If you assumed the development of Ethereum-based video games declined following the slowdown of the CryptoKitties hype train, you would be mistaken.
The real appeal of the collectible cats was that they were immutable, non-fungible tokens which were immune to censorship and interference.
Even if the CryptoKitties interface goes down and its team abandons it, people who own the virtual cats on the Ethereum blockchain will still be able to trade them or build compatible applications around them.
The blockchain gaming environment has continued to evolve after the success of CryptoKitties, and the applications being built at the moment make the game seem like a simple proof-of-concept.
Fully-fledged titles are being created on the Ethereum blockchain, leveraging new technologies to provide better latency, reduce blockchain congestion, and improve the user experience.
There are a number of exciting games currently under development, with Neon District a standout due to the various tools used to create the decentralised video game.
Neon District is an online multiplayer role-playing game being developed by a small team.
The game is described as a hybrid role-playing and trading card game set in a cyberpunk dystopia.
“In Neon District, each player collects and trades unique, fungible cards that evolve and adapt as they’re used in play,” said its makers.
Cards in Neon District then become more valuable as they gain experience points and special abilities.
The project has a simple whitepaper which does not delve into much, apart from the overarching concepts behind gameplay.
However, it is the concepts which could change the way we perceive value and itemisation in video games.
In Neon District, players will be able to improve the value of their various characters by playing and building a history for their non-fungible assets.
These characters evolve with new equipment and improved attributes as they level up, making them more valuable and adept at taking on other players.
A character who has reached a certain level can even offer services such as cybernetic implants or weapons training to other characters in exchange for Ethereum, filling their owner’s cryptocurrency wallet.
It should be noted that while player-vs-player battles will be the initial form of gameplay implemented, more complex modes could be developed thanks to sidechains.
A sidechain is a second-layer solution built on top of Ethereum which runs as its own, faster blockchain – periodically syncing with Ethereum to verify its authenticity and security.
This can be an invaluable tool for blockchain-based game designers.
As many CryptoKitties users discovered, the Ethereum blockchain can slow down when exposed to a large amount of traffic, and this solution resolves this issue by moving most of the traffic to a sidechain.
Neon District has opted to partner with Ethereum startup Loom Network for its development, allowing it to scale the game using Loom’s DAppChain infrastructure.
Using a Loom DAppChain, Neon District will be able to move its non-fungible tokens around much faster at a much cheaper price, all while retaining the security provided by the Ethereum blockchain it is built on.
This could allow for real-time gaming interactions and more expansive game modes, which will make use of the same core concept of evolving RPG characters.
Neon District is a bridge between early projects like CryptoKitties and the next generation of blockchain-based games.
While it allows for more varied gameplay without the scaling limitations of its predecessors, Neon District and other games like it remain bound to relatively-clunky Metamask interfaces and other artefacts which expose the youth of the decentralised application industry.
This could change in the near future, however, with the introduction of solutions like Loom Network’s Unity SDK.
Unity is a popular video game engine, and Loom’s SDK allows its community of developers to integrate seamlessly with its DAppChain architecture.
This means game developers can build games which run on a blockchain without knowing about blockchain development – resulting in games indistinguishable from current titles.
Implementations of technology like this would also lower the barrier to entry for developers, while drastically improving the user experience and accelerating the adoption of decentralised video games.