Introducing Ethercraft: a decentralized RPG running on the Ethereum Blockchain
After countless hours and plenty of blood, sweat, and tears, we are proud to introduce Ethercraft: a decentralized RPG running on the Ethereum blockchain. Without further ado, here’s where we are and where we’re going with the project:
Update: We are live!
tl;dr: Our initial launch will consist of disseminating 60 unique items to players, many of which will be available completely free of charge, rolled out in waves of eight to ten items at a time over the following hours. Players will be able to purchase (or acquire for free) these items as soon as the client goes live which will be announced here on Medium and via social media (links below).
The game and its development can be divided into three main components:
- Items: Buying, selling, and trading.
- Crafting: Combining items according to a recipe, breaking items down into raw materials, building increasingly complex items from these materials, etc. Opening loot crates and rolling other chance items are also part of the crafting system.
- The playable video game: A core game loop consisting of equipping a character and sending him off to plunder dungeons and slay enemies.
Each of these three categories are discrete components which are being developed and deployed independently of one another. Players who wish to eschew the gameplay itself and stick to trading, collecting, and crafting will be able to do so at no disadvantage compared to those playing the main game.
Our core item system is complete. As mentioned above, our first step will be to release an initial set of items in waves, starting (hopefully) this evening and progressing gradually over the hours following the initial launch.
Players will be able to buy, sell, and trade items beginning immediately, as all of our items are independent tokens adhering to the ERC20 token standard. You are in complete control of your items.
Among our launch items is a series of loot crates, including one available completely free of charge, which act as chance items. Players will be able to open (roll) these loot crates, potentially receiving rare and valuable loot. The core logic for rolls is currently undergoing testing and is one of our top priorities—we aim to incorporate it into the crafting contract ASAP so that everyone can start rolling their loot crates in short order.
In-game gold, tentatively Gold Pieces (XGP), is an ERC20 token which will serve as part of the core of the Ethercraft game world and item system. Gold will have two core functions: Firstly, it will be used as an intermediary for everything involving ETH transfer. Let’s say you have an item that you no longer want but which isn’t in high demand on the secondary (player) market at the moment—no problem, just sell it back to the shop (NPC) contract for a modest sum of gold. Want to buy an item for sale by the shop? You’ll need gold for that. Did your hero emerge from the dungeon alive and even victorious? Oh, it looks like he brought back some gold pieces.
But why do you, as a player, want gold? Is the added immersion not enough for you? Then consider this: we won’t just be selling gold. Our smart contract will buy gold back from players at a fixed rate of ETH. This will be accomplished using funds raised through the sale of items so that the contract can always afford to purchase all outstanding gold at any given time.
The second core function of gold is a truly big one: governance. Gold Pieces will act as a governance token, giving anyone who holds Gold Pieces in their ETH wallet a set of votes in the decision making and upgrade processes of Ethercraft’s smart contracts. In other words, Gold Pieces give players the ability to determine which new items, locations, and features are added to the game, taking these changes out of the hands of the developers and enabling true decentralization. This is a major departure from the way a lot of other “game on the blockchain”-type projects are currently operating—in fact, most other projects in this space are nothing more than traditional client-server-style games that just happen to run on the EVM but are otherwise totally centralized in the hands of a few developers. This is something we feel sets us apart and is one of the features that we’re most excited about.
For launch purposes, we’ll be using ETH for item purchases—we don’t want people to be forced to gold pieces as an intermediary at this stage when it will be needlessly confusing. In the very near future, though—as part of one of our first contract updates—gold is going to replace ETH as the Ethercraft currency of choice.
For the purposes of the initial launch, we have three basic item types:
- Free items: Available at no charge, just pay shipping and handling (transaction fees). Limited to 1 item per transaction.
- Normal items: Fixed cost items with no quantity limit per transaction. Some of these are limited-run items and will be only be available for sale for around 48 hours. (Look for the seasonal items!)
- Enchanted items: Rare and valuable items, limited to 1 item per transaction and special in one key way:
Items also have in-game types and rarities, something which is currently implemented on the back-end but not yet displayed in the client. We will release more details on this in a future article. Our full starter set will be released in waves in the hours following the initial launch.
Crafting is currently undergoing development and testing. We aim to release the beta version of crafting as our first post-launch contract update. Another one of our top priorities post-launch will be enabling the opening of loot crates, which, on the tech side of things, is part of the crafting system.
(You are now breathing manually…)
The core game loop is intended to be simple, extensible, and scalable. Implementing a real, playable game on the blockchain is not an easy task, and we’re ultimately aiming for mainstream adoption. Our solution is something we feel is very elegant. The player will…
- Roll a new character, equipping that character with select items that they already own. The character and the chosen items are then held by the core game contract.
- Choose the character’s tactics, first on a per-dungeon basis and later* in a more fine-grained manner (see Tech section below).
- Enter a dungeon, watching as the character traverses floor by floor in an attempt to reach and conquer the unknown and (hopefully) emerge with a big pile of loot!
But if you die, you’re dead. That’s it. Your equipment? It’s gone, destined to rot away in the dungeon, never to be seen again… or is it? (See Tech.)
Tactics include things such as…
- Your stance: Is your character an aggressive fighter or a defensive fighter? Does he try to keep his distance or does he prefer to rush in close to enemies as quickly as possible?
- Doors: How will you treat locked doors without a key? Will you spend extra time on that level searching for a key? Will you kick them down, possibly triggering any traps that may be set?
- …and more. (What will you do when you’re low on food? Ascend the dungeon and attempt to get back to town? Try to find more? Attempt to cook and eat the corpse of a slain enemy?)
In this way, the core game loop is essentially a wager system involving with skill and planning components—you risk items using what you know for the potential reward of gold and glory.
This simple system is ideal for blockchain implementation and mobile adoption. We want Ethercraft to be fun, addictive, simple to play, and feasible to implement on the blockchain in such a way that does not negatively impact the user experience (in other words, with no lag or other unnecessary interruptions), and we believe our current system meets all of those requirements. Ultimately, we are aiming for mainstream adoption — our core design means that players can enjoy a good dungeon crawl on the blockchain with just a few taps of the mobile client while on a lunch break. The core game contract is in the early stages of development and will be released after key updates to the item and crafting contracts.
I’d love to go into detail about the pitfalls of RNG on the blockchain and our solution, or all of the myriad of things that need to be overcome including gas fees, confirmation times, or how we’ll be supporting third-party clients that can leverage our story generation algorithm in order to display the same back-end game to the player as an old-school Elder Scrolls-style 3D dungeon adventure, etc., but it’s time for me to get ready for launch. Stay tuned for an update in the near future on how we’re handling a lot of this behind the scenes!
Also stay tuned for our Getting Started guide for those of you who are not familiar with MetaMask, Cipher Browser (mobile), MEW, etc.