ruletheworld

Aug 112018
 

Bitcoin Dominance

In a recurrence of history not repeating but rhyming, as the crypto bear market of 2018 deepens, the Bitcoin dominance index has been on the rise. Today, for the first time in 2018, it has passed the 50% mark. Based on historical trends, during the exuberance of a bull market, ‘altcoins’ rally relative to Bitcoin. During the bear markets, however, Bitcoin takes away what it gives during the bull markets, i.e. the relative ‘altcoin’ prices fall with respect to Bitcoin.

The Bitcoin dominance index, which measures the relative weight of Bitcoin in the full tradable basket of cryptocurrencies, has crossed the 50% mark, an important psychological level but otherwise without fundamental merit. It should also be noted that today there are an order of magnitude more cryptos in the market than even 2 years ago, so Bitcoin retaining 50% of the entire market even as new entrants enter this market is impressive.

Dominance History

Bitcoin dominance peaked around 80% before the bull market of 2017, when it dropped to as low as 35%, before recovering. This has usually been the case with Bitcoin and the crypto markets when the relative weight of Bitcoin falls during a bull market. The altcoins tend to be more volatile than Bitcoin.

This was also the time of the ‘flippening‘ narrative put forth by the Ethereum community that the Ether market capitalization would exceed that of Ethereum very soon. That was not to come in 2017. Even prominent venture capitalists who have invested in the space for a few years, like Fred Wilson, were completely wrong on their prediction of the flippening. It is a common human bias to project a recent trend into the future, and recency bias makes us weigh recent data more than older data. Needless to say, even prominent investors are not immune to these, and seldom correct their world view distorted by these biases.

Different Value Sources

The other thing for crypto investors to keep in mind is that the value of different ‘altcoins’ today come from very different sources, and thus it is not always fair to compare Bitcoin to them. For example, the value of a coin like Golem primarily comes from the usage of its network for compute resources. This is not true for Bitcoin. Bitcoin is more of a true store of value that is converting to a convenient medium of exchange via innovations like the lightning network.

This was different when the best known altcoins were similar to Bitcoin, such as Litecoin. Today, the crypto market is much more diverse in its offerings.

The value of Bitcoin is affected also by the broader economy and market, such as providing shelter to ordinary people in countries like Venezuela, Iran, and Turkey where inflation is rampant. Bitcoin provides a way for these people to store their wealth in a non-depretiating asset or work for foreign entities and capture some of the value they create.

Aug 022018
 

This is a guest post by Anupam Varshney

“Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen” – Benjamin Disraeli

We all love to travel. Some prefer a weekend getaway, others go out for a few weeks and then there are avid travellers who have been travelling for years. One thing all international travellers can agree on is the hassle of currency conversion when you visit another country.

My friend visited Vietnam a few months ago and this is how his $500 in Vietnamese Dong looked like:

Travel Digital Currencies

“I’d have been screwed in Vietnam if it wasn’t for Bitcoin” – Vibhor Jain

As it turns out, 1 USD is equivalent to 23,042 Vietnamese Dong!

The worst part is, you don’t even know where to get the best rates for converting to local currencies. Is it the airport or somewhere in the city? Your guess is as good as mine.

And what happens when you’re left with the local currency after your trip is done? Well, they usually stay with you. I’m sure my friend still has some Dong lying around.

Let’s not even get started on how much ATMs charge when you withdraw cash internationally using your card. It’s anywhere between $5 to $25 for each withdrawal. Swiping your credit card at stores will cost you even more.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a global currency that eliminates the hassle of high fees and carrying a lot of cash?

Digital currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and others allow you to do so.

Five years ago it may have been slightly difficult to travel using just cryptocurrencies, but blockchain space has evolved so fast that you can pretty much use cryptocurrencies in all aspects of travelling and replace it with fiat.

Before you travel

Planning phase of travelling is probably the most exciting part for some people, however, entire process can be very tedious. On average, a traveller spends 30 hours and browses 38 websites before finally booking a trip.

If you’re a DIY kind, you can still do everything with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies one by one.

Flights

Accommodation

  • Expedia is one of the largest travel booking websites. It accepts Bitcoin for hotel bookings.
  • Gyft.com allows you to buy gift cards in Bitcoin that can be used on Hotels.com, which offers 150,000 hotels worldwide

Watch out for Beenest, a platform to book Airbnb like homes using their native BEE tokens.

Car Travel

  • CheapAir and Destinia allow users to rent a car and pay in Bitcoin
  • There are decentralised carpooling apps: Lazooz and ArcadeCity
  • Many local travel agents now accept payments in digital currencies who’d happy to rent you a car

While you travel

When you’re travelling in a different country, use digital mapping tool CoinMap to locate stores and restaurants where Bitcoin is accepted.

A few companies offer their native cards just like Visa and Mastercard, which are filled with digital currencies and can be used at any store where Visa or Mastercard are accepted. So you pay in the local currency but Bitcoin (or some other supported digital currency) equivalent of that amount is deducted from your personal wallet.

The most popular project working on this is Monaco. They support BTC, ETH, MCO, BNB, and fiat, whereas TenX supports BTC, ETH, and LTC. Bitpay is another company that offers this service, but for US residents only. It supports Bitcoin and charges 3% for international transactions.

If carrying another card is not your thing, you can simply use Bitcoin ATM Map to locate a Bitcoin ATM nearest to you and fill your digital wallet with Bitcoins!

Conclusion

The tourism industry is one of the earliest adopters of digital currencies because it perfectly fits a traveller’s needs – a currency that is safe to carry around and accepted internationally. So the next time you decide to go to another country, try leaving your credit and debit cards at home.

This is a guest post by Anupam Varshney of Please.com. With Please.com you can book your travel in minutes. The platform provides a list of pre-designed trips created by the locals of the city you’re visiting. All you need to do is say, “Please, book me a romantic dinner in Paris” – that’s all.

Jun 212018
 

Axie Infinity Game 01

We had the opportunity to interview the Axie Infinity team about their game. For those who aren’t aware, Axie Infinity is a new game built on Ethereum where the game assets are stored on the blockchain. In addition to being a ‘crypto-collectible’, the Axie team has focused more on the gameplay, to make it more interesting for players. Many of the early CryptoKitties players have now found a home with the Axie team. We had a chance to interview the team.

Tell us a bit more about how the team came together and how the idea of Axie was formed. 

In late december Trung came to me with an idea for a blockchain game. He showed me CryptoKitties which was obviously very successful. However, we believed that a game with better graphics, animations, and a battle system that interlocks with the gene system could propel both crypto collectibles and blockchain gaming forward.

My first mission was to lay out a vision for the creatures and gameplay. I grew up surrounded by nature and fascinating animals in Vietnam. As a child I treasured my pet fish and turtles. I wanted our game to bring about an organic sense of awe, something akin to what a pet owner feels when they raise and bond with their animals.

In order to achieve this I designed the game from not only a gamer and collector’s standpoint, but also from a pet owner’s. That’s how I got the ideas for terrariums since every pet owner wants to show off their animals!

The first sketch I did of an Axie was Puff, our Axie #1 in the game. It was a quick sketch, everything flowing from instinct. The name of the project was originally Chimera because Axies are a mixture of all the coolest body parts that I’ve observed in nature. Puff has the gills of an axolotl, antlers, and a fish tail. Axie Infinity isn’t confined by the rules of nature, just the laws of our genetic system which allows for potentially infinite combinations of Axies. Kotaro and Ginger took longer to plan and then sketch out. Once those were done I delivered them to Trung. We changed the name to Axie Infinity and that set off a series of amazing events that we hope will play a role in raising the profile of decentralized games.

Some large VCs like A16Z and USV are betting on cryptoassets and have invested in CryptoKitties. How do you see the market evolve? Do you see a few cryptoasset networks like CryptoKitties dominate the market or do you see a long-tail of issuers succeeding in the market? 

I think we’re at a super interesting time in the decentralized game space. Institutional capital has seen the potential but most of the decentralized games on the market right now are closer to decentralized “casinos” or “pyramid schemes”. This has given institutional investors few options when seeking to deploy their capital into the space.

However, there are a handful of legitimate projects that are gaining traction and pushing the space forward. I don’t think Cryptokitties will dominate the market– they are more analogous to beanie babies which piggy-backed off of Ebay during the internet era. We see ourselves more akin to Pokemon and Neopets. There will be plenty of room for dapps and I expect Cryptokitties and Axiom Zen to help build out the infrastructure for the decentralized app space more so than trying to crush anyone they deem “competitors”. There are so few users now, we need the pie to grow rather than fight over the slices.

What’s your general sense of cryptoassets as a ‘collectible’ or ‘asset’ (i.e. something you just hold on to) vs. use for gaming (i.e. something you use for game play)? Which use would dominate in the community for Axie? 

We see Axies as both collectibles and toys that you can use to play our game with. The problem with other cryptocollectibles so far are that they very little proven utility so collectors and players only have aesthetics and rarity go on to determine value.

However, in Axie Infinity, players can battle their axies and actually watch an animated battle take place. Therefore, we believe the utlity of an axie in battle will be one of the key determinants of value alongside scarcity and aesthetics.

Axie Infinity Game 02

Tell us a little more about the team, where they are from, their background in gaming and blockchain, and any other interesting tidbits about the members. 

My name is Trung Nguyen, I left my role as a software engineer with a US-based startup to work on Axie Infinity full time. I am the lead engineer of Axie Infinity and have had a hand in all aspects of development: from developing and deploying our smart contracts to implementation and design of our product. I’ve been interested in MOBA and FPS games for most of my life but this is my the first game i’m building.

Masume has  been designing and creating games for most of his life. In elementary school, he designed games similar to Dungeons & Dragons and even his own version of the Pokemon card game for his  classmates. So since an early age, he’s also owned rare+ exotic pets which I think has affected the game. For example, the terrarium mode was inspired by his experiences as a pet owner. Everyone wants to show off their pets!

Jihoz, our community manager has a background in evolutionary biology, military strategy, and investing. He’s also one of the top CryptoKitties players in the world so he has a lot of really good insights based on past experiences which is incredible since this space is basically 4 months old.

Give us a quick pitch to CryptoKitties players why they should also check out Axie. 

First, I’d like to point out the four crucial flaws in CryptoKitties.

  1. Due to the high breeding costs, without  a steady stream of new CryptoKitties players, much of the eth will flow into the hands of the auto-birthers in the long run.
  2. It is impossible for your Cryptokitty to be improved by sinking in your time and effort. In fact, if you breed your cryptokitty, the value of it goes down. So rather than being able to improve your token by “playing” with it, you degrade it. Not ideal.
  3. Because the kitties have so little utility now, the only real way to value them is through scarcity + aesthetics. New players have a hard time learning the breeding and gene systems so there is a big barrier to entry and it’s quite hard to answer the question “what should I buy as my first Kitty”.
  4. Axiom set an arbitrary limit of 50,000 gen 0’s. That might be way too many, or way too little depending on the size of their future user-base – they have boxed themselves into a corner. Many community members are worried about what will happen to the game after November.

In comparison, we have done everything we can to avoid the autobirther solution that Cryptokitties used. Our breeding costs are .002 ETH (as opposed to .008 ETH in CryptoKitties), and we are looking at ways to lower this.

Players will be able to improve their Axies by battling them and raising them to gain exp points. Exp points can be used to breed, but they can also be used to upgrade body parts! Thus, our game has a time and effort sink that should allow an actual sense of progression and a potential way for players to earn eth by leveling up their Axies and then selling them to someone who lacks the time or will to do the same. We want our players to actually use their Axies.

Axie Infinity Game 03

How much of the game is run on Ethereum smart contracts, and what parts are centralized? 

We’ve kept all the genes and ownership data on the blockchain. The egg sales for new trait releases are on a smart contract and so was the sales contract for the pre-sale.

Our battle system will be a hybrid system where we will have some elements on a contract but we also want to add fun centralized elements like entrancing battle animations and a cool soundtrack. There is also potential to add a real time- off chain battle system in the future as well. 

Axie battles are a new and interesting feature compared to say CryptoKitties. Tell us a little more about the battle mechanics – how much is determined by the Axies’ characteristics and how much by luck? If you have a certain Axie, would it always (statistically speaking) be able to win? How much of the battle dynamics is on the blockchain? 

We believe that our battle system is unlike any other battle game ever released. Before battle, players will choose their team of 3 Axies, the moves that the axies bring into battle, the order that the moves will be used in, and the “positioning” of their axies on a 3 v 3 special battle terrarium.

An Axie’s genes will determine it’s base stats and also the moves that it can bring into battle. There will definitely be an RNG (Random Number Generator) element to the battles, but in the long run, teams that synergize well together can do quite well in terms of % win rate. 

We believe that the ‘meta’ for the game will be constantly evolving. If a certain strategy is overpowered, we anticipate players breeding axis that can act as “counters” to those strategies. In this way, Axie Infinity might actually be self-balancing— a reflection of the way nature works.

For the battles and mini-games, are the rewards to the winner paid out in ETH? 

Players will be rewarded experience points and other in game points that they can then use to improve their axies to reflect the time and effort they have sunk into their pet. We do plan on having tournaments with interesting prizes including ETH prizes in the future!

Can you explain the mechanics of how raising an Axie in the Terrarium helps them later in say battles? Does this cost money?

Terrariums will help Axie Owners organize their collections and help them power up their axies.  We are currently developing the system and hope to keep as much of it as off-chain as possible to reduce transaction costs and aid in user experience.

Axie seems to have more gameplay elements than other such games in the marketplace. What about the collector-friendly aspects of the game (say something along the lines of fancies in CK)? 

There are, and will be some super rare and unique Axies for collectors to accumulate. For starters, the Pre-Sale Origin Axes have mystic parts which will never be released outside of the origin gene pool. We have retired all origin traits and capped the supply of Origin Axies at 4500 meaning collectors that wish to obtain mystic parts will need to either purchase an Axie with Mystic parts or unlock an origin Axie using AOC tokens— a special in game currency that is exchangeable at a 5-1 rate for our remaining supply of origin Axies. The non-mystic origin traits will also never be released from Axie Infinities egg sales so players will need to buy Axies with those traits from the market, buy eggs from origin axis owners, or use AOC to purchase origin axies in order to access these parts(and their corresponding battle moves). 

We also plan on introducing a cool achievements system which will add a bunch of collectibility to the Axies.

How does the Axie team make money from the game?

We have many different sources of potential revenue. We will be selling Axies with new body parts from our Egg shop starting in early May and will also launch terrariums and terrarium decorations for sale soon after. 

What’s the launch schedule look like for the different elements of the game? 

We released the breeding system on May 4th. We will be starting our battle beta in July!”

Are there any specific game features you’re most excited about?

I think we’re super excited for the battle animations— they look amazing and can’t wait to share them with the community.

Do you have anything else for the community to add?

The best way to learn about the game and get started is to join our discord! Ask for Jihoz— he’s been known to give private tutoring lessons to new players over discord voice.

May 012018
 

Zero Carbon
Zero Carbon is a project that aims to help with the problem of climate change facing our planet, with the help of a crypto token. The token helps incentivize people to be more conscious of their carbon footprint and consumption while promoting greener sources.

In a nutshell though, Zero Carbon is all about Carbon Credits on the blockchain. For those who don’t know, carbon credits are one of the most effective ways to tackle climate change. This is because carbon credits provide a direct financial incentive to pollute less, as opposed to many solutions that depend on changing people’s behavior. At the end of the day, people care about climate change, but would do very little personally to help the cause. Carbon Credits are a clever economic way to make people change their behavior, not because of the goodness of their hearts but because it is financially lucrative for them.

The Clean Energy Ecosystem

The Zero Carbon team sees the utility of carbon credits in choosing their energy source. The energy suppliers have an incentive to try and go for cleaner sources of energy. However, the suppliers are not limited to using clean energy only like solar or wind. This can be too restrictive and render them uncompetitive. Instead, these energy suppliers can use dirty fuels, but they will need to pay a premium when they do, as a ‘tax’ for their pollution. This makes them competitive and still work in a market system.

Each ecosystem is different of course. The success of a system like Zero Carbon depends on how much competition it can attract from energy providers. However, the world is already moving towards solar and clean energies. Mom and pop stores are becoming energy companies. In fact many home owners are becoming their own energy companies, and with some additional investment, can become effectively the grid and supply energy to their neighbors and others. The trend is clear.

Zero Carbon and the Energis Token

We’ve seen a good amount of effort directed towards the clean energy ecosystem, and several blockchain projects like Restart Energy Democracy are working on the energy side. Zero Carbon is taking the economic route with carbon credits instead.

The Energis token powers the Zero Carbon platform and ecosystem. The system has smart contracts built in that take a small transaction fee, and route that into a reward pool. This is then distributed to the holders. The actual collection of money offline happens via the company, since this cannot be automated. However, these smart contracts make sure that there is enough transparency in the system, and that there is no cheating going on behind the scenes. The rewards are accrued according to pre-set logic and cannot be changed arbitrarily by the team, which gives consumers and suppliers the confidence in the system.

If you’re interested to learn more about Zero Carbon, check out their website and whitepaper. The team is planning a token sale for the Energis token. If you’re interested, be absolutely sure you understand the risks – token sales are very risky and you can lose all your money. Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose.

Photo Credit: _gee_

Apr 222018
 

Global REIT Crypto

Global REIT is a blockchain based real estate investment trust that plans to use its own tokens to achieve superior means of raising investor money and other efficiencies in the investment process. However, before we look deeper into this, let’s first understand the REIT market and what it entails. REIT stands for Real Estate Investment Trust.

The REIT Market

Real Estate Investment Trusts or REITs are a popular way for investors to invest and diversify in real estate. Any specific real estate property, whether a single family home or a large hotel, has idiosyncratic risk. This means that single properties suffer from a higher risk of something going wrong that is independent of the broader market. Why is that? Consider several factors, from changes in zoning laws to environmental laws to changes in the neighborhood. If a new airport is being built near your home, or worse, a sewage dump, then naturally the value would decrease.

REITs overcome this problem by means of simple diversification. Say a REIT consists of a hundred single family homes. Even if one of them encounters problems and needs to be torn down, you only lose 1% of your income. This is contrast to 100% if you outright owned it. Thus, REITs help investors diversify their real estate exposure and risk. It reduces the idiosyncratic risk associated with real estate in general.

Another reason why investors like REITs is because they can get global exposure. Real estate, especially in emerging markets with fast growing economies, is more attractive to investors. However, most investors won’t be comfortable owning and managing a house in a country they’ve never been to. REITs simplify that process.

Global REIT and Blockchain

Global REIT is a new project based out of Dubai/UAE. It is similar to a traditional REIT, except it uses crypto-tokens on the blockchain for accounting purposes. It also provides other benefits, from loyalty points to ability to stay in one of their properties for a limited time, all tracked through the blockchain.

Global REIT will raise money through an ICO, and have 2 tokens sold to investors. These are Global REIT Fund Manager Token (GREM) and Global REIT Asset Token (GRET). The company currently plans to accept BTC, ETH, and ERC20 tokens along with fiat to buy these tokens. The dividends however are paid USD and USDT. Given the controversy around USDT, hopefully the team can be smart about paying in BTC or ETH instead.

A nice bonus that the team is throwing in is that for investors who hold more than 5,000 GRET or GREM tokens can avail free stays in their hospitality property each year.

As for the actual numbers, the returns are paid out as dividends for both GRET and GREM token holders. GRET pays out a stable 8% per annum dividend on the first acquired asset. The GREM token pays out a 2% AUM (assets under management) that decreases to 1.25% in 0.25% increments over time.

If you’re interested in this project and its ICO, make sure you really understand what you’re buying. The tokens are asset backed by real estate. Make sure you have thoroughly read the website and also their whitepaper. Remember that any token investment is risky and you should never invest more than you can afford to lose.

Apr 152018
 

Yumerium

Online games, and genres like esports are growing at a rapid rate. Esports in fact threatens the big-3 sports in terms of audience in the Unites States, just so you get an idea of how big this market is. You’re talking about a worldwide audience of over 200 million just to watch these games, let alone play them.

Online gaming itself as a genre is hugely popular especially among the younger demographics. At the same time, this popularity has attracted a huge swathe of competitors, which means it is increasingly harder to gain attention for your games from gamers. This is generally a hard problem to solve in such industries, given that the play time is limited. Can a crypto token help with this?

Crypto Token and its Utility

The utility of a crypto token in such an environment is that it can act as a layer of incentivization on top of existing games. That’s the proposition of Yumerium, in using its YUM tokens for this purpose. Games that integrate with YUM and the Yumerium token can add this layer on top of their existing games.

So how does it work? It helps the games attract more people and create more incentives for the players in that ecosystem. For example, games can use YUM to review games, and then use that token to buy in-game items in another game that also supports YUM. This is the ecosystem play here. Games can also award these crypto tokens for playing games to retain their loyal fans, and for sharing with their friends. Therefore, the token in this case is used for marketing purposes and user acquisition.

Yumerium Integrated Games

The play here is that all games that are part of the Yumerium network will benefit by other games joining the network, since it gives more value to the token being used in many different places. Take a given game, which allows you to earn some YUM. Now where do you spend it? You can of course spend it in that game itself, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go explore other games? That’s the network value here.

If there is a large enough user base based on the above, then other games would have an incentive to join the network. This attracts more users and the cycle continues. Of course, this is the classic marketplace dilemma of getting both sides on your platform. However, with crypto tokens, the problem of starting out is easier because you can incentive both sides to share in the upside if successful. We see this for many industries (e.g. we recently wrote about a marketplace for photo licensing).

The Yumerium team has already lined up their first partnership. A game called cryptomine will build integrating the YUM token. If it proves to be successful, it would attract other games to do the same. The team also has employees with experience in the VR realm, which is touted as the future of gaming. Keep an eye out on any VR enabled games to be built here as well.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out the Yumerium website. Also check out the whitepaper for more details. Yumerium will soon have a token sale. Remember that all token sales are hugely risky and you can lose all your principal. Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose and be responsible with your investments.

Photo Credit: hurov

Apr 132018
 

Wemark

Wemark is a peer to peer platform that lets photographers license their photos commercially. Photographers are paid in the native token of Wemark instead of Bitcoin or Ether. This can be another way for photographers to reach potential commercial deals. One of the advantages of Wemark is that it lets the photographer keep 85% of the revenue, which is more than twice that of major competitors like Shutterstock or Getty Images. Thus, photographers can find new deals and also try and port over their existing deals with willing customers to the Wemark platform, if they want to avoid the high fees.

Peer to Peer Marketplace Advantages

In general, peer to peer marketplaces can provide many benefits over their centralized counterparts. As discussed above, the fees is one of the big things in decentralized marketplaces. Already, true peer to peer marketplaces like Open Bazaar are becoming more popular for regular ecommerce and digital goods. Wemark aims to compete in that space but right now, starting only with photos.

To be clear, Wemark has a few differences compared to far more established platforms like Open Bazaar. Wemark is not really decentralized, since the company controls which photos can be sold, and decisions on accepting and rejecting them lies with Wemark the company. Another major difference is that Open Bazaar integrates with existing currencies like Bitcoin whereas Wemark has its own token. The advantage of using established cryptocurrencies for payment is that they have a higher liquidity and easier convertibility to local currencies.

However, even with those disadvantages, Wemark might find some success since it is operating in a narrow vertical i.e. licensing photos. If the company can reach out to commercial partners willing to work on its platform, there can be novel avenues for photographers to find new clients.

Creating Network Effects

The broader point however is that more decentralized marketplaces tend to be better if they can reach those network effects where people have an incentive to switch from centralized services. Users already have an incentive to switch because they get paid more – photographers in the case of Wemark, and other classes for other marketplaces. Ultimately, users would be able to use the decentralized web for all their needs, and they should be able to operate completely within this paradigm.

It is generally easier for photographers to port to a new platform, since there are already so many of them. However, the challenge would be get the commercial license users like large corporations, travel agencies, etc. to use the platform to discover photographs and pay for licenses. Wemark’s use of their own token limits how much commerce can be done on the platform, but at an initial stage, this shouldn’t be much of a limiting factor especially if there is enough exchange liquidity for this token.

The company has indeed mentioned that they plan to expand into other digital goods as well after tackling photography, so it should be interesting to watch. Ultimately, the whole space benefits the more decentralized marketplaces we have.

Learn more about Wemark on their website, and also check out their whitepaper. If you want another take on the project, check out Amity’s Wemark summary. The project will have an ICO for their token. If you want to invest, do so responsibly and remember that any ICO is extremely risky and you can lose all your money.

Photo Credit: Adam Levine

Feb 142018
 

CryptoKitties Family Jewels Launch
CryptoKitties has officially launched the much awaited ‘Family Jewels’ feature in the popular CryptoKitties game that took the Ethereum world by storm late last year, even causing the entire Ethereum network to clog up. This introduction comes amidst a slowdown in the game, as fewer players remain after the initial hysteria. Prices for CryptoKitties, that have sold in excess of $100,000, slowed down for several months after the initial launch month. The launch of this new feature and a release in China during the Lunar New Year is expected to make the game more popular.

What are Family Jewels

The Family Jewels feature consists of two different attributes associated with the digital cats –

  • Mewtation Jewels
  • Cattribute Jewels

Mewtation Jewels

The Mewtation Jewels recognize the cats that were the first to show a mutation into a new trait, or the Gen-0 cats that first carried a basic trait. The Mewtation Jewels are further divided into 4 categories –

  • Diamond – the cat that shows the first ever mutation/basic trait. Only one diamond mewtation jewel per cattribute exists. It is the rarest of the Mewtation Jewels.
  • Gilded – the first 10 cats that show the mutation/basic trait.
  • Amethyst – the first 100 cats that show the mutation/basic trait.
  • Lapis – the first 500 cats that show the mutation/basic trait. This is the most common of the Mewtation Jewels in the game.

Mewtation Family Jewels

This is how the Mewtation Jewel looks like on the cat’s page:

Mewtations Tongue Family Jewels

The above refers to the first cat that showed the tongue mutation, which was cat 3020.

The Mewtation Jewels are going to be the rarest of the Family Jewels in the CryptoKitties game. For example, if you just consider the Diamond Jewels, there will only be as many of these as the total number of cattributes. Once all the cattributes have been found, the number of Diamond Jewels will forever remain fixed.

In terms of inflation characteristics, each time a new cattribute is discovered, there will be an inflation in the number of cats showing these Mewtation Jewels. However, the terminal inflation rate is 0, i.e. once all the cattributes have been discovered, and 500 cats have been bred with all possible mutations, no more cats with Mutation Jewels will ever be created. We haven’t reached that point of course, but we are expected to reach that point around the end of 2018 when all the Gen-0 cats would have been created.

This inflation characteristic is different for Mewtation Jewels than Cattribute Jewels, which we next discuss.

Cattribute Jewels

The Cattribute Jewels are derived from the original Mewtation Jewels as a heritage. What this means is that all the descendants of a cat with the Mewtation Jewel will have the same level of Family Jewels, assuming the cattribute is carried over to the descendants.

For example, here are some family jewels of a cat:

Cattribute Family Jewels

What the above means is that this cat is a descendant from a Gold Mewtation saycheese and a descendant from a Amethyst Mewtation googly.

When this cat breeds, if the resulting offspring has the saycheese cattribute, it too will have the Gold Cattribute Jewel. The same with other cattributes.

The inflation characteristics of Cattribute Jewels is such that the number of cats with these jewels will continue to rise without an upper bound, even after all the cattributes have been discovered and no more Gen-0 cats are being produced. This is because two cats with a Cattribute Jewel can continue to breed and produce an offspring with that cattribute, which would carry the family’s jewel.

Marketplace and Breeding

The cats with a Mewtation Jewel will become rarer over time as a percentage of total cats in the game. This adds to some other rare features in the game, like Gen-0 cats, Founder (Jaguar) Cats, and Exclusive Cats. Therefore, it is expected that over time, the relative value of Mewtation Jewel cats will increase, especially the ones with the Diamond Mewtation Jewel.

Cattribute Jewels are more common, but it is expected that cats with them will be more valuable than cats without them. Also, since the number of combinations of Cattribute Jewels is very large, breeders have a new target for their breeding in addition to hunting for fancy cats. For example, a cat with 8 Diamond Cattribute Jewels will be quite hard to breed and quite rare in the game.

An important aspect of the launch of Family Jewels is that compared to before, higher-gen cats will also be valuable. In the past, a lower-gen cat would completely dwarf a higher-gen cat with similar cattributes. Now, the older-gen cats can still breed and try to collect more Family Jewels in their offspring, thus keeping the game more interesting for the older-gen cat holders.

The breeding prices would also start to reflect these new Family Jewels. Cats with higher number and ‘quality’ of jewels will breed at a higher price, because if their offspring has the same cattributes, it becomes valuable too. Of course, this all depends on how much the players value Family Jewels compared to other features like Fancy Cats for example.

In any case, Family Jewels represents a step up in the CryptoKitties game, giving the players and breeders something more to play.

Axiom Zen, the creator of CryptoKitties, is well aware that it cannot rest on its laurels of being the first popular cryptocollectible and game on the Ethereum blockchain. Several competitors with more elaborate games from Etherbots to Aethia, are on its heels.

Feb 122018
 

Aethia Ethergotchi

We interviewed the Aethia team about their new game, Aethia, built on the Ethereum blockchain. After the success of CryptoKitties, we were looking for other gaming efforts that can really be benefited by the blockchain. Aethia stood out in our mind in terms of details and depth of play. It is also not really a ‘battle’ game, like some other efforts but instead is an elaborate game world. If the team can pull it off, Aethia can be a great game for all types of players.

We also did a comprehensive, in-depth article on Aethia that you should check out, if you’re new to the game or want to learn some details and specifics. Check out the Aethia site here, which will start its alpha soon.

Here’s the interview by the team. The team consists of –

  • Ayuni – product manager, ex-developer, game freak, Pokémon lover. Responsible for the overall game.
  • Matías – developer, responsible for all game interaction
  • Fionn – marketing
  • Estelle – designer, head of the art department
  • Joseph – cryptocurrency expert, insights into blockchain games

BTC Geek: Tell us a bit about how the idea behind Aethia came to be.
Aethia (Ayuni): I’ve had the idea brewing in my head for more than two decades now, really. I think I was an eight-year-old when I got my first Tamagotchi. I loved that thing. I didn’t understand any of it, but I knew my ‘gotchi was mine and mine alone. I fed it, I cleaned up after it, I took care of it. I raised that Tamagotchi, and I loved that Tamagotchi. That experience, which was not just the game, but the game coupled with my age, I suppose, is something nothing else has made me experience.

And then, a few years later, maybe two or three, my parents got me Pokémon Red. That was amazing! That game I understood even less. We had just started with English in elementary school, and I could hardly understand any of it in the game, so I suppose Pokémon was one of my English teachers as well (and a crappy one at that).

I suppose that’s what really drives my core ideas on Aethia. Of course, there’s the stuff we learned during actual game development courses, but the core idea behind Aethia is powered by those two different themes. Oh, and of course World of Warcraft, how could I forget. The feeling of doing raids together with everyone on comms, and the whole guild vibe, that was amazing. Community bonds is something I think Blizzard did really well with WoW, and is something that will be core to Aethia as well.”

BTC Geek: Can you describe what Aethia is, in short?
Aethia (Ayuni, Matías): Well, the thing is, there are two Aethia’s, Aethia, or however we decide to pluralize it. You have Aethia, the world upon which everything is happening, with its many continents, its rich history, the different civilizations as well as their interaction with the plethora of Ethergotchi, and then you have Aethia the game. In hindsight, we should’ve called the planet something else, I guess.

If we’re talking about game mechanics, we can say that Aethia is Spore-like in the sense that different stages of the game have different interactions. It starts with pet-raising mechanics, like Tamagotchi, and as you progress in the game you start being able to interact with the world more in the form of Pokémon and something like the Sims. Let’s say that Aethia is a pet breeding game where pets, the Ethergotchi, have an RPG and simulation game aspect as well.

BTC Geek: It seems one of the big differences between Aethia and a game like Cryptokitties is that you make decisions that affect how the Ethergotchi evolves. Why is this important?
Aethia (Estelle, Ayuni): How about common sense? Of course any sort of interaction with a creature changes its perception of the world. My cat didn’t miraculously end up as awesome as it is now, you know. When you receive your Ethergotchi egg, you will most likely be there for the entirety of its first life. Maybe even longer if you properly care for it. All actions imprint upon the Ethergotchi and affect it in some way. This allows for a myriad of ways to play the game, which, to me, makes it extreme fun and gives it a ‘replayable’ factor. Also, I would refrain from saying evolves, as that’s a rather special word in Pokémon. The better word would be ‘grows’. Ethergotchi can also ‘evolve’ in a manner of speaking, but that’s more of a transition from one stage of life to another, as they have three stages of life: egg, child, and adult.

BTC Geek: Can you explain star alignment and how new star alignments get released over time?
Aethia (Estelle): You bet your ass I can, Fionn, you know that! Star alignments are my jam! They’re heavily influenced by hexagrams from the I Ching, as well as astrological signs, and magic circles from various sources. The I Ching book consists of sixty-four hexagrams. Compared to those sixtyfour hexagrams, we only have a meagre fifteen different star alignments in Aethia. A star alignment is set at the time of egg creation, and here I mean when the horizontal tango has been done, and the fastest swimmer has won, you know?

Anyway, the star alignment of an egg depends on the alignments of its parents, as well as the time it was conceived. The eggs we distribute for the alpha stage are from specific parents and have been ‘created’, hehe, in a specific time range. For this reason, there are only five possible outcomes for the referral eggs. The alpha egg is set to an awesome star alignment as a thank-you to the initial player base. Star alignments affect the growth rate of various Ethergotchi base attributes. So depending on a ‘gotchi’s alignment, it would be more or less inclined to follow a certain play style or career path.

Ayuni adds, “Yes, and regarding the release of the other star alignments, players will have to find out by letting their Ethergotchi interact with each other, and ‘creating’, as Estelle so nicely put it, new eggs.”

BTC Geek: How does the Aethia team make money if it is free to play?
Aethia (Joseph, Ayuni): Like all other greats we will be living off of the in-game shop and micro transactions, baby! Also, there will be items available for purchase using the CHI token, which itself is a purchasable item.

BTC Geek: Can you explain the reincarnation system in more detail? Do the players choose when they are reborn?
Aethia (Estelle, Matías): The reincarnation system is actually pretty simple. Ethergotchi have a lifecycle that consists of three stages: egg, child and adult. At the end of its adulthood, an Ethergotchi contemplates the life it has led up until that point. If it concludes ‘Yo, my life was freaking awesome’, it will turn into an egg again but retain some of its attributes, and all of its growth rate. Think of mythological phoenixes, and how they are reborn, but without the whole fire-and-ash thing. Oh and if its life was kind of crappy, because it didn’t get properly fed and cared for, had no toys, didn’t play, bla bla, stuff like that, it will just die.

Ethergotchi can die during their child stage as well as their adult stage from being malnourished for too long, or from loneliness because its owner didn’t spend any time with it. Luckily, the in-game shop has ‘Ethergotchi Crystal Cores’ in stock. A single core can be used to revive an Ethergotchi, if used within a week after its death, or well, within six-hundred-and-four-thousand-eight-hundred seconds, which is equivalent to a week. We understand that some people might not be able to access their ‘gotchi for a while, like going on a holiday. More than a week is too long, though, so then you’ve really lost your ‘gotchi. Or well, with lost, I don’t actually mean lost, the token will of course still be assigned to you, but you will not be able to interact with it any more. Its function within Aethia would cease.

BTC Geek: What parts of the game are on the Ethereum blockchain, and what parts are going to be run centrally?
Aethia (Matías): Alright, that’s actually a difficult question. This has been a bone of contention within the crypto community for a while, ‘How much do you decentralise?’, and has no clear answer. For us, however, we are building and designing everything as we go along, giving us extreme flexibility in rolling out the game architecture. We built it in such a way that we can easily replace various game components for up- or downgrades. For internal play-testing we always build everything blockchain first. The more we can run on the blockchain, the better for us, and the ecosystem. However, this is only the case if it does not detract from the game experience. If we doubt the scalability of the network at some point, we will be forced to centralise parts of the architecture, and send aggregate data to the
blockchain, until such a time the Ethereum network is ready to handle it. That being said, alpha stage one will be fully played out on the blockchain. I’m pretty sure the network will be able to handle it fine.

BTC Geek: Is there a limit on how many Ethergotchis exist in the Aethia world? How are new Ethergotchis created?
Aethia (Ayuni, Matías): There is a technical limit, which is the maximum amount capable of being stored inside of an two-hundred-and-fifty-six bit unsigned integer. This is in the one-hundred-quattuorvigintillion range, and I know that word for reasons, but to put in layman’s terms, it’s big and we won’t reach it. And about the latter question, that’s like how Estelle put it, done by two Ethergotchi performing the horizontal tango. Ethergotchi are genderless, and the act is always initiated via a mating dance by one Ethergotchi. If the partner Ethergotchi accepts, the mating ritual is performed, and an egg is created from that.

So what happens under-the-hood is that the owner of an adult Ethergotchi first buys the ‘Ethergotchi Mating Potion’ item. Using this item will allow the Ethergotchi to mate. Each Ethergotchi can only mate once during its adulthood. After using this potion, the owner requests a mating ritual by calling the Aethia mating contract with the identifier of the Ethergotchi it would like to mate with. This can be coupled with a payment in any amount of ether. The other Ethergotchi owner will be notified of this request, and may choose to accept or not. If the other person accepts, both Ethergotchi will be unavailable for a few days, while they perform the mating ritual. After this period, the owner that initiated the request will receive the resulting Ethergotchi egg. The breed and type of egg depend on its parents. The other Ethergotchi owner will receive the amount of ether that the requester put forward during the request. The requester can cancel the request if the other owner has not accepted yet. The owner can then hatch the egg via the normal game system again, or sell it.

BTC Geek: How does CHI as a currency work? Is it an ERC20 token? Is it limited in supply?
Aethia (Matías): CHI will be a nonmineable, non-mintable ERC-20 token. In Aethia, everything costs CHI. You want food? Then you buy it with CHI. If you want toys for your ‘gotchi, you buy it with CHI. That being said all egg owners can receive a monthly allowance of CHI by requesting it from the Aethian Crystal Bank, this allowance is what keeps the game free-to-play. The amount of CHI you receive depends on the types of eggs you own. If you want specialized food, potions, or items, you will have to buy more CHI. Adult Ethergotchi are able to work for CHI, this however does lower their satiation and happiness bar, as well as making them unavailable for other interaction whilst they’re working.

BTC Geek: What are the factors that affect what an Ethergotchi becomes in the Aethia world?
Aethia (Ayuni): Ethergotchi are a bit like us humans in the sense that they’re more inclined towards certain aspects of life. I don’t have the super gene that apparently all top athletes have, for example. Ethergotchi are born with a certain distribution of attributes, as well a growth rate for those attributes; this depends on its parents as well as its star alignment. This doesn’t mean that Ethergotchi will perform certain tasks better, per se, but it does mean that they would progress easier if they followed a different career path. Don’t let this stop you from achieving your ‘gotchi’s dreams, though.

BTC Geek: How do different Ethergotchis interact with each other in the Aethia world? Or are they just separate beings without any interaction?
Aethia (Ayuni): This is actually really interesting. As players might have deduced, the egg stage of a ‘gotchi’s lifecycle is a rather one-on-one affair. It’s up to the owner to guide the egg towards its child phase. Even then children are mostly sheltered, but they could be sent to a daycare or school to interact with different ‘gotchi. Some owners don’t have the time to look after their ‘gotchi continuously. These experiences are things an Ethergotchi remembers over its lifetime. Afterwards, during a ‘gotchi’s adulthood, there will be many ways of interacting with other ‘gotchi. Let’s keep the mystery of that alive for now.

Matías adds “Just to cut in a bit, and give a bit of insight into the technical aspect of things, all types of interactions occur in their own contract, which makes it an incredibly flexible system to build, deploy and maintain. New patches could introduce entire new faculties to school, a gym to perform sports in, a battle arena, a chapel, etc.”

BTC Geek: What are the differences between the various types of eggs, such as common, rare, mythic, legendary, etc.?
Aethia (Estelle, Ayoni, Matías, Joseph): That’s an easy one! The higher grade your egg is, the more awesome it is and the more amazing it looks and the higher its initial attribute points and growth rate is. Anyway, there’s also a limited amount of legendary Ethergotchi. Specifically ten. Additionally, it’s impossible to get a legendary ‘gotchi egg from a mating ritual, it will be mythic at the highest. Oh, we might also want to add that, of those ten legendaries, one will be sold on a first-come-first-serve basis at some point during the alpha. It’s to satisfy that one dude or dudette that wants to start off with a legendary ‘gotchi, and keep us fed for a while at the same time.

BTC Geek: Did the success of Cryptokitties take you by surprise?
Aethia (Ayuni): Yes, and I think the success of games in general was a surprise. I still think it’s somewhat strange for interactions to be so costly. Looking at the network now, though, it appears it has stabilised and is ready to try a more interactive game.

BTC Geek: After the success of Crytpkitties, it seems that are many new cryptocollectible games being built. What are your thoughts on those, and how does Aethia distinguish itself from these?
Aethia (Ayuni): We’re not positioning ourselves as a so-called ‘cryptocollectible’. It’s not that I find it demeaning, but I don’t remember anyone calling Pokémon a collectible game, nor was Tamagotchi a collectible game. Aethia is a simulation and role-playing game on the blockchain! We believe players will get attached to their ‘gotchi, and raise them correctly over their lifetime, instead of seeing the Ethergotchi as simple collectibles.

Feb 112018
 

Aethia Omega Egg
Aethia, a simulation world of Tamagotchi meets Pokemon on the Ethereum blockchain (called Ethergotchi) is launching its third egg type, called Omega Egg. An Ethergotchi gets hatched from an egg that would be ready to enter the World of Aethia. The Omega Egg has a random star alignment. Star alignment, somewhat similar to a star sign, affects the growth rate of base attributes. An Ethergotchi has 5 base attributes.

The Aethia game will have a total of 15 possible star alignments. Unlike the Alpha Egg, which has a unique Star Alignment, the Omega Egg will have a random star alignment.

To learn more about the Aethia game, read our in-depth coverage.

After the overwhelming success of CryptoKitties, there are several new projects looking to create a more immersive game with more complex features and role-playing. Although there is precedence in the gaming world around highly complex game worlds, they are fairly new on the blockchain. Aethia is one of those games, which is launching an alpha soon. The team has an elaborate design in place for the game world. Aethia is built using Ethereum blockchain.

The advantage of the blockchain is that players truly are in control of the game assets that they purchase, and not the game developer or publisher. This prevents the game developers from abusing their power of making changes against the community wishes. If they do, the players can fork into an alternative version while still retaining their in-game items they purchased.

The Omega Egg will be available for purchase on the Aethia website starting Feb 12, 2018, 12:00:00 UTC. The price for the Omega Egg will be 0.09 ETH. A free toy is included with the purchase. In-game items like toys are used in the Aethia world to improve the attributes of an Ethergotchi, and can be purchased from in-game stores with CHI. CHI is the native currency of the Aethia World, and will be given for free to Ethergotchi inside the game world per month, so the game is free for players to play.

The Omega Egg marks the third egg type that has been released by the Aethia team. The other two are a Referral Egg and an Alpha Egg. The Alpha Egg has been sold out, but players can still get a Referral Egg by inviting at least 3 of their friends to the game, who sign up. If you plan to join Aethia, you can use my referral link.

The Aethia team has big plans for the game, and its design provides for a flexible structure that enables easy expansion of many features. This should keep the fans hooked for longer periods of time.