Arden Platform: Moonbeam Ecosystem Grant Proposal
Building thriving ecosystems is hard, and builders are often faced with the “chicken and the egg” problem. “Why build infrastructure for new projects when there isn’t a huge demand yet?” vs “Why develop new projects when a lack of infrastructure makes it difficult?”
Arden plans to solve this problem by building user-friendly infrastructure to simplify the process of developing and playing a web3 video game on Moonbeam. This will lower the barrier to entry for game developers leading to more engaging and fun projects being launched on Moonbeam.
Our goal is to maintain and grow activity through high quality games coming to moonbeam increasing the number of active users and transactions.
While DeFi protocols might spike transaction volume in the short term, long term sustainable growth requires utility-rich applications that people want to use. We’re targeting games.
To clarify, Arden is more than just a single project looking for a grant.
Arden is a startup company building a platform to bridge the gap between web3’s complex backend and web2’s user-friendly experiences. Arden’s approach is natively omnichain as we believe that chain selection should be abstracted from the end user and one day even application developers. Moonbeam’s cross-chain capabilities and similar belief in this omnichain vision make it the perfect ecosystem to support the Arden platform.
Our vision is to pave the way for mass adoption of blockchain technologies by focusing on user experience and providing the tools necessary for seamless integration.
Requested GLMR Grant Amount
Requested Grant Amount: 2 million GLMR
Motivation for Grant Amount / Description
The grant will be used to develop an open source Unreal Engine 5 SDK to connect game developers to Moonbeam faster and more easily than ever before. Developing tooling and infrastructure is not cheap, and specifically, an Unreal integration requires specialized talent in Unreal, C++, and API design.
Arden aims to bridge the gap between the gaming and blockchain industries by simplifying the onboarding and development process. This project focuses on offering a seamless integration of legacy gaming systems with the blockchain, providing game developers with a simple path to deploy their game assets on Moonbeam.
There are two pieces to the overall project:
1: an open source Unreal Engine 5 SDK for Moonbeam
2: the proprietary Arden infrastructure platform that provides APIs for web2-friendly user authentication, custodial wallets, and fiat payments.
As outlined in the Use of Grant section, the vast majority of funds will be going towards building the UE5 SDK. The Arden platform has been under development for the past year and has received separate VC funding for its development. A small portion of this grant would be used for connecting the Arden platform to Moonbeam, but note these are two separate tools. Game developers will be able to use the open source UE5 SDK on its own without the Arden platform.
The SDK will include:
- Getting, minting, and burning NFT collections and individual objects with metadata
- Transferring of objects
- Minting and burning of fungible tokens (in-game currency)
- Transferring of fungible tokens
- Creating/managing users’ wallets (implement an actor component to extend the functionality of the Unreal Player actor)
To be clear, this SDK wouldn’t just be a C++ wrapper around an API, we’d build out Unreal components and blueprints to make this seamless for Unreal game developers.
The SDK is best suited for games that have rich off-chain gameplay and rely on the blockchain for the management of digital assets. We believe this approach brings the best of both worlds where game devs can build what they’re best at off-chain, and the ownership, economy, and management of assets can happen on-chain where transactions and objects are transparent and immutable. This includes but isn’t limited to CCG/TCG games, match-based games, and MMORPGs.
These screenshots show an example user experience of a game using Arden as a whitelabel solution for their users to buy NFTs. This is just a demo showing the user-friendly (no web3 knowledge needed) experience on Goerli Testnet. A user would purchase an NFT item using a credit card and the item would be transferred to their custodial wallet. They have access to this game wallet via an email and password combination. Arden is not building a game store platform like Steam or Epic, we plan to remain in the background helping games provide a better experience for their players. Future Arden roadmap features (not related to this grant) include white-labled marketplaces and robust real-time analytics of assets.
The platform has already garnered interest from game developers, with its first customer being an unannounced AAA web3 game built on Unreal Engine 5.
- Coert Voorhees, Co-Founder & CEO
- A novelist and entrepreneur, Coert is a former Fulbright Scholar and Rice University Visiting Writer in Residence. Prior to Arden, Coert founded Six Foot Press, a Houston-based publisher of popular culture art books, comic books, and fiction. He is also the creator of the multi-platform edtech company Grammaropolis, a story-based approach to teaching grammar and writing, which WIRED Magazine called “pure gold.”
- Jeffery Chen, Sr. Full Stack Engineer
- Jeffery holds a Phd in computer science with a background at Intel as a system engineer. He got into blockchain/cryptocurrency investment in 2017, he then started investing and doing technical due diligence for blockchain projects through Blockchain Labs from 2018-present.
- Bryant Chan, Head of Product
- Bryant is a product management instructor at Rice University where he also received his bachelor’s degree. He has led product teams at a semantic knowledge graph infrastructure company that was acquired by Amazon, as well as a B2B SaaS enabled marketplace startup that raised from First Round Capital and Google Ventures.
- Jon-Pierre Gentil, Head of Engineering
- Jon-Pierre Gentil, or “JPG” as we call him, has over 20 years of experience in software development. He worked on large scale enterprise applications at IBM and Cisco, and was the lead developer for a AAA game studio where he built a multi-game backend system that supported a AAA multiplayer game for Playstation and PC.
- Andrew Yeager, Head of Blockchain Product
- Andrew got his start investing in Bitcoin in 2012 while a nuclear engineer in the US Navy. His passion for blockchain technology grew leading him to completing a Master’s degree in Digital Currency and Blockchain. He started Blockchain labs in 2018-present investing in blockchain startups. He understands what is required to be a successful startup in the web3 space.
In addition to this leadership team, we have a designer as well as full-stack and blockchain engineers both in-house and contracted. With this grant we may tap into our dev connections as well as additional outsourced engineering talent to augment the full-time team if needed to complete the project.
Use of Grant
The majority of this grant (75+%) will go towards developing an open source Unreal Engine 5 SDK to provide seamless integration between Unreal and Moonbeam. This will drastically reduce the time it takes a game developer to build a new game on Moonbeam or convert an existing game into a web3-enabled game. The on-chain assets created by the SDK will be omnichain NFTs born on Moonbeam.
Here’s a proposed and estimated project breakdown of development as per the community request. This is very much a rough estimate in “developer weeks”.
Boilerplate, configuration, initial project setup and test harness project, DevOps build setup in GitHub or CircleCI: 1-2 weeks upfront, plus 2 weeks ongoing to mitigate complexity
C++ Middleware Layer
Identify RPC calls needed to complete functionality described below: 1 week
Wrapper implementations for Moonbeam JSON-RPC and ERC-721 NFT: 5 weeks
Creation of initial ActorComponent for framing
Basic component framework for MoonbeamInventoryAC with C++ and Blueprint class: 1 week
Client-side wallet linking using WalletConnect: 2 weeks
Represent assets (NFTs) and balances as inventory: 2 weeks
Balances querying: <1 week
NFT asset list and balance querying, update metadata, delete/burn, mint new asset to player, transfer to other user: 5 weeks
Multiplayer configuration for ActorComponent (enabling replication, assigning client vs server code): 2 weeks
Hooks for linking Moonbeam asset inventory to traditional inventory systems: 1 week
Documentation generation: < 1 week
A small portion of this grant (~15%) will go towards implementing security measures and audits to ensure the safety of users and assets.
We are currently in talks with various companies for security audits for the Unreal engine SDK. The CEO of Layer zero personally recommended to us to use zokyo.io for our security audits for this product. As of right now that is our plan, but we have to wait until the SDK is built before they can give us an exact quote because we don’t know how extensive and how many lines of code the audit would consist of at this time.
A small portion of this grant (~10%) will go towards integrating the Arden platform with Moonbeam to allow non-crypto natives to easily onboard and interact with the chain and its applications. This includes a minimal Substrate interface library with sync support, and adjusting account/wallet management, and transferring assets to work with Moonbeam.
Timeline and milestones for use of Grant
Development on the Unreal SDK will begin as soon as the grant process is complete.
Month 1: Work with game devs on ideal functional requirements for the Unreal SDK.
In response to a comment of where these devs are coming from: As the community pointed out, we’re connected with SixFoot, and through this relationship have connections with multiple game devs working in Unreal as well as the studio building the unannounced AAA web3 game.
Month 2-5: Development of Unreal SDK on Moonbeam
Month 6: Integrating platform infrastructure with Moonbeam
Clarification in response to a comment: We would have one hub for the platform on Moonbeam that could extend to other chains via cross-chain contracts and protocols like LayerZero. We would NOT have multiple forks deployed on different chains.
Month 6-7: Testing and security audits
This puts an estimated launch date at late Q1 2024.
If we were to receive 1.5M GLMR instead of the requested 2M GLMR, we believe we would still be able to release an open source UE5 SDK, however there may be some features like transfers that may get cut and left for the open source dev community to build out. With less than 1.5M GLMR, we risk releasing an incomplete product that doesn’t provide value to the Moonbeam community.
Why Moonbeam (synergies)
When it comes to establishing a powerful gaming ecosystem, Moonbeam stands out as an ideal choice. Here’s how Moonbeam aligns with what we view as five essential pillars of a thriving gaming ecosystem - security, scalability, cost-effectiveness, interoperability, and sustainability & governance.
Moonbeam’s integration with the Polkadot network ensures top-tier security. Polkadot’s shared security model means that the network’s pooled security is shared amongst all parachains, including Moonbeam. This shared security is vital for gaming platforms where in-game assets, such as skins, currencies, and characters, can have significant real-world value. With Moonbeam, you can be confident in the safety and integrity of these digital assets.
The gaming industry demands scalable solutions to support the ever-growing user base and the high throughput of transactions. Moonbeam’s architecture is designed for scalability. Being a parachain on the Polkadot network, Moonbeam can process transactions more efficiently than traditional blockchains. For gaming platforms, this means smoother and faster interactions, essential for an optimal gaming experience.
Moonbeam’s efficient architecture also translates into cost savings. Compared to building on networks like Ethereum, the transaction fees on Moonbeam are significantly lower. This is crucial for gaming platforms where microtransactions are common. Lower transaction costs mean that players can focus on the game, without worrying about prohibitive fees eating into their in-game earnings or spending.
One of the standout features of Moonbeam is its interoperability, primarily through its integration with the Polkadot network and partnership with LayerZero. For gaming, this is a game-changer. Imagine a gaming ecosystem where players can use assets across different games and blockchains, trade assets between games even if they are on separate blockchains at the time, or even play cross-chain multiplayer games. Moonbeam makes this possible by allowing seamless interaction between different blockchains. This kind of interconnected gaming experience could redefine what’s possible in the gaming world.
Lastly, a successful gaming platform needs to be sustainable and have a robust governance model. Moonbeam’s on-chain governance allows for a decentralized and democratic process. The community can propose, discuss, and vote on changes to the network. In a gaming context, this could translate into a vibrant community of players, developers, and stakeholders actively participating in the evolution of the gaming platform.
By satisfying the essential pillars of security, scalability, cost-effectiveness, interoperability, and sustainability & governance, Moonbeam emerges as an excellent foundation for building a revolutionary gaming platform. The synergy between Moonbeam’s capabilities and the requirements of a cutting-edge gaming ecosystem can unlock unprecedented possibilities and shape the future of blockchain gaming.
Vision of Success
Our short term success means launching a developer-friendly SDK for tying Unreal Engine 5 to Moonbeam. The adoption of game developers is a key metric here and within a few months of launch we would like to see at least 3 different game studios use our SDK to facilitate deploying games on Moonbeam.
After the grant expires, the open source integration will be a community-owned project ensuring that the features with the highest demand will be worked on. After the grant we would also like to see this initiative incorporate other blockchains. While retaining Moonbeam as a primary blockchain (birthchain using our SDK), we see value in integrating with additional chains as well, making this solution more appealing to a broader game dev audience.
Our long term vision of success means providing millions of users the ability to interact with web3 applications and games on Moonbeam without having to worry about the underlying complexities of the blockchain. Over a 2-5 year period we want to see high quality games on Moonbeam that don’t require players to have any technical knowledge of web3 (wallets, chain, gas, etc). The only way any chain will reach mass adoption is onboarding non-crypto users.
Developer Adoption: tracking how many developers are building on or integrating with Arden.
6 month goal: 3 game developers
12 month goal: 10 game developers
DApp Integrations: This goes together with developer adoption, but also tracking the number of unique applications (including games) that are built on top of Arden.
6 month goal: 3 games/applications (to start 1 game dev would be making 1 game)
12 month goal: 12 games/applications
There are some other internal metrics around uptime and API performance, but they aren’t directly related to impact on Moonbeam.
The vision of Arden increases activity on Moonbeam in two ways. The first is by making it easier for developers to create games on Moonbeam, and the second is by simplifying the web3 onboarding process to allow a much larger (non-crypto native) audience to play these games. We believe no blockchain or dApp can achieve mass adoption until the user experience is brought to familiar web2 standards.
With this grant, Arden will integrate its user-friendly platform with Moonbeam and create an open source Unreal 5 SDK for game developers to easily connect their assets to Moonbeam.
Steps to Implement
The first step would be to finalize the requirements of the Unreal SDK and we already have game studio partners who will help in this process. From there, we would develop the open source SDK and may work with the Moonbeam team to ensure a smooth integration. Obviously, this would also require testing and security audits. We would love to have a pilot customer (game) on Moonbeam to use the full Arden platform integration + Unreal SDK, but we can’t guarantee that.
Overall we updated the proposal to clarify the distinction between the open source Unreal Engine 5 SDK and the proprietary Arden platform. Both tools will help user adoption on Moonbeam, but this grant is primarily for the UE5 SDK which will be given to the community as an open source project.
Goals: clarified primary goal of maintaining and growing activity (active users + transactions)
Project Description: added more details about the SDK as well as clarification of the SDK vs the Arden platform, and what the platform is.
Team: updated to mention additional full-time and contracted team members.
Use of Grant: updated to give more details on security audit and breakdown of development
Timeline: explained where the game devs are coming from that we’ll work with to hone in on market-fit for the SDK. Also updated deliverables based on receiving less than the requested grant amount.
Vision of success: added metrics and timeframe estimations specific to the SDK. Removed some non-SDK metrics that we would not be able to accurately measure in an open sourced solution.