Up until recently, the only way to build an experience in the much-hyped, blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland was to use their rather non-user-friendly command-line SDK. Note that Decentraland is still in closed alpha; numerous developers have been impatiently waiting for an opportunity to get in and try Decentraland out. (Me among them.)
Well, Decentraland has now announced a new, easy-to-use, drag-and-drop editor to create scenes, called the Builder, and to promote it, they are having a contest. Prizes include MANA (their in-game cryptocurrency) and LAND (parcels of virtual land on which you can publish your creations for other avatars to visit).
There’s obviously been a lot of thought and effort put into this new scene builder. You start off by selecting what size of LAND parcel you want to work with, anywhere from 1 to 32 parcels. You can select and change the default ground texture, and place items on the ground from a side menu of objects: trees, ponds, fences and paving stones, fire pits and furniture, even an extensive array of Chinese Year of the Pig themed items such as gates and statues. You simply save your created scene under your email address to automatically enter it in the contest. Simple!
But there are some puzzling and creativity-limiting choices made with the builder, too. Let’s compare it to the basic prim-building tools used in Second Life. In SL, you use the basic building blocks (cubes, spheres, pyramids, cylinders, etc.) to craft an item and texture it from scratch, which is something you can’t do with Decentraland’s builder. If none of the provided premade trees meets your fancy, you’re out of luck; you cannot modify any of the objects in any way, other than to move them around on your LAND or rotate them. (You also cannot resize objects.) I find this lack of basic building blocks to work from puzzling.
Another example: there are no wall, roof, door and window pieces with which to build a house for yourself. All you’ve got to choose from are a few small booths and sheds. It seems strange to me that they would provide all these building blocks, but omit what I would consider a basic kind of building block for people who are interested in making their first homestead. To put it another way, it’s a rather weird assortment of LEGO pieces you have to build from! Another drawback of the builder is that there is no way to import a mesh object to a scene you are building. If it doesn’t already exist in the included inventory, sorry, but you’re out of luck. You’re better off sticking with the SDK.
My overall impression is that the new Decentraland builder tool has gone so far in the opposite direction from their difficult-to-use SDK, to make it so easy to use, that it has exactly the opposite problem, too: it’s overly simplistic and limited in use, and therefore unlikely to satisfy those people who have already spent their hard-earned MANA on expensive parcels of LAND. I find myself still wanting something in between the two provided solutions, the Builder and the SDK.
Anyway, if you’re interested in entering the contest, here are the details:
Decentraland is giving away a total of 900K MANA and 50 different parcels of LAND to people who create truly inspiring scenes with the Builder. That’s over $50,000 USD worth of prizes!
We’ve broken down the grand prizes as follows:
- 1st place: 200000 MANA
- 2nd place: 150000 MANA
- 3rd place: 100000 MANA
- 4th place: 50000 MANA
- 5th place: 25000 MANA
Each of the top five finalists will also be given some premium LAND in locations yet to be announced!
The rest of the forty five creators will be awarded 7500 MANA and parcels of LAND.
Good luck! You might win a serious cash prize and some land to boot!
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