How To Build a Metaverse: All You Need To Know
Following the recent highly talked about rebrand of Facebook to Meta, a lot of people have been talking about the Metaverse.
Announcing @Meta — the Facebook company’s new name. Meta is helping to build the metaverse, a place where we’ll play and connect in 3D. Welcome to the next chapter of social connection. pic.twitter.com/ywSJPLsCoD
— Meta (@Meta) October 28, 2021
The term Metaverse saw a massive increase in searches in 2021 on Google, as seen through Google Trends.
Twitter also saw the hashtag #Metaverse trending quite frequently towards the end of 2021. So let’s take a closer look at what this is all about.
For anyone that doesn’t know what a Metaverse means – one great way to view it is through the 2018 movie Ready Player One, directed by three time Academy Award winner Steven Spielberg.
Essentially, a Metaverse (in this context) is a virtual reality world that an individual can fully immerse themselves in, with visual, audio and even touch sensors and stimuli. The perfect Metaverse would in theory make it impossible for the user to be distracted by the fact they are in a virtual world.
But how would making such a thing be possible? Since this is a virtual world, let’s look at some key components needed to build a Metaverse:
- Computational and rendering power
- An oracle solution
- Some form of currency
Let’s go more in depth with each one.
Computational and rendering power
Probably the hardest to solve issue when building a Metaverse will be the system that renders it. From CPUs (Central Processing Unit) to GPUs (Graphic Processing Unit), we will need a computer powerful enough to host many millions of users in it while rendering the world around them in real time. We probably won’t see a single computer powerful enough any time in the near future.
The solution to this would be a decentralised network of computers working together to achieve cumulative rendering power. For this a protocol is needed. One option for this is the Render Network.
Render is distributed GPU power for the blockchain. It connects people with idle GPU power to people that need GPU power. Anyone with idle GPU power is able to join the Network and let others use it. Render calls the people in need of GPU power “Creators” and the computers available to be used on the network “Node Operators”.
When a creator needs something rendered for them, they send their files to the network and a job is created. The Node Operators then get assigned these jobs and the ones that perform the rendering get awarded Render Tokens (RNDR). The major benefit for Creators is the low total cost of rendering their highly demanding files, as they need not own and maintain the computers themselves. The major benefit for the Node Operators is the income they can receive from their idle machines. And the major benefit for us is that we are one step closer to creating our Metaverse.
Picture this. It’s a day like no other and you decide to log in to the Metaverse. You power on your machine and put on your headset ready to explore. You are in. You see a myriad of other players there too. But they all look baffled. They are all nearby but seem to be floating in mid air. You look to one, then to the other. They are looking up. So, so do you. You notice the sky, the horizon and even the ground are flooded with the same message repeating over and over again “404 – Map not found”.
Oops. Seems like the servers hosting the map files are down. Maybe we should have chosen a decentralised method to store our crucial Metaverse data.
The solution to always having our files available is to host them on permanent decentralised storage. For this we have Arweave. With Arweave, Metaverse developers and users will be able to store all the crucial data they need forever by only having to pay a one time fee.
As with the Render Network, users seek other computers (Nodes) with idle resources. In the case of Render it was GPU power. With Arweave the user seeks available storage. Users pay the network a fee in the Arweave native token “AR” which gets awarded to the Nodes that validate and host their data on the Arweave network.
Due to the way the Arweave network operates, the nodes are more incentivised to hold a copy of all the data on the network rather than just random chunks of it. The nodes are also incentivised to hold the data for well over 200 years as the fee that is initially paid to upload the data takes in to account the rising value of AR over time and the declining cost of physical storage that the nodes need.
The benefit for our Metaverse, it will always be available. The benefit for the creators and users – never lose their Metaverse assets.
A little added benefit to using Arweave is the implementation of the Atomic NFT standard, an NFT (Non Fungible Token) standard that allows you to tokenise any data you own on the Arweave’s Permaweb. NFTs will be a big part of users’ assets in the Metaverse so this could help along the way.
We are one step closer to our goal.
An oracle is a protocol that acts as an intermediary between a blockchain and the real world. An oracle can, for example, gather real world data, like the current weather of a region or the result of a tennis match, and send that data to the blockchain when it is requested.
This component will be crucial to building our Metaverse. We will need a lot of data from the real world to make our virtual world work, but at the same time using such data can also be really fun.
Imagine being transported to a virtual world that emulates the current conditions of another world. Imagine being able to stand on the emulated surface of Mars, with real data being retrieved from organisations like NASA about the current state of the planet. At the same time your Co-Meta-Explorer sits in the Ship that took you there, reading the ship’s instruments, whilst a secondary display in the cockpit shows the latest real news from the real Earth.
Of course, keeping with our theme, we need a decentralised Oracle. One such decentralised Oracle is the Umbrella Network. It prides itself on being the first truly decentralised Oracle for blockchain technology, and uses a layer 2 solution to scale effectively.
As mentioned on their website:
“Umbrella Network uses its technology to enable massively scalable, cost effective, and secure access to outside data for blockchain developers.”
The possibilities for combining the real world and the Metaverse are endless with the use of an oracle. Our Metaverse is now accurate and fun.
For anyone that has seen Ready Player One, you will remember that when playing certain games in the Metaverse and defeating your opponents, those opponents would drop coins that could then be collected by others. The victors could then collect and use these coins as currency within the game. So we need some sort of currency for our users to trade goods and services within our world.
When talking about the blockchain, we could easily assume that all tokens from current networks could be used. But the problem with that is that the price can fluctuate. If you have 1 Bitcoin today you will still have 1 Bitcoin tomorrow, but the purchasing power of that Bitcoin might not be the same (at least not while we still live in a world where fiat currency is the predominant legal tender and determines the price of things).
So what we need is a Stablecoin. A Stablecoin is simply a coin that doesn’t fluctuate in value (apart from normal margin that you can expect from any currency). The legacy Stablecoins are backed by the US dollar, with every Stablecoin created (minted) being backed by an actual US dollar held in the treasury of the parent company of each Stablecoin.
This makes a lot of stable coins today highly centralised, with people fearing that there might not be enough actual US dollars in these companies’ treasuries to fully back the coins, and thus potentially making them not as “stable” as they make out to be. So, again, we need to look for something decentralised.
There are many coins to work with. One such coin could be DAI. DAI is a Stablecoin that is back by other crypto assets as collateral instead of the US dollar. These crypto assets are held within a smart contract rather than a centralised institution.
Another option gaining the attention of many recently is TerraUSD (UST). UST is a Stablecoin that is algorithmically pegged to the US Dollar via its underlying protocol called Terra. As stated on the project’s website, Terra and UST are “Programmable Money For The Internet”.
Many more Stablecoins exist and it could be the case that we use more than one decentralised Stablecoin.
The key ingredient. The most important of them all. Without a decentralised Metaverse we will face a plethora of problems.
On top of all the issues stated above, like servers being down and user accounts being lost, we face more core issues.
With a centralised Metaverse we may see developers being denied access to the core software and tools to create their apps and games, as well as being charged extortionate fees to use the platform, which will make the hosts rich and the creators overlooked, all the way to users being potentially banned from using the network without being given a reason.
Having a decentralised Metaverse means it is equal and fair for all. Users, creators and hosts alike. All we need to do to achieve this as seen above is use decentralised ingredients only.
It may be a long time before we see a full blown Ready Player One scenario, but for now all the decentralised protocols that are being built on blockchain tech are helping pave the road towards it. So what do you think? Will the Metaverse be a major part of our everyday lives? How long will it be before more institutions gain an interest in the Metaverse and what will be the next big player?