Blockchain ecosystem and digital assets is the value based economic direction
The discussion on blockchain and digital currency has extended from technology to fields like economy, society, and politics since 2009. An increasing attention has been paid to the impact of blockchain on the social development and the role of digital currency in worldwide economic activities. Considering the bottlenecks in global science and technology, and rising resource consumption, an aging population and intensified geopolitical conflicts, the government-led production organization is subject to change in some regions or industries, and the monetary system may also correspondingly shift from “government – paper currency” to “non-governmental productivity organizers – a variety consensus on currency”. We believe that the blockchain- and economic system-based decentralized social form is the product of changes in production order within some people, industries and regions. Therefore, the existence of blockchain ecosystem and digital currency has a value base.
Digital assets have more vitality than traditional physical assets on blockchain. In the digital economy, human is the absolute dominance of productivity. The production, use and distribution of digital assets are closed-loop on blockchain with low dependence on centralized-resource occupiers. On the other hand, the decentralized digital content can survive on single or multiple blockchain ecosystems, be publicly and fairly priced, and become “digital assets” with independent property rights, deriving new business models. Game remains the most mature with the highest degree of commercialization of production mode among various decentralized applications; it is one of the scenarios that enjoys the greatest popularity among developers and users. With this in mind, Cocos-BCX conducts R&D to solve problems in blockchain gaming leading the first wave.
1. Fungible token as a settlement measure of in-game economy
At this stage, digital assets serve as a settlement measure of in-game economy, and Ethereum ERC-20 outstands as a homogeneous assets standard.
It is well-known in present blockchain projects, and lots of homogeneous assets are deployed using it. Digital assets issued under ERC-20 are more compatible, easily exchanged, and perform the functions on dApps. ERC-20 assets are fully controlled by the user, can be traced from any address and one can easily see the quantity in circulation. Besides, these assets can be utilized in different projects and platforms, and easily located by Ethereum’s native blockchain explorer. Hence, blockchain technology mainly solves the following problems:
• Transparent circulation and production of in-game currencies
• Transfer and conversion of in-game currencies across games
• Conversions of in-game currencies settlement into various cryptocurrencies
Example at this stage:
Candy Shooter and Candy game platform
Candy Shooter is a shooting game in Candy.One, similar to Raiden which was released many years ago. Candy is collected as in-game tokens. Users pay 100 Candy tokens to start a game, and control the shooter to score points by destroying “enemies” without getting shot. By defeating the boss at the end of each stage, user can get more Candy tokens as a reward.
A game ends when a player clears all the stages or his/her shooter crashes. The game points, together with other homogeneous assets are converted into Candy tokens at a certain ratio by the settlement system. These homogeneous assets, including Candy tokens, can also be circulated around Big. One and other digital assets platforms, and meanwhile applied to respective scenarios.
At this stage, all the digital assets are homogeneous as a settlement measure of game results, a combined result of scores and tokens.
2. Exchange and inter-conversion of game currencies and props
ERC20 can only be used to release fungible tokens to represent various fungible items. It determines whether identical/ similar items or quantities can completely be swapped for transfer or usage. Therefore, the project asset is solely a single-valued medium, such as a security, score and digital asset.
However, the truth is that any people, things or items with unique attributes are non-fungible, and their value cannot be measured by a fungible token despite that they can be replaced by any digital assets. Hence, Ethereum’s improvement proposal (EIP) introduces Non-fungible Token Standard ERC-721. BCX-NHAS-1808 is a non-homogeneous digital asset standard in COCOS, and it is applied to decentralized distributed ledger network. Non-homogeneous digital assets are transferrable, of which the value is determined by assets uniqueness and scarcity, such as equipment, props and high-level user accounts.
The popular game Cryptokitties was an example of non-homogeneous digital assets standard. In this game, kitties are unique and indivisible creature rather than homogeneous currencies, and have their own labels, price and other rare characteristics. That is to say, any special game props or any item with certain collection value can be matched with an asset to show its identity. To some extent, non-homogeneous digital assets are unique, inseparable and indivisible.
At this stage, the objects - such as props, equipment and user accounts – are all measured by non-homogeneous digital assets, and all generalized asset circulation is settled in the form of homogeneous and non-homogeneous digital assets, including but not limited to prop transfer, assets circulation and prop drop-off. Specific game content, such as MOD can even be issued and circulated as digital assets.
The unified standard provides a basic value system for game circulation around the blockchain, and players can transfer from one type of game assets to another through homogeneous and non-homogeneous digital assets. Compared with the first phase, props are recorded as the only non-homogeneous identification on the blockchain in this phase. Props, tokens and transactions are transparent, although production algorithms are still in a black box and fixed. Yet, operation rules are executed out of the chain. Cocos-BCX has displayed all the features in this phase, and is trying to find solutions in the next phase.
3. Key game algorithms on blockchain
In this phase, the basic setting and key algorithms of on-chain games will be written into blocks and witnessed in the form of contract or other easy-to-publicize way to ensure fairness and transparency. For example, the value logic of gashapon, including props occurrence probability, enemies in the RPG game, treasure box drop-off and cards dealing is executed on blockchains to assure open, transparent and immutable rules and fairness, and meanwhile improving user experience and confidence.
This feature lifts players’ concern over game fraud, improves game confidence and involves more participation, which contribute to the construction and development of game community.
Contract operation and witness are time-consuming. Take the loading of treasure box in SLG game as an example, it can be summarized as:
(1) All the treasure boxes are generated in the contract at one time once upon the loading.
In this mode, contract is executed under light loads upon the loading of the scene without later consumption except for the acquisition of record props. The response is fast and users can enjoy the a smooth interactive experience. However, it lacks flexibility, universality when the item generated is highly derivative to the contextual variables of the scenes.
(2) Contract operation at every time a treasure box is opened
In this mode, contract is executed at every time a treasure box is opened, and production logic of props is calculated. It imposes a heavy load on the blockchain but offers greater flexibility on the item generation and quicker response to the contextual variables of the scenes.
At this stage, lots of rules and data have been executed on blockchain gaming, and increased users will build up pressure on chain network. Before any breakthrough, technology of this stage can only be applied to games with Cool-Down Time. The trade-off of decentralization and performance remains to be the bottleneck before any fundamental technology breakthrough, such as high-caliber consensus mechanism and contract virtual machine. Technologies, such as the DAG with low latency may be the potential breakthrough, but it is still far from the ultimate solution.
4. Whole games on blockchain
Whole game on blockchain is the ultimate industrial phase: all the game logic codes are executed on blockchain, carried and stored by decentralized distributed network, and games themselves become contracts. Reliable, effective integrated operating environment with low latency and light blockchain nodes are necessary for this stage, though now there is no finial technical solution at this moment.
Cryptokitties is designed to run the whole games on blockchain, while limited by data interaction and content carrying due to the throughput of the Ethereum network, Finally, it adopts the strategy - data exchange on blockchain and game operation out of blockchain - key game algorithms on blockchains at the previous stage.
Cocos-BCX aims to provide a full set of solutions at the next stage, including:
- Light, full blockchain nodes hosted on users’ devices.
- Servicing stacks operating in blockchain environments.
- Game engine as one of the infrastructures of the nodes.
- A development/ debugging environment consisting of an engine, visualized IDE, and blockchain interoperable interfaces.
- A trustable engine environment ensured by asynchronous consensus between nodes, which may be differentiated based on the characteristics of object code of key engine function.
- Code/ contract execution in trusted virtual machines controlled by the engine. Key numeric computation of the contract executed in a trusted compartmentalized environment.
- Key process of contracts consensually witnessed by adjacent nodes or relevant nodes (like players in the same copy).