After much anticipation, video tutorial series, guest blog posts and a global SDK bootcamp, the 2019 Decentraland Game Jam has finally kicked off. Over 2000 digital creators are currently flooding into the Metaverse for two weeks (Sept 16–30) of intense creative development and collaboration, competing for over $250k USD in prizes. Their efforts will form a lasting contribution to the evolution of Decentraland.
The Decentraland SDK Game Jam runs from Sept. 16th to 30th, 2019! This is a content creation contest for the blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland, where you have an opportunity to win a share of 2,500,000 MANA cryptocurrency tokens and 200 LAND virtual land parcels, prizes worth an estimated US$275,000 in total value.
Even better, Decentraland has announced that they will be running SDK workshops, both online (via Twitch) and in various physical locations around the world, from Sept. 8th to 15th, 2019! Attend a workshop and improve your building skills before the contest starts!
Sessions will be held in three languages: English, Spanish and Chinese (Mandarin). I do not speak Spanish or Mandarin and I used Google Translate to translate from English. Las sesiones se realizarán en tres idiomas: inglés, español y chino (mandarín). No hablo español ni mandarín y utilicé Google Translate para traducir del inglés. 会议将以三种语言进行：英语，西班牙语和中文（普通话）。我不会说西班牙语或普通话，我使用谷歌翻译来翻译英语。
Here are all the details (please note that all times listed for real-life physical locations are local times; please use a tool like the Time Zone Converter to see what time these events take place in your time zone). All times for Twitch streams are given in Eastern Standard Time (EST). Here is the Twitch channel: https://twitch.tv/decentraland
Sunday, Sept. 8th, 2:00–6:00 p.m. Guangzhou Time – Guangzhou University (Guangzhou, China) Roy from our Chinese community will deliver a 30-minute presentation on Decentraland, followed by an SDK Workshop by Stephen Zhou, winner of our June Hackathon. (in Mandarin). 来自我们华人社区的Roy将在Decentraland上发表一个30分钟的演讲，接着是我们六月黑客马拉松的获胜者Stephen Zhou的SDK研讨会。 More details at: https://www.meetup.com/TheMetaverse/events/264024907/
Monday, Sept. 9th, 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time – Online (Twitch). Nico Earnshaw from Decentraland HQ presents 101: Decentraland SDK Workshop. (in English)
Tuesday, Sept. 10th, 6:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time – Online (Twitch). Interweaver from the Decentraland community presents Building Blocks – Decentraland SDK Workshop. (in English)
Tuesday, Sept. 10th, 7:00–10:00 p.m. Shanghai Time – Neutrino Coworking Space (Shanghai, China). Roy from our Chinese community will deliver a 30-minute presentation on Decentraland, followed by an SDK Workshop by Stephen Zhou, winner of our June Hackathon. 来自我们华人社区的Roy将在Decentraland上发表一个30分钟的演讲，接着是我们六月黑客马拉松的获胜者Stephen Zhou的SDK研讨会。 (in Mandarin)
Wednesday, Sept. 11th, 7:00–10:00 p.m. Shanghai Time – Neutrino Coworking Space (Shanghai, China). Roy from our Chinese community will deliver a 30-minute presentation on Decentraland, followed by an SDK Workshop by Stephen Zhou, winner of our June Hackathon. 来自我们华人社区的Roy将在Decentraland上发表一个30分钟的演讲，接着是我们六月黑客马拉松的获胜者Stephen Zhou的SDK研讨会。 (in Mandarin)
Wednesday, Sept. 11th, 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time – Online (Twitch). Carl Fravel, the District Leader for Aetheria and The Decentraland Conference Centre, presents From Builder to SDK: A No-Frills Art Pipeline Decentraland SDK Workshop (in English).
Friday, Sept. 13th, 6:30–10:00 p.m. Kuala Lumpur Time – Komune Coworking Space (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). Tak, a winner of our June Hackathon, will deliver a 30-minute presentation on Decentraland at the Blockchain Gaming Meetup, followed by a Decentraland SDK Workshop (in English).
Friday, Sept. 13th, 11:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time – Online (Twitch). Spidymonkey from the Decentraland community presents a Decentraland SDK Workshop (in English).
Saturday, Sept. 14th, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Kuala Lumpur Time – Asia Pacific University of Innovation & Technology (APU) (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). Tak, a winner of our June Hackathon, will deliver a 30-minute presentation on Decentraland, followed by a Decentraland SDK Workshop (in English).
Sunday, Sept. 15th, 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time – Online (Twitch). Nico Earnshaw from Decentraland HQ presents 101: Decentraland SDK Workshop. Nico Earnshaw de Decentraland HQ presenta 101: Taller de SDK de Decentraland. (in Spanish)
The first of Decentraland’s World Explorers – 200 pioneers including district leaders, moderators and content creators – have been sharing their first impressions. In short, they’re loving their time in Decentraland.
While we continue working to fix performance, iron out bugs and stability issues, we’re letting in 50 more people a week, with a goal to increase this to 2000 weekly active users by the end of September. By this time, we hope to have the user-facing features in place that will make World Explorer the complete experience – like being able to create and edit your Avatars inside the client, wear NFT items from your inventory and crucially – so you know where you are in the world – access a navigation map.
Unfortunately, it would appear that the open public beta has been pushed back until October 2019 at the earliest:
As we round into Q4, we’ll be ready to open World Explorer to the entire community. Once we’re satisfied with the stability, scalability and performance, we’ll then turn our attention to the fun and social sides of the experience. Users will: – Get proper on-boarding – Experience better content – Express themselves with Avatar animations – Travel to popular and trending places thanks to an advanced World Map; and – Enjoy a set of social features
While the delays are disappointing, I can understand why they are necessary. Decentraland is up and running, but in my opinion it still needs a lot of work and polish before they can open the doors to everybody! If you missed the photos and videos from my first in-world tour, you can see them here. It looks as though thousands of eager DCL investors are going to have to rely on second-hand reports for at least the next couple of months.
In addition to my blogging about Decentraland, the platform is also capably covered by the dedicated blogs DCL Blogger and DCL Plazas. Matty from the DCL Blogger (another one of the first 200 allowed in) has even posted a couple of videos of his visits to Decentraland:
As you can see from Matty’s videos, there is still a lot of empty space in Decentraland. Hopefully, that will start to fill up as more people deploy their creations! There should be some interesting contributions as a result of the upcoming Decentraland SDK Hackathon. There’s still time to enter the contest, and you could win MANA (DCL’s cryptocurrency) and LAND (DCL’s 16 m by 16 m square plots of virtual land) as prizes.
And I will continue to report on developments as the project moves forward. Stay tuned!
Early Friday evening (after some helpful technical troubleshooting from Sam Hamilton, a.k.a. toonpunk) I was among the first wave of visitors to finally—finally—set foot in the blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland! I spent a good couple of hours exploring, and I wanted to share my first impressions, as well as some pictures and videos, since I know so many of you have been eagerly awaiting your own invitations!
Decentraland (DCL for short) is slowly letting in successive waves of beta testers in a closed beta test period that will last for several weeks, until most of the initial bugs are identified and fixed. After that, there will be an open beta (probably around the time of, or shortly after, the Decentraland SDK Hackathon running September 16th to the 30th).
One bug which I encountered right away was that my initial spawn point was in a river, and no matter what I did, I could not climb the riverbanks onto dry land! However, my official welcome email from toonpunk contained a helpful list of suggested starting places for exploration. (In addition to walking from place to place, DCL has thankfully implemented a teleport feature to take you anywhere within Genesis City, which is the name of their grid.) So I just teleported out of where I was stuck.
The first spot I visited, the Archery Casino, is an in-world game where you you are automatically equipped with a bow (which you can see in the lower part of the image below), and you can purchase arrows for MANA (DCL’s in-world cryptocurrency). Ten arrows cost 10 MANA (approx. US$0.40).
Immediately adjacent to the vending machine where you buy your arrows is a fenced-off area with rabbits and boars leaping around, presumably for you to hunt! Here’s a short video to give you an idea:
One of the boars seems to be just sliding along the ground rather than leaping like the other animals, but that’s a pretty minor animation bug.
When you teleport from place to place, there is a 10-to-20 second loading screen while you wait for the scene to load. You move your avatar around using the WASD or arrow keys, and you can move your camera around using the mouse. For now, you are stuck in a first-person viewpoint, so you cannot see your own avatar (although you can see other avatars in the same space as you). Here’s an example of what a group of avatars looks like in-world (this shot was taken by toonpunk):
Another suggested starting point, called Dapperland, appears to be a collection of monolithic articles of clothing. I’m not sure if these are meant to be display models for gear you can purchase, or perhaps some sort of art installation?
As you can see from the following video, there are already animated characters in some parcels, like this creature patrolling a dark castle interior (when you get too close, he stops and raises his sword):
Even with the low-poly restrictions placed upon content, people have already created some engaging scenes, like this shark swimming along the seafloor:
But there’s also some higher-poly mesh items here and there, too:
And there are rudimentary particle effects, like the rain from this cloud and the smoke from this fire:
As is to be expected for a brand-new virtual world, there is still a lot of empty space that needs to be filled in between the parcels with content:
There’s a definite sense of charm and whimsy about many of the parcels. For example, it’s obvious that someone put a lot of design and coding effort into this game, called Chipassic Park (another suggested starting point):
There’s already some wonderfully landscaped and decorated plazas, such as this one, which blew me away with its oriental aesthetic:
So, what do I think overall? Well, I will say this: Decentraland does have potential. There’s a certain charming, Minecraftesque visual appeal to the low-poly construction I see happening all over Genesis City. I suspect that DCL will prove somewhat popular with tourists who want to wander around and look at the sights.
But I do wonder if some of the early crypto investors who piled on during the MANA ICO (Initial Coin Offering) and the two LAND auctions are going to feel bitterly disappointed. What we’ve got at launch is not quite what was presented as possible during this two-year-old promotional video, which inflated expectations among investors:
Many people had such high expectations going into this project that it was inevitable that some would now feel that they’re not getting what was originally promised. For example, some investors had expected Decentraland to support users in virtual reality headsets, as depicted at the start of this video. That’s clearly not going to happen anytime soon. Others had expected much higher-resolution and more realistic-looking environments. I could go on and on.
But I would caution that it’s still early days—extremely early days. People need to understand that Decentraland has had to create some sort of foundation, off of which they can build new features in the future. They have to start somewhere, and they chose to start here.