Updated: Feb 23
This age of fast-growing technology, where the whole world connects on different platforms, has allowed for hundreds of millions of users to network, exchange information and ideas, play games, and do so much more. All these platforms and technologies are controlled by centralized computer systems; corporations run the platforms, determine how they are used, and make rules for regulation and management. It is no secret that a lot of money is made OFF the communities and content creators who draw traffic to the platforms. There are millions of people, and hundreds of independent studios, actively creating content for the world.
So what is Decentraland? Relax, it is not difficult or complex and this article will break it down for you. Can you picture having the ability to create your world, have space where you can express yourself without restraints and still generate income from it? In a nutshell, that’s what Decentraland offers. Individuals who have acquainted themselves with the space have found ways in which they create and design their virtual world and still make money. Decentraland aims to establish a network that allows its content creators to own and capture the full value of their contributions.
In talking about Decentraland, we have to mention cryptocurrency. Ethereum stands out amongst these cryptocurrencies in how it relates to “Decentraland.”
Ethereum is the foundation upon which Decentraland is laid, in this article, we will take you through a brief explanation of what Ethereum is, before getting into what we refer to as Decentraland.
What is Ethereum?
Ethereum was launched in July 2015. It is the second most traded digital or online currency aside from Bitcoin (BTC). It is an operating system hinged on blockchain and serves as a host to a decentralized application store and payment system.
Ethereum is far beyond a digital or virtual currency that is only traded by virtual exchanges and stored in different types of cryptocurrency wallets. It is a decentralized computing network system founded on blockchain technology. “Ether” is the name of the virtual money used by the Ethereum network. Ether is used to trade as a virtual currency and is also used on the Ethereum network to run applications.
Ethereum is known to be the largest created decentralized computerized platform. It uses digital ledger technology, also known as blockchain technology, to not only maintain a decentralized payment system but also the storage of computer codes. By using Ethereum, one can create and operate a system without any meddling from a third party, smart contracts, and decentralized applications. It comes with its own machine or programming language.
Understanding a centralized and decentralized computing system
In a centralized computing system, most or practically all operations are done on a central server.
The users of a centralized computing system have little or no control over the system, they are dependent on the central server for any application access, computing, storage, Internet access, and security. A centralized computing system is commonly used in companies; the user sends a request to the main server and in turn, gets a response. In a centralized system, the user is limited to whatever the central server has to offer. When there is a crash in the central or main server it affects the users. Examples of centralized systems are WhatsApp, Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, and so on.
Decentralized systems have gained worldwide attention with the advent of blockchain technologies. An example is the introduction of cryptocurrency which is known to operate a decentralized system free from a centralized banking authority. In a decentralized system, many independent users make up the system. There is no sole entity that responds to requests and controls the system. Decentralisation gives the users the freedom to build and explore without restrictions.
What is Decentraland?
Decentraland is the first online world to be decentralized. Just have a picture of you owning a piece of land that you can do anything you like with. You can decide to build whatever type of structure you like; you can also decide to sell the land if you want. Imagine being able to that on an online platform. Decentraland started with the idea of granting possession of virtual real estate to users on a digital ledger or a blockchain. This virtual real estate was first executed as an element or pixel on an infinite 2D network, where each element contained metadata identifying the possessor and detailing the pixel's color. The trial was titled Decentraland’s Stone Age. In 2016, there was the development of the Bronze Age, a 3D online world divided into land parcels. The possessor of each parcel was able to connect it with a file, using an altered Bitcoin blockchain. Drawing from this, users who had an interest in exploring the online world could use a table called, "Distributed Hash Table (DHT)" and BitTorrent to access the file containing the content of the parcel, which in turn defined the blueprints to be displayed.
Users of Decentraland are allowed to have full and total control of the platform, as long as they have bought a piece of land. There are no limitations to what they can do on their purchased land. By making use of the platform, users can build and make money from the content they create and the applications they build. Decentraland is not managed by a unified organization. No representative has the means to change the laid down instructions guiding the software, the contents of land, the finance of the currency, or stop other interested users from having access to the world. Decentraland provides the groundwork to aid a divided online world, which is called a metaverse. It is also made up of a ledger that is decentralized for land ownership, a contract to describe what each parcel of land contains, and a peer-to-peer connection for the interaction of users.
How does Decentraland work?
Within Decentraland, there is a 3D online space referred to as LAND. LAND is a non-exchangeable cyber or digital resource operated in an Ethereum digital contract. It is non-exchangeable because it has unique qualities. LAND is grouped into parcels which are designated as, “Cartesian coordinates" (x, y). Parcels are indelibly possessed by individuals who belong to the Decentraland group or community, and the parcels are bought with the use of MANA.
LAND and MANA are tokens that govern operations in Decentraland. We keep making mention of the word Land, you may be thinking it is a vast expanse of space filled with vegetation, valleys, mountains, and forests. What we ordinarily know as land is a physical, literally tangible thing. It would definitely sound strange to hear that Land may not only be tangible, but also virtual.
LAND is a non-exchangeable computerized asset that is maintained in an Ethereum digital contract that represents parcels of online land available within Decentraland. LAND is used to describe the ownership of parcels of land, which constitute computerized real estate. It is distinct and therefore cannot be copied; it also monitors possession by different users on the Ethereum blockchain. LAND tokens are possessed solely by Decentraland’s users. Once they are in a user’s wallet, no other person or system can have access to it.
MANA allows the users of Decentraland to have total or complete control over the domains or environments and applications which they build. This may span from fixed 3D scenes to more shared applications or games. It is a cryptocurrency that aids the purchase of LAND and other virtual goods and services from other users in Decentraland. MANA is Decentraland’s fungible.
The fun part is the fact that the same way you buy and own a parcel of land physically is the same way you can buy and own a land virtually on Decentraland. Once you buy and own a piece of LAND, you are free to do as you like with it. You can build games, applications, dynamic 3D scenes and so much more. Landowners have the power to control what is published on their land.
Decentraland does not run as an application but runs in a web browser and there may be a need to configure your browser or your operating system to have access to all of your computer’s potential to run Decentraland without any glitch.
The marketplace is just like you have physically, a place where you buy and sell goods or commodities. Users carry out the business of trading and running their Decentraland resources. As a user, you are allowed the following:
• Sell the wearables, distinct names and parcels and Estates of LAND that you own.
• Set your own price in MANA and decide on a date when the offer will expire.
• Purchase parcels and Estates, wearables, and distinct names which are put up for sale on the market.
• Hand over your parcels and Estates to a different user.
• Survey Decentraland through the use of a map, to see which user possesses what property, what wearables are available, and what names have been laid claim to.
• Give a name to the properties that you own and also give them a general designation.
• Give authorization to other Decentraland users to examine the parcels of land that you possess.
Before you can make any purchases from the market, you need a wallet address which is your account. Every business transacted in the Ethereum system has a gas fee that is to be to be paid for using Ether. The account you manage needs to have some amount of Ether before any action can be carried out in the Marketplace.
Any parcel of LAND available to be sold in the Marketplace will be highlighted. To view the status, coordinates, and the owner’s public address (if it has an owner) of a parcel, you need to click on the parcel. You can also make a purchase or place a bid on the parcel using the same screen.
There is a manager who gives you the access to run or manage assets.
To access your LAND tokens, all you have to do is click the “My LAND” icon. When you click the icon, a list of your assets will come up. The assets that you also contributed to districts in your community and parcels that you have put up for sale will also come up. When you click any of the parcels or estates listed under "MY LAND", you can change the name and the description of the parcel that you selected, you can also announce that it is for sale, and you can send it to another wallet address. The parcels found in the Estate must be facing each other; a road, plaza, or any other parcel cannot separate them. If you have never created an Estate and you want to do so for the first time, you cannot have less than two LAND parcels opposite each other.
Decentraland is made up of parcels of LAND, each is 16 meters by 16 meters. A Scene is an experience that is built on one or several parcels. Scenes are displayed one next to the other and players can freely walk from one to the other. Each Scene is its own contained little world, items from one Scene can’t extend out into another Scene, and the code for each Scene is sandboxed from all others. There are two tools you can use for creating interactive Decentraland Scenes:
• The Builder: This is a simple drag and drop editor. No coding is required, everything is visual and many default items are at your disposal to use.
• The Decentraland SDK: You can write code to create your Scene. This gives you greater freedom and is a lot more powerful.
The Builder uses the Decentraland SDK under the hood, generating the required code without you ever needing to look at it. You can start a scene with the Builder, and then export it to continue working on it with the SDK. If a Scene is created by or modified by the SDK, you can’t import it into the Builder. You can only go from the Builder to the SDK, not in the other direction.
Districts are groupings on LAND. They are communities with a particular theme upon which they revolve; they are groups of adjacent parcels that share similar user interests. For example, there may be a group of users with similar interests in the creation of a particular game. You can vote on District issues through Decentraland’s voting dApp, “Agora.” The weight of your vote depends on the amount of LAND you hold in a specific district. Agora was created by Decentraland to give you more control over what happens in your districts, and to provide feedback on the platform at large.
Through the use of WebRTC, a peer-to-peer protocol for real-time communications at Decentraland, users can chat with each other, see each other’s moves, and can interact with each other. All Decentraland content is hosted and replicated across a network of independent nodes called ‘Catalysts.’ In order to establish these connections, these nodes help users discover and bootstrap connections to each other.
The Decentraland DAO
“DAO” means the “Decentralized Autonomous Organization”. The Decentraland DAO is an on-chain organization that controls all the core smart contracts and is therefore in charge of any future protocol updates. It is important to note that the DAO owns the most important smart contracts that make up Decentraland, including the LAND Contracts, the Estates Contracts, Wearables, and the Marketplace. Through the DOA, users get to vote on policy updates, future LAND auctions, and whitelisting of NFT contracts to be allowed inside the World, Builder, and Marketplace, and so on. Voting takes place on the Decentraland DAO’s governance interface, powered by Aragon. The DAO also owns some key assets, including Decentraland’s public roads and plazas, and the contract that lists the default Catalysts nodes running Decentraland’s infrastructure.
Inferring from everything that has been discussed, Decentraland is a unique virtual reality platform. It is said to have been created to draw more gamers into cryptocurrency and digital ownership. Due to its inherent blockchain-native nature, it is helping to advance the development of Ethereum, and continues to lead in showing how blockchain-based project management and governance can best benefit community-driven projects.
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