3rd Sparks Interview: Wu Xiao — World’s First Cloud-based IDE for Project Libra
Wu Xiao, the founder of White Matrix and his team launched the world’s first cloud-based IDE (Integrated Development Environment) to access Libra Move, in bid to support Facebook’s new programming language ‘Move’ for project Libra.
Wu Xiao is the developer of “Cell Evolution” (Champion DApp at Nebulas Incentive Program Season 1) and “Last Trip” on the Nebulas blockchain.
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He is a Computer Science graduate at the University of Alberta, Canada and an executive member and Director at the Branch of the China Computer Federation. His paper “An Interoperable Avatar Framework Across Multiple Games and Blockchains” was published during INFOCOM 2019, a prestigious Academic Conference on computer networks. He has also won the Game Creativity Award in the first NEO Game Development Competition.
Libra Represents the Ambition of Facebook
Q: Do you think Libra is different from other languages?
There has been no huge innovation after Ethereum’s Solidity language.
- EOS uses C++ with an additional 21 nodes.
- Tron copied Solidity and set 27 nodes with references to EOS.
Before this, no one had thought of creating a new language for blockchain development.
The fact that Facebook is willing to rebuild a language from its base indicates strongly that Facebook really wants to step into this field.
The ‘Move” language has some C language features, such as pointers and classes. Some of its instructions also include copy and move, which optimizes smart contracts for blockchains, allowing you to write recursive statements.
Q: If we only look at developing games on Libra, do you think it would be more convenient?
Facebook has the first-mover advantage by being the first acclaimed global central bank.
We can see that Libra’s ratings on Github have exceeded IBM Hyperledger’s three years of ratings in just one day.
It has the potential to reach more users and developers than all public chains combined. This is largely due to the strength of its behemoth network and being open source, which crowdsources the world’s intelligence by having developers help maintain and write codes for it. Our team also helped them fix several bugs and submitted them.
It will probably be faster than all the public blockchains we have now.
Facebook has world-leading technical capabilities, so in many aspects (i.e. underlying technology, ecology, etc.) Libra is going to easily surpass any other existing public blockchains. Comparatively, Ethereum has more than 10,000 nodes (vs Libra’s 100 over nodes), which makes it very decentralized but very slow. Previously, all of these had been done in a decentralized manner without a proper team working on it systematically. Hence, I think Facebook can make a much better blockchain than before.
More importantly, with its network it can bring in ordinary users.
Q: What exactly is Facebook’s goal in issuing Libra?
That’s what I think Facebook is ambitious about. The first batch of people to issue currency on Libra will certainly have an advantage.
The key is to stabilize users and gain traffic.
Previous developers are usually some early practitioners who make up 0.1% of the mainstream programmers. The people who were drawn in here this time are that 99.9%. They may have previously thought that blockchain was fraudulent or infeasible. This mindset may have changed with Facebook’s foray into blockchain.
With the influx of programmers, the sum of the whole will be greater than its parts.
Libra has relatively fewer but powerful nodes, the nodes themselves are big companies like Visa and Uber who provide complimentary servers and their intelligence. It can be said that what Facebook created has pushed the entire blockchain industry one step forward.
Q: As of now, what are you planning to do on Libra?
What we intend to do now is to unify IDEs in all areas of smart contracts. We believe that 99% of the chains will cease to exist in the future, and the majority of the developers will aggregate to the remaining 1%.
As long as we can access this 1% now, then everything that we have accumulated, and all our contracts and developers can be transferred over.
Most chains are willing to cooperate because we have traffic on Libra through ‘Move’. Thereafter, we should be creating access to user traffic, as well as debugging tools. We will also have some tutorials, such as how to write in ‘Move’, which we will teach through a game-based approach.
Blockchain Game Innovation
Q: Your team used to make games, but now you are slowly turning into a company that services developers, somewhat similar to SaaS?
We still make games, there will be three games released this year.
We make IDE because it is useful and saves time for developers. At present, there is no Libra smart contract in China at all. While in other countries, Facebook is too proud to support Windows environment.
Q: Why is the DNA being uploaded only after the death of the cells in Cell Evolution?
Cell Evolution is the first decentralized strategy and sandbox game application built on the blockchain.
In Cell Evolution, each player is a biological cell, which must balance adaptability, survivability, and fertility to grow and survive. The cell’s growth and data are dependent on the surrounding environment, including the evolution of other cells in the game, and is uploaded to the Nebulas blockchain accordingly. The destiny of the entire cell world is determined by the data of all players. If the balance of the cell population is disturbed, the entire ecosystem will be affected and fail to evolve. [Quoting Nebulas.io]
This is a social game, where some players are like Thanos, who just wants to blow up the world. Some players want to develop in a way that is as balanced as possible.
The same is true for the game ‘Last Trip’ that we developed. The game itself is like flipping through a book. You can flip forward or backward constantly. One of its innovations is that after you die, you can become a character in the book, and your story will be written in the book.
Imagine that the original book only has 300 pages, but after many players’ choices influence the plot, the book increasingly becomes very rich in content. This is the thought process of blockchain technology.
Q: Is the game logic difficult to be fully realized?
The game itself still needs polishing. However, the idea is relatively more innovative, compared to games with pre-designed plots.
We are emphasizing a social game where players can develop themselves. The game design does not entirely lie in the plot and media; but in how to build an open world, that reasonably allows everyone to participate, and come together to determine the path of the world and the content of the game.
I think these innovations are very important, for example, the concept of ‘constantly increasing’. I was also inspired by blockchain to continuously add content, which can also be linked to the content that follows.
Blockchain Breaks the Boundary Between Games
Q: Then is it possible to create this game without blockchain?
If you mean not using blockchain technology, then it is possible. However, one advantage of blockchain is that you can connect different games into common character data. You may have constructed a lot of buildings in one game, but it’s hard to use in other games because it’s a closed system. But in our game ‘Last Trip’, your character in TRON can be used to fight against other characters in Ethereum. It’s kind of like ‘Ready Player One’, which connects certain character attributes to public events.
Let’s think about whether some ecological logic behind the Internet is correct. Is a character in Tencent games possible to be shared with Netease, and vice-versa?
In ‘Ready Player One’, a small, motorcycle model in one planet can be taken out and converted into a carriage in another world. At this point, you will find that data connection, transparency, and mobility is very important. Tencent and Netease will never be able to do that.
Let’s assume we have two games, and I would like them to be connected. This can be done easily as long as you write a smart contract in the middle, which allows the items you get in one game to be retrieved in the other game, but with the same attributes.
However, I think that blockchain’s integration with games has not been fully discovered yet. It depends a lot on our imagination.
Maybe it’s because the infrastructure is insufficient, or because the scale of users is not large enough for more developers to focus on doing this.
Q: Many times, items or characters in the game must be placed in a specific scenario in order to maximize their value. That is to say, in the two cross-chain games, their backgrounds must be at least the same in the larger world. Yet, they have some very basic rules that are different. How do you resolve this problem?
Just as there are different rules in different galaxies in ‘Ready Player One’, there are unified rules for the different galaxies. You can imagine how interesting it is to do this in a single-player game. For example, in ‘The Legend of Sword and Fairy’, characters in the first-gen has no connection with the second-gen.
However, you’ll feel great and connected to the past ‘you’ if the same first-gen characters appeared in the second gen’s game. For example, saving the files of ‘The Legend of Sword and Fairy I’ and summoning the same characters with the same weapons in ‘The Legend of Sword and Fairy II’.
Q: Last question, why would you choose blockchain?
If the reason you step into the blockchain industry is just to make some quick bucks, there’s no need to come here. I think there must be some ambition in working on blockchains, such as building a big business, wanting to defeat one or two giants, wanting to bring more value to developers and so on.
I think one must at least possess some of these visions in order to be willing to work on blockchains.