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Building the Metaverse: The Zero Master Plan

Building the Metaverse: The Zero Master Plan

Web3 will be 3D.

Zero has been building a Social OS for Web3, including the applications and protocols necessary to enable massively distributed coordination. What many are not aware of however is that Zero is the foundation of a much larger ambition called zSpace–a fully immersive and photorealistic Metaverse.

It's worth taking a moment to think about the potential scale and scope of the Metaverse. For comparison, there are over 1,000 trillion dollars worth of financial derivatives – or roughly 120x the value of all physical gold in the world. Once we developed the capacity to virtualize money, we did so with minimal restraint. If financial derivatives are a drop of water, the Metaverse is the ocean.

A virtual future is inevitable and near. Today there are 2.7 billion gamers that make up a $159 billion annual industry [1], Facebook has over 10,000 people working on immersive technology [2], and it is expected that Apple will have nearly 80 million AR/VR headsets in market by 2023 [3].

More interesting however, is the emergence of real economic models capable of fueling the incalculable cost of building the Metaverse. Cryptocurrencies, layer 2s, DeFi, NFTs, and DAOs are creating the foundation for which a virtual world can actually be built upon. Not only are these systems natively digital, they enable the more efficient coordination of human capital. Just as startups and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley out competed traditional institutions built on ridged operational hierarchies and traditional capital structures, DAOs create the possibility for coordination to exist beyond the imaginary boundary of the corporation itself. A DAO can scale to thousands or even millions of digital creators, without the need of actually hiring anyone (or even setting up a company). In the same way that Bitcoin can operate a complex global monetary network, better cryptographic incentives can move the most talented coders, designers, and artists away from Google, Apple and Disney.

So, if all of the various components for the Metaverse are being built right now, how (and when) do we actually put them all together IRL? What are the challenges we need to address, and in what particular order should we sequence our efforts?

This is the raison d'être of the Zero Master Plan.

Scope & Sequence

First, it's not that difficult to imagine every person, contract, currency swap, and asset in the Metaverse having a corresponding set of transactions and/or contracts on the blockchain. Web3 protocols will need to scale significantly in order to achieve this. After all, we want a Metaverse owned by the people. Not FAANG.

Second, the environments, characters, and artifacts will need to be created in a way that is interoperable across blockchains, NFT platforms, and (ideally) game engines. Assets will need to be highly performant and 'contextually programmable' (i.e., a vehicle in space shouldn't behave the same as on the surface of Earth).

Third, it needs to be enjoyable to spend time in the Metaverse. In order for this to happen it will need to mimic reality much closer than current virtual worlds do. Photorealism, real-time facial mapping, and live audio attenuation are some of the examples of what will make a vastly better in world experience.

Fourth, the sheer compute, GPU, and bandwidth required to render and deliver the verse will be immense. Similar to Bitcoin mining, there will need to be the right cryptographic incentives and p2p protocols to deliver the verse in a way that is maximally decentralized and distributed.

Fifth, open source protocols and networks are necessary but insufficient in the long term. If we want a Metaverse that's not controlled by the few, we'll need to find a way to build hardware with collective standards and open supply chains. DAOs will also need to find a way to move beyond software and into hardware.

This is all to say that building the Metaverse won't be cheap. It will require a level of coordination (and innovation) beyond that which is currently possible with traditional corporations and capital structures.

Step Zero: Build a better way to build

Our proposition is simple. If DAOs can provide better incentives and more creative freedom to the world's best talent, it is just a matter of time before decentralized organizations (really decentralized networks) out compete centralized institutions.

Zero OS provides the applications, frameworks, and protocols necessary to enable massively distributed collaboration and value creation in three areas:

  1. Virtual Currency: zFi, zAuction, and zBanc enable creators, organizations, and networks to create, lend, borrow, trade and hedge interoperable and liquid tokens (including fixed supply tokens, liquidity pools, bonding curves, and NFTs).
  2. Virtual Governance: zDAO enables the simple creation, management, and 'programmable extension' of DAOs. DAOs can be easily connected to create networks of DAOs, as well as DAO-based automation.
  3. Virtual Property: ZNS (The Zero Name Service) enables anyone to create, buy and sell virtual property that is located at a unique and 'human readable' address (i.e., '0://wilder.frank'). This ZNA (Zero Name Address) can point to any virtual asset on any blockchain or web protocol (i.e., http, IPFS, Ethereum, Polkadot, etc.).

Zero provides native support for collective coordination, including group chat, video conferencing, social media, task management, member curation, subscription management, as well as location services and maps, all within a beautiful and integrated UI. Zero is crypto-native, so it's easy to launch your own token, DAO, or NFT – you can even launch your own decentralized social network or NFT marketplace.

(For more detailed information it is worth reviewing the Zero Whitepaper, technical trailer, and visiting our public Github, which describes the above mentioned areas in detail.)

Step One: Attract the world's top creators

In order for the Metaverse to not be empty, we will need a mechanism to consistently generate and fund the creation of high quality in world assets (i.e., mountains, rivers, towns, buildings, bridges, vehicles, hats, glasses, etc.). This is the purpose of Zero's first official network, Wilder World.

Wilder World is a decentralized artists guild comprised of over 100+ of the world's top 3D artists. Built on Zero, Wilder World solves three fundamental issues with current NFT platforms:

  1. Liquidity: Wilder World enables 1-of-1 assets to be fractionalized and made liquid (i.e. easily tradeable) with any type of ERC-20 token. This democratizes access to expensive virtual assets, as well as ensures that collectors can always resell NFTs they've purchased for actual cash.
  2. Decentralization: Wilder World is owned and operated by the Wilder DAO, a decentralized artist guild made up of artists and collectors, which charges 0% fees. All NFTs are minted directly from the artists wallet by staking $LOOT, Wilder's native platform token.
  3. Utility: Compared to a JPEG on your phone, art becomes useful inside Wilder World. In other words, assets in Wilder World are 3D, programmable, and game ready.

On April 19th, 2021 we are initiating our final round of smart contract audits for Zero protocols with Consensys Diligence. Shortly after we will be launching the Wilder World Liquid NFT marketplace.

(For more detailed information it is worth checking out the Wilder World website, cinematic trailer, as well as tokenized pitch deck).

Step Two: Mimic reality as close as possible

Current virtual worlds do not provide a sufficiently compelling in world experience. zSpace solves this by delivering a virtual experience based on six core design principles:

  • Persistence: Everything in zSpace is persistent, meaning that there is a single and global ‘game state’ that all players experience simultaneously within the Metaverse. If an event occurs at a specific location and time, other players will experience the same experience.
  • Photorealism: zSpace makes characters, landscapes, objects and interactions look and feel as close to waking reality as is currently technologically possible. This means that zSpace is designed for highly performant PCs, VR headsets, and high-powered GPU streaming. The objective is to create the highest fidelity in-world experience possible.
  • Massively Multiplayer: zSpace is designed to support ‘internet scale’, meaning that it will eventually support billions of players interacting with trillions of unique assets. It is important from both an experience and development perspective that players can seamlessly move between landscapes, worlds (and servers) without loading screens. A player should be able to in theory keep walking, and never stop.
  • Mixed Reality: zSpace is designed to support cross-platform interoperability. zSpace should be no less real, or accessible, when 'outside' of zSpace. 3D assets should be able to be experienced inside and outside of zSpace. zSpace is intended to support modern devices, including but not limited to popular VR/AR headsets, desktop computers (Windows & Mac), browsers (via streaming), mobile phones and tablets.
  • Distributed: zSpace will be hosted as a peer-to-peer application on zChain (described below). It is open source and based on Zero's native InnerSource License. Similar to Bitcoin or IPFS, it will be hosted and maintained by a distributed community using cryptographic incentives with no central intermediary.
  • Societal Connectivity: zSpace needs to be real in terms of how groups organize and coordinate in the real world. For instance, governance systems need to both be real in zSpace as well as outside of zSpace. Money earned inside zSpace should be able to be used to buy real things outside of zSpace, and vice versa.

Our first event in zSpace will be Wilder's first Cyber Gala – an immersive 3D NFT auction inside Wilder World. It is scheduled to take place in July 2021.

Step Three: Decentralized & distributed architecture

One of the central challenges with MMOs in general is the ability to seamlessly stitch together environments hosted on separate physical servers or instances. This becomes even more challenging on a distributed network as opposed to a centralized one, where nodes have varying levels of latency, reliability, and hardware, not to mention physical distances between them.

Zero uses both object centric (immutable blockchains with globally persistent state) and agent centric (local state that does not require global consensus) in order to construct zSpace state.

The 3D layer of Zero is made up of three primary sub-systems:

  • Rendering Engine: zSpace is Zero's core game technology built on Unreal Engine (UE), an industry standard for AAA games. It is responsible for programming, managing and rendering everything in world.
  • Virtual Server Management: zOWS (Zero Open World System) is a server instance manager designed to create, host and connect large maps in UE. This enables World Servers to be intelligently spun up or spun down, as well as seamlessly stitched together. It supports with load balancing as well as supports in synchronizing state across server instances.
  • Virtual Wallet: z3Block is a blockchain-based wallet for UE. While inside zSpace, it supports native integration to the Zero OS and protocols, including signature verification for onchain transactions.
  • Virtual Architecture: zChain enables your local device to operate a virtualized node to provide hosting power to the Zero Grid, a global distributed computing network. Nodes provide CPU, GPU and bandwidth in exchange for Infinity, Zero's native protocol token. This architecture can support millions of parallel transactions and serve virtually any type of application–from p2p chat and video streaming to hosting a 3D world.

These systems are being actively worked on and/or already in use internally. We expect that later this year we will ship public alpha versions for each of these sub-systems, which artists and developers can begin to build on.

Step Four: Open source hardware

Lastly, open source hardware and supply chains will be necessary in order to ensure that the Metaverse does not become easily controlled from the outside. We are not actively working on this now, but it is something we should be aware of (and will eventually need to solve). If Facebook, Apple and Google control the hardware, the fate of humanity will rest in their hands.

In Summary

The Metaverse will be an expensive and challenging effort. For this reason it will be important to sequence, define, and achieve meaningful (and revenue generating) objectives along the way.

To recap, the master plan is:

  • Utilize DAOs to create a better way to build
  • Build a mechanism to consistently create and fund high quality content that's game ready (at scale)
  • Build a game world that mimics reality as close as is currently technologically possible
  • Utilize latent GPU/CPU with the right cryptographic incentives to power the verse in a way that is fully distributed and decentralized
  • Eventually find a way to build open source hardware to access the verse

That's it. Seems doable.

To Infinity & Beyond,

n3o

p.s. In addition to the complex effort of building the Metaverse, a parallel effort is underway to bring together many of the world's brightest minds and hearts to ensure that what is built is done so with care, foresight and wisdom. The moral implications of the Metaverse are vast. I'm sure it will take as much work as building the Metaverse itself to get right.

References:

[1] https://www.myboosting.gg/blog/esports-news/the-video-games-industry-is-bigger-than-hollywood

[2] This information was given to me by an early Facebook investor in Silicon Valley.  

[3] https://www.statista.com/statistics/653390/worldwide-virtual-and-augmented-reality-headset-shipments/

Notes:

  • This document is inspired by Tesla's Master Plan – a beautiful work of clarity, inspiration, and manifestation from the meme lord himself @elonmusk.
  • A special thanks to @mbsjq for the creation of 'Cloud Surfer'. The NFT utilized in this Zine.
  • This is a first draft and may go through several more iterations before it is cast in stone. This is v0.01.