that things weren’t going well after our explosive first day and he wanted to share some ideas on how to potentially kickstart it again. This took the form of a back and forth conversation expressing opinions and ideas ranging from simply increasing the BSC profit share to taking out loans on lending protocols so that we can artificially create buying pressure and therefore demand to incite FOMO in people.

The Conversation dropped off a little before midnight.

The Conversation dropped off a little before midnight until he came back a few hours later with a new idea. The idea was that we should put unsold Waifus in a “dungeon” and allow people some way to access them. The team thought this was a good idea, but would require a few modifications that we would work out internally. I’ll have more on the modifications and plans that have since been dropped later on.

At this point, we were feeling confident in our project and things were going well. While the bonding curve had significantly slowed down, the Opensea market was raging and the price floor on Waifus was growing. When I went to sleep that night, it was at 0.5 ETH and the bonding curve was at 0.7 ETH.

The Takeover Begins

What I woke up to can only be described as pandemonium. I had over 40 DMs from community members on Twitter and I can’t clearly remember how many notifications in the Discord server itself. The Discord chat was being spammed with “When Dungeon” with Cobie inciting people to spam it with him on both of his accounts.

At this point I knew that my fellow team members would be freaking out and I was right. I got on a call with one who was crying at the complete 180 that had happened. They went to sleep with the chat being calm and things looking positive which turned into being berated as “evil, greedy devs” among other unsavory insults being hurled at us because they wanted something done and they wanted it NOW.

This took my absolute priority for most of the day and is why there were no messages from me for quite some time. I consider the well being of my team more important than anything, and it disgusted me that this was taking place. I had our advisor be the go-between for the community as I focused on calming everyone on the team down while also attempting to have a discussion on a plan forward.

This proved largely fruitless as they were in no state to be thinking logically about a problem that we had believed had more time to be appropriately solved. It eventually ended up with the team deciding that I would handle the response and they would go along with it.

No bullying or attempting to strong arm nuh-uh!

I went back to the community and started to state my stance that we would not be implementing this idea at this time and the attempts to strong arm us would not work. I personally am not afraid of the hard road and was fully prepared to tell him to go fuck himself. Our advisor echoed this opinion which only reinforced my stance. It was at this time the insults and claims of “terrible fucking devs cashgrabbing on their shitty hashmasks fork” started flooding into my DMs and also pressure from people in the Discord chat who said the “community” wanted this and we are being too prideful and should just give in.

At this point, the price on Opensea had tanked. What was previously a 0.5 ETH floor, was now less than 0.2 ETH as people scrambled to get out before cobie sold his huge waifu collection on the open market as he was threatening to do unless we gave in.

This left me with two incredibly shitty options.

Option Fucked: I tell cobie and his sycophants to go fuck themselves. This is our project and we have a vision that we are building towards. The sale date was set at 14 days for a reason and selling out was NOT required or was even a metric for success. However with the huge holdings that Cobie had, he could artificially deflate the opensea cost floor to entirely stall the bonding curve and would likely do so simply to parade around the fact that his suggestion would have prevented this and that he was right all along. This would, in turn, create mass negativity in the community that would likely turn against us as they already were because they wanted something done NOW. The prolonged suppression would lead others to be convinced things were hopeless — perpetuating the cycle. However, I’m confident we would have figured out a more efficient solution that didn’t destroy our plans and could ride out our wave.

Option Get Fucked: We capitulate and give in to the demands of Cobie and his sycophants. This means that we would adopt the proposal as stated and I would grit my teeth and take the abuse that was likely to follow from Cobie on twitter about how we had said we “wouldn’t be bullied.” (Boy are narcissistic people easy to read. Called that one to a T.) And I would shape the narrative around this to, at the bare minimum, implement a slightly modified proposal that wasn’t game-able.

I was entirely prepared to go with Option A until a team member called me crying, begging me to give in because they didn’t want to lose it all and the opportunity we had made. They specifically were worried about the comments Cobie had made about the WET token being a security at an earlier time and the potential for problems around the issue.

It hit me then that the rest of the team wouldn’t be able to handle the hard road. The abuse and vitriol that was sure to follow would be worse than what had already sent them over the edge. Weeks of this wouldn’t be something they could tolerate. We set out to improve our living situations with the help from a friend who could enable us to do so. We should be fine with that right?

So I capitulated. I decided I’d grit my teeth and destroy our vision simply to end the chaos for the other team members. I created a voice chat with the purpose of getting the “community” to decide how we would go forward. I had no pretense that this would be fruitful and knew we would come to the conclusion of Cobie’s suggestion word-for-word with small changes to prevent it from being entirely game-able. This proved to be the case and I made as good a show as possible about our “turnaround.”

At this point, the wheels were in motion and the outcry from our “community” was so grateful that we had seen the light! That we were making the only possible choice forward and weren’t being greedy pieces of shit! People who had DMd me vicious comments were now rejoicing in the public chat. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely disgusted at the turn around and the acting as if they’d been supporting us all along.

There were some people who legitimately were supportive through all this. Sending DMs of supportive words through and trying to vie for us in the chat against the negativity. I cannot express how much that support meant not only to me, but the rest of the team, as I shared your comments to show that not everyone was against us. You don’t know how big of a difference you truly made.

From here, the team essentially disengaged. There was nothing to be done while the volunteers that worked to implement Cobie’s idea developed the solution. Any inputs or changes would be viewed as us attempting to go against the “community” decision. So I kept up with just the general administrative duties while things fell into place. Things in general went smooth and the plan was executed.

Which brings us to present time.

We had a lot of plans for what to do during and after the sale. We were lining up people to help us promote Waifusion in different communities both in the US and abroad. We were going to be making promo material that would try and recruit people from the normal anime community to come on in and enjoy crypto since it’s essentially a gacha game where you could resell your pulls.

We had this nifty little ARG we were planning relating to some aspects of waifu images that would lead to a physical place with a clue that would lead to a website with a riddle. And upon solving that riddle, we’d reveal our plans for a Waifusion RPG based on the NFTs traits. You would essentially have unique buffs or skills depending on the clothing or items your NFTs had.

There were even thoughts of using the game to swap out your waifus from the “dungeon” pool of unsold waifus if you were good enough at it and got enough points. The purpose of the RPG was to attempt to generate value for holding a Waifusion NFT. The game relied too heavily on mixing/matching traits and borrowing them from allies, so it was scrapped.

We were having our advisor and community help source devs and connections that we could use to make additional use cases for our Waifus. A community member suggestion was to make a 3d model of each Waifu that could be used in things like VRchat and Decentraland. We thought this idea was pretty cool and were mapping out initial stages for feasibility and implementation.

Then there was the possibility of selling merch which would have been a ways away but would be a way to earn profit off owning a waifu. Dakis, 3d printed figures, and the simpler stuff like shirts and what have you.

However after the events that have transpired all of this was put to a screeching halt. With the co-opting of the vision and the enormous hate that has been directed towards us, not only before, but also after the capitulation to Cobie, from people has completely destroyed any will the team had to work on these things. With that being said…

The Waifusion team will be stepping away at this time. The remaining team members are throwing around some ideas on how to potentially expand on the project, but our manpower is so reduced we can’t promise anything. If we did do a v2 then we would airdrop to Waifu holders at a later time as we would want to figure out a way to align the community and ourselves on a common goal compared to the way v1 has ended up.

I can already hear the shouts from the rooftops of rugpull this and scam that. We worked hard to launch this regardless of any opinions that it’s “just a fork” and then to have it essentially taken over left us with no will to want to advance it. We simply feel that the vision is no longer ours, but instead, yours. So we’re handing it off to you.

The growing community has already banded together to build the dungeon which required everything from smart contract development to front-end website updates.

All images and JSON are hosted on IPFS. They are currently being hosted on a node and being pinned by outside services like Eternum. The community can seed the images and JSONs to make sure that they never go down. The hosting for the websites/domain names/pinnings are all prepaid for a year. We have also handed off tweetdeck admin access to community members.

I’ll be around to answer questions and work out the handoff of SSH credentials to the relevant developers so that they can deploy things to the VPS servers and make changes in the future.

Could we have generated less for sale? Sure. Could we have potentially staggered the sale start times? Maybe, but I don’t think the groups that wanted to fork us would have done so. Could we have been better at communication and a ton of various other things? Absolutely.

However hindsight is 20/20. We had no way of knowing if certain things would work or not as we were the first to do them. First dual-chain launch of NFTs on ETH/BSC. First to “fork” the hashmasks style sale with original art. There was no basis for us to follow other than modifying the proven sale that had come before.

On a personal level.

Cobie, you are, at the very least, a Grade A narcissist. Your constant abuse and making fun of community members/the developers is incredibly immature. And you do it all because you think your way is the only way.

You could have given us time to, not only implement the plans we were already working on, but also to create better alternatives to the one you proposed. Instead, you decided to use your clout to arrogantly claim that “it’s what the community wanted” when you know damn well they were simply parroting you.

So, as I wanted to say in the beginning, go fuck yourself.

To everyone who was legitimately supportive, I want to give a heartfelt THANK YOU! Again, you have no idea how truly helpful your words and actions were during this time. I don’t want to publicly state the names as that might make you a target of the sycophants after this post is live but you know who you are.

Looking back, this was certainly an unforgettable experience. It was an amazing lesson on building a team and working with them to reach a common goal. We achieved our goals and now have the work of improving our situations to chew on. Maybe we’ll be back with something else, maybe we won’t. Only time will tell.

Personally, I’d be lying if I said I was feeling happy about this outcome. Sure we achieved our goals, but not in the way I wanted. It hurts to put so much of yourself into something and then to have it co-opted from you. Hopefully something great comes of this as we hand it off, but I’m personally bitter.

If you made it this far, thank you so much for taking the time to read through this and get a quick glimpse into the wild ride that has been our insane past 4 months.

To many of you, thanks for everything. To some of you, thanks for nothing. But to everyone else, thanks for being a part of the wild ride that was our past 4 months.

“There are people in this world who don’t understand that what they consider a harmless prank can deeply hurt someone else.”

— Mio Nishizono (Little Busters)

Goodbye for now,

Waifusion Comms Leader