Trusted trade-offs in blockchain gaming

In-game splashscreen for Nine Chronicles
An in-game screenshot of combat in 9C.

The setup of Nine Chronicles

Let me recap how the setup of Nine Chronicles (9C) actually went:

Why is such hassle necessary?

Going back to basics with blockchain technology, let’s remind ourselves of blockchain 101 and why the technology is desireable in the first place.

Infographic from the 9C team: decentralisation matters! (Source).

Why run a local copy of the chain?

You run a local copy of the chain in order to verify for yourself the data is correct, and therefore you don’t need to trust a third party service. For blockchain games such as 9c, this means you will be able to verify all actions of all players yourself. Moreover, as 9C runs on a dedicated chain there is no extraneous spam from some other popular DApp.

Why should you have to mine?

Well, I have to admit that it isn’t strictly necessary to perform mining in order to play the game. The mining function can be split from the rest of the game since it is a somewhat separate security concern. Ideally, there should be enough miners to keep the network decentralised. We need this in order to maintain censorship-resistance and hence prevent privileged entities from breaking the protocol. If this is broken then the game economics will break.

Why should I have the hassle of managing my own keys?

Not your keys, not your coins.

9C is built on Unity and will eventually be multi-platform with a light-client option (Image Source)

Trading trust for adoption

There is a way to accommodate both types of people: those who prefer minimal hassle, and those who prefer full decentralisation.

Don’t have to run a full node

The developers could run a full node on behalf of players who want such a service. Players would then download a version of the game that comes packaged with a light-client rather than a full node. This allow for mobile versions too. However, I think big complex games will probably still require a large download anyway.

Mining (or validation) isn’t strictly necessary

This was addressed above. It isn’t strictly necessary for all players perform mining (or validation for PoS networks).

Key management solutions

There are more and more solutions now for managing keys. Not just in browser extension wallets, but also in hardware devices and other offline devices. Perhaps the easiest is to use something like Portis: this should make on-boarding causal users easier. I’ve hard a look at their architecture and in theory it looks like players will remain in control of their keys, although some trust is required here.

Accommodating both types of players

Rapid adoption with a low barrier to entry will allow more players to join this new wave of decentralised gaming, and with some luck they will be encourage to go the full hog: to be the master of their own assets and the verifiers of all the data!

Why did I write this?

I’m advocate for fully decentralised gaming, like the 9C developers, and I would prefer that the few sensible heads in blockchain gaming can come together to promote the benefits of the technology. I think we need to get away from the notion that trading NFTs is (1) gaming, and (2) blockchain gaming.

It isn’t.

Games, first and foremost, need to be fun. Beyond that, players should be sovereign and must be allowed to own the assets that they work hard to obtain. Only blockchain technology can make that a reality, and that’s a future worth fighting for!

About Nine Chronicles

(Source)

About me

Currently, I work at the Web3 Foundation (mainly running the grants program). This blog is of a personal nature. It just so happens that my hobby aligns with work.

Questions / Comments?

You can create a reply to me here on Medium, or reach out to me on Twitter: @EAThomson.

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