A spotlight on Smart/Dynamic NFTs
The universe is not static, so why should NFTs be?!
The technically correct definition is “dynamic NFTs” (dNFTs), however it may be tricky for people who confuse them with the NFTs whose contents are GIFs or animations. So, several brands and populisers use to call them “smart NFTs”, which takes advantage of a mainstream word nowadays.
So, whatever you call them smart or dynamic, what are these NFTs that make them different from the common, static (and maybe boring) NFTs you may be used to? Essentially they are open to changing, interactions, upgrades, transformations, and whatever, in response to specific inputs or conditions. Sounds like a game-changer, doesn’t it?
Now that we have your attention let’s question yourself why there are not so many NFTs like that around so far, why we are surrounded by lots of collections of cartoon animals done with procedural art? …if you don’t have an answer to this question it’s probably because you have not read our previous article …not yet. To make it brief, it requires a lot of work, technical knowledge and, basically, the willingness to offer something innovative, fun and …meaningful.
Okok, let’s keep it a bit more serious; NFTs are characterized by the immutability of their metadata, which are written into the blockchain at the moment of the mint. This could be useful in certain situations, however it may even represent a limitation in several other ones! To bypass this issue, dNFTs are linked to smart contracts. Now, smart contracts are essentially the custom rules that can be used on some chains(e.g. Ethereum and its layer1 competitors) to allow actions, interactions and applications based on the chain itself. Just to make a simple comparison, the chain is the operative system (as Windows or MacOS or Ubuntu), smart contracts are the software (as Chrome or PowerPoint or Paint) and the latter are written with a specific coding language (e.g. Solidity for EthereumVirtualMachine, Rust for Solana and NEAR Protocol). To trigger a change in a dNFT there could be on or off-chain events. The formers could be directly detected by smart contracts, while the latter take advantage of the oracles …another term that deserves a brief explanation. An oracle is not only the woman to whom Ancient Greek generals and heroes used to ask premonitions, but even some blockchains which have been built to bring information from the real-world (or more generically off-chain world) to feed smart contracts, and vice versa. Nowadays, the most popular, complete and promising oracle is ChainLink (LINK …yep, its coin is named like that, please stop clicking on it).
If you are a blockchain expert you’ll probably have no worries about which chain is usedfor creating your dNFTs (of course taking in mind that smart contracts may cause repetitive fee costs, then a chain with a low gas fee is strongly suggested). Instead, if you are more product-driven, or simply not practical with the blockchain technology, then you may be glad to know that, to facilitate and accelerate the implementation of dynamic NFTs in new products (e.g. videogame assets that change over time and in specific scenarios), some teams have developed optimized solutions.
Based on our research -please let us know if you think we know something we are missing-, there are two main projects that deserve to be known: phantasmachain and Altura-Team. Actually, we must mention that Cardano too allows the creation of smart NFTs, however Cardano has a super high entry threshold, named Plutus. As the scarring and pretentious name suggest, it is considered a very tough functional programming language, a pain in the neck, as testified by our developer Marco as well as other engineers and experts on the web (yep, it brings advantages as well, as security and stability, but trustable and reliable smart-contract can be written in any programming language). On the other hand, the previously mentioned Phantasma and Altura aim to facilitate the access to the smart NFT potential to whoever would like to build a product based on such a technology, without knowing how to properly manage it.
One of our first tweets -btw, you are following us on Twitter, aren’t you?!- was a poll about which is the favorite solution for Smart NFTs in the community we were able to reach. As you can see in the following screenshot, Phantasma demonstrated to have a very solid fanbase on Twitter, an advantage we have then appreciated in the next months. However, as far as we have seen, Altura is mostly active on Telegram.
Both of the projects have their own marketplace: Ghostmakert, per Phantasma, and the very new Altura Marketplace V2. Both of them support different chains for minting NFTs on their marketplaces, but while ALU by Altura is a BNB-based token, SOUL by Phantasma is a V1 chain. A point in favor of Altura is its programme “Altura Supercharge’’ in support of projects which aim to use its infrastructure to be developed, while Phantasma declares to have a similar programme named “PhantomForce”, on which however we have found less clear information about. In fact, even if Phantasma technology looks better to us (e.g. it allows us to write NFT metadata directly on the chain -cool!-, even if Ghostmarket allows 3 characteristics per NFT only, at the moment); on the other hand, we believe Altura has demonstrated to be better in communication and user experience. Both projects are still very early, and we are curious to see how they will grow!
And what about Flow? Flow is the elephant in the room: it has been built to provide a better NFT experience, and it has a much bigger total market cap compared to Phantasma and Altura at the moment. Flow is a project from the creators of CryptoKitties (one of the first and so far most successful NFT-based collectible games), who were unsatisfied with the lack of flexibility offered by Etherium for crafting NFTs, then they decided to build their own chain... The NBA league is for sure one of the main partnerships they have established, with huge transactions and value… So, what does Flow offer more than the other chains? Essentially it promises to be easy to be used to create NFT projects; in fact, their chain is based on Cadence, a resource-oriented programming language optimized for NFT smart contracts. However, it is still uncertain if this will be enough to drain creators and developers from other platforms and chains.
There is not an absolute winner, and we suggest you check and study by yourself all the available options before starting your adventure with dynamic NFTs. So, what about us, where will Snoobs be developed? So far we are writing and testing our own smart contracts while keeping studying the advantages brung by new projects.
So, stay tuned to discover how Snoobs will evolve, even because some NFTs for the very brave early supporters are coming soon, very soon!