A few months ago I made a video showing you Decentraland, a project which aims to build a public metaverse in virtual reality, and in the meantime, things have been moving very rapidly.
The team has grown in size, and they are all now working on the project full time. Last week they released a whitepaper, which outlined their vision, and how they hope to achieve it.
Some fundamental aspects of the project have changed, so I wanted to make this update video.
OK, so to recap, Decentraland is a project which aims to create a decentralized public VR metaverse. It's kind of like a real world metaverse from Snow Crash, or the Oasis in Ready Player One.
The goal is to create a shared virtual world that the users own and run themselves. Add blockchain technologies into the mix, and users also can own a piece of digital land, where they can build whatever they want.
The project has been through a few different stages, first as a 2D land ownership concept, then a 3D world in the browser. They're now approaching the next milestone which will take it up a few more levels, incorporating chat, interaction, avatars, and a new land system.
The bronze age browser currently uses it's own blockchain, where land is mined, and then the contents of the land are distributed using torrents. This is changing for the next version.
The iron age version of Decentraland will introduce 2 digital assets, LAND and MANA.
LAND is the name for the non-fungible parcels of 100m2 land in which the world is divided, and MANA is a fixed supply ethereum token, which can both be burned to purchase LAND, as well as used for making in-world purchases on the platform.
The price for 1 parcel of LAND will be 1000 MANA.
Now, instead of having their own blockchain, this process will piggyback off the Ethereum network, and new MANA will be released at an 8% annual inflation rate using a smart contract.
At the beginning this will be overseen by a new Decentraland Foundation, but they tell me the goal is to transition to a Distributed Autonomous Organization. The community will have to keep the team honest in this goal, as we don't want centralized points of weakness.
Besides that, the team is also now exploring the integration of the Interplanetary File System, aka IPFS for distributing files, instead of just torrents.
Much of this is cutting edge technology, so some new ground will need to be broken to achieve these goals. The team does have a history of doing that though with past projects, so I'm excited to see all this new stuff put into action.
Another thing that's new is the project is now aiming to raise funds to support the long term development of the world. On Aug 8th, the team are launching a crypto-only crowdsale, where people can contribute Ethereum, Bitcoin and other altcoins in return for MANA tokens.
I must admit that I was a little ambivalent about the thought of a crypto crowdsale, mainly because there seems to be a lot of scammers involved with that sort of thing right now, but this model kind of makes more sense for Decentraland.
Open source projects in general often have problems with funding, and this might be a way to ensure that teams can keep working on open and free alternatives.
The team behind the Brave browser actually did something similar a few months ago, where they raised a bunch of money to fund their new advertising model, which rewards both users and content creators directly.
Similarly, people who help contribute to Decentraland's crowdsale will receive MANA tokens that can be used to buy the first plots of land on the platform.
There is alot more info about all that on their website if you're interested.
The project is still split into the 4 main milestones: stone age, bronze age - where it's at now, iron age, and silicon age.
After the crowdsale, there will be a Terraform event in Q3 this year for people to claim the first plots of LAND. Co-inciding with that will be the beta launch of the Iron Age, which will incorporate multiplayer support, avatars, and live chat.
The official Iron Age release is targeted at the end of 2017, and the final immersive Silicon Age is aiming at release sometime in 2018.
Some of the crowdsale funds will also be used to give grants to the community, so if you have a good proposal for new content or improvements, you can get paid for it.
It doesn't have to just be code contributions either. Artists, designers, futurists, and architects have all been sharing their ideas on the various aspects for how to build a new world from scratch. As an example, these pictures are part of a proposal for a transport system by architect and urban planner Priscila Coghlan.
Since the last video, the Slack channel has also blown up, now with over 650 people in there discussing the project, so I'd say that's probably the first port of call if you're interested in contributing.
I've been writing and speaking about these kind of ideas for a few years now, and it's very exciting to see Decentraland develop.
Make no mistake, there is an insane amount of work which still needs to be done, but I am glad that the team, and the community are taking a shot at it.
This is the future, and it's extremely important that we have a free and open platform available before the big corporations inevitably move in with their centralized alternatives.
Alright, thanks for watching, and let me know what you think. See you in the next video.