The Sandbox: A Decentralized Virtual Gaming World | Hacker Noon

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This article gives you an introduction to The Sandbox ecosystem,
the decentralized multi-platform multiplayer virtual gaming world.
The article describes the cooperation between players, creators, and artists in The Sandbox, and provides information on how blockchain technology backs up the whole thing.

The Sandbox is a community-driven platform where creators can monetize voxel assets and gaming experiences on the blockchain.

Introduction

Much like physical sandboxes act as safe and isolated playpens for children where imagination meets creation, developers of all sorts use virtual sandboxes as testing environments equipped with various tools for experimenting, testing, debugging, and creating objects, such as videogames parts.

The sandbox in our backyard is our first artistic arena, where we compete with our friends, share ideas, and, most importantly, play. Using thousands and thousands of golden grains, we sculpt our first hills and holes, mazes, castles, and cities, and then turn them into the legendary flooded Atlantis with naught but a bucket of water.

As we grow up, the sand from the backyard fives way to computer resources, the playpen is substituted with a monitor screen.

When powered by the blockchain, the term “sandbox” becomes more than a place to play or test. It expands into an entire game-oriented ecosystem, connecting users from all over the world using a blockchain, opening the gate into the Metaverse, where a player, using his cryptocurrency tokens, creates a world of digital splendor in The Sandbox universe.

For those who want to play: The Sandbox is a game metaverse where you can create games and play games created by others.

For those interested in making a living doing what they enjoy: The Sandbox is a framework where artists with software aptitude can make money using the ecosystem’s Marketplace.

The Sandbox is a decentralized virtual gaming world built on the Ethereum blockchain, where creators can make 3D VOXEL assets, create a game experience, and monetize it through non-fungible tokens, The Sandbox cryptocurrency called Sand. Also, this framework will maybe allow users
to import a scans of real-world objects into the game in the future.

Since the whole platform is based on blockchain technology, the main idea here is the possible ownership of this multi-gaming world by players.

Several tokens are included in The Sandbox Metaverse. For example,
a LAND is an object purchased by a player using his SAND token.
On this LAND, a game from voxels could be built. SAND tokens can be bought for fiat money, acquired by playing a game, renting a bought LAND, or staking player’s SAND tokens to get more SAND over time.

Bringing blockchain into gaming is the central goal of The Sandbox vision, which also includes:

Improving player security 

  • Players own their digital assets in their wallet-connected accounts. These accounts can be accessed using the Metamask login option that allows using a hardware wallet,
    such as Ledger or Trezor.
  • They also support various login methods, such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, or regular email login. 

Advantages of true ownership 

  • Players can transfer, exchange, sell, trade, or use their non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
    in a permissionless manner without asking The Sandbox or any centralized entity for approval. 

Digital scarcity

  • The digital ledger’s presence and use create the proof of transparency that signs the cardinality of digital copies of a virtual item and its ownership. This protects collectors and owners and also ensures the uniqueness, and thus the value, of the items.

 Interoperability

  • Since a player’s non-fungible tokens (NFT) are hosted in their wallet in a decentralized manner, they can be used across multiple games. 
  • For example, a player can play other titles with his Fortnite character, reusing his main avatar across the platform. The player can customize the function or visual representations of the avatar to a specific game.

Player’s monetization capabilities for NFTs

  • The use of the tokens is based on the rules of each game
  • Renting of a purchased LAND for SAND earning
  • Trading the NFTs on both The Sandbox marketplace or secondary marketplaces 

Voxels are commonly understood to be 3D cubes but can also be rendered as models made out of clouds of points generated by 3D scanning.
Even though the games based on voxel lack stunning graphics,
they outmatch other games in their possibilities to build, collaborate,
and automate.

Before looking further into The Sandbox, let’s take a look at two titans of voxel gaming, who laid the foundations for the future of the gaming industry, Factorio and Minecraft.

Factorio

Factorio is a survival game about automation and creation, which is especially appealing to people with technical thinking, such as engineers and programmers, and people with technical thinking.

The idea is to build automated pipelines that do the work for their creator. Most things can be done manually, but setting up automation makes you progress the game far more efficiently.

Minecraft

Rather than automation, Minecraft is about using your creativity to build
a world around you. Automating and programming are also included, although not to such an extent as in Factorio. Minecraft is not unlike having a Lego that you’re a part of. It is a world where you can simulate a box falling from the stairs, but also a PC processor with all its components and many other things; it just depends on the imagination and abilities of the player. Sacrificing high-end visuals for such creative freedom is a small price to pay, because it is something that most of the other games completely lack.

The involvement of Minecraft getting into blockchain had happened through the blockchain EnjinCraft plug-in, which finally opened more talks about Blockchain Gaming, where the Cryptovoxels and The Sandbox pioneering its way.

Minecraft opened a big door with a new type of aesthetic for games, dressing the retro aesthetic style of pixel art into a new coat using voxels. Minecraft has many loyal fans and enthusiasts, but the community also looks for new ways to continue where Minecraft reached the plateau of its potential after dominating for the last 11 years.

What is The Sandbox?

Games built in The Sandbox are similar to Minecraft in design and could be functional like Factorio, but creat enhanced clones of existing games is not what this platform is about. Making a game platform that shares similarities with the two above titles, but with better possibilities and tools for creators, who will own 100% of their creations, and for players, who will be able to participate in play-to-earn experiences, that’s what The Sandbox is about.

SAND holders will be also able to participate in the governance of the platform via a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), where they can exercise voting rights on key decisions of The Sandbox ecosystem.
As a player, you can create digital assets (Non-Fungible Tokens, aka NFTs), upload them to the marketplace, and drag-and-drop them to create game experiences with The Sandbox Game Maker. The Sandbox has secured over 50 partnerships including Atari, Square Enix, Crypto Kitties, and Shaun the Sheep to build a fun, creative “play-to-earn” gaming platform, owned and made by players. The Sandbox aims to bring blockchain into mainstream gaming, attracting both crypto and non-crypto game enthusiasts by offering the advantages of true ownership, digital scarcity, monetization capabilities, and interoperability.

Objectives

The Sandbox’s vision is to be a 3D multiplayer multi-platform blockchain-enabled games, built for PC, MAC, and Mobile. Available for Android and iOS by the end of December, followed by mobile devices later in 2021.

By the end of their roadmap, all platforms will be connected and players of all mentioned devices will be sharing the same gaming experience together.

Into The Sandbox

An interview with Sebastien Borget, COO in The Sandbox

1) Can I experience similar joy playing The Sandbox games like I had, for example, with Minecraft and Factorio? How would The Sandbox version of these games look and what enhancement would it bring if these two games were built again on The Sandbox?

We are creating an appealing gaming metaverse that aims at attracting all types of people: young & old players, casual & pro gamers, newbie creators & professional artists.

Our intention is not to rebuild Minecraft or Roblox on our platform, but make our game platform, which shares similarities with the two above titles, a better choice for Creators who will own 100% of their creations and Players who will be able to participate in play-to-earn experiences.

We are preparing an MMORPG inspired gameplay, where players will need to complete quests across the map (kill enemies, collect items, etc.), either in lands made by players or in procedurally generated lands. Players can collect tokens and resources and trade them with other players, creators, artists, etc. on the platform. This business model is called play-to-earn, as anything they collect in the game is truly owned by players; they can trade it to other players (inside the marketplace or outside on other websites), transfer it to other players, or even resell it through our currency $SAND.

2) How is a game built on the platform? Can you lead us through the several steps that are needed?

The four steps of creating a game on The Sandbox are pretty easy and accessible:

1. Make your own game assets with VoxEdit or acquire some made by other Creators on Marketplace. 

2. Download the Game Maker (currently in alpha at) and install it on your PC or Mac. 

3. Start creating your game experience, and enjoy the accessibility of game making without any programming knowledge required; it’s all no-code. 

4. Publish your game experience onto your LAND for everyone to see. Currently, as we are in alpha, you can publish in an online gallery instead.

3) It is possible to build a Sandbox game based on objects generated using Hand or Optical scanners? The output is a Cloud point or triangulated mesh.

All the models present in The Sandbox game are made using our 3D editor VoxEdit, then published on the marketplace and imported into the Game Maker. VoxEdit can import from various sources like MagicaVoxel or OBJ, but not yet capture from hand or optical scanners. This feature is not yet in our roadmap unless it becomes a much-demanded request from the community.

4) What is The Sandbox contribution to blockchain technology?

The Sandbox is currently built upon the Ethereum blockchain. Our blockchain team has contributed to establishing the ERC-1155 standard, which enables more efficient tokenization and transfers of game items in comparison to ERC-721. We have also contributed to the research on meta-transactions to allow users to perform transactions with only one token, SAND, rather than SAND and ETH.

5) What platforms will be supported? Will it be possible for Windows and Linux players to share their in-game moments with the XBOX and PS4 consoles at the same time? Will mobile phones be included?

The Sandbox platform tools are first available on PC and Mac, including the Game Maker and Game Client, which we are launching in beta in December 2020. In 2021, we will be adding a Mobile platform for the Game Client and expand further to consoles in 2022 and afterward.

Yes, we are aiming to make cross-platform social and multiplayer gameplay.

6) What kind of smart contracts does Sandbox use and to what operations?

All the smart contracts are built on Ethereum. You can see their source code, documentation, and security audits are available at Sandbox GitHub.

7) What is your best in-game experience from Sandbox ever?

Since the Game Maker is still in alpha and we haven’t yet launched the public beta (scheduled for December 2020), the current games are still in development. We have, for example, 17 teams of creators and game studios who are building the first games that will be available at the launch of the beta. They are supported by our game makers fund where anyone can apply.

The game list:

8) What kind of games can we meet on the platform? RPGs, Tycoons, adventures? All of them?

The first games on the platform will be mostly RPG and Adventures as our game maker’s first mechanics are built around quests, fighting enemies, collecting resources, etc. However we are already seeing emergent gameplays and another type of games that uses similar mechanics, and we are sure that with the creativity of Users-Generated Content, more choice of games will be present from the launch and afterward

9) How could Sandbox attract crypto enthusiasts and investors?

The Sandbox is a pioneer in blockchain gaming, NFTs, and real digital ownership – we have been pushing forward the industry and awareness in general. Our goal within the next five years is that $SAND will be owned 100% by players, and as the platform, we will continue developing services for the community, while owning 0%. 

Governance will progressively remove the control of our company towards the community based on token holding. The community of $SAND holders will be able to participate in the platform’s governance decisions, using a DAO structure, where they can exercise voting rights on key elements.

In the first three years, we will supply an initial high-level of issuance to early adopters, key partnerships with gaming companies, and renowned brands through the Creators Fund and staking rewards to token holders.

After four years and beyond, we will retain loyalty and players and increase the decentralization of $SAND circulation until the company holds 0% of $SAND in reserve and 100% of the SAND is in the hands of the players. Players will not come for the technology, but for the fun and the experience. Then they can benefit from the advantages offered by our decentralized model, collecting tokens, earning rewards, and being able to trade game items, their creations, lands, etc.

Making a fun, visually appealing game with good mechanics, which you would like to play repeatedly while having a great time, is our priority.

We’ll grow to millions of users from mainstream gamers through the major IPs and brands partnerships we have on the platform. We started with Atari, Rollercoaster Tycoon, Shaun the Sheep, Care Bears, CryptoKitties but more remain to be announced – bringing Hollywood and family-friendly entertainment in our gaming virtual worlds and reaching to the fans of these brands. Additionally, we have Square Enix as investor and partner and will work with major game studios on creating high-quality games in The Sandbox. 

Finally, $SAND tokens are listed on Binance, Huobi, Poloniex, Upbit, Crypto.com, WazirX, WBF, Poloniex, Tokocrypto, and Latoken, while scoring in the rank 200-250, based on stats from CoinMarketCap and CoinGecko. We will continue listing SAND onto more exchanges to reach out to more users and let them participate in our play-to-earn game economy.

The end of the interview

Parts of The Sandbox ecosystem

VoxEdit: software to create voxel ASSETS, which can then become Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and be imported to the Marketplace.

Marketplace: a decentralized marketplace for trading in-game ASSETS created in VoxEdit.

Game Maker: a visual scripting toolbox that allows anyone to build 3D games for free.

Token circulation in Blockchain gaming

Users in the ecosystem are divided into four groups: players, artists/creators, curators, and landowners. The following tokens are used to maintain and ensure the circular economy. 

Tokens

SAND

  • The SAND utility token serves as an access pass allowing players to play games, buy equipment for the avatar. LAND owners and game creators can buy an in-game land to create a game on top of it and buy stuff in the Marketplace. The token launch should be by the end of this year (2020).
  • SAND is an ERC-20 utility token built on the Ethereum blockchain, with a finite supply of 3,000,000,000 SAND. These tokens can be bought and staked, but also acquired by playing a game.

LAND

  • LAND tokens provide virtual “construction lots” where users can create games through The Sandbox Game Maker. The final number is 166 466 LANDs. LAND Sales drive demand for SAND to purchase LANDS.

GEM and CATALYST

  • Tokens created by staking the SAND token. These tokens can be used by artists for defining Rarity and Scarcity.

ASSET

  • Using the free VOXEDIT 3D voxel modeling package allows users to create and animate 3D objects such as people, animals, foliage, and tools, and export them into The Sandbox marketplace to become game ASSETs.
  • Artists spend SAND to upload ASSETS to the Marketplace.

In-game creation and tokenomics

For creating a game, a LAND is needed. Owning a Land means having an in-game space where you can create your game.

Players can create digital assets in the form of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), upload them to the marketplace, and integrate into games with Game Maker.

A LAND is a digital piece of real estate in The Sandbox metaverse that players can buy to build experiences on top of. Once a player owns a piece of LAND, the player will be able to populate it with games and ASSETS. Multiple LANDs can be combined to form an ESTATE.

A total of 166,464 LANDs will ever be available, contained in a map that will form The Sandbox metaverse.

To create assets and upload them to the store, you need the VoxEdit editing program, as well as an account and a virtual wallet.

The other token types, GEM and CATALYST, define the tier, scarcity, and attributes of the ASSET. CATALYST adds empty sockets to the NFTs that can be filled with GEMs. The higher the quality of the CATALYST, the more sockets your ASSET will have.

Users can monetize their time on the platform, keeping 95% of SAND as revenue share, by:

  • Selling ASSETS: Users can create and sell ASSETS on the marketplace as NFTs.
  • Owning a LAND: Buy a LAND in one of the LAND sales. Players can then rent them or populate them with content to increase the LAND’s value.
  • Building Games on the Game Maker: Build and monetize games using the Game Maker on the LANDs that are owned by players.

Through the use of ERC-1776, The Sandbox allows platform users to initiate transactions on the Ethereum blockchain while transaction gas fees are paid by the platform, optimizing the overall user experience. The Sandbox platform utilizes a fee capture model, where 5% of all transacted value is being collected from marketplace transaction fees. The other 95% of all transacted value is collected from LAND sales, premium NFT sales, and subscription services. A total of 26.50% of all SAND transaction volume goes back into the Foundation. It is calculated as: 5% x 50% + 95% x 25% = 26.50%

The Foundation supports the ecosystem of The Sandbox, offering grants to incentivize high-quality content and game production on the platform.
As of the time of writing, the Foundation has funded over 15 game projects and granted 100 artists to produce NFTs.

Technical infrastructure

The Sandbox platform currently runs exclusively on Ethereum, which is used to record the ownership of tokens and allow owners to transfer, sell, or use them without restrictions. IPFS is used to store all related information of ASSETS and ensures that this information cannot be changed without the permission from respective owners. The ERC-20 standard is used for the SAND, GEM, and CATALYST tokens, while ERC-1155 and ERC-721 standards are used for the storage and trading of LAND and ASSETS.

Competition

Aavegotchis

  • Aavegotchis are crypto-collectibles living on the Ethereum blockchain, backed by the ERC721 standard used in popular blockchain games such as Cryptokitties, Axie Infinity, and Cryptovoxels. Aavegotchis possess three attributes that determine their overall value and rarity within the Aavegotchi universe — collateral stake, traits, and wearables. 

Decentraland

  • Decentraland is a decentralized virtual reality platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain. Within the Decentraland platform, users can create, experience, and monetize their content and applications.
  • The finite, traversable, 3D virtual space within Decentraland is called LAND, a non-fungible digital asset maintained in an Ethereum smart contract. LAND is divided into parcels that are identified by cartesian coordinates (x,y). These parcels are permanently owned by members of the community and are purchased using MANA, Decentraland’s cryptocurrency token. This gives users full control over the environments and applications that they create, which can range from anything like static 3D scenes to more interactive applications or games.

Enjin

  • Minecraft integrations
  • Discover pioneering games, apps, and projects made by talented developers and forward-thinking companies across the world.
  • Use the gamedev tools you know and love to
  • forge blockchain games with advanced design, smart growth, and better monetization.

Axie Infinity

  • Axie Infinity is a game about collecting and raising fantasy creatures called Axie. Despite belonging to the same species, each Axie has its own distinct look and abilities.

The complete competition list – Game to Earn official site

Conclusion

Even though The Sandbox has its competition, this ecosystem provides many opportunities for creativity and interactive gaming, and will also allow gamers to play with their friends on different platforms. Again, this is not a story where Blockchain makes you rich, but one where technology opens new and exciting possibilities.

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