The Star Atlas DAO Releases its Sustainable Governance Framework
Players are encouraged to read and discuss the document that serves as a blueprint for sustainable self-governance
Prepare yourselves, explorers!
Remember the date of September 29, 2022. For it was on this day that ATMTA, Inc. (“ATMTA” for short), the developer of Star Atlas, published A Sustainable Governance Framework for Star Atlas, a long-term plan commissioned by the Star Atlas DAO detailing how Star Atlas will be governed by its community well into the future.
The Sustainable Governance Framework is intended to provide transparency and encourage public discussion by Star Atlas community members. It covers three main points:
1) Why decentralization is mission critical and well suited for Star Atlas
2) The vision and structure of the Star Atlas DAO
3) A proposed sustainable governance framework for Star Atlas
The paper describes the importance of decentralization for a complex web3 gaming project such as Star Atlas. The paper examines challenges faced by DAOs today — decentralization can be ephemeral if not guided by a sustainable vision — and presents a long-term framework to support the community-led governance and development of Star Atlas.
ATMTA is firmly committed to ensuring Star Atlas is and remains as decentralized as possible. All community members — and anyone interested in the governing principles and political framework of Star Atlas — are encouraged to read, share and discuss this detailed 30-page document.
In this article we’ll share context and key points of the proposed framework.
Why aim for decentralization
Web3 gaming projects have the power to increase transparency, remove intermediaries, and give players true ownership potential over game assets. If they are truly decentralized, they can give rise to digital societies that can be self-governing and sustainable well into the future.
Star Atlas operates as a dual token economy. The ATLAS token functions as the means of exchange in the galaxy and a measure of economic strength while the POLIS token represents the power in metaverse governance. At the first 426LIVE event in July, ATMTA announced the launch of locking functions for the Star Atlas DAO that facilitate governance through the POLIS token. This community-led Decentralized Autonomous Organization is designed to oversee all experiences relating to the Star Atlas metaverse. From gaming, entertainment and art to social and economic relations, the DAO is essential for management through the interplay of ATLAS and POLIS.
Any community member who controls locked POLIS tokens will be able to participate in the governance of Star Atlas by voting on DAO proposals. In fact, political gameplay — and all the machinations and intrigue that come with it — is one of the many reasons Star Atlas will be a fun game to play. Through the economic lens, we define what it means to be a citizen of Star Atlas, and participation in governance is one of those defining attributes.
Decentralized autonomous organizations like the Star Atlas DAO take advantage of the best that web3 has to offer. That said, this type of governing structure is still very new.
As we look across the web3 landscape today, a number of DAOs have failed or don’t work well, so in this Sustainable Governance document we discuss some lessons learned.
Not built in a day
One thing that is clearer today than it was even two years ago is that complete decentralization requires careful progression. It cannot exist, at least not sustainably, on day one, but once achieved it lends considerable strength and stability to a digital society.
Today’s release of the Sustainable Governance Framework lays out a proposed road map of how the Star Atlas community will get there.
The governance framework is inspired by two main points:
One of the big differences between Star Atlas and many other gaming projects is that it has always been, and will continue to be, built to last for generations. To that end, Star Atlas is premised on the immutable — permanent ownership of game assets confirmed by on-chain NFTs, and permanent game logic deployed to the blockchain.
There has also always been a focus placed on being adaptable — which means creating off-chain systems that are flexible enough to complement on-chain logic where real world interactions are necessary.
By balancing the immutable and the adaptable, Star Atlas can outlive us all.
Let’s not forget that, at its core, Star Atlas is a game. Participating in the Star Atlas DAO should be fun, especially as it becomes the battlefield for political gameplay in Star Atlas.
There will be multiple layers of gameplay in Star Atlas, including economic gameplay for resource gatherers and crafters. You can play that aspect of the game today in SCORE and the Galactic Marketplace.
Then there’s competitive or combat-based gameplay, which caters to the pirates and warlords among us.
Then there is the game of thrones — political maneuvering, building coalitions, and drafting, debating, and voting on proposals that shape Star Atlas as a whole. The latter is played out at the DAO.
A multi-pronged governance structure will operate on both a code level (via on-chain governance by POLIS tokenholders) as well as on a social layer (via a constitutional and council-guided system).
Let’s dig deeper into that social layer.
Star Atlas Council
The decisions of the Star Atlas DAO shall be guided, but not controlled, by a Council of elected representatives.
One of the main problems faced by many DAOs today is that pure direct democracy in which every decision is debated and weighed by every member of the community leads to inconsistent outcomes, poorly thought-out proposals (sometimes issuing illegal or impossible instructions), and noise that makes it difficult for projects to move forward.
We believe that the quality of decision making by a large community is improved by having a council shepherd the proposal ideation and drafting process such that proposals will receive a full vetting before formally being submitted for voting. The Star Atlas Council will provide input on draft proposals, with an eye for potential legal pitfalls and malicious or unintended effects.
Star Atlas Council members will be elected and replaced by the Star Atlas DAO via on-chain governance. The number of Council members and other details regarding the Star Atlas Council (such as the duration of their term) will be determined with input from the community. We encourage highly active and devoted members of the community to run for seats on the Star Atlas Council.
The Star Atlas DAO and the Treasury
The DAO’s treasury is managed by the DAO through on-chain governance mechanisms. Any funds that the DAO decides to send off-chain may be deployed by entities such as the Star Atlas Foundation, but only after receiving on-chain approval by the DAO and subject to the direction of the DAO. The DAO’s treasury is funded by proceeds from what amounts to taxation on transactions in the ecosystem, consistent with the parameters set forth in the Star Atlas Economics Paper.
To date, the DAO has collected over 260 million ATLAS from the sale of resources used in Faction Fleet (aka SCORE). Those funds may only be spent by the DAO through on-chain governance.
Star Atlas Constitution
Many DAOs in the web3 space lack a unifying vision and lose momentum. We think it’s necessary to have a constitutional document that enshrines the community’s core vision and principles which will help the DAO make consistent and thoughtful decisions.
We believe the core principles of Star Atlas are:
Quality and safety
When people think of Star Atlas, they should think of a high-quality and safe experience. This means the whole package: an award-winning website that shapes the public’s first impression, high quality art for in-game assets, deeply immersive in-game visuals, exciting gameplay with a deep and varied economy, and maintaining a top-tier track record of cybersecurity practices.
Community Owned And Community Built
At Star Atlas, the community comes first. Our community is empowered by having true ownership of Star Atlas assets, a high degree of transparency and visibility into all aspects of decentralized development, and access to tools necessary to facilitate community-led development.
The DAO should always be focused on the long term. The governance of Star Atlas is intertwined with the broader lore of the game and metaverse, as citizens jockey for control of the galaxy both through military might (expressed through their fleets) and political maneuvering (expressed through votes at the Star Atlas DAO and lower-level DAOs).
The Star Atlas Foundation
The Star Atlas Foundation is the legal arm of the DAO. It carries out the DAO’s commands when the DAO requires a legal entity for implementation.
The Foundation carries out off-chain instructions when on-chain instructions alone will not do. For example, if the DAO wants to enter into a contract, it will need a legal entity to sign the dotted line. That’s where the Foundation comes in.
The Foundation is not the DAO and will not make decisions for the DAO; it cannot bypass the PIP process and only implements DAO commands as necessary. The Foundation may refuse to implement a PIP if the PIP cannot safely or legally be implemented.
POLIS Improvement Proposals
POLIS Improvement Proposals (“PIPs”) form the backbone of governance in the Star Atlas DAO.
All PIPs must follow a process that will be ratified by the DAO, but on a general level, every PIP will contain the following:
- A concise rationale and specification for a feature or change
- Input from the community through engaged discussions
- Levels of review by the community, the Star Atlas Council, the full DAO, and the Star Atlas Foundation
If the DAO votes to approve a PIP, the proposal will be implemented by the DAO, Foundation, or others specified in the PIP.
The PIP Process in a nutshell:
- Provisional Approval
The Council will guide authors through the drafting and review process, and every PIP will need to be voted on by the full DAO.
The Developer Community
ATMTA, Inc. is just one of many developers in the Star Atlas ecosystem — a significant and initial contributor but not the only one. ATMTA is joined by myriad others from guilds to developer groups to active individual community members like you. The development ecosystem is going to grow, and the DAO is the key to accelerating that growth. Even today there are lots of builders creating tools and resources and media — and that is what makes Star Atlas so unique.
The DAO and its treasury, and the use of developer or ecosystem grants, are key to accelerating decentralized development. We cannot wait to see the kinds of proposals the community puts forth.
Excited about a Star Atlas future? Head over to govern.staratlas.com and read the paper on Sustainable Governance. Give it some thought, then let’s discuss how we can improve on and implement the ideas in the paper.
Together, let’s build something special — an innovative self-government that can be a model for others to follow throughout the galaxy.