The Decentraland Development Roadmap
Our vision for the next era of Decentraland
When we first started Decentraland, we made a plan that allowed us room to grow and learn as the project evolved. Decentraland comes from humble beginnings, but its vision remains vast.
The Stone and Bronze Ages
Decentraland began two years ago, in June of 2015, when we launched the Stone Age. It was proof of the concept of ownership of non-fungible tokens. It wasn’t very different from Namecoin, but instead of domain names, we created a 2D grid of pixels, each with metadata identifying the owner and describing pixel coloration. It ran exclusively on browsers, using a p2p network on top of WebRTC.
Upon mining a block, the user became the owner of one pixel at coordinates specified in the block template. Transactions allowed her to change the colors and transfer pixels to another user. It was a decentralized version of the million dollar webpage.
In the Bronze Age, released earlier this year, we set to create a 3D world based on a very similar blockchain. This time, Decentraland started from a clone of bcoin — full node implementation of Bitcoin. Instead of colors, the blockchain now stores a hash of the full content description, which is a serialization of the models and textures for that piece of land. This hash allows the viewer to fetch the content using the BitTorrent network via the Kademlia DHT.
We used the Unity engine, and implemented support for the HTC Vive. We now have a web demo you can try that works without a VR headset.
Next Step: The Iron Age
Ethereum, the world’s computer, provides a great foundation on top of which to build Decentraland. We are dropping proof-of-work mining, so that resources which would have been lost in electricity bills, will go toward funding the development of Decentraland.
A smart contract will track who owns each parcel in the virtual world. Commensurate with the Bronze Age, the owner of each land parcel can determine the content and behavior of that portion of the world, and programmatically transfer ownership of land to other individuals or smart contracts. The only constraint on what they can create is the limit of their imagination.
The Decentraland browser is to the blockchain smart contract, what Chrome or Safari are to the web. This browser is a VR-first app that allows users to visit other people’s tiles, interact with each other, and immerse themselves in this new world.
This is an ambitious milestone, which will include:
- A P2P network that allows users to interact with each other and the world. This is needed for text messaging, audio conversations, position, avatars, items, and other features.
- A micropayment system, as a core feature, creating an in-world economy. Most of the original team of Streamium, a pioneer on user-friendly cryptocurrency micropayments, is working on Decentraland.
- A land management interface that artists can use to create experiences for visitors without leaving the browser. While in-game, users will be able to develop, buy, rent, and sell virtual estate.
- A scripting language, designed with VR in mind, so landowners can program the experiences they want to offer other users.
This is the perfect time to launch the development of the Decentraland Iron Age. We have hit the sweet spot; empowered by recent advances in technologies like Ethereum, IPFS, and VR headsets, but still a couple of years behind mainstream adoption of these technologies, and a great team on board.
Our next blog post introduces the details of Decentraland cryptoeconomics.