Making of OPCraft (Part 3): What happened in two weeks of OPCraft
by biscaryn @biscaryn
November 22, 2022
The most exciting part about building any Autonomous World is perhaps the final step: opening up the newly created World for players to inhabit and unleash their creativity with. This is especially exciting for two reasons:
- Unlike traditional video games, Autonomous Worlds and OPCraft do not have a pre-written story or even any pre-defined objectives; there are no scripted quests to complete or angry final bosses to defeat. The possibilities are infinite, instead of limited to the extent of 200 hours of gameplay or the quests and storyline that someone has written. All of this meant that we knew as much (or as little!) as any player in the World about what was going to happen next. Everything came down to the creativity and ingenuity of the players.
- Not only are players free to create anything within the bounds of the original digital physics, they are also able to augment and extend their experience, all without needing permission from us or anyone else. For instance, players can change the way they experience the World through new frontends (anything from modifying the opcraft.mud.dev client, to creating a brand new frontend made with Unity or Unreal), and they can create new shared rules and “augmented realities” through new components and systems, much like how in the real world we opt into additional man-made rules and realities like money, nations, sports, and games.
And what we saw in the two weeks exceeded our expectations in every regard!
Diggers, artists and architects
Within the first day, people very quickly started to leave their mark on the World. They started to pick flowers, chop down trees, mine rocks, dig up dirt, and began leaving behind crude creations — wooden huts, single block wide towers, and massive, massive holes!
Either out of mischief or an inexplicable desire to dig deeper and deeper, some players began leaving behind holes around the World that other unsuspecting players inevitably fell into.
But in a beautiful turn of events, community members started building stairs out of these holes and covering them up, preventing others from being stuck inside.
As people became more and more familiar with the World and discovered how to form glass, dye wool, and create bricks, we started to see some truly impressive buildings and monuments emerge around the World.
Players began to use colorful wool blocks as pixels in their giant pixel art. In the two short weeks, people erected statues of Mario and his Fire Flower, the Union Jack, a giant panda, a massive phoenix spanning hundreds of blocks across, and of course, a blatant ad shilling someone’s NFT project. At the same time, we also saw ambitious architectural projects emerge including a majestic pyramid in the sky hundreds of block wide at the base, built using different material including sand, stones, wood, and bedrock; or an enormous planet built using 6360 blocks of bedrock, an homage to Dark Forest, the space-themed on-chain MMORTS.
But the summary above barely scratches the surface. Every day, players are discovering amazing buildings and monuments that others have secretly left behind. We invite you to explore the world of OPCraft for yourself on the view-only client at opcraft.mud.dev!
Engineers, scientists, and wizards
While the architects and artists of the World were hard at work building castles and erecting monuments, the engineers and “scientists” of the World began to test the limits of what was possible using code!
Using the very simple plugin system available, players began experimenting and creating pieces of technology — from teleportation to governments — that integrated seamlessly and permissionlessly with the World1.
Taking it one step further, some players created “diamond drills” that specifically checked for whether a block was a diamond automatically, to exclusively mine diamonds at a massive scale. These diamonds could then be used to stake and claim chunks (16x16x16 areas), protecting any material and buildings within them, at long as the claimer held the highest stake count for that chunk.
Outside of mining, players created a myriad of different technologies; the chat plugin, which finally allowed players to communicate with words, instead of just jumping up and down when they saw each other; the teleport plugin, which allowed players to traverse the World instantly and—occasionally—to escape holes in the ground; the autumn plugin, which virtually placed “autumn tinted glasses” onto players’ eyes, turning the usual green and vibrant World into a relaxing yellow and orange.
But the one that took the crown for the craziest and most creative plugin was by far the Autonomous People's Republic of OPCraft!
Supreme leaders, comrades, and rebels
On the 29th of October, two days before OPCraft was due to come to an end, a player by the name of SupremeLeaderOP went on Discord and Twitter to declare a World Government.
They revealed that they had been amassing a mind-boggling amount of diamonds (135,200!) and had staked and claimed most of the land around the spawn point, preventing anyone else from being able to build on government land!
But there’s a catch: players were able to - through the apro-comrade plugin - swear allegiance to the republic and become a comrade, giving up all private property (player inventory) in the process but gaining access to the government treasury. Once a player had become a comrade, they were able to - through smart contracts that the Supreme Leader had deployed - mine material for the government treasury and build using treasury material on top of government owned land!
The Republic even had a “social credit” system to prevent freeloading comrades from spending more material from the treasury than they have contributed. Free loading comrades were not allowed to build anymore until they had “repaired their social credit” through contributing their labor.
What was remarkable about the Republic was that it was not something we had designed for or even needed to design! Unlike a World of Warcraft guild or an EVE Online corporation, there was no specific guild system, skill-tree, or API that players needed to follow. In OPCraft, the Republic was created by players deploying new MUD components like the ComradeComponent and new systems like the GovernmentSystem, without requiring any pre-existing Guild, Clan, or Club systems created by the game developers. This means that social institutions and other “augmented realities” in Autonomous Worlds are completely limitless; while World of Warcraft players had to operate within the confines of the pre-existing Guild system, any OPCraft player can create any arbitrary social structure—nations, economies, and even religions—as long as they can incentivize other players to participate in their additional rules, much like in real life.
The reaction to the Republic was mixed; some players passionately welcomed the Supreme Leader, striving to reach a higher Comrade rank and erecting statues and paintings of the Supreme Leader around the World; some players accepted the Supreme Leader and the Republic as a way to pragmatically gain access to more building material and more land to build on; but some players vehemently rejected the Supreme Leader, deploring their policies of control and collectivism, and called for people to rebel and fight for their freedom.
One such group, led by player PhiMarHal, realized that the Republic had only claimed and controlled land near the surface, and that space in the skies remained free. They rallied players to ascend to the skies and began building a city in the sky!
The sky is the limit
But all good things come to an end, and the OPCraft demo concluded after two weeks at midnight UTC on Halloween night. And what a two weeks it was!
In two short weeks, we witnessed emergent social behavior—people creating traps for their own amusement, people helping each other out of them, and people covering these holes; we witnessed developers create plugins more rapidly, permissionlessly, and freely than ever before; and we witnessed the creation of a new government, along with new rules and systems that people voluntarily adopted, without us ever designing for or even imagining anything like it beforehand.
These two weeks really reaffirmed our conviction that Autonomous Worlds are the next logical step in on-chain gaming or any gaming for that matter. A World should have no owner, because only then can players confidently inhabit these Worlds and unleash their creativity without worrying about the servers being shut down or any unwanted changes by the developer; only then, can players freely and permissionlessly extend and augment their experience through plugins and new systems and create complex social experience and institutions without needing to seek permission from a company or being constrained to an API; only then, can we experience digital Worlds with limitless possibilities, whose story is authored not by a cadre of writers and game designers, not by DLCs and seasons, not by any game studio or corporations, but by its very inhabitants.
Links and acknowledgements
You can find the view-only version of the client at opcraft.mud.dev, which allows you to revisit and explore the OPCraft world frozen in time on 31 October. You can see a bird’s-eye view map of the world in 2D, toggle activity and height maps, and drop into the world in first-person view.
One thing to caveat is that the basic plugin system we implemented was not fully permissionless; developers had to submit a pull-request to a Lattice public repository to go through manual quality and security checks before that plugin was included on the opcraft.mud.dev website. However, while this particular plugin system wasn’t permissionless, the OPCraft World itself was; anyone could deploy their own custom clients/frontends that interacted with the World and that implemented additional rules and “augmented realities” (i.e. components and systems) on a domain that they owned, without needing any special permission. ↩