It all started when Facebook rebranded itself to Meta and it sort of created a ripple effect. Everyone started talking about the next version of the internet which most of us call Metaverse.
Decentraland without a doubt is one of the closest things to the metaverse. There are a few other platforms as well, but the focus of this post is Decentraland for now(maybe I will write another post on one of these other platforms i.e. Roblox, Sandbox, Zepeto etc.)
Disclaimer — The information shared below is based on the whitepapers, documentation and videos I have watched. If something sounds off or has changed — do leave a comment with a ref link.
Outcome — By the end of this post you will have a fair idea of what Decentraland is and how to get started on it as a creator/developer. I am assuming that you have basic understanding of blockchain and concepts like NFT, Ethereum, token etc.
The purpose of creating Decentraland was to develop a decentralised virtual world that users own and run themselves. This is based on blockchain technology — Ethereum.
As per the whitepaper — Prior to 2016 Decentraland was just a PoC and this was titled Stone age. The Decentraland team started working on development in late 2016 and it was called as Bronze age in which there were parcels of land. Then came the Iron Age which had social experience and an economy which allowed users to transfer the ownership of land to other users.
Below are the important building blocks that will help understand the Decentraland in a more tangible manner
A. Wallet —
Users can experience the Decentraland as a guest but if they want to fully enjoy the Decentraland then the platform recommends a digital cryptocurrency wallet as it allows users to log in from various devices and keep all digital assets and progress safe under one wallet address. Those who don’t know what a digital wallet is please refer to this.
Metamask is the recommended wallet as per the documentation and it is really easy to set up by installing a chrome plugin in the browser.
More on — How to get MetaMask wallet
B. Economy —
Like every other metaverse platform, Decentraland also has its own economy which is based on the token — MANA, it is built on Ethereum in accordance with the ERC20 standards of the token.
Note: Token and Coin are not the same to understand the difference — please refer here
Decentraland has its own marketplace which is a go-to place to trade and manage all Decentraland on-chain assets. This allows to sell, buy and transfer ownership to other users.
There are two kinds of sales in Decentraland:-
- Primary Sales — when the item is purchased for the first time and these sales are done by Decentraland store smart contract. When a user makes a primary purchase of items, the store mints the item automatically transfers the item to the purchaser and sends the MANA proceeds to the beneficiary address. e.g. buying a wearable
- Secondary Sales — are performed by the Decentraland Marketplace’s smart contract. These occur anytime a user sells an item in the marketplace after it has been minted or purchased in a primary sale. Items can be sold for any price in a secondary sale.
Note: Examples of primary sales and secondary sales are down below, this will make sense in a while. But for now please understand these two types of sale
C. Land —
Decentraland is made up of parcels of land parcels each size 16meters by 16meters. These parcels are owned by the users and all the digital content belongs to these parcels. When two or more parcels are grouped together they are called estates.
Scenes which users experience are built upon one or more parcels. Each parcel, in fact, is an NFT, so to publish a scene on a parcel either purchase a parcel or get permission from the owner of that particular parcel i.e. to rent it.
To buy the land visit — marketplace (e.g. of Secondary Sales). If buying is not an option then renting can also be considered. Here are a few places which allow renting land in Decentraland:-
D. Build a virtual scene
Decentraland provides SDK and a cloud-based builder to create a virtual scene, and either of them can be used to create a scene. But the fastest way is to first create a template scene using the builder and then download it and build more custom interactions in VSCode using the SDK.
Builder provides a library of 3D files that can be used to create a scene but custom 3D models can also be added. There are certain restrictions like the file format should be GLTF/GLB and the file should have a polycount within the specified limit. To learn more about the restrictions and limitations of 3d files please refer here.
Decentraland documentation is self-sufficient in order to get started with either SDK or builder.
To create complex interactions SDK is the preferred way as it gives flexibility and creators will have control over the interactions and actions. Decentraland provides an npm package — ECS Utils which is used to create such interactions — for its documentation please refer here.
There are other npm libraries as well for example to create NPC(Non-Player Character), for access control.
E. Pre-Requisites for Publishing Scene
Although anyone can register and start creating a virtual scene in Decentraland using either SDK or builder but to publish a scene, creators need to make sure of the following checkpoints:-
- The scene should comply with the scene limitations — Link
- Own or rent out the necessary amount of land parcel
- A valid MetaMask account to which land parcel(s) is assigned to
To read more on how to publish scenes over Decentraland please refer here.
F. Share Scene without Publishing on Decenteraland
Decentraland SDK allows the deployment of the preview on the private servers and then that can be shared among peers for testing and review without publishing it on Decentraland directly. So through this, there is no need to either buy the land or rent it.
To deploy the scene on Heroku please refer here