UPDATED! Decentraland Announces a Content Creation Hackathon with Prizes Worth US$275,000

We are getting ever closer to the open public beta of Decentraland (DCL for short), and I am among the many people who have already set up avatars and are eagerly awaiting their invitations to enter and explore this new blockchain-based virtual world.

And to encourage developers and artists to create interactive content and interesting places to visit, Decentraland is hosting a two-week hackathon starting September 2nd, 2019, with a chance to win a share of 2,500,000 MANA tokens and 200 LAND parcels worth an estimated US$275,000 in total:

Get your creative juices flowing for two weeks of intense online competition to produce interactive content that will form part of Decentraland – a virtual world powered by the Ethereum blockchain and owned by its users. You’ll submit your most creative interactive scenes, whether it be a multiplayer game, interactive art installation or a virtual shop. The only boundaries are the limits of your imagination…

You don’t need to be fully versed in the theory and mechanics of blockchain or own LAND to participate, just have a healthy dose of the creative spirit. Your work will be assessed and prizes awarded by a judging panel comprising Decentraland staff, community members and gaming industry figures…

You can either work on your own or in a team, it’s up to you. A team submission will be counted as a single entry. Once you’ve created your scene using the Decentraland SDK, simply share an interactive preview of it. If you create something great our team or other LANDowners will be able to upload your scene into the world. Plus, 200 LANDs will be given out as rewards to the top participants.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am choosing to participate in the Ambassador program for the upcoming Decentraland SDK Hackathon. Why? Two reasons:

  1. I want to be an embedded reporter as Decentraland moves from closed alpha to open beta to full launch. I want to be present to see what happens and how it all rolls out. reporting on both the good news and the bad news as it happens.
  2. To do that, I will likely need some money in my purse. As I do not wish to buy MANA on the cryptocurrency markets, an alternative is to take part in sponsorship events such as the Ambassador program. For every person who registers to enter the Decentraland SDK Hackathon using this link AND submits a qualified scene, I will receive 1,000 MANA (currently worth about US$41). They will in turn get 200 MANA (about US$8.23) for using my referral link. I will not be cashing out any MANA from the platform; I will only be using it in Decentraland as in-world currency (similar to how I use Linden dollars in Second Life).

I want you to know this right up front: this blogpost is a promotion for the Decentraland SDK Hackathon, in exchange for MANA.  You can use my referral link (located above or at the very end of this blogpost), or use anybody else’s if you wish to award that bounty to someone else.

VERY IMPORTANT: Decentraland has two digital assets called LAND and MANA. LAND are the non-fungible, transferable, scarce parcels into which the virtual world is divided (each of which a digital asset stored in an Ethereum smart contract). MANA is a utility token which is redeemed for LAND during Decentraland’s virtual land parcel auctions. It’s is also intended to serve as an in-world currency that players can exchange for goods and services within the platform. For more information, please read the DCL white paper and this 2019 project update. I very strongly urge any investor to do every single scrap of their homework before investing in ANY cryptocurrency.

You can follow Decentraland via Twitter and Reddit, or via their blogYou can also join their official Discord server. To read everything I have written about Decentraland to date (including this one), here is a link to all my blogposts tagged “Decentraland”. I will freely admit that I have been skeptical in writing about this project in the past; however, it looks like Decentraland will indeed be among the first blockchain-based virtual worlds to have a successful product launch. I have had opinions about virtual world projects that I thought would fail, but thrived (Cryptovoxels), and opinions about other virtual world projects that I though would never fail, but died (Virtual Universe), so what do I know? Decentraland, despite all my skepticism, could prove to be a thundering success. We’re all going to find out what happens!

To register for the Decentraland SDK Hackathon, please click here.

Image from the Decentraland website

UPDATE July 29th: The Hackathon is now starting on Sept. 16th instead of Sept. 2nd, and running until Sept. 30th.


UPDATED! Decentraland Avatar Creation: How to Get a Custom Avatar Name for Free

Early this morning, I received an invitation in my email inbox to create my own custom avatar to use in the blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland when it launches. Today marked the official launch of the avatar creation program.

Note that Decentraland (DCL for short) was originally supposed to launch in open beta at the end of June, but that has been pushed back. Instead, DCL is going to invite groups of users in successive waves over the next month in a closed beta test, before opening the doors to the general public. Creating your avatar is the first step to setting foot in-world (once you are invited into the closed beta).

Here’s a brief new promotional video from Decentraland, showing off the different ways you can style and animate your avatars:

You can start the avatar creation process at this page. The avatar creation module is pretty straight-forward, and in no time at all you can customize an avatar to your desire. You have a choice of a male or a female avatar (sorry, no non-human avatars yet):

But there’s a catch. You can style your avatar as you like, but if you want to pick a name for your avatar (other than “Guest”), well, that’s going to cost you:

The fee is 100 MANA, which is the name of Decentraland’s in-world cryptocurrency. According to this cryptocurrency exchange calculator, that works out to US$5.10 at the moment. Not to mention the hassle of actually having to set up a cryptocurrency wallet and buying MANA, which I really don’t want to deal with right now.

However, according to the official blogpost of the announcement:

It usually costs 100 MANA to claim a name, but for the first 1,000 people claiming a name with cryptocurrency wallet, Trust Wallet, it’s completely free. What’s more, Trust Wallet and exchange partner Binance will stump up the gas fee.

Hey, free works for me! So, I downloaded the free Trust Wallet app onto my iPhone and set it up. Only to get hopelessly lost about how to actually connect the mobile-based Trust Wallet to use with the Decentraland avatar creation website on my desktop computer. It turns out that’s not possible (D’oh!).

Finally, I tried using the built-in web browser in the Trust Wallet app on my iPhone, but I only got as far as being able to select a name. The CLAIM NAME button at the bottom of my screen was still greyed out and unresponsive:

So, for a while confusion reigned on the official Decentraland Discord server as various people tried to troubleshoot my problem (thank you to everyone who offered suggestions!). Nobody seemed to know exactly how this promotion with the Trust Wallet works. Shouldn’t DCL have all this figured out before making the official announcement? Just sayin’.

Eventually, however, I was connected with someone from Decentraland who walked me through the process, step-by-step, through claiming my 100 MANA (a step they neglected to tell anyone about!), and then claiming my custom avatar name, all done using the web browser built in to the Trust Wallet app on my iPhone.

And finally, I got an email confirmation:

And checking my account, I now see:

Yay! Success! But it should not be this complicated. If a geek like me is having trouble with something as simple as setting up a username, you can imagine how confused the average Joe consumer is going to be. Hopefully, the team at Decentraland are rewriting their communications on the Trust Wallet offer, and providing STEP-BY-STEP instructions for other clueless cryptocurrency newbies.

Frankly, I think charging cryptocurrency for a custom avatar name is a significant stumbling block for many potential Decentraland users. I can understand needing to charge for land and goods and services, but something like a user name should be free to set up. DCL is setting itself apart from most of the competition in charging for a custom avatar name. I can only think of a few virtual worlds (IMVU, Twinity) that use this model. None of the major social VR platforms and virtual worlds charge you a fee to choose an avatar name. Decentraland might want to carefully re-think this policy.

UPDATE 2:50 p.m.: The following message was posted to the official Decentraland Discord server by toonpunk:

Anybody having issues with Trust wallet not being free please visit this link and it will work – https://claim.decentraland.org/ thanks.

You will need to visit this website in the built-in browser in the Trust Wallet app on your mobile device, then visit the avatar creation page.

UPDATE July 9th, 2019: Wow, that was fast! Toonpunk announced this morning on the official Decentraland Discord server that all 1,000 offers to create a custom avatar name for free are now completely used up. So it will now cost you 100 MANA to create a DCL username. Here’s a list of markets where you can buy MANA.

Decentraland’s Second Land Auction Has Started

Decentraland 14 Feb 2018

Decentraland has announced that the unsold plots of land left over from their first auction are now up for grabs to the highest bidder, between now and Christmas. The virtual parcels of land are 10 metres by 10 metres square, and called, simply, LAND. In the past, prices for LAND have gone as high as US$120,000 each in frenzied bidding wars, the prices being driven up by eager cryptocurrency speculators hoping to make a profit.

In an announcement posted on Dec. 10th, the company states:

The LAND Auction will run until Sunday, December 25th, 2018.

Ever since the first LAND Auction last December, people have been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to claim some of the unsold, unowned LAND remaining in Genesis City. Even with the 34,356 parcels sold last year, there are still over 9,000 up for grabs!

We are extremely excited to kick off this next auction, and want to thank the entire Decentraland community for your continued support and enthusiasm. This is an exciting next step for the platform, and we look forwarding to building something incredible, together.

For additional details, and answers to some of the common questions we’ve received, keep reading!

Where do I access the auction?

The auction will be held right in the Decentraland Marketplace, at market.decentraland.org/auction. It’s also easy to access the auction through our partner’s mobile dApp browsers, like StatusimToken, and Trust!

How do I participate?

Simply create a wallet with MetaMask, Mist, or use a Trezor hard wallet, and ensure that you have sufficient funds in either MANA or one of our partner project’s ERC20 tokens.

You can also use a variety of mobile wallets, like Coinbase WalletTrust Wallet, and imToken!

We have two video tutorials showing how to log in, manage your tokens, select the parcels you want to buy, and complete your transaction! Check them out here:

Can I bid for multiple parcels at once?

Yes! In fact, the second auction is a wonderful opportunity to secure an estate, or expand your current holdings to include some of the adjacent unowned space.

Contiguous estates make it possible to host larger, more complicated scenes and experiences. You will be able to purchase up to 20 parcels per transaction.

When will I receive the parcels I buy in the auction?

Once the transaction for your purchase has been processed, you will receive your LAND immediately. The transaction must still be mined by the Ethereum network which may take several minutes, as with any normal LAND transfer on the Decentraland Marketplace.

Virtual land will be sold in the fashion of a Dutch auction:

How is the price for each parcel determined?

We are using a Dutch auction, in which all available parcels are started at the same price of 200,000 MANA. This price is continuously and progressively lowered, until a final price of 1,000 MANA is reached on the last day of the auction. You can read more about how the price is set, and the rate at which it’s lowered in this blogpost.

Only two days into the auction, there’s still lots of LAND available to bid on, as prices are still pretty high (currently, 48,479 MANA each, which works out to US$2,613). Bids can be placed using Decentraland’s own cryptocurrency, MANA, or any of the following ERC20-compliant tokens:

  • Maker (MKR)
  • Dai (DAI)
  • Binance Coin (BNB)
  • Kyber Network (KNC)
  • Zilliqa (ZIL)
  • Riplo Credit Network (RCN)
  • Aelf (ELF)
  • Status (SNT)

(Don’t ask me to explain any of this to you; it’s all just gobblegook acronyms to me!)

As I have warned before, do all your homework before investing a single cent in any cryptocurrency and any blockchain-based virtual world. Caveat Emptor!