GamerToken Tech: Sidechains
Scalability? Sidechains? Here’s how GamerToken is helping games adopt a seamless blockchain experience.
One of the key structures within the GamerToken ecosystem is our sidechain technology, which will be used to facilitate some of the features we intend to support. This Medium blog will provide an introduction to the system and the background information that lead to the decision to implement it.
Why use a Sidechain?
The choice to use Ethereum as a base was a simple matter of possibilities, safety and the already huge acceptance of Ethereum worldwide. However, there were some problems that we faced that required us to develop solutions so that the blockchain and gaming worlds could be connected in the way we intended.
While Ethereum and its current transaction speed is fine for buying a house, purchase a piece of land, or to check if you still have health insurance; the gaming industry faces some different technical challenges. One of these is the need for a large amount of transactions, high transactional speed and throughput.
Another problem which we faced is the speed that some games required for almost immediate answers to certain transactions. We were required to guarantee a callback within a fraction of time that the Ethereum mainnet currently provides.
Lastly, transactional fees (known in the Ethereum network as ‘gas’ fees) are always a topic that need to be addressed, as those could become critical with the huge amount of transactions ongoing within a typical game. Therefore, the architects behind the GamerToken project decided that utilizing our own sidechain was the optimum solution.
Technical Challenges and Goals
We aimed to find a solution that kept the following points in mind:
- Easy Integration
- Unique Items
- A Great Experience for Players
- Adding Value to the Game
Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these points!
With our extensive background knowledge in in the gaming industry, we could already draw on our in-depth knowledge of games, their design, the development process and how to operate them on a daily basis. We knew that getting certain kinds of games onto the blockchain would be a great challenge. Some games heavily rely on obscure server designs or patterns, that while they work for the game itself, aren’t designed to be “open” or “accessible” through other means, and in many cases, there’s no API at all.
Right from the start of our project last year, we decided to adapt a game that we already knew — Fiesta Online — to use the blockchain. Working closely with gamigo, who know the mechanics of the games’ internal structures, we were confident that we could integrate the game without requesting modifications to the gameserver’s source code. And in the end we succeeded, which you can try out by yourselves by playing our Fiesta MMO Blockchain Beta here!
In order to integrate future games easily, we created a simple API that uses existing endpoints within the servercode or the database to manipulate certain items and/or inventories. This way, we are able to tell the game server who owns a particular item.
It also works the other way around for the in-game rewards of GTX, where an already existing feature is being used to signal our API that a certain event has happened, and upon certain rulesets this leads to GTX being issued to the player — admittedly, for testing purposes, these rules are rather simple and it’s quite easy to get your hands on a few GTX in the Beta.
Therefore, by utilizing already existing endpoints we only had to add a few specific additional things to the database for us to be able to integrate GamerToken into our initial prototype. There are games that operate differently, but in general there are only a handful of requirements that each game needs to meet for integration into the GamerToken platform.
Unique, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) need to be possible in a game’s database. Usually, each item has an item-id in a game, but that won’t necessarily be related to the item being fully unique. It could be as simple as “item-id 1155 is a health potion”, and a players’ inventory simply consists of 17 x item 1155. This system is not entirely suitable for use on a blockchain. But it’s also not necessary either, as we’re not aiming to add all items of a game to the blockchain. When we talk about ‘unique Items’, we are referring to those precious items, the real gaming treasures, like the “Golden Sword of Urgh the Orc”, the “Double-Edged Sword of Lying”, or simply, the “Machine Gun of xXxGamerM0MxXx”, that was issued because she was the world champion of an international tournament with custom NFTs being offered as rewards.
While an item is on the GamerToken Marketplace, it shouldn’t be possible to further trade the item to someone else in the game, so there needs to be a locking mechanism for items. From a technical perspective, the ownership of the token is transferred to the new wallet on the blockchain after the successful sale of the item and the metadata for the item is also updated to the new user.
However, with our system in place to ensure that ownership of the items is tied to the correct player, it is simple for developers to implement the locking mechanism. Developers can modify their game to fetch the item information directly from the blockchain or from the API.
The Fiesta MMO Blockchain Beta didn’t require any modification to the game’s servercode. The changes we made were client related, providing a better user experience and giving us a chance to showcase the Beta with minimal changes to appeal to a wider audience. This demonstrated just how easily developers can integrate an existing game with blockchain technology using GamerToken.
A Great Experience for Players
We want players to benefit from GamerToken by adding value to the already existing or upcoming projects. This means that the flow of items, assets and other rewards need to be as fluid and frictionless as possible. No long waiting periods: if an action is executed over the blockchain, then there should not be too many obstacles that need to be overcome to lend an item, rent an asset or sell an object. It also shouldn’t disturb players in what they actually want to do: play the game.
Added Value to the Game
While everything is about blockchain, it shouldn’t be THE feature of a game. We only add a single (albeit multi-faceted) feature-layer to it. We’re not able to circumvent extreme balancing issues within a game, and by adding GamerToken, said game will not change at its core.
And yet, adding GamerToken to a game is definitely a big thing.
You step into the heart of the wilderness with your raid-group, but the world-boss ahead is so powerful that you’ll need your mages to wield stronger weapons for the fight. Luckily, you have a spare epic staff hiding in your bags! You decide to trade the staff to a needy mage who recently joined the guild, but you first make sure that he will give it back when the fight is over. So you hand over the staff, the mage thanks you — and logs off. Gone is your epic staff and unless there’s something support is willing to do to help, it is gone for good.
Now, add GamerToken to the game. Instead, you shrug as the player attempts to ninja your precious staff, log in to your wallet, and re-assign the staff to your character’s inventory again. The ninja looks at his now empty-handed avatar in disbelief. It’s the end of valuable items being stolen from players, instead allowing users to share and build a bond within their communities in a whole new way.
This is what we call true ownership.
As with any emerging technology, there is a chance that the details will change. In this constantly evolving space, it’s imperative for us to stay open and up to date on the latest ideas, so we can find the most efficient and fluid system that will be the most beneficial for gamers, developers and publishers.
For now, we are proud of the progress our blockchain architects and developers have made, which have allowed us to pursue a system that will revolutionize gaming economies, item ownership and digital memorabilia.
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