What are Decentralized Autonomous Worlds (DAWs)?

IntermediateMay 01, 2024
Decentralized Autonomous Worlds are virtual spaces where game logic and assets live on the blockchain. Users can freely modify games, in-game items, and characters, thus becoming not just participants but co-creators.
What are Decentralized Autonomous Worlds (DAWs)?

Introduction

Games in the crypto space were never entirely on-chain, at best, they were web3-adjacent, meaning they may incorporate blockchain technology or cryptocurrency components but still rely on traditional game servers for the actual gameplay mechanics. However, the gaming landscape within the crypto space has undergone a transformative shift, evolving from mere integration of blockchain components to the emergence of Decentralized Autonomous Worlds (DAWs).

Decentralized Autonomous Worlds is an emerging narrative where all aspects of a game are fully on-chain; players are not just participants but co-creators. This heralds a new era where gameplay mechanics, assets, and governance structures exist transparently on the blockchain, empowering users with unparalleled control and ownership.

In this article, we delve into the challenges facing current Web3 games and explore the revolutionary potential of DAWs, examining their features, challenges, and the burgeoning ecosystem of projects actively contributing to this innovative narrative. As the gaming industry embraces the ethos of decentralization and user empowerment, DAWs stand at the forefront, poised to redefine the gaming experience as we know it.

Challenges of Current Web3 Games: The Need for Autonomous Worlds

Source: Ancient8

The gaming concept in Web3 emerged when users sought to earn cryptocurrency through gameplay, e.g., Axie Infinity. However, these games were often criticized for prioritizing earning over fun.

As the GameFi narrative consolidated as a niche in the Web3 space, it birthed more diverse genres, innovative mechanics, and smoother user experiences. Games considered ownership and community governance as part of their ideology. Also, they explored user-generated content and the metaverse—a virtual world where users could interact with each other and digital objects in real-time. They were mostly built as a supporting ecosystem for a particular game.

The metaverse mimicked real-life materials and processes, such as buying lands and buildings to produce in-game assets. The notable drawback was that the current games’ metaverse and other features were off-chain. These games could be best described as Web 2.5. This section describes the major challenges associated with Web2.5 Games.

Partial Decentralization

Developers may be tempted to maintain control over certain aspects of the game, which can be exploited for profit rather than prioritizing user experience.

Risk of Shutdown

In cases where a game or concept fails to generate profit, developers can discontinue the project entirely.

Limited On-Chain Integration

While these games use the blockchain to manage asset ownership through NFTs, they still rely on centralized servers for gameplay.

Time-Intensive Development

Game development can also be tedious, taking time and resources, with bug fixes and updates taking months to resolve.

Lack of Interoperability

Web3 games typically lack interoperability, with each game featuring its token system and design that prevents interaction with other games, limiting the broader ecosystem’s growth and potential collaboration opportunities.

What are DAWs?

DAWs are still a novel concept, but they hold promise for creating virtual worlds that are more democratic, transparent, and user-driven. Essentially, it is a virtual environment on a decentralized blockchain network, where the world’s rules, assets, and state exist on-chain. The creators of the initial world do not get privileges, and anyone can contribute to its development so far it’s within the set underlying rules. Every part of an autonomous world is encoded on-chain as smart contracts, and players can access the source code.

DAWs are also known as Fully On-Chain Games (FOCG), games that exist fully on the blockchain—all the game logic, animation, assets, and achievements are recorded on-chain and implemented by smart contracts. The games are built with open-source technology and allow for significant modding (user modification). This means the source code is accessible, and players with programming skills can create a custom interface.

Ultimately, DAWs have the potential to revolutionize the gaming industry by providing sustainable, decentralized gaming ecosystems where users have unprecedented control and ownership, aligning closely with the principles of blockchain technology.

Features of a Decentralized Autonomous World

An ideal Decentralized Autonomous World should possess the following features.

Fully On-Chain

Every aspect of an Autonomous World is on-chain, from source code to in-game NFTs.

Permanent Existence

Decentralized Autonomous Worlds are designed to operate independently, with the code and necessary parameters all on-chain, and will continue to exist as long as the blockchain remains functional.

Self-Governance

In an autonomous world, the developers or creators do not have the absolute power to change the settings, laws, or any line of code in the underlying operating system. Where modification to the rules is necessary, users can decide through transparent governance proposals.

Permissionless Extension

Users can freely develop and deploy additional features, applications, or functionalities without needing approval from the founders of an autonomous world. The smart contracts guiding a DAW are open-source, allowing anyone to view and build according to the rules that govern the autonomous world.

Composability / Interoperability

DAWs are built to interact and integrate so that elements from one virtual world can be combined or used within another. With this feature, users can create interconnected experiences with resources from multiple worlds to enhance their interactions within different digital environments. An example is using your favorite weapon across multiple first-person shooter games.

Challenges of Decentralized Autonomous Worlds

Slow Response Time

This can occur if multiple players send information to the Blockchain simultaneously, leading to network congestion. This factor highlights the need for robust infrastructure that can help improve response time.

Uncontrolled Use of Bots

As an autonomous world with complete decentralization, there should be no restriction on who or what gets to participate, but the unchecked use of bots can affect the game’s fairness. In an Autonomous World, rules guiding the use of bots can be decided by the community.

Adoption

As it stands, user adoption or player interest is still minimal, as games are just seen as entertainment. However, Decentralized Autonomous Worlds would allow for modification as it suits the user. Most likely, no one wants to play a game forever.

Another factor that could limit adoption is if modifications require technical knowledge, where users might not possess the necessary technical skills. Creators will have to find a way to make changes user-friendly.

Building a Decentralized Autonomous World

The success of an ideal DAW would be based on how well developers can maximize each part of the parameters discussed below.

Digital Physics

This determines the fundamental physical laws and principles that govern the behavior of objects and forces within the digital environment.

UI/UX

This interprets the on-chain state to render graphics, gameplay UI, etc., for users. Developers can use traditional engines like Unity or Specialized Blockchain Tools to create visually appealing representations of smart contracts and user interfaces.

Economics

A balanced system that rewards user interaction, ensuring usability and accessibility. The economic model should incentivize user engagement while maintaining fairness and sustainability.

System Design

A user-friendly system for accessing on-chain data and updating smart contracts.

Infrastructure

Optimal user experience demands efficient infrastructure, including layer 2 solutions, oracles, chain interoperability bridges, and development tools.

Note: As decentralized autonomous worlds evolve, the basic parameters required to build them could change.

Autonomous World Tools / Game Engines

MUD

Source: Lattice

A Solidity-based open-source operating system for Autonomous Worlds and other fully on-chain applications. It reduces the complexity of building large-scale Ethereum applications.

MUD is built by Lattice, a company developing infrastructure and tools that empower the creation of next-generation Ethereum applications, focusing on autonomous worlds.

DOJO

Source: Dojo

An open-source, provable game engine built with Cairo, designed to be the ultimate tool for creating on-chain games. DOJO is a collective project of Starknet, StarkWare, Cartridge, Bibliotheca DAO, Briq, and other contributors.

Paima Engine

Source: Paima Studios

Paima Engine is a framework for building Web3 applications, mainly focused on games, gamified experiences, and autonomous worlds. It is designed to allow developers to create games that can be deployed on multiple blockchains, making them accessible to a wider audience.

The World Engine

The World Engine developed by Argus Labs is a sharded layer 2 blockchain custom-designed for game developers and players. With World Engine’s innovative layer 2 sharding technology, each game can have its scalable blockchain owned by the community.

DAW-Related Projects

This section highlights existing autonomous worlds and organizations actively building on the DAW narrative.

Lattice

Source: Lattice

Lattice is a product-focused company pushing the boundaries of what is possible within the Ethereum blockchain, particularly for applications and infrastructure related to autonomous worlds. It is known for building MUD, an open-source game Engine, and Redstone, a cost-effective Layer 2 chain for on-chain games built with MUD. Lattice is funded entirely by grants from the 0xPARC and Optimism Foundation.

Curio

Source: Curio

Curio is building infrastructure for composable on-chain games. They aim to create games where players can contribute to governance structures and economic systems.

Further, Curio is working on its first project, a social strategy-based game, Duper. They are backed by Bain Capital, TCG Crypto, Robot Ventures, and many other investors.

Argus Labs

Source: Argus Labs

Argus Labs is a game development and crypto-based company founded by hackers and designers who have decided to revolutionize the video game industry. It started with developing Dark Forest, the first fully on-chain MMORTS (Massively Multiplayer Online Real-Time Strategy) game on Ethereum built with zkSNARKs. They’re currently building World Engine, a custom blockchain for gamers. Argus Labs is backed by Haun Ventures, Alchemy, Robot Ventures, Anagram, Dispersion Capital, and many other investors.

Dark Forest

Source: ARPA

The pioneer of fully on-chain games or Autonomous Worlds. A real-time multiplayer strategy game set in a universe where players explore, occupy planets, accumulate energy, and engage in wars.

Critically acclaimed for its gaming experience, it employed an “incomplete information strategy” where you could not determine the moves of your opponent, such as with Poker or Warcraft, using Zero-Knowledge Proofs.

PixeLaw

Source: EthGlobal

PixeLAW is a primitive autonomous world built on the Starknet using the DOJO Engine, it focuses on player agency and interaction at the pixel level. All applications share pixels and offer new experiences through interoperability at the pixel layer.

OPCraft

Source: OPLabs

OPCraft is a fully on-chain virtual world built with the MUD Engine, where every detail, from rivers to blades of grass, exists on the blockchain. Every action, like exploring, mining, and crafting, is recorded as an Ethereum transaction. Like other crafting-based voxel worlds, you can explore, mine, build, and craft items. Players can create structures, and monuments, and reshape the land either alone or with other players.

Tarochi

Tarochi gaming interface showing in-game characters

A fully decentralized autonomous world on the Xai blockchain network, built with the Paima Engine and Arbitrum Orbit, a permissionless feature for launching customizable dedicated chains using Arbitrum technology. Tarochi is a role-playing game, where every quest, every challenge, and every monster caught becomes a part of the blockchain history.

Conclusion

The concept of Decentralized Autonomous Worlds (DAWs) represents a significant evolution in gaming, promising fully on-chain environments where users become co-creators, and the rules of the game are transparent and immutable. While traditional Web3 games often faced criticism for prioritizing profit over fun, DAWs offer a vision of sustainable, decentralized gaming ecosystems where users have unprecedented control and ownership. Despite being in its early stages, the emergence of projects like MUD, DOJO, and others signals a growing interest and investment in this innovative narrative. As developers continue to explore and refine the concept, Decentralized Autonomous Worlds could potentially revolutionize the gaming industry, aligning it more closely with the principles of blockchain technology.

Author: Paul
Translator: Piper
Reviewer(s): Edward、Matheus、Ashley
* The information is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice or any other recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by Gate.io.
* This article may not be reproduced, transmitted or copied without referencing Gate.io. Contravention is an infringement of Copyright Act and may be subject to legal action.

What are Decentralized Autonomous Worlds (DAWs)?

IntermediateMay 01, 2024
Decentralized Autonomous Worlds are virtual spaces where game logic and assets live on the blockchain. Users can freely modify games, in-game items, and characters, thus becoming not just participants but co-creators.
What are Decentralized Autonomous Worlds (DAWs)?

Introduction

Games in the crypto space were never entirely on-chain, at best, they were web3-adjacent, meaning they may incorporate blockchain technology or cryptocurrency components but still rely on traditional game servers for the actual gameplay mechanics. However, the gaming landscape within the crypto space has undergone a transformative shift, evolving from mere integration of blockchain components to the emergence of Decentralized Autonomous Worlds (DAWs).

Decentralized Autonomous Worlds is an emerging narrative where all aspects of a game are fully on-chain; players are not just participants but co-creators. This heralds a new era where gameplay mechanics, assets, and governance structures exist transparently on the blockchain, empowering users with unparalleled control and ownership.

In this article, we delve into the challenges facing current Web3 games and explore the revolutionary potential of DAWs, examining their features, challenges, and the burgeoning ecosystem of projects actively contributing to this innovative narrative. As the gaming industry embraces the ethos of decentralization and user empowerment, DAWs stand at the forefront, poised to redefine the gaming experience as we know it.

Challenges of Current Web3 Games: The Need for Autonomous Worlds

Source: Ancient8

The gaming concept in Web3 emerged when users sought to earn cryptocurrency through gameplay, e.g., Axie Infinity. However, these games were often criticized for prioritizing earning over fun.

As the GameFi narrative consolidated as a niche in the Web3 space, it birthed more diverse genres, innovative mechanics, and smoother user experiences. Games considered ownership and community governance as part of their ideology. Also, they explored user-generated content and the metaverse—a virtual world where users could interact with each other and digital objects in real-time. They were mostly built as a supporting ecosystem for a particular game.

The metaverse mimicked real-life materials and processes, such as buying lands and buildings to produce in-game assets. The notable drawback was that the current games’ metaverse and other features were off-chain. These games could be best described as Web 2.5. This section describes the major challenges associated with Web2.5 Games.

Partial Decentralization

Developers may be tempted to maintain control over certain aspects of the game, which can be exploited for profit rather than prioritizing user experience.

Risk of Shutdown

In cases where a game or concept fails to generate profit, developers can discontinue the project entirely.

Limited On-Chain Integration

While these games use the blockchain to manage asset ownership through NFTs, they still rely on centralized servers for gameplay.

Time-Intensive Development

Game development can also be tedious, taking time and resources, with bug fixes and updates taking months to resolve.

Lack of Interoperability

Web3 games typically lack interoperability, with each game featuring its token system and design that prevents interaction with other games, limiting the broader ecosystem’s growth and potential collaboration opportunities.

What are DAWs?

DAWs are still a novel concept, but they hold promise for creating virtual worlds that are more democratic, transparent, and user-driven. Essentially, it is a virtual environment on a decentralized blockchain network, where the world’s rules, assets, and state exist on-chain. The creators of the initial world do not get privileges, and anyone can contribute to its development so far it’s within the set underlying rules. Every part of an autonomous world is encoded on-chain as smart contracts, and players can access the source code.

DAWs are also known as Fully On-Chain Games (FOCG), games that exist fully on the blockchain—all the game logic, animation, assets, and achievements are recorded on-chain and implemented by smart contracts. The games are built with open-source technology and allow for significant modding (user modification). This means the source code is accessible, and players with programming skills can create a custom interface.

Ultimately, DAWs have the potential to revolutionize the gaming industry by providing sustainable, decentralized gaming ecosystems where users have unprecedented control and ownership, aligning closely with the principles of blockchain technology.

Features of a Decentralized Autonomous World

An ideal Decentralized Autonomous World should possess the following features.

Fully On-Chain

Every aspect of an Autonomous World is on-chain, from source code to in-game NFTs.

Permanent Existence

Decentralized Autonomous Worlds are designed to operate independently, with the code and necessary parameters all on-chain, and will continue to exist as long as the blockchain remains functional.

Self-Governance

In an autonomous world, the developers or creators do not have the absolute power to change the settings, laws, or any line of code in the underlying operating system. Where modification to the rules is necessary, users can decide through transparent governance proposals.

Permissionless Extension

Users can freely develop and deploy additional features, applications, or functionalities without needing approval from the founders of an autonomous world. The smart contracts guiding a DAW are open-source, allowing anyone to view and build according to the rules that govern the autonomous world.

Composability / Interoperability

DAWs are built to interact and integrate so that elements from one virtual world can be combined or used within another. With this feature, users can create interconnected experiences with resources from multiple worlds to enhance their interactions within different digital environments. An example is using your favorite weapon across multiple first-person shooter games.

Challenges of Decentralized Autonomous Worlds

Slow Response Time

This can occur if multiple players send information to the Blockchain simultaneously, leading to network congestion. This factor highlights the need for robust infrastructure that can help improve response time.

Uncontrolled Use of Bots

As an autonomous world with complete decentralization, there should be no restriction on who or what gets to participate, but the unchecked use of bots can affect the game’s fairness. In an Autonomous World, rules guiding the use of bots can be decided by the community.

Adoption

As it stands, user adoption or player interest is still minimal, as games are just seen as entertainment. However, Decentralized Autonomous Worlds would allow for modification as it suits the user. Most likely, no one wants to play a game forever.

Another factor that could limit adoption is if modifications require technical knowledge, where users might not possess the necessary technical skills. Creators will have to find a way to make changes user-friendly.

Building a Decentralized Autonomous World

The success of an ideal DAW would be based on how well developers can maximize each part of the parameters discussed below.

Digital Physics

This determines the fundamental physical laws and principles that govern the behavior of objects and forces within the digital environment.

UI/UX

This interprets the on-chain state to render graphics, gameplay UI, etc., for users. Developers can use traditional engines like Unity or Specialized Blockchain Tools to create visually appealing representations of smart contracts and user interfaces.

Economics

A balanced system that rewards user interaction, ensuring usability and accessibility. The economic model should incentivize user engagement while maintaining fairness and sustainability.

System Design

A user-friendly system for accessing on-chain data and updating smart contracts.

Infrastructure

Optimal user experience demands efficient infrastructure, including layer 2 solutions, oracles, chain interoperability bridges, and development tools.

Note: As decentralized autonomous worlds evolve, the basic parameters required to build them could change.

Autonomous World Tools / Game Engines

MUD

Source: Lattice

A Solidity-based open-source operating system for Autonomous Worlds and other fully on-chain applications. It reduces the complexity of building large-scale Ethereum applications.

MUD is built by Lattice, a company developing infrastructure and tools that empower the creation of next-generation Ethereum applications, focusing on autonomous worlds.

DOJO

Source: Dojo

An open-source, provable game engine built with Cairo, designed to be the ultimate tool for creating on-chain games. DOJO is a collective project of Starknet, StarkWare, Cartridge, Bibliotheca DAO, Briq, and other contributors.

Paima Engine

Source: Paima Studios

Paima Engine is a framework for building Web3 applications, mainly focused on games, gamified experiences, and autonomous worlds. It is designed to allow developers to create games that can be deployed on multiple blockchains, making them accessible to a wider audience.

The World Engine

The World Engine developed by Argus Labs is a sharded layer 2 blockchain custom-designed for game developers and players. With World Engine’s innovative layer 2 sharding technology, each game can have its scalable blockchain owned by the community.

DAW-Related Projects

This section highlights existing autonomous worlds and organizations actively building on the DAW narrative.

Lattice

Source: Lattice

Lattice is a product-focused company pushing the boundaries of what is possible within the Ethereum blockchain, particularly for applications and infrastructure related to autonomous worlds. It is known for building MUD, an open-source game Engine, and Redstone, a cost-effective Layer 2 chain for on-chain games built with MUD. Lattice is funded entirely by grants from the 0xPARC and Optimism Foundation.

Curio

Source: Curio

Curio is building infrastructure for composable on-chain games. They aim to create games where players can contribute to governance structures and economic systems.

Further, Curio is working on its first project, a social strategy-based game, Duper. They are backed by Bain Capital, TCG Crypto, Robot Ventures, and many other investors.

Argus Labs

Source: Argus Labs

Argus Labs is a game development and crypto-based company founded by hackers and designers who have decided to revolutionize the video game industry. It started with developing Dark Forest, the first fully on-chain MMORTS (Massively Multiplayer Online Real-Time Strategy) game on Ethereum built with zkSNARKs. They’re currently building World Engine, a custom blockchain for gamers. Argus Labs is backed by Haun Ventures, Alchemy, Robot Ventures, Anagram, Dispersion Capital, and many other investors.

Dark Forest

Source: ARPA

The pioneer of fully on-chain games or Autonomous Worlds. A real-time multiplayer strategy game set in a universe where players explore, occupy planets, accumulate energy, and engage in wars.

Critically acclaimed for its gaming experience, it employed an “incomplete information strategy” where you could not determine the moves of your opponent, such as with Poker or Warcraft, using Zero-Knowledge Proofs.

PixeLaw

Source: EthGlobal

PixeLAW is a primitive autonomous world built on the Starknet using the DOJO Engine, it focuses on player agency and interaction at the pixel level. All applications share pixels and offer new experiences through interoperability at the pixel layer.

OPCraft

Source: OPLabs

OPCraft is a fully on-chain virtual world built with the MUD Engine, where every detail, from rivers to blades of grass, exists on the blockchain. Every action, like exploring, mining, and crafting, is recorded as an Ethereum transaction. Like other crafting-based voxel worlds, you can explore, mine, build, and craft items. Players can create structures, and monuments, and reshape the land either alone or with other players.

Tarochi

Tarochi gaming interface showing in-game characters

A fully decentralized autonomous world on the Xai blockchain network, built with the Paima Engine and Arbitrum Orbit, a permissionless feature for launching customizable dedicated chains using Arbitrum technology. Tarochi is a role-playing game, where every quest, every challenge, and every monster caught becomes a part of the blockchain history.

Conclusion

The concept of Decentralized Autonomous Worlds (DAWs) represents a significant evolution in gaming, promising fully on-chain environments where users become co-creators, and the rules of the game are transparent and immutable. While traditional Web3 games often faced criticism for prioritizing profit over fun, DAWs offer a vision of sustainable, decentralized gaming ecosystems where users have unprecedented control and ownership. Despite being in its early stages, the emergence of projects like MUD, DOJO, and others signals a growing interest and investment in this innovative narrative. As developers continue to explore and refine the concept, Decentralized Autonomous Worlds could potentially revolutionize the gaming industry, aligning it more closely with the principles of blockchain technology.

Author: Paul
Translator: Piper
Reviewer(s): Edward、Matheus、Ashley
* The information is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice or any other recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by Gate.io.
* This article may not be reproduced, transmitted or copied without referencing Gate.io. Contravention is an infringement of Copyright Act and may be subject to legal action.
Start Now
Sign up and get a
$100
Voucher!
Create Account