Getting a Huge Head Start on Web3 Game Development
What!? Still talking about building a web3 game? Aren’t NFTs gone with the tulip bulb petals? Aren’t all things crypto dead as disco?
Well we here at Double Coconut are still believers.
We don’t know the ultimate form mass-market crypto gaming will take, nor do we know which blockchain will triumph as the “game chain” or what set of specific cocktail of features will be the ones to emerge as the “killer app”. But we retain faith in the common sensical assertion that players, at some point, will routinely expect to own their own game assets.
So we’re still cranking on projects with amazing partners like Splinterlands, Sky Mavis, Alien Worlds… constantly learning and evolving our ideas.
When starting new crypto / web3 game projects, we dig deep and try our best to research the tools we can utilize to help us get things done faster, better, and cheaper. We’ve searched far and wide for decent write-ups and reviews of the various web3 tools out there, but haven’t found a clear survey of the options. So we wrote one!
Of course, when trying to scope out a complex web3 game project, you can hire a team of expert technologists and designers like ours at Double Coconut to huddle with you and weigh the trade-offs. We’ll help you come up with a plan about smart contracts, feature sets, security vs. usability, scalability vs. decentralization, blockchain infrastructures, and tokenomics. But for most complex blockchain features it’s much, much, much more efficient to buy, not build.
First off, building is risky — especially when exchange of value is involved. Without the proper audits and battle-testing, a custom smart contract may have all sorts of vulnerabilities.
Secondly, there are so many great companies working on web3 tools, and in many cases the cost is extremely reasonable considering they handle the security, the scaling, and updating to new protocols as blockchains evolve.
Let’s have a quick look at what’s available to use, shall we?
If you need to get something out right away with little muss or fuss, certain tools will handle all the ‘crypto layer’ completely. These products generally feature their own authentication / wallets, their own custom NFT marketplaces, and their own way to deal with gas fees, currency exchanges, paying with and cashing out via fiat payments, etc.
We believe these end-to-end tools are the ideal approach for a “web 2.5” game – where you really have a non-crypto game but want to ‘tack on’ or ‘port up’ with some NFTs, tokens, or other features.
Some of the top end-to-end tools:
- Stardust https://www.stardust.gg/
- Sequence https://sequence.xyz/
- Immutable Passport https://www.immutable.com/products/passport
- MetaFab https://www.trymetafab.com/
- Ready Games Network https://ready.gg/
Can you guess which company publishes the chart above?
What’s the Downside? While end-to-end tools offer some great “web3 in a box” features, serious crypto games usually require a more custom on-chain set of functions and flows. Often, the innovation of new games resides in original smart contracts that need to be written. Many game teams also don’t want to be locked in to specific vendors or choices of blockchain, but want the flexibility to write any or all of their own pieces, replace / retrofit systems, or go cross-chain as the need arises.
Modular Tools / Frameworks
That’s why for most of our web3 projects we opt to use modular frameworks to “roll our own” pieces in an open and thoughtful way. Most frameworks provide their own nodes, which is the set of devices that actually “talks to” the blockchain. They then provide third-party APIs to interact with these nodes securely.
But there are a crapload of these modular web3 tools. Which ones are the best and brightest for use in games?
(Courtesy of https://www.bitkraft.vc/the-state-of-web3-game-developer-tooling/)
We generally want a tool that offers:
- Flexibility to cherry-pick the exact features we want.
- An ability to swap out with ‘homemade’ components at any time without vendor lock-in and with low switching cost.
- Reasonable price.
- Proven security.
- Staying power with stable company / community support.
Our Favorite Frameworks
We reviewed tons of the tools out in the market and came up with a comparison of our top picks. We’ll dive into what each tool does best, to see if it’s a fit for your team’s needs. Of course, we recommend you always do your own research (or consult with a team like ours!).
- Moralis – https://moralis.io/
- Alchemy – https://www.alchemy.com/
- Tatum – https://tatum.io/
- ThirdWeb – https://thirdweb.com/
- Truffle – https://trufflesuite.com/
- Venly – https://www.venly.io/product/gaming
Moralis is a cloud-based platform that provides the tools to deal with decentralized applications.
- A real-time data API: Get data from the blockchain as transactions occur.
- A user authentication API: A variety of authentication methods, including email, password, and social login to connect to the user’s wallet.
- A storage API: store user information, media, or anything else on the blockchain.
- A development environment: Developers can build and test their crypto apps with this easy-to-use code editor, debugger, and test runner.
Best for: A team that wants a max of ‘hands on’ smart contract writing and low-level APIs with the ease of the more complex plumbing taken care of by the framework.
Alchemy has a robust set of APIs to handle most major blockchains.
- A real-time notification API.
- Clear APIs for all other functions related to NFTs, tokens, or other transactions.
- A TypeScript SDK to make fetching data from the blockchain of choice an easy process
- See features by chain: https://docs.alchemy.com/reference/feature-support-by-chain
Best for: A team wanting a low cost and strongly-supported framework to handle the nuts and bolts of blockchain communications but allowing full control over all elements.
Tatum also allows developers to build their own dApps:
- Support for 40 different blockchains, and more coming constantly!
- A unified API: Interact with a variety of blockchains. Any functions specific to a particular blockchain will have its own API.
- A key management system: Store and manage their private keys securely, protecting wallets.
- Transaction builder: Create transactions without having to write any code.
- Real-time notifications: Get informed about new transactions or changes to the blockchain.
Best for: Teams that care about supporting many chains and are ok to do ‘real development’ of their own smart contracts, counting on a framework to handle the plumbing.
The main focus of ThirdWeb are Smart Contract templates and tools that make it much, much easier to write up, deploy, test, and manage custom Smart Contracts vs. doing everything on your own.
Their vetted contracts and tools handle a lot of the edge cases, security, and other issues that can wreck you if you’re trying to figure out from scratch.
They have clean and easy SDKs for ReactNative, Web, and Unity to make interacting with the contracts a breeze.
ThirdWeb also has extra tools for blockchain infrastructure, payments, and wallet connections.
Best for: A team that wants more of an end-to-end solution and willing to give up some control, and pay some revenue share… but in return gets a strong set of powerful tools to customize the web3 experience.
Truffle is a set of low-level development tools to quickly build, test, debug, and deploy Smart Contracts using the Truffle Command Line Interface (CLI). Developers can:
- Write scripts and plugins to automate common processes.
- Interact directly with the blockchain using the Truffle console.
- Use console.log to get fast insights into code.
Truffle will manage the entire workflow of Smart Contracts.
Best for: A team that wants to fully do their own low-level work, but wants a strong development environment to help provide guard rails and best practices.
Venly is at the opposite end of the spectrum from ThirdWeb and Truffle. Its focus is more on ‘ready to go’ set of features that manage NFT minting, peer-to-peer marketplaces, and more. Their main focus is on NFTs with tools that can save tons of time writing your own multi-chain tools, NFT minting / airdrop tools, marketplaces, etc.
They charge royalties and a fee for each NFT transaction.
Best for: A team that wants to spin up a strong NFT marketplace quickly and do minor customizations.
Keep the crypto faith going! Or, well, don’t… But in any case, make sure you’re aware of the amazing work others have put out for your benefit, should you choose to join the craziness and play in the thrilling, permision-less world of web3!