Decentraland Sets Up $5 Million Fund for Blockchain Gaming Initiatives

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A report from CCN (a cryptocurrency news website) says that Decentraland is setting up a five-million-dollar fund to support blockchain-based gaming projects:

Decentraland, a decentralized user-owned virtual world on the Ethereum blockchain, plans to invest $5 million to fund blockchain gaming projects built on the Decentraland platform. To this end, it created the Genesis Content Program, through which gaming developers can submit proposals for “blockchain games” and “interactive experiences” that can be built on Decentraland.

More information is available from this Medium post by Decentraland:

We’ve been thinking hard about blockchain games in Decentraland, and have identified several key characteristics that we think will have a big impact on how these games are built:

  • Small parcel footprints — Given the fact that LAND is scarce and that developers can only host their games on the LAND they control, the “play space” that each game may take up is limited. This means that as a developer, you will have to design your game to fit within the parcel boundaries of your LAND. Decentraland does provide the opportunity to build decentralized item or collectible based games, like trading card games, that can be accessed “remotely” from anywhere in Genesis City. However, even these games still require at least one LAND parcel to host and run the game.
  • Distributed ownership — Unlike traditional MMO games or VR platforms that are created and controlled by a single company, Decentraland is a shared, open source hub for user generated content. Because we want to encourage diversity in the games that are built for Decentraland, LAND developers (as in real life) must respect the property boundaries of others. However, Decentraland makes it possible to build distributed games that are hosted across multiple parcels.
  • Limited graphics — We are building Decentraland with a “web-first” approach, following Google’s lead in incentivizing a low-poly aesthetic. This will optimize the quality of the experience for as many users as possible without favoring any single device or binding Decentraland to any particular app store.

All funded projects must be built on Decentraland’s parcels of virtual land (called LAND), which can be purchased using the platform’s cryptocurrency MANA. This could, in theory, get quite expensive, as the minimum price for each 10m-by-10m parcel of LAND is currently 6,000 MANA each (which works out to US$443.48). I still think that Decentraland’s LAND is outrageously expensive, and that cost is going to severely constrain any game-building that takes place on that platform.

However, I am glad to see Decentraland putting its money where its mouth is, and finding ways to attract developers to its platform. I wish them every success.

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Worldopoly: Yet Another Blockchain-Based Virtual World

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(Image taken from the cover of the Worldopoly White Paper)
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(Screen capture of an artist’s representation of Worldopoly)

Worldopoly was mentioned today on the official Virtual Universe Discord server (here’s the original tweet), so I thought I’d check it out.

All the major buzzwords are present and accounted for…

  • Augmented reality? Check.
  • Artificial intelligence? Check.
  • Blockchain? Check.
  • DAG? DAG?!?? Why, Directed Acyclic Graph, of course! Check!

This hits all the buzzword buttons! I swear, the venture capitalists must have been lining up to fund this project!

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Here’s their promo video:

Worldopoly appears to be a geolocation-based game similar to Ingress or Pokémon Go. It’s based on real maps in real cities where you buy property, kind of like what Twinity used to have in the early days. In this “Meet the Team” video, the ideas behind Worldopoly are explained in more detail:

In this next video, Worldopoly is described by YouTuber and cryptocurrency promoter ActionChris as Pokémon Go, Clash of Clans, Fishbank, Cryptokitties, and SimCity all rolled into one:

Of course, there is an appeal to potential players’ greed, shilling virtual land as an investment and a money-making opportunity (just like Decentraland). One twist is that your enemies can fire-bomb the properties you own with a virtual Molotov cocktail! Of course, you can pay extra for “protection”. (rolls eyes)

I swear, the collision of so many buzzwords and so much hyperbole has the potential to create a black hole! According to this article, their initial coin offering (ICO) will end in July 2018, and Worldopoly will be available to download from the iTunes App Store and the Google Play store in November 2018.

Finally, here’s a demo of how you play the game on your mobile device (cellphone or tablet):

Frankly, the appeal of this game mystifies me. According to this last video, the developers are assuming that players are going to want to build virtual properties (and pay protection money!) in order to generate revenue from visitors…but why? Why bother? What’s the appeal? I just don’t get the concept. Maybe I’m missing something here, but to me, it just looks boring. Sorry, but I remain rather skeptical about this.

There’s already a Worldopoly app called the AirMiner that you can download for iPhone or Android, where you can collect Worldopoly tokens for later use in the game when it launches.

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When I loaded it onto my iPhone, it told me that two tokens were right nearby—in the local river! Sorry, but I’m not going swimming to retrieve them!

Sansar Pick of the Day: The Combat Zone

One of the wonderful things about Sansar are the collaborations which have sprung up as people work together on projects. One example of this is The Combat Zone, where Gindipple the programmer and Nya Alchemi the mesh content creator have worked together to create a fun, fast, first-person-shooter capture the flag game with a Desert Storm feel. HoverDerby now has some serious competition in the esports department!

When you arrive at The Combat Zone lobby, you face three entrances. Enter the door with the blue light above it and you are on the Blue team, and entering the opposite door with the red light above it puts you on the Red team.

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You can pick up a gun at your compound, and use that, or you can get a paintball gun attachment for your arm ahead of time from the Sansar Store for free (male or female models, which Nya Alchemi made). Note that you can play in desktop mode just as easily as you can in a VR headset. Instructions are on the signs in the lobby.

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Scoring is pretty simple. Hitting a target dummy with a paintball gets you one point, hitting an opposing team member gets you 2 points. If you hit your own teammate by accident, you lose a point. If you capture the other team’s flag, you win 30 points. The first team to accumulate 100 points wins the game.

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Solas has made T-shirts for both male and female avatars, for both the Red and Blue teams, which are also available for free on the Sansar Store.

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But Alfy has really gone all out, creating helmets, fatigue pants and shirts, vests, ammunition belts, and combat boots to make a complete outfit, for both Red and Blue teams, and both men and women! In the picture below, I am wearing the men’s complete Blue team outfit and Nya’s paintball gun attachment. All these items are free from the Sansar Store, just search for “paintball” to find Nya’s, Solas’s and Alfy’s items for The Combat Zone.

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If you’d rather watch the game than play, from The Combat Zone entrance lobby, take the elevator in the middle (with the camel) and you are teleported to the spectators’ viewpoint, an invisible floor high above the playing field that gives you a complete birds-eye view of the entire playing field and the scoreboard.

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Gindipple tells me that he has spent about four months working on the coding for The Combat Zone. For example, he can issue God commands that completely rearrange the random placement of the buildings and palm trees on the playing field, to make it more crowded or more sparse as required.

One great part of the game is the target dummies! They are randomly-appearing flat-panel Ebbe Altberg figures (in his now-trademark dreadlocks and rainbow T-shirt) which pop up now and again for you to target with your paint balls!

Here’s Gindipple himself posing in front of a camel in game. The top bar above his head indicates his team (blue); the second green bar indicates his level of health (100%). If your health goes down to zero, you die, so try your best to evade the paintballs from the other side!

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Games are usually scheduled at 7:00 p.m. Sansar Time/Pacific Time, and Gindipple tells me that he usually gets between 8 and 12 people showing up to play.

The Combat Zone is yet another potent argument against the “Sansar is pretty but there’s nothing to do” naysayers. With the dedicated work of scripters like Gindipple and designers like Nya Alchemi, the opportunities in Sansar are indeed almost endless, and limited only by the imaginations of the creators!