Bit.Country: Start your second life in Metaverse | PW Interviews
“Metaverse” is a very hot field recently. In this continuously running virtual world, people can create, play, trade, and open a new kind of virtual life.
This time PolkaWorld interviewed the Bit.Country team dedicated to building a Metaverse for Polkadot ecosystem. They chatted about what is the Metaverse in their mind and how to build a “bit world” in Bit.Country.
KIKO: Interviewer, chief editor of PolkaWorld
Ray: Ray Lu, Founder & CEO of Bit.Country
Shannon: Shannon Christie, CTO of Bit.Country Game Development
Justin: Justin Pham, CTO of Bit.Country Blockchain Development
KIKO: What is Bit.Country？How did you come up with this idea?
Ray: Bit.Country allows everyone to create their own Metaverse. In Metaverse, everyone can have their own map, land, and marketplace in a decentralized organization, and most importantly, they can have their own social token.
We initially had this idea in 2018. I was in San Francisco at the time and we discovered the need for digital currency and goods to be used somewhere. We can use them in the real world, but there were still many obstacles at the time, so I think Metaverse is a perfect place to use these things. And we like sci-fi movies and futurism, as well as the concept of blockchain, we should give everyone the right to obtain value. So we got together to create this project and started to conceive of it.
In 2019, we started to do it seriously. In the process, we entered the Berkeley blockchain accelerator, obtained the Web3 Foundation Grant, and entered the Creative Destruction Lab in Toronto. And we have completed the seed round and harvested a group of great supporters. At present, we are focusing on product development, hoping to bring a new, unique and interesting world.
KIKO: Bit.Country is trying to create a Metaverse. What is Metaverse in your opinion?
Shannon: What we are pursuing, or at least the Metaverse I am creating, is an immersive experience, in which there is social interaction, as well as potential work and earning opportunities. It’s a bit like having another life in the virtual world, interacting with the real world, and even having some influence on the real world. The two worlds are mixed to some extent. It is a world of life in a virtual space, which carries real value.
KIKO: When talking about the Metaverse, I think many people may think of the virtual world “Oasis” in the movie “Ready Player One”, which has cool effects and a very immersive experience. But in reality, many so-called meta-universe worlds are in pixel style, and the visual effects and user experience are not as good as some popular games now. Why is this happening? Do you plan to solve this problem at Bit.Country?
Shannon: I think there are many reasons. In one aspect, the team is of course considering and looking for solutions to improve visual effects.
But at the current stage, the reason why we choose to make it a bit less realistic, maybe a little bit stylized is that it makes it easier for people to get into.
Another reason is that we want to make it accessible to as many people as possible. We hope that you will not have too many restrictions during the experience, so we reduce the equipment configuration requirements, so that everyone can load quickly. I think it is a way to start both Bit.Country and Metaverse. We hope to control the loading time of the game within 3 seconds. In this regard, we have done a lot of work. If we make changes, it might make you take a little bit longer and we have to optimize and speed it up again. We wanna make sure that you can just click “Enter” and you don’t have to be waiting for something to load.
This is also a common problem at present. Some of the current games of this type will take a long time to load once the image quality is improved, so we hope to give you a nice and smooth experience first. Definitely in the future, we would be interesting to look at the possibility of maybe going further with the visual effects, but for now, we still need to solve the problem of fluency first.
KIKO: The slow loading speed you just mentioned may also be related to the use of blockchain. Do you think it is necessary to use the blockchain when building the Metaverse? Will the introduction of blockchain bring some additional challenges?
Shannon: I can say a few words about this question, but Justin knows a little bit better because he is more responsible for the blockchain part. I think the addition of the blockchain is indeed a very important point. When talking about the definition of the Metaverse, I also mentioned that it is very important to have real value in the Metaverse. I know that there are some similar centralized technologies that can do this, but in this way, it will be almost meaningless. With blockchain, you can really have ownership of these intangible assets that you can have a say.
Justin: One thing the Bit.Country team wants to do is that we want to bring traditional Internet users to the world of Web3.0 and blockchain. We have also discussed a lot about the use of blockchain. If we use the blockchain to implement everything, such as initiating an on-chain transaction for every interaction, this is not user-friendly, and it is also difficult for users to understand how does blockchain works.
So we use blockchain to create a trustless way so that users can interact with the game without any delay, but they also own all the assets and can transfer the assets to the blockchain at any time. Technically speaking, we are trying to promote blockchain technology to traditional Internet users so that they can enjoy the benefits of blockchain without any delay.
KIKO: Why did Bit.Country choose to use Substrate to build and join the Polkadot ecosystem in the first place?
Justin: Ray mentioned that we started to have the concept of Bit.Country in 2018. At that time, we also made a lot of evaluations, whether we should use smart contracts to do it, or do something different.
Taking into account our needs for blockchain, first we need to have affordable transaction fees to allow users to interact with the game. Second, we need to enable users to create mini-games and mini-smart-contracts to run on our Bit.Country platform. The third is that we must be able to achieve a fork-free upgrade, so that the community can decide the future of the platform, rather than every time we have to fork the block chain. There are also some small things to consider, such as how to customize the transaction fee so that users can choose what token to use to interact with the blockchain.
So based on these reasons, we decided to create our own blockchain. We have done a lot of research and looked at many other blockchain solutions. We found that Substrate’s interoperability technology is very mature. Interoperable networks like Polkadot have great potential, especially the concept of parachains. With that, you are not only developing for your own blockchain and your own platform, but you can also transfer value between blockchains.
Based on the above reasons, we chose Substrate, and we increasingly feel that this choice is right.
KIKO: If I want to build my own Bit Country in Bit.Country, what do I need to do?
Justin: Because we want traditional Internet users to quickly get started, so at the current stage, we have designed a very simple participation process so that anyone can create their own Bit Country.
You only need to select the category and theme of this Bit Country, and what token you want to use in it. So everything is ready, you only need to sign a transaction on the blockchain. Another way is that you can build Bit Country without using the blockchain, and then you can migrate to the blockchain later if you want.
Shannon: We will have some good templates, you can choose from them, so that you can quickly build your own world. Or you can build it from scratch completely by yourself, which can be highly customized and you can create something unique and in your own style.
In the future, we may also provide a platform on which you can find some professional people, and you can hire them to help you build. For example, you can find someone who does smart contract development, or someone who can build a beautiful house, or someone who creates NFT artwork. This is what I said before that we want to create all kinds of opportunities in the Metaverse.
KIKO: What can everyone do in these Bit Countries?
Shannon: You can participate in governance and express your own opinions. You can list your own assets on the market, for example, you can sell a 3D model you created, wearable NFT, decoration, avatar, etc., and you can also provide services, such as helping others create works of art. You can also participate in some activities, such as exchanging your own collections, or communicating and discussing with other people.
What I mentioned is only a small part, these are some of the activities we can think of. There are many games, activities, and social interactions in the virtual world. There are various reasons to attract you, and magical chemical reactions may occur. We also look forward to the emergence of more fun things, perhaps many of which we have not yet thought of.
KIKO: Do we need to spend money to play with these things? If so, who is the money given to?
Shannon: For those who want to create a Bit Country, or conduct entrepreneurial activities, they are likely to need some basic blockchain knowledge, such as the need to use smart contracts to buy things, so as to build their own Bit Country.
For the “residents” who play and participate in games, we hope that they can participate as much as possible without having to do more extra things. So there are definitely many activities that can be experienced without spending money. Of course, there are also some activities that require a fee to participate. For example, when you need to use the blockchain when buying things, you will be charged a transaction fee.
As for the transaction fees and the money spent on buying things, we hope that most of the money will be given to the people who sell goods and services, and some of the money will be given to the transaction fees incurred by using the blockchain.
Justin: There are two levels of fees in Bit Country. The first layer is that any interaction with the blockchain requires payment of transaction fees. When we become a parachain, we also need a treasury to maintain collators. The second layer is the cost of each Bit Country, which is completely set by the owner of the Bit Country, and these incomes will be locked in each Country’s own treasury.
This is why we chose to build a custom blockchain because it is much more flexible and allows the entire economy to operate on its own.
KIKO: I found that Bit.Country values the community a lot and encourage people to build their own community (Bit Countries). So what is the role of the development team in this ecosystem?
Ray: Our role is to build infrastructure and functions, encourage good behaviors, and prevent negative behaviors. We have 9 years of experience in operating communities. We previously had Industry Connect, and cooperated with Acala to operate the Substrate Academy education project, which can issue certificates by Parity. So we are very experienced with the needs of the community. We know what the organizers and participants of the community need. We have applied these knowledges and experience iinto our protocol and network so that everyone can use our experience. We have established the DAO structure so that one day the network can be purely totally decentralized, allowing the community to take over and continue to improve it.
So far, we have also received a lot of attention from the community. 20,000 people signed up for Bit.Country’s Early Access. There are game bloggers such as Mr. Beast and KSI, who have about 200 million fans on YouTube, and they all like our concept. They want to issue their own social tokens based on our local token NUUM. They also like the concept of gamified communities, which allows community members to own assets in their world and further their relationship.
So in general, our task is to ensure the safety of infrastructure and take care of community owners and members.
Shannon: We often tell ourselves that we hope Bit.Country should be designed in such a way that it should allow users to succeed. Ultimately, the success of the platform depends on the success of users. So we are actually focusing on building a creative economy that allows everyone to have opportunities that are not available elsewhere, to create new business opportunities, to build their own communities, and so on.
For us, we hope to establish protocols and platforms and develop some useful features for the community. In the early days, our responsibility was to cultivate the community and make it stronger and stronger. Later, as Ray said, the community will be more decentralized, and community members will spontaneously build it.
KIKO: I just can’t wait to play it. When will Bit.Country goes live?
Shannon: We will launch the beta version of the game soon, around September. Our partners, investors, some KOLs, and users who have registered for Early Access can all enter to experience it. So it is a gradual online process. The first step is that certain users can participate, and then more people can participate. We will continue to release new features and will not launch everything at once.
The next important milestone is the mainnet launch, which should be shortly after the testnet launch, but it is still not possible to determine the time. It depends on the test situation.
Justin: Shannon talked about the milestones of the game. However, from the perspective of the blockchain network, we have launched the first version of the test network about 4 weeks ago, and now we are mainly running the nodes by ourselves and the community.
KIKO: Will Bit.Country bid for the Parachain slots of Polkadot and Kusama?
Justin: Yes, our goal is to become a Metaverse chain in the Polkadot ecosystem. At present, the technical aspects are basically ready, but the specific parachain auction plan is still under discussion, and will be sent out as soon as it is finalized.
Our current plan is to bid for the Kusama Parachain slot first, and then bid for the Polkadot slot. Both networks are likely to continue to operate afterward. However, the specific plan may be adjusted according to the actual situation afterward.
KIKO: How can everyone participate in Bit.Country right now?
Shannon: Now everyone can follow us on Twitter and other social networks to check our development progress. We also have a blind box event on Twitter that you can participate in. The prizes include NFT wearables that will be distributed when the mainnet is online. One step further, you can join the node operator plan, or the ambassador plan.
That’s it right now. If you want to experience Metaverse, you still have to wait until the testnet goes live, and remember to go to the official website to register for the Early Access.
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