Ethernal has partnered with the Matic Network to improve the user experience of their player-generated multiplayer dungeon crawler. The developers cite faster and cheaper transactions as the core reasons to use the second-layer solution instead of the main Ethereum network. The game is scheduled to launch this summer.
Ethernal is a game fully build on the Ethereum blockchain. This comes with all kinds of challenges, both technically and from a game design perspective. Matic support Ethereum Virtual Machine, non-fungible tokens and most importantly their mainnet will be live when Ethernal launches.
This dungeon crawler is build on the Ethereum blockchain, which means players have ownership over for example in-game items. In addition players discover new rooms, generated the world all by themselves. Everything is stored on the blockchain.
Ethernal picking Matic as their technology partner does make a lot of sense. The second-layer solution for the Ethereum network will launch its mainnet soon. In addition many other game developers have embraced the technology, generated more interest and hype.
What does this mean?
When you’re playing Ethernal, you will discover for example a room with a rare sword. This room will be there, other players will find it too. But you are the one who claimed the sword. However, if you end up death in the next room, all your loot will remain there for others to scavenge. Rare items remain limited in supply, and players can freely trade these items on an open marketplace like for example OpenSea.
Ethernal is designed as a classic multi-user dungeon, or MUD. From a top-down perspective players try to uncover a dungeon and find magical items. The story is told through text pop-ups, while turn-based combat gives players options based on the obtained weapons and other gear.
Difficulty of games fully on-chain
The Ethereum blockchain is by far the most popular blockchain for gaming. Many game developers use the blockchain to give players ownership over for example in-game land and resources. However, most games use centralized servers for the actual gameplay. That’s because blockchain technology isn’t fast enough to process millions of actions within seconds. In addition, to process an action the game needs to send a transaction. This costs money. Especially on the Ethereum mainnet these can cost a couple of cents, which can turn out to be quite costly.
Obviously that’s where second-layer solutions come in. These technologies work on top of the main blockchain. The process a whole bunch of transactions and eventually send it back to the mainnet. As a result the system combines thousands of transactions, lowering costs tremendously. No wonder many game companies are looking at Matic as a solution.
What Matic is doing for the Ethereum network, is basically the same concept as Lightning Network. This second-layer solution creates a temporarily communication channel between two parties. Here these two parties can make as many transactions as they want. Only after closing the channel, the nodes can communicate the outcome of these transactions to the Bitcoin network. As a result a transaction on the Lightning Network only needs to cost a fraction of a cent.
On-chain game development
Even though games completely made on top of a blockchain are still a rarity, they are there. Ethernal is just one example, but for example the Xaya blockchain is made exactly for this purpose. They are working on Soccer Manager Elite, giving players ownership over clubs, teams, players and so on. They also have a game called Taurion, which is more like a strategy game.
The idea behind putting games on the blockchain, is that every move is completely transparent. This technology would make it nearly impossible to cheat, on top of that players get true ownership over their game items. When gamers have a financial edge to their action, a new relationship between gamer and games will usher into the play-to-earn business model.
Also published on Medium.