A Fresh Look at Decentraland: Larger Parcels and a Drag-and-Drop Scene Editor Are Coming

On this blog, I have often been highly critical (even downright sarcastic) about the blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland. I still think that their real estate is vastly overpriced, but I do have to say, of all the blockchain-based virtual world products out there, Decentraland seems to be the closest to actual fruition—and, on top of that, they’re doing some interesting things!

First, they’ve completely redesigned their website and it looks really good! They definitely are aiming for a certain blocky, cartoony aesthetic, not hyper-realistic, but certainly still attractive to many people:

Also, Decentraland is actively surveying its userbase on a number of issues through their community polling tool Agora, including increasing the size of LAND parcels from 10 m by 10 m (100 square metres) to 16 m by 16 m (256 square metres). It looks like this change will be approved by an overwhelming margin. It’s refreshing to see a virtual world which is so willing to consider making adjustments to benefit its users (especially before the actual product launch).

Finally, Decentraland has announced that a drag-and-drop scene building tool will be available this spring. In order to promote it, they are holding a contest:

In the last Project Update, we shared that we’re working on the new and easy-to-use Builder. Our vision for Builder is to provide a way for all users, regardless of their technical backgrounds, to create immersive content to host on their LAND. In anticipation of the new scene builder (and to celebrate its upcoming launch), we are excited to introduce Decentraland’s Creator Contest! Our goal is to encourage and reward creative scenes put together by community members using the scene builder.

After the Builder is launched, the Creator Contest will officially begin – giving you two weeks to put your imagination to use in putting together your most immersive and beautiful (or bizarre) scenes.

Every single scene that is submitted through the Creator Contest will be rewarded with 100 MANA, even if it isn’t selected by the judge panel as one of the finalists. The most creative scenes will be hand-picked by a panel of five expert judges. A total of 50 scenes will be deployed, and featured within Genesis City. From those 50 scenes, five will be selected as finalists and their creators will receive some premium LAND and a purse of MANA. The remaining 45 featured parcels will also be rewarded with LAND and additional MANA!

At the current exchange rates, 100 MANA works out to about US$3.50, so while it’s not a lot of money, many people may enter this contest just to get a starter purse of in-game currency. It’s great marketing!

As time goes on, and I see just how dedicated the Decentraland team is to their vision of a decentralized, blockchain-based virtual world, my initial cynicism is starting to wane. Not completely, mind you. But it is fascinating to watch as the project evolves over time. Hopefully, sometime this year, I will get an opportunity to walk around in-world!

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Comparing Blockchain-Based Virtual World Projects

I am still monitoring the various blockchain-based virtual world projects via their discussion forums on Telegram. In particular, there’s been a lot of chatter lately about the Mark Space project, which I still regard with a high degree of wariness. They may have made some cosmetic improvements to the spaces you can build, but I still don’t think they’re terribly appealing compared to what you can do in Sansar, High Fidelity, etc. Here, see for yourself:

However, a member of the Mark Space team posted the following table to their Telegram channel, comparing their product with other blockchain-based virtual worlds, which I did find of interest:

While I am already familiar with Decentraland, I’ve never or barely heard of some of these other projects before:

  • district0x
  • Metaverse (now there’s a poorly-chosen name!)
  • Cappasity
  • Spectiv
  • Prosense
  • Matryx

You know what that means, don’t you? It’s time for me to go do some investigating and exploring again! I’ll report back on what I find, and just how accurate this chart is.

I leave you with this vague and mystifying promotional video for Mark Space, which makes me wonder what exactly the company is spending their money on—an actual virtual world, or slick advertising to bring in more investors? This sort of thing raises all kinds of red flags for me.

Or, if you really want to see something trippy that pretty much has absolutely nothing to do with the actual product, check out this promotional video for Cappasity!

The level of insanity in this market is breathtaking.

A Decentraland Update: Designs for the Plazas Are Looking Promising

The DCLPlazas blog reports:

In recent months we have learnt that each plaza throughout Decentraland (shown in green on the Decentraland map) will take on a theme of its own. We have already had the pleasure of seeing the impressive Medieval Plaza and the Vegas Plaza designs, and today we get to view the next completed plaza design to add to that list, by unearthing the Decentraland Forest Plaza.

Once again, the design has been intricately crafted by Fabian Orrego (who has created the previous 2 scenes) who seems to have mastered the art of getting the best results from low-poly scenes and models.

Plazas are the green 200m-by-200m squares on this map of Decentraland. Their purpose is to act as central gathering areas and avatar spawning zones, and they are public property which is not for sale, unlike the rest of Decentraland’s virtual real estate:

dcl-map-with-unsold-parcels

Here’s a link which allows you to look at a 3D model of the Forest plaza on Sketchfab (or you can just use the embedded image below):


Now. I have to admit that I do rather like the low-poly design aesthetic of this. The creator, Fabio Orrego, is a Colombian engineer and videogame artist with Xunulu Studios.

Here’s a look at an earlier plaza design, the Medieval Plaza, which is in much the same vein:


I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the news coming out of Decentraland lately. I still think that their land is wildly overpriced, but all that investment seems to have lit a fire under the company and its user community. I can’t wait to see what Decentraland will look like when it finally does launch (they have an invitation-only alpha at the moment).

For the lastest in Decentraland news, you can check out the DCLPlazas blog and the project’s Twitter, GitHub, Reddit, and Facebook. You can also join the official Decentraland Discord server and, of course, there is also the Decentraland blog and their official documentation website.

Mossland: A Brief Introduction

Mossland 2 Jan 2019.jpg

Look, I’m going to just come right out and say it. Mossland is another one of those blockchain-based virtual reality/augmented reality projects that makes you scratch your head and go, huh?

The concept behind Mossland is simple enough: users bid on virtual versions of real-world properties (this is very similar to another “augmented reality” game I had profiled earlier, called Worldopoly):

What is Mossland: The City?

  • Mossland: The City is a location based Mobile Augmented Reality (AR) game that will launch on the 4th quarter of 2019. In this game players can view the actual buildings around you and purchase the virtual real-estate online. By using the blockchain based cryptocurrency, Moss Coin, you can safely purchase and trade in game real-estate and augment the buildings with various AR accessories. Users can enjoy the game while trading and interacting with other players.

What is the Mossland: The Auction?

  • ‘Property’ are all the buildings that can traded in ‘Mossland: The City.’ ‘Mossland: The Auction’ is a service provided for players to start bidding on unique landmark properties that will be traded in the game before anyone else.
  • Starting the opening of October 12th, each Friday five landmark properties will be released in the auction. Everyone who has an account for the Mossland: The Auction can participate in the auction, and the landmark is given to the user with the highest bid.

Do not be disappointed for not winning the bid, the participants receive incentives for just participating in the auction!

  • The winning bidder receives 80% of the Moss Coin that was used for the final bid and the remaining 20% is given to the other participants in the auction.
  • The user who is the owner of the property can auction out the Landmark to other users through a new auction on the open market.

Why participate in Mossland: The Auction?

  • Mossland: The City provides an opportunity for anyone in the world to own a virtual building. Users can be an owner of a virtual real-estate after completing tasks and missions. This can be a famous building in your area, your school, your workplace, even a cafe that you often go to.
  • You can become a forerunner of the virtual property that has actual value. Applying Augmented Reality(AR) advertisements to your buildings can generate additional values.
  • It would be much more difficult for users to own unique landmarks after Mossland: The City launches and is provided to more users. Mossland: The Auction provides a one and only opportunity for the potential users of the game to monopolize in owning the exclusive landmarks.
  • There are no limits and predictions on how high your property’s price might rise. You can expect a huge increase in your pre-acquired landmark property when Mossland: The City has an explosive number of users.
  • Due to the nature of any auctioning system, there will always be a chance where a good landmark can be bought at a low price. Constantly checking the prices of the landmarks and checking out the auction pages will be an exciting experience.

I have to chuckle about the bit where they talk about “an explosive number of users”. But my serious question is (and this is a question I ask about many of these blockchain-based projects): why would anybody want to do this?!?? 

Amazingly, over the past three months, 170,000 bids were placed on 258 properties in 30 auctions:

Mossland 2 2 Jan 2019.jpg

The most expensive property to date is Seoul City Hall (which is not terribly surprising; Mossland is run by a South Korean company called Reality Reflection). The winning bid was 1,253,500 MOC (their in-game cryptocurrency), which works out to almost US$45,000, according to this online currency exchange calculator:

MOC to USD 2 Jan 2019.jpg

Why would anybody want to pay 45,000 dollars for the rights to a virtual property that you can’t even visit yet, and won’t be able to for at least another year? 

Now, to cover their asses, the company does include this legal statement:

Notice: Mossland’s Moss Coin (MOC) is an in-game currency; it has no inherent value and should not be purchased for purposes of speculation, investment or profit.

As if people were not spending all this money on properties that they intended to flip for profit later. Another example of sheer greed overriding common sense. The problem is, who is going to buy these virtual properties? What can you do with them? NOTHING, from what I can tell. Sell advertising, as the company suggests above? Advertising requires visitors. Who is going to bother visiting these properties?!?? How are they going to visit them?? On their cellphones, as suggested by this promotional video? Why would they even bother???

Argh, this blockchain bullshit is driving me crazy.

Note that, since there is no indication that you can actually be social (i.e. interact with other avatars) in Mossland, I am not including this on my list of social VR/virtual worlds. Frankly, I should take Worldopoly off that list, for the same reason.