Loom Network Roadmap 2019

James Martin Duffy
Apr 19 · 17 min read

It’s been a while since our last (Q4 2018 — Q1 2019), and a lot has happened in the meantime.

So it’s time for another update.

Let’s start by recapping some of our most important milestones since then:

…and a million other small things in between (which are always covered in depth in each edition of our ).

It’s been a huge two quarters for us. (Does that make it a huge fiddy cent? 🤭)

But I don’t want to dwell on the past — I want to talk about where we’re going from here.

The Big Picture: PlasmaChain As the Universal Layer 2

First, let’s step back and start from a top-level perspective.

Our primary focus over the next year is on PlasmaChain, which can otherwise be considered Loom Mainnet.

Our goal is to make PlasmaChain one of the most widely used blockchains in existence.

The Loom SDK, which we spent the better part of 2018 developing, allows for developers to spin up an unlimited number of sidechains to scale their dapps as needed — a crucial piece in our long-term vision of blockchain scalability, and one that is now being used by multiple games and dapps in production.

But PlasmaChain will be the central hub that all these chains connect to as their bridge to Ethereum, for interchain communication with other major blockchains (such as Cosmos, EOS, and Tron), and as a shared liquidity pool for tokenized assets.

Thus, our company’s primary objectives over the next year are all related to growing PlasmaChain to become the “universal Layer 2” for high performance dapps.

Here is a summary of our top-level objectives surrounding PlasmaChain, and below we’ll break down each one in depth to cover why it’s important, and what specific actions we’ll be taking to support it.

Top-Level Company Objectives:

  1. Staking: Maximize the percentage of the total LOOM supply that is staked on PlasmaChain
  2. End-User Adoption: Make PlasmaChain one of the most widely used blockchains in existence, measured by DAU (Daily Active User) count and TVL (Total Value Locked) on chain
  3. Interoperability: Integrate PlasmaChain with every other major blockchain network, to increase both user onboarding to PlasmaChain from other chains, as well as network utility for PlasmaChain developers
  4. On-Chain Fees: Generate additional on-chain fees to further incentivize PlasmaChain validators and stakers

Basically, everything we will be working on over the next year can be put in the category of furthering one or more of these main objectives.

Let’s break each one of these down in detail to see what exactly we mean.

1. Staking: Maximize Percentage of LOOM Tokens Staked on PlasmaChain

This is an easy one to start with.

In the short and medium-term, improving staking metrics will be one of the primary focuses of the company, as it will have significant benefits in securing PlasmaChain and injecting more value into the network.

At the time of writing, our shows that around 20% of the circulating LOOM supply has been staked to validators so far. Over time, we’d like to get this closer to 50%.

Delegators are already (minus validator fees) on their staked LOOM.

We have a number of things in the pipeline to further increase token staking, mainly through further simplifying the delegation experience for existing token holders who haven’t staked yet:

a) Integrate staking with all the major crypto wallets (including mobile)

We have already added Ledger support to the staking dashboard, and last week we announced mobile staking support for .

In the coming weeks, we’ll be working with wallet providers to add native staking support for Trezor, Trust Wallet, imToken, and a few others. (And we’re open to adding support for any other major wallets — if you’d like to integrate!)

The benefits of these integrations is that users will be able to stake their tokens directly from their favorite wallet where they’re storing them.

This will massively lower the barrier for how easy it is for LOOM holders to stake their tokens, which should see a significant uptick in the total number of tokens staked.

Early prototype of staking tokens from directly within imToken wallet

b) Signing PlasmaChain transactions using Ethereum wallets — the smoothest cross-chain UX possible

PlasmaChain recently had its , which added functionality for users to sign transactions on PlasmaChain using their Ethereum account. That means users can now sign PlasmaChain transactions using MetaMask or any mobile Ethereum wallet.

We’re going to integrate this support into the staking dashboard, which will decrease the number of steps necessary to transfer and delegate tokens on PlasmaChain and massively improve the UX.

Whereas previously users had to save a new seed phrase for their private key on PlasmaChain, with this change, users will be able to simply use their existing MetaMask wallets to sign for and access their PlasmaChain account.

Side note: This functionality goes beyond just staking, and is going to enable some pretty cool features on PlasmaChain moving forward. It will enable every single Ethereum user to interact with any PlasmaChain dapp exactly as if they were interacting with a dapp on Ethereum mainnet — further blurring the line between Layer 1 and Layer 2. We will be talking about this in detail in a future blog post.

c) Other dashboard UI improvements

We have a number of other improvements under development that will improve the overall functionality and UX of staking, such as:

  • Automatic re-delegation of rewards, so the rewards you earn from staking can be automatically re-staked
  • Multiple delegations per user, so users can choose multiple delegation timelines with the same validator — e.g. you can choose to lock up some portion of your tokens for 1 year, and another portion for only 2 weeks

d) Onboarding more validators

We are in the process of onboarding a few more big-name validators in the space.

Having a set of reputable validators securing our chain not only does a lot to legitimize PlasmaChain — but each of these validators also comes with their own community, their own reach.

And having a diverse set of properly incentivized parties trying to get more capital on board and staked to secure PlasmaChain is a major driving force in increasing the percentage of LOOM tokens staked.

2. End-User Onboarding: Becoming One of the Most Widely Used Blockchains in Existence

Staking is super important to secure the chain, and will help a lot to drive adoption in the short-term.

But in the long-term, the success of any blockchain will be determined by metrics such as:

  1. the number of users interacting with that chain,
  2. the total economic value of tokens stored on that chain, and
  3. the value of fees generated by transactions on that chain.

Our goal is to maximize these metrics, as these will be the factors that will determine the “staying power” of a blockchain platform in the long run. (Much like the lock-in effect at social networks like Facebook, where users don’t want to switch to a new platform due to the strong benefits of existing network effects).

Below are some of the ways we plan on raising #1 and #2, and later on in this post we’ll talk more about #3.

a) Integrations with popular chains — adoption from the existing blockchain community

These integrations are such an important play, that we’ve dedicated an entire section of this roadmap below to discussing it in detail.

But because one of the major benefits of these integrations is making PlasmaChain available to millions of existing blockchain users, it’s important to mention in this section about user onboarding as well.

We recently announced that we’re building integrations with — and prior to that, we announced interoperability with .

Integrating with these other blockchains means any user with an account on one of those chains — or any holder of that chain’s tokens — automatically has an account on PlasmaChain.

They will be able to access any PlasmaChain dapp simply using the wallet software on their native chain (MetaMask, Scatter, Trust Wallet, TronLink, etc.), so there’s no further onboarding friction for existing users of any major chain.

This is a huge value prop for PlasmaChain, as it means any Ethereum, EOS, Cosmos, or Tron user is already a PlasmaChain user — their account already exists, and is just waiting for them to access their first dapp.

We’ve lowered the bar to entry entirely for crypto users to use PlasmaChain. So all that’s left is to give them some dapps they want to use, and reasons to transfer and store their tokens on PlasmaChain.

Which brings us to the next section…

b) Developer onboarding

A blockchain is only as useful as the dapps it has running on it — so user adoption ultimately depends on developers building dapps people want to use.

We’re already seeing organic traction. So far, we’re aware of that are being built on Loom Network — and more are coming out of the woodwork each week.

These are totally independent projects who have one way or another discovered Loom and decided we’re the best platform available for their needs — not because they were paid money to build on Loom instead of the alternatives 😉

It’s great to have this level of organic traction within the community — but we want to take this even further over the next year.

We’re going to be putting a major focus on revamping our developer documentation from the ground up to make it even easier for developers to get started building their first dapps on Loom, with clear examples of the most common use cases. (And we’ll be more clearly refining our messaging to communicate the benefits PlasmaChain offers over any competing blockchain platform for developers — such as the ability to offer your dapp to end users on any major chain using their native wallet software out of the box).

The goal is to take any developer who understands the basics of Solidity and deploying dapps with Truffle (which they can learn from our code school ), and have them be able to deploy their first dapp to PlasmaChain and make it available to users on every major blockchain.

We’re also going to be opening up PlasmaChain mainnet for any developer to deploy to in the near future. Up until now, we’ve been selective about which devs we allow to deploy to mainnet, as we’ve been in the process of onboarding more validators and ensuring the network remains stable throughout.

Now that PlasmaChain mainnet stable with a diverse set of validators, developer adoption is going to become a major focus of ours over the rest of this year.

c) Bringing DeFi to PlasmaChain

I wasn’t going to mention this in the roadmap, since we haven’t even announced it yet.

Those who have followed us at Loom for a while know that we’re quite fond of surprises 😉

But since we only put out a roadmap update every 6 months or so, I figured I should at least tease this.

DeFi is an area that has garnered massive interest recently, and .

So we asked ourselves, what DeFi features and services could we offer on PlasmaChain that aren’t currently possible on any other blockchain, and would incentivize users to store more tokenized value on PlasmaChain?

I don’t want to ruin the whole surprise, but rest assured, we have some ideas we’re really excited about. We’ll be announcing the first one within the next month, and shipping it in mid-2019.

The goal of these services will be to incentivize users to transfer and store their tokens on PlasmaChain — because having a lot of economic value stored on a blockchain increases its network effects, makes the platform more desirable to third-party devs (lots of users who can spend money), and solidifies the chain’s staying power vs. new chains that may spring up in the future.

d) Viral user onboarding through games — a trojan horse to being one of the most widely utilized blockchains

We’ve talked a lot about this in the past — namely in our widely-shared post .

The major issue facing blockchains right now isn’t scalability — it’s having dapps good enough that people really want to use them. And lowering the UX barrier enough that there’s no onboarding friction for the average user.

Everyone in the blockchain space knows this tech is revolutionary — but at the moment, no one’s quite sure for what, because we haven’t seen those “killer dapps” yet that are desirable enough to grow virally to millions of users.

But when those “killer dapps” start to emerge, we want PlasmaChain to be the most obvious choice for those developers to build on. And the best way to do that is to be the chain with the most authenticated users with accounts.

The best way we can see to onboard tens or hundreds of thousands of users onto PlasmaChain in the short-term is through gaming.

Beta users of our game have already experienced the super crisp, zero-friction onboarding experience for new users. You simply install the app through the or on your phone, and start playing — without needing to have any prior experience with the blockchain (or even realize the game is running on the blockchain, on which you just created an account). Go ahead and give it a try, if you haven’t yet.

Users can earn cryptoassets in the game through playing and winning rewards, and later learn that the items they’ve earned can be sold on a marketplace for cryptocurrency.

The items and cryptocurrencies they earn are, of course, stored on PlasmaChain, where they can be withdrawn to Ethereum or other networks we integrate with, or kept on PlasmaChain to spend on other dapps within the network.

Thus, PlasmaChain being able to offer a zero-friction blockchain experience is the easiest way we can see to onboard tens or hundreds of thousands of new users who have never owned cryptocurrency before — a massive audience other chains aren’t able to target due to onboarding friction. PlasmaChain can be the gateway to millions of users’ very first blockchain experience.

Relentless is our in-house game we plan to use as an onboarding funnel to PlasmaChain, but it also serves as a showcase to other game developers of what’s possible to build on Loom Network.

When game developers want to build on the blockchain, which platform will they choose to build on? The one with the best UX that allows their game to be played by any existing gamers immediately — and has proven to be able to do so by example.

And in the medium and long-term, these games will help build PlasmaChain up to a critical mass of users with cryptocurrency available to spend, making it the most tempting platform to build on for developers of any type of dapp.

Not to mention, these developers will also be able to access millions of existing blockchain users through our…

3. Interoperability: Integrations With All Major Existing Blockchain Networks

As I mentioned previously, doing these integrations with existing blockchain networks is going to be a major focus of ours over the coming months.

In the short-term, this will give us an edge by allowing developers on PlasmaChain to access the user bases of all major chains.

Why choose to develop your dapp for only one platform, when you can develop it for all platforms simultaneously?

If standalone blockchain platforms follow , then a platform that integrates with and connects multiple blockchain platforms (each with their own active user base) gets to take advantage of the network effects of all these platforms combined.

Interoperability brings additional value to each chain that is part of the network — and the hub that connects these chains will itself capture an immense amount of value.

Over the next year, our focuses in this area will be:

a) Building out initial integrations with Tron, EOS, and Cosmos

These are the three platforms we’ve we’ll be integrating into PlasmaChain.

We’ve chosen to prioritize these platforms based on a) active user count, and b) ease of integration (both Loom and Cosmos are based on Tendermint for BFT consensus, and Loom and Tron both support Solidity contracts, making these integrations relatively straightforward).

These integrations are already in progress, and will be released one by one over the next few months.

b) Seamless wallet integrations on all platforms — sign with your native EOS / Tron / Ethereum account

Much like how we’ve already added functionality to log in to your PlasmaChain account and sign transactions using your existing Ethereum account, we’ll be building out similar functionality for EOS and Tron.

As mentioned about, this means any Ethereum, EOS, and Tron user will be able to interact with any PlasmaChain dapp simply using their existing browser plugin or mobile wallet (MetaMask, Scatter, TronLink, etc.).

You can think of this like how web developers can use OAuth to let users log in to their app using Google or Facebook login credentials.

PlasmaChain dapps will be able to let users log in and authenticate using their existing Ethereum, EOS, or Tron accounts, rather than needing to sign up for a new account.

c) Integrate with any other networks in the future that reach a critical mass of user adoption

Different blockchain platforms may wax and wane in popularity as time goes on, and it’s possible new platforms will spring up to capture a significant portion of market share in the future.

If new networks pop up that reach a critical mass of adoption, we’ll integrate them into PlasmaChain as well.

By integrating all of the most popular chains (now and in the future), PlasmaChain guarantees the developers who build on it that their dapps will remain relevant in the future — no matter which blockchain ends up capturing the most end users.

Think of PlasmaChain as a way for developers to future-proof their dapps against becoming obsolete.

4. Generating On-Chain Fees

Lastly, let’s talk about on-chain fees.

In the short-term, we’ve allocated a large portion of the company’s token supply as guaranteed payments to PlasmaChain validators and those who stake their LOOM tokens, in order to incentivize users to stake their tokens and secure the network.

You can think of this like Bitcoin or Ethereum’s block rewards, which are essential in attracting interest from miners/validators in the early days of a network.

But over time, as block rewards go down, every network will need to generate fees in order to survive in the long-run. Ethereum plans to do this with low-level inflation on top of the fees for transfers and dapp usage; Bitcoin has no inflation and thus will need the fees from transfers to eventually be high enough to subsidize the entire cost of miners securing the network.

For PlasmaChain, we plan to generate fees for validators both from dapp hosting fees, as well as from some core services built into the chain that all dapps will share:

a) Dapp hosting fees

In the very beginning, we are not charging developers fees, as we bootstrap the network.

Later down the line, as the network starts to fill up, we will charge fees to dapp developers to host their dapps.

A major difference between PlasmaChain and Ethereum is that with PlasmaChain, developers will pay a monthly fee to host their dapps — similar to traditional web hosting — as opposed to requiring every user to pay a fee each time they interact with a dapp.

b) Core chain services that generate fees

There are several core services we are going to offer on PlasmaChain, which will generate fees for validators/stakers.

One of these is the Loom Marketplace, which is an exchange for NFT assets. Currently, this is being used to buy and sell , but later it will be opened up so that any game can integrate it as a marketplace for their in-game items.

Even for games building on Loom Network on their own separate DAppChain, they will want their in-game assets to be on PlasmaChain. Doing so allows them to take advantage of the shared liquidity of the Loom marketplace, as well as the large number of Ethereum/EOS/Tron users authenticated with PlasmaChain who have funds to spend. (Not to mention the free marketing of having their game items presented in front of all those users).

For each transaction on the marketplace, a small commission will go to the PlasmaChain validators — so as the number of popular games on PlasmaChain increases, so will the commissions earned by validators and stakers.

In addition to the marketplace, we also have a few as-of-yet unannounced DeFi services planned for PlasmaChain, which will also generate fees for validators.

c) Fractional validation of child chains

We’re already looking several steps down the line, and foreseeing that some dapps won’t require the full security and decentralization of PlasmaChain — nor will it make economic sense for some dapps to pay the fees necessary to subsidize all the validators.

At the same time, they won’t want the hassle of needing to recruit their own diversified set of validators to run their chain.

Thus, we’re envisioning a system that allows PlasmaChain validators to opt-in to use their spare hardware capacity to validate for child DAppChains that connect to PlasmaChain.

For validators, a large part of their cost of operations is the manpower to monitor their hardware 24/7 to make sure it does not go offline. Thus, it’s somewhat trivial for a validator to spin up more hardware to validate for additional networks once they’re already validating PlasmaChain.

This setup would give validators opportunities to earn extra fees by validating additional chains — and pass a portion of those rewards on to their LOOM stakers. This effectively captures the value of the entire network of independent DAppChains back into the LOOM staking pool.

This is still in the early planning stages, but this is the direction we see PlasmaChain scaling in the long-run, once the main network starts to reach capacity — one central chain that serves as a bridge to all the major blockchains and provides a set of key shared services (marketplace, DeFi, token liquidity, etc.), and a network of fractionally validated child chains running applications that require the very high time-to-confirmation and throughput of a few dedicated validators.

In Closing…

Hopefully this has given you a good insight into what our major focuses will be at Loom Network over the remainder of 2019.

It’s important to note that the blockchain space is still changing very rapidly. We have insights about the industry today that we didn’t realize even 2 or 3 months ago, and these insights have caused us to make micro-calibrations in our priorities as we get a better and better understanding of where the market is going and what features we need to build out to anticipate it.

Much like a pilot flying a jet from London to NYC, he knows the general direction he needs to fly from the start — but as strong winds alter the plane’s course along the way, he needs to make micro-calibrations to adapt, lest the plane end up hundreds of miles off course at his destination.

Over the next 6–12 months, it’s likely that there will be many more changes in the market that we can’t predict at the time of this writing — and which we will need to shift to accommodate.

But we believe it is this, our team’s ability to adapt quickly to changes and insights in the industry, that is our greatest asset.

To paraphrase Charles Darwin:

It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent — but the ones who are most responsive to change.

As such, this post is intentionally written to be high-level, so that it can remain relevant for as long as possible.

While some of the exact specifics of the features we build and implement may shift in priority, the general direction will remain the same.

And the core of that direction will always be our unrelenting focus on developer and user adoption.

To a fruitful 2019!

is a platform for building highly scalable DPoS sidechains to Ethereum, with a focus on large-scale games and social apps.

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Thanks to Michael Cullinan and 🤖 Robert.

James Martin Duffy

Written by

Co-founder at Loom Network. Building scalable blockchains for large-scale online games and social apps 🚀Creators of CryptoZombies.io 🧟‍

Loom Network

🛸 The blockchain platform of choice for serious dapp developers — http://loomx.io